30 May 2013

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

June is by tradition, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Due to the way Easter fell this year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart is falling on June 7th 2012 and the novena in preparation for the feast begins today.

The Sacred Heart represents Christ's love for all mankind, and our devotion to it is an expression of our faith in His mercy.The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity.

The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a mystical experience. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism (read more

On June 1, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI
urged Catholics everywhere to renew their devotion to the Sacred Heart during the month of June.

Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart of Jesus" denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind. The "Sacred Heart" is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers. 

Novena Prayer
(there are a number of novena prayers used for this novena but this would be one of the best known as it was used by Padre Pio)
I. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...... (here name your request)
Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of.......(here name your request) Our Father...Hail Mary....Glory Be To the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of.....(here name your request) Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father...Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

-- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


The parish of Shanagolden-Foynes-Robertstown are hosting a novena to the Sacred Heart from 30th May to 7th June in Robertstown church (on the N69 between Foynes and Askeaton) with daily session at 8pm


Some other links for the month of the Sacred Heart:

CatholicCulture.org provides a number of links and prayers associated with the devotion including a short scriptural support for the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Theology of Benedict XVI

Pope Pius IX encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart - Caritate Christi Compulsi

Pope Pius XII encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart - Haurietis Aquas

Homily of Pope John Paul II on his apostolic journey to Canada at Mass dedicated to the Heart of Christ (18th September 1984)

29 May 2013

Year of Faith - Papal General Audience

The Fall of Constantinople and the loss of the Hagia Sophia to Christendom

Ramblings of a Byzantine Catholic marks a historic anniversary today:

Today marks the 560th anniversary, according to the new calendar, of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks and thus ushering in centuries of persecution and martyrdom for thousands of Orthodox Christians under the Turkish Yoke.

Greeks and Latins alike, crowded into the great church to pray together for their deliverance. Common fear and common danger worked more of a wonder than all the councils of the church. Orthodox bishops, priests and monks who had loudly protested that they would never again set foot in their cathedral until it had been purged of the Roman pollution, now came to the altar to join their Catholic brethren in the holy liturgy.
Among the celebrants was Cardinal Isidore, whom many of the faithful had branded a traitor and a heretic. The Emperor Constantine came to pray and to ask forgiveness and remission of his sins from every bishop present before receiving communion at the altar. The priest who gave him the sacrament cannot have known that he was administering the last rites to the last Christian Emperor of the Romans.
The last Roman Emperor, the Blessed Great Martyr Constantine XI (Paleologos) died defending the imperial city and the Great Church

28 May 2013

Rome Reports - Pope Francis - "Live Christianity"

During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope explained that being a Christian is not a mere matter of culture. The Pope explained that when Christianity comes down to just that, it becomes a tool to build on one's career and 'seize more power.'

“Some people follow Jesus, but to a certain extent, they follow him because of their culture. They say: I am a Christian, I am from this culture' ... but without the requirements of true discipleship, the true will to follow Him. If you follow Jesus as a cultural choice, you use this path to reach higher positions, to achieve more power. The history of the Church is full of examples: emperors and many other rulers and people. And also some, I wouldn't say many, but some priests, some bishops, too. Some say there are many. Indeed there are some who think that following Jesus can make them advance their careers.”
The Pope explained that the path to Jesus is best followed not by careerism. He said, the true way to Him is through the 'Way of the Cross.'

Year of Faith - Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration - June 2nd (4 - 5 pm Irish time (BST))

Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration, will be broadcast from St. Peter’s Basilica next Sunday, 2 June from 5:00pm-6:00pm local time. Its theme is: “One Lord, One Faith”, which was chosen to testify to the deep unity that characterizes it. “It will be an event,” Archbishop Fisichella explained, “occurring for the first time in the history of the Church, which is why we can describe it as ‘historical’. The cathedrals of the world will be synchronized with Rome and will, for an hour, be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration. There has been an incredible response to this initiative, going beyond the cathedrals and involving episcopal conferences, parishes, lay associations, and religious congregations, especially cloistered ones.”

From the Cook Islands to Chile, Burkina Faso, Taiwan, Iraq, Bangladesh, the United States, and the Philippines, the dioceses will be synchronized with St. Peter’s and will pray for the intentions proposed by the Pope. The first is: “For the Church spread throughout the world and united today in the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity. May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing his Word in order to stand before the world ‘ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.’ That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”

Pope Francis’ second intention is: “For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labour. For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence. Also, for all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization. That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity.”

The event will be streamed online on Vatican TV centre and the booklet for the celebration is available here (although currently it is only available in Italian, if an English version comes up we will up date the link).

Vocation Stories - Sr Sarah's story from Glencairn Abbey

In meeting people in my role as vocations director, I am aware of how valuable our vocation stories can be to others who are searching, and here I offer some milestones that led me to pursue my own call to Cistercian life.

I entered St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn when I was 28 years old after working in the area of media and before that, studying english literature at University College Dublin.

I did not overtly consider the idea of a vocation when I was growing up and going to school in Dublin. This was in the eighties. Nobody did, or so I thought! But an awareness of the importance of God in my life and the desire of somehow sharing that relationship with others, was stirred in my depths during the time I spent at college. Studying english, I found, became a privileged way to discover insights into the lives of writers who had tried, themselves, to articulate the spiritual experiences of their own lives and my heart and mind were expanded and I was inspired by them. Being true to my own depths began to be the challenge for me now.

My knowledge of monastic life had been awakened when I was a child. My father had gone to school in Mount St Joseph Abbey, in Roscrea and had maintained his link of friendship with the monks who lived there. I had always been touched by their presence and their monastic way of life. Their radical commitment to God and their generous, loving and hospitable fraternity were very attractive to me. Later, in my twenties on my travels, I came across a Cistercian monk of this community who was on a sabbatical year in Berkeley, in the United States. Again, I felt that old attraction; his life, as it were, given to God seemed to make sense to me at a deep level within and I felt the old call to be true to myself.

When I returned to Ireland, I began my search in earnest, re-visiting the Abbey in Roscrea and discovering as an adult the truths revealed by faith and the beauty of the monk’s worship and their communal dedication to God. There too I was introduced to scripture and the gospels at a new level of meaning and into my hands was placed the Rule of St Benedict by a monk who had himself made the monastic journey and could speak so eloquently of its power to transform one’s life. On one such weekend there, I met a Cistercian nun of Glencairn, and there and then I resolved to visit her community and find out what monastic life was like for women.

The state of tension and fear in which I arrived at the monastery on that first visit was soon relieved by the welcome sight of wide open fields and crops glinting in the evening sun, some homey touches at the guesthouse – including the warm hug of the Guestmistress sister at the door - and the singing of the nuns at Compline in the Abbey church - “’What can bring us happiness?’, many say, ‘lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord’.” (Psalm 4) But it was the silence that spoke to me most of God’s loving presence and call and I began to consider for the first time my own Cistercian vocation.

It took me two more years to make up my mind to apply to enter Glencairn and with that decision came at once both a sense of coming home and a setting forth. For although we enter the monastery understanding that we are called as Cistercians to take a vow of stability to remain in this one place, it is well to understand at the outset that we will not be standing still!

Monastic life, I have come to learn, is a journey through my humanity to that profound encounter with God’s mercy in my weakness and the joy of discovering Christ at an intimate level in my life, in the life of the community to whom I am given and in the life of the world for whom I am interceding in prayer, worship and self-gift. My rootedness then as a Cistercian has been ultimately sustained by my rootedness in Christ, the one attachment through whom I will paradoxically find the freedom to embrace all.

I have always loved the image of the mustard seed from the gospel as a portrayal of the kingdom of God: the potential of such a small, insignificant seed to grow to full expanse so that all the birds of the air can shelter in its branches.

“Prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all alike to everlasting life”. Rule of St Benedict, Chp 72

You can read more vocation stories and about the life of the Cistercian nuns at St Mary's Abbey Glencairn HERE.

You can find the communities Facebook page HERE.

Those who approach the Church should find the doors open and not find people who want to control the faith - Pope Francis

From Vatican Radio:

Those who approach the Church should find the doors open and not find people who want to control the faith. This is what the Pope said this morning (25th May 2013) during Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.

The day's Gospel tells us that Jesus rebukes the disciples who seek to remove children that people bring to the Lord to bless. "Jesus embraces them, kisses them, touches them, all of them. It tires Jesus and his disciples "want it to stop”. Jesus is indignant: "Jesus got angry, sometimes." And he says: "Let them come to me, do not hinder them. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these." "The faith of the People of God – observes the Pope - is a simple faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it." The Pope mentions Vatican I and Vatican II, where it is said that "the holy people of God ... cannot err in matters of belief" (Lumen Gentium). And to explain this theological formulation he adds: "If you want to know who Mary is go to the theologian and he will tell you exactly who Mary is. But if you want to know how to love Mary go to the People of God who teach it better. " The people of God - continued the Pope - "are always asking for something closer to Jesus, they are sometimes a bit 'insistent in this. But it is the insistence of those who believe ":

"I remember once, coming out of the city of Salta, on the patronal feast, there was a humble lady who asked for a priest's blessing. The priest said, 'All right, but you were at the Mass' and explained the whole theology of blessing in the church. You did well: 'Ah, thank you father, yes father,' said the woman. When the priest had gone, the woman turned to another priest: 'Give me your blessing!'. All these words did not register with her, because she had another necessity: the need to be touched by the Lord. That is the faith that we always look for , this is the faith that brings the Holy Spirit. We must facilitate it, make it grow, help it grow. "

The Pope also mentioned the story of the blind man of Jericho, who was rebuked by the disciples because he cried to the Lord, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"The Gospel says that they didn’t want him to shout, they wanted him not to shout but he wanted to shout more, why? Because he had faith in Jesus! The Holy Spirit had put faith in his heart. And they said, 'No, you cannot do this! You don’t shout to the Lord. Protocol does not allow it. And 'the second Person of the Trinity! Look what you do... 'as if they were saying that, right? ".

And think about the attitude of many Christians:

"Think of the good Christians, with good will, we think about the parish secretary, a secretary of the parish ... 'Good evening, good morning, the two of us - boyfriend and girlfriend - we want to get married'. And instead of saying, 'That's great!'. They say, 'Oh, well, have a seat. If you want the Mass, it costs a lot ... '. This, instead of receiving a good welcome- It is a good thing to get married! '- But instead they get this response:' Do you have the certificate of baptism, all right ... '. And they find a closed door. When this Christian and that Christian has the ability to open a door, thanking God for this fact of a new marriage ... We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people."

And 'there is always a temptation - said the Pope - "try and take possession of the Lord." And he tells another story:

"Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized'. And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you're not married!'. But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs! ".

"Jesus is indignant when he sees these things" - said the Pope - because those who suffer are "his faithful people, the people that he loves so much"

"We think today of Jesus, who always wants us all to be closer to Him, we think of the Holy People of God, a simple people, who want to get closer to Jesus and we think of so many Christians of goodwill who are wrong and that instead of opening a door they close the door of goodwill ... So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the Church find the doors open, find the doors open, open to meet this love of Jesus. We ask this grace"

27 May 2013

Limerick City Corpus Christi Procession June 2nd 2013

Limerick City Corpus Christi Procession 2013
Following 4.30pm Mass in St Michael’s on Sunday, June 2nd 2013.

The procession will leave St Michael’s at 5.15 pm passing through Denmark Street, Robert Street, Ellen Street, Patrick Street, and up William Street and on to St John’s Cathedral, arriving at 5.45pm. where we will receive the Benediction.

This year Bishop Leahy will carry the Blessed Sacrament

We ask your support in announcing the details of the procession and ask you to encourage the participation of your parishioners in this annual celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

As we express our thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist it would be fitting to invite parents to bring children who received First Communion this year and if people would like to bring emblems of their parish it would add to the occasion.

Thanks for your assistance,

Rev. Noel Kirwan
Coordinator of this year’s Procession

25 May 2013

26th May 2013 - Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

On this week's programme, we reflect on Trinity Sunday and what it means for the Christian faith. We have our usual reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as some liturgical odds and ends including saints of the coming week and some local notices.

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

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday, officially "The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity," is one of the few feasts of the Christian Year that celebrates a reality and doctrine rather than an event or person. On Trinity Sunday we remember and honor the eternal God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

The Trinity is one of the most fascinating - and controversial - Christian dogmas. The Trinity is a mystery. By mystery the Church does not mean a riddle, but rather the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension that we may begin to grasp, but ultimately must know through worship, symbol, and faith. It has been said that mystery is not a wall to run up against, but an ocean in which to swim. The common wisdom is that if you talk about the Trinity for longer than a few minutes you will slip into heresy because you are probing the depths of God too deeply. It is a feast which encourages us to reflect on the formulations of our faith as expressed in the creeds which sometimes we don't reflect on enough and which is being encouraged this year during the Year of Faith.

The gospel reminds us that God loved us so much he sent his only Son and after the world had rejected him, God sent his Spirit, the spirit of love. The inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such a way that each of them is fully and equally God, yet there are not three Gods but one is incomprehensible to the human mind. It is a mystery.

The story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, a great philosopher and theologian who wanted so much to understand the doctrine of the Trinity and to be able to explain it logically. One day as he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this, he suddenly saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a whole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup, came and poured it into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine went up to her and said, "Little child, what are doing?" and she replied, "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole." "How do you think," Augustine asked her, "that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?" To which she replied, " And you, how do you suppose that with this your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?" With that the child disappeared.

Like Augustine we may not be able to understand the how of the Trinity but I think it is very important to understand the why. Why did God reveal to us this mystery regarding the very nature of the Supreme Being? The importance of this doctrine lies in this: we are made in the image of God, therefore, the more we understand God the more we can understand ourselves. Experts in religion tell us that people always try to be like the God they worship. People who worship a warrior God tend to be warriors, people who worship a God of pleasure tend to be pleasure-seeking, people who worship a God of wrath tend to be angry people, etc. Like a God, like the worshipers. So the more important question for us to ask today is: What does the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity tell us about the kind of God we worship and what does this say about the kind of people we should be?

God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness (Matthew 5:48) must shun every tendency to isolationism and individualism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain Buddhist monastic traditions where the quest for holiness means withdrawal to the Himalayas away from contact with other people and society.

From this weeks diocesan newsletter:

Why does Trinity matter? 

 Who is this God you pray to, this image you would seek to be like?

- a judge who counts and keeps time?
- a kindly old man we visit on days off?
- a distant king to be approached only through others?
- a community of love?

When we say God is love, we do not mean simply that God loves, that God dispenses love, that God approves of love.
 No, we mean that God IS love.
The Trinity - Father, Son and Spirit - exist as love.

The Father is not the Father without the Son and the Spirit. The Son is not the Son without the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Spirit apart from the Father and the Son. Each is fully God. Each chooses to fully participate in the life and joy of the other persons of the one true God who gathers everything into this generous love.

The Trinity is an interdependent community.

God IS love.

Why does Trinity matter? In recognising God as Trinity, we recognise ourselves as people created in, through and for love.
There is no judge to judge you, no courtiers to pay to get access to the King, ... Only love.
"God is love and when we live in love,
we live in God, and God lives in us."

(1 John 4: 7)

Further reflection on the history and theology of the Trinity available from

You can listen to Lorraine's reflection on the Trinity excerpted from the main programme here.

Phil over at Blue Eyed Ennis has some wonderful links and reflections and from the SS102fm team it is great to see her back, head on over and say hello from us - here.

Deacon Greg Kandra's homily for Trinity Sunday
Last years programme on the Trinity Sunday was one where Fr Michael Liston gave us a reflection on the Trinity which you read/listen back to here.

Word on Fire has a series of videos with Fr Robert Barron on the Trinity

Gospel - John 16:12-15

Last week we celebrated the beautiful feast of Pentecost, the full revelation of the Trinity (cf. Catechism 244, 732).  This week we read from part of Jesus' farewell discourse in St. John's Gospel.  Jesus is preparing His disciples for the time after His death and resurrection.  As Bishop Brendan reminded us on the Feast of the Ascension: it wasn't that Jesus would no longer be with the disciples, but that He would be present to them, and to us, in a different way, through the Sacraments. 

Imagine how Jesus must have felt, knowing that He was returning to God the Father... imagine how the apostles felt... Jesus begins by telling the disciples that He has many things to tell them, but that He knows it would be too much for them know (cf. vs. 12), so He promises to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who will lead them to the complete truth (cf. vs. 13). 

In an earlier passage from John, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit: "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will remind you of all that I have said to you" (Jn 14:26).  One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach us and to remind us, but we must be open to His promptings.  God does not force Himself upon us.  The Spirit is gentle and invites us to listen to the voice of Jesus.  We may ask ourselves if we are trying to discern the truth, do we listen to the Holy Spirit?  Are we open to hearing His voice?

Verse 15 reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the mutual Love and Joy between God the Father and the Son.  Jesus tells us that everything the Father has is his, so the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to us.  By our Baptism we are drawn into this relationship of love within the Trinity.  Are we aware of what a wonderful gift we have received?

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds and ends

Liturgy of the Hours:  Week 4 Psalter, Week 8 Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

May 27th - St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 28th - Bl. Margaret Pole
May 29th - St. Maximinus of Trier
May 30th - St. Joan of Arc
May 31st - Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 1st - St. Justin Martyr

Local Notices

Novena to the Sacred Heart - June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart and once again this year the parish of Shanagolden-Foynes-Robertstown is holding its Novena to the Sacred Heart from May 30th to June 7th at 8pm each evening in Robertstown church which is on the N69 from Foynes to Askeaton. 

Speakers for the various nights at the novena will be:

Lorna Murphy
Fr Noel Kirwin
Fr Chris O'Donnell
Fr Phonsie Cullinan
Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon
James Malone
Fr Joe Kennedy
Quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament each evening after Mass from 9-10pm.

40 Hours Adoration: - Feenagh church will host the annual 40 hours adoration for Our Lady’s Pastoral Area commencing with Mass at 8.00pm on Friday, May 31st and concluding with Mass at 11.30am on Sunday, June 2nd. Please sign your name on the rota at the back of the church.

Our Lady’s Pastoral Area Pilgrimage to Knock: - will take place on Sunday, June 9th 2013. Bus fare: € 16.00. We will celebrate a Mass for the Pastoral Area in Knock and join in the programme of devotions there. If you wish to book a place, please give your name in the sacristy or ring the Parish Office (069-62141).

Songs of Faith: - is a celebration of hymns as part of the Year of Faith celebrations taking place this Sunday, May 26th in St. John’s Cathedral from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. All are welcome to join Bishop Brendan Leahy and fellow singers for an afternoon of scripture reflection and congregational hymn singing. No charge. Sunday Mass is at 7.00pm.

Vigil for Life: - On Saturday, June 8th, there will be a Vigil for Life in Merrion Square, Dublin from 3pm to 4pm. The government intends to legalise abortion in July, and a large attendance in Merrion Square is essential to oppose this. The vigil will send a clear, positive message about safeguarding the lives of mother and babies in pregnancy. Posters will be provided on the day. Please spread the word to family, friends and anyone you know. To organise a bus, or to get bus details, please telephone 087-2668702.

Notices in this weeks Limerick Diocesan Newsletter available

23 May 2013

Year of Faith - Irish Domincan Series "Credo" - VI - "for our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried"

In this sixth episode in their series on the Nicene Creed, the Irish Dominican students look at the phrase: "for our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried." Rosemary Swords will talk with Bro.Ronan about Christ's Crucifixion.

22 May 2013

Year of Faith - Papal Weekly General Audiences - the Holy Spirit, unity and communion

From Vatican Radio; text of the full address:

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

In the Creed, after having professed faith in the Holy Spirit, we say: "We believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." There is a deep connection between these two realities of faith: the Holy Spirit gives life to the Church, guides Her steps. Without the presence and the incessant action of the Holy Spirit, the Church could not live and could not accomplish the task that the Risen Jesus has entrusted her; to go and make disciples of all nations (cf. Mt 28:18). Evangelization is the mission of the Church, not just of a few, but my, your, our mission. The Apostle Paul exclaimed: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). Everyone must be evangelizers, especially through with their life! Paul VI pointed out that "... evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize,"(Apostolic Exhortation. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).
Who is the real engine of evangelization in our lives and in the Church? Paul VI wrote with clarity: "It is the Holy Spirit who, today just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by Him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself, and at the same time the Holy Spirit predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the kingdom being proclaimed."(ibid., 75). To evangelize, then, we must be open to the action of the Spirit of God, without fear of what He asks us or where He leads us. Let us entrust ourselves to Him! He enables us to live and bear witness to our faith, and enlighten the hearts of those we meet. This was the Pentecost experience of the Apostles gathered with Mary in the Upper Room, " Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim"(Acts 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles, compels them to leave the room in which they had locked themselves in fear, makes them come out of themselves, and turns them into heralds and witnesses of the "mighty works of God" (v. 11). And this transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit is reflected in the crowd that rushed to the scene and which came "from every nation under heaven" (v. 5), so that everyone hears the words of the Apostles as if they were spoken in their own language (v. 6 ).

Pilgrim Progress - Some interesting posts from Sr Louise

Readers of the blog will know that a friend of SS102fm is Sr Louise O'Rourke PDDM who blogs over at Pilgrim Progress. The fact that Spring has arrived in Ottawa where she is currently studying seems to have loosened the creative juices as Sr Lou has been busy posting some excellent thoughts on various topics.

The cost of following Jesus - Echoing the words of Pope Francis from a recent talk and also the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sr Louise reflects on what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

".......Jesus does not promise a bed of roses or even a bed of tulips and He warns against the danger of indecisive discipleship. "No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." You can’t plough a straight furrow whilst looking back. You can’t serve Christ, that is, you can’t make Christ look great, if you are always second-guessing the value of following him......."

Continue reading HERE.

We have a special place on SS102fm for things liturgical and Sr Louise reflects on that changing of the liturgical seasons this week in the Extraordinariness of the ordinary and poses the question "“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” What is the little ‘extra’ which makes the difference in your life?"

Head on over and say hello from us!


Pope Francis to Catholic Lay Movements: Get out of your comfort zone

21 May 2013

Congratulations to Sr. Brigid Marie of the Sacred Heart of the Poor Clares, Galway!

As many of our regular listeners and blog-readers know, the SS102 team are good friends with the Poor Clare sisters in Nuns' Island, Galway.  Last weekend, on the Feast of Pentecost, the sisters marked a significant step on their journey as a community when postulant Marie became novice Sr. Brigid Marie of the Sacred Heart!  We are delighted for Sr. Brigid Marie and the whole community and will continue to accompany Sr. Brigid Marie on her journey with our prayers.

Please read below for an account of the investiture ceremony from the Poor Clare sisters:


On the Feast of Pentecost, we celebrated, not only the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church and to each of us individually, but in a special way in our community, we were thrilled that Marie, or as she is now known, Sr. Brigid Marie of the Sacred Heart, has taken a significant step on the journey to committe herself to the Poor Clare way of life. (I know some of you were itching to know her new name!).

The ceremony was very moving.  It is always touching to witness the generous self-offering, as a person gives themselves over to the Lord in love.  A particularly poignant part of this ceremony is when the person's hair is cut, symbolising their consecration to God, in imitation of the way St. Francis cut St. Clare's hair.

Sr. Marie Brigid's hair was cut as a symbol of her consecration to God.
Sr. Marie Brigid receives the habit and the white veil of a novice.
But it was even more stirring to witness Marie's palpable joy during the ceremony and of course, it was infectious.

Sr. Brigid Marie is greeted by Mother Abbess (Sr. Colette)
You may notice that Sr. Brigid Marie cannot be identified in any of the photographs.  Though this may seem unusual, we feel that it is in the interest of the young women who haven't yet made a final commitment with us, to ensure that they have the fullest possible freedom as they continue to live and discern their calling.

During the course of the ceremony (on the vigil of Pentecost) Mother Abbess, Sr. Colette, encouraged Marie and reminded all the sisters of the inspiring words of St. Clare:

"I encourage you, for love of Him to Whom you have offered yourself... that you may always be mindful of your commitment... always seeing your beginning.  What you hold, may you always hold.  What you do, may you do and not stop.  But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, may you go forward, securely, joyfully and swiftly, on the path of prudent happiness.  Believing nothing, agreeing with nothing that would dissuade you from this commitment or would place a stumbling block for you on the way, so that nothing prevents you from offering [yourself] to the Most High in the perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you."

We pray for all those discerning our way of life, in particular one of whom is with us at the moment for a live-in experience and who was delighted to be with us for the ceremony.


If you would like to find out more about the Poor Clares in Galway please see their website: www.poorclares.ie or listen to a podcast we recorded with Sr. Colette last September here.

20 May 2013

Year of Faith - Irish Dominican Students Credo Series - V: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man."

In this fifth episode of their series on the Nicene Creed as a project for the Year of Faith the Irish Dominican students look at the phrase: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man."

Bro. Damian Polly OP will shed some light on the topic of the Incarnation.

"Newness, harmony, Mission" - Pope Francis homily for Pentecost

(Vatican Radio)

Below the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass for the Feast of Pentecost with New Movements:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?

Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out:“Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.

18 May 2013

19th May 2013 - Pentecost Sunday

On this weeks programme, John is joined by Fr Michael Liston to reflect on the great feast of Pentecost which draws the celebration of Easter to a close.

Michael Keating also makes a welcome return to the programme to join John for the reflection on the weekly gospel.

We have our regular review of the saints of the week and some other liturgical odds and ends.

You can listen to the full programme podcast HERE

A Word with Fr Michael - Reflection on Pentecost

Fr Michael joins us this week to share a word about the feast of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the church. Pentecost is seen as the end of the "joyful season" of Lent and Easter. It signfies the end of the Lords mission on earth. In some ways you could say that Easter is like the Munster final where Pentecost is the All-Ireland Final.

Pentecost is part of that great plan of God, the heart of God, to gather us all together. It is all one mystery of the Father's heart to gather us into one. For our human understanding, we have to take it piece by piece, - birth, death, Resurection, Ascension and the last piece is the sharing of the love of God in the Holy Spirit at Penteost.

The friends of Jesus were in the Upper Room with Mary praying. Before that they had been timid weak sinful human beings who had been through a lot and still didn't understand what had happened but now what a transformation! The Spirit which had raised up Jesus was now inside them and they went out - were driven out - to preach and share the great things they had seen with everyone they met no matter what. But we must remember that despite being filled with the Spirit, they are still a human community passing on that message from generation to generation. The Holy Spirit is still with us, it still gathers us into the family of God both past and present around the world and across time.

The Lord is looking at each of us and saying - if you only knew what God is offering. The Spirit is also there reminding us to pray for each other and to perservere in prayer. We need to be open to what the Spirit wants for us rather than what we think we want from the Spirit. The Spirit can come in many forms through friends and events that happens to us and for us to be open and aware of the movements of the "gentle breeze" of the Spirit in our lives.

Ultimately, Pentecost and the Spirit reminds us that we are to be freed to love again even though the work of the Spirit may feel harsh at times but to be open to that cleansing fire. And that ultimately we will have the courage to announce the gift of God in our own way.

Sequence of the Holy Spirit for Solemnity of Pentecost 

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

You can listen to Fr Michaels reflection excerpted from the programme HERE. We would suggest that it is well worth a listen - both for the reflection for Pentecost but also for the sharing and reflection on the gift of First Communion and Confirmation which Fr Michael shares with us at the end.
Gospel - John 20:19-23

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.""
Michael Keating makes a welcome return to the programme this week to reflect with John on the gospel for Pentecost Sunday.
Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
Liturgical Odds and Ends
Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter Week III, Week 7 Ordinary Time 
As this Sunday marks the end of Eastertide, liturgically we return to Ordinary Time in the Church's calendar. For those of us who recite the Liturgy of the Hours the transition can be a bit "messy" when using the breviary but Daria Sockey over at the blog "Canticles and Coffee" has a guide to Avoiding Post Pentecost Breviary Trauma.

For anyone that would like to learn about the Liturgy of the Hours and how to begin using it Daria's blog provides a great introduction and guide especially for busy lay people who want to participate in this "official" prayer of the Church.
Saints of the Week
May 20th - St Bernadine of Siena (priest)
May 21st - Ss Christopher Megallanes and Companions (Mexican martyrs)
May 22nd - St Rita of Cascia (religious)
May 23rd - St John Baptist Rossi
May 24th - St Agatha Yi So-Sa
May 25th - St Bede the Venerable (priest and Doctor of the Church) also St Gregory VII (Pope) also St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi (virgin)

Veni Sancte Spiritus

John Paul II, Homily, Pentecost Vigil, 10 June 2000

Before ascending into heaven Christ had entrusted a great task to the Apostles: "Go ... and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28: 19-20). He had also promised that after his departure they would receive "another Counselor", who would teach them all things (cf. Jn 14: 16, 26).

The reflection we are invited to make cannot fail to dwell above all on the work which the Holy Spirit carries out in individuals and in communities. It is the Holy Spirit who scatters the "seeds of the Word" in the various customs and cultures, preparing the peoples of the most varied regions to accept the Gospel message. This awareness cannot fail to instil in Christ's disciples an attitude of openness and dialogue towards those with different religious convictions. Indeed, it is only right to listen to what the Spirit can also suggest to "others". They can offer useful hints for reaching a deeper understanding of what the Christian already possesses in the "revealed deposit". Dialogue can thus open the way to a proclamation which is better suited to the personal conditions of the listener.

However, if the proclamation is to be effective, a lived witness remains crucial. Only the believer who lives what he professes with his lips has any hope of being heard. One must bear in mind that circumstances at times do not permit an explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of all. It is then that the witness of a life that is respectful, chaste, detached from riches and free from the powers of this world, in a word, the witness of holiness, can reveal all its convincing power, even if offered in silence.

It is also clear that our firmness in being witnesses of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit does not prevent us from collaborating in the service of man with those who belong to other religions. On the contrary, it prompts us to work together with them for the good of society and peace in the world. If the Church's children known how to remain open to the Holy Spirit's action, he will help them communicate Christ's one, universal saving message in a way that respects the religious convictions of others.

12 May 2013

Spiritual Maternity and Mother's Day! - Sr Louise O'Rourke PDDM

A cross post today from Pilgrims Progress where Sr Louise O'Rourke shares her thoughts on Mother's Day in the USA and Canada today and also the comments during the week from Pope Francis calling on women in religious life to be "spiritual mothers and not old maids".

Today in Northern America and in many other countries, we celebrate Mother’s Day! In Ireland we celebrated last March but prayers were said all the same for my own Mam and mothers all over the world. It really made my day when some of the priests here even wished me a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. If you find that strange, well, keep reading!

We live in times in which much has been said about woman, her dignity and her role in the family and the world. This week Pope Francis raised eyebrows around the world when he told a group of 800 visiting nuns they must be spiritual mothers and not 'old maids.' The sisters, who came from 76 countries, were in Rome for the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General. He asked them; "What would the church be without you? It would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness and a mother's intuition." In his talk to the women, Pope Francis said their vow of chastity expands their ability to give themselves to God and to others "with the tenderness, mercy and closeness of Christ." However, "please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not a spinster," he said. While the sisters were laughing at his use of a very colloquial Italian word for "spinster" or "old maid," he added: "Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important."

When I got to this part of the Pope’s talk, I was blown away. I had been waiting a long time to hear this said and was a beautiful confirmation of my vocation. As a disciple of the Divine Master, the vocation of spiritual maternity is very strong in our lives. We are called in a special way to be mothers to priests, walking alongside them as Mary our Mother walked with Jesus. Pope Francis said that just as Mary could not be understood without recognizing her role as being Jesus' mother, the church cannot be understood without recognizing its role as being the mother of all believers. "And you are an icon of Mary and the church," he said. Often people don’t associate sisters or nuns as being mothers, unless they happen to have the title ‘Mother Superior’. In many circles, even this title is dying out as for many it has connotations with subordination and not maternity.

One of the saddest things I sometimes hear a sister say is that they enter religious life because they don’t feel called or have the vocation to be a mother. This just doesn’t make sense. Every religious sister should be able to say: ‘I would have been a good mother or a good spouse’. The same can be said of every priest or brother. First of all, a vocation is a call that the Lord places in the heart of the human person. This vocation, this calling, can and should be answered with the totality of the human heart because our hearts are capable of giving an answer of love, of making an act of self-giving. A vocation will always imply the total surrender of self for the greatest cause of love. The human person, created to love, will find its fulfillment in the generous giving of self. A vocation is a human reality, since only the human person was created for love, and only the human heart can experience a call to love and respond to it with love (MD, 29). Women realize this call to self-donation, which is engraved in their feminine nature, by being spouses and mothers. These are the two interconnected channels by which a woman expresses her call to a generous and sacrificial love, a love that is capable of giving life. The heart and body of a woman, and all of her being, is created to manifest her self-donation in two ways: being a spouse and a mother. Whether a woman embraces the vocation to married life or to consecrated virginity, she lives her spousal and maternal dimensions, but in different forms.

Spousal love always involves a special readiness to be poured out for the sake of those who come within one’s range of activity. In marriage this readiness, even though open to all, consists mainly in the love that parents give to their spouse and to their children. In virginity this readiness is open to all people who are embraced by the love of Christ the Spouse. In this way a consecrated woman finds her Spouse, different and the same in each and every person, according to his very words: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’(Mt 25:40).” The call to motherhood is universal among women and consecrated women are no exception. It doesn’t matter if you are married, single, have children or not, consecrated religious, a housewife or professional; we each possess the innate gift to nurture, which is the defining characteristic of being a mother. We have an undeniable softness to our nature; all of which are founded on the inclination to cultivate love in others by showing love ourselves. As women, we shouldn’t have to apologise for this or strive to alter it for fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable because of these characteristics. Taking this gift beyond its basic implication of encouraging growth or development, Catholic women especially have the ability to foster holiness both in themselves and in others, which St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross called “spiritual maternity.” The whole object of spiritual maternity is to grow in holiness by performing our day-to-day actions out of love for God over our own gratification. Of course, how to go about this varies according to the situation in which we find ourselves. It could be just offering a patient ear to those who need a sacred space to be listened to, being present without distraction to loved ones.

John Paul II was convinced of and affirmed that the vocation of woman is one, and it is her greatest calling: to love with the genius of her feminine heart. Woman, in her feminine being (body, soul and psychology), has inscribed in her heart a special calling of self giving, of self-donation. Men also have the vocation to love, proper to the manly characteristics of their hearts. But it is woman who, in a certain sense, has the vocation and mission to teach men to discover, understand and put into practice the vocation to love. Some people may see this as being very sexist but it is the beauty of the complimentarity of relationships of which we have the model going back to the Book of Genesis. In Mulieris Dignitatum we are told, “In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root” (29). The loving plan of God and His communication of love in the heart of woman is able to firmly take first root, thus making her heart a special place where love can grow, be manifested and become fruitful.
The Second Vatican Council declared in its Closing Message, “The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling” (cf. Proposition 2, as quoted in MD, 1).

Last Thursday, about 25,000 people came to Ottawa to join the March for Life and give a message to the world that life should be respected from its natural beginning to its natural end. It was a powerful witness to the sacredness of life. Abortion attacks and kills children in the womb but it also attacks motherhood in detaching the woman from her child in the womb by convincing her that it is okay because it is not yet a child. A mother is a mother from the moment of the conception and the father is a father. This year’s theme: “It’s a girl’, should not be a death sentence”, focused on the issue of female gendercide. If we continue to abort female babies simply because they are female, then we are aborting potential mothers, sisters, grandmothers, religious sisters, nieces, aunts etc. We deprive society not just of children but of the natural gift which contributes to the natural harmony of the world and its relational dynamics.

So today we celebrate Mother’s Day and I am celebrating too! We can say that motherhood is essential in building a new civilization where love and life must be the good news presented to contemporary man and religious women should and must be part of this. Life must be welcomed as the greatest gift of God to humanity. There is a strong invitation for women that their hearts be totally disposed to serve the God of love and life. Women must discover first that their wombs are the sanctuaries of love in which every human life must be welcomed, valued and loved. They can build in their hearts a new culture in which unconditional love conquers the temptation of selfishness and in which self-oblation becomes the most powerful tool of self-realization.

To those of you who have managed to make it to the end, apologies for this post being so long but it has been something which has been on my mind and heart for a long time. I have had ample opportunity to reflect upon this over the past few months. Many of the readers of this blog know that since last August I have not been living in one of our religious communities but am here in Ottawa living in the student residence of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Our community is a predominantly male community, about 6 women and 45 men! It is a huge change not living in a female religious community but it has been a challenge to embrace the journey of discovering the gift that my presence as a woman and a religious can bring to this reality. It is an experience of discovering that mutual complimentarity that I spoke about earlier and for that I feel I am more blessed in my vocation and receive much insight that allows me to be selfless for the Kingdom of God! Happy Mother’s Day to you all!