26 Jan 2014

26 January 2014 - Ed and Fiona Collins (Part One) - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

On this week's programme, John introduces us to Ed and Fiona Collins whom he interviewed about their journey in faith.  Both are members of the Emmanuel Community based in Belfast and go on ‘Mission’ on with other members of the Community  on the third Saturday of each month in the Tallaght Shopping Centre.  

Ed has written a book entitled ‘ Heart of Love’ which details the amazing series of events that were to change their lives and as Fiona writes in the Forward 'led our two paths to become one'.  Although both were brought up in Catholic families their path in faith started differently.  Ed had a deep-rooted and solid faith where as Fiona as says 'I was caught up in the material world searching for a meaning to life and wanted my freedom'.  This week we listen to part one of a 2-part interview, which as Ed says, 'is their journey to the Sacred Heart of Jesus though Mary'.  Ed's book is available from Veritas in Belfast.  If you would like to contact Ed or Fiona, their email address is: fionaedmund@fsmail.net 

The full programme is available HERE.  The first part of Ed and Fiona's interview is available HERE.

Gospel - Matthew 4:12-23

There is usually a link between the First Reading and the Gospel of the Sunday liturgy.  Sometimes it is not easy to see the link, and other times, like today, the Gospel explicitly fulfils the Old Testament prophecy.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the Old Testament is "an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture" (CCC 121), because it "prepare[s] for and declare[s] in prophecy the coming of Christ" (CCC 122).  In today's First Reading, the prophet Isaiah is describing the coming of the Messiah as a light that shines in the darkness.  Indeed in St. John's Gospel, Jesus explicitly tells us: "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).  Jesus is the light who reveals God as Trinity and our dignity as children of the God.
St. Justin described baptism as an enlightenment.  This is very true, because when we were Christened, we were 'enlightened' - we became children of light through Christ, the Light of the world.  This is symbolised by the lighting of our baptismal candle from the Paschal candle.  In Christ, baptised persons are 'the light of the world' (cf. Mt 5:14; CCC 1243).
January is a very dreary month.  Even though the evenings are slowly beginning to get longer and we are making our way towards spring, it can be a difficult time of the year for many people.  The darkness - whatever form that might take - may seem overwhelming.  We invite you to be the light of the world during the coming week and the coming year.  Bring the Christ-light within you to others by sharing your time, your goodness, your hope, your talents, your love with others.... as the proverb goes: "It is better to light a candle, than curse the darkness".
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Liturgical odds and ends

Saints of the Week

January 27th - St. Angela Merici
January 28th - St. Thomas Aquinas
January 29th - St. Sarbelius and Barbea
January 30th - St. Aidan
January 31st - St. John Bosco

Celebration of Light: - for those bereaved by suicide will be held in Newcastle West church this Sunday, January 26th at 4.00pm.  All are welcome to attend. 

St. Brigid’s Day: - Customary celebrations (Rosary by candlelight and prayers) for the feast of St. Brigid will take place at St. Brigid’s Well, Shanagarry, Newcastle West on Saturday, February 1st at 7.45pm.

18 Jan 2014

19th January 2014 - SS102fm 2013 Church Year in Review - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

On this weeks programme the SS102fm team take a look back over 2013 from a Church perspective at home and abroad. We look to the major upcoming events in 2014 and introduce our blog (and personal) 2014 patron saints.
You can listen to the podcast of the programme HERE.
2013 Church Year in Review
It is probably fair to say that 2013 was a busy year for the Roman Catholic Church both locally in Limerick, nationally in Ireland and internationally. We take a trip back through the last twelve months and discuss some of the events and happenings which made up 2013
Some other commentators to read:
John Allen - The top five under-covered Catholic stories of 2013
National Catholic Reporter's "All Things Catholic" Column
John Thavis
Vatican Insider 
Whispers in the Loggia

2014 Prospects


Looking ahead to 2014 we discuss the consistory on February 22nd – currently 108 cardinal electors; will there be a re balancing to global south? The upcoming papal visit to Holy Land in May for 3 days including the meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew marking the 50th anniversary of meeting of Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. The April 27th 2014 date for the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II. What is happening with the Synod of Bishops meeting in 2014 and 2015 to discuss the family And in an Irish context looking at the forthcoming changes amongst the bishops due to retirements and the challenges facing the church in the next twelve months.

2014 Patron Saints
SS102fm custom is to pick a new patron saint for the blog each year and this years patron is St Bonaventure - a Franciscan saint in a Franciscan year!

From Catholic Online: 

St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Feast day-July 15)  known as "the seraphic doctor," was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany, in 1221. He received the name of Bonaventure in consequence of an exclamation of St. Francis of Assisi, when, in response to the pleading of the child's mother, the saint prayed for John's recovery from a dangerous illness, and, foreseeing the future greatness of the little John, cried out "O Buona ventura"-O good fortune!  At the age of twenty-two St. Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order. Having made his vows, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies under the celebrated doctor Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan. After the latter's death he continued his course under his successor, John of Rochelle. In Paris he became the intimate friend of the great St. Thomas Aquinas. He received the degree of Doctor, together with St. Thomas Aquinas, ceding to his friend against the latter's inclination, the honor of having it first conferred upon him. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, he enjoyed the friendship of the holy King, St. Louis.
Continue reading HERE

The SS102fm team also picked their own personal patron saints for 2014:

St Cecilia (source)

Lorraine got St Cecilia - the patroness of musicians. It is written that as the musicians played at her wedding she "sang in her heart to the Lord". Her feast day is celebrated on November 22. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
Read more HERE.

The Basilica dedicated to St Cecilia in Rome is called Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

St Michael the Archangel (source: Wikipedia)
John got St Michael the Archangel - Feastday: September 29
Patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness. The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles

You can read more HERE.

Ann got Pope Pius V - Pope from 1566-1572 and one of the foremost leaders of the Catholic Reformation. Born Antonio Ghislieri in Bosco, Italy, to a poor family, he labored as a shepherd until the age of fourteen and then joined the Dominicans, being ordained in 1528. Called Brother Michele, he studied at Bologna and Genoa, and then taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years before holding the posts of master of novices and prior for several Dominican houses. Named inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, he was so capable in the fulfillment of his office that by 1551, and at the urging of the powerful Cardinal Carafa, he was named by Pope Julius III commissary general of the Inquisition. In 1555, Carafa was elected Pope Paul IV and was responsible for Ghislieri’s swift rise as a bishop of Nepi and Sutri in 1556, cardinal in 1557, and grand inquisitor in 1558

Read more HERE.

St Andre Bessette (source: Wikipedia)
Shane got St Andre Bessette C.S.C. - (9 August 1845 – 6 January 1937), more commonly known as Brother André and since his canonization as St. André of Montreal, was a lay brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross and a significant figure of the Roman Catholic Church among French-Canadians, credited with thousands of reported miraculous healings.He was declared venerable in 1978 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree of sainthood for Blessed André on February 19, 2010, with the formal canonization taking place on October 17, 2010.

You can read more HERE.

 You can pick a patron saint for 2014 for yourself by using this handy generator HERE.

Gospel - John 1:29-34

 "John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

From Limerick Diocese weekly newsletter:

In this Sundays Gospel, Jesus approaches John the Baptist and his followers, so John introduces Jesus to them with the words "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!". Then John speaks of who he, John, is because of this Jesus: " I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. " John had come to understand himself through reflecting on who Jesus was for him and his life.

This is a lovely inspiration for us this week.

Consider how you introduce Jesus to others in your life.

... Behold - Look - this is Jesus, let me introduce you .... 

 How can we know someone well enough to introduce them ... but spending time with them, by really looking at them, and letting them look at you.

Pope Francis said: 
"The first thing for a disciple is to be with the Master, to listen to him and to learn from him. This is always true, and it is true at every moment of our lives.... It means abiding in the Lord’s presence and letting ourselves be led by him.

I ask you: How do you abide in the presence of the Lord? When you visit the Lord, when you look at the tabernacle, what do you do? Without speaking… “But I speak, I talk, I think, I meditate, I listen…” Very good! But do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord? Letting ourselves be gazed upon by the Lord. He looks at us and this is itself a way of praying. Do you yourselves be gazed upon by the Lord? But how do you do this? You look at the tabernacle and you let yourselves be looked at… it is simple! “It is a bit boring, I fall asleep”. Fall asleep then, sleep! He is still looking at you. But know for sure that he is looking at you! ... This warms the heart, igniting the fire of friendship with the Lord, making you feel that he truly sees you, that he is close to you and loves you."

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
Liturgical odds and ends

Saints of the Week

January 20th - Blessed Basil Anthony Marie Moreau
January 21st - St Agnes (Virgin)
January 22nd - Saint Dominic of Sora
January 23rd - Saint Colman of Lismore
January 24th - St Francis de Sales
January 25th - Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

14 Jan 2014

Pope's Mass: One doesn't need a course on Theology to pray - Rome Reports

During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis talked about different ways to worship. He denounced that at times Christians look down on others who pray in humble manner.
"How many times do the people of God feel unwanted by those that should be giving testimony? By Christians, laymen, priests, bishops... They say: 'Poor people, they don't understand anything... They should take a Theology course to understand.”
Pope Francis added that preaching isn't about correcting people. He also asked Catholics to avoid any type of hypocrisy and legalism.

Excerpts of the Popes homily - Vatican Radio
"It is Jesus himself who says that [the scribes] did not move these things even with a finger, right? And then He will say say to people: ‘Do what they say but not what they do!’ [They are] incoherent people. It always seems doesn’t it? that these scribes and Pharisees are always beating on the [regular folks]. ‘You must do this, this and this’ to the poor people. Jesus told them told the scribes and Pharisees that in this way, they closed the door to the Kingdom of Heaven, [as if to say], ‘You don’t let others enter, and so neither will you yourselves gain entrance.’ This is how some people teach, preach and witness the faithand how many people out there think that the faith really is as they present it.”

"How many times,” said Pope Francis, "do God's people feel themselves unloved by those who ought to give witness: by Christians by lay faithful, by priests, by bishops ... ‘But [these] poor bumpkins do not understand anything ... one needs to do a degree in theology to understand.’ Why, then, do I have some sympathy for this man, [Eli]? Because in his heart he still had the anointing, because when the woman explains her situation, Eli says, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you what you asked for.’ The priestly anointing comes out in the end: he had hidden it inside his laziness, poor man, a lukewarm man, and it ends badly for him, poor fellow.”

"Let us ask the Lord that these two readings help us in our lives as Christians: all of us, each of us in his own place [let us learn] not to be pure legalists, hypocrites like the scribes and Pharisees. Let us not be corrupt like the sons of Eli, nor to be lukewarm as Eli himself, but to be like Jesus, with that zeal to seek the people, heal people, to love people, and with this to say: ‘But if I do this tiny little thing, little as I am, think about how God loves you, think about how your Father is!’ Let us ask for this grace.”

Pope Francis grants indulgence for Holy Name Year

From Catholic Ireland.net:

A special year long religious celebration launched this month by Poor Clare nuns and Franciscans friars in Ireland has received a major boost with the news that Pope Francis has bestowed his seal of approval on the event.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who holds the Church’s title of the Cardinal Penitentiary, has informed the Irish friars and the Galway city-based nuns that the Pope has decreed that a plenary indulgence will be granted to the Irish faithful who participate in devotions honouring the Holy Name of Jesus over the course of 2014.

Pope Francis’s interest in the Irish year of devotion is believed to be linked to his special affinity with the Franciscan charism and his own devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. On election last March, he chose to include the monogram IHS in his papal crest.

In addition to the granting of a plenary indulgence, the Pope has also decreed that the celebrations will have the status of a jubilee year.

Responding to the news, the mother abbess of the Poor Clares in Galway, an enclosed community, said they were “thrilled”.

Sr Colette told CatholicIreland.net that the jubilee was even bigger than the indulgence as it was “a sign of God’s lavish mercy. It is like the celebration of a wedding anniversary.”

“We never dreamed that this centenary would get such recognition from Pope Francis. We had applied for the granting of a special indulgence but the granting of Jubilee Year status is far beyond what we expected,” she added.

The Roman office responsible for granting indulgences, stated that, Pope Francis … “most willingly expressing his paternal benevolence, grants a Jubilee Year with the attached Plenary Indulgence”.

Continue reading HERE.

Our previous post about the Year of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Lent at Ephesus

Founded in 1995, The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles: are a young, monastic order of Sisters. United with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, the sisters seek above all else, a life of union with God in prayer as guided by the Rule of St. Benedict. They pray and sacrifice especially for the sanctification of priests. The Sisters sing together eight times a day as they chant the Divine Office in Latin. Along with the making of priestly vestments and sacred linens, The Benedictines of Mary also take care of gardens, an orchard and a small farm.
You can find out more about their album HERE.

St Ita's Day Mass - Livestream 15th January 2014

(c) Marie Keating - contact
From 10.30am on the 15th January 2014 live streaming from Killeedy of the Annual St. Ita’s Day Mass and celebrations will be available from Kantoher Development Group website.

11 Jan 2014

12th January 2014 - Baptism of the Lord - St Ita of Killeedy

On this weeks programme John and Lorraine are joined by Michael Keating who tells us about St Ita of Killeedy whose feast day we celebrate on 15th January 2013. We have our regular reflection on the gospel and a reflection on the 'giftedness' of baptism. We also have  some other liturgical odds and ends.
You can listen to the full programme podcast HERE.
St Ita of Killeedy  

St Ita also known as the Brigid of Munster is associated with the parish of Killeedy 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. We discuss how she is a role model and especially how she is a role model for women and what she would say to us in Limerick today. We discuss her links with Killeedy, her fostering of various Irish saints and her link with St. Brendan the Navigator. 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."

Bishop Brendan Leahy will join parish priest Fr John Keating and the people of Killeedy on Wednesday January 15th in celebrating the feast of St Ita- patroness of the Diocese. In the tradition and spirit of St Ita the people of Killeedy make January 15th a day of prayer and celebration. Raheenagh Church will be full to capacity for concelebrated Mass at 11am. Afterwards people will "pay the rounds" at St Ita's Shrine. Mass will be celebrated in Ashford Church at 7.30pm.

Legend has it that Ita had a little cell built for herself away from the convent (probably made of thatch and wattle) and there she would spend some hours each day in quiet prayer. In keeping with this practice there will be 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration in Raheenagh Church commencing after 10am Mass on Tuesday 14th Jan.

You can listen to Michael Keating's 2014 reflection on St Ita HERE.
You can read the 2013 post on St Ita including a discussion between Fr Michael Liston and Michael Keating HERE and previous posts including the readings and other information HERE.

Gospel - Matthew 3:3-13

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."


It was a voice out of nowhere.
It was a voice from everywhere.
It was the voice of love.
It was the voice from above.
“You are my beloved,” came the words;
“You are my beloved,” was what they heard.
“You are my Son;”
“You are the One.”
The words were spoken at the river
By One, who of all life, is the giver.
The words were spoken to identify Jesus;
The words were spoken that God might touch us.
Down through the centuries of life,
Through war and pestilence and strife,
The faithful lose all fear,
When “You are my beloved” is what they hear.
The words are meant for all;
The words are God’s call.
“I love you without reserve.”
“I love you more than you deserve.”
And then there comes a time in each soul
When we embrace our God and commit our whole.
We say we will follow Jesus’ way
And in his path we will stay.
But sometimes we forget that we are the beloved.
Sometimes we fail to seek the way of love.
Sometimes we think that on our own we can win.
Often we must repent of our life of sin.
And again we pledge our hearts and vow
That we want to make a difference now.
We hear the challenge to reach out –
We look beyond our walls and that’s what Christianity is about.
We remember that Jesus would not be in our midst.
He would be among the people whom we try to miss.
He would walk with the homeless, sit with the sick –
The poorest of the poor would be his pick.
When we do likewise, our soul is eased
And God says of us, “With you I am well pleased.”
And in the squalor of our sinful life, God continues to love
And speaks to the people of the ages that we, too, are the beloved.

Rev. Terry Heck, Bellbrook UMC, Bellbrook, OH.

You can listen to this weeks reflection on Baptism excerpted from the programme HERE where we reflect on the 'giftedness' of baptism and how those who are baptised now belong to Christ. As Pope Francis reminded us during the week baptism is no just a formality. "It is an act that touches the depths of our existence. A baptized child and an unbaptized child are not the same. A person who is baptized and a person who is not baptized are not the same. We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters".

Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience has begun a series on the sacraments and this week he spoke about baptism, you can read/listen to it HERE.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire - Priest, Prophet, and King : The Baptism of the Lord
Blue Eyed Ennis
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy

UPDATE: Digital Nun blogging at iBenedictines on the Baptism of the Lord

Our previous posts on this feast day HERE and HERE.
Liturgical odds and ends
Liturgy of the Hours - 1st Week in Ordinary time, Psalter Week 1
Saints of the Week
13th January - St Hilary
14th January - St Sava of Serbia
15th January - St Ita of Killeedy; co-patron of the diocese of Limerick
16th January - St Fursa (abbott and missionary)
17th January - St Anthony (abbot)
18th January - St Ulfrid of Sweden Beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

10 Jan 2014

Fr Michael De Verteuil CSSp - RIP

SacredSpace102fm is sad to hear of the news of the death of Fr Michael de Verteuil CSSp. As regular readers/listeners of the programme know, we encourage the practise of lectio divina and for many people Fr Michael was an encouragement and guide to this ancient monastic practise through his books and many talks.
May he rest in peace. 

From the Archdiocese of Port of Spain:

Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp, former rector of the Regional Seminary at Mt St Benedict and managing director and editor of the Catholic News, has died at the age of 84. Fr de Verteuil, who was also provincial of the Holy Ghost Fathers from 1980 to 1992, was found dead in his room on Sunday morning, after repeated calls went unanswered.

The funeral of Fr Michel, as he has been more affectionately called, took place on Thursday, January 9, at St Theresa’s Church, De Verteuil Street, Woodbrook. A priest for 54 years, Fr Michel’s influence extended beyond the Archdiocese and the Caribbean region. He became Seminary rector in 1970, shepherding its transition from an Archdiocesan seminary to a regional institution. 
In 1980 Fr Michel founded the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre situated at UWI Chaplaincy, Carmody Road, St Augustine, and continued as its director until 2003. During this period, between 1992 and 2002, Fr Michel served as managing director and editor of the Catholic News. In 1998 the paper won a Royal Bank/ MATT Award for excellence in journalism – Best Editorial in print.

Fr Michel was co-founder of the annual School of Liturgy and one of the founders of Catholic Theology in the Caribbean, which brought together those interested in doing theology in the Caribbean space.

He was the principal promoter of Lectio Divina (a Latin expression for ‘sacred reading’) as a way of personal encounter with God through the words of Scripture. He worked to spread this method of reflection in the Caribbean, Ireland and Canada and wrote extensively on the topic.

In a message to priests and parish administrators on Fr Michel’s passing, Fr Clyde Harvey, Vicar for Clergy, writes: “At every step in his journey he profoundly influenced the lives of hundreds of Caribbean people as priest, mentor and friend, in the Church and beyond.”

Dear Papa , I ask you - Ten young women from different parts of the non-Catholic world interrogate Bergoglio

What do ten young women living in ten different countries have in common? To start with they are all daughters of the same era, all aged between twenty and thirty years old. If cultural relativism has created a gap in society also in geographically close areas, on the other hand the new generations around the globe are linked by common lifestyles, new technologies and a neo-scientific worldview that rejects any a priori possibility of transcendence, so that - to paraphrase Pope Francis - one could speak of globalization of immanence.

Yet the ten women we interviewed did not all belong to the category of rational non-believers. Some are agnostic, where agnosticism is today the secular faith that transversely informs globalized youth culture (uncertainty of the future, refusal to take responsibility for definitive decisions, a fascination for the uncertain), hidden under the guise of a supposed greater freedom: the ability to be able to rewrite their own thoughts without succumbing to the heaviness of irrevocable decisions, charged with those traditional confessions that up until now were presumed to be unfit to interpret existential needs. However one can glimpse through the profiles of the ten young women and notice anxieties for something that lies beyond, but that they do not know how to explain, and that is perhaps the real common denominator of this generation. The queries that the ten women pose to the Pope have nothing to do with the very serious and fundamental theological and doctrinal dilemmas that make up the central plot of religious matters, nor do they have anything to do with curiosity about the habits and the personal tastes of the Pope. They are on the other hand questions that go straight to the heart of issues important to ordinary people.
Continue reading HERE.

8 Jan 2014

Pope Francis: Our baptism gives us a new and glorious hope

During his first general audience of the year, Pope Francis talked about the Sacrament of Baptism, the "immersion into the Salvation of Jesus.” He said the Baptism was not just a simple rite, or official act from the Church. He then tasked all the pilgrims at St. Peter's Square to "re-awaken” the memory of their Baptism, and find out when they became a part of the Christian family.
He went on to say that Baptisms take place only inside the Church, who is like a mother who births children through this Sacrament. The Pope closed off his remarks by asking the pilgrims to look up the date of their Baptism, and know it as well as the date of their birthday, because it is "a festive day.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we begin a series of catecheses on the Sacraments, starting with Baptism. By happy coincidence this coming Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The concept of “sacrament” is at the heart of our Christian faith and sends us back to an event of grace in which God makes himself present and acts in our life. The Second Vatican Council says at the beginning of the Constitution on the Church: “the Church in Christ is in the nature of sacrament - a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (Lumen Gentium, n. 1). This means then that the seven Sacraments take shape in the Church herself, who, like a universal sacrament, extends throughout history the salvific and life-giving action of Christ. He is the One who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, continually renews the Christian community and sends it out into the world to bring to all salvation by word and deed, through preaching and the Sacraments.

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas - UPDATED

The countries that still follow the Julian calendar celebrated Christmas on 7th January. Millions of Orthodox faithful are celebrate the feast of Jesus’ birth. Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on 7 January instead of 25 December because they follow the Julian calendar not the Gregorian one. So 7th January is a day of celebration for those countries and canonical territories that stuck to the Julian calendar: Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, Jerusalem and Mount Athos.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomaios I Christmas message highlighted the church's support and concerns for family life as well as the threats against Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.

"Beloved brothers and sisters, children in Christ, 2013 years have passed since the birth of Christ in the flesh.  
2013 years have passed and, like then, Christ continues to be persecuted in the person of the weak by Herod and all kinds of contemporary Herods  
2013 years have passed and Jesus is persecuted in the person of Christians in Syria and elsewhere  
2013 years have passed and Christ still flees like a refugee not only in Egypt, but also in Lebanon, Europe, America and elsewhere, seeking security in an insecure world  
2013 years have passed and the child Jesus remains imprisoned with the two hierarchs in Syria, Paul (Yazigi) and Youhanna (Ibrahim), as well as the Orthodox nuns and many other known and unknown Christians  
2013 years have passed and Christ is crucified with those who are tortured and killed in order not to betray their faith in Him  
2013 years have passed and Jesus is daily put to death in the person of thousands of embryos, whose parents prevent from being born  
2013 years have passed and Christ is mocked and ridiculed in the person of unfortunate children, who experience the crisis of the family, destitution and poverty.  
It is this human pain, sorrow and affliction that our Lord came and once more comes to assume during this Christmas season. After all, He said: “As you have done to one of these, the least of my brothers and sisters,” you have done to me.” (Matt. 25.40-41) It is for these that He was born of a Virgin, for these that He became human, for these that He suffered, was crucified and arose from the dead. That is to say: for all of us. Thus, let each of us lift up our personal cross in order to find grace and mercy when we seek His assistance. Then, the born Emmanuel, our Savior and Lord, will “be with us.” Amen. 
You can read the full message HERE
Patriarch Bartolomaios I is due to meet with Pope Francis during the pontiff's planned visit to the Holy Land at the end of May 2014. The pastoral trip to Amman, Jerusalem and Bethlehem marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras on 5th January 1964. Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartolomaios are due to meet at an ecumenical gathering at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the pontiff's trip. This visit will follow on from Bartolomaios attendance at the Mass inaugurating the pontificate of Pope Francis I in April 2013.
The meeting in 1964 was historic as the first meeting between Pope and Patriarch since the Council of Florence in 1439 (and came during the first visit of a pope to the Holy Land since St Peter). It was followed on by a joint Catholic-Orthodox declaration, approved by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, read simultaneously (Dec. 7 1965) at a public meeting of the second Vatican Council in Rome and at a special ceremony in Istanbul which lifted the mutual  Catholic-Orthodox exchanges of excommunications in 1054.  
Given the turbulent relationships between Rome and Moscow and Constantinople and Moscow it is unlikely that Patriarch Kirill may be in attendance but given that the Ecumenical Patriarch has summoned a surprise preparatory meeting of the patriarchs and archbishops of all the Orthodox Churches at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul this coming March you can never tell. (The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the guidelines and timeframe for the Preparatory Commission of the Pan-Orthodox Synod which is scheduled to take place in 2015). Patriarch Kirill last visited Jerusalem in Novemeber 2012.]
Pope Tawadros
An Egyptian army soldier guards St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Monday

Coptic Christians in Egypt celebrated Christmas after a summer that was clouded by the violence of Islamist attacks. Tawadros prays that the New Year will bring goodness and peace to the whole of Egypt. Last year was Tawadros’ Christmas: he had just been elected Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Twelve months have passed since then and it has been a tough time for Egypt. The country’s armed forces are back at the helm, many have died during the demonstrations staged by the Muslim Brotherhood and churches across the country have been left scarred by the wave of Islamist attacks last August. So as the Coptic community prepares to celebrate Christmas tomorrow (7 January) it finds itself suspended between the fear of fresh violence and the hope of beginning a new chapter.

Continue reading HERE.

Vatican Insider reports:

Patriarch Kirill

Patriarch Kirill celebrated Midnight Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, which was attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. President Putin attended mass at the new Cathedral in Sotchi, where the winter Olympics will be held next month.

“And today we celebrate an event which at its root has changed the entire course of human history. God enters the very depths of human life, he becomes one of us, he takes upon himself the weight of our sins, human infirmities and weaknesses – he brings them to Golgotha in order to free people from this unbearable burden. God henceforth is no longer to be found somewhere in the unattainable heavens, but is here, with us, among us,” Patriarch Kirill said in his Christmas message.

You can read Patriarch Kirill's full Christmas message HERE


A few interesting videos on Rome/Constantinople relationships starting with Pope Benedicts visit to Phanar and some insight into Pope Francis relationship with Orthodox as he was the bishop with responsibility for Eastern Orthodox in communion with Rome in Argentina as archbishop of Argentina.