Thursday, 31 December 2009
There is a little post over at the Oasis about tonight's Vespers in St. Peter's presided over by our Holy Father. Unless there is pressing news, I'll probably give myself a couple of days off and return to blogging on Sunday.
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
In the longer Catechesis the Holy Father had exhorted priests and theologians to present an entire vision of the faith and not a fragmented one. He gave simple examples of how Peter achieved this, and one of these struck me particularly. Peter Lombard asks the question: "Why was Eve created from Adam's side? The answer: Eve was not meant to be Adam's slave, but his companion. She represents the sacrament of Christian marriage and the relationship between man and wife. Also the image foretells the relationship between Christ and His bride the Church and of His love for her that is expressed in the blood and water which flowed from His pierced side after he had died on the Cross. This to me is a clear example of something my spiritual director and I have often happily agreed upon: 'Isn't our Faith wonderful! It is all of a piece! Everything connects with everything else!'
I'm sure you will have noticed some particular features of Pope Benedict's current series of catecheses on medieval theologians. He always brings them to life so that they are no longer mere names or ciphers from a distant and irrelevant past; he shows us how their teaching IS STILL CRUCIALLY RELEVANT to our own times and to all times; in so doing, he demonstrates why and how the maintenance of the 'hermeneutic of continuity' is of such an essential and ineluctable importance; and in this year which he has especially dedicated to them, he always brings out a special message for priests themselves.
Meanwhile on the blogosphere, two of my favourite authors have items of interest to Spiritual Mothers of priests. Fr. S. at 'Clerical Reform' has begun a series of posts on "The Priesthood" and 'Orbis Catholicus' has a pithily pointed and effective post "I Love the Priesthood" Link to these posts here and here.
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Please read Fr. Macrae's article at 'Priests in Crisis' Link in sidebar here.
During the article Father gives a link to an essay by Fr John Zuhlsdorf entitled "The Sacred Priesthood" which was written for the Year of the Priest. This direct link may work.
Thank you to Priests in Crisis for alerting me to these pieces by email.
Monday, 28 December 2009
(Link trouble again: Title of first VatRad interview is"Pope Benedict XVI has lunch with Poor
of Rome" and the kmov.com report is entitled "Pope presses the flesh, visits Rome soup kitchen".
Having been impressed by the VatRad interviews, I decided to find out more about the St. Egidio Community. Google produced quite a lot, but much of it was related to the activities of St. Egedio in other countries. That said, an article by Sandro Magister caught my eye. (L'espresso April 9, 1998) Magister has become respected as one of the most trustworthy, accurate and unsensational commenters currently writing from Rome. However, this article is over ten years old and he may have gained in maturity since he wrote it. Nevertheless, it is rather disturbing. It may already be known to many of you, but it represented a learning curve to me and I feel I should draw your attention to it. I am publishing this post and its links here, rather than on the Oasis because according to Magister the history and growth of the Egidio community involves not only Pope John Paul II but also several Cardinals, bishops and priests. Read the whole article here
Useless to speculate whether or not Pope Benedict knows of this history. Perhaps the community has changed its 'complexion' since it was described by Magister, although I somehow doubt it, since the founder, Riccardi, was at the Pope's table at the recent lunch. However, as Magister points out there have been several phases in the development of the Community. Riccardi and the other co-founders were very young when they started it. Perhaps these phases merely trace the process of their 'growing up'. And now perhaps they are merely an example of: "Do good by stealth and blush to call it fame."
However, and thank God, our Holy Father, as usual, did more listening than talking, this time to the poor, who it seems were in the majority at his table. He would probably have said that it was their table, not his. He has visited St. Egidio's, three times during his pontificate but this is the first time he has eaten with the poor there. I found it interesting that he chose to eat with them in their own milieu, rather than to invite a couple of hundred of them to the daunting ambience of the Vatican, as did his Venerable predecessor.
If anyone has more detail about the present St. Egidio community, I should be most grateful to receive it in the com box here or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The "ant heap" reference in this post's title is explained at the last paragraph of the Magister article.
Friday, 25 December 2009
Past, O Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of Him who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas Day.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
A Holy and Happy Christmas to all my readers and friends.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
It was addressed to the 'high priests'. He framed it with two references to the Year for Priests. I'm sure that was deliberate on his part, but it seems to have gone unnoted in the published reports of what he said. I think he wanted to draw the Curial body into a central contemplation, and a will to action, in regard to their grave responsibility, vis a vis preparedness to acknowledge guilt, to turn to the Sacrament of Penance themselves, and to teach the faithful how and why they should return to the same. . He began by drawing attention to the different ways in which St. Paul and St. Jean Vianney fulfilled their evangelical and sacerdotal responsibility, and I believe he ended by challenging each individual member of the Curia to discern and act upon his own responsibility, particularly in regard to penitence and penance. Only by a genuine attempt to do so can they, or indeed the faithful, ever hope to become true friends of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. And that, he most clearly affirmed, should be the 'raison d'etre' of every priest.
As usual on these occasions, the emminent faces were almost exclusively expressionless. Whilst he spoke, they gave nothing back to him. Lord, it must be thankless work for the Holy Father. The artificiality of a protocol that dictates total concealment of ones's inner reactions must go hard with Pope Benedict, a man who is a consummate teacher. It is said that Pope John Paul II was a consummate actor. I've always felt that successful teachers are good actors, and this is not to call their sincerity into question. I suspect that Benedict XVI is a supreme teacher/actor with a greater subtlety than his predecessor......Comparisons are odious and undesirable but all actors and teachers know about the chilling effects of a 'dead audience', that is, one that gives nothing back. Reaction and interaction are the natural aims of teacher and actor. That is why I think Pope Benedict appears a little lack-lustre at these official curial events. (It would be naive to think that there aren't other reasons.) He has to preside over them, but they are not his natural milieu. I suspect he must know that they are a waste of time, and we, the faithful, know that he has other much more effective ways and means. Thank God!
It remains to be seen and heard, how many eyes and ears were truly open among the curial body on the occasion that sparked these reflections. Please do not think that I intend criticism of the curial cardinals. It's just that I doubt the best way to televise these events has yet been found. Not that I want them to stop these broadcasts, because they enable us, the ordinary faithful, to hear and try in our limited way, to understand what our dear Holy Father is saying. Deo gratias.
Perhaps this post should have been on the Oasis rather than on SMP. Nevertheless, here it is.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
If I am wrong, may God forgive and correct me.
Monday, 21 December 2009
IRELAND MOURNS SLAIN MISSIONARY
Was Set to Come Home to Retire Next Year
Full report on reaction in Ireland at Zenit
May the soul of Father Roche rest in peace.
A sad day which brought news of the Vatican dismissal of Archbishop Milingo from the clerical state and of the resignation of the Bishop of Limerick. In case anyone missed them, Zenit reports are here and here
DECEMBER 18 -THE CATHOLIC HERALD (UK) ONLINE VERSION)
(BOTH ITEMS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE PAPER'S DECEMBER 11 ISSUE)
ANGLO-CATHOLICS DO HAVE A REAL PATRIMONY
Anthony Reader-Moore responds to Catholics who suggest that Anglicans considering the Pope's offer have no true tradition of their own.
I have long felt that too many cradle-Catholics have little or no knowledge and understanding of the origins, beliefs and practice of the Anglo-Catholic Movement. The article attempts to redress the situation and is therefore highly recommended. PLEASE read it here
ARCHBISHOP LONGLEY INSTALLED IN BIRMINGHAM
Read the full report by Peter Jennings here
Sunday, 20 December 2009
"SPIRITUAL MATERNITY IN ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA"
In case you missed it, here's a link the valuable article of this title which was posted Oct 30 on the 'Communio' blog.
BOOK EVALUATES IMPACT OF "MULIERIS DIGNITATEM"
Considers Key for Promoting Women
The Pontifical Council for the Laity announced this publication of the 405 page book, "Woman and Man, The Totality of the Humanum".
The initial version was published frpm the Vatican Publishing House in Italian, Spanish, English and French. Translations in other languages are forthcoming.
For full Zenit report see here
THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE MASS
Theologian Notes the Priest's Privileged Role
Father Mauro Gagliardiis a consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. His Zenit article titleds as above with notes and reference appears here
THE MONKS OF NORCIA
Thanks to New Liturgical Movement, I found this site today. Regular features include:
Recordings of the Monks chanting Mass and Office; Notes and News; Weekly documents including the current Horarium; Newsletter Archive.
Find the site here
VULTUS CHRISTI: ADORATION AT HOME
Today Fr Mark Kirby republished his post on this subject which includes a tribute ot Fr Mateo Crawley-Boevy who was an apostle of Adoration in the home and a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, and Mary of Perpetual Adoration. Fr Mark originally published this post in May.
To read it again, or for the first time see here
Tomorrow's items should bring me up to date and thereafter I hope to maintain these Items-of-Interest posts as a regular feature.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
You can order a beautiful calendar from this traditional community on Papa Stronsay in the Orkney Isles. The calendar has photographs depicting the life there. It is a lovely thing to have on your wall, reminding you everyday to thank God for these priests and brothers, to unite yourself spiritually with their prayer and to pray for them. To order link to my Oasis blog and scroll the sidebar until you come to their link 'Transalpine Redemptorists at Home'. There's a special order button to click at the top of their sidebar. May I also encourage you to subscribe to their quarterly newspaper 'Catholic' which truly lives up to its name!
NEW IRISH CATHOLIC NEWSPAPER LAUNCHED; FAITHFUL TO THE MAGISTERIUM
The former managing director of a weekly community newspaper has launched 'The Catholic Voice', an irish biweekly newspaper that has already attained a circulation of nearly 10,000. "Talking to clergy and lay people, we found that there was a need in Ireland for a regular newspaper that promoted authentic Catholic teaching and remained loyal to the Magisterium," said editor Anthony Murphy.
(Acks. to http://catholicculture.org/ )
CONFESSIONS OF A GYPSY PRIEST
Nothing Could Stop Father Murioz Cortes
Zenit interviewed this Spanish Gypsy priest from Barcelona and the resulting aricle makes salutary reading. It reveals a great deal about Gypsy culture but also, unfortunately, a great deal about the attitudes of some of his fellow seminarians and even some priests. He has been a priest now for about 18 months but before Ordination was diagnosed with cancer. He went to Lourdes.
I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil the article for you.
Find it here
TENDENCY FOR PRIESTS IS TOWARD CELIBACY, SAYS EGYPTIAN BISHOP
Notes Experience With Eastern Catholic Clergy
Full report here courtesy of Zenit
VIA CRUCIS FOR PRIESTS
Today Fr Mark announced on his Vultus Christi blog that his Via Crucis for Priests had been published by Magnificat's 'Year for Priests Companion'. Father is hoping that parishes will use this during the coming Lent. Order copies at http://www.magnificat.net/ At $3.95 a copy, with 112 pages and 11 reproductions of sacred art masterpieces, it is truly of great spiritual value.
More items in next post.
Friday, 18 December 2009
VATICAN: PRIESTS NEED RAMBO-ESQUE SPIRITUAL MUSCLE
Archbishop Piacenza Presents Year for Priests Activities
A priest's soul should have "interior muscle" comparable to the physical strength of Rambo, which is nourished with "prayer, the interior life and true motivation," says the secretary of the Congregation for Clergy.
The Archbishop noted that five months of the Year for Priests had passed but that already many priests had been renewed in their vocation and went on to clarify that "renewal" did not mean "revolution" but rather the rediscovery of the root of one's priesthood.
Having invited priests to keep the example of St. Jean Vianney in mind, he added something which I found quite pointed. He said that St. Jean didn't get a degree in pastoral care but he was "an exceptional pastor". The work of a priest is learned "with the love of God." He also noted St. Tgerese of the Child Jesus who was "a mother within the Carmel community. She became the guardian angel of many priest."
Dates to note: March 11-12 Congress at the Pontifical Lateran University entitled "Fidelity to Christ, Fidelity of the Priest"; June 9-11 World meeting of Priests in Rome with several events to take place in the four major basilicas.
Report at Zenit here
TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY "RECONCILIATIO ET PAENITENTIA"
At the end of today's General Audience the Holy Father referred specifically to several apostles of the confessional including St. Jean Vianney and the Year for Priests.
Read more at Vatican Information Services for the day in question or go to
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/ Click Audiences in the left hand menu, go to December 2 and then scroll to the last section entitled "To Special Groups".
CLOISTERED IN THE VATICAN
Visitandines Settle Into Their New Home
Full report about the Pope's contemplative community within his walls at Zenit
During an interview the Superior of the small community said that besides fulfilling their major role of spiritual support for the Holy Father through their prayer, she and her sisters have discovered a specific mission within the Year for Priests. Every day the sisters say a special prayer for priests and she described the different emphases within that prayer.
FATHER CANTALAMESSA CALLS PRIESTS TO BE SERVANTS
Says Their Vocation Is About Being, Not Doing
The Capuchin Father gave the first of three Advent Reflections for the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia. It is fully reported here (On top of what he said, doesn't this priest have a lovely name!)
More items in next post.
Monday, 14 December 2009
God bless you all and thank you for your prayers and your patience!
Friday, 11 December 2009
News from Tulsa, OK: This week saw the clothing of the first novice of the Our Lady of the Cenacle monastery, Brother Juan Diego Maria de San José. Fr Mark Kirby, superior of the Cenacle, has been given a mandate by Bishop Slattery, the local Ordinary, to live under the Benedictine rule, in a life of adoration, thanksgiving, intercession and reparation.
The Cenacle is planning renting larger property for use as a temporary monastery. However, this depends on the generousity of others. More funds means this can be achieved, and even beginning may be made on a permanent monastery. Cheques can be sent to Fr Kirby at the address below.
The foundation of the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a timely response to the Year of the Priesthood. The following notes present something of the vision for this new monastery under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Please address all inquiries to Father Mark at the address given below.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR LIFE IN ABUNDANCE
"I came," says Our Lord Jesus, "that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
-- A LIFE THAT IS MONASTIC
"One thing is needful." (Luke 10:42)
• under the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict and the guidance of the Father of the monastery.
• in the school of the service of the Lord.
• in obedience, the love of silence, and humility.
• in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
-- A LIFE THAT IS EUCHARISTIC AND SACERDOTAL
"I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luke 22:15)
"And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth." (John 17:19)
• the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: the sun illuminating each day.
• daily prolonged adoration, on behalf of all priests, before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, close to His Open Heart.
• in reparation for offenses committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament, and for the indifference of those who forsake Him, Who waits for us in the tabernacles of the world.
• in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever flow from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
-- A LIFE THAT IS OFFERED AND CONSECRATED
"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1)
• for the sanctification of priests and the spiritual renewal of the clergy in the whole Church.
• in reparation for the sins that disfigure the Face of Christ the Priest.
• in the sacrificial love that is inseparable from the gift and mystery of the priesthood.
-- A LITURGICAL LIFE
"I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; in the presence of the angels I sing your praise." (Psalm 137:1)
"O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 28:2)
"Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God." (Hebrews 13:15)
• Holy Mass and the Divine Office celebrated in Gregorian Chant.
• bringing to the traditional forms of the sacred liturgy a diligence and beauty worthy of the Holy Mysteries.
-- A LIFE WITH OUR LADY, THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
"When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." (John 19:26-27)
• following in the footsteps of Saint John the Apostle who, obedient to the word of Jesus crucified, took Mary into his home and into the intimacy of his priestly heart.
• communitarian and personal consecration to the Virgin Mary.
• commemoration of the Mother of God at all the liturgical Hours.
• Holy Rosary daily.
-- A LIFE THAT IS ECCLESIAL AND APOSTOLIC
"In the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations." (Ephesians 3:21)
• heeding the Supreme Pontiff, our Holy Father, the Successor of Peter.
• in filial obedience to the Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
• in generous service of the clergy by means of hospitality given to priests, deacons, and seminarians for days of silence and adoration, for retreats, and for spiritual direction.
• promoting Eucharistic adoration in the diocese of Tulsa.
• direction of the movement for spiritual motherhood benefiting priests.
-- A LIFE OF WORK
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord, and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one." (1 Corinthians 11:4-7)
• hospitality to priests, deacons, and seminarians.
• spiritual care and support of the clergy.
• both manual and intellectual work, according to the abilities and gifts of each one.
-- A LIFE THAT INCORPORATES DIVERSE EXPRESSIONS WITHIN A SINGLE FAMILY
"If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" (1 Corinthians 11:19-21).
• choir monks dedicated to the integral service of the liturgy and, normally, destined for the priesthood.
• monks not destined for the priesthood who, imitating Saint Joseph, dedicate themselves to the ceaseless prayer of the heart in the daily tasks entrusted to them.
• diocesan priests, Missionary Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, sacerdotal Oblates of the monastery, living its charism and sustained by the monastic community in the midst of their pastoral labors. The Missionary Adorers, while remaining incardinated in their respective dioceses, will live according to the Statutes approved by the Bishop of Tulsa.
• deacons and laymen, single and married: secular Oblates of the monastery.
• women Oblates dedicated as Spiritual Mothers for Priests, following the initiative of the letter of 7 December 2007 of His Eminence, Claudio Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation Pro Clericis.
The monastery will provide these women with a suitable initial and ongoing spiritual formation.
-- ADORERS OF THE EUCHARISTIC FACE OF JESUS
"You have said, 'Seek my Face.' My heart says to You, 'Your Face, O Lord, do I seek.' Hide not your Face from me." (Psalm 26:8-9).
"It is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of the darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6).
• all participate daily in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the monastery, or for priest, deacon, and lay oblates, in their parishes
-- MONASTIC FORMATION
For Catholic men between the ages of 18 and 35.
Postulancy: 3-6 months
Novitiate: 2 years
Temporary Vows: 3 years
Monastic Consecration after 5 years
Please send your contributions toward building the Eucharistic Cenacle to:
Reverend Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.
1744 South Xanthus Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104-5324
E-mail: cenacle at sbcglobal.net
Have just realised that Christmas is only a fortnight away. As you know I haven't exactly been skulking in closets and corners! Domestic catching up to do. Next proper post early next week I hope, although there may be more and better photos on 'The Oasis' tomorrow, later in the evening.
God bless and continued prayers for a watchful, expectant and hopeful Advent.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Friday, 4 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
More tomorrow. I do hope as many of you as possible will read it and share my joy.
Sunday, 29 November 2009
(thanks to Mike G. for reminding me where this was)
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Domestic pressures here; important visitors in a few days time. Will post a full report on their visit after they have left. When you read it you will understand why I have had to be discreet to the point of seeming coy and teasing. You will understand, and you will rejoice with me.
In the meantime posting will be brief and irregular until the first week of Advent.
I beg your prayers.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Here in this Basilica, out thoughts turn to Mary, who lived her life fully 'with Jesus' and consequently was, and continues to be, close to all men and women. The many votive plaques are a concrete sign of this. Let us think of Mary's holy mother, Saint Anne, and with her let us also think of the importantce of the family as an environment of life and prayer, where we learn to pray and where vocations are able to develop.
Here in Altotting, we naturally think in a special way of good Brother Conrad.* He renounced a great inheritance because he wanted to follow Jesus Christ unreservedly and to be completely with him. As the Lord recommended in the parable, he chose to take the lowest place, that of a humble lay-brother and porter. In his porter's lodge he was able to achieve exactly what Saint Mark tells us about the Apostles: 'to stay with him', 'to be sent' to others. From his cell he could always look at the tabernacle and thus always 'stay with Christ'. From this contemplation he learned the boundless goodness with which he treated the people who would knock at his door at all hours - sometimes mischievously. in order to provoke him, at other times loudly and impatiently. To all of them, by his sheer goodness and humanity, and without grand words, he gave a message more valuable than words alone. Let us pray to Brother Saint Conrad; let us ask him to help us to keep our gaze fixed on the Lord, in order to bring God's love to the men and women of our time. Amen!"
(*St. Conrad [1818-94] spent most of his life as a Capuchin with the responsibility of being, for forty-one years, the porter at Altotting. Great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady shone through his welcoming those who came to the door of the Capuchin Friary at Altotting.)
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The Liturgy of the Hours is another fundamental way of being with Christ: here we pray as people conscious of our need to speak with God, while lifting up all those others who have neither the time nor the ability to pray in this way. If our Eucharistic celebration and the Liturgy of the Hours are to remain meaningful, we need to devote ourselves constantly anew to the spiritual reading of sacred Scripture; not only to be able to decipher and explain words from the distant past, but to discover the word of comfort that the Lord is now speaking to me, the Lord who challenges me by this word. Only in this way will we be capable of bringing the inspired Word to the men and women of our time as the contemporary and living Word of God. "
Tomorrow DV, Part III will conclude the homily.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Pope Benedict on the Priesthood: From a Homily given September 11, 2006: 'To be with Him and to be sent out' Part I
"Here in Altotting, in this grace-filled place, we have gathered............. in the Basilica of St. Anne, before the shrine to her daughter, the Mother of the Lord. We have gathered to consider our vocationto serve Jesus Christ and, under the watchful gaze of Saint Anne, in whose home the greatest vocation in the history of salvation developed, to understand it better. Mary received her vocation from the lips of an angel. The Angel does not enter our room visibly, but the Lord has a plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to learn how to listen, to perceive his call to be courageous and faithful in following him and, when all is said and done, to be found trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts given us.
"We know that the Lord seeks labourers for his harvest. He himself said as much: The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest' (Mt 9: 37-38). That is why we are gathered here to make this urgent request t0 the Lord of the harvest. God's harvest is indeed great, and it needs labourers: in the so-called Third World - in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia - people are waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace, the good news of God who became man. But also in the so-called West, among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped. But there is a lack of people willing to become labourers for God's harvest. Today it is as then, when the Lord was moved to pity for the crowds which seemed like sheep without a shepherd,people who probably knew how to do many things, but found it hard to make sense of their lives. Lord, look upon our troubled times, which need preachers of the Gospel, witnesses to you, persons who can point the way towards 'life in abundance'! Look upon our world and feel pity once more! Look upon our world and send us labourers! With this petition we knock upon God's door;but with the same petition the Lord is also knocking on the doors of our own hearts. Lord do you want me? Is it not perhaps too big for me? Am I too small for this? 'Do not be afraid', the Angel said to Mary. 'Do not fear: I have called you by name', God says through the prophet Isaiah (43:1) to us - to each one of us. "
Part II tomorrow, DV.
Friday, 13 November 2009
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Between September 1979 and November 1984 Pope John Paul II based his midweek audience talks on the topic which would be known as the Theology of the Body. Although it wasn’t realised at the time, the talks were groundbreaking in that they drew together ideas, some of which were already in circulation (about, for instance, the equality of women and the potential holiness of the conjugal act), and developed them, making them part of the Magisterium. It is said that the late Pope wrote everything on his knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament and his 1988 encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem, on the Dignity of Women certainly reads like the fruit of deep prayer. Much of it consolidated his earlier teaching. Why did he feel the need to go back to the subject?
The occasion was the Marian Year and in the encyclical Mary is taken as the paradigm of unfallen woman, the new Eve. At a time when modern social pressures and emerging secular ideologies stressed the role of women outside the home and apart from the family, the Holy Father wanted to reaffirm the uniqueness of the feminine genius, to appreciate it as something complementary but quite different, though entirely equal, to the male. Rather than producing a work of dogmatic theology, the Pope framed the text in the manner of a meditation. Steeped in scripture and the fruit of a mind tempered by prayer and sacrifice, Mulieris Dignitatem is a magnificent work that rewards special study.
The Holy Father’s insights, especially into scripture, are astounding and actually rather thrilling. He examines the status and role of women from Genesis onwards. Jesus’ attitude to women is especially fascinating. For instance, when Our Lord (and later St Paul) refers to Our Lady as ‘woman’ he is referring to her role as the new Eve, the one who is at enmity with the serpent, and the one ‘clothed with the sun’ in the book of Revelation. Two of Christ’s most important discourses, ‘I am the living water’ and ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ were both addressed to women and both of them culminated in Christ’s self-proclamation as the Messiah. In a male-dominated world, that a message of such eternal significance should be given first to women is extraordinary and without precedence. We can thus infer that Christ wished to emphasise the essential equality of men and women that existed before the Fall.
What Mulieris Dignitatem does not attempt to do is describe Spiritual Motherhood with the particular understanding that we now do. However, some of his thought can be a focus for fruitful meditation for the spiritual mothers, lay and religious, married or single, who are now responding to the Spirit’s call in this year of the Priest and beyond.
There is a passage in Luke’s gospel where a woman in the crowd cries out “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked!” only for Jesus to reply “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11:27-28). Our Lord’s words are not a denigration of his own mother, but an acknowledgement of her deeper role. What is true of her becomes true for the motherhood of other women, “a profound listening to the word of the living God and a readiness to safeguard this Word which is the word of eternal life. Those born of earthly mothers receive from the Son of God the power to become the children of God.” Human parenthood thus enters a dimension of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood giving it the task of forming ‘new creations’. It need not be said that this is also the role of spiritual motherhood; to promote the sanctity of spiritual children by prayer and sacrifice.
Pain in childbirth is a heritage of original sin. Christ at the Last Supper spoke of the agony of labour and subsequent joy of the mother ‘that a child is born into the world’ (Jn 16: 22-23). The context of this statement, says the Holy Father, evokes the Paschal Mystery. He talks of Mary at the foot of the Cross, our Lady of Sorrows, her heart pierced by many swords and then speaks of the many women who suffer in the world, both physically and morally. He asks that all suffering women place themselves at the foot of the Cross. This is a profound insight, drawing great richness from the biblical text. For spiritual mothers who have not known childbirth, this ‘pain’ is felt in the suffering willingly borne to bring spiritual children to sanctity, to eternal life.
It is not possible to be a mother without the intervention of a father. Spiritual mothers are, in a sense, spouses of Christ; at least they are when they exercise spiritual maternity towards others. Again, we can go back to the passage quoted earlier, ‘blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it’. Spiritual mothers will be barren if they are not living closely and intensely with God.
Motherhood has at its heart an openness to life in co-operation with God the giver of all life. Eve’s cry ‘I have brought a man into the world’ shows her awareness of this. Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life. Pregnancy and childbirth, says the Pope, affect a woman’s personality especially as she relates to others. As spiritual mothers are we open to others, sensitive to their needs, which may not be spoken by them? Do we approach each person in a spirit of prayer and docility to the Holy Spirit so he can work through us?
Perhaps there are some practical conclusions one can make as well – John Paul speaks movingly about openness to life that characterises Christian motherhood, and the task of being the first educators of the young; perhaps some spiritual mothers not involved with bringing up small children might find an apostolate, say in pro-life work or parish catechesis even if just praying for those involved? Teaching authentic Catholicism at a time of such confusion among Catholics would be a spiritual work of mercy.
John Paul II’s writings frequently refer to Mary and his devotion to her was intense. It need hardly be said that spiritual mothers must have Mary for their own mother and should always seek her maternal help. “Motherhood is always related to the Covenant which God established with the human race through the Mother of God”.
Mulieris Dignitatem has more to say than we have space for here, it deals with womens lives more completely and there is a wonderful reflection on the consecrated life. John Paul also discusses chastity and modesty which are an integral part of the Theology of the Body. Chastity is first practised in the mind – the pope refers to the threefold temptations of lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). ‘Pride of life’ can be interpreted as boastfulness of one’s achievements, possessions and the craving of worldly status. If we are to live spiritually, to be spiritual nurturers towards those in our prayers, we must live out our charism by giving good account among those we meet. This is a tall order in today’s world and the only remedy is total dependence on God. Several times John Paul quotes from the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes where the council fathers assert that man ‘cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self’. This call is countercultural in that it contradicts the message of self-fulfilment that is preached by the world. We have to lose ourselves to find ourselves. The spiritual mothers of today, in their hiddenness, their prayer, their sacrifices, realise this wisdom in a very real way.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Pope Benedict then quoted from Papa Montin's encyclical 'Ecclesiam suam:
" 'The mystery of the Church...is not simply an object of theolocical knowledge, it is a fact to be lived in........ in which even before it is a clear notion, the faithful soul can have almost ingrained experience, '(ibid.,p229,n.178). This presupposes a strong inner life, which is 'the great source of the Church's spirituality, its own way to receive the radiation of the Spirit of Christ, a radical, irreplaceable expression of its religious and social activities, inviolable defence and resurgent energy in its difficult contact with the secular world' (ibid.p.231,n.179).
"In this Year for Priests I would like to emphasise how this involves and interests priests in particular, for whom Paul VI reserved a special affection and concern.
Pope Benedict then drew the attention of priests and seminarians to what Pope Paul had written in his encyclical on priestly celibacy: " 'the consecrated virginity of sacred ministers both expresses the virginal love of Christ for the Church and the virginal and supernatural fecunity of this marriage' (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus,26)
The Holy Father then cited a speech given by his predecessor to students at the Lombard Major Seminary on December 7 1968; He noted that "while the difficulties of the post-conciliar period were increased by the ferment of youth, " Pope Paul had said that " 'many expect dramatic gestures from the Pope, forceful and decisive action. The Pope does not believe that he must follow another line that is not one of confidence in Jesus Christ, for Whom the Church is more dear than anyone else. He will calm the storm....It is not about waiting inertly but of watchful waiting in prayer. This is the condition that Jesus has chosen for us, so that he can operate fully. Even the Pope needs to helped by prayer.' " (Teachings VI, 1189)
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
1. Our Holy Faith
2. Holy Mother Church
3. Holy Mass and the seven Sacraments
4. Our wise Shepherd, the Holy Father Benedict who instituted this Year of the Priest, and also the bishops and priests who are loyal to him, and without whom 1. 2. and 3. would cease to exist.
5. The Communion of Saints, including Fr. Damien, the holy leper of Hawaii, whose relics are now touring the Islands and which will find their final resting place in Honolulu Cathedral.
6. The spiritual friendships which the Lord gives us, so that in our weakness, under His guidance we help to make each other holy and offer constant prayer and sacrifice for the sanctification of His beloved priests.
7. Spiritual Motherhood of Priests: Here we particularly honour and give thanks for Cardinal Hummes and for Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, Father Mark Kirby and all holy priests the world over who are responding to the Cardinal's call.
8. 20 Traditional Anglican Catholic parishes in the UK respond to the Holy Father's 'lifeline'.
9. The Internet and modern communications which, if we use them wisely as our Holy Father suggests, can be a force for good and holiness.
10. And a little private one: I'll soon be able to have a weekly Holy Hour in the Church of St. Jacques, 2 kms. from here.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
2. Priests in prison or on trial, guilty or not guilty, throughout the world, particularly in America..
3. Archbishop Dolan, whose article was refused this week by the New York Times. (He blogged it anyway. Away you go Your Grace. Thanks be to God for you.)
4. Dissenters within the Church: e.g. Fr. Hans Kung, who unfortunately can be relied upon to publish the most anti-Catholic, anti-papal statements and yet somehow remain within the Church.
5. Fr. Michael Clifton (alias Fr. Mildew) who is going to close his very popular UK blog because he feels he has been 'too angry'. Please Father, don't do it.
There's more of course, but that's enough for one night in all conscience.
Tomorrow, 'Five for joy...................'
Sunday, 1 November 2009
In his mini-homily before today's Angelus our Holy Father said that in this Year of the Priest he was thinking particularly about Priest Saints. This fixed an idea that had been forming in my mind for some days. During that time because of various news stories and personal prayer requests, praying for fallen priests who are still living has been a priority. As All Souls approached my thoughts turned (and jogged by Fr Z), to Priests in Purgatory. So tomorrow I will begin eight days of prayer for them, invoking the intercession of my favourite Priest Saints:
Litany to Priest Saints
O holy Priest Saints before the throne of God, I offer my humble and loving prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, that it may be acceptable to be joined with yours for the souls of your Priest brothers still in Purgatory.
Particularly I invoke:
St Hilary of Poitiers,
St Martin of Tours
St Francis de Sales
St John Bosco
St John Baptist de la Salle
St Gregory the Great
St Philip Neri
St Anthony of Padua
St John Fisher
St Peter Julian Eymard
St John Vianney
St John Eudes
St Claude Colombieres
St Augustine of Hippo
St Vincent de Paul
St Leo the Great
St John of the Cross
1 Hail Mary
1 Our Father
1 Glory be.
As I said, these are my favourites but I'm sure the 'Mothers' and their friends will have others to add.
A happy and prayerful All Souls Day to everyone.
May God bless and strengthen our Holy Father Benedict.
Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
PRAYING THE MYSTERIES OF LIGHT FOR PRIESTLY VOCATIONS:
In his Apostolic Letter of October 2002, Pope John Paul II introduced five new mysteries of the Rosary, named 'The Mysteries of Light'. These mysteries particularly lend themselves to prayer for priests and those who are considering a vocation to the priesthood.
The Baptism in the Jordan: Jesus is baptised by his cousin, John the Baptist at the start of his public ministry.
Pray for those who are being called to the priestly ministry.
The Wedding at Cana: Mary tells the servants at the feast, 'Do whatever he tells you'.
Pray for seminarians that they will hear and follow God's leading.
The Proclamation of the Kindgdom Of God: Jesus preaches, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.'
Pray that priests and deacons may proclaim the Gospel in their lives as in their preaching.
The Transfiguration: Jesus is seen by his closest friends in all his glory.
Pray that priests may obey the Father's voice, 'This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.'
The Institution of the Eucharist: on the eve of his Passion, Jesus gives himself to his apostles as bread and wine transformed.
Pray that priests and all who take part in the Eucharist may be transformed by the mysteries they celebrate.
Prayer to St. Pio, in which our petitions are for all priests:
O God, you gave Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Capuchin priest, the great privelege of participating in an unique way in the Passion of Your Son, grant through his intercession the grace of answering out petitions, which we ardently desire; and above all grant us the grace of living in conformity with the death of Jesus, to arrive at the glory of the resurrection.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (3 times)
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
On Thursday November 5 at 11.30am European time, the Holy Father will offer Mass for all the Cardinals and Bishops who have died during the past year. So far as I can see it won't be televised, which is a shame because the higher the office a man holds, the greater responsibility he has, and potentially the greater temptation of many kinds. If during his earthly life, he has given in to any of these, his accountability before God will be the greater also. On November 5 therefore, please unite your prayers for them all with those of the Holy Father.
May I also ask prayers for fallen priests, particularly those who may be personally known to us, and for those of us who have been called to be their spiritual mothers.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Coming shortly: Clare on Spiritual Motherhood and the encyclical of Pope John Paul II "Mulieris Dignitatem"
In the meantime, I will be taking a few days off, for three major reasons. First, there are several emails and letters I must write connected with this blog; second, I'm in the middle of a house maintenance initiative (brandishing the paintbrush and all that) made slightly more stressful by the fact that the roof has sprung a leak and we've had a lot of rain over the last few days; third, I want to record my reactions to the Anglican issue on my Oasis blog.
Back as soon as possible. Thursday DV.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
We pray for the soul of Gertrud Ganswein and for the souls of all departed mothers of our priests.
Requiescant in pace.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Spiritual Mothers' Thanksgiving Novena Day 9: Five new saints; Pope opens door for Traditional Anglicans.
The Canonisation of Saints Damien of Moloka'i, Mary of the Cross (Jeanne Jugan), Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, and Zygmunt Felinski.
On October 11 many of us will have been fortunate enough to follow the Canonisation Mass online and live from Rome. It was wonderful to feel spiritually close to so many of my 'sisters', particularly those in Hawaii itself at the 'Catholic Mom in Hawaii' blog. Their joy, thanksgiving and pride in their own Saint must have been indescribable. And I send them heartfelt felicitations. There was a large delegation from Hawaii at the ceremony in Rome including the Hawaiin lady who recovered from cancer after praying to St. Damien. Senator Daniel K.. Akaka of Hawaii was also present. There was great rejoicing in Belgium too where St. Damien was born.
St. Mary of the Cross began her foundation of the Little Sisters of the Poor in France, but it was not France alone that celebrated her canonisation, but in countless others across the world, specifically for the followers of this blog, in the US, UK, and Australia where her daughters still care for the deprived elderly. After the Ceremony had finished EWTN had a little interview with two of them. They were spilling over with serene happiness. I expect there will be an upturn in vocations for them!
My contact in Spain also had reason to rejoice in the raising to sainthood of St. Fransciso Coll and St. Rafael Arnaiz. Saint Francisco was a Dominican and lived his life as an itinerant preacher in the villages and towns of Catalonia. St. Rafael died aged 26 as an oblate in a Trappist monastery. He was from a rich family but unlike the rich young man in the Gospel of the Canonisation day, he did not go away sorrowing but followed Jesus unequivocally throughout his short life.
We do not have any direct connection with spiritual mothers in Poland but we can pray to St. Zygmunt to correct this lack. He was Archbishop of Warsaw at a very oppressive time for his nation and the Church within it. Throughout a difficulat life, 20 years of which were spent in exile in Russia, he was steadfast in his trust in Divine Providence.
Pope Benedict gave a beautiful homily in which he not only outlined the lives of these new saints, but showed us how much we can learn from them, holding them up to us as demonstrating the required answer to the question asked of Christ by the young man in the gospel, 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?'
If you haven't read the homily here is a link to the full text.
Traditional Anglicans knock at the door; Pope Benedict opens it and invites them in.
Our Holy Father has made an unprecedented move and has promised, in the very near future, to issue an Apostolic Constitution which will govern the terms of the acceptance of Traditional Anglicans into full visible unity with the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It will still be a complicated situation for the groups and individuals involved, but at least it IS a real possibility now. This matter has been under consideration in the Vatican for two years, ever since the TAC and others first appealed to Rome. Pope Benedict has cleared away many obstacles. He couldn't have done more.
We will not know for some time how many Traditional Anglicans will avail themselves of the new structures. May I ask for your prayers for these Anglicans, particularly those who will be priests - a whole new group for spiritual mothers to take under their wings!
Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for our five new saints, and for Pope Benedict, who is giving the term 'ecumenism' a new and vibrantly effective meaning.
One Our Faher
Most Sacred Hear of Jesus, have mercy on us. (3 times)
Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Clergy, pray for your Son's beloved priests.
Holy Mary, Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Cause of our Joy, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us
One Hail Mary
St. Alban, protomartyr of England, pray for us.
St. Hilda of Whitby, pray for us.
St. Bede, the Venerable, pray for us.
St. Thomas of Canterbury, pray for us.
Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us.
Saints Damien, Mary of the Cross, Fransisco, Rafael and Zygmundt, pray for us.
Saints Joseph and Benedict, pray for our Holy Father, Benedict XVI.
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, pray for all priests of Our beloved Lord and for us their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit, "Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful............"
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Spiritual Mothers' Thanksgiving Novena Day 8: Deo gratias! In our small way, helping Pope Benedict mend the 'torn net'.
"Praying for Priests" by Monsignor Peter Dunne and Viki Herout of Omaha Archdiocese:
Some time ago my friend in Nebraska alerted me to the book's existence and I put up a post drawing attention to it. Last Sunday I emailed, as follows, to tell him what had happened since then: "As a result, our contact in Scranton ordered it for herself. She emailed me about how friendly the suppliers were.. For us here in Europe there was a difficulty with dollar payment and so I searched the Net and found another outlet which allowed me to send for copies and pay by credit card for the postage. I ordered three, one for myself and one each for two of my spiritual sisters in Birmingham UK. So the book has found its way through your little note to me to the Philadelphia diocese and to two others in Europe. (Actually it's a total of four dioceses because Clare saw the post and she and Bernadette ordered copies for their parish prayer group.) I've no doubt that other readers and followers have ordered it as well, and really, all thanks to you. It sort of went from you to me, and then back to the US (via the UK) through the blog, making the round trip for me to be able to tell you this."
My 'sister' in Scranton and I agreed that if we open it up, the Holy Spirit quite clearly breathing through the Internet and uses all of us to spread the word, and indeed, the Word. He uses us to help counteract all the vileness and evil that exists on the Net. And we are so happy, grateful and privileged that He does. Each of us plays a little part, but when it all adds up, it is an important, significant part. That's why we all keep blogging and networking. One can't avoid recognising the pun here when one thinks of the Gospel references to 'casting the net' , and all that they signify. Our Holy Father used this pun himself quite recently when he spoke of the Vatican (in its use of the www) having cast a net. (The image of the net is dear to him. He used it in his inaugural homily, although then he spoke of the 'torn net'. Looking back, ever since that day, he has done everything in his power to mend that 'torn net'. Oh, how we are blessed in him. If it be the Lord's will, may he be with us on earth for many years yet, mending and mending until the last breath leaves his body, and when he is finally taken from us, if mending is still needed, may he continue to do it in Heaven..)
The day after I emailed him, our Nebraskan friend replied and told me that he had been speaking to the manager of 'Gloria Deo', who has said that this blog initiated many people contacting the store for the book, the response for which has been better than expected.
In the Foreword to Mgr's book the Archbishop of Omaha writes "It is my hope that this booklet of prayers be distributed in strategic locations throughout the archdiocese and beyond so that the words of Cardinal Hummes may be realised. 'This movement will offer better service to Christ and his brothers...standing in Christ's stead and representing him as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church'. "
News from, Wisconsin:
Anne and Marge from Milwaukee let me know the following news .
They are waiting word from their Temporary Administrating Bishop about starting a Spiritual Motherhood Apostolate in Milwaukee, but Anne says, 'I've had so much wonderful support here that I know it won't be long before all 800 bishops, priests, seminarians and religious brothers here will have a spiritual mother to pray for them."
O dear Lord Jesus we thank You for giving us Pope Benedict; we thank you for all the things he strives daily to help us see and understand; we thank you that he insists always on the most important thing, that is that we love you with every fibre of our being; we thank you for the cardinals, bishops, priests, seminarians, religious and laity who support him in the struggle, for we know it is a struggle against the Evil One; we thank you that through Pope Benedict and Cardinal Hummes that you have called us to spiritual motherhood of your beloved priests and given us a part to play, making each one of us know which little section of the 'torn net' is our responsibility; we thank you for making it clear, that in spite of the hugeness of the task, everyday, there are fewer holes to darn; and we thank you for the graces you continually send that enable us to continue steadfastly in your service.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us. (3 times)
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.(3 times)
All holy Popes in Heaven pray for our Holy Father Benedict.
All holy Priests in Heaven, pray for our priests and seminarians.
All those yet in Purgatory, pray for us, as we pray for you.
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for Our Lord's beloved priests and for us their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Sporit, "Come O Homy Spirit............"
(Note: apologies for yesterday's incomplete post. There was nothing I could do about it. Will finish it at the weekend, so the Novena will be intact.)
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Our Holy Father Benedict made it possible on this 20th day of October 2009, for up to half a million Traditional Anglicans worldwide, to fully reuinte with the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.
I had thought that this would happen, but not quite in this way, and not quite so soon. This 7th day of the Novena was planned to be in thanksgiving for events which connect our blog community in Philadelphia, Nebraska, Wisconsin and this little French village. I have offered those prayers privately and will make them public tomorrow.
But for tonight there is one thing that causes my soul to sing out her joy. After five hundred years, the most amazing number of traditional Anglicans, will be able as the result of the wisdom and mercy of our present Pope, (put into his heart by the Holy Spirit, I have no doubt) be able to return to full communion with the Church. Yes, he seems to have taken them all by surprise. And there are already signs that some men of the Church are upset that he apparently gave them such short notice of his intentions. He gave good notice of his intentions in 'Summorum Pontificum' and we all know how many of the same men of the Church have ignored what he said there. We now move into the new era which began today. It will be difficult; it will be complex, but it will be productive.
(Incomplete post, techno problems)
Monday, 19 October 2009
Spiritual Mothers' Thanksgiving Novena Day 6: The Visit of St. Therese's relics to UK: A personal testimony...
St. Therese visits England and Wales, and through my friends, on and off the internet, has sent several gifts to us here in St. Romain as well:
A Little Background to the present thanksgiving:
Our dear Lord knows that I shouldn't be surprised by her continued concern, and which she has shown me for half a century. In 1959, as a low church Anglican, I knocked on the local Presbytery door and asked to see a priest and be given instruction in the Catholic Faith. As a result, at the age of 16, I was put in the charge of a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and was warned that I could not be received without parental consent until I was 21. (Actually my father gave in when I was 19, but I am glad now that I had that period of waiting, of being tested.) The first book, apart from the penny catechism, that the Sister gave me to read was 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism' by Monsignor Vernon Johnson. As is generally known, the book describes his own conversion and he tells of the great influence of St. Therese in that event. It is hardly surprising that her influence on him affected me greatly. Since that time, I have been devoted to her, at times more fervently than at others, but her interventions throughout the years have been a constant in my life - too many to describe here. St. Therese is known to present people with gifts, often roses. In the case of myself and Colin on our honeymoon in Lisieux, in the holy stillness of her deserted garden at 'Les Buisonnets', she gave us the most pure and ecstatic birdsong. But I will describe exactly what happened on another occasion. It was 21 years ago. We have never forgotten it. Nor will we ever do so.
When I first heard that St. Therese's relics were to visit England and Wales I was very sad that I wouldn't be able to come home for their tour. I think the first thing she did as a sort of overture, was to send, via a dear friend in Devon some 'Rosa Mystica' incense from Walsingham. I don't think he or I connected this with St. Therese at the time, but I most certainly do now. Its scent has pervaded our French home during the entire month of her 'visit' to Mary's Dowry. Five days into the schedule she 'arrived' at St. Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham and I have already reported that my 'sister' at St. John Fisher went there with her parish group of Spiritual Mothers after their inaugural meeting that same day. A few days after this, I received a letter from another most special sister who had also visited, and venerated the relics and been present at the Anointing of the sick. (I had written to her previously asking for her prayers in a particular spiritual trial I was experiencing, although I had not mentioned the visit of the relics in this context. She took the relevant page of my letter with her to the Cathedral and prayed for me there. Meanwhile my problem cleared but I did not know what she had done until several days afterwards when her letter arrived and I read about it and also her description of the event.)
"There were so many hundreds of people converging on the Piazza trying to gain entry into the Cathedral that the Veneration procession had to be stopped so that the 4.30pm Mass could begin. It continued at 6.30pm once the Mass was over. We were also informed from the Sanctuary that at the time the Mass was about to begin, there were in the region of 1000 people outside in the piazza wanting anointing. ............It was so glorious and so utterly moving and yet so full of simplicity. People were carrying bouquets of roses, the marshalls were walking up and down the aisles with great courtesy dispensing plastic cups of water for those who needed it.
Bishop Gough was so thoroughly in command but in the most lovable way as one felt Our Blessed Lord would have been, and his homily about 'the little things' brought such comfort - the time passed so quickly until at the end after the final blessing the collective voices of 'Our God Reigns' stayed ringing in the ears for hours afterwards."
There is more, but I will not repeat it because of the necessity to protect spiritual privacy. However, it should be easy to understand that at the moment of reading the letter, I felt that I was on the journey with Saint Therese, close to her and with her friends and mine. In spite of all the mean-spirited, ignorant and frankly anti-catholic material that the secular press decided to print, I had already known that this visit of St. Therese would not only be a patent success, but that it would be the source of a great outpouring of grace on our country which is so direly in need of it. There had already been signs in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Taunton, but after Birmingham there was no doubt. I rejoiced daily as the news came in from the other stops on the itinerary, culminating in Westminster Cathedral. (Thanks to Leutgeb of 'Bara Brith' for her reports from there.) I could not make the journey physically, but truly I made it spiritually.Three other friends besides Bernadette and Theresa went to Aylesford and two have let me know about their experiences, one of whom is Annie who commented on the last post. The third is Mac, on her blog 'Mulier Fortis'. Heartfelt thanks to you all for ensuring that I felt I'd been there with you . As indeed I had.
But then on the day that St. Therese's relics left Westminster, incidentally my own home Cathedral, I received another letter from my Birmingham sister, who had been at the Anointing of the Sick almost a month earlier. She had sent the page of my letter (mentioned above) to a priest friend telling him of my need in prayer. Now she recounted that he had written to her saying that he had visited St. Therese's relics at St. Aloyisius Church in Oxford. There, he had placed the page of my letter on St. Therese's casket and prayed for my intentions. He returned the page to her together with a rose petal from the church and a prayer card. These she had sent on to me. And so it comes full circle. The page returns to me, and is probably now some kind of official relic, together with a rose petal from St. Therese. Their value to me is impossible to quantify, as is that of this most dear spiritual sister and of St. Therese herself.
This afternoon I had to be driven to the Doctors, not serious, just an administrative matter. After I came out and before being brought home, there was time to visit the Blessed Sacrament at the Church in Aubeterre. It is 17th century with a 14th century facade and very cold inside! Once I knelt down in front of Him, I didn't feel the cold. His tabernacle was in a side chapel and I mourned that to Him. I could only stay for about 15 minutes, but I was alone with Him for that time, and I'm afraid I doubt that many came after I left. It was the first time in months and months that I've been able to make a visit of this kind. Oh how wonderful it was to rehearse with Him all the things I've written (and not written ) in this post. And then just as I left He suggested a solution to one of my problems which was so glaringly obvious, that I caught my breath and almost laughed at my denseness, that had meant He had to spell it out to me. Difficult to believe that this visit was a coincidence.
All I can say here is that I thank Him wholeheartedly, - pathetically insufficient words in place of the silent prayer I offered Him today, which in itself was woefully inadequate. Suffice to say before closing that everyone mentioned above was brought lovingly before Him, as was our Holy Father, and every one of Our Lord's beloved priests and their spiritual mothers and supporters.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Mater Divinae Gratiae, ora pro nobis.
Virg0 potens, ora pro nobis.
Virgo clemens, ora pro nobis.
St. Paul of the Cross, pray for your fellow priests and for their spiritual mothers.
St. Therese we thank you for this time of grace. Pray for all the beloved priests of Our Lord and for their spiritual mothers.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Spiritual Mothers' Thanksgiving Novena Day 5: The Visit of St. Therese's relics to England and Wales
This report has been sent in by Clare, who received it from two of her friends who travelled together to Portsmouth Cathedral and Aylesford. They also brought to Clare, who had been unable to travel with them because of her broken ankle, a white rose which had been blessed and touched to the relics.
SAINT THERESE VISITS AYLESORD
It was as if there had never been a Reformation in England; the huge crowds which converged on the ancient village gave an almost medieval feel to the pilgrimage. All the elements were there: people of all classes intent on venerating the holy relics, overcast weather with mud from the night's rain, souvenirs everywhere on sale and a huge assembly of cheap food stalls. Above all was the gentle pervading sense of true piety, for here were reall relics and people had travelled great distances to be present.
If the expected figure of 25,000 was slightly down, it was no doubt due to the weather, inadequate transport facilities and the congestion on the roads. A major access road from the motorway was closed, causing tailbacks and confusion among those who did not know the area ad did not hav 'satnav'. There must have been people who set out and returned home without ever reaching Aylesford. Squadrons of great coaches make their toruous way along narrow streets, each coach full of pilgrims - there was talk of people arriving at the coach stops only to be turned away, antoher explanation for the slightly reduced numbers of those who actually made it. Parking was in a field and there was quite a lot of walking involved; not the best place to be a disabled visitor.
Aylesford has a collection of chapels as well as a friary, a guest house and refectory. Like all good pilgrimages it offered opportunities to buy religious souvenirs and the great field where Mass would take place was entirely surrounded by ice-cream vans and mobile burger stalls. Nevertheless, the chapels were all open and the feeling of being surrounded by prayer was intense, almost tangible.
Everywhere people were praying and there was a feeling of friendliness and solidarity. The wheelchairs in evidence reminded one of Lourdes though this occcasion had greater intimacy. That being said, it wasn't always easy to pray as there was just so much going on and it's hard to pray and queue at the same time but simply being in this place brought many graces and consolations; a great reminder of what has been lost in the centuries since Henry VIII parted from Rome. Aylesford Priory was built in 1242 by the Carmelites and it is (elieved that is was) here that St. Simon Stock received his vision of Our Lady of the Brown Scapular. The buildings were sold off in 1538 at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and only returned to Carmelite hands in 1949. Thanks be to God this holy place once again is a place for prayer and the Mass!
The dull weather cleared just as Mass was about to start - another sign of God's grace through Therese's intercession - and the huge crowd of 20,000 soulsassembled for a reliminary rehearsal, which may have diminished the prayerfulness somewhat, but led to the most wonderful Liturgical celebration. There was a great procession of priests followed by the bishop of Southwark and an Auxiliary. The music was splendid with a choir and orchestra, and the hymns were traditional, such as ' Soul of my Saviour'. Taking the Offertory collection were African women resplendent in clothing printed with images of the Little Flower.There was a powerful sense of God's presence throughout as everyone united in prayer. The wonderful homily on 'Surrendering to God's Love' in the spirit of Therese, was preached by Fr John Keating O Carm and it can (and should) be viewed online.As the Mass ended the participans waved white roses in the air = 20,000 0f them -and the people and the people and the roses were blessed. Therese had promised a shower of roses after her death and was true to her word.
The experience at Aylesford had a very different feel to the visit of the relics to Portsmouth Cathedral and was in many ways more satisfying. This week the relics will make a stop at Wormwood Scrubs prison - many different venues, but always the same spirit. Glory be to God!
(Relevant links including the one to Fr. Keating's homily will appear tomorrow.)
Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you that through the visit of the relics of St. Therese you have enabled your faithful remnant in England and Wales to be revivified in the love of Your Most Sacred Heart and in the sight of your Most Holy Face.
Holy Mary, Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mirror of Justice, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Cause of our Joy, pray for us.
Sant Luke, pray for us.
Saints Bernadette, Clare and Therese pray for our priests and seminarians and for us their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit, "Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful........."
Saturday, 17 October 2009
The co-operation between Bishop Edward Slattery and Father Mark Kirby, OSB, the fruits of which are recognisable, not just in Tulsa but in several other places across the world.
When Bishop Slattery read Cardinal Hummes' document he took it to heart and determined to do something about it. Most of my readers know the story of what has happened since he invited Father Mark to come down from Connecticut to Tulsa and fill a triple role. He would be a Perpetual Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament with the intention of founding a new monastery with Adoration at its heart; he would be spiritual director of all the priests and deacons of the diocese; and he would institute a group of Spiritual Mothers of Priests. There would be a proper discernment process for the women who put themselves forward, and those who were accepted would receive proper formation.
Father took up his post at the beginning of August last year. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that same year, he was involved in a seemingly inexplicable car accident, which from all accounts should have been fatal. Father walked away from it unscathed.
The story of what has happened since then can be read on Father's well known and much loved blog "Vultus Christi". In less than a year the following things have happened: a group of some 30 Spiritual Mothers have made their oblation before Bishop Slattery at a public ceremony, and as the result of "Vultus Christi" the vocation of Spiritual Motherhood had been spread across at least four continents. This blog is part of that development and we are eternally grateful to Father Mark for his encouragement. His work with the priests and deacons of Tulsa continues apace, but at the beginning of October this year, month of Our Lady, came the news that two postulants would, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, be joining Father as the first postulants of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, and that on October 11 a third would arrive. This event has caused as great rejoicing amongst readers of this blog, as I'm sure it has in Tulsa itself.
Oh dear Lord Jesus, we offer you our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication for Bishop Slattery and for Father Mark. We pray that they and the three postulants will remain faithful in Your service, and that each day as the new community behold You in your glorious Eucharistic Presence in the Cenacle at Tulsa, they will never be separated from You. And we pray You to send more labourers into this little corner of your Vineyard. We thank you for calling us to spiritual motherhood of Your beloved priests and for giving us the sure guide we have in Father Mark. We beseech You that we too may never be separated from You.
Holy Mary Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us.
Holy Mary Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.
Saints Mark and John Evangelists, pray for Father Mark and for all our priests, deacons and seminarians.
Saints Ignatius of Antioch, Benedict, and Edward the Confessor, pray for Bishop Slattery and all our bishops, priests and monks.
Saints Charles Borromeo, Juan Diego and Brendan, pray for the postulants at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa.
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for the beloved priests of Jesus, and for us their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit, "Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful............"
Friday, 16 October 2009
The design is meant to be printed on both sides - the prayer bouquet on one side and the address on the second so it can be mailed as a postcard. I wonder if it would be more appropriate to send such a precious thing in an envelope however? I like the pictures on the address side so perhaps this could be printed onto paper and cut and glued to an envelope?
Thanks to Bernie F-S for finding this!
(Note from Jane: And thanks from me to Bernie F-S and Clare!!)
Opening prayer, ending, "We thank you that your Providence has arranged that the following should happen.
Announcement of a New Archbishop joyfully received; report from Spiritual Mothers in the Parish of St. John Fisher.
On the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, and whilst her relics were touring England, the Holy See announced that Pope Benedict has chosen Bishop Bernard Longley, at present an Auxiliary bishop in Westminster, to fill the See left vacamt by the departure of Archbishop Vincent Nichols for Westminster. Bernard Longley will be installed on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this year. He himself was surprised, not only that he had been chosen, but also that the decision, which he had felt would probably not come until next year, had been made with such speed. British Catholics see this appointment as one of several things for which they thank Our Lord from the bottom of their hearts. First there is the projected visit of the Pope next Autumn , then the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, scheduled according to reports, to occur around the same time. Then there has been the Tour of St. Therese's relics and which has been responsible for an upsurge in Catholic devotion, giving as it has, an opportunity for Catholics to reclaim and to state their identity in our currently secularised society. Added to all this our Queen is reported as having become increasingly sympathetic to the Catholic Church and Prince Philip has been to Walsingham.
The above paragraph outlines 'the big picture' in our Islands. Meanwhile at the grass roots and on a very personal parish level for spiritual mothers attached to this blog, quiet but no less important things are happening.
I have received the following update from my 'sister' at St. John Fisher parish on whose spiritual mothers group I reported in an earlier post. On October 11 she wrote:
"I just wanted to let you know how our Spiritual Mothers initiative is going. We had the faithful 12 yesterday again, which was fantastic and next week, I hope that some of the mothers from the Union of Catholic Mothers will join us.
Additionally, the other day I was prompted (I'm sure it was by the Holy spirit) to think about our own Father George, and ways in which we could particularly support him. As you know, here in Birmingham each Priest is being prayed for on a particular day and Father George's 'day' is Tuesday October 27th. I have therefore started a kind of 'petition' asking people in the parish to commit to saying a prayer or prayers for Father on that day so that we can present him with his own Spiritual Bouquet.
I have written to our local Catholic primary school and asked them to do a similar bouquet from the children and they have agreed wholeheartedly. You will be delighted to know that the children are being encouraged to pray for Priests each day and to embrace our Holy Father's directive that this year be given over wholly to praying for our Priests..........."
Dear Lord Jesus we thank you for the blessings you are bestowing on Your Church in England and Wales. We thank you for inspiring us to offer ourselves as spiritual mothers of Your priests, and to make sure that your 'little children' are also being encouraged in Your way of love. We thank you for our dear Pope Benedict and pray that we may endure with him until we may at last, contemplate 'Your glorious Face'.
Holy Mary, Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Taper, Cardigan, pray for us.
Saints Hedwig and Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us,
Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us.
Saint Richard Gwyn, Martyr of Wales, pray for us.
Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for our Priests and for their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit, "Come, O Holy Spirit, ......." as on every day during this Novena.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Opening prayer as on every day of this Novena ending, " We thank You that your Providence should have arranged for the following to happen."
Women's Group of Nocturnal Adorers in the Diocese of Granada, Spain:
I have been informed that most of the women in this group would love to be spiritual mothers of priests. The priest who is in charge of them presides over their Vigils and invited one of them to talk to the group about spiritual motherhood. This priest knows the Archbishop, Mons. Martinez very well, because he is the delegate of Liturgy in the Archdiocese. He has also organised for the same 'mother' to bring Cardinal Hummes' document to the Eucharistic Adorers Group. This has already been emailed to some of the priests and will be printed and copied for more of them and for the group of Adorers. Also, I am told that the Liturgical office of the same Archdiocese has sent a letter to every single Parish introducing a special petition in each Holy Mass praying for our Priests and for more vocations.
Oh dear Lord Jesus, you know with what joy spiritual mothers will receive this news; we beg you to strengthen our resolve to support through our prayer and sacrifice, your beloved priests and their spiritual mothers in the Archdiocese of Grenada, and that we may with Your help and the protection and encouragement of Your dear Mother, strive constantly so that developments such as this one will spring up throughout the world.
Holy Mary Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Holy Mary Queen of the Clergy, pray for the priests of Your Son.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for them.
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for them, and for their spiritual mothers.
Final prayer to the Holy Spirit:
"Come, O Holy Spirit..............." as on everyday of this Novena.