31 Jan 2012

Light Everlasting

As we pass from Winter to Spring on the calendar, a pause in the day....................

Ireland's new papal nuncio arrives

From the Irish Catholic Facebook page: Cardinal Seán Brady Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Primate of Ireland welcome the New Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Brown (centre) at Dublin airport this morning.

30 Jan 2012

An Irish Blessing

February 1st - Feast of St Bridget of Ireland

February 1st is in Ireland the feast day of a beloved saint, Bridget of Kildare and is viewed as the start of Spring and the beginning of the new agricultural year. St Bridget's day honours our second national patron saint after St Patrick and gives her due honour.
Tradition holds she lived 452AD-524AD as is know in tradition and affection of the Irish as Mary of the Gael. She is said to be the patroness of babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milk maids; nuns; poets; poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen

Pious tradition holds she took her vows from Saint Mel of Ardagh (nephew of St Patrick), who also granted her abbatial powers. She followed Saint Mel into the Kingdom of Teathbha, which is made up of sections of modern Meath, Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about 468. Brigid is known for being the only “female bishop” of the early church. It is said that upon receiving her vows Saint Mel was inspired by God to make her a bishop. Brigid's small oratory at Cill-Dara (Kildare) became a center of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed Saint Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to Saint Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose Saint Conleth "to govern the church along with herself". Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superior general of the monasteries in Ireland. Brigid also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which Conleth presided. The Kildare scriptorium produced the Book of Kildare, which elicited high praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the Reformation. According to Giraldus, nothing that he had ever seen was at all comparable to the book, every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill". Brigid is at times known as "the Patroness of Ireland" and "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael" by a writer in the "Leabhar Breac". Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In addition, Brigid is highly venerated by many Eastern Orthodox Christians as one of the great Western saints before the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches. Her feast day, as in the West, is February 1, although churches following the Julian calendar (as in many Orthodox countries) celebrate her feast on February 14, the corresponding date on the Julian calendar. Her body was found with those of Saints Patrick and Columba, in a triple vault in Down-Patrick, in 1185, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us: they were all three translated to the cathedral of the same city; but their monument was destroyed in the reign of King Henry VIII.

The blog Under the Oak has a great devotion to St Bridget and has some further posts about:
Other Resources for St Bridgets Day:

29 Jan 2012

Narnia, icons and Rublev's Trinity!

Guest post from Sr Mary Louise O'Rourke from her blog Pilgrims Progress

Those of you who know me know that I cultivate a special love for icons. In English the word icon can be used as a general term for an image. It is often used in connection with religious imagery, and the term iconography can relate to any consistent scheme of imagery, religious or secular. However, two modern secular applications of the word icon have gained wide currency.

First, in the world of fashion and entertainment, people can be described as icon if they epitomize certain trends in style or culture. Second, in the world of computers and electronic technology certain images on the screen are known as icons. You'll also know that my acquaintance with the modern applications of the word is more with the latter! Click on the icon and you enter a whole new world of information and imagery. This modern usage of the word icon has interesting parallels with the theological use of the term!

John Paul II in his encyclical "Duodecimum saeculum" wrote: "Just as the reading of material books allows the hearing of the living word of the Lord, so also the showing of the painted icon allows those who contemplate it to accede to the mystery of salvation by the sense of sight". Our first encounter with icons may not be easy, for they are seriously different from many of our assumptions about art and imagery.Icons are different, they are a non-naturalistic form of art. The intention behind the icon is to make the invisible visible. They are a door to another world, allowing us to enter more deeply into a living relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. In the Apocalypse St. John says: "I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door!" (Rev 4:1). Through that door he enters into the heavenly worship and the place of revelation.

In C. S Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the children enter the strange world of Narnia through the wardrobe. There is a change in levels of consciousness and perception which can only be communicated through the metaphors and imagery of transition. Sacred iconography uses its own language of symbols and imagery to take us deeper into the mystery of Christ.

I would like to share with you a short interpretation of this icon of the Trinity.This icon represents the scene described in Genesis 18, 1-5 where Abraham is visited by three angels at the oak of Mamre and had always been interpreted as a prefiguration of God in the Three persons. In fact if we look closely at the text it interchanges between the singular and the plural as if there were only one visitor.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (l-r) complete each other in an endless circle of loving communion. The bond of trust among them is transparent.
We can identify:

1)in the top left background- Abraham's house. Abraham and Sarah's hospitality to the angelic visitors is rewarded with the promise of an heir.

2) middle top background- the oak of Mamre. This may also recall the tree of the Cross. This is the transformation of the Tree of Death becoming the Tree of Life because of Jesus' willingness to trust the Father in all things.

3) on the top right background- the mountain. In the Bible mountain are usually symbols of a place of encounter, of a divine revelation, it is the place of theophany. Moses met his Lord there, Jesus went often to pray and was transfigured on the mountain.

The three faces are identical and each one wears a blue garment symbolizing divinity and recalling the idea of the heavens yet each one retains their uniqueness by wearing something of their own.

LEFT: The blue garment is almost hidden by the shimmering outer garment. This is the Father who cannot be seen by his creatures and must encounter him using the eyes of the Son. Both hands grasp the staff showing his dual authority over heaven and earth.

MIDDLE:The brown garment speaks of the earth - of His humanity. 'He humbled himself and became obedient even unto death on a cross.' The gold stripe speaks of kingship.

RIGHT:The green garment is a symbol of new life. The Spirit touches the table indicating the divine life of God.

The gesture of the hands in an icon is always to be noticed. Sometimes the simple gesture of pointing can draw attention to the person or the mystery that is at the heart of an icon. The hand raised in blessing in this icon belong to the central figure, the fingers extended so as to pronounce the blessing over the chalice. 'The blessing cup which we bless is communion is a sharing in the blood of Christ' (1 Cor 10,16). The three Persons united in this communion are united through the chalice which signifies the sacrament of the Eucharist and the mystery of the Incarnation.


Just think: the Father, the Son and the Spirit are looking towards the one who is contemplating the icon. They are looking at you, offering you a porthole into the cosmic movement of love which exist between them. Their hands bless you in your joys and in your worries. They ask you for the same hospitality which was offered to them by Abraham and Sarah, they await the hospitality in your heart. Each one is reclining slightly towards the other. Call to mind the beloved disciple John who rested upon the heart of Christ and acknowledge that you too have this privileged space. Enjoy the sense of profound peace that this scene can bring you.

28 Jan 2012

29th January 2012 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

On this weeks programme we decided after receiving some requests to repeat the programme that was recorded for January 15th about St Ita of Kileedy which didn't go out. As well as hearing again the story of St Ita we also have a short reflection on this weeks gospel and then some information on the busy week ahead with the Saints of the Week.

This weeks podcast is available HERE.

St Ita of Kileedy - Co-Patron of the Diocese of Limerick (Repeat)
St Ita also known as the Brigid of Munster is associated with the parish of Kileedy and is one of the co-patrons of the diocese of Limerick. January 15th is her feast day, and on this weeks show, Michael Keating tells us about this extraordinary woman and her role on the development of the faith. This year St Ita's feast day falls on a Sunday in Ordinary time and as such is elevated to the rank of Solemnity in the Diocese of Limerick. Along with her life story, we discuss how she is a role model and especially how she is a role model for women. We discuss her links with Killeedy, her fostering of various Irish saints and her link with St. Brendan the Navigator. We look at her feast day and the 'high mass' in Raheenagh church on Sunday, January 15th followed by a social event in the evening. She is reportedly a good intercessor in terms of pregnancy and eye illnesses.

"St Ita, the patron saint of Killeedy, was born before 484AD in County Waterford, in the Tramore area. Her father was Cennfoelad or Confhaola and her mother was Necta. Cennfoelad was descended from Felim the lawgiver. Ita's name was originally Dorothea or Deirdre. She was a member of the Déisí tribe. Ita refused her father's wish that she should marry a local chieftain, as she believed that she had a calling from God and wanted to become a nun. To convince her father to change his mind, she fasted for three days and three nights. On the third night, God gave out to her father in his sleep. The next morning, Cennfoelad agreed that Ita could do as she wished. At the age of sixteen, Ita set off on her journey. Bishop (St.) Declan of Ardmore conferred the veil on her. Legend has it that Ita was lead to Killeedy by three heavenly lights. The first was at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second on the Mullaghareirk mountains and the third at Cluain Creadhail, which is nowadays Killeedy. Her sister Fiona also went to Killeedy with her and became a member of the community. Ita was welcomed to Killeedy by the local chieftain of the Ui Conaill Gabhra tribe. The chieftain wanted to give Ita a large trait of land but she only wanted a few acres as a garden for her community."

St Ita of course shares the patronage of the diocese with St Munchin whose feast day was January 3rd and once again we encourage you to invoke the intercession of our two diocesan patrons for the selection and consecration of a new bishop of the diocese of Limerick.

Further information about St Ita available on our other posts about the Foster Mother to the Saints of Ireland.
Gospel - Mark 1:21-28

"What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth?"

The question posed this week by the evil spirit which possessed the man at the synagogue in Capernaum is the question we need to ask this week for each of us. Have sat down and made time and space for to hear the answer to each of us individually.

From Limerick Diocese weekly pastoral newsletter:

In this Sundays Gospel, Jesus speaks with authority in Capernaum. ... . How often have we wondered in these difficult past few years, 'where is our voice now? how can we face those who doubt us? can we ever speak with authority and power in Ireland again'?!?

Perhaps Jesus' authority has something to teach us this Sunday. If we are to be a people of God, and to speak with authority; perhaps we need to think less of others opinions of our church, and more about how we can be closer to God!

Jesus authority is grounded totally in his relationship with his Father. This is the only authority available to followers of Jesus Christ - the authority of relationship: a relationship of interdependence & trust

Our authority as church can never come from institution, from role, from title or from history. Our power to pray, bless and heal is not our own. It is Gods, and only when we really allow God to work through us and in us, can we speak and pray and bless with authority.

Like a newly married couple or a pregnant mother: Christians trust that we are loved. That love carries us, inspires us and sets us free to live in honest compassion and dignity. To speak as Jesus spoke. To love as God loves. To be inspired as the Spirit inspires.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
A Liturgical look at the month of February

As we enter the beginning of the month of February we take note of Pope Benedict XVI's prayer intentions for the month:

General: That all peoples may have access to water and other resources needed for daily life.

Missionary: That the Lord may sustain the efforts of health workers assisting the sick and elderly in the world's poorest regions.

From CatholicCulture.org:

The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. The first three and a half weeks of February fall within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time which is represented by the liturgical color green. Green, the symbol of hope, is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. The remaining days of February are the beginning of Lent. The liturgical color changes to purple — a symbol of penance, mortification and the sorrow of a contrite heart.

Between the events which marked Christmas and the beginning of Christ's public life the Church has seen fit to recall the example of the Holy Family for the emulation of the Christian family. The Feast of the Presentation (February 2) or Candlemas forms a fitting transition from Christmas to Easter. The small Christ-Child is still in His Mother's arms, but already she is offering Him in sacrifice. February 21, Shrove Tuesday, will find us preparing for Ash Wednesday.

Though the shortest month of the year, February is rich in Liturgical activity, for it typically begins in one Liturgical Season (Ordinary Time), ends in another (Lent), and contains a feast (Presentation of our Lord) that bridges two other seasons (Christmas and Easter)! In addition, the faithful may receive in February three of the four major public sacramentals that the Church confers during the liturgical year: blessed candles, the blessing of throats and blessed ashes.

Saints of the Week

Psalter - Week 4
The feast is also known as Candlemas. In the old calendar before the reforms of the second Vatican Council it was called the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also World Day for Consecrated Life. In 1997, Pope John Paul II created this day of thanksgiving and prayer for those of our sisters and brothers in Christ who have consecrated their lives to God. The celebration is linked to Candlemas Day. As candles are blessed to symbolize Christ who is the light of the world; so too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.)

27 Jan 2012

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

"Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 14 December 2006

On January 27 each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust that affected many people of Jewish origin during World War II. This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
The day also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945. It is hoped that through remembering these events, people will remember the Holocaust and prevent genocide. The importance of such days of remembrance grows each year as fewer and fewer survivors remain to tell us their story and witness to their suffering.
"To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible - and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this? In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of those who suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again."

Pope Benedict XVI - Auschwitz Camp 28 May 2006

Whilst the impetuous behind the Day of Commemoration was the remembrance of the Shoah where millions of Jew's were murdered and exterminated in concentration camps across Nazi occupied Europe, it is also a day to recall the other genocides and murders which have occurred and the forgotten victims of such events in Armenia 1915, the Soviet Gulags, the Ukrainian famine (Holodomar) 1932-33, Cambodia's Killing Fields, the Congo, Rwanda's 1994 genocide and many more known only to God.

We pause to remember, for those that forget their history - and this is our history, the history of man's inhumanity towards man-  will be condemned to repeat it again.

Further reflections and links here and here.

25 Jan 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012 - A final musical reflection

Conversion of St Paul

Conversion of St Paul - Caravaggio 

While experiencing these days the painful situation of our divisions, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope”  Pope Benedict XVI

Various reflections and posts from the blogosphere on the feast day:
The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI presided at solemn vespers (evening prayer) at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls.

(Rome Reports - Only Video) Every year on this day, the pope prays at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. With the pope were representatives of various non-Catholic Christian denominations of the Eternal City. This brief ceremony coincides with the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and is the official conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Below is the text of his homily from Vatican Radio:

"Dear brothers and sisters! It is with great joy that I extend my warm greetings to all of you who have gathered in this basilica for the liturgical Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in this year when we are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, that the Blessed John XXIII announced in this very basilica on January 25, 1959. The theme offered for our meditation in the Week of prayer which we conclude today, is: "All shall be changed by the victory of Jesus Christ our Lord" (cf. 1 Cor 15.51-58).
The meaning of this mysterious transformation, which our second short reading this evening speaks about, is admirably shown in the personal story of St. Paul. Following the extraordinary event happened on the road to Damascus, Saul, who was distinguished for the zeal with which he persecuted the early Church, was transformed into a tireless apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the story of this extraordinary evangelist, it is clear that this transformation is not the result of a long inner reflection and not even the result of personal effort. It is first and foremost by the grace of God who has acted according to his inscrutable ways. This is why Paul, writing to the Corinthian community a few years after his conversion, says, as we heard in the first reading for these Vespers: "By the grace of God, however, that is what I am, and his grace toward me did not been in vain "(1 Cor 15:10). Moreover, considering carefully the story of St. Paul, we understand how the transformation he experienced in his life is not limited to an ethical level - such as conversion from immorality to morality - or the intellectual level - such as a change in our way of understanding reality - but it is rather a radical renewal of our being, similar in many respects to a rebirth. This transformation has its basis in our participation in the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and presents itself as a gradual process of being conformed to Him. In light of this awareness, St. Paul, when he later will be called to defend the legitimacy of his apostolic vocation and the gospel preached by him, will say: " It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. "(Gal 2.20).
St. Paul’s personal experience enables him to wait with grounded hope for the fulfillment of this mystery of transformation, which will come to all those who believed in Jesus Christ but also all of humanity and all of creation. In the second short reading that was proclaimed tonight, St. Paul, after a lengthy discussion designed to strengthen the faithful in the hope of the resurrection, he uses traditional images of apocalyptic literature, contemporary to him, and in a few lines describes the great Day of the Last Judgement, on which the destiny of humanity will be accomplished: "In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds... the dead shall be raised imperishable and we shall be changed as well "(1 Cor 15.52). On that day, all believers will be conformed to Christ and all that is corruptible will be transformed by His glory: "our present perishable nature must put on imperishability and this mortal nature must put on immortality" (v. 53) . So the triumph of Christ will be finally complete, because, says St. Paul, showing how the ancient prophecies of Scripture are fulfilled, death will finally be conquered, and with it, the sin which brought it into the world and the Law which empowers sin without giving the strength to overcome it: "Death is swallowed up in victory. / Where, O death, is your victory? / Where, O death is your sting? / The sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law "(vv. 54-56). St. Paul tells us, therefore, that every man, through baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, shares in the victory of the One who first conquered death, beginning a journey of transformation which shows itself even now in a new life and will culminate at the end of time.
It is very significant that this reading ends with a thanksgiving: "Let us thank God, for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 57). The song of victory over death is transformed into a song of gratitude to the conquerer. And we too this evening, as we raise our evening praises to God, we want to unite our voices, our minds and hearts to this hymn of thanksgiving for what God's grace has done through the apostle of the Gentiles and for the wonderful plan of salvation that God the Father does in us through the Lord Jesus Christ. As we lift our prayers to him, we are confident that we will be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ. This is particularly true in our prayer for Christian unity. In fact, when we plead for the gift of unity of the disciples of Christ, we make ours the desire expressed by Jesus Christ on the eve of his passion and death in the prayer to his Father: "May they all be one" (Jn 17.21). For this reason, the prayer for Christian unity is nothing less than our participation in the realization of his divine plan for the Church, and our active commitment to the restoration of unity is both a duty and a great responsibility for all.
While experiencing these days the painful situation of our divisions, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope, because Christ's victory means to overcome everything that keeps us from sharing the fullness of life with Him and with others. The resurrection of Jesus Christ confirms that the goodness of God overcomes evil, love overcomes death. He accompanies us in the fight against the destructive power of sin that harms humanity and all of God’s creation. The presence of the risen Christ calls all Christians to act together for the common good. United in Christ, we are called to share his mission, which is to bring hope to the places where there is injustice, hatred and despair. Our divisions diminish our witness to Christ. The goal of full unity, which we await with active hope and for which we pray with confidence, it is a secondary victory but important for the good of the human family.
In the dominant culture of today, the idea of victory is often associated with immediate success. For the Christian, however, victory is a long and, in the eyes of men, a not always linear process of transformation and growth in goodness. It is achieved according to God's timing, not ours, and requires of us a profound faith and patient endurance. Although the Kingdom of God breaks into history with the resurrection of Jesus, it is not yet fully realized. The final victory will only come with the second coming of the Lord, which we await with patient hope. Also our expectation for the visible unity of the Church must be patient and confident. Only in this attitude can our prayers and our daily commitment to Christian unity find their full meaning. The attitude of patient waiting does not mean passivity or resignation, but a response to be ready and alert to every possibility of communion and brotherhood, which the Lord gives us.
In this spiritual atmosphere, I would like to greet in a special way Cardinal Monterisi, Archpriest of this Basilica, the abbot of the Benedictine Community that welcomes us. I greet Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and all the staff of that council. I extend my cordial and fraternal greetings to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and to Rev. Canon Richardson, Personal Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rome, as well as all the representatives of different Churches and Ecclesial Communities, gathered here this evening. Also, I am particularly pleased to welcome members of the Working Group made up of representatives of different Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Poland, who prepared the texts for the Week of Prayer this year, to whom I would like to express my gratitude and My wish that they continue on the path of reconciliation and fruitful collaboration. I also warmly greet members of the Global Christian Forum, who are in Rome these days to reflect on the enlargement of their participation in the ecumenical movement. I also greet the group of students of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute of the world Council of Churches.
I wish to entrust to the intercession of St. Paul all those who, with their prayers and their efforts, work for the cause of Christian unity. Although sometimes we may get the impression that the road towards the full restoration of communion is still very long and full of obstacles, I invite everyone to renew their determination to pursue with courage and generosity, the unity that is the will of God, following the example of St. Paul, who faced with difficulties of all kinds, always maintained full confidence in God who brings his work to fruition. Moreover, we can see positive signs of a renewed sense of brotherhood and a shared responsibility toward the great problems that afflict our world. All this is cause for great hope and joy and should encourage us to continue our commitment to reach the finish line together, knowing that in the Lord we cannot be labouring in vain(cf. 1 Cor 15.58)."

24 Jan 2012

46th World Communication Day: Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

St Francis de Sales
It is traditional that on the feast day of St Francis de Sales (patron saint of writers and journalists), the Holy See publishes the text of Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 46th World Communication Day

As Rocco comments,"this year's B16-picked focus on the need for silence in effective communications work alongside that of words. In this relentless age of digital media, suffice it to say, making space for the former can often feel like the greatest challenge of all. While the pontiff's reflection on the topic rolled out this morning......this year's World Communications Day doesn't actually occur until May 20th: always the Sunday before Pentecost, now celebrated in most of the global church as the transferred solemnity of the Ascension."

From the Pontifical Council for Social Communication:

"Silence is the central theme for the next World Communications Day Message: Silence and Word: path of evangelization. In the thought of Pope Benedict XVI, silence is not presented simply as an antidote to the constant and unstoppable flow of information that characterizes society today but rather as a factor that is necessary for its integration. Silence, precisely because it favors habits of discernment and reflection, can in fact be seen primarily as a means of welcoming the word. We ought not to think in terms of a dualism, but of the complementary nature of two elements which when they are held in balance serve to enrich the value of communication and which make it a key factor that can serve the new evangelization."


Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

[Sunday, 20 May 2012]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we draw near to World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved. When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.

Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.

The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers – indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive. Amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communications, however, many people find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence: Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? It is important to affirm those who ask these questions, and to open up the possibility of a profound dialogue, by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection, something that is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts.

Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life – all of us are in search of truth and we share this profound yearning today more than ever: “When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves, their view of the world, their hopes, their ideals” (Message for the 2011 World Day of Communications).

Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: “As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word …. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence” (Verbum Domini, 21). The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christ’s death there is a great silence over the earth, and on Holy Saturday, when “the King sleeps and God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages” (cf. Office of Readings, Holy Saturday), God’s voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.

If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. “We need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God’s silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born” (Homily, Eucharistic Celebration with Members of the International Theological Commission, 6 October 2006). In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation to communicate that which we have seen and heard” so that all may be in communion with God (1 Jn 1:3). Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbours so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love.

In silent contemplation, then, the eternal Word, through whom the world was created, becomes ever more powerfully present and we become aware of the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing throughout our history by word and deed. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, divine revelation is fulfilled by “deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them” (Dei Verbum, 2). This plan of salvation culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. He has made known to us the true face of God the Father and by his Cross and Resurrection has brought us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom of the children of God. The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church’s mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.

Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world. To Mary, whose silence “listens to the Word and causes it to blossom” (Private Prayer at the Holy House, Loreto, 1 September 2007), I entrust all the work of evangelization which the Church undertakes through the means of social communication.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2012, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.


  • Christophers Apologies - Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation


    22 Jan 2012


    This reflection and artwork is taken from A Seat at the Table with h/t  to Clare Bangasser

    Art: The Calling of Peter and Andrew, Sano di Pietro, 1472

    Jesus said to them,
    "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
    Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
    Mk 1:14-20

    we hear you calling us.
    We want to leave our boats
    and drop our nets.
    Help us let
    A. Osdiek

    The Sacred Call is transformative. It is an invitation to our souls, a mysterious voice reverberating within, a tug on our hearts that can neither be ignored nor denied. It contains, by definition, the purest message and promise of essential freedom. It touches us at the center of our awareness. When such a call occurs and we hear it – really hear it – our shift to higher consciousness is assured.
    David A. Cooper, on
    At the Edge of the Enclosure
    To hear the call of the Beloved and follow Him. To receive a new heart and a new spirit. To feel a fire raging in one's chest, one's mind in flames with love, longing, and enthusiasm. To want to change one's life. To live and love differently. To see a different path ahead. And, then, to go home.

    Walking down the mountain back into the valley. Feeling distanced from what's 'real,' anchored once again in daily life, run by old habits, worn out paths, and familiar ruts. Listening for a call that is fast dying as life takes me away once again to a sort of amnesia, an oblivion of the sacred moment.

    There are times of discipleship and times of waiting. Waiting for His call. A sign, God, just give me a sign. I wonder whether I will still know how to cast a net, or grab someone before she falls.

    To sit on the beach, watch the scene, wondering whether He will see me and call me as well. But then if he does not, I can follow him, run along the edge of the sea to watch his sail disappear on the horizon. A thirst for Him. A sort of hunger that won't let go. How good it is to remember. All I needed was today's Gospel.

    In His name.


    From this weeks The Tablet:

    Discipleship begins with silence and listening. When we listen to someone, we think we are silent because we do not speak; but our minds continue to work, our emotions react, our will responds for or against what we hear, we may even go further than this, with thoughts and feelings buzzing in our heads which are quiet unrelated to what is being said. This is not silence as it is implied in discipl...eship. The real silence towards whihc we must aim as a starting point is a complete repose of mind and heart and will, the complete silence of all there is in us, including our body, so that we may be completley aware of the word we are receiving, completely alert and yet in complete repose.  - Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Creative Prayer: daily readings from Metropolitan Anthony (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2004)

    Some web browsing.........

    Some web browsing........

    As preparation for the 800th anniversary of the Approval of the Order of Preachers (a.k.a. the Dominicans) in 2016, they are preparing a "Novena" highlighting certain aspects of the charism of the Order. The theme for 2012 is "Go and tell my brothers, Dominican women and evagelization". The letter of the Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadore, OP, reflecting on the role of women in the work of the Holy Preaching is here. While it is aimed specifically at the Dominicans, there is a lot of food for thought for the church universal in it as well.

    We have all heard the expression "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus". But what impact has the changing roles of men in society had on the understanding of their role and the impact on the rough and tumble of raising boys. Two pieces which discussed it recently: Raising Boys in a culture that is often alarmed by them and from First Things - The Killer Instinct.

    Digitalnun has some thoughts on the upcoming Year of Faith which begins 11th October 2012. She also had a piece reflecting on the feast of St Anthony and the eremitical vocation.

    Deacon Greg has an interesting piece about a Hermitage gets a deacon in Texas.

    He also has an interesting piece about "Why do Catholics get married in church?"

    The IEC2012 is coming June 2012 and the preparations are continuing around the world! Here is a short video from northern Uganda about their preparations. I have meet Sr Maureen, she is a hoot!

    Protecting Jesus: the story of the Catholic Chaplain on the sinking Italian cruise ship.
    A quick history piece: The Other Successors of St Peter - The Patriarchs of Antioch.

    Ever wonder what to think when someone says "I am spiritual but not religious"? A few other points of view on it - Are you spiriual or religious?

    A first: South African bishops pick nun as Secretary General.

    International coverage of the self-immolation by Tibetan monks has been a bit mixed, here is a piece which asks the question, "Why are Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire?"

    We have all heard how the new Social Media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc helped in the Arab Spring. This is an interesting piece looking at How Luther went viral - five centuries before Facebook and the Arab spring, social media helped bring about the Reformation

    Some pictures showing the Celebrations of Epiphany from Ethiopia (Coptic Christians) and from Russia and Eastern Europe (Eastern Orthodox Christians).

    And finally......

    21 Jan 2012

    From Jerusalem, the call for an Extraordinary Action of Prayer by the Church for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace

    On January 28 2012, Christians are invited to join again in a great intercessory prayer for our time held at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Anthony, close to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

    With Our Lord’s help, on January 28, 2012, at 5 pm Holy Land time, all Churches will join again via a four continent live broadcast by Christian channels in a great intercessory prayer for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace for our time, beginning from Jerusalem.

    In a spirit of communion, the seventh Extraordinary Prayer of all Churches for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace coincides, as in January 2011, with the Jerusalem Week of Prayer for Unity. It also coincides with the start of the 4th International Intercessory Prayer Day for Peace in the Holy Land, an initiative that gathers prayer groups in over two thousands cities all over the world and is patronized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The Catholic Church, promoter of the latter initiative, chooses with this coincidence to be in communion of prayer with all the participating Churches.

    In these times of change, more than ever, it is urgent and necessary to ask for Our Lord’s Mercy. May He, insistently requested to do so, touch our hearts and inspire in them the irresistible desire to convert and to renew our faith, to reconciliate, to unite, and to live in the interior Peace of Christ, both as single Christians and as Christian Churches.

    The Coptic Orthodox Church, who has often and also recently given witness of her profound faith in Jesus Christ, up to martyrdom, will propose a simple and very intense celebration, reflecting her rich and profound tradition.

    May the intense call of the Church to Our Lord and Father be heard! May He bless His sons and daughters, those who hear the Word, those who listen to the Spirit of Life.


    Background to the Extraordinary Prayer by the Church for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace beginning and proceeding from Jerusalem