2 Dec 2016

Pope Francis Prayer Intention December 2016

The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for December is: “That the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated the world over”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life”.

28 Nov 2016

28th November - Feast day of St Catherine Laboure - Seer of the Miraculous Medal

Today is the feast day of St Catherine Labouré - Seer of the Miraculous Medal following a vision from the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1830.

The Miraculous Medal owes its origin to the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris in the year 1830. She appeared as the Immaculata to St. Catherine Labouré, a novice with the Daughters of Charity. On July 18, the Immaculate Virgin, seated in the same chapel, had spoken gentle words of encouragement to the young novice. On November 27, the Virgin Mother showed St. Catherine the design of a medal which would remind people of the love and protection that Our Lady continually offers to God's children.

You can read more about the visions of St Catherine here.

On November 27th, Catherine saw Mary standing on what seemed to be half a globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to heaven. On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times were difficult in France, especially for the poor who were unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached other parts of the world and are even present today. Streaming from rings on Mary's fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light. Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come because no one had asked for them.

The vision then changed to show our Lady standing on a globe with her arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still streaming from her fingers. Framing the figure was an inscription: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.



The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal
Mary is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are helpless before her (Gn 3:15). The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine Labouré. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—not to be confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary's sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28)—that was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.

The Meaning of the Back Side of the Miraculous Medal
The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John, writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this, we see Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us. (See also Lk 2:35).

Then Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Catherine explained the entire series of apparitions to her confessor, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s instructions. She did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon before her death 46 years later. 

With approval of the Church, the first Medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. Almost immediately the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore her Medal. The devotion spread like wildfire. Marvels of grace and health, peace and prosperity, followed in its wake. Before long people were calling it the “Miraculous” Medal. In 1836, a canonical inquiry undertaken at Paris declared the apparitions to be genuine.

There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a “good-luck charm”. Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results. “The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong.”

When our Blessed Mother gave the design of the medal to Saint Catherine Labouré she said, “Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person.”


After two years' worth of investigation and observation of Catherine's normal daily behavior, Catherine's confessor took the information to his archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and the design of the medallions was commissioned through French goldsmith Adrien Vachette. They proved to be exceedingly popular. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had not yet been officially promulgated, but the medal with its "conceived without sin" slogan was influential in popular approval of the idea. 

Sister Catherine spent the next forty years caring for the aged and infirm. For this she is called the patroness of seniors. She died on December 31, 1876 at the age of seventy. Her body is encased in glass beneath the side altar at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris.

Catherine Labouré's cause for sainthood was declared upon discovering her body was incorrupt, which currently lies in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. She was beatified on May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI and canonized on July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII.

Novena of the Miraculous Medal

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, 
Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, 
penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, 
we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, 
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray.
(Here form your petition)
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. 
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.
Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.
Amen. 

27 Nov 2016

Waiting in joyful hope!

Cross post from Pilgrims Progress:




The birth of Jesus Christ in that stable in Bethlehem is where all my questions begin to be answered”. (Cardinal Basil Hume)

Part of me understands these words from the late Archbishop of Westminster for it was during Advent about 9 years ago that I only began to understand the mystery of life, of death, of birth, of motherhood, the real meaning of Advent and Christmas and the preparation for the birth of the Infant King. 

“The people in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:2). That previous summer, our journey as a family was plunged into darkness with the sudden death of our father at the age of 47. Two days afterwards, my sister announced that she was expecting her first child. God, through his mysterious ways, had already begun to comfort us and assure us that life would go on. A few months afterwards, I recall how on the first Sunday of Advent, my sister told us that she had already named the baby growing within her: Joshua, or ‘Jesus saves’ in Hebrew. A co-incidence, I think not…I like to see it as a God-incidence, God’s delicate reminder that this child who would join our family was a sign of hope that life will and must always overcome death, that there will always be a light to break through our darkness. In this little baby in my sister’s womb, my first nephew, I suddenly saw that it is not just into the ‘mess’ of the stable of Bethlehem but into my ‘mess’ that Jesus enters the world. For too long, instead of entering into the ‘rejoice’ of Christmas, part of me longed for the sorrow of Lent that would justify the feelings of sadness, grief and loneliness as I grieved for my Dad. How could I be faithful to that memory of love and still deal with this sorrow in this season of "Rejoice!"?? I pondered the name Joshua; I pondered the name Emmanuel, and was greatly consoled: Jesus is with us, God is with us. Life will go on!

The liturgical time of Advent only lasts 4 weeks, yet its dynamism, from generation to generation animates those who walk towards the fulfilment of God’s promise that life will continue. The Promise is Love and the Promise was Life and the name of the Promise is Jesus! Jesus who comes into the world as a newborn child embodies both power and vulnerability. “Baby Jesus” is both Christ and Child, both powerful and vulnerable. Deep down, it makes sense, for to “to love at all is to be vulnerable”, as C.S. Lewis writes.

I know I will never have children of my own, and yet, each Advent, I cultivate the life growing deep within my heart, I ponder the miracle of motherhood, of bringing life into the world, of waiting. For me, Advent is the season where God waits for the love of his children. He waits, silently, patiently for the moment of grace until the chronos of life (our time) becomes impregnated with his kairos (God’s time), the Word becomes flesh! Advent is the season where the voice of the prophets cries out with renewed energy …the prophets are in our midst, their voices echoing through the shallowness of our society, of our Church, of our lives. We often try to muffle their voices especially when their message forces us out of the cocoon of our spiritual and material comfort zones. At this time of the year, whilst nature slides silently into sleep, the liturgy, with ever-growing urgency, calls us to be awake, to keep watch, to be ready! Today, more than ever, as Christians we need to assume our prophetic role which flows from our baptism and be the voice which reminds that the world that the paradox of God’s love can be seen in an Infant child, his way of saying that the world must go on!

Resources and Inspiration for Advent 2016




This post will be updated on regular basis so make sure to check back:

Advent Finds for the Whole Family - Advent Retreating, New Music, A Great Calendar, a Novel, and an App I Love

Limerick Diocese Weekly News letter - 23 November 2016


Loyola Press - Advent resources 


E-magis - Advent resources


Irish Catholic Bishops Conference - Advent calendar


The Luminous Silence of Advent - other Advent related posts from iBenedictines


Phil Ewing's blog Blue Eyed Ennis is no longer being updated but she has some wonderful gems in her archive which you should explore including some Advent poetry - here, here and here


Preparing for the light of Christmas in the darkness of Advent - We need these blessed days to pray and watch for the coming of the dawn of that day when the Sun of Justice will drive the darkness away.

26 Nov 2016

27th November 2016 - Advent

On this weeks programme John, Lorraine and Shane reflect on the beginning of the Advent season and the opportunity it presents to us to reconnect and prepare for a meaningful Christmas. We have our regular reflection on this weeks Sunday gospel as well as other liturgical odds and ends.

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

Advent - A time to reconnect with God with Mary


Lorraine takes us through a reflection this week on keeping Advent with Mary as we try to make space in a busy world to prepare for the Christmas season and gives us the example of contemplating with Mary using the rosary.

Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting, conversion and hope:

  • Waiting: remembering the first, humble coming of the Lord as a little baby in Bethlehem while waiting expectantly on His final, glorious coming as Lord of History and Universal Judge.
  • Conversion: the liturgy at this time of the year reminds us of the importance of conversion – turning our hearts and minds back to God. When we turn our hearts and minds to God we are turning our back to sin and all that is not of God.
  • Joyful hope:  we trust that the salvation already accomplished by Jesus Christ and the reality of grace in the world will mature and reach their fullness. 

The person who can help us to wait, with hearts turned to God, in joyful hope is our Blessed Mother Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary “is the model of how we should be living our advent. Mary is, in some sense, Advent personified. God the Father had prepared her from the first moment of her life to be a worthy mother of his Son. Like a faithful daughter of Israel, she had prayed throughout her youth for the coming of the Messiah. When she was a young girl, she discovered that she was part of God's answer to that prayer, but in a way that would far have exceeded any Hebrew maiden’s prayers: not only would the Messiah be her son, but her son would also be God.”  

Contemplating Christ with Mary

This Advent we invite you to journey with Our Lady, to walk in her footsteps. So how can we do this?

We read in Luke’s Gospel that when all events of that first Christmas were unfolding and the shepherds came to see the promised Messiah, she “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” So this Advent we invite you to allow our Blessed Mother to walk with you in contemplating the mysteries of her Sons life through the rosary. 

You can listen to Lorraine's reflection excerpted from the main programme HERE.



Prayer to Our Lady of Advent 
(Michel Hubaut, Franciscan)

Our Lady of Advent,
Mother of all our longings,
you who felt the child take form
in your womb, the Hope
of your people,
the salvation of God,
Uphold our corporal and spiritual
maternity and paternity.

Mother of all our hopes,
you who welcomed the Spirit’s strength,
giving flesh to God’s promises,
grant us to incarnate Love,
a sign of God’s kingdom,
through every action in our lives.

Our Lady of Advent,
Mother of all our watches,
you who gave a face to our future,
strengthen those who labour in pain
a new world of justice and peace.

You who contemplated the Child of Bethlehem,
make us aware of the unexpected signs
of God’s gentleness.

Our Lady of Advent,
Mother of the Crucified,
reach out to all those who are dying
and walk with them in their new life
in the Father’s arms.

Our Lady of Advent, Paschal icon,
grant us to joyfully keep a discerning watch
throughout our daily moments and so
to catch the comings and goings
of Christ our Lord.

UPDATE - Reflections for first Sunday of Advent

Loyola Press - Arts & Faith: Week 1 of Advent, Cycle A 
The Sacred Page - First Sunday of Advent, 2017!
NCR - Advent Is Mary’s Time - Preparing for Christmas With the Mother of God
Vatican Radio - 1st Sunday of Advent

Gospel - Matthew 24:37-44




Jesus said to his disciples:“As it was in the days of Noah,so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.In those days before the flood,they were eating and drinking,marrying and giving in marriage,up to the day that Noah entered the ark.They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.Two men will be out in the field;one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill;one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake!For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the househad known the hour of night when the thief was coming,he would have stayed awakeand not let his house be broken into.So too, you also must be prepared,for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire

Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends 

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 1; first week of Advent

Saints of the Week
November 28th - St Catherine Laboure
November 29th - St Brendan of Birr 
November 30th - St Andrew
December 1st - St Declan
December 2nd - St Pontian
December 3rd - St Francis Xavier

22 Nov 2016

Now is a time of mercy: Pope issues new Apostolic Letter





Although the Extraordinary Jubilee Year has concluded, we are still living in a “time of mercy.” That was the message of Pope Francis in a lengthy Apostolic Letter, entitled Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”), issued on Monday following the close of the Year of Mercy.

The experience of mercy, he noted, gives rise to the joy of knowing we are loved and turns us into instruments of mercy.

The Pope then reflected on the various ways in which the Church celebrates mercy—in the Mass, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, in hearing and reading Sacred Scripture—as well as important ways in which the Church lives out mercy.

In this context, the Pope announced the continuation of some initiatives of the jubilee year, such as the encouragement to hold 24 hours of confessions around the Fourth Sunday of Lent, as well as new initiatives, such as the celebration of the Day of the Poor on the Sunday before the Feast of Christ the King, and devoting a Sunday making Sacred Scripture better known.

The Pope indefinitely extended faculties to Missionaries of Mercy to absolve sins reserved to the Holy See and extended faculties to all priests to absolve the sin of abortion.

“This is the time of mercy,” the Pope concluded. “It is the time of mercy because no sinner can ever tire of asking forgiveness, and all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Father.

Read full report from Vatican Radio here.

Full text of Pope Francis apostolic letter HERE.


*******

Fr John Zuhlsdorf the online blogger and commentator made the point:
Priests have long had the power to forgive the sin of abortion. However, procuring an abortion incurs also a censure of excommunication, which is to be absolved in a separate step. Canon law reserves the lifting of this particular excommunication to the bishop. Pope Francis extended this faculty to lift the excommunication to all priests. Most of the bishops in these USA have already given this faculty to their priests as a response to the growing numbers of abortions performed. That speeds up the reconciliation process many times. 
ALSO… and this is important.  It is not just the women who go for the abortion who commit the sin and incur the censure.  Men involved can incur it.  Anyone directly involved can commit the sin and incur the censure.   There are many ways to participate in the sin of another person.
Ed Condon writing in the Catholic Herald also clarifies the poor choice of language used -  The Pope’s abortion comments have provoked confusion. The Curia could have avoided this

WYD2019 - Theme for WYD in Panama is announced


(Vatican Radio) The Dicastery for Laity, the Family, and Life issued a communiqué on Tuesday listing the themes for the next three World Youth Days (WYD).

The press release notes that the themes were chosen by Pope Francis “for the three-year World Youth Day journey that will culminate at the international celebration of the event to be held in Panama in 2019.”  World Youth Day is celebrated at the diocesan level each year on Palm Sunday, with an international gathering every two to three years. The most recent international Day was celebrated in August, 2016, in Krakow, Poland.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is at the heart of the themes for the upcoming WYDs, which are taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke:

  • 32nd World Youth Day, 2017: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name” (Lk 1:49)
  • 33rd World Youth Day, 2018: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30)
  • 34th World Youth Day, 2019: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38)

The themes are a continuation of the reflections begun by Pope Francis for the last three World Youth Days, which focused on the Beatitudes. The Dicastery’s press release recalled Pope Francis’ remarks at World Youth Day in Krakow, when he invited young people to have “memory of the past, courage for the present and to have/be hope for the future.” The themes “are intended to give a clear Marian tone to the spiritual journey of the next three WYDs” and at the same time “give a picture of young people on a journey between the past (2017), present (2018), and future (2019), inspired by the three theological virtues of faith, charity, and hope.”

The Dicastery noted that the “path that is being proposed to young people can also be seen to be in harmony with the reflection that Pope Francis has entrusted to the next Synod of Bishops: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

Oops! Mea culpa! We forgot.................


.....that the 21st November is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple but it also happens to be Pro Orantibus Day - a day set aside to pray for those who pray.

In 1997 Pope Saint John Paul II recommended that an ecclesial event be observed worldwide on November 21, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple — a day meant to especially remember and thank those in the cloistered and monastic life (who live “in the Temple”, as it were) for serving as “a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world.” It is also intended to remind others of the need to provide both spiritual and material support “for those who pray.” 

Aleteia has a great round up about the day Happy Pro Orantibus Day! What it is, and why you should care

But to all those who pray for the world, we say thanks and whisper an Ave in appreciation.


20 Nov 2016

Pope Francis closes the Holy Door of St Peters and officially ends the Year of Mercy



Rome Reports - On Sunday morning, November 20, Pope Francis has officially closed the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, thus concluding the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

This Jubilee Year was the first one in history to be launched by two pontiffs, both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

While "Mercy” was the theme for the year, "Compassionate like the Father,” was the motto. The year began on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and is ending on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

************

‘Even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us’

19 Nov 2016

20th November 2016 - NCW Breavement Group and Michael Downes - Solemnity of Christ the Universal King

On this weeks programme John and Shane have an interview with the Newcastle West Bereavement group. We also have a short interview with Michael Downes from the Charismatic Renewal joins John this week and talks through how he was inspired to write the songs on his CD - Precious in my Eyes. We have our regular reflection on this weeks gospel as well as other liturgical odds and ends.

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


Newcastle West Parish Bereavement Group



The month of November can be a difficult month for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. On this weeks programme Maggie Enright and Margaret Hanna join with John to share one support available locally which is  the Newcastle West Bereavement Group - a resource which is in many parishes in west Limerick.

Precious in my Eyes - Michael Downes





John has a short interview with Michael Downes from the Charismatic Renewal who shares with John how he was inspired to write songs for his new CD - Precious in my Eyes.


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


Solemnity of Christ the Universal King

-
Book of Kells - Christ Enthroned


Hail Redeemer, King Divine,
Priest and Lamb the throne is thine,
King whose reign shall never cease,
Prince of ever lasting peace
Angels Saints and Nations sing
Praise be Jesus Christ our King
Lord of life, earth, sky and sea,
King of Love on Calvary.

This weeks feast celebrates the Kingship of Christ, the feast was erected at the end of the 1925 Holy Year by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas where he sought to give due honour to the Divine Kingship of Christ.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP noted,
"The Church's year ends with the Feast of Christ the King. Jesus is portrayed as a triumphant king reigning over all creation. This is the same Jesus, son of Mary and son of God, who has preached the Good News and declared the imminence of God's kingdom. The obedient Son suffered and died for us, rose from the dead, ascended into glory and sent his Spirit so that we may have another comforter and someone to speak for us. Creation has been restored, and we have been saved from our sins and foolishness. The cycle is now complete. Although the enormousness of God's saving work has yet to impress itself on most people, nevertheless we believe that there will be a moment at the end of time when the Son will come again in all his glory, and creation will reach fulfillment. That is why we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we rejoice in what Jesus has done for us, yet at the same time we look forward to its completion........".
But for many people, the idea of Kingship of Jesus is somewhat alien. Jesus was of the royal house of David born in the royal city but he was born in a stable and laid in a manager. He was a King who entered into the Holy City - Jerusalem - through the royal gate to the acclamations of the people not in a military procession or from the back of a state coach but on the back of a humble donkey. He was enthroned not on some fancy cathedra but rather on a gibbet outside the city walls in the midst of the city dump, proclaimed mockingly as King as he died opening his arms on the cross to embrace the world and all of humanity.

He came as a Servant Leader as he explained to the disciples at the Last Supper when he washed their feet. We are all called to be servants to one another, assisting and helping in fraternal love and friendship. Where leaders lord it over us in civil or religious spheres truly then we have lost our allegiance to the true king.

He redefined what it means to be a leader amongst those that dare to call themselves his followers reminding us that the first will be last and the last first.


In our lives today, do we make the effort to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned? Be it those who are in physical need but what about those hungry for a consoling word of recognition of their humanity and dignity as people; those whose very souls and minds are ripped naked and torn from the insults and humiliation they experience, the sick of mind and spirit, those imprisoned in the expectations of society as well as those incarcerated by mental illness and stigma? Have we not only assisted them, have we gone past our comfort zone to really be present to those in need, really aware of them as the face of Christ for us in this world?


Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Words on Fire

Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Liturgical odds & end


Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 2, 34th week in ordinary time


Saints of the week


November 21st - Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

November 22nd - St Cecilia also Martyrs of England, Scotland & Wales
November 23rd - St Columbanus
November 24th - Martyrs of Vietnam 
November 25th - St Colman of Cloyne also St Catherine of Alexandria
November 26th - Blessed James Albrione

Eve of Christ the King, Pope Francis creates 17 New Cardinals; Pope's Job Description to them: "To Be Merciful In The Heart of The Church"









Vatican Radio - Pope Francis to new Cardinals: be living signs of mercy

Whispers in the Loggia  - To 17 New Cardinals, Pope's Job Description: "To Be Merciful In The Heart of The Church"

Vatican Radio - Titular churches of new Cardinals 

Crux - Three take-aways from today’s global crop of new cardinals 





This man, Ernest Simoni, was made a cardinal today. His training as a priest took place in secret, since Communist Albania was viciously opposed to the Church. One Christmas Eve, he was arrested, beaten, and tortured during 3 months of imprisonment. Eventually he was sentenced to 18 years of forced labour in a mine. When he got out, he was sentenced to 10 more years of labour in sewers. During all this time he stayed faithful to his priestly vocation, celebrating Mass from memory, and hearing confessions in secret. When the Communists fell and he was free to minister in the open, he says, 'the Lord helped me serve in many towns and reconcile vengeful people with the Cross'.  
Cardinals don't wear red because it's fashionable, or traditional, or luxurious. They wear it because, in theory, they ought to be faithful to the Crucified One to the point of shedding their own blood. If any priest deserves to wear the cardinals' red, Ernest Cardinal Simoni does.
- Fr Conor McDonough OP 



Find out more about each of the new cardinals with profiles over at Crux.

18 Nov 2016

The rock of Jesus' tomb

Closing the Holy Doors





(Vatican Radio) Sunday 13 November saw the celebration of special Masses in churches and basilicas across the world – as well as in Rome’s Papal Basilicas – which included the solemn rite of the closing of the Holy Doors.
   
That’s with the exception of the Holy Door leading into St. Peter’s Basilica which will be shut by Pope Francis himself on the feast of Christ the King, on Sunday 20 November, as indicated by the Pope himself in the bull announcing the jubilee.

Representing the Pope in the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls were the archpriests of the Basilicas, respectively: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló and Cardinal James Michael Harvey.

According to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year, many of them crossing the thresholds of the Holy Doors.
The opening of the door symbolically illustrates the concept that pilgrims are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee, and walking through the Holy  Door they were able to receive a plenary indulgence.

During his homily for the Mass at St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini spoke about how the Holy Door, just closed, was a visible sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, a year in which we learned “once again” that the fate of the world is not in the hands of men, “but in the mercy of God.”
He said that meditating on God’s mercy this year we have learnt that mercy is not a sign of weakness or surrender, but the “strong, magnanimous,” radiation of the loving omnipotence of the Father, who “heals our weaknesses, raises us from our falls and urges us to do good.”

Cardinal Abril y Castelló pointed out that although the Holy Door is being closed, “God’s door of mercy is always open” and he urged the faithful to be strong in this certainty and become credible witnesses of mercy in the world.

And in his homily, Cardinal Harvey also referred to the solemn closing of the Basilica’s Holy Door saying that “at the same time, we open an inner door to the next stage of our journey of faith, hope and charity”. 


13 Nov 2016

Remembrance Sunday 2016

In this decade of centenaries, Ireland continues to re-examine the many facets of our history and to recall all the forgotten dead of 1914-1918 the nearly 50,000, especially in this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme from July to September 1916.




In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields



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



Forgive us for looking the other way, pope tells homeless people

Pope finishes Friday mercy cycle with visit to married ex priests

Don’t confuse Christian unity with uniformity, Francis urges

Church bells ring out as Glenstal abbot is blessed


'Remarkable' resilience of persecuted Christians focus of new film

"Tonight in America, Children Are Afraid... We Are Better Than This"

Pier Giorgio Frassati, the saint whose sorrows never made him sad

Pope Francis: the Church's mercy is for everyone

Church is right: how we treat our dead is not an individual choice

How Francis will respond to the new anti-globalism 

Walking Amongst the Dead  

A spiritual sanctuary for the soul at Glenstal - 24 hours in a tranquil breakaway location - the God Pod

Religious life turned upside down by Italian earthquake 

17 magical performances of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ (VIDEO) 

Does prayer really heal the sick or is it a waste of time?