Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Carol: The Beautiful Mother

Happy Christmas

We sang this song as  children, at the carol service in st Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny. I loved it then, and have searched for it for years. Here it is sung here by John Foley,S.J. The original lyrics of  The Beautiful Mother were written by Jacopone da Todi, who was a 13th century Franciscan friar from Umbria, Italy.  The Stabat Mater is conventionally attributed to him.

The Beautiful Mother
Words: Adapted from the Latin of Jacopone da Todi.
Thirteenth Century.

The beautiful Mother is bending
    Low where her Baby lies
Helpless and frail, for her tending;
    But she knows the glorious eyes.

The Mother smiles and rejoices
    While the Baby laughs in the hay;
She listens to heavenly voices:
    'The child shall be King, one day.

O dear little Christ in the manger,
    Let me make merry with Thee.
O King, in my hour of danger,
    Wilt Thou be strong for me?

Friday, December 24, 2010



whom we adore and acknowledge to be our Sovereign Lord!
Come and take birth in our hearts.

O Infant Jesus,
grant that each moment of our lives
we may pay homage to that moment in which
You did begin the work of salvation.

Sacred Mother of our Infant Savior,
obtain that we may so prepare ourselves for His coming,
as not to be separated from Him for all eternity.

I am taking a break from blogging for a few days to celebrate the Incarnation. I will schedule some christmas carols which we can now enjoy.

O Divine Infant of Bethlehem,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Emmanuel

The Great antiphon for 23 December sung by the Dominican student brothers in Oxford.

Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles,
yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations)

O Rex Gentium,
et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.
O King of the Nations,
and the one they desired,
who makes both peoples one,
come and save mankind,
whom you shaped from the mud.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CDF: Condom Clarification

The "Box"

Tonight in St Mary's Church in Drogheda, there will be the annual Advent penitential service at 7.30pm. The weather though is doing its very best to make sure that few will attend. I have been in this parish, which I love, for several years, but I haven't been to a penitential service yet. And being a creature of habit, I don't plan on going this year either.

My main issue with penitential services, is the inadequate supply of confession boxes. Simple as that! Confession, for me, is preferable in a big wooden box. Now I must say, the one working confession box in St Mary's is lovely, it is bright, and it lacks the usual musty, damp aroma that most confessionals in Ireland seem to have. Mind you, I haven't been in it for years, as the not so nice, definitely inferior, box at the Dominican Church in Drogheda has a confession timetable that suits me just fine, (confession every morning after the 10am Mass), even my sieve like brain can not forget that schedule.

Why do I prefer the "box"? Is it the anonymity? Partly, but not really, as my accent makes my voice quite recognisable. As a teenager I always went to confession "face to face", in a confessional room, to priests that I knew. The traditional confession boxes were ripped out during renovation, I wonder could they put them back as they are renovating again? The box only became the norm when I got married and moved to Canada. We lived just across the road from a church, and it had four confession boxes that were in constant use, so back to the box of my childhood I went, and surprise, surprise I liked it. I think it is the screen, or fixed grill, or curtain that really draws me to the box. Why? I have found that the screen helps me to focus on the fact that in this sacrament I encounter Christ. In this sacrament the priests acts in personae Christi, I confess my sins to Christ, whom the priest represents.
"It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi). Pius XII, encyclical, Mediator Dei: AAS, 39 (1947) 548.

The priest is obviously important, he's absolutely essential, but if I am sitting in front of him, I tend to get caught up in the human interaction, and I become less aware of the enormity of what is happening in this sacramental encounter. And let's face it, I haven't gone to confession to have a chat with Fr. X.

The "box" also provides for the essential kneeling opportunity. In my mind, it just does not seem right, to confess my sins sitting on a chair. It seems right to confess my sins, seek God's mercy, express sorrow and receive absolution on my knees. OK, if you can't kneel it's different, but I can, and so I do.

I have always been fascinated by this beautiful sacrament. In it I have received so much more than forgiveness. Through it the Lord has given me many graces, and much needed guidance. I'm still a pathetic sinner, but I know that things would be much much worse, without the help that this sacrament provides. But whatever your personal preferences, or past experiences, make sure that this Advent you get to confession. The Lord is always waiting patiently for us. Go, confess your sins, receive absolution, be reconciled with God, and be truely ready to meet the Christ child this Christmas.

If you have been away from this most wonderful sacrament for a while, check out Fr. Z's 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession, or Making a Good Confession, from the Boston Archdiocese.
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession. --St. Isidore of Seville

O Oriens (O Dawn)

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina
sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
O Dawn,
splendor of eternal light,
and sun of justice,
come, and shine on those ,
seated in darkness,
and in the shadow of death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saint Genesius Film Society presents

Tuesday 21st December ... 7pm

Knights of St Columbanus,
Ely House,
8 Ely Place
(Off St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2)

All Welcome
Film, Discussion, Refreshments.

The Catholic Irish Blogsphere

At Last the "Catholic Blog" has arrived in Ireland. I am an avid blog reader, some of the Americans are outstanding, but I think we need something Irish. Here is a list, in no particular order, if you are not on it, let me know.

Ex Umbris Et Imaginibus Father John Hogan
Peregrinus Hibernensis Eamon, Dublin
Rationabile Obsequium Fr B
St Genesius Caroline, Drogheda
Catholicus Christopher, Drogheda
An Irish Catholic
Lux Occulta Shane
Ireland – Semper Fidelis
Dominician Nuns Drogheda
Witness Christ Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP, Dublin

"Among the new forms of mass communication, nowadays we need to recognize the increased role of the internet, which represents a new forum for making the Gospel heard. Yet we also need to be aware that the virtual world will never be able to replace the real world, and that evangelization will be able to make use of the virtual world offered by the new media in order to create meaningful relationships only if it is able to offer the personal contact which remains indispensable. In the world of the internet, which enables billions of images to appear on millions of screens throughout the world, the face of Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for "if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man". (Verbum Domini)

O Clavis David, (O Key of David)

O Clavis David,
et sceptrum domus Israël,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit,
claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum
de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Key of David,
and scepter of the house of Israel,
you open, and no one shuts,
you shut, and no one opens:
come, and lead the prisoner
from jail.
seated in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Radix Jesse, (O Root of Jesse)

O Radix Jesse,
qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos,
jam noli tardare
O Root of Jesse,
who stand as a sign for the people,
kings stand silent in your presence,
whom the nations will worship:
come to set us free,
put it off no longer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Sapientia

The O Antiphons are sung Vespers on the last seven days of Advent.

Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:
  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with Us)
The first antiphon for today, 17th December is sung by the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars in Oxford.

Abortion is a Business

We must always remember that abortion is a business. You can even get a discount, if you have been referred by the "right" organisation.

Abby Johnson, the former executive director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas quit, she became disillusioned with her job after her bosses pressured her for months to increase profits by performing more and more abortions. For them there's not a lot of money in education," she said. "There's as not as much money in family planning as there is abortion."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Statement by Cardinal Seán Brady, in response to the European Court of Human Rights

"Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion" - Cardinal Brady

The judgement given today by the European Court of Human Rights regarding the legal position on abortion in Ireland raises profound moral and legal issues which will require careful analysis and reflection.  Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion.

The Irish Constitution clearly says that the right to life of the unborn child is equal to that of his or her mother.  These are the fundamental human rights at stake.  The Catholic Church teaches that neither the unborn child nor the mother may be deliberately killed. The direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances.  We are always obliged to act with respect for the inherent right to life of both the mother and the unborn child in the mother’s womb.  No law which subordinates the rights of any human being to those of other human beings can be regarded as a just law.

At the beginning of Advent on 27 November last Pope Benedict spoke about the coming of Christ into our world in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Father reflected on the light that this sheds on the wonder of all human life.  The embryo in the womb, he said, is not just a collection of cells but “a new living being, dynamic and marvellously ordered, a new individual of the human species. This is what Jesus was in Mary’s womb; this is what we all were in our mother’s womb.”

As a society we all have a responsibility to respond sensitively to any woman who finds herself dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  I urge anyone in this situation to contact CURA, the crisis pregnancy support service.



Violated! The European Court of Human rights has ruled that someones human rights have been violated, because they were not allowed to have an abortion in Ireland. The person who was violated was the now dead unborn child.

Fr John Hogan is covering this over at Ex Umbris Et Imaginibus.

Irish Bishops tell us to go to Confession

If we say, 'We have no sin,' we are deceiving ourselves, and truth has no place in us; if we acknowledge our sins, he is trustworthy and upright, so that he will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil. (1 John 1:8)

Confession: God doesn't need it. We do.

It's now 9 sleeps until Christmas, my 5 year old is keeping check, just in case I forget! I still have gifts to buy and decorating to do. But top on my "to do list", is the essential christmas confession. I was encouraged by the latest press release from our Irish Bishops, as confession was also top of their advent press release.

 "Its celebration should be an integral part of our preparation for the Feast of the birth of Our Saviour.  Bishops strongly encourage all Catholics in Advent to make time to avail themselves of the gift of God’s love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation."
Getting our souls ready is more important than anything else that we need to do. So over the next nine days, get to a confession box somewhere. We are blessed here in Drogheda, as the Dominicans hear confessions everyday, and already the queues are starting to get longer. I do love to see a queue outside a confession box. Sad or what? In this Sunday's Gospel we are reminded that, "He is the one who is to save his people from their sins." So go, confess, recieve absolution, and let Him save you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are You Going to Bethlehem?

King's Hall Complex, Belfast

Friday 17th December   7:00pm - 9:00pm

Saturday 18th December   10:00am-9:00pm

Admission Free! Parking Free!

European Court to Rule on Irish Abortion Laws


The European Court of Human Rights will this week issue a ruling on whether Ireland’s restrictions on abortion violate women’s human rights. The ruling, which could have significant implications for Irish abortion law, is based on a case taken by three women in Ireland who say their health was put at risk by being forced to go abroad for abortions.  Continue reading.....


Prayer to End Abortion
Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

St John of the Cross, pray for us

St John of the Cross
Anonymous artist 17th Century

Quotations from St John of the Cross

If you wish to attain holy recollection, you will do so not by receiving but by denying.

Although you perform many works, if you do not deny your will and submit yourself, losing all solicitude about yourself and your affairs, you will not make progress.

Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved.

Prayer by St John of the Cross

O blessed Jesus,
give me stillness of soul in You.
Let Your mighty calmness reign in me.
Rule me, O King of Gentleness,
King of Peace.


Monday, December 13, 2010

St Lucy, pray for us

Saint Lucy of Syracuse (284-304), also known as Saint Lucia, Santa Lucia, or Saint Lukia, was a rich young Christian martyr. She consecratedg her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and gave her dowry to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards took out her eyes with a fork. She is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble.

I had the priviledge of visiting the tomb of St Lucy, with The Fraternity of St Genesius, in May 2010. What a glorious trip. Below are some of my photos. The relics of St Lucy's body in in the church of San Geremia, they were carried there in 1861 when the church dedicated to her was demolished. In 1955 Angelo Roncalli, future Pope John XXIII and then Patriarch of Venice, had a silver mask put on the saint's face to protect it from dust.
Strange but true: "In November 1981 St Lucy's mummified skeleton was stolen from its heavy glass enclosed crypt just below the altar of the Venetian Church of St Jeremiah. Two gunmen burst into the church and ordered the parish priest and two parishioners to lie on the floor while they seized the remains and put them in a sack. The saint's head broke off at the neck and rolled away on the floor of the church. The silver death mask which had covered the face was left behind. Eventually a bizarre ransom note was received demanding that any page from a book called "If this T Man" be read out in all secondary and high schools in the Venice area. A month later, on her feast day, the police found the remains of St Lucy at a hunting lodge near Venice" (source)

The tomb of St Lucy, San Geremia, Venice

Prayer to St Lucy

Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.

By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use thme for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.

Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gaudete Sunday

Today, the third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, the 'pink candle' Sunday. Gaudete is a command ordering us to rejoice! In these days of penance and preparation leading up to the feast of our Savior's birth, we are reminded of the joy that is to come. It can also serve as a "begin again" point, for those of us who are not doing too well in our advent preparations. Did your priest wear pink/ rose coloured vestments today? Today's hymn will  have to be Gaudete.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Prayer and Penance for the Church in Ireland

Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth,
by Marco Palmezzano,  1490

Prayer for the Church in Ireland
God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness,
holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.


Crazy Catholic Cartoon

Sacred vs. Secular Music at Mass

Thursday, December 9, 2010

St Mary's New Parish School

Today, at 2pm in a snow covered field in Drogheda, Co Louth, Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, turned the sod for our new parish school. This school, will become home to our two existing parish schools, Scoil Mhuire Fatima and St Mary's Boys National School. This will be the beginning of a new educational adventure in our parish, as boys and girls will come together under one roof. Despite the snow, ice and sub zero temperatures, a good crowd was in attendance, 6th class students from each school, teachers, school principals past and present, parents and people from the wider community. This school has been talked about for 30 years in Drogheda, and many of us never believed that this day would arrive, but despite everything it has. The new school will take an estimated 18 months to complete, please God.
Fr. Joe, Fr Denis and Bishop Michael Smith

Bishop Michael and his shovel

Principal John Weir, Bishop Smith, and Principal Philip Ward

Saint Juan Diego, pray for us

Saint Juan Diego
You who were chosen by Our Lady of Guadalupe as an instrument to show your people and the world that the way of Christianity is one of love, compassion, understanding, values, sacrificies, repentance of our sins, appreciation and respect for God's creation, and most of all one of HUMILITY and obedience. You who we know is now in the Kingdom of the Lord and close to our Mother, be our angel and protect us, stay with us as we struggle in this modern life not knowing most of the time where to set our priorities. Help us to pray to our God to obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them for the good of humanity and the good of our Church, through the Heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Heart of Jesus. Amen.

Irish Dominicans

Upcoming Vocation Weekends

21st to 23rd January 2011
25th to 27th February 2011
18th to 20th March 2011

more info

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The story of the Immaculate Conception reflected in Vatican Museum frescoes

The Immaculata

 Immaculate Conception,
1630, Zurbaran

The Immaculata prayer is a Catholic Marian prayer composed by Saint Maximillian Kolbe.
It is a prayer of consecration to the Immaculata, i.e. the immaculately conceived Virgin Mary.
The Immaculata Prayer
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world." Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Irish Cinemas from December 9th

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

I think I will just sing my way through Advent.

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788), 1744

Alive: catholic Newspaper

Media set out to 'shock, instil loathing, whip up prejudice'

Full story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Movie: Nicholas Of Myra

A Saint Nicholas Day Poem

Someone will be quite happy to
eat St Nicholas after dinner.

St Nicholas, pray for us
Holy Bishop St. Nicholas lived faraway
Near the Aegean Sea is where Turkey did lay.
Travel back with us now to a time long ago.
We will visit his country, his life we will know.

We remember this saint, such a holy, good man.
Be like him in charity, do all that you can.
Many miracles Nicholas hastened to do,
Helping people in need with gifts that were new.

Bishop Nicholas traveled to Nicea town,
Where the Creed would be written, to us handed down.
During church every Sunday, we stand for the Creed.
Thank you Bishop St. Nicholas, for doing this deed.

Sailors tossed in the wind and the storms of the sea,
Saw a vision of Nicholas who guided them free.
Now patron of sailing, they remember him yet.
Many icons and pictures with fisherman's net.

Giving money to poor girls, so marry could they,
Made our Nicholas famous, remembered today.
With dowry in hand, soon they were wed.
"God bless you and keep you," St. Nicholas said.

Kid's patron in Germany, Netherlands, too.
Asks that presents be given to children like you.
Their customs are different: they put out their shoes—
Filling them with toys, his coming's good news!

Here stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
In hope that St. Nicholas soon will come there.
Dressed as bishop or Santa, he's one and the same—
Jolly, friendly, good man, we're glad that he came.

Call him "Santa" or "saint," they both mean the same,
For his nickname is Claus, short for Nicholas' name.
Giving gifts was his custom—we still do today.
Deeds done in Jesus' name forever will stay.

Bishop Nicholas still is a hero to all.
Christmas Day, and all others we follow his call,
Bringing gifts and some joy to children in need.
Follow Nicholas today—do a good deed.

—Author Unknown

In the Bleak Mid Winter

It is truly a penitential season here in Ireland. (Enforced not chosen.) We just can not cope with this snow and ice. My children have not been in school for a week. Help! We are trapped in our homes. Driving is dangerous, walking is treacherous. Our economy is... well lets not even go there. Tomorrow is budget day, and our country is being held to ransom by a gombeen and a crook.

Veniet Dominus et non tardabit,
ut illuminet abscondita tenebrarum.

The Lord will come soon, will not delay.
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I love this...

The Dominicans from St Saviour's Priory , Dublin, having fun in the snow. I'm impressed by the "cape action" from Fr John Harris.

Advent Hymn: O Come Divine Messiah

A wonderful Advent hymn.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Sweet Saviour, haste;
Come, come to earth;
Dispel the night, and show thy face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

O thou, whom nations signed for,
Whom priests and prophets long foretold,
Wilt break the captive fetters,
Redeem the long lost fold.

Shalt come in peace and meekness,
And lowly will they cradle be;
All clothed in human weakness
Shall we thy God head see.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Now Showing: Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men is a film that recreates the final days of seven Cistercians their monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria. The 1996 jihadist uprising claimed their lives, because they refused to abandon their monastery. Monasticism meets fundamentalism. This film won the Grand Prix at Cannes this year, went on to top the box office in France, and has now been officially submitted for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Prayer and Penance

25. Penance then is, as it were, a salutary weapon placed in the hands of the valiant soldiers of Christ, who wish to fight for the defense and restoration of the moral order in the universe. It is a weapon that strikes right at the root of all evil, that is at the lust of material wealth and the wanton pleasures of life. By means of voluntary sacrifices, by means of practical and even painful acts of self-denial, by means of various works of penance, the noble-hearted Christian subdues the base passions that tend to make him violate the moral order. But if zeal for the divine law and brotherly love are as great in him as they should be, then not only does he practice penance for himself and his own sins, but he takes upon himself the expiation of the sins of others, imitating the Saints who often heroically made themselves victims of reparation for the sins of whole generations, imitating even the divine Redeemer, who became the Lamb of God "who taketh away the sins of the world").

Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.


Advent Hymn: Conditor alme

The Vespers hymn for Advent recorded by the Dominican students at Blackfriars in Oxford.

Fr B takes editor of Irish Catholic to task

Fr B at Rationabile Obsequium has an excellent piece on Gary O'Sullivan's responce to the Irish Bishops leaflet on penance.

I think FrB is spot on. Penance is someting we can and all should do. Do we want healing and renewal or not?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pope Benedict's General Audience 01.12.2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today deals with Julian of Norwich, an English mystic and anchoress of the late fourteen and early fifteenth centuries. Julian is best known for her book, Revelations of Divine Love, which recounts sixteen visions or "showings" which she received during a grave illness. The Revelations are centred on the love of Christ; in Julian’s own words: "love is our Lord’s meaning". They exude an optimism grounded in the certainty that we are loved by God and protected by his providence; as Julian says, in speaking of God’s power to bring good out of evil: "all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well". Julian’s mysticism echoes the prophet Isaiah in using the imagery of a mother’s love to describe the affectionate care which God shows for his children, culminating in the incarnation of his Son and the fulfilment of his promises. Like so many holy women in every age, in spite of her withdrawal from the world Julian became a much-sought spiritual guide. In our own lives, may we draw profit from her teaching that God is the love which transforms our lives, bringing joy and peace to our hearts and, through us, to those all around us.

Pope Benedict XXVI

Report shows Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world

Get Ready for Christmas: Youth 2000 Christmas Retreat

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I awoke this morning to the sound of a new text message, "School is closed". So we had five very happy McCamley's in our house this morning. Poor Christopher had to go to work. We had a great day. We made a snow man, and part of an igloo, threw too many snowballs, and now we, or should I say, I am exhausted.

Taize Advent Vigil, Dublin

Prayer for the journey through the current economic downturn

Photo: photographerpandora

God our Father,
Continue to make your presence felt among us at this moment in our history.
Be close to all those charged with discerning the way forward for our nation and our people.
Remind us of the many talents and opportunities that continue to be found in the citizens and resources of our country.
In your son Jesus Christ, may we be mindful of the need for solidarity with one another, most especially the vulnerable and the needy.
Steady our nerve in these days and point out to us the shortcomings of panic and fear alone.
Help us to achieve true and sustainable perspective as our future path unfolds.
May each of us realise afresh our ability to make a difference through participation in family, in parish, in the wider community and in our state.
In your Holy Spirit, guide officials and political representatives, local volunteers and community groups.
Mobilise among us a reawakened belief and patriotism as we seek to become again the people you call us to be. Lead us as committed, charitable and caring citizens, sharers of an agreed, open and workable plan that is respectful and inclusive of all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Adventure

I had my first residential christmas tree sighting today! People, it's still November! Lets do Advent first.

For the last few years we have had an advent wreath; the kids like it. This year we are also going to do a Jesse tree. Patrick drew the tree, and today we put on our first stickers. (Stickers are easier than making ornaments, and in my mind, the less I have to do the better!) This year we are going to try to follow the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure. This is an excellent Catholic programme. It is delivered by children, articulate, catholic children. I haven't meet many of those in this part of the world! They post a video on their site each day, telling a Bible story etc., and so it involves no thought. I do not buy any of the books, cds or anything from their site. It is not necessary. The children can watch the video, draw the picture, and read the Bible verses.  Hopefully, these activities will help them to understand that for thousands of years people were waiting and preparing - just as they are waiting and preparing now - for Jesus, not Santa, for J-E-S-U-S. Holy Heros also encourages wonderful things like, "a decade a day", an advent sacrafice list, and the essential advent confession. What more could I want? 

Here is an example of how not to do Advent,  from Alive-O 7,
(National Religious Education Programme for Ireland)

Patient PeopleAdvent is like a waiting room
for those who take time to make
an appointment with the Spirit of Christmas,
the real one, that is, not the fake
that’s everywhere available, twenty-four seven
and in jingling tills rejoices;
the one you plug-in and it squawks ‘Merry Christmas’
in battery-operated voices;
the one whose lights get brighter and brasher
with every year that goes by,
as they try to outdo each other:
they’ll never outshine that star in the sky.
Those who have made an appointment
with the true spirit of Christmas know
that waiting rooms are unpopular places
in today’s world of get-up-and-go.
What can you do in a waiting room
but wait
and wait … till the time is right
and the door to Christmas swings open
and patient people gain insight
to the Christian meaning of Christmas
which sings out in true festive voice,
‘Come! Your waiting is over!
Emmanuel! God with us! Rejoice!’

A Hymn for Advent, Veni Veni Emmanuel

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Diocese of Meath: Bishop Smith's message for Advent 2010 and for the Year of St Matthew

In his letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Pope Benedict expressed the wish that all would come to a more profound appreciation of their respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of their faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers through His Church. He asked that through prayer, penance and reflection, especially on scripture, the Church in Ireland might obtain the grace of healing and renewal. In addition, he personally composed a ‘Prayer for the Church in Ireland’.

In response to his invitation, it is proposed that, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, 28 November 2010, all in the Church in Ireland be invited through their prayer, penance and reflection to seek, by God’s grace, the healing of the wounds afflicting so many and the spiritual renewal and rebirth of the Church. 

Copies of Pope Benedict’s prayer have been printed and distributed to the parishes. The faithful are asked to take one of these and regularly recite this prayer. The prayer should be recited at all public Masses on the first Sunday of each month, as well as at Masses on every Friday over the coming year.
Pope Benedict invites all to undertake acts of penance and self-denial, especially on Fridays and during Advent and Lent. Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful, rooted in His call to conversion and repentance. We do penance in memory of the passion and death of Jesus, as a sharing in His sufferings, as a reparation for sin and as an expression of inner conversion. The link between Friday and penance is very ancient and is reflected in the Irish word for Friday ‘An Aoine’ (the fast). There are many traditional forms which such penance can take such as abstaining from meat, abstaining from alcoholic drink or smoking, attending Mass, prayer as a family, making the Stations of the Cross, spending time supporting the sick, the elderly or the lonely and isolated.

In his letter, Pope Benedict invites all to spend time in private and reflective prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He writes: ‘Through the intense prayer before the Real Presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful’. Periods of Eucharistic adoration, organised and promoted by dedicated lay faithful, are available in all our parishes and almost all our churches. Many women and men throughout the Diocese avail of this opportunity, spending at least one hour each week in quiet reflective prayer. I thank them for their witness and I encourage others to accept this invitation to spend time in prayer before the Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Benedict asks that we ‘discover anew the Sacrament of Reconciliation and avail ourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace’. God never shows Himself so much as God as when He forgives. Jesus speaks of the depth of God’s love in the parable of the Prodigal Son and on several other occasions recounted in the Gospels. He spoke of the repentant sinner seeking forgiveness bringing about more rejoicing in Heaven than do the ninety-nine who have no need of repentance. One has to wonder why a Sacrament which stirs such joy in Heaven evokes such antipathy on earth. An answer can to be found in pride, in the constant tendency of our heart to fence itself in, to be sufficient unto itself, to isolate itself, to close in on oneself. God, with great patience, awaits us all through life, encouraging us to find the grace to be able to kneel and say ‘Lord be merciful to me a sinner’. It is a patience that we find mirrored in the father, a representation of God, awaiting the return of his prodigal son.
At Sunday Masses throughout the coming year, we will read St. Matthew’sGospel – the story of Jesus and His disciples. It is an invitation to all who seek to follow Christ. It is an invitation to share our faith and our hope. As we listen to the Gospel, we come to see the way Jesus understood the community of disciples; in other words the Church. We discover anew the demands, the responsibilities and the rewards of being part of a community of believers. Jesus’ call to us is set forth in a particularly powerful way in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). We see not only the map for the way we are invited to follow but we hear the voice of Him who is Emmanuel – God with us (Matt.1.23). Since Jesus is our Saviour and the living bread of our lives He not only shows the way but His constant and abiding presence with us gives us the strength to hear and to follow Him – ‘our way, our truth and our life’.

Advent is a time of waiting that invites us to pause and reflect as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s intervention in human history, His intervention in all of our lives. There is a profound message of hope at the heart of the birth of Mary’s child. The hope invested in His coming should mark our journey in life, giving it meaning and purpose. In taking on our human nature, Christ affirms the dignity and sacredness of every life in the sight of God. Central to our faith is the belief that the Lord is present in each of us in the gradual unfolding of our lives. He accompanies us and will one day dry our tears. In coming among us, Christ brings us and continues to offer us the gift of His love, the gift of salvation. He invites us to speak to Him, to present our joys and sorrows, our pains and suffering, the questions and doubts that may arise in our hearts. He tells us simply ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God still, and trust in Me’, reassuring us that His heart is ever open to us. May our acceptance of this invitation to prayer and renewal deepen and strengthen our faith, our hope and our charity.

+Michael SmithBishop of Meath

PDF of Bishop Smith's Advent Message

Pope's Homily from Vigil for all Nascent Human Life

Dear brothers and sisters,

With this evening's celebration, the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new liturgical year beginning with its first stage: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and - in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary - expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

While our hearts reach out towards the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the Church's liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord in the splendour of glory. This is why we, in every Eucharist, "announce his death, proclaim his resurrection until he comes again" we hold vigil in prayer. The liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole Bible concludes, the last page of the Revelation of Saint John: "Come, Lord Jesus "(22:20).
Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. This is also suggested in the text of the First letter to the Thessalonians which was just proclaimed: "May the God of peace himself - St. Paul writes - make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ "(5:23). Therefore, we are spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us. We operate in earthly realities and through them we can perceive the presence of God and seek Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and we long for total fulfilment.

God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction, He calls us to friendship with him, He makes us part of a reality beyond all imagination, thought and word; His own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we acknowledge the value of the incomparable dignity of every human person and the great responsibility we have toward all. " Christ, the final Adam, - says the Second Vatican Council - by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.... by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. "(Gaudium et Spes, 22).

Believing in Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and reason show that the human being is a subject capable of discernment, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly things, that must be recognized in his innate value and always accepted with respect and love. He has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church's concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: "from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care " (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary's womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: " he who will be a man is already one" (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.

Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: " respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!"(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5). I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.

To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life . We do in the liturgy - which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us - worshiping the divine Eucharist, we contemplate Christ's body, that body who took flesh from Mary by the Holy Spirit, and from her was born in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!

Pope Benedict XVI
27th November 2010
Vigil for Life
First Sunday of Advent

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Prayer and Penance for the Church in Ireland

Christ carrying the Cross
El Greco
Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

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