31 Dec 2015

New Years Eve 2015 - Te Deum

Sunset over the Shannon Estuary from South Cappa, Loughill, Co Limerick
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill

The evening draws in on the last day of 2015 and we celebrate first vespers for the Solemnity of the Mother of God on January 1st. The civil year draws to a close as we reflect on the year just past with all "joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted" reminding ourselves that these "are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well". We look forward to 2016 and what may come.

Tradition also has the singing of the Te Deum to mark the closing of the civil year. The Te Deum is a hymn of praise that dates from early Christian times. In Latin, the hymn’s words: “Te Deum laudamus” can be translated "Thee, O God, we praise".

A more traditional version in latin

The Te Deum (also known as Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church) is an early Christian hymn of praise. The title is taken from its opening Latin words, Te Deum laudamus, rendered literally as "Thee, O God, we praise".

We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
let me never be confounded.

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

Seeking Jesus, and finding faith - The 4th Wiseman

Are Your Christmas Traditions Fire or Ashes? Worthy traditions deserve a persevering love, and there can be no greater gift than handing on the faith from one generation to the next

Dorothy Day had nothing to say to this theologian – or so he thought

Co-incidence & Conversion - "It’s not too much to say that my charismatic upbringing trained my eyes to see all this. In the rituals of the Catholic Church, in the saints, in the papacy, and in the sacraments, I was able to recognize a drawing near to the person of Christ—in large part because another tradition taught me to recognize him in the first place."

Less travel, more reforms for Francis in 2016 Highlights include visit to Mexico, World Youth Day, all against the backdrop of the Year of Mercy

How to Easily Read the Whole Bible in 2016

18 Magical Photos of France’s Breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel

Priests aren't mushrooms: Pope Francis' reflection on priestly ministry, for mation

The Auschwitz Survivor Who Adopted the Grandson of Her Nazi Captor

Meet the monks who decided to go green years before Laudato Si

Thomas Becket and the King

Hilary Clinton: Islamic State’s killing of Christians should be labeled genocide
Top 16 in 2015 — Our Favorite Aleteia Pieces - Before we ring in 2016, a look back at some of our favorites you might not have seen
Femen Foundress Rejects Radical Past, Embraces Pro-Life Movement - Sara Winter talks with Aleteia about her journey from outrageous outlier to Christian seeker.

How to (Finally) Keep a Journal in 2016 - Helpful tips for recording something meaningful in your life in the new year

Somalia: A ‘fragile state’ - Somalia is the second most dangerous nation in the world for Christians

Vespers and Te Deum for New Years Eve in Rome - Pope Francis: the good always wins

Vatican Radio:

“How meaningful it is to be gathered together to give praise to the Lord at the end of the year!”

Those were the words of Pope Francis as he celebrated First Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God in St Peter’s Basilica on Thursday evening. The liturgy at the conclusion of the civil year included the singing of the Te Deum, the Church’s solemn hymn of praise and thanksgiving.

“The Church on so many occasions feels the joy and the duty of lifting up her song to God with these words of praise,” the Pope said in his homily. In particular, the final words of the hymn – “Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee” – have a special resonance during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Te Deum, he continued, also helps us see the works of God in history and in our own lives, and gives us hope for the new year that lies before us.
Today, Pope Francis said, “our eyes need to focus on the particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand.” The Holy Father recalled scenes of violence and death that marked the previous year, the untold suffering of many innocent people, the plight of refugees forced to leave their homes, of the homeless, and the hungry. But he also noted the many acts of kindness, love, and solidarity that often go unnoticed, but which should not be obscured by “the arrogance of evil.” “The good always wins,” the Pope said, “even if at times it can appear weak and hidden.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a few words for the people of the local church of Rome, inviting Romans to “go beyond the difficulties of the present moment,” and never miss the opportunity to be “privileged interpreters of faith, welcome, fraternity, and peace.”


Crux - Pope says violence and tragedy shouldn’t define 2015

Pope Francis meditates on the teachings of the Baby Jesus during last general audience of 2016

Text of full reflection at the general audience is available HERE.

Rome Reports - The Best Images of 2015

The Complexities of the Liturgical Calendar - a note about the weekend of 3 January 2016

While trying to understand the minutiae of the complexities of the liturgical calendar would probably be a good cure for insomnia for most Catholics in the pew, on SS102fm we do have to keep an eye on it so we don't cause confusion to our listeners and our international readership. However, Christmastide in particular can be a little confusing so just to note a couple of things for this weekend:

1. In Ireland, 3rd January 2016 is the second Sunday of Christmas as Ireland still holds to the ancient tradition of celebrating Epiphany on January 6th.

2. In UK and USA, the respective conference of bishops have moved the celebration of Epiphany to the nearest Sunday so in those respective countries this weekend is the Feast of the Epiphany.

3. To make things a little more complicated for SS102fm, as we are based in Limerick we need to keep an eye on the local calendar and this year the feast day of St Munchin, principal patron of our home diocese falls on a Sunday. This means that for the Diocese of Limerick it displaces the 2nd Sunday of Christmas and we celebrate St Munchin's feast day as a Solemnity.   

We will be posting for the feast of St Munchin and the 2nd Sunday of Christmas this weekend but we wont be putting up any posts for Epiphany until 6th January - Nollaig na mBan.

28 Dec 2015

Community Spirit in rural Ireland - no matter what!

Despite the difficulties that the flooding is causing in the mid-lands and along the banks of the Shannon river, families and communities still try to carry on with life (and death) which has been on-going now for 3 weeks - although if you were relying on the Dublin based media to tell you about it, you might think all was ok at this stage!

However, the sense of community and pulling together epitomised by this picture from the Irish Times:

The remains of Johnny Clarke being transported to Saints' Island Graveyard in Co Longford, which was cut-off due to flooding. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
We can talk sometimes about the decline of rural Ireland, but when push comes to shove, community and neighbours are important no matter what and in rural Ireland we still respect our dead - a true example of the call of Pope Francis to reflect and act on the corporal works of mercy.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

(Vatican Radio) Why bother remembering the Holy Innocents every year on the 28th of December? Why spoil the Christmas season by bringing to mind such a horrendous episode? As Monsignor Peter Fleetwood explains : "...these young boys lost their lives because somebody realised how powerful Jesus Christ really was: He didn't understand why Jesus was powerful , or how he would eventually exercise that power, but he knew there was something special about Jesus , and recognised there was not enough room in the kingdom for both of them- or so he thought."...

Listen to Monsignor Peter Fleetwood in a programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick for the series: "Why Bother? Staying Catholic despite it All" on Vatican Radio

27 Dec 2015

Taize European Meeting 2016 - Valencia Spain

The 2016 European Meeting of Young Adults will be held in the city and region of Valencia (Spain), from 28 December 2015 to 1 January 2016. The meeting will be prepared by the Taizé Community at the invitation of the Catholic Archdiocese and of other churches. Tens of thousands of young people will gather for this new stage of the “pilgrimage of trust on earth” which brother Roger began in the late 1970s.
You can follow the European meeting on various sources but the best place to start is the Taize Community site HERE. The page includes links to Taize Facebook, Instagram and the daily meditations from Br Alois will be published on the site as well. Messages from various religious leaders including Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew can be read HERE.
The provisional programme of the event is HERE for those that want to follow it online. Those that will be lucky enough to participate and take part in the meeting in Valencia and....

... pray in song and in silence on the Mediterranean coast.

... join tens of thousands of young adults from Europe and beyond to stir up our hope.

... experience the hospitality of families of Valencia.

... meet with people who are living out the Gospel and shaping a human society for the future.

Taize Letter 2016 - The Courage of Mercy

Throughout the year 2015, at Taizé, we looked for ways to get involved in new solidarities; these are so urgent today. Across the earth, new forms of distress — migratory, ecological and social — are a challenge for believers of different religions and for non-believers alike.

Armed violence is wreaking havoc in the name of inhuman ideologies. While remaining clear-headed, we shall continue our “pilgrimage of trust” as a way of resisting the fear generated by insecurity. It is even more urgent that those who are looking forward to — or already living — a globalization of solidarity support one another.

When the storm rages, a house built on rock remains stable (Matthew 7:24-25). We want to build our lives on the words of Christ, and so our rock will consist of a few basic Gospel realities, accessible to all: joy – simplicity – mercy. Brother Roger set these at the heart of the life of our Taizé Community; they enabled him to keep going, even in difficult times. He assimilated them in order to return to them day after day.

These three words will guide us on our journey over the next three years. In 2016, we shall begin with mercy, in the same spirit as the Year of Mercy launched by Pope Francis.

The Gospel calls us to bear witness to God’s compassion. Here are five proposals to awaken in us the courage of mercy.

Brother Alois

Continue reading the letter HERE.

Feast of the Holy Family - Jubilee of Mercy for Families - UPDATED

(Vatican Radio) - Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered beneath a Sun-drenched Roman sky in an unseasonably warm St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the third day of Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

“By the example and witness of the Holy Family,” said Pope Francis, “each family can draw valuable guidance for life and lifestyle choices, and can draw strength and wisdom for the journey of every day.” He went on to say, “Our Lady and Saint Joseph teach us to welcome children as a gift from God, to get them and rear them, cooperating in a wonderful way with the Creator’s work and giving to the world, in every child, a new smile.”

“It is,” said Pope Francis, “in united families that children bring their small lives into full maturity, living the meaningful and effective experience of love freely given and received, of tenderness, mutual respect, mutual understanding, forgiveness and joy.”

26 Dec 2015

27th December 2015 - Feast of the Holy Family - Medugorje

Given it is Christmastide this weeks programme is a pre-recorded programme where John explores the story of the controversial pilgrimage site which is Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina during a visit to the shrine during 2015. We have a recording of the story of the apparitions as well as the personal story of Emily Aldridge who was a Welsh pilgrim.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks programme HERE.

Exploring the story of Medjugorje

In the second part of the programme we have an account of the story of Medjugorje which was recorded during a visit to the shrine in 2015.

Some other reading about Medjugorje:
Why Medjugorje matters - Crux
The Medjugorje web - is the very first web site created in 1995 about Medjugorje, and is still the largest, most comprehensive, and visited Medjugorje web site on the internet.
CNA - CDF reportedly judges Medjugorje apparitions false, but permits pilgrimage
NCR- Vatican Remains Mum on Medjugorje: No Decision Has Been Made
In the third part of the programme, John has an interview with Emily Aldridge about her experience in Medjugorje. 

John and Emily


The Feast of the Holy Family - Gospel (Luke 2:41-52)
The Sunday which falls within the Octave of Christmas (i.e. between 25th December and 1st January) is set aside as the Feast of the Holy Family and this year displaces the feast day of St John the Evangelist.
"Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. 
The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instil into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families" - CatholicCulture.org

"Think about it. The creator of the universe spent most of his human life as a craftsman, working with dad in the family business and ultimately taking it over. Mary, the holiest of all creatures, spent most of her time changing diapers, cooking, and cleaning. The secret to holiness is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love and gratitude...."
Continue reading this reflection here.
"Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel . . . How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truth. . . May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute." from an address given by Blessed Paul VI in Nazareth, January 5 1964
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  
Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.  
Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy, St Louis University
ACP Reflections on the Holy Family
Liturgical odds & ends
Liturgy of the Hours: Psalter week 1, Octave of Christmas
Saints of the Week
December 28th - The Holy Innocents (martyrs)
December 29th - St Thomas á Becket
December 30th - St Egwin
December 31st - St Sylvester
January 1st - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Also World Day of Peace
January 2nd - Ss Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen
January 3rd - For the diocese of Limerick - St Munchin - patron of the diocese. As the feast day of the principal patron of the diocese falls on a Sunday it is celebrated/ranked as a Solemnity in the diocese of Limerick.
January 3rd - For every where else - 2nd Sunday of Christmas

Homily for Christmas Eve - Abbot Patrick Hederman, Glenstal Abbey

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
Dom Mark Patrick Hederman
Abbot - Glenstal Abbey

Before we talk about God and incarnation, let’s talk about us. Here am I standing in front of you this evening, a body with a mouth. Without these two you can’t find out what’s inside me. My inner life is completely cut off. I can speak, and the words I say give you some idea of what is inside. My flesh becomes word and you can get the message. But the body also is sending out signals, a hidden commentary on what I say: the tone, the facial expression, the delivery. ‘There you are,’ you can say, ‘you think you’re great standing up there behind that microphone. You’re looking down your nose. Your posh accent, your massive chin are portraits of an abbot as a spiritual snob!’

And that’s the problem of incarnation: we all arrive in a moving container of  flesh, a wheely-bin, which can be attractive or off-putting, depending on the package deal you got. ‘I’m sorry if you don’t like my face, Bob Hope used to say, – it came with the body, you see they went as a set.’ This bodily person is our interpreter; through it, with it, in it, we learn everything we are ever going to know about each other: carnal knowledge in every sense of the word. And the mystery is that inside every refuse sack there’s a diamond trying to get out.

What we celebrate this holy night is the fact that the eternal, the almighty, the infinite God was squeezed through this same mysterious filter. God too became a body walking around Palestine. ‘The word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ ‘Blessed is He who has made our body a tabernacle for His hidden Nature.’ So sang St Ephrem, a fourth century Syrian poet. The mystery of the inner life of the Trinity has been filtered through the three-year span of the public life of one person, who was God here on earth.

The people around Jesus who were with him in the flesh, were captivated by what they saw, what they heard, what they touched. St John, particularly, never stops telling us how some kind of lightning flashed through the frame of this person which compelled worship and discipleship. We, who come two thousand years later, are left with the pieces of the jigsaw, of one thousand days of his living and breathing. We have the whispers, the traces, the fragments left over, which others have collected.

We know relatively nothing about Jesus until he burst on to the public stage at the age of thirty. The angels, the manger, the straw, the magi, the star, the shepherds, the ox and the ass, these are all images which later generations plastered onto the bare walls of the untrammelled fact: Jesus Christ was born. It is the fact of his birth and not the circumstances that matters. Almighty God became a child; and from that moment human nature, mine and yours, in whatever shape or size, qualified for eternal life, became capable of divinity, became heaven-worthy. This is our great celebration.

And we celebrate these mysteries of God’s life on earth in a very specific and particular way which we call liturgy. We ponder in our hearts every second of this life, which describes the most perfect attitude possible to every human situation. The Liturgy takes all the information about this life, and using every manner of expression available to us as human beings, shakes them up and pours them out like ‘filings which gather to form a figure in a magnetic field.’ That’s why we have a crib, an Advent wreath, a Midnight Mass, that’s why we give presents to each other, that’s why we have a Christmas tree. We use every custom, every privilege, every means at our disposal to gather round God and say: good on you, welcome aboard for Christmas 2015. We’re together in the business of making 2016 the best year yet. We’re not just relying on Enda, or Micheál, Lucinda, Gerry or Joan, we’re relying on God. By taking His body and blood into our body and blood in the Eucharist this holy night, we too become overshadowed by His Holy Spirit; we too give birth to Jesus Christ; we too become incarnations of Divine life; and we walk out of this church as little Christmases spreading the energy of His life and His love throughout our world.

‘Some want a society with no place for God’ - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin


Ireland’s relationship with God is “increasingly ambiguous” and some people want a society in which there is no place for God in the public square, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has warned in his Christmas homily.

At Christmas Mass in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin, the Archbishop said that alongside men and women of deep faith and commitment there are those who struggle with the very idea of God, because of the harshness of the world and the mystery of evil.

He added that there are those who are angry with God and with the Church or indeed are angry with God because of the Church. “How many times do I hear the phrase: ‘I am just hanging in there by the tips of my fingers’.”

Highlighting that some people want to banish the God, who appears in a crib, off our streets, Dr Martin asked why are people afraid of or unsettled by a God who appears as a defenceless child?
He also expressed concern that some believers would feel happier with “a warrior God who builds ramparts of defence”.

Addressing the Christmas story, Dr Martin said a God who appears as a defenceless child is not “a useless fairy tale” or the angry, arrogant and judgmental God that we might have been taught about in school.

Cold human rationality will not lead us to the God who appears in the birth of Jesus Christ, he said
and added that the message of the birth of Jesus in simplicity and defencelessness helps us to understand that dreams and idealism are possible.

Read full text of Archbishop Martin's homily here.

Christmas 2015 - Feast of St Stephen Protomartyr - December 26th (2nd Day of the Octave of Christmas)

Today is the second day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stoned outside Jerusalem, he died praying for his executioners. He was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles; he was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude." The Church draws a comparison between the disciple and his Master, emphasizing the imitation of Christ even unto the complete gift of self. His name is included in the Roman Canon.

The liturgy extends the Solemnity of Christmas for eight days: a time of joy for the entire People of God! And on this second day of the octave, the Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, is inserted into the joy of Christmas. The book of the Acts of the Apostles presents him to us as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5), chosen with six others for the service of widows and the poor in the first Community of Jerusalem. And it tells us about his martyrdom, when after a fiery dispute that aroused the anger of the members of the Sanhedrin, he was dragged outside the city walls and stoned. Stephen dies like Jesus, asking pardon for those who killed him (7:55-60).

In the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, this commemoration may seem out of place. For Christmas is the celebration of life and it fills us with sentiments of serenity and peace. Why disturb the charm with the memory of such atrocious violence? In reality, from the perspective of faith, the Feast of St Stephen is in full harmony with the deeper meaning of Christmas. In martyrdom, in fact, violence is conquered by love, death by life. The Church sees in the sacrifice of the martyrs their “birth into heaven”. Therefore, today we celebrate the “birth” of Stephen, which in its depths springs from the Birth of Christ. Jesus transforms the death of those who love him into a dawn of new life!

In the martyrdom of Stephen the same confrontation between good and evil, between hatred and forgiveness, between meekness and violence, which culminated in the Cross of Christ. Thus, the remembrance of the first martyr immediately dispels a false image of Christmas: the fairytale, sugarcoated image, which is not in the Gospel! The liturgy brings us back to the authentic meaning of the Incarnation, by linking Bethlehem to Calvary and by reminding us that the divine salvation involved the battle against sin, it passes through the narrow door of the Cross. This is the path which Jesus clearly indicated to his disciples, as today’s Gospel attests: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22).

Therefore today we pray especially for the Christians who are discriminated against on account of the witness they bear to Christ and to the Gospel. Let us remain close to these brothers and sisters who, like St Stephen, are unjustly accused and made the objects of various kinds of violence. Unfortunately, I am sure they are more numerous today than in the early days of the Church. There are so many! This occurs especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or fully realized. However, it also happens in countries and areas where on paper freedom and human rights are protected, but where in fact believers, and especially Christians, face restrictions and discrimination. I would like to ask you to take a moment in silence to pray for these brothers and sisters [...] and let us entrust them to Our Lady (Hail Mary...). This comes as no surprise to a Christian, for Jesus foretold it as a propitious occasion to bear witness. Still, on a civil level, injustice must be denounced and eliminated. -
Pope Francis, Angelus, 26/12/2013
Pope Benedict XVI - Angelus - 26th December 2012
Divine Office - Office of Readings for feast of St Stephen
Catholic Culture - St Stephen
American Catholic - St Stephen
Fisheaters - St Stephen
Catholic Culture - Catholic Activity: Day Two ~ Activities for the Feast of St. Stephen


Pope Francis entrusts today’s new Christian martyrs to Mary
Vatican Radio - Pope Angelus: Forgive like St Stephen

More than 400,000 pilgrims have already passed through the Holy Door in the Vatican - Rome Reports

25 Dec 2015

Christmas Message from the Bishops of Limerick

We're both quite new to Limerick and its surrounds, and it's a real delight to see the way Limerick celebrates Christmas. The city looks great with street lights, shop windows and Christmas tunes everywhere, but so too does every town and villages, each celebrating Christmas in their own way.
There is plenty to celebrate – time with family, homecomings, young children, presents – and at the heart of it all the central Christian message that God came among us as a baby and remains with us today. Amidst all the tinsel and glitter, there is this simple true story of a young mother and her baby, a baby who would grow up to change the world and open up the possibility of new life and a new relationship with God.
That young baby and his parents were homeless at the time; that's why they found themselves in a stable. Very soon they were refugees in Egypt, escaping a tyrant who sought to kill all young children. That's why refugees and those who are homeless are often at the centre of our concerns around Christmas.
Homelessness is a terrible scourge in any society. Not to have a place to call home robs individuals of their dignity and of their self-worth. If you don't have a home it's hard to get a job. If a family is homeless their children find it hard to go to school and to settle down. The instability of homelessness brings suffering which continues right throughout life. And yet we hear more people are homeless in Ireland than ever before, and despite all our concerns and efforts the situation is getting worse, not better.
We sit in stunned silence every night in front of our televisions watching images of another refugee crisis in the middle-east and in Europe. We are silent at the unspeakable violence which drives people from their homes, and pushes them to undertake the dangerous journey by boat in an effort to find safety, security and a new life free of fear.
When news broke that some of those refugees would be coming to Ireland the immediate response was one of sympathy and welcome. That welcome will, we are sure continue into 2016 when the first refugees arrive.
Homelessness, refugees, part of that first Christmas in Palestine 2000 years ago, and still with us. How we as a society respond to this during 2016 will be the test as to whether we take the Christmas message, seriously, whether our celebrations are sincere.
So may we wish you all a happy and meaning-filled Christmas, and a peaceful New Year.
Brendan Leahy. Kenneth Kearon.

Christmas present for Limerick Diocese - Nashville Dominican Sisters to arrive in Limerick August 2016 - UPDATED

Limerick Diocese Script (Christmas 2015):

Limerick is set to turn a religious tide by attracting a new order to the city in 2016 with the arrival of Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia (a.k.a. Nashville Dominicans) to take over the Priory and breath new life back into St Saviour's Church, Glentworth Street.

Four sisters will arrive in Limerick from the US in August 2016 and begin their work of prayer and community outreach.

The move will take effect less than two years after the Dominican Friars in Ireland announced it had embarked on a process of re-organising its commitments in Ireland in view of falling numbers and would be withdrawing from Limerick.

It will also take place in a special year for the Dominicans worldwide with the 800th anniversary of their foundation by the Spaniard, St Dominic. The Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia itself is a community founded in Nashville in 1860 and flourishing in the United States today.

The remarkable turn of events that has led to the Sisters of St Cecilia coming to Limerick started with an initial speculative contact by Limerick Bishop Brendan Leahy to the Sisters' headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I knew I would be in a long line of bishops making such requests but I decided at least I'd put my name down on the list," he said.

To Bishop Leahy's amazement, he got an immediate reply as the sisters came back to say they were interested in exploring the possibility. Two sisters came last summer and were taken with Limerick, where they were hosted by the Mercy Sisters in Westbourne. Bishop Leahy and Diocesan Secretary Fr Paul Finnerty spent a day showing the sisters around Limerick and soon after they returned to the States the community made the decision they wanted to come to Ireland and Limerick seemed the right place. Commenting on their new move to Limerick Mother Ann Marie, the Prioress General of the Order said, "Our entire community is very excited about being part of the life of the Church in the diocese of Limerick....This is a gift and privilege for us. In our community's early history, we had several sisters who were from Ireland, and a good number of our sisters are of Irish descent. The four sisters who will begin serving in the Diocese of Limerick in August of 2016 are eager to learn more about, and come to know personally, a people who have given so much to the Church".

The timing of the sisters arrival comes almost 800 years since the Order of Preachers (as they are known) came to Limerick in 1227 and established in a number of locations including Kilmallock and Limerick city. They are in Glentworth Street since 1815. The four Dominican sisters will live in the Dominican Priory in Glentworth Street, thereby providing continuity of prayer and the Dominican presence in St Saviour's.

With their distinctive while habits, the Sisters of St Cecilia, whose work is mainly in education, pastoral outreach and youth ministry, will be a significant presence in Limerick.


Bishop Brendan Leahy continued," I think this is a wonderful development. It will be a clear sign of hope for us all in this year when we are having a Synod. I look forward to welcoming the sisters and I know they will get a warm reception from the good-natured Limerick people who appreciate the contribution that Religious sisters have made in Limerick as we saw earlier this year when a civic reception was held to mark that contribution.

In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, it is like a gift from God to us that we can now look forward to the arrival of new young Dominican Sisters who will surely also be an inspiration to young people".



Some initial coverage of the news from Limerick Leader
Some questioning of the logic behind the move in terms of understanding of roles

Christmas 2015 - Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi


Pope Francis this Christmas day delivered his Urbi et Orbi message, (to the city and the world) from the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica. In it he prayed that recent U.N.-backed peace agreements for Syria and Libya would quickly end the suffering of their people.

He also spoke about the "brutal acts of terrorism'' that struck the French capital this year as well as conflicts in Africa, the Mideast and Ukraine.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis
Urbi et Orbi
25 December 2015
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas!
Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!

Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).

On this day, Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the “sign” of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he “is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). He is truly the Saviour, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.

He alone, he alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.

25 December 2015 - Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

From all the Sacred Space 102fm team, wishing you and yours every best wish and blessing of this Holy & Festive Season and into the New Year 2015.
May the Peace of the Babe of Bethlehem be the gift you receive this Christmastide.
John, Lorraine, Ann, Shane, Martina & Michael

You can listen to the podcast of the full two hour special Christmas Day programme HERE.

In a change to what was advertised, the repeat of the Christmas Day programme will be at 8pm on Christmas Day on West Limerick 102fm.


On this special two hour programme we celebrate this special day with reflections, favourite Christmas carols and hymns, readings, poetry and our regular reflection on the Gospel of the day. We are joined on the programme by Martina O'Sullivan, with a reflection by Bishop Brendan Leahy and Bishop Kenneth Kearon.

Advent Summons

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

"In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."  - (Luke 2: 1-20)

1 Corinthians 13 – a Christmas Version 
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

 If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.