31 Oct 2012

All Saints Day - The Church Invisible

"Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep a festival in honor of all the saints. Let us join with the angels in joyful praise to the Son of God"


After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.... [One of the elders] said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’”
(Revelation 7:9,14).
"When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple - true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts."
- Pope Benedict XVI (read more of the sermon here)

From the second reading of the Office of Readings from St Bernard of Clairvaux:

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feasday mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. Wee long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Link around:
From the blog Cost of Discipleship:

How do you know when you're approaching the borderlands
of the invisible church?

You begin to take on the state of invisibility yourself.

The best thing to do when you sense this happening is…

Run even faster after Jesus!
Don't look back!

Strain ahead for what is still to come.
Accept the loss of everything
and look on all the advantages you have in the world
and even in the visible Church
as so much rubbish.

Because all these things are really disadvantages,
as holy apostle Paul declares in his letter
to the church at Philippi (
Philippians 3:2-16).

Decide now and every day to follow the call of Jesus Christ,
decide once and for all that
‘all I want is
to know Christ and the power of His resurrection
and to share His sufferings
by reproducing the pattern of His death’

(Philippians 3:10 JB).

How do you enter the ranks of the invisible church?

By paying your tithe with more than money,
by not looking to be thanked,
by announcing the Word of God without charge, fear or praise,
by emptying yourself to assume the conditions of a slave,
by putting yourself in places
where faith is not only possible
but inevitable,
by serving those whom the world considers unworthy,
because by doing so you turn tables on the world—
the Word of God calls people like this,
‘those of whom the world was not worthy’
(Hebrews 11:38).

The author of Hebrews continues giving good instructions
for those who are willing to enter the ranks
of the Church Invisible

‘With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us,

we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us,
especially the sin that clings so easily,
and keep running steadily
in the race we have started.
Let us not lose sight of Jesus,
who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection’

Hebrews 12:1-2).

“Three times Jesus encourages His disciples by saying, ‘Fear not.’ (Matthew 10:26-39) Although their sufferings are now secret [invisible], they will not always be so: some day they will be manifest before God and man. However secret these sufferings are at present, they have their Lord's promise that they will be eventually brought to the light of day. … Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men. All preachers of the gospel will do well to recollect this saying daily. … We are in God's hands. Therefore, ‘Fear not.’

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, "The Decision"

One final thought.

Yes, in the
Orthodox Church,
the visible church is plastered with ikons,
that is, images of the saints, to remind us
of what the author of Hebrews wrote,
‘With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us…’
When we worship there, we are visibly present
and the ikons are visibly present,
to incite us to look beyond them
to the invisible presence of the saints.

I almost wrote, ‘What if we took seriously…’
but instead, I want to say,

Just take God at His Word
and ‘throw off everything that hinders’ you,
‘especially the sin that clings so easily…’
What sin is that?

The sin of being satisfied with the externals,
with what can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched
in the church visible.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!
Then, follow Him, no looking back!
The visible church with its visible ikons fades out
as the Church Invisible with its living ikons
invisible to the world
reveals itself—and you among them,
a living ikon.

Yes, go with Jesus.

The Sistine Chapel - Celebrating 500 years!

Rome Reports - Five hundred years ago, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was inaugurated by Pope Julius II. It was a day before the Feast Day of All Saints, that Michelangelo's masterpiece was shown to the public. The renowned artist spent four years working on the ceiling, which is about 65 feet high. The striking ceiling depicts scenes from the Bible, like Creation and Original sin. It's truly a priceless work of art. Michelangelo's masterpiece covers an area of roughly 11,840 feet.


Vatican Radio - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Vespers on Wednesday in the Sistine Chapel, 500 years after his predecessor Pope Julius II did the same thing to mark the completion of Michelangelo’s ceiling masterpiece. Charles Collins reports here for Vatican Radio.

L’Osservatore Romano - Every day at least 10,000 people – 20,000 in high-tourist season – enter the Sistine Chapel. People from all backgrounds, languages and cultures, from every religion or no religion. The Sistine Chapel has a fatal attraction; it is an object of desire, that essential point of arrival for international people of museums, for migrants of so-called “cultural tourism”. Continue reading here.

Blue Eyed Ennis has a round of links including a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel from the comfort of your own home!

Year of Faith - Pope Benedict's General Audiences

"Faith is not only personal, it's also public"

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, In our series of catecheses for the Year of Faith, we have seen that faith is something intensely personal: a gift of God which transforms and enriches our life. At the same time, the gift of faith is given in and through the community of the Church.

In Baptism I receive and appropriate the faith of the Church; my personal faith finds expression in the recitation of the Creed and in the communal celebration of the sacraments.

The new life I live in Christ through the gift of his Spirit is received and nourished within the Church’s communion. In this sense, the Church is our Mother.

As Saint Cyprian says, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother”. Dwelling in the Church’s living Tradition, may we mature in the faith we have received and, by putting it into practice, become beacons of Christ’s light and peace in our world."

28 Oct 2012

The Eucharist: The Source and Summit of the Christian Life

One of the recommendations for the Year of Faith is to study the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  The Council document on the Church described the Eucharist as the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium 11). This means everything we do should come from and lead to our celebration of our Sunday Mass. 

The Eucharist is the summit, the high-point, of the Christian life; because through our celebration of Mass we offer God the Father praise and thanksgiving through His Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1407).  When we come to celebrate Mass, we offer our whole lives to God.  During the preparation of the gifts, the priest adds a little drop of water to the wine.  When I’m helping to prepare the altar servers, I ask them to especially watch out for this moment of Mass.  This little drop of water represents all of us and all our daily lives – our joys, our worries, our concerns, our hopes, our dreams and our whole humanity.  As the priest adds the water, he prays: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”  In other words, we pray that, through the power of the Holy Spirit during this Mass, God will transform our lives and help us to become more Christ-like in everything we do and say and think. 

The Eucharist is the source of the Christian life.  During Mass we are nourished in a number of ways.  Firstly, by God’s Word through the First and Second Readings, the psalm, the Gospel and also the homily, where the priest helps us to better understand God’s Word and apply God’s Word to our lives.  We are nourished as a parish community, by coming together to support each other and pray for each other and the whole world.  In receiving Holy Communion we are nourished by the Body of Christ.  Holy Communion is not blessed bread or holy bread; it is the Body and Blood of Christ.  Normally when we eat food, the food is broken down so that our bodies can change the food into ourselves.  However, when we receive Holy Communion, we receive Christ Himself (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324).  The process is reversed, because we don’t change Holy Communion into ourselves, the Lord changes us into Himself[1].  This doesn’t mean that we are suddenly perfect or sinless… our journey towards holiness takes a lifetime of co-operating with God’s grace!  Receiving Holy Communion strengthens our communion with God and with the parish community.  Receiving Holy Communion forgives our venial sins and strengthens us to resist the temptation to commit grave sins (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1416).  If we regularly attend Mass and receive Holy Communion it will have an effect on the way we live and love.

At the end of Mass each of us is given the mission to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.  In the old translation, the priest used to say: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”.  How do we fulfil this mission?  We can only do this because we have received Jesus in Holy Communion.

We announce the Gospel as lay people by living the Gospel message.  St. Francis of Assisi was said to have commissioned his friars to “preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words”, meaning that we primarily preach the Gospel by living by Gospel values. 

We can also announce the Gospel by standing up for Christian values in the public arena, by not being afraid to give a defence of our faith, what we believe in and why.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have to stand up and preach in the middle of a market square or go house-to-house evangelising, but it means speaking honestly and openly about our faith and what our faith means to us when we are asked.

How do we love and serve the Lord?  Pope Benedict, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, described the Eucharist as a ‘Sacrament of Charity’ (Sacramentum Caritatis 1; cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 73, a. 3), a Sacrament of Love.  God loved the world so much that He gave Himself to save us (cf. Jn 3:16).  After receiving Jesus in Holy Communion we are asked to follow His example… to give ourselves to the love and service of others.  If we reflect on it, most of us are living this way already.  As parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, children, teachers, volunteers working in the community… we are already sharing our love with our families and members of the community.  We are already living eucharistically.  In receiving Holy Communion we are asked to go even further… we are challenged, as Pope Benedict says, “in God and with God… [to] love even the person whom I do not like or even know” (Deus Caritas Est 232; Sacramentum Caritatis 88). 

Loving strangers, in a sense, is easy.  I don’t know enough about them to dislike them, but to love the person who drives you nuts, you know that person that you duck down an aisle at the supermarket to avoid or cross the street so they don’t see you… or that person who is at home or at work or at school whom you find difficult to get on with… that takes the grace of God that we receive through the Eucharist.  Christian love is not about feelings.  We don’t have to like every person we meet, but we do have to love them.  We love these people especially, as Pope Benedict says, ‘in God and with God’.  In other words, God loves them through us, if we allow Him to and He helps us to love them with Him. 

On the odd occasion that I have missed Sunday Mass, I truly felt as if something was missing from my life.  You know the phrase: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.  I need God’s grace to be a Christian.  I cannot do it without Him.  I am a worse version of myself when I neglect my prayer life or I miss going to Mass.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: “We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist; the moment we do, something breaks.”  Our attendance at Sunday Mass is intimately related to every part of our daily lives.  Attending Sunday Mass is a precept of the Church, not because the Church likes burdening us with rules and regulations and obligations, but because regularly receiving Jesus and spending time listening to His Word brings us closer to the Holy Trinity.  Celebrating Mass together as a parish community each Sunday is a fountain of grace for us (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 10)… It makes us better people and better Christians.  It is a well spring where we are nourished and renewed so that we can go out again refreshed to love and serve the Lord during the coming week.

 In the Eucharist, Christ fulfils His promise to stay with us always (cf. Mt 28:20; Mane Nobiscum Domine 16), to give us His love and grace and help (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine 15).  Perhaps during this Year of Faith one little promise we could make to ourselves is to spend a little time each week reflecting on the mystery of God’s love for us in the Eucharist and how we are called to live the Eucharist in our daily lives.  

27 Oct 2012

Year of Faith - Why am I a Catholic Christian? - Give us your reasons

As part of our contribution to the Year of Faith, Sacred Space 102fm wants our readers and listeners to tells us Why they are Catholic christian?

The Year of Faith is a reminder to us all that we are called to share in community and in communion with one another and to be witnesses and missionaries to the world. It doesn't call for heroic deeds and travel to far distant places but as St Therese of Lisieux said of doing the little things extraordinarily well.

In Ireland in particular being a Catholic Christian has been a challenging endeavour especially over the last number of years as we have watched in horror as our church leadership has lurched from one crisis to another like drunken sailors and at all times seeming to suffer from a serious case of "foot in mouth". But 84% of Irish citizens recently indicated on the Census that they still regard themselves as Catholic. We want to know why.

Will you share your story with us, and together we can encourage each other on the journey of faith that we are all sharing. To be Christian is to live in community, by definition almost you can't be a Christian on your own.

You can post a comment below (please be advised that all comments are moderated and it may take a day or two for one of the team to see it and publish it to the blog), you can email us at sacredspace102@gmail.com or you can write to us at the address on the sidebar c/o West Limerick 102fm.

Your contribution can be as long or as short as you wish and we will be continuing this little project throughout the year and may read out some of the contributions on air. We would ask that if you are commenting you please sign at least your first name to the comment as we generally ignore anonymous comments.
We look forward to hearing from you

SS102fm Team

26 Oct 2012

28th October 2012 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

On this weeks programme we are joined by two special guests to discuss their view of the church as well as our regular gospel reflection and various liturgical odds and ends for the start of the month of November.

This weeks programme's podcast is available HERE.

"The Church is alive and young"

We are joined in studio this week Loran Geary and Niamh McMahon, both of whom are 6th year students at Scoil Mhuire & Ide in Newcastle West. Both girls were recently involved with the parish mission held in Newcastle West and they give their views on their faith, their relationship with God and the church. It is an inspiring and hope filled interview with two young catholics from West Limerick which reminds us that despite what the general view, the church is young and alive!

Gospel - Mark 10: 46-52

Where do you desire healing in your own life?

The blind man was clear about what he needed - this made it possible for him to sieze the moment and ask Jesus. Are you?

If you're not sure what to ask God for, what not take some time this week to be still and pray for insight. Ask God to help you identify the healing you seek and the longing beneath your desire. Perhaps there are fears or barriers that would keep you from asking God for healing? Ask God to heal those fears, so that you can then ask for healing.

Imagine Jesus is asking you as he did Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” What would your response be now? Take time this week to write, reflect or otherwise express to God what you need. Bring this request to Sunday Mass, responding to the words of Jesus followers "Take heart, rise, He is calling you".
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds and ends

Divine Office - week 2

November - Month of the Holy Souls

As the clocks change and the evenings draw in, we head into Samhain (November) and the dark days of Winter here in Ireland. As the earth heads into hibernation and rebirth, the ancient Celts saw this time as a "thin place" between this world and the next. All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is a reminder to us that our nearest and dearest who have died are not really that far away and that we honour and pray for and with each other in the Communion of Saints especially at this time of the year.

Whilst you remember your own loved ones at this time, also remember to pray for those that are mourning. While time may change the pain of loss, it can never be said to truly go away; remember those who mourn and feel that pain at this time too especially for those who have lost loved ones in the last twelve months.
"For centuries the church has confronted the human community with role models of greatness. We call them saints when what we really often mean to say is 'icon,' 'star,' 'hero,' ones so possessed by an internal vision of divine goodness that they give us a glimpse of the face of God in the center of the human. They give us a taste of the possibilities of greatness in ourselves."
— Joan D. Chittister in A Passion for Life

Some resources for you for All Saints and All Souls - here, here, here

Indulgence for the Holy Souls

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83 (CCC 1471)

In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things."87 In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin. (CCC 1475

Norms for the Indulgence
  • From 12 o’clock noon on the 1st of November until midnight on the 2nd November, all who have confessed, received Holy Communion, and prayed for the Pope's intentions (one Our Father and Hail Mary, or any other prayer of one's choice) can gain one plenary indulgence by visiting a church or oratory, and there reciting one Our Father and the Apostle's Creed. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls of the departed. Confession may be made at any time within the week preceding or the week following the 1st of November. Holy Communion may be received on any day from 1 November to 8 November.
  • The faithful who visit a cemetery and pray for the dead may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the Holy Souls on the usual conditions once per day from the 1st to the 8th November. The conditions mentioned above apply to this day.
Saints of the Week

October 29th - St Coleman
October 30th - Bl. John Slade or St Marcellus the Centurian
October 31st - Bl. Dominic Collins (martyr)
November 1st -Feast of All Saints
November 2nd - Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (First Friday)
November 3rd -  St Malachy
Pope's Intentions for November
General: Ministers of the Gospel
That bishops, priests, and all ministers of the Gospel may bear the courageous witness of fidelity to the crucified and risen Lord.

Mission: Pilgrim Church
That the pilgrim Church on earth may shine as a light to the nations.

Year of Faith - Pope Benedict's weekly General Audiences

During Wednesday's general audience, the Pope continued his catechesis on the Year of Faith. Benedict XVI reflected on the Gospel of St. Mark by explaining what it truly means to have faith in today's modern world.

Final Message of the Synod of Bishops

The Synod of Bishops on new evangelisation draws to a close this weekend as over 260 Church leaders from around the globe come up with a final list of propositions to present to Pope Benedict for inclusion in his apostolic exhortation. On Friday morning, the bishops presented a concluding message which they hope will inspire all those involved in promoting evangelisation, whether in busy inner city parishes, in secluded monasteries or in the remotest parts of countries where the Church may be only a tiny minority of the population.
Vatican Radio report here.

Full text of the message:
Brothers and sisters,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Before returning to our particular Churches, we, Bishops of the whole world gathered by the invitation of the Bishop of Rome Pope Benedict XVI to reflect on “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith”, wish to address all of you spread throughout the world in order to sustain and direct the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in the diverse contexts in which the Church finds herself today to give witness.

1. Like the Samaritan woman at the well
Let us draw light from a Gospel passage: Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:5-42). There is no man or woman who, in one's life, would not find oneself like the woman of Samaria beside a well with an empty bucket, with the hope of finding the fulfillment of the heart's most profound desire, that which alone could give full meaning to existence. Today, many wells offer themselves to quench humanity's thirst, but we must discern in order to avoid polluted waters. We must orient the search well, so as not to fall prey to disappointment, which can be disastrous.
Like Jesus at the well of Sychar, the Church also feels obliged to sit beside today's men and women. She wants to render the Lord present in their lives so that they could encounter him because he alone is the water that gives true and eternal life. Only Jesus can read the depths of our heart and reveal the truth about ourselves: “He told me everything I have done”, the woman confesses to her fellow citizens. This word of proclamation is united to the question that opens up to faith: “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” It shows that whoever receives new life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others. The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads the whole city to Jesus. The people pass from welcoming her testimony to personally experiencing the encounter: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world”.
2. A new evangelizationLeading the men and women of our time to Jesus, to the encounter with him is a necessity that touches all the regions of the world, those of the old and those of the recent evangelization. Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society, the clarity of its content and its coherent fruits.It is not about starting again, but entering into the long path of proclaiming the Gospel with the apostolic courage of Paul who would go so far as to say “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Throughout history, from the first centuries of the Christian era to the present, the Gospel has edified communities of believers in all parts of the world. Whether small or great, these are the fruit of the dedication of generations of witnesses to Jesus – missionaries and martyrs – whom we remember with gratitude.
Changing societies and cultures call us to something new: to live our communitarian experience of faith in a renewed way and to proclaim it through an evangelization that is “new in its ardor, in its methods, in its expressions” (John Paul II, Discourse to the XIX Assembly of CELAM, Port-au-Prince, 9 March 1983, n. 3) as John Paul II said. Benedict XVI recalled that it is an evangelization that is directed “principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life... to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone fills our existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life”(Benedict XVI, Homily for the Eucharistic celebration for the solemn inauguration of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 7 October 2012).

22 Oct 2012

Year of Faith - "Retreating" into God


“But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”[1]
Sometimes it can seem that life is just getting on top of you. Listening to the media in
Ireland or reading the papers you can almost feel the societal stress levels
rising around you as people and families struggle to cope with the consequences
of greed, carelessness and selfishness which have devastated our island
community. It is at times like this when you can truly appreciate the lines
from scripture describing how Jesus sought silence and solace to commune with
his Father to discern his way in life and to gather strength for the journey
and task ahead of him as he travelled towards Jerusalem and ultimately to
“And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose up
and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed.”

Ancient monks used to flee to the deserts of Syria and Egypt to become closer to God.
Our own Irish monks used to live in deserted places such as the Skeillig’s off
the coast of Kerry, undergoing the white martyrdom for Christ. But Ireland
doesn’t have physical deserts available for us to flee to seek the Lord today. Rather
we live in an age where there are many deserts of the heart in our communities,
towns and cities where people may feel that they are alone and adrift in the
midst of a vast crowd and seek some respite for the stress of that sense of
isolation and stress in our individualistic society. Rather than seeking
physical deserts, we need to seek out spiritual oasis to replenish the soul and spirit.
Spiritual oasis are available for desert seekers in the quietness and space of the
monasteries and convents that are scattered throughout the island of Ireland.
Many of these houses of prayer are open to providing time and space for people
to reflect and rest away from the stress of everyday life, while others may be
seeking solace in distress or trying to discern the Lords will for them. They
welcome pilgrims on life’s journey to come and rest a while. But such loaded
terms as pilgrimage or retreat can be a challenging word for us with baggage
and history and misconceptions around the very words themselves.

“A Pilgrimage (or retreat) is a quest for God. There is an instinct in God’s people which
spurs them from time to time to take the road on this adventure of faith. It
means a detachment, a leaving behind for a while the routine of daily life, of
moving from a world of noise into a world of silence. To become a pilgrim means
to enter in some degree into the setting and mentality of the Exodus of the
ancient people of God. Becoming part of a new great company, the pilgrim, as of
old, is experiencing a new awareness of God, a sense of intimacy with God who
cares and directs and provides for all the needs of this journey
As we enter into the Year of Faith perhaps you need to plan some time to Retreat into God. Not necessarily by going to a retreat house (we are conscious of the economic straits people are in) but perhaps to make some time to retreat into silence with God through out the year.
Have you thought of your new years resolution for the new Year of Faith?

[1] Luke 5: 16
[2] Mark 1: 35
[3] John Moloney, Pilgrims with Mary, (Irish Messenger Publications, Dublin, 1976)pg 1

Blessed John Paul II

"To celebrate the Eucharist, “to eat his flesh and drink his blood”, means to accept the wisdom of the Cross and the path of service. It means that we signal our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for others, as Christ has done.
Our society desperately needs this sign, and young people need it even more so, tempted as they often are by the illusion of an easy and comfortable life, by drugs and pleasure-seeking, only to find themselves in a spiral of despair, meaninglessness and violence. It is urgent to change direction and to turn to Christ. This is the way of justice, solidarity and commitment to building a society and a future worthy of the human person.
This is our Eucharist, this is the answer that Christ wants from us, from you young people at the closing of your Jubilee. Jesus is no lover of half measures, and he does not hesitate to pursue us with the question: “Will you also go away?” In the presence of Christ, the Bread of Life, we too want to say today with Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”
......You will carry the proclamation of Christ into the new millennium. When you return home, do not grow lax. Reinforce and deepen your bond with the Christian communities to which you belong. From Rome, from the City of Peter and Paul, the Pope follows you with affection and, paraphrasing Saint Catherine of Siena’s words, reminds you: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” (cf. Letter 368)."
- Pope John Paul II

21 Oct 2012

Lourdes flooding

The Clean Up begins

Source BBC World Service

The Ancient Olive Trees of Gethsemane

Olive Trees at the Garden of Gethsemane October 2011
During our pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October 2011, our last night in Jerusalem finished with a holy hour at the Church of All Nations or the Church of the Agony in the Garden. After the holy hour lead by Fr Frank Duhig had finished, the Custodian opened the gate and on condition that we did not touch anything, allowed us to walk around the garden amongst the olive trees reflecting and meditating on the holy ground upon which we walked.

From Vatican Radio comes  the publication of a study undertaken under the request of the Franciscans who maintain the Custody of the Holy Land on behalf of all Latin rite chrisians of confirmation of the age of these trees:

"The olive trees of Gethsemane are ancient plants that have survived through the centuries. During a press conference held at the offices of Vatican Radio, it was reported that some of the roots of these trees could have survived from the time of Christ, according to a study by a group of experts from the National Research Council. The head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who presented the results of the research, noted that "for every Christian, the olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane serve as a 'living' reference to the Passion of Christ."

From the Custody of the Holy Land further information about the Olive Trees here and here but also a report of the harvesting of the Olives.

New celestial guides! - Rome Reports

From Rome Reports (click on the links to be taken to individual video reports about each on the new saints):

On Sunday, October 21st, the Pope will canonize seven new saints. Four of them are women and three are men. They're all from different countries and lived in different time periods, but they all have one thing in common: they dedicated their lives to communicating the faith in their own unique way.

Among the new saints, are two martyrs:
Jacques Berthieu (1838-1896), who was killed in Madagascar and Peter Calungsod, who was killed in the Philippines in 1672.

Two others dedicated their life to teaching education:
Carmen Sallés (1848-1911) was a pioneer in women's education and Giovanni Piamarta Battista (1841-1913) taught marginalized youths a marketable trade.

The three other saints offered their pain and suffering to God.
Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was a Native American woman who helped the sick, even as she dealt with her own illness. Mother Marianne Cope (1838-1918) worked with lepers in Hawaii. Anna Schäffer (1884-1925) was sick most of her adult life. Despite being bedridden, through her words and letters she inspired people far beyond her native Germany.

Mission is not an optional extra

Did you know that the man in charge of the world wide missionary society charged with supporting the missions on behalf of the Holy Father is a Cork man?

“Mission Sunday is not just about the money – of course this is important for the Church structurally – but what is more important for the Church, what we need, is people to discuss their role in the Church. If I am a baptized person, what is my role as a baptized person in my particular Church. Mission is not an optional extra”.

From Vatican Radio:

"“Today too the mission ad gentes must be the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial endeavour, because the identity of the Church herself is constituted by faith in the Mystery of God who revealed himself in Christ to bring us salvation, and by the mission of witnessing and proclaiming him to the world until he comes”.

In his message for this World Missions Sunday Pope Benedict XVI is urging believers worldwide to rediscover the zeal of the early Christian communities, and realise that they too –as part of the Church through baptism- are called to mission, in all places and at all times.

“I’m looking for a missionary people, a missionary spirit and that is what the Holy Father is talking about when he speaks of the mission ad genetes - to the people and of the people -as being our constant horizon”, says Fr. Timothy Lehane Barrett SVD, Secretary General, of Propagation of the Faith.

Continue reading and listening to Fr Tim's reflection on Mission Sunday HERE.

Fr Barrett SVD was born in 1955 in Innishannon, in County Cork (Ireland). After studying Agriculture at Multyfarmham (County Wetmeath), he studied Philosophy at Donamon Castle (Roscommon) and Theology at Maynooth (County Kildare). In 1978, he entered in the Congregation of the Divine Word, where he took his perpetual vows in 1985. He was ordained a priest on March 17, 1986. Within the Congregation, he has had various tasks, firstly as a former in 1990-2000, and later as Provincial Superior, from 2004 until now. Fr. Timothy has been a missionary in Ecuador for 25 years, where he served mainly in prison ministry in the city of Quito. Beginning in 1999, he served as National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies in Ecuador and coordinating the Third American Missionary Congress CAM 3-Comla 8, which was celebrated in Quito on August 12-17, 2008. He was appointed Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (aka Propoganda Fide) in 2008.

Continue reading about Fr Tim and his work HERE.

Hidden Heros - Rome Reports

A powerful new video thanks the missionaries who move thousands of miles from the home for the work that they do.

20 Oct 2012

Lourdes Sanctuaries flooded

The Grotto under normal circumstances
Source The Grotto at Lourdes

"An angel of mercy lead Bernadette's feet
where flows the deep torrent
Our Lady to meet"

Giving new meaning to the words of the Lourdes Ave, the BBC World Service is reporting the evacuation of pilgrims from the Sanctuaries in Lourdes:

"Hundreds of Roman Catholic pilgrims have been evacuated from the sanctuary of Lourdes in France after heavy flooding in the area. The Gave de Pau river burst its banks after days of rain, flooding campsites around the shrine and parts of the southern city itself.........More than 450 pilgrims, including the sick and disabled, were evacuated from the area by Saturday, local officials say. The water now is about a metre (three feet) deep in front of the grotto where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared, covering the altar. However, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception itself - situated on higher ground - has not suffered any damage, officials say."
Journal.ie is reporting that 50 Irish pilgrims are amongst those being evacuated.
Coverage from Irish Independent - Irish among hundreds of evacuated pilgrims.

From the official Facebook page of the Sanctuaries at Lourdes: