31 Dec 2012

Te Deum

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

The hymn remains in regular use in the Catholic Church in the Office of Readings found in the Liturgy of the Hours, and in thanksgiving to God for a special blessing such as the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, the canonization of a saint, a religious profession, the publication of a treaty of peace, a royal coronation, etc It is also traditional that it is sung on the last day of the year, in thanksgiving to God for the favors received in the course of the entire year.

From Pope Benedict XVI's homily for first vespers of the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God from Rome this evening:

"The “Te Deum” that we raise to the Lord this evening, at the end of a calendar year, is a hymn of thanksgiving that opens with the praise - "We praise you, O God, we proclaim you to be the Lord" - and ends with a profession of faith - "You are our hope, we will not be confounded forever." For all that came to pass over the course of the year, whether easy or difficult, barren or fruitful, we give thanks to God. The Te Deum, in fact, contains a profound wisdom, the wisdom that makes us say that, despite everything, there is good in the world, and this good is destined to triumph, thanks God, the God of Jesus Christ, who became incarnate, died, and rose again. Certainly, it is difficult, sometimes, to accept this profound reality, since evil makes more noise than the good: a brutal murder, the spread of violence, serious injustices make the news. Gestures of love and service, on the contrary, daily struggles endured with patience and fidelity are often left in the shadows. And this is why we cannot rely solely on the news if we want to understand the world and life. We must be able to remain in silence, in meditation, in calm and prolonged reflection; we must know how to stop and think. In this way, our mind can find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life, can go deeper into the events that occur in our lives and in the world, and come to the knowledge that allows us to evaluate things with new eyes. Especially in the recollection of conscience, where God speaks to us, we learn to look truthfully at our own actions, even at the evil within us and around us, to begin a journey of conversion that makes us wiser and better, more capable of creating solidarity and communion, of overcoming evil with good. The Christian is a man of hope, even and especially in the face of the darkness that often exists in the world, not as a consequence of God’s plans, but because of the wrong choices of man, because the Christian knows that the power of faith can move mountains ( cf. Mt 17:20): the Lord can brighten even the deepest darkness."

Read the full homily here

WE praise thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubin and Seraphin: continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles: praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs: praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world: doth acknowledge thee;
The Father: of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death: thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come: to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.

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

And a simplier Te Deum from Taize:

30 Dec 2012

Taize in Rome - Thousands of young people attend ecumenical conference

Other posts from SS102fm on this meeting in Rome HERE

From Vatican Radio:

This Saturday an estimated 40 thousand young people gathered around Pope Benedict XVI above the tomb of St Peter for a vigil of prayer at year’s end. They are the young men and women of Europe’s Taizé Community on their annual ‘pilgrimage of trust on earth’ and they had come to Rome to receive Pope Benedict’s blessing for their New Year’s ‘resolution’: To uncover the wellsprings of trust in God in today’s world.

Below, please find the text of the Holy Father’s address to the European meeting of the Taizé Community and the greeting to the Holy Father of Br. Alois, leader of the Community.
Thank you, dear Brother Alois, for your warm words, full of affection.

Dear young people, dear pilgrims of trust, welcome to Rome!You have come in great numbers, from all over Europe and from other continents, to pray at the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. In fact, in this city both shed their blood for Christ. The faith that motivated these two great apostles of Christ is the same that compelled you to start out on this journey. During the year that is about to begin, you are proposing to uncover the well springs of trust in God in order to live it in your everyday life. It gladdens me that in this way, you have embraced the aims of the Year of Faith which began in October.

This is the fourth European meeting to be held in Rome. On this occasion, I would like to repeat the words my predecessor, John Paul II to young people during your third Meeting in Rome: "The Pope feels deeply committed together with you all on this pilgrimage of trust on earth ... I too am called to be a pilgrim of trust in the name of Christ". (30 December 1987).

Just over seventy years ago, Brother Roger established the Taizé Community. Thousands of young people from all over the world continue to go there to seek meaning for their lives. The Brothers welcome them to share in their prayer and provide them with an opportunity to experience a personal relationship with God. It was to support these young people on their journey to Christ that Brother Roger had the idea of starting a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”.A tireless witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation, ardently committed to an ecumenism of holiness, Brother Roger encouraged all those who passed through Taizé to become seekers of communion. We should listen in our hearts to his spiritually lived ecumenism, and let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized. Following his example, may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians. And so this evening I greet with special affection those among you who are Orthodox or Protestants.

Today, Christ is asking you the same question he asked his disciples, "Who am I to you?". Peter, at whose tomb we are gathered at this moment, replied: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:15-16). His whole life became a concrete answer to this question. Christ also wants to receive a response from each of you born of a deep inner freedom and not of compulsion or fear. In responding to that question your life will find its strongest meaning. The text of the Letter of St. John that we have just heard helps us understand with great simplicity how to respond: "What we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another" (3:23). Have faith and love God and others! What could be more exciting? What could be more beautiful?During these days in Rome, let this Yes to Christ grow in your hearts, above all by taking advantage of the long moments of silence that are an integral part of your community prayers, after having listened to the Word of God. This Word, says the Second Letter of Peter, is "like a lamp shining in a dark place," which you do well to be attentive to "until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (1.19). You have to understand: if the morning star must arise in your hearts it is because it is not always present there. Sometimes the evil and suffering of the innocent create doubt and confusion in you. And saying Yes to Christ can become difficult. But these doubts do not make you non-believers! Jesus did not reject the man in the Gospel who shouted: "I do believe, help my unbelief!" (Mk 9:24).

So that you do not lose faith during this battle, God never leaves you alone and isolated. He gives us all the joy and comfort of the communion of the Church. During your stay in Rome, thanks to the generous hospitality of many parishes and religious communities, you are undergoing a new experience of being Church. On your return home, to your various countries, I invite you to discover that God is making you all co-responsible for His Church, in all the variety of vocations. This communion which is the Body of Christ needs you and you all have a place in it. Starting with your gifts, from what is specific to each of you, the Holy Spirit forms and breathes life into this mystery of communion which is the Church, in order to convey the Good News of the Gospel to the world today.

Together with silence, song has an important place in your community prayers. In these days the songs of Taizé fill the basilicas of Rome. Song is a support and incomparable expression of prayer. Singing to Christ, you open yourselves to the mystery of His hope. Do not be afraid to precede the dawn in praise of God, you will not be disappointed.Dear young friends, Christ does not remove you from the world. He sends you there where His light is missing, so that you may bring it to others. Yes, you are all called to be small lights to those around you. With your attention to a more equitable distribution of the goods of the earth, with your commitment to justice and a new human solidarity, you will help those around you to better understand how the Gospel leads us to God and at the same time to others. So, with your faith, you will contribute to uncovering the wellsprings of trust on earth.
Be full of hope. God bless you, your family and friends!

Greeting to the Holy Father by Brother Alois
Most Holy Father,Today a significant milestone in our “pilgrimage of trust on earth” is taking place. We have come from all over Europe and from other continents too, from various Church affiliations. What unites us is stronger than what divides us: one baptism and the same Word of God unite us. We have come here this evening to celebrate this unity around you, a unity which is real even if it is not yet fully realized. It is when we turn together towards Christ that it grows deeper.

Brother Roger left a legacy to our community—his desire to communicate the Gospel to young people in particular. He was deeply aware that the divisions between Christians are a barrier to handing on the faith. He opened paths of reconciliation that we have not yet finished exploring. Inspired by his testimony, there are very many people who want to anticipate reconciliation by their lives, to live already as people who are reconciled.Reconciled Christians can become witnesses to peace and communion, bearers of a new solidarity among human beings.

Seeking a personal relationship with God is the basis of this approach. This ecumenism of prayer does not encourage a facile tolerance. It promotes a mutual listening which is demanding, and a true dialogue.Praying here tonight, we cannot forget that the last letter written by Brother Roger, just before his violent death, was addressed to you, Holy Father, to tell you that our community wanted to walk in communion with you. Nor can we forget how, after his tragic death, your support was invaluable to encourage us to move forward. So I would like to express once again the deep affection of our hearts for your person and for your ministry.

Finally, I would like to bring the witness to hope of the many young Africans with whom we met a month ago at Kigali, Rwanda. They came from 35 countries, including Congo, North Kivu, to undertake a pilgrimage of reconciliation and peace. The great vitality of these young Christians is a promise for the future of the Church.These young Africans wanted us to bring back a sign of their hope, sorghum seeds, so that they could grow in Europe. Can I take the liberty, Holy Father, of giving you, from them, a small traditional Rwandan basket called “agaseke” with some of these seeds of hope from Africa? Perhaps they could be planted in the Vatican gardens and blossom there?


Feast of the Holy Family - Pope Benedict XVI

From Rome Reports:

A year ago, on December 28, 2011, Benedict XVI explained, during a general audience, how Christian families should follow the example of the Holy Family, to transform their homes into a true school for prayer.

“Our continuing catechesis on prayer leads us, during this Christmas season, to reflect on the place of prayer in the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we learn to contemplate the mystery of God’s presence and to grow as faithful disciples of Christ. The Gospels present Mary as the supreme model of prayerful medition on the mysteries of Christ’s life; in praying the Rosary, in fact, we unite ourselves to her contemplation of those mysteries in faith and hope. Saint Joseph fulfilled his vocation as the father of the Holy Family by teaching Jesus the importance of quiet fidelity to work, prayer and observance of the precepts of the Law. Jesus’ unique relationship with his heavenly Father was reflected in the prayer life of the Holy Family and stands at the heart of all Christian prayer. May the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer, where parents and children alike come to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas.”

29 Dec 2012

30th December 2012 - The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

As we come to close of another year, this week's programme naturally turns to reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year to come. This week's programme is available on podcast HERE

At the start of each programme we have a little prayer space - a time to reconnect with God - a time to bring our needs, cares, worries, joys, dreams and aspirations to our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of 2012, we composed a number of prayer intentions for the year that we invited our listeners to carry these intentions in their prayers to God.  This year, again, we invite our listeners to become part of our Sacred Space 102fm prayer group. 
On the programme we introduced our suggested prayer intentions and heavenly intercessors for 2013:
  • Year of Faith - 12 Apostles and Doctors of the Church (e.g. St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Catherine of Sienna)
  • Protection of the unborn - St. Joseph, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Gianna Beretta Molla
  • Marriage and family life - The Holy Family
  • Peace - St. Zachary, Our Lady Queen of Peace, St. Francis of Assisi and the Child of Prague
  • Persecuted Christians - St. Stephen, Martyrs of Uganda, Martyrs of Vietnam and St. Michael the Archangel
  • Government and civil leaders - St. Thomas Moore and St. Jude
  • Cancer patients - St. Peregrine
  • The sick - Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Camillus
  • Diocese of Limerick and the selection of our new bishop - St. Munchin and St. Ita
  • The unemployed and those seeking work - St. Joseph the Worker
  • Emigrants - St. Patrick
  • Vocations - St. Alphonsus Ligouri
  • Priests - St. John Vianney
  • Pope Benedict XVI - St. Peter, St. Benedict and St. Joseph
  • The Church - St. Michael the Archangel
  • Youth - St. John Bosco, St. Francesco and St. Jacinta (Seers of Fatima) and Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati

In the second part of our programme we recapped some of the events which took place in the universal Church during 2012 including:

  • The 50th International Eucharistic Congress (June 10th to 17th 2012)
  • The Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith"
  • The Year of Faith (October 11th 2012 to November 24th 2013)
  • The 50th Anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council (October 11th 2012)
  • Pope Benedict XVI's first papal tweets (December 12th 2012)
  • Two Consistories (February 18th 2012 and November 24th 2012)
  • Vatileaks
  • Papal trips - Mexico and Republic of Cuba (March 23rd to 29th 2012) and Lebanon (September 14th to 16th 2012)
  • The Infancy Narratives - Jesus of Nazareth - Pope Benedict publishes the final installment of the trilogy on the life of Christ
  • Bethlehem made a UNESCO world heritage site (June 29th 2012)
  • Continuing exodus of Christians from the Middle East
  • The persecution of the bishops and Christians in China
  • Expansion of the Anglican Ordinature
What were your Church higlights or lowlights of 2012?

Gospel - Luke 2:41-52 - The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Year C)

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the last verses of St. Luke's infancy narratives.  In this reading we reflect upon the incident behind the fifth joyful mystery - the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, but for Mary and Joseph we can imagine that the three days Jesus was lost was a time fraught with anxiety and guilt.  Each thinking that Jesus was in the company of the other, Mary and Joseph travelled a day's journey before they noticed that Jesus was missing.  When they found Jesus, He was in the Temple among the doctors listening to them and asking them questions (cf. Vs. 46).  What feelings may they have experienced?  If you are a parent, imagine the panic that goes through your mind when you think your child is missing - perhaps you just turned around for a minute in a shop and they have disappeared down another aisle... Can you imagine what it must have felt like for Mary and Joseph to find him there?  Relief? Certainly! Joy to find their son safe? Yes... but other feelings too - confusion, misunderstanding, hurt...
Mary's question to Jesus is poignant - "My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you." (Lk 2:49).  It is a question that encapsulates the myriad of emotions that Joseph and Mary felt.  Jesus' answer seems almost flippant at first - "Why were you looking for me?" he replied.  "Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father's affairs" (Lk 2:50).  It appears as if Jesus is dismissing Mary and Joseph's concern and worry, yet, if we reflect on this for a moment - to be busy with His Father's affairs is the reason why the Son of God became man.  The Father's will comes before all personal ties for Jesus.  This is in no way dismissive of the role of Mary as His Mother and Joseph as His step-father, indeed, we read in Vs. 51 that "He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority".  God the Father's will comes first.
We are told that Mary "stored up all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51).  Even though she did not understand God's will, she stored it in her heart, returning to it, thinking over it, ruminating on it, praying about it.  She is the model for us when we find ourselves not understanding God's will.
Two little thoughts for further reflection:
1) Have we left Jesus in the Temple?  Do we leave Jesus in church after Sunday Mass?  Are we quite happy to meet with Jesus for 40 minutes each week, but that is the extent of our relationship?  As Christians, we are called to be Christ-bearers - do we bring Him into every situation and to every person we meet?
2) If you are a parent or grandparent, do your children or grandchildren sometimes do things that baffle you or worry you?  Perhaps when you approached them about it, you did not understand what they meant (cf. Vs. 50)?  Can you put yourself in their position and pray to the Holy Family to help you see God's will in this situation? 
Other reflections on this week's Gospel: -
Homily of Deacon Marton Brown OSB (Glenstal)
Liturgical Odds and Ends:
Divine Office - Week 1
Saints of the Week:
December 31st - St. Sylvester, pope
January 1st - Mary, the Holy Mother of God (also World Day of Peace)
January 2nd - St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors of the Church
January 3rd - St. Munchin (patron of the Diocese of Limerick) and The Holy Name of Jesus

Blog Patron Saint 2013

As readers and listeners of the programme know, each year around New Years Day, the team on SS102fm seek out a individual patron saint for the year ahead. Last year we also selected a patron saint for the blog - St James the Great.
For 2013, our blog patron saint is going to be.......... (drum roll please)............

St Francis Xavier!

Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain) and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In 1552 he set out for China, landed on the island of Sancian within sight of his goal, but died before he reached the mainland. Working against great difficulties, language problems ( contrary to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign tongues ), inadequate funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from European officials, he left the mark of his missionary zeal and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries. He was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. F. D. Dec. 3.

You can read more about the saint from:
 You can also see images of the relics of St Francis Xavier HERE


28 Dec 2012

O Magnum Mysterium

O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas.

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

27 Dec 2012

Taizé in Rome: 40,000 young people for the 35th European Meeting

From 28 December 2012 to 2 January 2013, the city of Rome will host the 35th European meeting of young people. Forty thousand young adults from across the European continent and beyond will gather in the Italian capital for six days of prayer, reflection and life with parishes, families and religious communities in and around Rome.
Prayer services will be held every day at 2 pm and 7:30 pm in seven large churches of the city, including the major basilicas: St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls. Meals will be distributed at the Circus Maximus; the afternoon workshops will include visits to the catacombs and other significant places of faith. On Saturday 29 December at 6 pm, Taizé songs will resonate in St. Peter’s Basilica during a prayer with Pope Benedict XVI.
While being well integrated into the life of the city of Rome, the European meeting will take place along the lines of “pilgrimage of trust” led by Taizé: morning program in parishes with moments of prayer and sharing and the discovery of signs of hope in the neighborhoods; afternoon workshops on spiritual, artistic and social topics; prayer for peace in the parishes followed by a “festival of peoples” to usher in the new year.
You can read more about the Pilgrimage of Trust European Meeting in Rome HERE on the Taize website. For more information, you can check the following pages on the website:

On a more local level, we understand that due to the costs involved, Limerick Diocese is not taking a group of young people to the World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janerio as the cost is extremely prohibitive. So the diocese is organising a pilgrimage to Taize from July 4th to July 9th 2013.This extraordinary community in France should offer young people another perspective on faith, prayer and on community. The trip is for those aged 18- 25 (Participants must be 18 on or before 3 July 2013) only and they hope to take about 35-40 young people.You can download the booking form and information leaflet by clicking the link.

25 Dec 2012

Homily of Pope St Leo the Great (441 AD)

"This is the day our Saviour was born: what a joy for us, my beloved! This is no season for sadness, this, the birthday ...of Life - the Life which annihilates the fear of death, and engenders joy, promising, as it does, immortality.

Nobody is an outsider to this happiness. The same cause for joy is common to all, for as our Lord found nobody free from guilt when he came to bring an end to death and to sin, so he came with redemption for all. Let the saint rejoice, for he hastens to his crown; let the sinner be filled with joy, for pardon is offered him; let the Gentile be emboldened, for he is called to life.


O Christian, remember your dignity!"

Read the full homily HERE or listen to a reading of it from the students of the Irish Dominican Province below.


Urbi et Orbi - Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas blessing to the City and to the World

Vatican Radio

Veritas de terra orta est!” – “Truth has sprung out of the earth” (Ps 85:12).

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: “Truth has sprung out of the earth”. Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: “Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps” (Ps 85:11-14).

Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth have indeed met; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven. Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth … truth has been born of the Virgin Mary” (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that “in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven’. The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe” (Sermones, 185, 1).

“If we believe”. Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born!“The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.

May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future – and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus – may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.

May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People’s Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favour the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!


Sacred Space 102fm Christmas Special 2012

Join us on Christmas Day for a special Sacred Space 102fm from Newcastle West Co Limerick to celebrate and mark this holy and festive occasion with reflections, carols, hymns and a sharing of the Gospel of the Day with the Sacred Space 102fm team.

You can listen to the podcast of the special two hour programme HERE

From John, Lorraine, Shane and all the Sacred Space 102fm team, we wish you and yours every peacr, blessing of this holy and festive season and best wishes for New Year 2013. 
May the peace and blessing of the Babe of Bethlehem be with you and yours this Christmas Day.


A Christmas Homily - St John Chrysostom

H/t to the Deacons Bench

BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.

What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.

Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.

Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature’. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.

What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.

For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas Eve Homily 2012

24 DECEMBER 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendor of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them? And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11). The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him. The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the “God hypothesis” becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so “full” of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger. By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves. The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.

There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Savior: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God’s glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendor of God’s truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.

Linked to God’s glory on high is peace on earth among men. Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either. Nowadays, though, widespread currents of thought assert the exact opposite: they say that religions, especially monotheism, are the cause of the violence and the wars in the world. If there is to be peace, humanity must first be liberated from them. Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone. Now it is true that in the course of history, monotheism has served as a pretext for intolerance and violence. It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property. We must be on the lookout for these distortions of the sacred. While there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If God’s light is extinguished, man’s divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be God’s image, to which we must pay honor in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if God’s light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be. On this Holy Night, God himself became man; as Isaiah prophesied, the child born here is “Emmanuel”, God with us (Is 7:14). And down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God who became man. Into the darkness of sin and violence, this faith has shone a bright ray of peace and goodness, which continues to shine.

So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practice violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people “with whom you are pleased” – people according to your image and thus people of peace.

Once the angels departed, the shepherds said to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened for us (cf. Lk 2:15). The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem, the Evangelist tells us (cf. 2:16). A holy curiosity impelled them to see this child in a manger, who the angel had said was the Savior, Christ the Lord. The great joy of which the angel spoke had touched their hearts and given them wings.

Let us go over to Bethlehem, says the Church’s liturgy to us today. Trans-eamus is what the Latin Bible says: let us go “across”, daring to step beyond, to make the “transition” by which we step outside our habits of thought and habits of life, across the purely material world into the real one, across to the God who in his turn has come across to us. Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.

Let us go over to Bethlehem: as we say these words to one another, along with the shepherds, we should not only think of the great “crossing over” to the living God, but also of the actual town of Bethlehem and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered. Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land. Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom. Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbors: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God’s peace.

The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.

24 Dec 2012

Glenstal on RTE Radio 1's God Slot

We know that some of our regular readers and listeners are friends/fans of Glenstal Abbey in Murroe in Co Limerick

A Christmas special of the RTE programme, 'The God Slot', recorded in Glenstal, is scheduled for broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 from 10.00 am to 10.45 am on Christmas morning.

Nóirín Ní Riain is the star of the show, but the singing of the school choir, as well as short interviews with some choir members and some members of the monastic community feature as well.

Link on RTE website of you miss the broadcast on Christmas morning HERE.

The Christmas Proclamation from the Roman Martyrology


The twenty-fifth day of December -

when ages beyond number had run their course
from the creation of the world,

when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;

when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;

in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;

in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;

around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;

in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

in the year seven hundred and fifty-two
since the foundation of the City of Rome;

in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
the whole world being at peace,
JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and when nine months had passed since his conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man:

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.


Psalm 148, Laudate Dominum de caelis:
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!


Entrance to Basilica of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Oct 2011
 "Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find… only a low opening…to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback. Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down…

if we ...want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our “enlightened” reason… set aside our false certainties, our intellectual pride, which prevents us from recognizing God’s closeness…We must bend down, spiritually we must as it were go on foot, in order to pass through the portal of faith and encounter the God who is so different from our prejudices and opinions – the God who conceals himself in the humility of a newborn baby.

In this spirit, let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart…"

-Benedict XVI

23 Dec 2012

O Emmanuel - December 23rd O Antiphon

Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and Law-giver, desired of the nations and their salvation, come and save us, Lord our God.
Isaiah 7:14

“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”(7:14). Remember “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

Jesus Emmanuel has already come.
It is not a matter now of Christ’s
being where we are; it is a matter of
our being in the consciousness of
where Christ is in life and where He
is not as well. Where is Christ for
you? Is there a place in your life that
you know down deep is not in the
spirit of Christ at all?

Joan D. Chittister, OSB

Reflections on the O Antiphon:

iBenedictines - Our need of God
Blue Eyed Ennis - O Emmanuel
An Advent Examen - Day 7
Wellspring - O Antiphon Reflections
A Nun's Life - O Emmanuel
Dating God - O Come Emmanuel