Sunday, 26 December 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Holy Father entrusts all priests to St. Joseph

For the report and link to the Holy Father's full text see today's Zenit listings. For Father Mark Kirby's reaction, see the December 19 entry on his Vultus Christi blog. 'Prayer to St. Joseph for Priests'.
More news of Father Mark, on my Oasis blog tomorrow.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Adventus, POPULUS SION, Giovanni Vianini, Canto Gregoriano

Encourage Priests (new link)

For various reasons I missed the launch of this site during the Year for Priests. I'm sure most of you have found it by now but it is good to have a link here, and as soon as possible, a permanent link in the sidebar.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Prayer Request for a priest in crisis

Spiritual Mothers of Priests and friends, please pray for Father RT. who will, during the coming
week, be sentenced in PA for the offence of storing pornography on his computer There seems to have been no evidence that he has ever been an active abuser, nor have there been any reports (to my knowledge) that anyone has come forward to accuse him of sexual abuse. I think we can therefore pray for a light sentence and that the priest will reform. He has been in a treatment centre since his case broke earlier this year. I know about all this because it came as the most terrible shock to a very dear spiritual sister of mine, to whom Fr T. had in the past, been a trusted spiritual mentor and friend. She has been devastated by the revelation but prays for him without ceasing. Please pray for her too, and for anyone else who is going through a similar agony, connected with Fr T or with other priests.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Five priests concelebrate Mass in Saint Romain

For full report see my other blog 'Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism"

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Video 'Priesthood, men with a mission' makes call to change the world

Tomorrow morning: a wonderful surprise

Regular readers will know that I live in an isolated country district in south west France, and am taken to Sunday Mass, twice a month at the most. Mass is rarely celebrated in our village church just across the road, although, on my request the Blessed Sacrament has been reserved there since Palm Sunday this year and I'm therefore able to visit the Lord twice a day, and it is our job to open the church in the mornings and lock up again in the evenings.

This afternoon I was telephoned by our priest who looks after 24 parishes including ours. He is resident in a town about 20kms from here but has a priest friend staying at the moment and the two of them want to say their Office in our church tomorrow morning, after which the visitor will say Mass. Pere Marchand assured me that I'd be welcome to attend. Could I be certain to open the church by 8am. No problem there, as my husband is normally on key duty by that time in any case. So, an early start tomorrow.

I cannot be certain, but it must be at least 30 years since a priest recited his Office in the church, let alone two on the same occasion.

Office and early morning Mass on an ordinary weekday. I am quite overwhelmed!

Deo gratias.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A bit of a grim week.

Please see my latest post at Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism. Sorry not to repeat it here but have broken my glasses and life is VERY frustrating at the moment!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Not as good a week as last, but it could have been worse

After all a new seminary is to open in Washington DC. And the Holy Father announced at his Wednesday Audience that Archbishops Burke and Piacenza will be made cardinals at the Consistory on November 20. And there was also Pope Benedict's letter to Seminarians.

Nevertheless I thought His Holiness seemed rather 'low' during the Mass for the closure of the Middle Eastern Synod. Then at the Angelus someone unseen giving the responses behind him sounded to be suffering from a heavy cold (Monsignor G?) Please join me in praying that the sufferer recovers, but most importantly that the Holy Father doesn't catch it.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The new Prefect.

I am late with this I know, but want to record my feliciatations and personal happiness at Archbishop Piacenza's elevation to the Prefecture of the Congregation for Clergy.

Ad multos annos Excellency, and with constant prayer.

In Christo pro Papa

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Decisions and Regrets

Our recent decision to sell our house and buy a smaller one is going to involve the expenditure of much time. Anyone who has down-sized in this way will know that it's something of a military campaign! Rather daunting when there are only two in the army! At least for the next few months I'll only be able to post here once a week, usually on Saturday or Sunday. Please pray for us.

God bless all priests, and their spiritual mothers and friends of this blog.

In Christo pro Papa

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Novena to Blessed John Henry Newman begins tomorrow

For details please see This link will lead you to the Novena each day as it progresses.

God bless you all.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fifth Annual Fast Day for Priests on Saturday October 23rd

More information will be emailed to you if you contact Anna Rae-Kelly at:

or Denis Kyabaggu at:

The information includes a pdf printable sheet, ideal for copying and putting at the back of your church. The 'fast' does not have to be from food or drink , but from TV, speech, cigarettes etc.

Do please consider contributing to this offering to Our Lady for her sons.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Letter from Rome about the Litany of Loreto received on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Please forgive silence for so long. For an English-woman the build-up to, and experience of, the Holy Father's visit to UK has been indescribable. I am still not properly down to earth, if indeed I ever will be. On the eve of the Visit I received a letter about my original letter to the Pope, from Archbishop Piacenza at the Congregation for Clergy. The full text of the letter is here on the Oasis blog. I will post more about it here soon, but want all Spiritual Mothers, friends and followers to know that I mentioned you all in my letter to the Holy Father, so the Archbishop's reference to Spiritual Motherhood in his letter, apply to you as well as to me. His Dicastery knows about what we all strive to do and how many there are of us.

God bless


Saturday, 28 August 2010

Saint Augustine's Day

Have a holy and happy day everyone.

Barring emergencies no posts here until the computer has been 'treated' - early next week I hope.

Father Mark at Vultus Christi has a wonderful post for today entitled "I went astray and still I remembered Thee"

Monday, 16 August 2010

Lourdes Reopens After Bomb Scare

Bomb scare in Lourdes, no-one hurt; no more posts here until next Monday evening;

For report on bomb scare see the Oasis

Terrible computer problems which I hope will be fixed next Monday afternoon. No further posts here until after that.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Married priests in the first centuries practiced celibacy

The Link between Our Lady and the Priesthood

Our Holy Father catechised on this at his General Audience on August 12 last year.. The full text can be found at the Vatican website. Click on the image of Benedict XVI to reach the General Audience page and then scroll to correct date.

Have a happy and blessed Solemnity everyone.

Next post, a video in support of priestly celibacy, to follow almost immediately.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

500th Anniversary - Papal Swiss Guards - 2 of 3

After the Angelus, Pope Benedict thanks the assembled Swiss Guard and gives them his Apostolic blessing.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Vaticano - Italy

Members of the new contingent take the solemn oath that should it be necessary they will lay down their lives in defence of the Pope.

Next video tomorrow monning: The newly sworn-in members of the Guard meet Benedict XVI with their parents and other close family members.

The Swiss Guard and Vocations: Part 3

Fr. de Raemy gives some explanations and answers :

Does living in the Vatican strengthen or weaken a vocation?
Father answered with a smile:
" Of course, seeing so many priests lessens your interest in becoming a priest, but it may also inspire a young man to seek out his vocational path...A person who is already asking himself if he has a vocation is not frightened. On the contrary, sometimes it happens that a young man arrives here without deep faith, wishing just to make an experience of life, and he discovers something he did not expect....."

Even though the Guards accept the religious dimension, the retreats and the Sunday Mass, and of course the very serious oath they take, they do not all arrive in Rome with a strong faith.
Fr. de Raemy describes the mix:
"Each one is surprised by the other one. The convinced one is surprised to meet someone who is less convinced, and the less convinced is afraid of the one he finds too convinced."

And then on the subject of the annual Lenten Retreat:
"Some of the Guards would like to do it in a much deeper way. One of the recruits, a quite convinced young man who lived for two years in a community in Switzerland but now asks himself if he is not more fit for marriage, came here to have the time to decide, and told me that for him it was difficult to combine his desire to give space for prayer with group solidarity. Many in the group just wanted to meet and chat."

What does Fr de Raemy do of he notices that one of the Guards is thinking of the priesthood?
"It depends on the individual case. Some perhaps say nothing and consider it a secret to keep, and do not want to be influenced. Others may talk openly about it, but they do not always ask me for specific help. But most of all, they have many questions about the faith. I can tell you about one in particular. When I arrived he contacted me immediately and wanted to talk. He had a project for his professional formation after the service, and talked to me at least once a week. I realised that he truly was a true searcher for God, a monk, that he wanted to know why he was in the world, the meaning of the world, he wanted to find the purity of the relationship to God. A transparent person, I never met any other young man like him. I told him you are made for the monastery. He went for two months to a monastery in Switzerkand, and now he is a novice and he is happy."

Here is a link to an interview with a Swiss Guard which I found on the Net quite independently of the ITA article, acknowledged at the beginning of this series of posts. At the time of the article's going to press there were in the Guard: one candidate for the priesthood, plus one in process of discernment, and two others who are open to discussing a religious vocation. "It is a good percentage," says Fr de Raemy. "Compared to the difficult situation in Switzerland, this is the group which produces the most vocations."

Aside from telling me more about the Swiss Guard themselves, I valued this article because it shows, without that particular intention, how important and complex is the calling of Chaplain to these young men.

God bless the Swiss Guard and their chaplain. Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for them.

(I hope that Videos of the Guard will follow in the next two posts.)

2 says

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Swiss Guard and Vocations Part 2

Fr de Raemy:

Before his arrival in the Vatican in September 2006, Fr de Raemy had studied in Rome at the Angelicum and Gregorian Universites and had done pastoral work as a Parish Priest. He had of course also done his Swiss military service. In the Guard he holds the rank of colonel but his strong commitment to young people makes him, as chaplain to the Guards, sensituve to the problemsof the young men in his spiritual care. In some cases they have left Switzerland for the first time.

Swiss Catholicism:

Fr de Raemy is very honest on this subject and one senses the great care with which he chose his words: 'In Switzerland there are problems in the formation of priests, especially in German-speaking Switzerland..........for this reason, many study in other countries, and it is a pity because there is the risk that our dioceses lose their vocations................In Switzerland there is a stong tension between the traditionalists and those who are closer to the Protestant world and see the priest simply as an expert on theology. The parish priests are NOT chosen by the bishops but by a council of laymen, who do NOY have to be practising Catholics. (my caps.) Sone are faithful and loyal to Rome, others less. For this reason, when these young men come to Rome, they can learn the correct balance.'
(And one of our English Bishops has said that he feels emasculated by Summorum Pontificum!!!!)
Fr de Rsemy says that the best occasion to impart a little catechesis, and to understand the spirituality of the Guards, is during their first weeks in Rome. 'I propose to them to visit the tomb of St. Peter to understand why we are right here, and not 20 miles away.'

Spiritual and Pastoral activity of members of the Guard:

There is a retreat each Lent and an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes in May and the Guards have the opportunity to express religious commitment through various missionary and devotional activities. 'Each year they collect funds through sales and auctions for a specific project, and some of them go personally to bring the funds to the chosen missions. Others organise pilgrimagestogether with the chaplain to Italian sanctuaries........others attend nearby parishes or the youth centre of San Lorenzo a few yards from St. Peter's, of join Roman youth in Eucharistic Adoration in the church of Sant'Agnes in Piazza Novona on Thursday evenings.'

Tomorrow I'll devote a Part 3 to Fr de Raemy's answers to questions about individual attitudes to faith and vocation amongst the Guard.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Swiss Guard and Vocations: Part I

The information in this post (and Part II to follow) appeared in an aricle by Andrea Aambragetti in Inside the Vatican magazine ((December 2008)

The Pontifical Swiss Guard corps was 504 years old this year. New recruits are sworn in each year at a ceremony which takes place on May 6, commemorating the date in 1527, when twenty-one years after the foundation of the Guard, 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the Pope during an attack on Rome. Today the Corps numbers 100 young Swiss men , who are all Catholics, have done their military service and have no troubles with the law'.


In 2008 one of them was studying Theology at the Austrian Monastery of Heiligenkreutz, and when the Holy father visited the monastery in 2007, the young guard was allowed to wear his uniform outside the Vatican. When on duty in Rome he 'serves as a deacon in important celebrations in the Pontifical Parish of Sant'Anna in the Vatican'.

'The Pope himself, during the celebration of the Guard's fifth centenary, said that service in the Swiss Guard may be a chance for greater commitment to the Church for these young men.

The ITV article is based around an interview with the chaplain of the Guard, Alain de Raemy (more of whose background and ministry in Part II). But beyond the few guards who aspire to the priesthood or consecrated life, Fr. de Raemy speaks powerfully of the value of service in the Swiss Guard, particularly since often young Swiss people see only a negative image of the life of the Church: 'Here, we have a unique opportuniy to see the vitality of the Universal Church. Some say they are surprised to see so many people, and especially young people, at the Pope's audiences..............One of them who recently went back to Switzerland after three years, told me that he now has new inner strength to answer when people criticize the pope or the Vatican. He says he is now able to answer with courage and conviction.'

Fr. de Raemy sees the three year stint of Swiss Guard service as a vocation in itself and preached as follows during the 2007 ceremony for the oath of new recruits: 'To sacrifice your life does not only mean to die, but also to offer your time and energy day after day for the Vicar of Christ, for the Church: this is a true vocation!'

In Part II more about Fr de Raemy as promised, about religious vocations amongst the Guard and some interesting facts about Swiss Catholicism.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Celibate Vocation; Paedophilia a worldwide issue; priest found dead in Mexico

Yesterday's link to Catholic Culture behaved badly so to reach these two interesting articles on renewal in celibacy and media treatment of the paedophile issue please use the Zenit link at the bottom of the bloglist sidebar here.

Father Z reports on the death and possible toruture of the priest in Mexico at WDTPRS.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Cardinal Newman Society delivers spiritual bouquet to pope

Irish Priests' Reform movement in process of being launched

Catholic Culture has the story and gives two further links to the Irish Press which indicate the complexion the movement is intended to take. The article from the Belfast Telegraph is particularly instructive.

By all means priests should have an outlet for their opinions but in the list of stated aims some very 'pointed' language is used. I'll leave it for readers to form their own opinion of what this micht lead to.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Fr. Blake's initiative: English and Welsh priests' open letter in support of Pope Benedict's visit to UK.

Father Blake first posted about this on July 23 at his blog St Mary Magdalen During that first post Father suggests that perhaps it would be possible to set up something similar to the 'Confraternity of Catholic Clergy' which has been successfully operating in Australia for many years. Fr Tim Finigan has posted on the Hermeneutic of Continuity in support of Fr Blke's move and his gives some very useful links.

Fr. Blake has posted again today and when I last looked 20 priests had signed the letter. If you are a priest listed in the English/Welsh Catholic directory and have not yet seen Fr Blake's posts, please do go over there and consider signing.
If you are an English or Welsh member of the lay faithful I implore you to approach your own parish priest about this initiative. If he doesn't have the Internet, I'm sure responses would reach Fr Ray Blake by writing to him 'snail mail' at St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. Brighton.

In the meantime, God bless and strengthen Fr. Blake and all the priests who have already signed the letter. May there be many, many more before the dawning of September 16.

In Christo pro Papa

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Please pray for the Priests and Faithful of England and Wales.

Up and down the two countries, Priests are having the painful task of allocating insufficient tickets for access to Papal Masses during the September visit. Many seem to be doing it by pulling names out of a hat at a gathering of their parishioners. In the circumstances, what else can they do? It seems that there are no guidelines as to how this ticlish matter is to be resolved in each parish in a uniform way. The priest has to make his own decision and find his own way. Batches of tickets have been sent to each diocese to distribute among their parishes. In one parish I know of 123 tickets are available; 133 people have signed up to say they want to go. So as not to prolong the agony, it seems that the priest pulled out ten names first, that is, those who would not receive a ticket. (I'm sure my informant will let me know if I've formed a wrong impression here.) The priest has assured the ten that he thinks in the end, they will be able to go, but the uncertainty and the waiting is far from pleasnat to contemplate.

It is constantly stated that there is no point in just turning up. You have to have a ticket, pre-pay at least £25.00 for the privilege, and travel in a Parish or Diocesan group, even if your Parish is in walking distance of the Papal venue.. It is now clear and has been admitted by the organisers, that Security is the priority that has produced this situation. I can understand that, but at the same time, the whole situation is galling (and I mean that in its proper sense). How terrible for a priest to have to enact such an artificial and restrictive separation of members of his flock. How sad and painful for him and them. How deeply troubling for us all.

Yes, security must be the main concern, but I find it absolutely impossible to agree with the official line being put out by 'the authorities', that this visit is going to make UK Catholics feel an increased confiedence that they are a free and accepted part of their society, if they have to be corraled, herded and protected in this way, all the time wondering about the very safety of their chief shepherd.

I beg you to pray for us.

In Christo pro Papa

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Beginning to come round.....

Last night I was able to post on my other blog, The Oasis' for the first time in nine days. I meant to post here too, but time ran out. The post I did manage on the Oasis demonstrates a new and terrifying concern over the Pope's visit to the UK in September. We have the American National Catholic Register to thank for opening our eyes to what may be going on in the build-up to that visit. There is now a new site 'Protect the Pope' and I urge everyone to follow it. (links on the Oasis). The site is responsible, not interested in stirring up fear, but only concerned with circulating accurate information about what Catholicism in England and Wales is up against.

"Protect the Holy Father, through Prayer, Truth, and the Law."

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Signing off for a while, but Father Mark gives plenty to pray about

I've decided to stop blogging at least until I get the results of yesterday's quadruple blood tests. The vertigo already mentioned, continues in spite of new medication and consequently I'm finding day to day chores difficult enough.

However, having read Father Mark's post today, about Priests who have come to hate their own Priesthood, (see Vultus Christi) I have more than enough to occupy me.

Tomorrow is St. Benedict's day. Have a happy and holy feast everyone. May St. Benedict intercede for all his sons and daughters, particularly for our dear Holy Father who bears his name, and for that dear Benedictine in Tulsa.

Will post again as soon as it seems right.

In Christo pro Papa

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Papal Mass today at Sulmona

This will be televised live at 10am French time on kto
EWTN at 8am UK time (3.30am US ET with encore at 12 noon)

For interesting background to this Papal visit see:

(The doctor failed to visit as promised on Thursday and has not contacted me. Am still not at all well and will be ringing him tomorrow.)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Confession time

This is to let you know that I've not been well for the last couple of weeks. I had hoped to avoid bothering you with it, but feel I should explain recent lack of postings. Basically I'm having dizzy spells and vertigo and as a result am having to walk with a stick. There has been a slight improvement over the last two days. Will post again as soon as I can. In the meantime, God bless all my readers. Please pray for me.

In Christo pro Papa

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Pope Benedict's teaching on priestly celibacy

Sandro Magister has an article which gives full text of the Holy Father's answer to the question about celibacy that he was asked on Thursday evening. The article also traces Pope Benedict's teaching on the subject, going back to 2oo6. Here is the link.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Closure of the Year for Priests: Build-up in Rome

10,000 priests from 91 countries have gathered in Rome to be with Pope Benedict when he closes the Year for Priests with a Mass from St. Peter's Square tomorrow at 10am (Italian/French time).

1. Yesterday morning kto tv began a joyful series of 'flash' news items which have included brief interviews with French speaking priests currently in Rome . There are over 700 of them, including 30 bishops. (Does anyone know how many priests from England, Wales and Scotland are there? I've just checked the E & W Conference site and there is nothing readily to be found about this three days of events. My apologies if it is there and I just haven't been able to ferret it out.)

Three features stand out in the interviews with the French priests: first their love for and gratitude to Pope Benedict, second their fraternal joy in being together in such large numbers, and third their commitment to a deep internal renewal of their priestly vows and sense of mission, individually and as a body.

Yesterday one of them spoke of an accidental meeting with another priest on the Roman metro and of how wonderful it was for them to chat to each other in French.

In the evening flash the Bishop of Pontoise described the 760-strong march of French Priests along the Appian Way before Vespers at St. John Lateran. The bishop said that during the march he had met a young priest from Provence who normally lives and works alone. The bishop then recounted the joy on that young priest's face at being with so many of his brothers.

This morning the interview was with a priest from Gabon. When asked why he had come to Rome, he said that he had responded to Pope Benedict's invitation as a cry from the heart. In the difficult times we have been going through, the Pope himself has need of comfort in his mission. "I have come to show the Pope how much I love him and how much I love the Church." He concluded by avowing that he wished to renew his own sense of mission, and that it will bear fruit in his own country.

And this afternoon a priest from Togo was asked why he had come. Referring to Pope Benedict, he said, "Because Papa called me." Had this been a year of interior renewal for him? "Yes." And what will remain for him now the year is ending? "Joy in being a priest."

As for us, over at 'Clerical Reform' our vocation is mentioned with gratitude; and at yesterday's General Audience the Holy Father invited the faithful throughout the world to participate with prayer in these closing events.

Have a holy vigil everyone.

In Christo pro Papa

2. Yesterday afternoon in the Paul VI Audience hall Cardinal Bertone addressed several thousand of the priests. For a report on this please see the Zenit report

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Litany of Loreto: Further thoughts

First of all thanks to epsilon for his suggestions, and to several people who have written to me privately encouraging me not to give up hope. One of these echoed epsilon's suggestion that I mount a petition. I am doubtful of my own ability to do such a thing as my blogs are not sufficiently widely read, but will wait until the end of this week and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, before reconsidering the matter.

Secondly, I omitted to mention in my last post that my PCED correspondent also said, "We do not know what initiative(s) the Holy Father may take in the closing of the Year for Priests." This encouraged me to continue praying that he may do something special in any case. We now know that in Fatima he consecrated all priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the spoken prayer with which he did it was very special indeed. (He even mentioned the many who are consecrated to spiritual motherhood of priests.) In a very important respect, what he did was much more than I had asked for in the letter that never reached him. On the other hand, having this added invocation in the Litany, would be a perpetual reminder of the Year of the Priest and of his consecration in Fatima, a reminder to us all to continue to pray to Our Blessed Mother for all our priests.

Finally a word about the Holy Father's continued promotion of modern communication. The Vatican has moved amazingly rapidly over the past year in response to his lead. However, they have tended to concentrate on outgoing information, and appear to have done little yet about streamlining RECEPTION of information and responding to it. If the response to my letter, and the explanation I received, are anything to go by, Secretariat officials are still operating an old-fashioned system, which does not cope at all satisfactorily with the increased amount of mail received by the Holy Father, and which has the effect of making the flock feel cut off from their shepherd who has inspired them in the first place. Perhaps the next twelve months will see them giving some attention to this side of the communication process. As for emails, those of us who have tried that system to contact the Holy Father, only do so now to register their support for him. There is absolutely no point in asking questions or making suggestions because you simply will not receive a reply.

As for the General Audience epsilon, I never miss it!!!! God bless and thanks again.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

email from from my contact in Rome

You may recall that in March I wrote to the Holy Father, humbly suggesting that perhaps a new invocation could be added to the Litany of Loreto, which would name Our Lady as Mother and Queen of priests. I received a reply signed by the Assessor at the Secretariat of State. His letter made no mention of my request and I felt that it was simply a standard letter, and strongly doubted that the idea had been presented to the Holy Father. Others were in accord with this feeeling and I was given two contacts to write to, one at Ecclesia Dei and the other at the Congregation for Clergy. The former has replied to me by email and I wish to share with you the burden of what he says. It is not good news I'm afraid, in the sense that it tends to confirm my own suspicions and those of several of you who have emailed me privately.

Based on what my contact tells me, here is a brief description of how the Holy Father's daily mountain of incoming mail is filtered by the Secretariat of State. In a case like mine, where a suggestion is being made, the letter will not get past the Assessor (No. 3 in the pecking order) unless there have been several thousand, if not millions of letters suggesting the same thing. If you do break through this barrier your letter goes to the Substitute (No. 2) and beyond that, to the Secretary of State himself (No. 1). I apologise to those of you who already know of this system. I repeat it here only because I know that it will be news to some of you. (All this being said, the Holy Father seems to know how much support he receives in his mail, and therefore without any proof at all, I think the system must divide letters into pro and anti, so I know you will not stop writing to tell him how much you pray for him, support him and love him.)

Of course there has to be a system of this kind. It would be ridiculously naive to imagine that the Holy Father sees every letter that is written to him. The problem is that the reply I received from the Assessor did not even mention my suggestion. So therefore I must assume that mine was the only letter of its kind. I am left utterly in the dark about whether that assumption is correct. Fortunately I know that prayer and penance is the only true and reliable recourse. Nevertheless I felt driven, as one of their resutlts, to write the letter, in which I said as much. I did what I felt I must do. It has come to nothing for the time being and I accept that with no difficulty at all and continue to pray all the while that this addition willl be made to the Litany.

My contact acknowledges that he is a mere official at the PCED and although he is himself of longstanding in that capacity, and sympathetic to my request, he is painfully honest that he cannot help me to further the cause, because he has absolutely no hope at all, in his position, of getting through to the Holy Father. He hopes that I may receive a more positive and authoritative response from Archbishop Piacenza at the Congregation for Clergy. (As yet I have heard nothing from the Congregation.) His reply to me was gentle, kind and painstaking. I have replied, letting him know of my gratitude and that he has made a friend for life. (We are more or less the same age.) And that I believe is the most important thing.

In Christo pro Papa

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Celibacy 'debate'

Well, I'm not sure its a debate, more a question of the Pope saying one thing, and his former student Cardinal Schonborn saying another. As always Sandro Magister is informative and thorough. Please see here and click the button in sidebar for English translation. The link tells you the page can't be found. Click the 'Did you mean....' suggestion and the right page should come up.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Half of France's Diocesan Priests are 75 or over

This information was published on Friday in the French daily Catholic newspaper "La Croix". It formed part of the paper's report on a recent statistical study.

There are 14,000 diocesan priests in France and the study found that 7,ooo of them have reached their 75th birthday and beyond, many of them being in advanced old age.

As for the ratio of priests to people, the national average has been worked out at one priest to every 5,200 inhabitants.

The situation in some urban dioceses is critical, for instance Bordeaux, Montpellier, and the suburbs of Paris, with for example at St. Denis, in the latter, one priest to 20,00 inhabitants.

Faced with this situation and the crisis of lack of vocations, the dioceses are calling upon non-incardinated, many of whom are not French; on Deacons; and on ordained members of religious orders. As an example at Pontoise which has 181 priests, there are 51 foreign priests (mostly Polish), 68 are from Religious Orders and only 62 are incardinated to Pontoise.

There does not seem to be any mention of the Traditional Fraternities in full communion with the Church, and which are flourishing in many parts of France, notably the FSSP (not to be confused with the SSPX). It would be disingenuous of me to give the impression that I don't know that the French Bishops' Conference seems largely against the idea of receiving any help from that quarter.

Please spare a prayer for France, the Church's "eldest daughter".

Monday, 24 May 2010

"Clerical Reform" and the rite of Ordination

In case you haven't already found this, the priest who authors the Clerical Reform blog, is posting an intermittent series on the Rite of Ordination. He has reached Part V in his latest post and began the series on May 12. All Parts are easily found on his blog archive as they are so recent.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

A plea for your prayers

Spiritual Mothers and friends, please pray for the priests of England, Wales and Scotland, lands of Martyrs, in the four months that remain before our Holy Father's visit. And for him above all.

In Christo pro Papa

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Pope Benedict Consecrates all priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Father Mark has the full text of the Holy Father's act of consecration, here at Vultus Christi.

Thank you Holy Father, and to Father Mark for making the text available so quickly.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Priestly news and a question about priestly duties

My apologies for absence. Explanations would be complicated and time-consuming. Please forgive me.

In the run-up to the end of the Year for Priests, some time ago the Holy Father said he was 'eager' to devote some of his weekly General Audiences to the three marks of the priesthood, - Teaching, Sanctifying and Governing. He began with the first aspect on April 14th and continued this last Wednesday with the second. (Full texts available at the Holy See Site) The third will in likelihood be delayed at least until May 26th because of his visit to Portugal next week, and he will probably devote his Audience of May 19th to a report on this trip. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear!

Two futher items:
Zenit report on Fr Popieluszko: his priesthood and patriotism; and 3,000 priests make pilgrimage to Czestoch0wa

My Question:
I read somewhere recently that the requirement that all priests should offer Mass and recite the Breviary daily, had been abolished. Somehow I missed said abolition. When did it happen? Can anyone clarify?

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Year for Priests: Worldwide surge in priests wishing to be with Pope for closing ceremonies.

On the subject of priests, this is the best piece of news to emerge over the past week. So numerous have been priestly applications that the Congregation for Clergy has been forced to extend its deadline for those who wish to be with the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square for the closing ceremony of this Sacerdotal Year.

"I know my own and my own know me." Yes indeed.

(Having trouble with the link to Catholic, where I read about this. I'm afraid you'll just have to trust me until I can sort it.)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Priests rally round the Holy Father in Rome

As the Zenit article points out, Wednesday's General Audience was marked by most enthusiastic support for the Pope. I cannot be the only one to have noticed, but everytime he has been under attack the faithful have turned out for the Audience/Angelus in considerably increased numbers, and each time have raised their voices to the extent that he can be left in no doubt as to the love and gratitude they feel towards him for doing what has to be done in the face of ignorant or deliberate calumny.

But this Wednesday, the priests of Rome were there too, accompanied by priests from other countries including the United States, and the Holy Father had a special message for them. Zenit interviewed some of them afterwards. If you have already read the report linked above, you will have found it a consolation in these difficult times. If you have not, then please do not miss it.

In Christo pro Papa

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pope Benedict catechises on the Priesthood, urges Priests to come to Rome Fr. Perini on changing the face of your parish;

The Holy Father devoted yesterday's General Audience to the teaching role of the priest. Read the full text here Referring to the imminent close of the Year for Priests, he identifies two other salient marks of priests, namely their sanctifying and governing roles. One trusts that he will deal with these in future audiences.

In a separate communication, via Cardinal Hummes, he has repeated his invitation to priests to come to Rome in early June and fill St. Peter's Square at the closing ceremonies of the Sacerdotal Year. See here

Father Perini is a Parish Priest in Milan. Read his interview here

Sunday, 11 April 2010


The priest who authors the 'Owl of the Remove' blog from his parish in the north of the United States, has a touching and salutary post today. After confessing that he had allowed himself to be distracted during the Triduum by the attacks on Pope Benedict and the Church, he reports on a phone call he received later from one of his parishioners, a mother of five. She told him to stop reading the news, that she and her family love him, and they love the Holy Father. God bless her for this. We can all be comforted and strengthened by the fact that throughout the world, during this difficult time, countless similar acts of loving solidarity with our priests are being shown to them. The Holy See press spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, let it be known in his recent statement that the Holy Father too, is receiving similar and notably strong support through the mail.

Deo gratias.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Please sign new petition in support of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Please investigate this site and sign the petition here It's international and already I spot Italian, French, Irish and English names. Grateful mantilla twitch to Annie of the LMS Arundel and Brighton blog (link on my Oasis blog). You should all keep an eye on Annie. She's often first with things!

In Christo pro Papa

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Morning 2010

To all Spiritual Mothers and friends, with my prayers for a holy and peaceful Easter.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Cardinal Ruini's Meditations for tonight's 'Via Crucis' from the ColosseumMe

Our Holy Father will preside at this event, to be televised live on EWTN and kto tv (8.15pm UK time). Here's a link to the full text which you may like to print off beforehand. (14 pages)
Please note printer-friendly format in the righthand menu of the Zenit site.

With my prayers for you all,

In Christo pro Papa

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Fr Cantalamessa's 3rd Lenten Homily; Fr Bux's Meditation on the priest and the Paschal Triduum

May I recommend these if you haven't already found them:

Fr Cantalamessa's homily is here and Fr Bux's Meditation is here

With my prayers for a holy Holy Week

In Christo pro Papa

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dutch Archbishop echoes Pope's teaching on Priesthood

Prelate Urges Prayer Life before Social Life
Laments Priests with a "lack of spiritual content" .......because they put their social work before their spiritual life".

"Archbishop Eijk of Utrecht voiced his concern......when he gave an address with the title 'Between the Spiritual Vocation and the Social Role' at a conference held held this month in the Pontifical Lateran University on the occasion of the Year for Priests."

A full report is here.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Priest in the Communion Rites

For this article by Paul Gunter O.S.B. please see here

I commend it because it does something the Holy Father has recommended. Namely that we look calmly and sensibly at both forms of the Roman Rite...........................

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Pope Benedict XVI: Two recent addresses on aspects of priesthood; Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Homily

1. Confession a Central Pasoral Concern. Vatican City March 11 2010

"It is necessary to turn to the Confessional."

Go here for a translation of the address Pope Benedict delivered upon receiving in audience participants of the course promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

2a) Address to Priesthood Congress organised by the Congregation for Clergy. Vatican City March 12 2010

"There is a great need for priests that speak of God."

Link to translation here.

2b) On the above "Hermeneutic of Priestly Continuity" Fr Mark writes on Vultus Christi:

"I was inspired to offer a little commentary on the brilliant address that the Holy Father gave this morning to the International Theological Conference 'Fidelity of Christ; Fidelity of the Priest' organised by the Congregation for Clergy."

Thank you as always Father, for breaking the address into helpfully headed sections and then giving your comment on each one.

Go to Vultus Christi to read in full.

3. Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Homily given Friday March 12 in the presence of the Holy Father.

"Christ Offered Himself to God"

To read English Translation go here

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Spiritual Mothers and Friends

A joyful 'Laetare' Sunday, and Mothering Sunday to you and all your 'sons' in Holy Orders.

Please pray for me, and for Colin, the dear husband who has to put up with me...............

With my prayers always,

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Call and a Suggestion from Fr. Mark: Novena to St Joseph

Most of you have probably already started this, but in case there's anyone else like me who missed the relevant posts on Vultus Chisti, here are the direct links:

For the St. Joseph Novena go here

In a more recent post entitled "In Our Struggle with the Powers of Darkness", Father concentrates on the figure of another Joseph, our Holy Father Pope Benedict, and records "the impression that. as the Year of the Priesthood draws to a close, the forces of evil are trying desperately to discredit the Holy Father and to disfigure the face of the Church. Days of shame and darkness have come upon Our Lord's beloved priests in so many countries........"

Oh how many Catholics do we all know, perhaps ourselves included, who feel the same, and with it a terrible sense of impotence. But Father suggests that there is in fact a cause for hope, and invites us to pray the St. Joseph Novena "for the Joseph whom God has set over the household of His Church: Pope Benedict XVI....................... It is no coincidence that in these days of battle against the powers of darkness, the Successor of Peter bears the name of Joseph, protector of the universal Church. The providential designs of God are often revealed in such details."

Father then recommends the prayer to St. Joseph written by Pope Leo XIII and quotes it in full. (see link to article above.) It is he says "perhaps more suitable today that when it was written". We can, as is done in many places, add it at the end of our Rosaries, and for good measure, incorporate in into the Novena as well.

As I always say when begging people's prayers for Our Holy Father, if you offer those prayers, you not only support him personally, but you pray as he does, for all Our Lord's beloved priests.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

An Easter Gift for our Spiritual Sons?

This link will lead you to a substantial review of the recently published "The Grace of Ars" by Fr. F.L. Miller of Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Ennitsburg, Maryland. The book has a foreword by Archbishop Raymond Burke and there is a direct link to Amazon at the foot of the second page of the review. Best price $9.70; best price new $10.85.
"It is not too much to say that Pope Benedict's entire programme for the Year for Priests is contained in Fr Miller's outstanding book." Dr J. Mirus (review author at Catholic Culture)

And today's articles of interest:
1. Vatican Teaches Young Priests How to Hear Confession.
This week-long course which began yesterday, is being run by the Apostolic Penitentiary. Pope Benedict will address participants at the end of the week. Further description here.

2. Is Priestly Celibacy Psychologically Dangerous?
Interview with Psychiatrist and Professor. See here

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Four pieces of news to gladden our hearts ....

For Spain:
Father Jose Tous 1811-71 who died whilst celebrating Mass is to be beatified in Barcelona on October 25.

Carmen Elena Villa writes from Rome, "It is said that the life of Father Jose Tous was a continuous Mass. Perhaps that is why he was called to heaven precisely as he celebrated Mass, right after the consecration." Read her full article here

For Australia:
Vocation boom follows World Youth Day in Sydney
The archdiocese is seeing a record number of young men entering its seminary. Vocations to religious life have risen as well, following a pattern that has been observed in other archdioceses that have hosted the WYD events. For link to further details go here

For Peru
Making space for God in a Communications world - Priest-Blogger Tells His Experience of Evangelisation
Fr Tamayo admits that being on Facebook means he sometimes has to endure "rather irreverent jokes". But he said the most gratifying part of evengelisation through the media is hearing someone say they've been converted or found clarity reading his words. Fr recently gave an interview during which he reflected on Benedict XVI's message for this year's World Day of Social Communications, which focuses on priests' use of the media.
Here's the link to the full interview.

For the Holy Father and the Roman Curia
Father Cantalamessa: Why Christianity is like no other...
Explains what makes Grace hard to accept
Go here for a full report on Father's first Lenten sermon given yesterdayin the presence of Pope Benedict and the Curia. Further Sermons will follow March 12 and 26. March 19 is omitted because of the celebration of St. Joseph's feast.

On Sunday, that is tormorrow, kto will televise live coverage of the Holy Father's visit to the Roman Parish of St John of the Cross. 9am European time, (8am in the UK). Angelus at the usual time and repeat videos available on the channel later in the day.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A Rural French Funeral

Please see my Oasis blog for a report on the funeral of Madame Marie-Antoinette Bonnet. R.I.P.

Pope Benedict and the Priesthood

ADDRESS TO ROMAN SEMINARIANS - "Prayer...Becomes a Process of Purification our Our Thoughts" Full text of the Holy Father's address delivered February 12 during his bisit to Rome's Major Seminary on the feast of Our Lady of Trust. See here

Part 1 "The Priest's Mission is to be a Mediator, a Bridge that Connects" See here
Part 2 "Being a Servant of the Eucharist is....a Depth of the Priestly Mystery" See here

Vatican Newspaper Underlines how Pope Benedict fulfils his Pastoral Role
Read this highly recommended critique here

Pope Benedict thanks Fr Enrico for Lenten Retreat on Renewal of Priesthood. See here

Monday, 1 March 2010

Saint Romain: Last Thursday Holy Mass; tomorrow a Funeral

Next post delayed until Wednesday evening. Please pray for the soul of Madame Bonnet, R.I.P.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

"Is a Strong Priesthood in the World's Future?"

"Prayer, Liturgy Seen as Pillars of Renewal"

A highly recommended article by Fr Massimo Canisasca, clearly a priest after the heart of Pope Benedict. His writing bears the hall marks of one who has been listening and learning from our Holy Father for some considerable time. Go here to read it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Spiritual Mothers of Priests and Friends: Recent Items and Articles of Interest

First may I draw your attention to the Eucharistic Adoration for Priests site. Thank you to my dear friend in Nebraska for alerting me to this link It is now in the sidebar bloglist for your future convenience. It's impossible to recommend this site highly enough!

The following articles are at Zenit - link at bottom of bloglist or here
Articles: 28403 'A Peek at the Pope's Retreat'; 28404 'Twin Priests'; 28407 'Priest Killed in Mexico'; 28410 'The Priest in the Offertory of the Mass'; 28427 'The Pope is a Model for Living Lent'.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Thursday after Ash Wednesday 2010: Rural France: The first Mass in our village Church for 17 years.

Saint Bernadette's day in France

We were given very little warning, just under two hours to be exact, although a notice had been put in the village shop window in the morning (in amongst all the Lotto adverts), which we had missed. Fortunately our attention was drawn to it in the late afternoon and we were able to go.

A new priest has been assigned to our Canton and will have the care of 24 paishes, including ours! What an assignment! He is very young and I think may be a Dominican on loan to the Diocese. Please pray for him. His name is Fr Florian Marchand. In spite of the large number of parishes, he told us after Mass that he is determined to get to them all on a regular rota, so our next Mass will be sometime round about Easter. When you have lived in a village for all this time and had thought that Mass would never be celebrated here again, his assurance was music to the ears. I wished him a happy Year of the Priest and his eyes lit up. We are still walking on the air of joy and thanksgiving. What a wonderful gift from Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and Saint Bernadette with which to begin Lent.

More details as time allows.

Pope Benedict's Annual Spiritual Excercises: Details released

The Pope's seven day retreat begins on Sunday. It will feature 17 meditations, preached by Father Enrico dal Covolo S.D.B. These will focus on the priestly vocation and Monday will be dedicated to prayer for priestly vocations. As usual there will be no papal audiences during the week and the General Audience on Wednesday is also suspended. See here for futher details.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Lenten blogging decisions

Dear Spiritual Mothers and Friends, this is just to let you know that from now until Easter I intend to post only twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I'm hoping this will be enough to keep you posted about news that other blogs have not reported, and also to let you know of any progress I may make in the invocation of the English and Welsh Martyrs, which I'm hoping will be a special feature of myLenten life this year.

With my prayers that you all will have a blessed Ash Wednesday and a holy and fruitful Lent,

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Lenten Reading plan based on St. Jean Vianney's writings

Very many thanks to Fr Jerabek of Huntsville Alabama for making this 72 page plan available in an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. There is a reading for every day of Lent and the plan goes through 'many of the catecheses, exhortations and sermon excerpts' of St. Jean Vianney'.

Father has prepared three other plans which are also very attractive, but I thought that this one may be of specific interest to spiritual mothers and friends. Go here for link to details of all the plans and click the title of your choice to access the file you wish to read or print.

Mantilla twitch to Fr Finigan for alerting me to this on 'The Hermeneutic of Continuity'.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Imprisoned Vietnamese priest reported in worsening condition

Catholic Culture carried this report on February 9th.

" A Vietnamese priest imprisoned for his human-rights advocacy is in 'rapidly deteriorating condition, according to the US Commission on Religious Freedom. Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, who was sentenced to an 8-year prison term in 2007 because of his involvement in a democracy movement, has now spent 16 of his 61 years in jail. Thye American human rights group called attention to his plight as a way of highlighting Vietnames violations against civil liberties and religious freedom."

Please go here for a report from Asia News.

Our Lady of Lourdes

G. P. Palestrina, Alma Redemptoris Mater

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Urgent prayer request for an English diocesan priest who has suffered a breakdown

I beg your prayers for this young priest, and to whose plight I was alerted this afternoon by one of our devoted English spiritual mothers. In order to protect him, I cannot give further details. If any priests happen to read this, please Fathers, offer Holy Mass for your brother in his hour of need.

St Scholastica

Dear and loving St. Scholasica, pray for all your brother's 'sons', particularly the ordained, and especially for Father Mark Daniel Kirby O.S.B. in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Prayer for the Bishops and Priests of Germany and Ireland

After reading these two news reports with their linked articles, many Spiritual Mothers and Friends will wish to prioritize the hierachies and priests of Germany and Ireland in their prayers.

1. "Mounting German Abuse Scandal: nearly 100 Church workers suspected"
Source: Catholic Culture, whose report gives link to three others on the matter. Access them all here

2. "Dublin's Archbishop Martin rejects complaints about his stand on abuse"
Source: also at Catholic Culture, whose report links to accounts in the Irish Independent and the Belfast Telegraph. See here

Both items bear today's date.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Holy Mary, 'Mother of Priests', pray for us

I think it was January 4 this year when I posted that I intended to write to the Holy Father begging him to sanction a new invocation into the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) which would honour Our Lady as Mother and Queen of clergy. Other matters have in the meanwhile intervened to prevent the writing of that letter. but I have never forgotten it, and during the last month, Fr Mark has let me know that he thinks this would represent a worthy plea; and then at this last Sunday's Angelus, Pope Benedict himself referred to Our Lady as 'Mother of Priests'. I will now write the letter, hoping that it will reach our Holy Father on or before the feast of St. Joseph. I will be gladdened and strenghtened by any support you may send via comment or email, and when the letter is written will here reproduce its relevant parts.

The major impetus in this plea to the Holy Father, is the fervent desire that the spirit of this Year of the Priest, should be perpetually represented before Our Lady in her Litany.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Pray the Rosary for your bishop, wherever you are.

Very many thanks to a faithful reader and dear friend for this link:

Next post on Monday.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Spiritual Mothers and Friends: Having difficulty finding a Spiritual Director?

Whilst you are still searching, Fr Mark Kirby highly recommends the following book by Blessed Columba Marmion: " Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction". It is available here at Zaccheus Press price $14.95 and contains 233 pages. It's also available at for British buyers, but they have only used copies available at the equivalent of double the Zaccheus price in sterling.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

An Anglican Canon sends sad news

I have known Russell since we met as students 46 years ago. He is a close and very dear friend. After being ordained to Anglican ministry, he gained parish experience through postings as a curate. He then became a University Chaplain, first at Durham and then at Leicester. For many years he was Training Officer for the Diocese of Bath and Wells and a Canon of Wells Cathedral He is well known and loved as a Retreat Director. I doubt he will give up that work completely even though he retired only a year ago. Russel has never married, devoting his whole life to his work, to his mother and to his many, many friends., among whom I am privileged and proud to be numbered.

Russel's mother Joyce has also been a dear friend since 1964 and who showed me unstinting and tireless compassion and Christian love during a very dark period of my own life. I knew before Christmas that Joyce was very ill. Nevertheless, it was still a terrible shock to receive news from Russell this morning that she died on January 25th. The news came by post because he had tried to contact me via my old, now cancelled freeserve address. He tells me: "Joyce's Requiem Mass will be on February 9 at 1.45pm at St. Mary's Church, Stanwell, Middlesex." He knows I will not be able to attend but asks for my prayers. He continues that after Christmas Joyce had refused any further chemo or invasive treatment. "She knew what she wanted and trusted that God would call her in His own good time."

I would be most grateful if you would offer a prayer for Joyce and for her grieving Russell.

In the meantime I don't intend to post here again until Friday.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Spiritual Mothers and Friends: A personal plea for your prayers

It distresses me to say this, but many priests, according to their own confreres, are cold towards their, and our, loving Lord in the tabernacles of the world. It is a matter of urgency that we pray for priests like Fr McBrien, who is challenged by Fr. Barron in the video here. It's not a new video but I watch it whenever I feel unhappy. I have put up this post in response to the witness and prompting of one of our Lord's beloved priests. Please pray with us. We must not waste time!!

Thank you Father Barron; Father McBrien please listen.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pray4apriest Cards update

Have just received some good news from my Birmingham sister at St John Fisher

She has updated me as to the activities in one of the local Catholic primary schools. Apparently all the teachers have been asked to choose a priest to whom their class will send cards, promising him that they are praying for him. It's been suggested that they show the children a picture of the priest and talk to them about his life and the work he does in his parish. One teacher has already produced her own cards for the younger children to colour in and another will suggest to the older children that they write their own message inside the card.

I pray that these ideas will spread throughout the Catholic Primary schools of the United Kingdom and beyond, and I thank my 'sister' for approaching this school in Birmingham.

Meanwhile in Rome today after the Angelus the young spokesperson for about 5,000 youngsters present in the square below, told the Holy Father, "Papa, we love you."

Friday, 29 January 2010 Prayer Pack

This site is already in the sidebar here.

This morning I received a sample pack from my sister in Birmingham (St John Fisher) . I am most grateful to her. Follow the link to see what the pack consists of. I'm now wearing my 'pray for a priest bracelet' which acts as a constant reminder to pray with and for my spiritual sons, and my spiritual fathers.. If you order 5 packs or more, they are only $1.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fr Gordon Macrae: His latest post left the deepest impression yesterday

It was a hectic day, and it's being followed by another one, but Father Macrae is one of two priests uppermost in my prayers and mind, as I'm sure he is in yours. In his latest post on 'These Stone Walls', he tells about the complicated business that has to be gone through for his blog to be published, and about all the restrictions he suffers in the prison, most of which seem deliberately designed to suffocate his soul. The fact that Father writes in such a matter-of-fact way about all this, makes the account even more heart-rending.

During the afternoons I make my spiritual Adoration and Communion. I'll be going to Father's 'virtual chapel' for about an hour very shortly now. This virtual chapel is a wonderful idea, especially for people who are unable to get to church as often as they would like. Thank you Father and Suzanne in Australia who works so hard for TSW to reach us all.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Vatican DVD: "Year for Priests"

This would make a wonderful memento of the Year, or a gift for someone you want to make more aware of its importance.. It costs only 9.90 euros and is available in Italian, English and Spanish. Details of how to order are at the end of this post. If you are in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, or another country outside the euro zone you can pay be credit card over the phone. Here is a description of the DVD from the distributor, Vatican DVDs and Books.

" A fascinating journey that explores the mission of the priest, narrates the vocation of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, presents the patron saint of priests, the Cure d'Ars, explains the ordination ritual, and takes the audience from an international seminary in Rome to the place of the first Eucharist, the Cenacle in Jerusalem. A personal testimony on the very call that unites Cardinals like Joseph Zen (China),Ocar Rdriques Maradiaga (Honduras), Julian Herranz (Spain), and Francis Arinze (Nigeria) to tell how they discovered their priestly vocation. The special report includes an interview with Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and chief organiser of the Year for Priests."

Contact Caterina Giobbio at
Her phone number is 0039 02 58 30 59 49. I assume one omits the zero after the international code, if calling from outside Italy.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Dear Spiritual Mothers and friends

I'm so deeply distressed and worried about our English and Welsh bishops in Rome for their ad limina visit, that I cannot post here again until tomorrow. Prayer and a good night's sleep is necessary. I beg your support in the former, not for me but for our Holy Father and the English and Welsh bishops. (See the Oasis blog for further details and explanations..)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Two more sites for Spiritual Mothers

These two will go into sidebar tomorrow.
The first has a school connection which is excellent
The second is

Thanks to my 'sister' at St. John Fisher, birmingham, UK, for sending thsese in.

Conversion of St Paul

(image: Brooklyn Museum)

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Spiritual Mothers and Friends: Please join me in prayer for the English/Welsh ad limina

Tomorrow, the English and Welsh bishops begin their ad limina visit to the Pope. It is long overdue because of the change of Pope five years ago. That is not the only reason why I beg your assistance in prayer. I address my remarks to those of you to whom our Islands are distant and not at all well known. You see, England and Wales are so small in comparison with the USA, that the Conference numbers only 21 bishops, not counting auxiliaries. In the American, and even French Conferences, there is room for healthy and influential support of Pope Benedict's 'reform of the reform'. This is not the case in England and Wales where the Conference is largely of a 'liberal cast'. Some would go so far as to say that they have a stranglehold. It is not healthy, however strongly or weakly, you state the case, or indeed, whatever your own views about Pope Benedict's pontificate, and I say this whilst knowing that most of my readers are fully aware that I an unswervingly loyal to him.

This blog is not the place to go more deeply into our situation. If I post on these matters in any detail, my musings will be found on my Oasis blog. And even there, I tend to put prayer first, as you will see from my current post - "The Eve of the English Welsh Ad limina: Prayer before Punditry" l beg you to go there and join me in praying the special Litany that I've composed for the Holy Father, our bishops and the flock in England and Wales. (Link in sidebar here to 'Thoughts from an Oasis....")

Thank you for your time spent in reading this. God bless all here.

St Francis de Sales

St Francis de Sales, pray for us!

(image: Heimsuchungskloster, Oberonning, Bavaria/Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Present Pressing Priorities:

Eucharistic Adoration and Communion
Double Novena
Twice daily Rosary


The (separate) ad limina visits to the Pope by the English & Welsh, and Scottish bishops. The E & W one begins on next Monday. Have not yet found date for the Scots' one. One site said it would follow immediately after the E & W one, and another, that it would take place later in the month of February.

Our Holy Father's intentions, health and well being
The same in regard to Father Mark Kirby and matters concerning his Cenacle of the Holy Face Monastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

All priests, but especially those who are wrongfully imprisoned, and those whose hearts are cold towards Our Lord in His presence in the tabernacle.

Spiritual Mothers everywhere, especially my readers, followers and friends of this blog.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Holy Father shares memories of Seminary and Ordination

These are not just random reminiscences but a precious mini-homily on the meaning of entering the Seminary and later Ordination, which is made all the more vivid and real because Pope Benedict shows it to us through his own personal experiences. Read the full report here.

Thank you Holy Father for sharing this with all of us. Please God, you and we may celebrate with joy and thanksgiving, your 60th anniversary of priesthood on June 29th next year.
Ad multos annos!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Holy Face at Manoppello: Sister Blandina Part 3

Sister asked permission to live at Manoppello as a Trappist hermit and to continue her research of the Holy Face. She decided to do this because the image of Jesus on the Veil seemed to her to have been deserted without a community to love or worship Him. There is a community of Capuchins, who as you have read, are keepers of the Sanctuary, but theirs is not one devoted to constant contemplation. This would indeed be difficult with only six members whose are constantly in demand as Confessors as a result of the increase in pilgrims since Pope Benedict's visit. Towards the end of the interview Sister makes the following plea:

"I would like a community devited ti tge cintemplation of God's face to be formed to experience the presence of Jesus Christ and sing His praises."

Also at the very end Sister tells us that a Russian recently visited the Sanctuary and bought three images of the Holy Face, painted on glass. She has since heard that one of these is to be given to the Patriarch of Moscow. It is comforting to know that both our Pope and the Patriarch will now have a personal copy.

Sister was also asked how she felt about passing her life in contemplation of the Holy Face at Manoppello. Here is her reply:

"At first I did not intend to stay here seeking the Holy Face. I think that Jesus used my life to carry out His plan, which I was completely unaware of and of which I was a modest instrument. In my opinion, God intended to reveal His son to His poor children of the 21st century; He sought and found people to help Him carry out His plan, knowingly or unknowingly. As for me, I can only thank thosewho gace me their help along this journey with their means and their highest spiritual vision and those who supported me with their prayers. "

Sister then goes on to speak further about the unique nature of the Holy Face on the Veil:

"While the Eucharist can be celebrated everywhere - for this reason I wouldn't have left my monastery in Germany, since Jesus is present in the Eucharist everywhere - with the Manoppello Veil, He does even more: He manifests Himself. "
(Sister clearly believes that the face on the Veil IS truly that of Our Lord, and in her case that it is the face of Our Lord after His resurrection, and further, as I suggested in a previous post, that somehow, and in a way which we may never know, this true Face was imprinted on the Veil and then because it is God's will, it has survived to the present day.

I'm not sure whether the interview was in German, Italian or English, but if in Italian, perhaps it is the translation into "He does even more:" which gives the impression that Sister thinks the Veil is more important than the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. I really find it difficult to believe she would have wanted to give that impression. Or perhaps Sister was not speaking her native German and that is how such an impression could be given. Perhaps Father Mark could shed light on how well Sister speaks English or Italian. Even if the Face on the Veil IS truly that of Jesus, it is just that, the human Face He had when he dwelt among us. It surely cannot be claimed, like the Blessed Sacrament, to contain, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Of course, whether one believes it is the True Face imprinted there by some divine artistry, or that it was humanly wrought in a way not yet discovered, the contemplation of that Face should lead us to deeper adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, to a greater longing to be united with Him in Holy Communion, and inspire us to greater faith in Our Lord's Presence and a more profound recollection, before, during and after our reception of the Sacrament.

However she continues:
"The first commandment loving God. Love means worship and contemplation. I can do this here; it is always possible to worship and contemplate God in spirit. Yet God Incarnate has a unique , which I can only contemplate here at Manoppello."

Readers may not want to know what I feel about the Holy Face at Manoppello, but on balance I think it would be an evasion not to tell you. I tend to the belief that it is the True Face of Our Lord but at what point between His Passion and Ascension into heaven, I do not know and am happy to remain in that ignorance for as long as the Lord wills; I admire Sister Blandina beyond measure and am grateful to her for her long years of patient, devoted and productive research and study; and I am convinced there is a relation between the images on the Shroud and on the Veil (Even on the several pictures of both that I have, I can recognize this. ) Moreover, it wasn't the fact that the Holy Father visited Mannoppello that has helped my conviction. No, that was achieved by his mien and what he said whilst there. Should I ever have the remotest opportunity, I will visit the Sanctuary taking with me the mental images of that mien, and a copy of what he said. My pigrimage would be to the end that the Veil at Manoppello will lead me, and all of us to a deeper faith in, and contemplative adoration of, Our Lord in his Eucharistic presence, His Eucharistic Face. And most importantly as a spiritual mother, my prayer would be for priests, particularly those who have grown cold toward Him in the tabernacles of the world, and those who argue that Eucharistic Adoration and/or Exposition is unnecessary, irrelevant, and a backward step. Most of us pray thus for priests each day in any case, but to do so before the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Face at Manoppello would be something unutterably special.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Holy Face at Manoppello: Sister Blandina Part 2

As yesterday's, this post based on the interview with Sister in the November 2009 issue of Inside the Vatican.

Difficulties that faced Sister Blandina:

As Sister says, these "came from the fact that it is impossible to recognise the face of the Manoppello Veil in the Holy Shroud while is is sometimes possible to recognise the face of the Shroud in the image of Manoppello, for example, in the shadow. In my opinion this dissimilitude is traceable to the fact that the Shroud shows the face of Jesus dead, whereas the Manoppello Veil shows the face of Jesus risen from the dead."

Sister was then asked whether it is dangerous to say to modern man that there is an authentic image of the Resurrected Lord. She replied:
"Yes, but we must say it. Also we must say that the Holy Face is the document providing evidence of Jesus' resurrection in the same way as the Shroud proves His passion and death on the cross. In my opinion the image on the Manoppello Veil cannot be Jesus face before death, since though it definitely shows the face of a living person, it is a face bearing the marks of death."

At this point in all humility I would have liked to have asked her to describe those marks in a little more detail. The Shroud shows the whole body, whilst the Veil image shows only the face. If there are marks of the Crown of Thorns, those were inflicted before the crucifixion; if there is a bruise on the left hand side of the nose, there are many points during the Passion when this could have been sustained. Can sister bring evidence to prove that the face of the person on the Manoppello Veil suffered death by crucifixion? Without such proof could, not one be forgiven for thinking that it may after all be the 'Veronica Veil', or since that is widely thought to be legend, a veil that was used at some point during the Passion to wipe the face of our Beloved Jesus before His crucifixion?

It may seem a strange thing to say but I think of the Holy Face at Manoppello, as I have always felt about the Shroud of Turin. Science may never prove that either of them is, or is not, the true Holy image of Our Lord. That doesn't matter either. My belief is that both images have been preserved because it is God's will that we may see them, and thus be drawn to contemplate and adore the human form and face of our Lord. But contemplation and adoration function at other deeper levels, as I believe our Holy Father was indicating in his addresses when he visited Manoppello. The Shroud and the Veil are holy and should be venerated so that they may help us to approach and perhaps reach those deeper levels.

All the above is not to say anything at all against the dedication of Sister Blandina. Far from it. In the final post of this 'Holy Face' series, I'll consider the final part of the interview with Sister about her own vocation, and I think you will see what I mean.

I have to go shopping now and it is a horrible wrench to leave the subject. I may edit and add to this post later.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Haiti: Important special report

Dear Spiritual Mothers and Friends, by an oversight a post meant for you, was published on my Oasis blog. Please read the post there but here is the link anyway.

It's in French but I think you'll find that it won't impede the understanding of non-Francophones.

The Holy Face at Manoppello : Sister Blandina: Part I

Based on the same 'Inside the Vatican' article as the previous post, this one will look at Sister's background and her first encounter with the Holy Face veil.

Sister Blandina Paschalis Schloman:

1943 Born at Karisbad-Aich , Germany
1962 Left school and joined Missionary Sisters of Jesus' Precious Blood
1965 Specialises in mosaic painting and Conducts her first study of the Holy Shroud of Turin
1966 Begins study of Pharmaceutics at University of Wurzburg and Bonn
1973 Enters the Trappist order
1976 Begins the study of Icons in France
1979 Is shown a photograph of the Holy Face of Manoppello in a magazine. It is the first time she has seen or heard of it.
1984 She contacts tow Holy Shroud specialists. begins a comparative study of the Shroud and the Manoppello Face
1991 Produces first superimpositions of the two images.
1998 She exhibits 27 panels known collectively as 'Face of Faces. these show the coincidence ot the images on the Shroud and on the Veil. The panels are now on display at Manoppello and I do hope the Holy Father had time to visit them when he was there in 2006.

Sister's reaction on first seeing the magazine photograph: "I didn't even want to look at it, as I believed that the only image of Christ's face was that of the Holy Shroud (I had read all the German Literature about it.) Yet I was deeply impressed by the look of that face and, in compliance of what I felt to be Jesus' will. I eventually resolved to find out whether that image was in any way related to the Lord."
From the article that accompanied the photograph Sister learned that the Shroud and Veil images were the same size. She cotinues: "Obstinate as I was, I tried to disprove that statement. So I begain to study this subject which easily fitted in with my new activity of icon painting. As I compared the two images, I realised they referred to the same person.

Sister proved, at least to her own satisfaction, that the images on Shroud and Veil showed the same asymmetry. and so she began to think that the face on the Veil was also the Face of Christ. Speaking in 2009 she says "Throughout these years I've done nothing but compare the two images with new photographs and photocopies." Further she says, that in 1991 she was "able to notice the coincidence of the wounds and other details: in other words, the two images showed the same person."

Next post: Difficulties, dangers and Sister's present convictions about the Veil at Manoppello.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pope Benedict and the Holy Face at Manoppello -Part 3

Answers to some questions (based on the ITV interview):

Has the visit of Pope Benedict affected the number of pilgrims visiting the Sanctuary of the Holy Face?
Most definitely, yes. On the date of his visit, Yahoo news gave the annual number of pilgrims at around 250,ooo. In the ITV interview Fr Carmine Cucinelli the Sanctuary's Rector, said that in the year preceding the interview (2008-9) 600,000 souls had made the pilgrimage.

Where do the pilgrims come from?
Before the Pope's visit the Holy Face at Manoppello was little known, even in Italy. Many Italians were surprised to hear of its existence. Now, it is world famous and people come from 'America and other countries like the Philippines'. The most impressive national cohort is definitely the Polish one. Never a day goes by without the arrival of at least one coach-load of Polish pilgrims and on many days there are three or four Polish coaches. Fr Cucinelli remebers one day when there were seven.

What further developments have there been which indicate increased interest in the Holy Face? People have begun to write in asking for images and picture postcards. For this reason information on the Sanctuary and its religious meaning has been translated into 10 languages and a four language website has been set up. Here's the link again:

Are there any books on the subject?
Yes there are three, by Paul Badde, Sister Blandina and Fr Pfeiffer respectively but according to Fr Cucinelli they are only published in Germany. Come on Ignatius Press! Please do something about this!

Has any research been conducted recently?
1. Researchers from L'Aquila University carried out surveys with an infrared ray camera. At the time of the interview results were awaited. (No mention is made of the earthquake which perhaps may have destroyed these results.)
2. The director of the Audiovisual Technique and Image Semiotics at Gdansk University in Poland has taken pictures that prove the veil is not a painting. A Raman laser survey has been carried out. this makes use of a graph to identify the components of the material analysed. This has been twice applied to the veil bearing the Holy Face and each time the result has been the same: only the protein of watered silk is present on the points analysed.

Does this fully confirm that the Veil is not a painting?
Here is Father Cucinelli's answer in full: "Definitely: it's not a painting since there's no trace of minerals or other substances. The exam detected only one protein which is in all likelihood that of watered silk. Another survey has been carried out too: a specialist from the National Council of Research took three-dimensional photographs to detect the thickness and the numbers of layers of the Veil. We are waiting for the results, which will certainly be of great interest."

Has the case holding the veil ever been opene?
No, in order to avoid the risk of damaging the veil.

Have their been other decelopments as a result of Pope Benedict's visit?
Yes. When he went there, our Holy Father raised the Sanctuary to the status of basilica. This means that a Plenary Indulgence can be gained by visiting the Sanctuary on any of the following days (there are others, please make enquiries at the Sanctuary website, or by writing a letter.)
1. Festivals related to the Holy Face -third Sunday of May and August 6th .
2. Festivals related to the Holy Father - Feb 22 St. Peter's Chair; June 29 SS Peter & Paul; April April 19 Anniversary of Pope Benedict's election; September 22 Anniversary of the raising of the Sanctuary to basilica status.

How has this affected the life and work of the Franciscan community who are keepers of the Sanctuary?
Fr Cucinelli's reply: "Two friars stay in the church all day long to receive the pilgrims (our community is now made up of six priests). The arrival of so many pilgrims has considerably increased the work of our confessors. Our only problem is languages, as our community is made up of Italian friars who speak some English and Spanish, but we need speakers of other languages like Polish."

A prayer for help from Polish speaking priests is implicit in Father's last sentence, and indeed a prayer for vocations to his community. I'm sure that Spiritual Mothers and their friends will want to bear this in mind.

Next post will be about Sister Blandina's life and contribution to the life of the Sanctuary. It will also report some of her recent thoughts and convictions about the Holy Face image itself.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Pope Benedict and the Holy Face of Manoppello Part 2

Anyone unfamiliar with the Sanctuary of the Holy Face should realise that the Veil, which is kept under glass, is of a material so fine as to be almost transparent. It can therefore be viewed from both sides which explains what happens in the video.

The veil is believed to have been in Manoppello since 1506 and was donated to the Sanctuary in 1638. Our Holy Father's visit was the highlight of 500th anniversary celebrations which went on all year in 2006. I believe he is the first Pope ever to have visited the shrine.

I've been unable to find other footage of the visit but Joan Lewis gives an outline of the occasion (see link in earlier post). On arrival outside the small shrine Pope Benedict was greeted by a crowd of about 7,000 faithful. In a brief speech before going inside, he told them:

"I see that the Church is a large family. Wherever the Pope goes the family meets with great joy. For me this is a sign of lively faith, of communion and of the peace that faith creates, and I am deeply grateful to you for this welcome." In closing, he revisited and explained his opening perception.

"As the Psalms say, we are all 'seeking the Face of the Lord'. And this is also the meaning of my Visit. Let us seek together to know the Face of the Lord even better, and in the Face of the Lord let us find this impetus of love and peace which also reveals to us the path of our life."

After the Holy Father went into the Shrine, the events shown in the video took place. He was then presented with gifts and addressed the assembly of priests, seminarians and those in consecrated life. Joan Lewis rightly points out, ".....the Pope did not state - nor has the Church - that the icon (?*) is indeed the face of the Saviour". (*my question mark). No, he did not, but as usual drew a deeper meaning and taught a deeper lesson. (You can read his entire address by googling 'Pope Benedict XVI Speeches'. Choose the site of the Holy See and when you reach it, click and scroll until you come to September 1st, 2006.)

Here are extracts from the first paragraph:
"First of all, I must once again say a heartfelt 'thank you' for this welcome............for the expression of your friendship and for the deeply meaningful gifts: the Face of Christ venerated here, for me, for my house,.................... I simply want to thank the Lord for today's simple family meeting in a place where we can meditate on the mystery of divine love, contemplating the image of the Holy Face."

Then comes a hint perhaps that the visit had not been widely publicised. in accordance with the Pope's express wishes. He thanked those present for "the dedication and discretion with which you have supported my private pilgrimage, which nevertheless as an ecclesial pilgrimage cannot be entirely private."

The clergy and religious present were then especially thanked and given a beautiful message.
"You are people whom I like to think of as in love with Christ, attracted by him and determined to make your own life a continous quest for his Holy Face." This struck a deep chord in me, because it is how I 'like the think' of Pope Benedict himself.

Having been unable to find footage of this speech being delivered, I cannot know how much was read from a script and how much was an extempore departure. However, the Holy Father goes on: "During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River........." He then spends a further two pages, in fact the majority of his address, expounding to them the details of his own meditation before the Holy Face. It is an astounding privilege to know and learn from what the Holy Father was thinking as he gazed at the Manoppello image. I implore you to read it in full but will allow myself one final quote here. In reference to the Psalmist's 'clean hands and a pure heart', our Holy Father said, "Clean hands, that is a life illumined by the truth of love that overcomes indifference, doubt, falsehood and selfishness; and pure hearts are essential too, hearts enraptured by divine beauty, as the little Teresa of Lisieux says in her prayer to the Holy Face, hearts stamped with the hallmark of the Face of Christ.
Dear priests, if the holiness of the Face of Christ remains impressed within you, pastors of Christ's flock, do not fear: the faithful entrusted to your care will also be infected with it and transformed."

The immediate effects of the Manoppello visit are in the Holy Father's own words and behaviour. And the influence of both, mark his Pontificate in a most unambivalent way. In the next post on this subject I'll look at the subsequent and consequent effects of his visit on the shrine at Manoppello itself, and also at some recent research discoveries concerning the veil image, as reported in the ITV article which inspired this series of posts.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Our Holy Father Benedict in prayer before The Holy Face at Menoppello

Pope Benedict and the Holy Face......Part 2

This post has been delayed because of the need to post beforehand, a video of the Holy Father praying at Menoppello. When the video has been posted, (hopefully this evening UK time), the delayed Part 2 will follow.

When you've seen the video I hope you'll agree I was wise to wait.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Pope Benedict and the Holy Face of Manoppello: Part 1

This first link will lead you to a report (with comments) published on the day of Pope Benedict's visit to Manoppello on September 1st 2006;
this second one will lead you to the blog of Raymond Frost;
and this third, to a column in 'Joan's Rome' site on EWTN.
Fr Mark Kirby, who incidentally inaugurated his 'Vultus Christi' blog on the same day as the Pope's visit, later made a pilgrimage to Manoppello and posted about it on February 2, 2007.
If you are unfamiliar with the above items, I do recommend that you read them before continuing here.

Immediately below, I mention three matters, before going on to consider the spiritual impact (at the time and since) of the Holy Face, and of the Holy Father's veneration of it.

1. Among the comments on the report, you will find one which dismisses any claim as to the 'Face' being similar to the one on the Shroud of Turin, because of the absence of a moustache on the former. Actually, the picture reproduced in the recent 'Inside the Vatican' article, certainly does show a moustache. Yes, it is faint, like the beard, but it is definitely there.

2."Pope Benedict became curious about this image when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he was given a photo of the face that had been taken by a fellow German, Cardinal Joachim Meisner .........just before the start of the 2005 conclave." (See above link to 'Joan's Rome', EWTN.)

3. Doctor Robert Moynihan, editor of ITV has visited the 'Holy Face', but the current article is by Wlodzimierz Redzioch who returned to Manoppello three years after the Pope's visit to find out what has changed since then and whether further research has been done into the Veil. The article takes the shape of interviews, in question and answer format, with Fr Cucinelli, the rector of the sanctuary and Sr Blandina, a German Trappist nun who lives there as a hermit.
The interviews provide satisfying answers to his quest, and ours.

First I would like to consider the immediate impact of the Pope's visit, for himself and for those who gathered around him on that occasion. I hope to attempt this in another post tomorrow.