Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year prayers and greetings

To all my readers and Spirtual mothers throughout the world, I wish a happy and peaceful New Year. May God bless and strengthen you all as you strive to live out your vocation and may we turn constantly to our Blessed Mother Mary for her intercession .

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

Pope to Priests: Present an entire vision; plus a note on 'Clerical Reform' and 'Orbis Catholicus'

The Holy Father's catechesis today was on Peter Lombard, the outstanding 12th century theologian and author of 'The Sentences'. Pope Benedict emphasised in the English resume of his earlier longer Catechesis, that this work "is a collection of four books of patristic texts, carefully selected and ordered for use in the teaching of theology. 'The Sentences' became the standard introduction to theology for centuries, influencing the thought of scholars such as Saints Albert the Great, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas. The Church requires such organic presentations of the Catholic faith, in which each individual article of faith reflects the unity of God's revealed truth and the majesty of his saving plan. Peter Lombard's work thus served a need which, in our day, is also met by the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church'. Among the most enduring contributions of the 'Sentences is Peter's definition of a sacrament as an outwad sign and cause of grace, and his teaching on the sevenfold number of the sacraments. During this YEAR FOR PRIESTS, I encourage priests as ministers of the sacraments, and all the faithful, to grow in union with Christ and His Church."

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

"The Dark Night of a Priestly Soul" by Fr. Gordon J. Macrae

Dear Spiritual Mothers of Priests and Friends,

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.

Thomas Tallis - Miserere nostri.

Thomas Tallis - Miserere nostri. Clangat pastor in tuba - Responsory & Prose for the feast of St. Thomas à Becket. Gabrieli Consort & Players. Dir. Paul McCressh.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Pope Benedict: A Father and Friend in the Soup Kitchen or unwittingly in the 'Ant Heap'?

Last Sunday the Holy Father lunched with the poor at the soup kitchen run by the Community of St. Egidio in the Trastavere neighbourhood of Rome. This morning I decided to check Vatican Radio in search of more details of his visit. Sure enough, I found two charming and informative audio interviews here and here I also found a report at although this speaks of the Pope's experience on Christmas Eve as well as the soup-kitchen visit. It confirms that the woman who attacked him was indeed the same one as last year and that Cardinal Etchegeray's operation of Sunday morning has gone well and he is in a good condition. (More about this on the next Oasis post later today.)
(Link trouble again: Title of first VatRad interview is"Pope Benedict XVI has lunch with Poor
of Rome" and the 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

The "ant heap" reference in this post's title is explained at the last paragraph of the Magister article.

Friday, 25 December 2009

A Priest's Prayer on Christmas Day

Moonless darkness stands between.
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

Fr. Jaramillo Cardenas R.I.P.

Another priest has been murdered, this time in Colombia. He was killed on the night of December 20-21 and was stabbed to death.

Catholic Culture has the report here

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pope Benedict's recent Address to the Curia

Mark's comment on my post of last night obviates the need for me to say much more about that particular aspect of the Holy Father's address. But I will add the following:

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

Reports resume tomorrow, DV

- with perhaps some reflections on the Holy Father's speech to the Curia earlier this week. From the published reports you would think it was merely a rather low key, and if you saw it, a rather tired trawl through the events of his year. No such thing. He crafts his homilies and speecches with impeccable intention and care. At heart his emphasis is sacramental and therefore there is always a message for priests, in this case specifically the curial body. To my ear, at root, this one was about recognition of guilt, and the need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and true penance thereafter. Only through these, can there be a progression towards true justice and peace. The worldly events he reported were only illustrations to point his lesson. He noted a decline in Confession on the part of the faithful as damaging and something to be redressed. And my immediate reaction was, 'And who can best lead the way in this but priests themselves?'

If I am wrong, may God forgive and correct me.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Catch-up items 4

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


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

Read the full report by Peter Jennings here

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Catch-up items 3:

In case you missed it, here's a link the valuable article of this title which was posted Oct 30 on the 'Communio' blog.

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

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

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

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

Catch-up Items: 2 - as promised

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!

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 )

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

Notes Experience With Eastern Catholic Clergy

Full report here courtesy of Zenit

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 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

A Bag of Blessings from Rome

Here are some of the things that arrested my attention during recent preoccupations. They are more or less in date order. Links are provided where necessary and possible.

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

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 Click Audiences in the left hand menu, go to December 2 and then scroll to the last section entitled "To Special Groups".

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.

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

To Spiritual Mothers: My apologies

Those of you who have followed events on the Oasis blog over the last three weeks will understand why this blog has been neglected. When I came round after the extraordinary weekend here, I realised with a shock how near Christmas actually was.The domestic demands occasioned by that realisation have extended the period of neglect and I am so sorry about that. Never mind, once I've made mince-pies etc., I should be 'back to normal' by the end of the week, and that, please God, will allow at least seven days to catch up on the things that really matter, many of them already awaiting your attention in a pile of papers on the right hand side of my desk.

God bless you all and thank you for your prayers and your patience!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

Posted by Mark and wholeheartedly endorsed by Jane!

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.


"I came," says Our Lord Jesus, "that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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


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.
1744 South Xanthus Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104-5324
Telephone: 918-749-0995
E-mail: cenacle at
Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

Pope Benedict at this week's General Audience: On the Mass

"The Mass is not a rite of socialisation. Jesus Christ is present in it."

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

Cardinal Hummes' Letter to Priests on Prayer

Cardinal Hummes released this yesterday.
Fr Mark Kirby has the letter in full with the bonus of his own commentary. (see his blog Vultus Christi)

Thank you as always Father.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Fr Blondel R.I.P.: Latest news

The initial report of Fr. Blondel's fatal shooting has been on Zenit all day. Now Tango has let me have more local and immediate news via the combox on my Oasis post of yesterday. See there for details. Apparently the perpetrators are now behind bars. I will keep you informed of anything Tango sends me.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Fr. Blondel: Another priest murdered in South Africa

For details, please see latest post on Oasis blog.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Extraordinary Form Weekend: The First Sunday of Advent

Report of the First Sunday of Advent is now up on the Oasis blog.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Extraordinary Form weekend: Photos now on Oasis blog

They're not wonderful, but are certainly better than nothing and enough to give you an idea of the atmosphere of our little chapel. Thanks to Mark for his assistance in posting them.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

An Extraordinary (Form) weekend in rural France: Part III - Saturday afternoon Holy Hour

The report on the Holy Hour is now published on the Oasis. Link as in Part I of this series of reports.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

An Extraordinary (form) weekend in remote rural France: Report on the first Mass 28th November 2009

The report on the first Mass is now posted on the Oasis. See link in previous post here.