31 Jan 2017

1st February 2017 - Feast of St Bridget of Kildare

St Bridget of Kildare
by Richard King
February 1st is the feast day of St Brigid of Kildare, patroness of Ireland along with St Patrick and St Colm Cille. Known as Mhuire na nGael (Mary of the Irish), she is a popular saint in Ireland and her feast day is celebrated as the first day of Spring (even if meteorologically it is not for another few weeks for the official start of Spring). 

Tradition holds she lived 452AD-524AD as is know in tradition and affection of the Irish as Mary of the Gael. She is said to be the patroness of babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milk maids; nuns; poets; poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen

You can also read about St Brigid in our previous posts on the blog which have history, various depictions of the saint, links to reflections, prayers & litanies.

Resources from weekly LDPC resource newsletter:

Some background HERE, Some Prayers HERE, personal reflection HERE, Resources for school and children HERE, A video for making a St Brigids Cross is HERE. Our Limerick resource page is HERE

Jan 31st - Feast day of St John Bosco

To all members of the Salesian family - especially those that support us on SS102fm - happy feast day!

WoF - St. John Bosco, Eli, and the value of the spiritual mentor

28 Jan 2017

29th January 2017 - 2016: A Church Year in Review

On this weeks programme the SS102fm team take our review of the church's year in 2016 (a little later than usual). We have our regular reflection on this weeks gospel as well as some other liturgical odds and ends.

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

2016: A Church Year in Review

John and Shane take a trip back into 2016 and take our annual church year in review. 

You can listen to the podcast excerpted from the main programme HERE.

Gospel - Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflection
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours: Psalter week 4; 4th week in ordinary time

Saints of the Week
January 30th - St Aidan also Bl Margaret Ball and Francis Taylor
January 31st - St John Bosco
February 1st - St Bridget of Ireland
February 2nd - Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas Day) - World Day for Consecrated Life
February 3rd - St Blaise (First Friday)
February 4th -  Saint Nicholas Studites (First Saturday)

22 Jan 2017

Will you come and follow me (The Summons)

Two further musical reflections on today's gospel:

Some web browsing

British painter revives Christian ancient art form of iconography in occupied West Bank

Young people to be more than study subjects in upcoming synod

Card. Farrell: WYD in Panama will be in the first months of 2019

Panama’s World Youth Day to be held Jan. 22-27, 2019

Holidays caught Pope Francis in a ‘damn the torpedoes!’ mood

Walking with Peter - A confident pope sets a new example for governing the church.

Journalist Peter Seewald: Pope Benedict is “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time”

El Pais interview with Pope Francis - “The danger is that in times of crisis we look for a savior” On Donald Trump, Pope Francis says: “I don’t like to anticipate events. Let us see what he does, we can’t be prophets of disasters”

“All tricks and vocals are done by Friar Gabriel.”  - That’s not something you see every day in a video description. But Friar Gabriel is no ordinary man: not only is he skilled in Gregorian chant, he also performs all of his own stunts on the skateboard.

Pope to judges: Focus on marriage prep to avoid annulments

S+L - Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins - Perspectives

Bishops’ absence adds to low-key unity celebrations in Ireland

Fine Gael accused of attack on Catholic parish schools

WoF - Go in haste! Be amazed! Treasure!

Irish bishops’ Ad Limina visit to Pope Francis and to the Holy See
Irish Bishops won’t ask Pope to permit married priests Archbishop Eamon Martin offers prayers for priests and the Irish Church during Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter
Pope Francis meets with Irish Bishops on ad limina visit to Rome
Meeting pope, Irish prelates discuss ministry of bishop, abuse scandal
Vatican Radio - Pope Francis meets with Irish Bishops on ad limina visit to Rome
Irish Times - Pope tells Irish bishops: you are goalkeepers, ready to take the shots. Archbishop says Irish bishops not criticised over Mass attendance or referendum result

Catholic Herald - Greg DalyFr Joseph LevineFr Dwight LongeneckerFr Michael Rogers SJLuma Simms and Scott Smith debate Amoris Laetitia.

21 Jan 2017

22 January 2017 - Interview with Dr Mary Healy

On this weeks programme John and Martina have an interview with Dr Mary Healy who is a professor of scripture in Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit Michigan and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.  Mary spoke to us about her experiences in Charismatic Renewal and Healing. She also spoke to us about family life and marriage.

We have our reflections on the weekly gospel as well as our usual liturgical odds and ends.

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

Interview with Dr Mary Healy
On this weeks programme John and Martina have an interview with Dr Mary Healy. Mary is a professor of scripture in Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit Michigan and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.  Mary spoke to us about her experiences in Charismatic Renewal and Healing. She also spoke to us about family life and marriage.
Mary grew up in a “Sunday Mass catholic home”. Parents took her to mass on Sunday but had no other faith activity during the week.They had no prayer life to speak of. Then her parents went on a “Cursillo” retreat and both her parents had a deep conversion experience after which the rosary, the sacraments, and personal prayer became so important  to them and they introduced their children to these also. Mary went to college, and as is quite common drifted from God due to having no prayer life. At end of college she was spiritually empty but went on to rediscover her relationship with God while attending in Steubenville University. Mary lived with a charismatic community in Maryland for several years and this taught her a great deal about getting to know God in a personal way and through the Cross and Resurrection.  

Mary also shares with us about the Christian understanding of marriage and how repentance, giving and accepting forgiveness makes marriages strong and leads spouses to a deeper love for one another. One of the biggest obstacle to healing is unforgiveness. We need to be very careful about this in our lives and examine our conscience often. Forgive and allow God judge the person who has wounded us.  With every Gift of the spirit it is God the Holy Spirit operating through us. The more intimate we are with Jesus the more we know His ways. We are like a musical instrument  which the Holy Spirit “plays”...the more intimate we are with Jesus the “sweeter the tune”!!!!

Gospel - Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,he withdrew to Galilee.He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: 
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles,the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. 
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.He said to them,"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."At once they left their nets and followed him.He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.He went around all of Galilee,teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - psalter week 3; 3rd week in Ordinary time.

  • Catholic Scools Week in Ireland
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity continues

Saints of the Week

January 23rd - St Colman of Lismore
January 24th - St Francis de Sales
January 25th - The Conversion of St Paul
January 26th - Ss Timothy & Titus
January 27th - St Angela Merici
January 28th - St Thomas Acquinas

19 Jan 2017

Irish Bishops Ad Limina Apostolorum

From Sunday 15 January, for ten days, members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference will undertake their Ad Limina Apostolorum visit to Rome  – or “to the threshold of the Apostles” – a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul that all bishops are required to make.  The Ad Limina normally occurs every five years and its purpose is to strengthen the bishops’ communion with the universal Church and with the successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis.
The bishops’ visit which combines prayer including at the tombs of the apostles, a series of meetings with the staff of the various diacasteries (departments) of the Roman Curia in the Holy See to share their pastoral experience, and a meeting with the Holy Father.
There are 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland and all serving bishops – or a diocesan administrator if the diocese is currently not being led by a bishop – will be taking part in this pilgrimage.
During the visit the bishops will meet with the relevant staff of the various dicasteries of the Curia.  The dicasteries have special significance and importance because of the close connection that exists between them and the Pope in his mission of leadership in the universal Church.  Bishops will discuss the situation of the Church in Ireland at this time, make known pastoral initiatives, to discuss specific issues of concern, ask questions, seek information, and furnish clarifications.  A list of the dicastaries which the bishops intend to visit is available below.
Prior to the Ad Limina visit, each diocesan bishop submits a report on his diocese to the Holy See.  The report from each diocese describes the actual situation of the Church in that diocese (overview of the present situation, facts and figures) for which the diocesan bishop is responsible, its challenges, its relations with non-Catholic and non-Christian religious communities, with civil society and with the public authorities.  It is forwarded to the Holy See in advance in order that it can be studied, synthesised and a summary presented to the Pope.  This allows the Holy Father to acquaint himself with the situation of each diocese prior to meeting with the bishops.
On Friday 20 January the bishops will collectively have an audience with Pope Francis.  The President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin, will make a reply on behalf of the bishops.
As part of their Ad Limina visit bishops will concelebrate Mass in the Pontifical Irish College as well as at the four main papal basilicas in Rome, as detailed below:
  • Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter will be celebrated on Monday 16 January at 7.30am.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Eamon Martin.
  • Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran will be celebrated on Wednesday 18 January at 4.00pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
  • Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls will be celebrated on Friday 20 January at 4.30pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA.
  • Mass in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major will be celebrated on Saturday 21 January at 4.30pm.  Principal Celebrant, Archbishop Michael Neary.

15 Jan 2017

World Day of Migrants and Refugees - Children are the most vulnerable migrants and must be protected, says Pope

As we celebrate the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, on Sunday, 15 January 2017, it is important that we come together to remember and pray for the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence.

Children are the most vulnerable and hardest hit among the world’s migrants and require special protection, Pope Francis said. The Pope made these comments in a message on the theme of ‘Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless’ for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees 2017.

In his message, the Pope called for greater protection and integration of immigrants and refugees who are minors, especially those who are unaccompanied. ‘Minors are especially fragile, vulnerable and often invisible and voiceless – unable to claim or unaware of their rights and needs,’ he said.

In particular, they have ‘the right to a healthy and secure family environment, where a child can grow under the guidance and example of a father and a mother,’ the Pope said. ‘Children, furthermore, have the right to recreation,’ he added. ‘In a word, they have the right to be children.’

Please join with Pope Francis and the Council for Immigrants of the Irish Bishops’ Conference in drawing attention to the refugee crisis, in particular the plight of minor migrants. 

14 Jan 2017

15th January 2017 - St Ita of Kileedy

On this weeks programme John, Anne and Shane discuss the feast day of St Ita, co-patron of the diocese of Limerick whose feast day is 15th January. We have our regular reflection on  this weeks Sunday gospel as well as other liturgical odds & ends including the SS102fm prayer intentions for 2017.

As St Ita is the co-patron of the diocese of Limerick, her feast day ranks as a solemnity for the diocese.

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

St Ita of Kileedy

St Ita also known as the Brigid of Munster is associated with the parish of Killeedy and is one of the co-patrons of the diocese of Limerick. January 15th is her feast day, and on this weeks show, John and Shane discuss her feast day.

"St Ita, the patron saint of Killeedy, was born before 484AD in County Waterford, in the Tramore area. Her father was Cennfoelad or Confhaola and her mother was Necta. Cennfoelad was descended from Felim the lawgiver. Ita's name was originally Dorothea or Deirdre. She was a member of the Déisí tribe. 

Ita refused her father's wish that she should marry a local chieftain, as she believed that she had a calling from God and wanted to become a nun. To convince her father to change his mind, she fasted for three days and three nights. On the third night, God gave out to her father in his sleep. The next morning, Cennfoelad agreed that Ita could do as she wished. At the age of sixteen, Ita set off on her journey. Bishop (St.) Declan of Ardmore conferred the veil on her. 

Legend has it that Ita was lead to Killeedy by three heavenly lights. The first was at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second on the Mullaghareirk mountains and the third at Cluain Creadhail, which is nowadays Killeedy. 

Her sister Fiona also went to Killeedy with her and became a member of the community. Ita was welcomed to Killeedy by the local chieftain of the Ui Conaill Gabhra tribe. The chieftain wanted to give Ita a large trait of land but she only wanted a few acres as a garden for her community." 

It is said that St. Ita used to say that the Lord loves three things in a Christian most of all: faith in God with a pure heart, a spiritual Christian life with simplicity, and generous love; but the Lord especially dislikes in us the following things: a gloomy face (according to another variant: hatred in our hearts), persistence in sin and excessive reliance on money.

Ever living God,We rejoice in the life of Saint Ita of Killeedy.We give you thanks for her powerful intercession and we implore her continual protection. Inspire us by her example to live with joy our calling in life, give us perseverance to serve you all our days; We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, world without end. Amen 
An Irish lullaby for the Infant Jesus is attributed to Saint Ita' - The Vision of St Ita - and hears her sing: 
Jesukin lives my little cell within;What were wealth of cleric high All is lie but Jesukin.
Previous programmes on St Ita which have included various reflections from SS102fm very own man from Kileedy - Michael Keating - are available HERE.

You can listen to Shane's discussion about St Ita excerpted from this weeks programme here.

Gospel - John 1:29- 34

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

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 2; 2nd week in ordinary time

Saints of the Week

January 16th - St Fursa
January 17th - St Anthony
January 18th - Bl Charlotte Lucas
January 19th - St Audifax of Persia
January 20th - St Sebastian
January 21st - St Agnes

11 Jan 2017

“You look very mystified. Don’t you love God?”

From Aleteia:
If you liked the film “Into Great Silence” you might like this short piece filmed at the Carmel of Wolverhampton in the UK. Just under a half hour long, it is a beautifully shot peek into the lives of these very private nuns as they go about their day, praying the office, working, eating, laughing quite loudly during their recreation, and so forth. There are a few sisters answering questions of the filmmakers, Miranda Tasker and Marcus Nield. 
If you don’t have time to watch it all, I recommend you forwarding to 16:10, when we see a younger sister writing questions to an elderly sister who has lost her hearing but is delightfully in her wits. She answers the questions with clarity and humor, and throws a few questions back at her guests, as well. After extolling the love of God for all creation, she says to them, “You look very mystified. Don’t you love God?” 
The younger sister explains that the filmmakers have “A different understanding of God,” and, after again pronouncing on God’s love, the elder sister asks them, “Do you read the Gospel?” When apparently both say they do not she takes it well but says in an aside to the younger, “What the’re missing, aren’t they, sister?” 
And then she talks more about love. 
A wonderful, refreshing half hour.

8 Jan 2017

Some web browsing.....

Joy and Devotion in a German Convent

Against "Herods of Our Time," Pope's Surprise Christmas Cry for Kids

Journeying - Darkness or unknowing has a part to play in every expression of faith and unbelief. Free of illusions of certainty, we can freely explore the mysteries that make up a life and encounter others who like ourselves are open to the reality that defies explanation.
Real faith is about trust and not certainty 

What happens if only one person shows up at church? 

Dog bites man: New York Times editor admits ‘We don’t get religion’ 

Bishop Barron: Go in haste! Be amazed! Treasure! - A message to the “nones” and to those who are tempted to move into secularism

Why Catholics play dumb - Those who shy away from explaining and defending the faith may have good reasons to do so

5 Ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use - So many of our Christmas cards are photos, these days, and that can be a prompt for prayer and outreach! 

Is Fr. Paul Keller’s essay really the way "Amoris Laetitia" should be read? - Keller’s essay illustrates how pastors are going to stumble into accepting the central flaw in AL: implicitly assuming that a Catholic’s assessment of his or her own conscience is the sole criterion governing a minister’s decision to give holy Communion to a member of the faithful.

Seeking Signs During The Times - Many Catholics have been engaged in apocalyptic speculation, as it seems to them not only the world but also the Church is spinning apart. But is this speculation Catholic?

High Noon for the Religious Left 

Walking the Camino de Santiago will change you 

A poem and a poinsettia from Paradise 

The improbable Secretary-General 

When a mother loses a child, respond with tears, not words, says Pope

Pray and fast for 40 days to prevent abortion - “You can fast from food, TV, alcohol, cigarettes, sweets or chocolate,” says Precious Life.  To stop abortion “a massive revolution of prayer and sacrifice” is needed.

Dublin priest publishes new book of prayers, meditations and reflections on family life 

Bishops: “The Constitution celebrates the equality of the mother and the unborn child in its Eighth Amendment”

7 Jan 2017

8th January 2017 - Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

On this weeks programme John and Shane reflect on the homilies and addresses of Pope Francis over the Christmas season. We have our regular reflections on this weeks Sunday gospel as well as our liturgical odds and ends.

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

Messages of Hope over  the Christmas

John and Shane have a short discussion and reflection about the messages of Pope Francis over the Christmas period and how Christmas is a reminder to us that we should have hope; it doesnt end when the tree is taken down and the lights turned off but rather something to carry us through our daily lives no matter how dark the world around us can seem

Pope: ‘Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the Child in the manger’

You can listen to this section of the programme excerpted on podcast HERE.

Gospel - Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
English Dominicans

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - 1st week in ordinary time

Saints of the Week

January 9th - Bl Josef Pawlowski
January 10th - St Dermot of Inis Clothrann
January 11th - St Breandan of Ireland
January 12th - St Aelrad of Rievaulx
January 13th - St Hilary of Potiers
January 14th - St Engelmaro

Monastic Experience Weekend - Mt St Joseph Abbey

“Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act” Ps 36:5

Mount Saint Joseph Abbey are hosting a Monastic Experience Weekend from Friday 19th - Sunday 21st May 2017. It is an opportunity for men between the ages of 20 and 40 who may be discerning a monastic vocation to find out more about monastic life and to listen to God’s call by sharing the rhythm of the monastic daily prayer schedule. There will be an opportunity to speak one-to-one with a monk and reflect together on the monastic vocation.

This might be for you: 

  • If you feel attracted to monastic life and wonder whether it might be for you.
  • If you have thought sometimes that God might be calling you to religious life, but have hesitated to take the first step. 

To make an enquiry or to arrange a meeting to talk about your vocation discernment, please contact our Vocations Director, Br Malachy Thompson, by email to malachy@msjroscrea.ie or text ‘INFO’ to 085 8338503.

Noveritis - the Proclamation of the Date of Easter 2017 (Irish Liturgical calendar)

As traditional on SS102fm we post the the Noveritis or Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany each year with the dates as per the Irish liturgical calendar. 

The practice of the proclamation dates from a time when calendars were not too readily available. It was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date. The number of weeks that follow Epiphany, the date of Ash Wednesday and the number of Sundays that follow Pentecost are all computed in relation to Easter.

[If you would like some more detail of the history of the Proclamation head over to New Liturgical Movement.]

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany Proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year. This beautiful proclamation puts everything into perspective. Every liturgical celebration of the Church finds its authentic meaning in the Paschal Mystery, even Christmas. The Paschal Mystery was precisely why the Eternal Son of the Father, the Eternal Word, deigned to leap down from heaven and become incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was born in time so that He could give His flesh for the life of the world.

The season of Christmas ends with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. As the season draws to an end, the solemnity of Epiphany offers an opportunity to proclaim the centrality of Christ's paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life.

The Easter Triduum of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year and the solemn proclamation should be made after the homily or after the Prayer after Communion on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6th.

Below is the Proclamation with the dates for 2017 as per the Irish Liturgical Calendar.

Know, dear brothers & sisters,
that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
so by leave o
f God's mercy
we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection,
who is our Saviour.

On the first day of March will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.

On the sixteenth day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the twenty-eighth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the fourth day of June, the feast of Pentecost.

On the eighteenth day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On the third day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.


Feast of the Epiphany - Homily of Abbot Brendan, Glenstal Abbey (and an Oak Anniversary of monastic profession)

From Glenstal Abbey's website:

Glenstal’s most senior monk, Fr Placid Murray, celebrated his Oak Jubilee – the 80th anniversary of his monastic profession – on Friday 6th January 2017.

Fr Placid made his first profession on the Feast of the Epiphany 1937, in the hands of the then Prior of Glenstal, the Belgian Fr Bede Lebbe. Fr Placid, who is 98 years old, is currently resident at a nursing home in nearby Newport, Co. Tipperary, but he returned to Glenstal on Friday to celebrate his jubilee.

He and the monastic community were joined by many of Fr Placid’s relatives and friends for Mass and lunch. During Mass, Fr Placid renewed his vows:
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Eighty years ago, I, Brother Placid Murray, promised stability, monastic life and obedience in the monastery of Saints Joseph and Columba at Glenstal, in the presence of Dom Bede Lebbe, Prior of Glenstal. With gratitude, and trusting in the mercy of God, I renew my profession, and  promise stability, monastic life and obedience in the aforesaid monastery of Saints Joseph and Columba at Glenstal, in the presence of God and his saints and of you, Brendan, Abbot of this monastery, and of its monks.

He then sang the Suscipe chant, which is sung by all monks on the day of their profession, and which is sung by the brethren at monks’ funerals. Just before the final blessing, Fr Placid addressed the congregation, reflecting on the meaning of the Suscipe.

You can read Abbot Brendan’s homily below.

Today, we celebrate a festival more ancient in its origins than Christmas. This is the feast of the Manifestation of the Lord to the Nations, the Epiphany. Traditionally three great wonders mark this day; the arrival of the Magi from the east with their gifts, the baptism of Christ in the Jordan river and the miracle of the wedding at Cana in Galilee. These events reveal Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, the beloved.

Today’s feast is also a feast of time itself, because Jesus is revealed in time and the liturgy we celebrate continues to reveal him in time, our time. For this reason the Church has traditionally announced on this day the date of Easter and the dates of all the movable feasts for the coming year. For a Christian the year begins and ends with Easter and so does our calculation of time.

Today, in this monastery we mark another event in time. Not only do we celebrate the Manifestation of the Lord to the Nations, but we give thanks for eighty years of monastic life with our confrère Fr Placid. I’m told that this is called an Oak Jubilee, we don’t get to celebrate too many of those! I would have to be one hundred and nine before I could celebrate my oak jubilee of profession, so that’s not too likely to happen.

On the great feast of the Epiphany, in 1937, Fr Placid made his first monastic profession here in Glenstal Priory, before Fr Bede Lebbe, Prior of Glenstal. To get some context around this event; this was the year when J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit, the year Walt Disney produced Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; it was in the 678th Olympiad; the 2,690th year from the foundation of the city of Rome, the year Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office for the second time, the year San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was opened to the public. The monastery itself was only ten years old at that stage and the fledgling community had started to grow.

Let me ask you, what do all these things have in common? They happened. In fact our lives as monks are lived in a constant relationship with all the varied events of the world around us, from the sublime to the ridiculous. One unique Spirit, that of the Father and of the Son animates everything. Our multiple charisms are a reflection of the seamless robe of Christ the Saviour who is made manifest this day, in Jordan water, at the miracle of the wedding at Cana and in kingly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Each one of us is given a fixed span of days to allow the Lord become manifest in our own lives. For a monk that manifestation comes primarily through the Work of God in choir, to which you Fr Placid have been most faithful. It is a tremendous testimony to fidelity, all too seldom seen today in any walk of life, that someone faithfully carries out their work for eighty years. As the psalm puts it – eighty for those who are strong.

The vespers hymn for today’s feast has this beautiful line sung in reference to the Magi, “Lumen requirunt lumine” “following a light they were searching for the light. Fr Placid, for eighty years you have faithfully followed the light of the Holy Rule of St Benedict, but you have been seeking the true light, the Lumen ad Revelationem Gentium, Christ the Saviour. The destiny of every human person can be seen in this journey of the Magi from the East: for our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, so that we might find the fullness of truth and love in Jesus, the Light of the World. A jubilee is only a marker on the journey, it is the journey itself that is important and the roots we put down at the start support us all the way to the finish. Fr Placid, on this great feast of the Lord’s Epiphany, the day we announce with joy the date of Easter and the day eighty years ago you promised stability, monastic conversion and obedience, my wish for you comes from the letter to the Ephesians “May Christ live in your heart by faith and may you be planted in love and built on love.”

Ad multos annos!

5 Jan 2017

6th Jan 2017 - Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Arise, shine out, Jerusalem; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms. 
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.
Isaiah 60:1-6

January 6th in Ireland we celebrate Epiphany which is the feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. On this feast, Western Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles; Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians.

St Matthew tells us (2:1-12) that Wise Men came from out of the east seeking the new born child as the Messiah of the whole world not just for the people of Israel. Their homage to him upon locating him in Bethlehem is representative of the whole world who adore the Holy Child and recognise his Divine Kingship, he who is the Light of the World.
"They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
The feast of the Epiphany in the Latin tradition focuses on the manifestation or showing of the Child Jesus to the Magi or Wise men who have come to seek the new King of the Jews. The three wisdom seekers represent the gentiles; those outside the covenanted community of Israel to whom the Messiah will also come. Where the shepherds represented the Chosen People, the three magi represent all those who truly search and seek for God in our world even if from out side our community and experiences. The questions this familiar part of the Christmas narrative can pose to us include:
  • What "star" do I follow in my life? Do I follow the Morning Star which is Christ or do I have other things I follow?
  • Am I open to seeing the Divine in others even if they are different from me?
  • Like the Wise men, am I willing to trust in God and go where She leads me, even if it means travelling far (literally or metaphorically), believing that God will be "my staff and my shield"?
But like the shepherds, the three magi did not stay in Bethlehem, they had to go back out into the world, back to their homes and families and daily lives; just like we have to. But they took the message of what they had seen and heard with them.Epiphany demands that like these kings we should return to our own countries a different way, carrying to all those we meet the light of Christ. "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth," says the Epistle of the Epiphany Mass, "and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon Thee, and His glory shall be seen upon Thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in Thy light..." These words may be applied to us, upon whom the light of Christ has indeed risen, and who have the responsibility to radiate that light in the darkness of our own world. It is clear how much the feast of Epiphany must mean to all who are engaged in the apostolate and are striving to extend the kingdom of Christ. 

We join with the psalmist (Psalm 44) and the Magi and all the Heavenly Court in praising the Prince of Peace:
My heart overflows with noble words.
To the king I must speak the song I have made,
my tongue as nimble as the pen of a scribe.
You are the fairest of the people on earth
and graciousness is poured upon your lips,
because God has blest you for evermore.
Your throne, O God, shall endure for ever.
A scepter of justice is the scepter of your kingdom,
Your love is for justice, your hatred for eil.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above other kings;
your robes are fragrant with aloes and myrrh.
From the ivory palace you are greeted with music.
The daughters of kings are among your loved ones.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Vatican Radio - Pope Epiphany: Magi personify all who believe and long for God

Vatican Radio - Pope Angelus: Choose to be guided by the star of Jesus
Vatican Radio - The Pope's homily on the feast of the Epiphany
Catholic World Report - Want to know the history behind today's feast of the Epiphany?
OSV - How to better appreciate the feast of the Epiphany This Epiphany let us seek to be changed anew
Aleteia - Moving with the Magi, from darkness to light - On the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate the sign of salvation, and recognize that we are on a journey of faith
Where are the relics of the three wise men? - The shrine at Cologne is gorgeous, indeed; are the Magi within? 
5 Inspirational quotes on the Epiphany from the saints - Reflections on the mystery of the Christ Child made manifest to us