29 Sep 2015

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel; Members of the Family

Over at Aleteia, the Anchoress reflects on todays feast day of the Archangels:
At morning prayer, the psalms seem suited to the archangels. Psalm 29 for Michael, the power of God: “The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters, the God of Glory thunders; the Lord on the immensity of waters…” And for Gabriel, Psalm 25, a quiet prayer of hope and trust. For Raphael, a psalm that I love, 147: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem, and brings back Israel’s exiles. And heals the broken-hearted; and binds up all their wounds.” 
Michael – who is as God; Gabriel – God’s messenger; Raphael – God’s healing. They say what angels always say, “Do not fear.”
– Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

My younger son has a particular devotion to the Archangel Michael, and took his name at his confirmation. Even when he was very small he would “talk” to Michael, and on the rare nights when he would awaken from a bad dream, we would whisper together about the powerful angel of God, the mighty warrior who puts down all that is evil and scary — dragons and prideful beings and such — and my son would be able to drift back into sleep having been consoled by the knowledge that such a warrior was on the job.

Once, when he was about eleven-years-old, my son ushered at a wedding and was gifted for his trouble with an Icon of the Archangel Michael. Bride and groom were both amused, nay, stunned, to watch him beam and clutch the treasure to his chest in heartfelt gratitude. That night, he fell asleep, still clutching Michael to his breast. “I’ve never seen a kid react to something religious like that,” the groom said. But my son and Michael go back a long way. There is history, there; it’s personal and private history, but it does a parent’s heart good, particularly when a son is grown into a man, to know that an angel plays a real and important role in the life of a family member.

An angel was standing near the altar in the temple; in his hand was a golden censer, and a large amount of incense was given to him. From the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up before God…
– Revelation, Chapter 8

When my elder son left for college, I slipped into his packs an Icon of Gabriel, God’s messenger. He put it up in his room, but wondered about it. Why Gabriel? I wondered about it, too, until I remembered that Gabriel is the messenger. My firstborn was going away, and I’m sure on some level, I was afraid I would never hear from him again. I think I hoped Gabriel would help keep the communication lines open.
 Continue reading here.

Year of Mercy - Two great confessors chosen for the Jubilee of Mercy: Saint Pio and Saint Leopold

Limerick Leader - Limerick councillors vote to reject abortion motion

LIMERICK councillors yesterday voted by almost two to one against a motion calling for a referendum to repeal the eighth - or “right to life” - amendment in the constitution.

The visitors’ gallery was crowded for the motion, which was proposed by Cllr Cian Prendiville of the Anti-Austerity Alliance but all the councillors who spoke in the debate said they had never received such a volume of emails, calls and texts on an issue and from both sides of the debate.
The eighth amendment doesn’t prevent abortions, Cllr Prendiville pointed out, as up to 4000 women go abroad each year and he focused in particular on the Ms Y case, where a young, migrant woman who had been raped was refused an abortion in Ireland, detained in Britain and then force-fed by court order. And he warned there could be more tragedies in the future.

His party colleague, Cllr Paul Keller, said they should trust the people of Ireland and allow a referendum take place.

For too long, there had been a “head in the sand” approach, Fianna Fail’s Cllr Shane Clifford said, supporting the call for a referendum. And he appealed for an end to treating the thousands of women who go abroad for abortions as statistics.

“These are real people with real stories,” he said. “Give people a real choice, not just a choice to terminate,” he continued, pointing out that it was cheaper to buy 12 cans of beer than 12 condoms.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Ciara McMahon, supporting the motion, pointed out that she came from a single parent family. Her mother, she said, had chosen to have her but was stigmatised as a single mother.

“If women had a choice, they would look for an education, a decent job, a decent home and probably a decent partner,” Cllr John Gilligan Ind said, arguing that nobody makes a choice for abortion.
“That choice is forced on people and nobody makes that decision lightly.”

Opposing the motion Cllr Emmett O’Brien said we are all equal before the law and there is no greater equality than that between the life of the mother and that of the unborn child. The eighth amendment has flaws, he said but “offers the best protection for both”.

“What choice has the unborn child?” Cllr Eddie Ryan FF asked, saying he had no hesitation in opposing the motion.

“It is a matter for legislation,” Cllr Noel Gleeson FF declared, also opposing the motion.

Fine Gael leader Cllr John Sheahan said they had discussed the motion and opinions had been expressed but they would not be supporting the motion.

Labour’s Cllr Elena Secas pointed out that they were not being asked to vote on the eighth amendment.

“We are asking the government to call a referendum on the eighth amendment,” she said.

The motion was defeated by 23 votes to 12. There were five councillors absent.

Cantate Domino - Sistine Chapel choir records a new album

Recorded, by kind permission of the Vatican, as the first studio album ever to be recorded in the Sistine Chapel featuring the Chapel’s resident choir – one of the longest-established choirs anywhere in the world. It is produced by Deutsche Grammophon and it is called "Cantate Domino". Recorded in the chapel for which most of the pieces were composed and in which they were originally sung.

"Christ our hope”- A talk given at Knock National Shrine, National Eucharistic Congress- 26th of September 2015

«Be strong, be faithful, wake up the world!» With these words Monsignor José Carballio, OFM, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life opened the World Meeting for Young Consecrated Men and Women last week in St Peter's Square in Rome. Over 5,000 young religious gathered over five days to testify to the beauty of their vocation and that they were ready indeed to ‘wake up the world.’
What do we dare to hope for during this Year of Consecrated Life which began last November and concludes in February 2016? Pope Francis gave us a task to wake up the world. But from what must the world awaken? And to what must the world awaken ? And just maybe, we too, as religious, need to be woken up? 

During the summer, a group of fantastic young women called the Rise of the Roses, together with their families travelled the length and breadth of Ireland, visiting a series of convents, to rediscover the beauty of a life consecrated to God. They brought with them a large cross to each convent, the same cross which opened the procession for our Vespers. In speaking to some of the sisters who were blessed to have the Rise of the Roses Tour visit their community, we came to a common conclusion. We were the ones who had been ‘woken up’ and given new hope. These young women saw something precious, fascinating and life-giving in our lives as consecrated women. Many of us had forgotten this. Maybe we had allowed the pessimistic residue of the constant media-bashing and negativity to settle upon that ‘pearl’ of great price for which many of us gave up everything to follow Jesus in a life dedicated to Him through vows of poverty, chastity and obedience? 

Looking around the Basilica earlier at Mass, I thought wouldn’t it be something amazing to count the number of years of religious profession of our brothers and sisters here present. I know, even just among my own 7 sisters here, we count 315 years of religious profession between us! Yes, that is something to celebrate and that is something which gives us hope. It is a celebration that we can share with many others during this Year of Consecrated Life. We can share our stories because stories are fundamental to life. Ordinary yet extraordinary stories!

What do people expect of us, religious brothers and sisters, in this 21st century? A verse from the third letter of St. Peter helps us here: “Be prepared to give an account of the hope which is in you” What does this mean? There is a need for a sort of apologetics in consecrated life. More than often, when religious are asked to share their vocation story with groups of young people, the two questions that people always ask are 1) why did you become a sister, brother or priest? And 2) how did you know? As religious brothers and sisters, answering ‘I just did, or I just knew.’ does not suffice. We must be ready to share the story of God’s grace working in us, through us, for us. Our life choice is a radical one. 

Last week, Pope Francis urged the young religious to choose the true freedom which comes from the Spirit and not from worldliness, to nurture great dreams for God and to have a heart enkindled with love. Consecrated Life has always been and will always be an adventure of the heart, for ordinary men and women who fall in love with God in an extraordinary, radical, and restless manner.

There is a spiritual curiosity in people who want to hear our story, because more than often, they are searching for something which resonates deep with their story and which may provide that final impetus to go ahead and begin the adventurous, sometimes crazy, journey which is, consecrated life!

So, as a younger religious, what do I hope for, for religious life? 

Firstly, I hope we can remain joyful- we are called to sing a new song. Religious life is a song that keep on being sung: a song which has changed key many times during history but a song that the world needs to hear and join in with its own harmonies or simply just hum along until they learn the words.

Secondly, I hope we can be mystics- There is a 'daily' mysticism which consists in moving out toward the other, to welcome and help them, especially the most vulnerable and neglected. In approaching others we encounter the icon of God and in Him we become brothers and sisters because in each person we see Christ and invite them into the sacred place where we walk together on holy ground in sharing the life of each other.

Thirdly, I hope we remain faithful and faith-filled- St Paul reminds us that “The hope of which we speak is not based on numbers or enterprises, but on the One in whom we have placed our trust” (2 Tim 1:12). How many times throughout history was the institutional religious life strong, organized and neat? Yet inside, it suffered deep recessions and lived with signs of death, independent of the number of people who formed the community! Even if our numbers dwindle, our structures change or even disappear, we remain faithful because our hope is not in buildings or institutions but in a living person, Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit continues to breathe upon the Church in many different ways.

Fourthly, I hope we can dream- We are called to be dreamers like our Founders and Foundresses. To be like these men and women who were ‘capable of seeing values where others saw none; of recognising beauty where others failed to do so". We are all called to be missionaries, missionaries who firstly ‘are’ and then ‘do’. It is to believe in the unbelievable and hope against all hope, something which makes us stand out. It is enjoying silence in the midst of noise and feeling the shivers in daring to speak when cowardice would demand silence. It is daring to search out in every possible way new languages and paths for prophetic proclamation in a world which wants to silence God and the voices which speak of Him..

Fifthly, I hope that as religious we can read the signs of the times and respond. I hope we can have the same creative capacity, the boldness and the enterprise espoused with the capacity to know and understand contemporary society, and to work together with others to provide adequate responses for today needs which are so numerous. In the words of St. Pope John Paul II: "Besides having a great story to narrate, we have also a great one to build".

Lastly, I hope that our present generation of young people come to know the joy and the adventure that flows from giving one’s life for the sake of Jesus and His Gospel! The reward is a hundredfold and never ceases to multiply grace after grace.

Let the reading of our Vespers be re-echoed as our prayer as we continue in the celebration of the Eucharistic Congress and also the Year for Consecrated Life: “We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, ever since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven.” May we never lose sight of this hope, the reward of the good and faithful servants.

Sr. M. Louise O’ Rourke, pddm, Disciples of the Divine Master.

28 Sep 2015

29th September - Feast of the Archangels - Michael, Raphael & Gabriel (Michaelmas)

29th September in the current liturgical calendar is the feast of the three Archangels - Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. A very traditional feast day it was originally the feast of the dedication of the basilica of St Michael with St. Gabriel being observed on March 24 and St. Raphael on October 24.

The three archangels mentioned by name in Scripture, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Michael is mentioned in Daniel and Revelation, Gabriel in Daniel and Luke, and Raphael in the book of Tobit.

  • Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil.
  • Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, "Hail, full of grace," is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people.
  • Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.
You can find out more about the feast day and the traditions and scripture behind its celebration:

Prayer to St Raphael

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.

Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.

Remember the weak, you who are strong--you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Prayer to St Gabriel

Saint Gabriel, the Archangel, We humbly ask you to intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy. As you announced the mystery of the Incarnation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so through your prayers may we receive strength of faith and courage of spirit, and thus find favor with God and redemption through Christ Our Lord. May we sing the praise of God our Savior with the angels and saints in heaven forever and ever.

No time for God?

Most of us complain of being busy, at least on occasion. It can be challenging to take care of the daily tasks and responsibilities, let alone make time for God. But if we want a relationship with God, we have to make time for prayer and conversation with God.

Blogger Becky Eldredge wants to help us make space for prayer in a busy calendar with her four-part series, “No Time for God?”

Each week promises food for thought, reflection questions, and suggested Scripture passages.

The themes invite readers to:

1. Check the pulse of your spiritual life.
2. Discern your space, place, and time for prayer.
3. Build a toolbox of prayer tools.
4. Create a spiritual plan for your life.

Visit BeckyEldredge.com for more details.

A USA Papal Round Up

Previous round ups on SS102fm here, here and here.

Channelling Bogie, Pope warns the UN: We won’t always have Paris

John Thavis - At the United Nations, the pope 'makes it personal' on war, economics and the environment

Pope Francis to priests, religious: It's your job to inspire vocations

Interfaith Service at 9/11 Memorial

Pope Francis at Ground Zero: “O God of love, compassion and healing…”


Ground Zero memorial conveys sense of grief, response of solidarity, Pope says at interfaith service

Go out to meet others, Pope urges faithful in New York

Pope to prisoners: I stand before you a brother

Confinement is not exclusion! Pope Francis visits with Philly inmates

Pope Francis to bishops: Stop wishing for the good old days

Pope to bishops: Families need our support, not complaints and criticism

Pope: Family is the Most Beautiful Thing God Made  

Francis gives folksy riff on families

Pope Francis calls sex abuse cover-up by some bishops ‘very ugly’

Pope Francis’ Fight For Women & Against Poverty Makes Me Proud to Be a Catholic

27 Sep 2015

Dublin 2018 - Ireland to host the World Meeting of Families

Announced in Philadelphia today at the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis in attendance; the next World Gathering of Families is to be held in Dublin!

From an Irish domestic front - will the Pope come to visit? And will it impact on the governments decision on a date to hold a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution?

UPDATE (Press release from Dublin Archdiocese)


Pope Francis has announced that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in 2018 in Dublin.

He made the announcement at the concluding Mass of the World Meeting of Families which ended in Philadelphia this evening. It was the final stage of Pope Francis’ historic trip to United States. Tonight’s Mass in Philadelphia was attended by almost one million people. Before Mass, the Pope greeted Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.

Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families. It has been described as a celebration of family life and of the Catholic Church’s commitment to support families.

Throughout his visit to the United States this week Pope Francis spoke on the theme of the family in a broad manner referring to issues of education, child parent relationships, employment and poverty. Speaking on the family at the prayer vigil for the World Meeting in Philadelphia on Saturday night Pope Francis said:

“I think of all those families which lack access to basic health services. Families which, when faced with medical problems, especially those of their younger or older members, are dependent on a system which fails to meet their needs, is insensitive to their pain, and forces them to make great sacrifices to receive adequate treatment.

We cannot call any society healthy when it does not leave real room for family life. We cannot think that a society has a future when it fails to pass laws capable of protecting families and ensuring their basic needs, especially those of families just starting out. How many problems would be solved if our societies protected families and provided households, especially those of recently married couples, with the possibility of dignified work, housing and healthcare services to accompany them throughout life?

God’s dream does not change; it remains intact and it invites us to work for a society which supports families. A society where bread, “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands” continues to be put on the table of every home, to nourish the hope of its children.”

Previous Meetings have been held Rome in 1994, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, Rome again in 2000, Manila in the Philippines in 2003, Valencia, Spain, in 2006, Mexico City, in 2009, Milan in 2012, and Philadelphia 2015.

Pope Francis, speaking of the World Congress, stressed that “the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world; it is the leaven of society”.

The announcement comes just days before the inauguration of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly World Synod of Bishops which will take place in the Vatican from 5th to 26th October on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World”.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that he hoped the holding of the Meeting in Ireland would be an occasion to take up the programme of the Synod to strengthen the place of the family in passing on the faith in the face of many new challenges. He said, the family in Ireland is strong and the Church is called to take up the challenge of ensuring that future Catholic generations are prepared to live their marriage as an itinerary of faith.

The date and the programme of the 2018 Meeting will be decided at a later stage in consultation with the Pontifical Council for the Family. The 2018 World Meeting is expected to extend to various parts of Ireland and given the size of the country, the event will take on different dimensions to that of the Philadelphia event which concluded tonight.

26 Sep 2015

27th September - Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

On this weeks programme we have an interview exploring the Shrine of Walsingham. We have our regular notices and liturgical odds and ends and a short reflection on this weeks gospel.

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

Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

On this weeks programme we have an interview with Tim McDonald who introduces us the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and its ancient history.

The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 1061 when, according to the text of the Pynson Ballad (c 1485), Richeldis de Faverches prayed that she might undertake some special work in honour of Our Lady. In answer to her prayer, the Virgin Mary led her in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation.

You can find out more about the history of the shrine HERE.

You can listen to the interview with Tim McDonald excerpted from the main programme here.

Gospel - Mark 9: 38-43 45, 47-48

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours: psalter week 2, 26th week in Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

September 28th - St Wenceslaus
September 29th - Ss Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels
September 30th - St Jerome
October 1st - St Therese of the Child Jesus. Also Blesseds Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin
October 2nd - The Guardian Angels (First Friday)
October 3rd - Bl Columba Marmion

25 Sep 2015

Pope Francis addresses the UN General Assembly

Following in the steps of Blessed Paul VI, Pope St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict VI, Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations this morning in New York.


Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to United Nations OrganizationUnited Nations Headquarters, New YorkFriday 25 September 2015

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind words. Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honored, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programs and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.

 This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organization, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.

O God beyond all praising

This evening Pope Francis celebrated vespers (evening prayer) in the splendidly restored St Patrick's Cathedral in New York. You can find the worship aid here and see on-demand video of vespers here.

Pope Francis homily was delivered in Spanish and will be available HERE.

One of the hymns which caught our ear was the closing hymn "O God beyond all praising" which will probably sound familiar to Irish ears more for its melody which is taken from the melody THAXTED, named for a small town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, comes from the middle section of the “Jupiter” movement in Holst’s orchestral suite, The Planets (1914-1916). In 1921, Holst adapted the theme to fit Cecil Spring-Rice’s patriotic poem “I vow to thee my country” (1908). You can read more about the hymn here.

24 Sep 2015

24th September - Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.

You can find our previous posts and also a couple of programmes we have done about Walsingham HERE.

Limerick Diocesan Synod 2016 - Mapping the road ahead

Where are we now?

The Synod Journey towards April 2016 has reached a critical juncture. We are now coming to the end of the ‘See’ stage in which Listening has occurred to gather the issues of the people as expressed by the people. Since early Spring 2015, the delegates have been actively engaged in a variety of methods of listening in their own communities. Parishes, schools, hospitals, universities and many other groups have used questionnaires, focus groups, informal listening and various other means to gather the views of people throughout the diocese.

What next?

We are now entering the ‘Judge’ stage which involves discernment to identify what God is calling us to address from the issues raised. Its central decisive moment is the selection of themes for the Synod. On October 3rd the results of the Listening/See phase and the various themes it produced will be presented to the delegates to provide them with the opportunity, through a process of discernment, to determine the themes which will be brought forward to the Synod in April 2016.

This October gathering is a discernment day and pivotal moment in the overall Synod process. The delegates will be tasked to discern the agenda for the Synod from the results of the listening stage. Those results are currently being thematised and will be presented within a prayer-discernment setting. This will move into a voting process where six themes or so will be prioritised by the delegates for the Synod – six pastoral concerns that the delegates judge are the ones that God’s Spirit is calling us to address in the Synod.

Towards Action:

The Synod itself over three days will focus on these concerns through a range of proposed concrete actions. These proposed actions will be developed between October and the Synod in two stages.

The first (pre-Christmas) stage address the theme ‘People of Limerick – People of God’. People of Limerick will be an exploration of the reality of life for people in the diocese in relation to the six pastoral concerns and includes the presentation of research by Sir Harry Burns, the Geography Department of Mary I, Eileen Humphries. It will also include diocesan statistics around clergy numbers age profile, parish structures etc. People of God will be an exploration of who we are as church in Limerick and what is the gospel call in relation to the pastoral concerns. The joint exploration of who we are as a diocese will set the broad framework for the post-Christmas work of developing specific proposals.

The second (post –Christmas) stage will consist of a series of six ‘open space’ events – one for each of the six Synod topics. Delegates will be invited to attend whichever events they have particular energy for. These events will cover the following:
  • An overview of the reality of the issue for the people of the diocese and of the gospel call
  • A process by which people gather around and develop a variety of proposals for action
  • A prayer-discernment process that identifies the proposals to be brought to the Synod. (This can include proposals that are in tension with one another.)
April 2016:

At the Synod each of the six pastoral priorities will be addressed as follows:
  • A summary of what the issue is, who it is of concern to and why, and what we have learned about this issue through the Synod preparation
  • An introduction to each of the action proposals
  • A process of discernment, discussion and voting based on a transparent set of protocols (to be developed)

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the USA Congress

For Catholics everywhere but especially in the USA, a very historic moment today as Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress.

How Roman Catholics are seen in the USA has changed if one considers that it was only in 1960 when John F Kennedy was campaigning to become president were questions still being asked about the place, role and political loyalties of Catholics in America.

Today before a Catholic US Vice-President Joe Biden (as President of the Senate) and a Catholic Speaker of the House John Boehner, the Pope addressed the parliament of what is seen as one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Text of Pope Francis Speech

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of Congress, Dear Friends, I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility. Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

Limerick - What is our mission?

As the preparations for the Synod continue apace Bishop Brendan has announced his intention to gather men and women who are involved and interested in shaping Limerick’s identity into the future – this includes people from the world of Business, the Arts, Sport, Politics, Heads of Third level Colleges, City Councillors, etc.

In announcing the event Bishop Brendan has said:

“The Diocesan Synod is occurring in a context of new energy and focus in Limerick regarding the city and county’s future. At the launch of the “Limerick 2030 – An Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick” Mr. Conn Murray described it as “a once in a generation plan to guide the economic, social and physical renaissance of Limerick city centre, the wider county and Mid-West region.” The Church, as Pope Francis reminds us regularly, exists to promote “a culture of encounter” at the service of society as a whole. It is in this spirit and at this stage of our preparations for the Synod, that I am hosting this event entitled “Limerick: What is our Mission?” ‘

The purpose of the gathering is to offer this moment of dialogue so that the Church can make informed decisions as it moves forward in its mission at the service of the city.

Dr Lorna Gold will lead and facilitate the discussion. Formerly of the Department of Politics at the University of York, Dr. Gold is Head of Policy and Advocacy, Trócaire. She writes widely on a broad range of development issues, including the Milliennium Development Goals and the relationship between Catholic Social Teaching and ethical business models. Recently, she acted as Moderator at a high-level two-day conference in the Vatican.

The event will take place on Tuesday October 13th .

Limerick Diocesan Synod 2016 - “Creating Space for Community

“Creating Space for Community
A conversation with Níall McLaughlin”

The Limerick Diocesan Synod organisers decided that the presence of Níall McLaughlin in Limerick gives an opportunity to arrange a lunchtime gathering for those with a particular interest in Níall’s architectural work to meet and discuss his work with him.

Níall’s work is wide ranging and included in his presentation will be some of his work on churches. This seminar will be of special interest to both professionals and students in the fields of architecture, art, engineering, planning and members of the Limerick City community with an interest in its development.

Lunchtime seminar,

Date: 7th October, 2015
Time: 1.00 p.m. – 3.00 p.m.
Venue: Strand Hotel, O’Brien & Wogan Suite (Level 6)

A light lunch of tea and sandwiches will be provided

“Creating Space for Worship – Lessons for Life from Architecture”
An illustrated lecture by Níall McLaughlin

Níall McLaughlin’s Church designs have recently been acclaimed, both in specialist journals and in leading British newspapers. His liturgical influences include the work of the German architect Rudolf Schwarz who himself was influenced by Fr Romano Guardini. Guardini was a major influence on the movement for liturgical renewal and reform which found expression in Vatican II. Among those who were influenced by Guardini was Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) and Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) who began work on a doctoral dissertation on Guardini which for some reason he never completed. This evening will be of particular interest to those who have an interest in the arts, architecure, liturgy, worship and of course to Synod delegates.

Date: 7th October, 2015
Time: 6.00 p.m. – 7.30 p.m.
Venue: Strand Hotel, O’Brien & Wogan Suite (Level 6)

You can find out more about both events HERE.

23 Sep 2015

Some web browsing......

Odds and ends from around the web

13 Fun Photos that Prove Nuns Know How to Party

27 Fascinating Photos of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism

Entrust Your Worries to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
Nine Ways to Foster a Contemplative Church - Christianity Needs to Affirm Silent Prayer at the Congregational Level
Pope Francis: A Popular Pope on the Inevitable Cross
On Migration and Modern Values, Francis Offers Sharp Challenge to Western Comforts

Pope Francis visit to Cuba

Crux: Covering all things Catholic has extensive coverage of the papal visit to Cuba here. 
Pope Francis Goes Off-Script to Deliver Passionate Homily on Poverty - Francis ditches his speech after hearing the testimony of two "prophets"—a cardinal and a nun
Visit to Cuban shrine gives Pope quiet time for prayer
Lessons from Cuba on what to expect from Pope Francis in the US

Aboard papal plane, Francis defends his teaching on social issues

Full Transcript of Pope’s In-Flight Interview From Cuba to US
Pope Francis arrives in the US; denies being a leftist

Pope Francis visit to USA

The White House is more afraid of offending China’s president than the pope

The Limits of Papal Celebrity

Don’t Politicize The Pope! - A liberal Catholic fears that Pope Francis fans will use his trip as a political bludgeon.

Figuring out Francis: Bishop says Pope can be 'difficult' - Wildly popular but utterly unpredictable, the pope sometimes 'makes life difficult' for U.S. church leaders, Bishop David M. O'Connell says.

Pope Francis Is Not ‘Progressive’—He’s a Priest
"The Pope Has Landed"
‘This generation must tackle climate change,’ says Pope Francis at the White House
Pope to US bishops: It’s about love as much as doctrine
"I Have Not Come To Judge You" – The Shepherd Meets The "Flock" Long foreseen as the key ad intra message of this PopeTrip, at 11.30 Francis meets with the US bishops – numbering some 300, the global church's second largest national bench after Brazil's – in Washington's St Matthew's Cathedral. Having unusually stuck entirely to his script – and a remarkably intense one at that – below is the Vatican's English translation of Francis' sweeping address to the bishops: a cri de coeur call away from polarization, "narcissism," "harsh and divisive language" and toward being "close to people".

Pope Francis, in Washington, Addresses Poverty and Climate
Francis 2.0 emerges in America: Pope and Church are a package deal
His Holiness and Hizzoner: A New Yorker’s Dream - Gotham is used to strong personalities


Pope Francis meets with Little Sisters of the Poor, nuns involved in an Obamacare lawsuit

Reforming the church, reorienting our politics

Pope Francis and His Little Fiat

Who’s that with Pope Francis? The seven kinds of people you meet in a papal entourage.