30 Mar 2016

Synod 2016 - Journeying and praying together in faith. (Repost)

Prayer is a central part of our Diocesan Synod. During the week of the Synod, (April 3rd - 10th); we invite everyone to keep us in your prayers and, where possible, to join us at liturgies being celebrated in parishes, pastoral areas and diocese.

We have offered parishes information on the music for these liturgies so that choir members and others can prepare and fully participate – particularly in the opening and closing liturgies for Synod2016!

Everyone is invited to pray for our Diocesan Synod. All are invited to these special liturgies:
  • Opening Mass with Bishop Brendan in St John’s Cathedral. Sunday, April 3rd at 7pm
  • Prayers in Parish:   Every parish (via their parish priest) will receive a prayer pack in Easter week with prayer resources for use at daily Masses Monday - Thursday 4/5/6/7th, and for Sunday 10th
  • Pastoral Area Prayer Service:  Wednesday, April 6th. (details below)
  • Closing Mass with Bishop Brendan in St John’s Cathedral. Sunday, April 10th at 7pm
The Pastoral Area Prayer on Wed April 6th will be led by prayer guides, in local locations. Everyone is welcome and there will be special prayers for delegates and for the diocese.

Prayer Sessions in Pastoral Areas
Cathedral Area (St. John’s, St. Patrick’s, Our Lady Help of Christain’s, Monaleen, St. Michael’s, Donoghmore/Knockea,Holy Family, Our Lady Queen of Peace)
Prayer Session: Venue: St. Brigid’s Parish Church, 7.30pm. Contact: Rose O’Connor (0877429999)
Leader: Geraldine White.

Our Lady’s Area (Newcastlewest, Ardagh/Carrickkerry, Monagea, Mahoonagh, Killeedy, Dromcollogher,/Broadfors, Feenagh/Kilmeedy).
Prayer Session: Venue: Newcastlewest Parish Church, 7pm.
Prayer Leader/Contact: Lorraine Buckley (0872701817).

Ide Naofa Area (Abbeyfeale, Athea Templeglantine Tournaulla/Mountcollins).
Prayer Session: Venue: Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Abbeyfeale, 7pm. Contact: Pat Higgins (0872034626)
Prayer Leader: Sr. Vera.
Tuath Phadraig/Knockpatrick Area (Glin, Loughill/Balllhahill, Askeaton/Ballysteen, Shanagolden/Robertstown/Foynes, Coolcappa/Kilcornan, Cappagh, Kilcornan, Kildimo/ Pallaskenry).
Prayer Session: Venue: Askeaton Parish Church 7.30pm. Contact: Carmel Plant(0876969845).
Prayer Leader: Mary Kiely.
Pobal Mochealloig Area (Ballyagran/Clomanswell, Rockhill/Bruree, Effin/ Garrienderk, Kilmallock/Ballingaddy, Bulgaden/Martinstown, Kilfinane, Ardpatrick, Glenroe/Ballyorgan).
Prayer Session: Venue: Kilmallock Parish Church, 7.30pm. Contact: Sr. Patricia Coughlan (0870550195)
Prayer Leader: Noirin Lynch.

Curraghchase Area (Rathkeale, Croagh/Kilfinny, Knockaderry/Cloncagh, Ballingarry/Granagh, Adare).
Prayer Session Venue: Cloncagh Parish Church, 7.30pm.
Prayer Leader/Contact: Sr. Margaret O’Sullivan.

Thomond Area (Cratloe, Parteen/Meelick/Coonagh, St. Nicholas, St. Mary’s, St. Munchin’s, Corpus Christi, Christ The King, Our Lady of the Rosary).
Prayer Session: Venue: Christ The King Parish Church, Caherdavin, 7.30pm. Contact: Joan Galligan (0863798988)/ Fr. Coffey (0876540908)
Prayer Leader: Sr. Mary Brigid Dunlea.

Maigue Area (Dromin/Athlacca, Fedamore, Manister, Croom, Banogue, Bruff/Meanus/Grange).
Prayer Session: Venue: Fedamore Church, Time and contact to be confirmed.
Prayer Leader: Sr. Sarah Hogan
Pobal Neasain Area (Patrickswell/Ballybrown, Mungret/Crecora/Raheen, St. Paul’s, St. Joseph’s, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Saviour’s).
Prayer Session: Venue: Mungret Church, 8pm. Contact: Margaret O’Connor (0876339893)
Prayer Leader: Sr. Betty Baker.

Some web browsing.......

Celebrating a Nations birth and praying for a rebirth in the church

The Challenge of Easter - Whether you’re a believer or not, there is no way to ignore the radical claim of the Resurrection

Many people “don’t get” the priesthood: Bishop Crean

Irish Church must become passionate again

‘Renewal won’t come about by leaving the Church’

Abortion is a sin, says Jeremy Irons

Lord Sacks: ‘Christians are being ethnically cleansed throughout the Middle East’

A hot spot for spirituality - A Viennese monastery famous for its chart-topping chant album is also breaking records for vocations. What is the secret of its success?

Remember that meeting with the Pope and the Russian Patriarch? Well here is an interesting speech from Patriarch Kirill on 20 March which gives us some of his views on western Christians.

Benedict XVI interview 2016 

Hating ourselves to death

Repairs at the Holy Sepulchre

How Buddhist Nuns Restored This War Correspondent’s Faith In Humanity New books explores the life stories of these highly spiritual women.

29 Mar 2016

CNA - There is no confirmation that Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil was crucified on Good Friday

CNA - Several blogs and media outlets are reporting that Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday.

There has been no confirmation of the event by friends, family or Fr. Uzhunnalil’s community. The original reports were based on a statement Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna allegedly made during Easter vigil services.

Bishop Paul Hinder of Southern Arabia (a region in Saudi Arabia, the country just north of Yemen where Fr. Uzhunnalil was kidnapped), told CNA on Monday that he has “strong indications that Fr. Tom is still alive in the hands of the kidnappers,” but could not give further information in order to protect the life of the priest. Bishop Hinder added that Cardinal Schönborn has since corrected his alleged statement, which was made on the basis of an incorrect statement from Archbishop Moras in Bangalore.

“Cardinal Schönborn has already corrected his statement which he had made on the basis of the wrong statement of Archbishop Moras in Bangalore. Certain media in India are too nervous and curious and not aware that they are playing with the life of Fr. Tom. I cannot say more for the reason I gave in my first sentence (to protect the life of Fr. Tom),” Bishop Hinder told CNA.

Rumors of a possible impending crucifixion spread last week on the basis of an unconfirmed e-mail and were dismissed by Fr. Uzhunnalil’s Salesian community as hearsay.

“We have absolutely no information” on Fr. Uzhunnalil, said Father Mathew Valarkot, spokesman for the Salesians’ Bangalore province to which the kidnapped priest belongs. His comments were reported last week by both by ANS news, a Salesian news agency, and UCA News, an independent Catholic news source in Asia.

  • Bishop says he believes priest kidnapped in Yemen is still alive (Catholic Herald)
  • Bishop Hinder on Kidnapped Priest: ‘Strong Indications That Father Tom Is Still Alive’ (National Catholic Register)
  • Salesian priest seized in Yemen remains in terrorist hands; fate uncertain (CWN, 3/21)
  • 28 Mar 2016

    Mother Angelica, 92, Founder of EWTN, Dies on Easter Sunday - Updated

    EWTN announced the death of their foundress last night. You can visit the memorial website HERE.
    The woman who did so much in the USA to get Catholicism into the mainstream media is trending on Twitter 
    Aleteia - “Live in the Present Moment”: Mother Angelica’s Lasting Lesson for Raymond Arroyo. Veteran Catholic TV newscaster reflects on television pioneer's impact on his life

    20 Memorable One-Liners From Mother Angelica Mincing words was never to her taste


    Crux - We shall not look upon the likes of Mother Angelica again

    PrayTell blog - RIP Mother Angelica

    Remembering the Monks of Tiberine 20 years later

    On this weekend when we have such horrors inflicted by terrorists supposedly acting in the name of Islam we remember the Trappist monks of Tiberine in Algeria. Twenty years ago the monks were kidnapped by a terrorist organization called the Armed Islamic Group and beheaded after being held for 2 months. Only their heads were found

    Vatican Radio - Interview with Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, Abbot General of the Trappists (former abbot of Mount Mellerary) - 20 years later: legacy of 7 murdered Trappists in Algeria is to build authentic community 

    Previous posts on SS102fm here

    Unconfirmed Reports - Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday

    Conflicting reports are circulating online as to whether ISIS have gone ahead with their threat to crucify the Salesian priest Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil who was kidnapped during the assault which left four sisters of the Missionaries of Charity killed in Yemen.

    Austrian media are reporting that Cardinal Schonborn confirmed it during the Easter Vigil in Vienna on Saturday night.

    Until such time as it is confirmed let us continue to pray for him and all the victims of the bombing in Lahore in Pakistan; and if the report proves true, let us sing a Te Deum for him and pray for the conversion of the perpetrators:

    Reports here and here (in German)

    Mary of Magdala's Easter Prayer

    I never suspected
             and to be so painful
              to leave me weeping
    With Joy
    to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb
    With regret
    not because I've lost you
           but because I've lost you in how I had you -
    in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable humanity
    cling to what we had, our past.

    But I know that......if I cling
    you cannot ascend and
    I will be left clinging to your former self
    ......unable to receive your present spirit.

    - Daily Reflection for Lent and Easter Week Ron Rolheiser OMI

    27 Mar 2016

    The Final Prayers of the Executed Leaders of 1916 begin the State Commemoration of the Easter Rising 1916

    On this Easter morn, Ireland takes stock and salutes her patriotic dead and marks the centenary of the 1916 Rising (Éirí Amach na Cásca).
    Under the eye of the Commander-in-Chief, Uachtarán na hÉireann, the true successors of the Irish Volunteers, Oglaigh Na hÉireann (the Irish Defence Forces) will represent the Republic and the people of the Republic declared on Easter Monday 1916 in honouring all men and women who fell in the name of Irish freedom.
    Óglaigh na hÉireann has been the people, is thepeople and will be the people. Our green uniform does not make
    us less people. It is a cloak of our service, a curtailer of our
    weaknesses, an amplifier of our strengths’
    – General Richard Mulcahy
    One of the first events on Easter Sunday was a very moving ceremony at the Stonebreakers Yard in Kilmainham Gaol where fourteen of the leaders of the Rising were executed in May 1916. As part of the simple wreath laying ceremony Fr Seamus Madigan, Head Chaplain to the Forces (from the diocese of Limerick) lead a prayer consisting of a reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes and the final prayers of the executed men:
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
    A time to be born and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to reap;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.
    God has made everything beautiful in its time.
    "In this place of final moments we are intimately reminded of the comfort brought by faith to the Leaders of the 1916 Rising. On this Easter morning we remember, reflect and reimagine our belief in life after love!

    Now, in their own words of prayer, we recall the love and devotion of the executed Leaders for family, for country and for God.
    My Jesus, Mercy; May we the people of Ireland bear no malice against anyone, and live in perfect peace with Almighty God. We pray for each other, and trust the Lord will raise us up, when silent we have waited in the grave for lonely years.
    Give us courage to be ready to go into darkness, danger and death trusting in your love. With your help may we act with heroism and respect all people of good will who do their duty. Give us strength to forgive and a belief to hope, that you will be with us to the end. As we draw nearer and nearer to you, we ask your blessing and protection: May we keep the faith, bring glory to you and honour to Ireland.
    Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you, Amen.
    Solas na bhFlaitheas dár n-anamnacha
    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamnacha
    May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed
    through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen

    Easter 2016 - Urbi et Orbi

    (Vatican Radio) - Pope Francis delivered the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing on Easter Sunday, following Mass in St. Peter's Square. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in the Square for the occasion, Pope Francis especially remembered the suffering peoples of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
    Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's prepared remarks. "The Easter message of the risen Christ," said Pope Francis, "a message of life for all humanity, echoes down the ages and invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice."

    The Holy Father also spoke directly to all people everywhere, who struggle to keep faith and hope.

    "To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning," he said, "to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: 'See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life' (Rev 21:5-6)." Pope Francis concluded, saying, "May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters."

    Below the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks


    Message of His Holiness Pope Francis

    Urbi et Orbi

    Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016

    “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

    for his mercy endures for ever” (Ps 135:1)

    Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

    Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God’s mercy, out of love for us, died on the cross, and out of love he rose again from the dead. That is why we proclaim today: Jesus is Lord!

    His resurrection fulfils the prophecy of the Psalm: God’s mercy endures for ever; it never dies. We can trust him completely, and we thank him because for our sake he descended into the depths of the abyss.

    Pope at Easter Vigil urges us to let Risen Christ into our lives

    (Vatican Radio) - Pope Francis on Saturday evening presided at the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica, with the baptism of 12 catechumens from Italy, Albania, Cameroon, Korea, India and China.

    In his homily the Pope reflected on the actions of Peter who ran to Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter morning. Even though he, like the other disciples, had not believed the testimony of the women who had already found the empty grave, the Pope noted that Peter was not overwhelmed by doubt or consumed by remorse.

    Like the women who had gone to bury the body, the Pope said, Peter did not give into sadness and darkness but allowed the light of God to enter his heart. Like Peter and the women, he said, let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but instead break open our sealed tombs and let the Risen Christ into our hearts. Though we will always encounter problem, we must let the light of Christ shine on them, knowing that He is always at our side and will not let us down

    Pope Francis said this certainty is the foundation of our Christian hope which is not mere optimism or a desire to be courageous. The Spirit, he said, does not remove evil with a magic wand. But rather He pours into us the vitality of life and the knowledge that Christ has conquered fear, sin and death, compelling us to set out and announce this Easter message to others.

    Full text of the Pope's homily after the jump.

    26 Mar 2016

    27th March 2016 - Easter Sunday


    Christians, to the Paschal Victim Offer your thankful praises!
    A Lamb the sheep redeems: Christ, who only is sinless, Reconciles sinners to the Father.
    Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
    Speak, Mary, declaring What you saw, wayfaring. "The tomb of Christ, who is living, The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
    Bright angels attesting, The shroud and napkin resting. Yes, my Christ my hope is arisen:
    To Galilee he goes before you." Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
    Amen. Alleluia

    (Sequence from Mass on Easter Sunday)

     Let everyone share this feast of faith; let everyone enjoy the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty; for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let none mourn their sins; for forgiveness has dawned from the grave. Let none fear death; for the Saviour's death has set us free
    - St John Chrysostom

    On this joyous Easter morn, the SS102fm team wish you every joy and blessing of this Easter Day to you and yours! On this weeks programme, we mark Resurrection Day with an extended gospel reflection.

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

    Gospel Reflection - John 20:1-9

    "Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."

    You can listen to the gospel reflection excerpted from the main programme HERE.

    Other reflections on the gospel:

    Word on Fire
    English Dominicans
    Sunday Reflections
    Centre for Liturgy

    Christos anesti! Christ is Risen! The Greek proclamation of the Resurrection speaks of Christ's victory, 'trampling on death by means of his death'.

    The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes - undisturbed in form and position."Josh McDowell - Christian Apologist and Writer (b. 1939)

    "The great gift of Easter is hope - Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake."Basil C Hume, (1923-1999) - Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster

    Holy Saturday: feeling His absence; yearning for His presence - Jericho Tree

    From Jericho Tree - Anyone visiting a church or chapel this Holy Saturday will meet the shock of an open and empty tabernacle, and an extinguished sanctuary lamp. We all know it’s coming, but each year it’s upsetting to see, as we halt mid-genuflection and realise, ‘He’s not here’.

    The absence of one whose presence we love – how painful this can be. Those who are bereaved know moments like this – suddenly realising that your mother won’t be at the Christmas table, or struggling through the birthday of your deceased child – these moments produce the sharpest grief. And in conjunction with the sudden awareness of absence, we find ourselves yearning for the presence we’re missing.

    A well-loved contemporary song, Let Her Go, by Passenger, puts its finger on this phenomenon:
    Well you only need the light when it’s burning low,
    Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
    Only know you love her when you let her go.
    Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low,
    Only hate the road when you’re missing home,
    Only know you love her when you let her go.
    We take Jesus’ presence for granted so often, but when it is taken from our tabernacles, in commemoration of his time in the tomb, we feel his absence keenly.

    In the spiritual life, many great saints experience times of desolation which are understood as invitations to greater faith and detachment. This experience is sometimes called the ‘dark night of the soul’. In a sense, the period from Good Friday to the Easter Vigil is the ecclesial equivalent, a time for all of us to fumble in the darkness and yearn for light. But, besides being an opportunity to exercise our faith, what use does it serve?

    At a time when many of our contemporaries are living their lives without reference to the divine, I think Holy Saturday is a time for us to draw close to those who feel God’s absence. I don’t know what it’s like to live as if God doesn’t exist, but there must be times in any atheist’s life when he or she yearns for the divine. The poet, Dennis O’Driscoll, expresses precisely this sentiment in his poem, Missing God:
    […] though we rebelled against Him
    like adolescents, uplifted to see
    an oppressive father banished –
    a bearded hermit – to the desert,
    we confess to missing Him at times.

    Miss Him during the civil wedding
    when, at the blossomy altar
    of the registrar’s desk, we wait in vain
    to be fed a line containing words
    like ‘everlasting’ and ‘divine’.

    Miss Him when the TV scientist
    explains the cosmos through equations,
    leaving our planet to revolve on its axis
    aimlessly, a wheel skidding in snow.

    Miss Him when the radio catches a snatch
    of plainchant from some echoey priory;
    when the gospel choir raises its collective voice
    to ask Shall We Gather at the River?
    or the forces of the oratorio converge
    on I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
    and our contracted hearts lose a beat.
    The poem continues, multiplying occasions when God is ‘missed’. As I said, I don’t know what it’s like to live as an atheist, but I do know what it’s like to feel the absence of the Lord – the whole Church does, each year on Holy Saturday. But if we live this day in solidarity with our secular contemporaries, we live it differently from them too, since we do not live this absence without hope for the return of the yearned-for presence. So on Holy Saturday we keep our eyes on the empty tabernacle, we miss Him, and we wait hopefully for his returning presence, trusting in His words:
    ‘A little while, and you will see me no more, again a little while, and you will see me’ (Jn 16:16).

    Synod 2016 - Parish Statistics

    With only 2 weeks to go to Synod 2016 in Limerick and the delegates are working their way through the 130+ proposals which have been made from all over the diocese and beyond.

    But one of the interesting pieces of work which is informing their discussions and which would be of general interest to people beyond Synod are the parish statistics which have been prepared by the Geography Department of Mary I. The information from Census 2011 have been converted to map the ecclesial parishes of Limerick diocese and give some interesting statistics. Have a look HERE.

    Holy Saturday

    There is no liturgy on Holy Saturday.  We spend the day reflecting upon the powerful reality of Jesus' death.  What is important is that we keep this day holy, and let our “sense” of the mystery of death shape our reflection, and our longing to celebrate the Easter gift of Jesus alive, for us and with us. 
    If we are able to celebrate the Easter Vigil, we can renew our Baptismal Promises in a way the completes our Lenten journey to the font.  We offer a renewal of our Baptismal promises here, which we might do, in these or similar words, which any of us might make as we keep a vigil of readings and prayer Saturday night, or early Easter Sunday Morning.

    “On Holy Saturday, the Church waits at the Lord's tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell, and awaiting his Resurrection.
    The Church abstains from the Sacrifice of the Mass with the sacred table left bare, until after the solemn Vigil, that is, the anticipation by night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance of which overflows to occupy 50 days.

    Band: Céli Dé collective
    Album: Hymns of Passion and Resurrection
    Hymn: Caoineadh na dtrí Muire - The Lament of the Three Marys.


    Verse 1
    Nó an é sin an maicín a h-oileadh in ucht Mháire?
    Óchón agus óchón-ó
    An é sin an maicín a d'iompar mé trí raithe?
    Óchón agus óchón-ó

    Verse 2
    Nó an é sin an maicín a rugadh insan stábla?
    Óchón agus óchón-ó
    A mhicín a mhúirneach, tá do shrón 's do bhéailín gearrtha
    Óchón agus óchón-ó

    Verse 3
    Cuireadh táirní maola trína cosa is trína lámha
    Óchón agus óchón-ó
    Cuireadh an tsleá trína bhrollach álainn
    Óchón agus óchón-ó

    English Translation
    Verse 1
    Is that the son nourished at Mary's breast
    "Alas and woe to me"
    Or is that the son I carried three terms
    "Alas and woe to me"

    Verse 2
    Or is that the son born in the stable
    "Alas and woe to me"
    My son my darling your nose and mouth are cut
    "Alas and woe to me"

    Verse 3
    Blunt nails were driven through his feet and hands
    "Alas and woe to me"
    The spear was put through his beautiful chest
    "Alas and woe to me"

    Today, the earth in vigil keeps
    The Sabbath of the Bridegroom blest.
    The Cross, in stillness, bare now stands,
    As Christ the Lord is laid to rest.
    Today, the pow’r of hell is crushed.
    The gates of bronze are trampled down.
    The Lord of life now marches in
    To wake the dead and claim his crown.
    Today, he calls them, by their names,
    Those souls enslaved since Adam’s Fall.
    He comes to save them from hell’s grasp:
    The Christ, who died to save them all.
    Today, our righteous forebears sing,
    And David’s harp rings out in praise
    Of Christ, their conq’ring risen Lord,
    Who lives and reigns for length of days.
    Reflection for Holy Saturday - Creighton University
    2014 SS102fm reflections for Holy Saturday including the Reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

    Pope Francis presides over the Stations of the Cross in Rome

    O Cross of Christ!
    Pope Francis
    Colosseum in Rome
    25th March 2016
    O Cross of Christ, symbol of divine love and of human injustice, icon of the supreme sacrifice for love and of boundless selfishness even unto madness, instrument of death and the way of resurrection, sign of obedience and emblem of betrayal, the gallows of persecution and the banner of victory.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.
    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of children, of women and people, worn out and fearful, who flee from war and violence and who often only find death and many Pilates who wash their hands.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those filled with knowledge and not with the spirit, scholars of death and not of life, who instead of teaching mercy and life, threaten with punishment and death, and who condemn the just.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in unfaithful ministers who, instead of stripping themselves of their own vain ambitions, divest even the innocent of their dignity.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the hardened hearts of those who easily judge others, with hearts ready to condemn even to the point of stoning, without ever recognizing their own sins and faults.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in expressions of fundamentalism and in terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence.   

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who wish to remove you from public places and exclude you from public life, in the name of a pagan laicism or that equality you yourself taught us.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the powerful and in arms dealers who feed the cauldron of war with the innocent blood of our brothers and sisters, and give their children blood-soaked bread to eat.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in traitors who, for thirty pieces of silver, would consign anyone to death.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in thieves and corrupt officials who, instead of safeguarding the common good and morals, sell themselves in the despicable market-place of immorality.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the foolish who build warehouses to store up treasures that perish, leaving Lazarus to die of hunger at their doorsteps.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the destroyers of our “common home”, who by their selfishness ruin the future of coming generations.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the elderly who have been abandoned by their families, in the disabled and in children starving and cast-off by our egotistical and hypocritical society.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience.

    O Cross of Christ, image of love without end and way of the Resurrection, today too we see you in noble and upright persons who do good without seeking praise or admiration from others.

    O Cross of Christ, we, too, see you in ministers who are faithful and humble, who illuminate the darkness of our lives like candles that burn freely in order to brighten the lives of the least among us.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of consecrated women and men – good Samaritans – who have left everything to bind up, in evangelical silence, the wounds of poverty and injustice.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the merciful who have found in mercy the greatest expression of justice and faith.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in simple men and women who live their faith joyfully day in and day out, in filial observance of your commandments.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the contrite, who in the depths of the misery of their sins, are able to cry out: Lord, remember me in your kingdom!

    O Cross of Christ, we, too, see you in the blessed and the saints who know how to cross the dark night of faith without ever losing trust in you and without claiming to understand your mysterious silence.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in families that live their vocation of married life in fidelity and fruitfulness.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in volunteers who generously assist those in need and the downtrodden.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those persecuted for their faith who, amid their suffering, continue to offer an authentic witness to Jesus and the Gospel.

    O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who dream, those with the heart of a child, who work to make the world a better place, ever more human and just.

    In you, Holy Cross, we see God who loves even to the end, and we see the hatred of those who want to dominate, that hatred which blinds the minds and hearts of those who prefer darkness to light.

    O Cross of Christ, Arc of Noah that saved humanity from the flood of sin, save us from evil and from the Evil One.  O Throne of David and seal of the divine and eternal Covenant, awaken us from the seduction of vanity!  O cry of love, inspire in us a desire for God, for goodness and for light.

    O Cross of Christ, teach us that the rising of the sun is more powerful than the darkness of night.  O Cross of Christ, teach us that the apparent victory of evil vanishes before the empty tomb and before the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God which nothing can defeat, obscure or weaken.  Amen!

    Good Friday 2016 at Golgotha

    JERUSALEM – During the Easter Triduum, the Church relives the trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. At Golgotha for Good Friday, the crowd gathers en masse to be closer to the location of the Cross in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pictures of the ceremony of the Veneration of the Cross presided by His Beatitude Fouad Twal here.

    “O Father, who willed to save mankind by the death of your Son on the cross, grant that we who have known on earth the mystery of his love, may be his witnesses, in our words and actions, in our daily lives,before all those whom you place on our path. Through Christ our Lord.

    25 Mar 2016

    Lady Day and Good Friday – Of the Angels’ ‘Ave’ and the ‘Consummatum est’ - Fr John Zuhlsdorf

    From Fr John Zuhlsdorf - Today, 25 March 2016, is simultaneously the Feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday.  Liturgically we celebrate the Annunciation later.The idea that Christ died gave up the ghost on the day He took our flesh is certainly as beautiful as it is fitting.

    How poignant it would have been also for Mary.

    Mary said “Yes.” on the day of the Annunciation.  “Fiat” was her prayer.  That day the Incarnation took place as the Son took our humanity into an indestructible bond with His divinity.  Christ’s life began in the private darkness of the womb.  Soon after Salvation was born into the light of the world.

    Mary said “Yes.” on the day of her Son’s death.  “Fiat” was her prayer.  That day the Incarnation was temporarily broken, as His human soul and body were sundered.  Christ’s life ended in the public darkness of the biblical tenebrae.  Soon after Salvation was accomplished with a burst of light at the Resurrection.

    Good Friday rarely falls on Annunciation, Lady Day.  Lately it occurred in 1910, 1921, 1932, 2005, and today.  It’ll be a long time before the next time: 2157.

    It also occurred in the year 1608. That day, the poet John Donne, one of the Metaphysical Poets, penned a magnificent poem.  He contrasts the two experiences of our Lady.
    Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day.  1608
    Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
    My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
    She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
    That of them both a circle emblem is,
    Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
    Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
    She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
    She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
    Her Maker put to making, and the head
    Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
    She sees at once the virgin mother stay
    Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
    Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
    At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
    At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
    Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
    Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
    At once receiver and the legacy;
    All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
    The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
    (As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
    Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
    How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
    Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
    As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
    Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
    Which shows where the other is and which we say
    (Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
    So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
    And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
    His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
    Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
    This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
    Death and conception in mankind is one:
    Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
    That He would be a man and leave to be:
    Or as creation He had made, as God,
    With the last judgment but one period,
    His imitating Spouse would join in one
    Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
    Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
    Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
    This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
    And in my life retail it every day.

    Christina Rossetti has this:

    Good Friday
    Christina Rossetti

    Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
      That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
    To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
       And yet not weep?

    Not so those women loved
       Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
    Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
       Not so the thief was moved;

    Not so the Sun and Moon
       Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
    A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
       I, only I.

    Yet give not o’er,
       But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
    Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
       And smite a rock.