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.

Haiti: Fears for Mgr Benoit and Seminarians

Please read more here

Haiti January 2010

We pray for all the living and dead of Haiti. On this site we think particularly of the Archbishop who perished and of the many priests who also died, although we do not yet know how many. One report says that 100 retreatant priests lost their lives. The Vicar General , Mgr Benoit, is still missing. Lord have mercy on him, and on them all.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Fr. Gordon Macrae: "First Things" article; Mass and Holy Hour reminder

Most of you will have spotted these items already. If not, you can link to Fr. Gordon's article in the bloglist here. It is a beautiful and moving tribute to both Cardinal Avery Dulles and Fr. John Neuhaus (R.I.P.) and is highly recommended reading, as is the whole of Father's blog. By posting this I get another mention of him on the Google pages, so it's worth doing anyway.

You should reach the Holy Hour/Mass reminder Fr. celebrates Mass in his cell every Sunday night at around 11pm. For the Europeans among us this is very early in the morning of Monday. (Better for those in Australasia for whom it is during the daytime Sunday!) Like many others, I pray for Fr Gordon everyday and this is a wonderful way of uniting with him, and supporting him as he offers Mass. I often wake during the night and pray specifically for priests, and if it happens on Sunday over Monday, I dedicate the time to Father Gordon.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Holy Face: Next post on Thursday

In the last post I mentioned items of important personal correspondence. I've been absorbing these since they arrived, and as a result have spent more time today in meditation. I hope to post again about the Holy Face on Thursday. I'll be checking the news but in the meantime will only publish items of interest to Spiritual Mothers that are not featured on other blogs.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

The 'Holy Face' of Manoppello

Over the days of Epiphanytide just past, I've spent a great deal of time in reflection and thanksgiving for the gifts I have told you about in previous posts. The effect of this, combined with that of an article in the current issue of 'Inside the Vatican', and two items of important personal correspondence, has been my spending this afternoon searching the web for information about the 'Holy Face' of Manoppello, rather than posting here. I'm sure that I am far behind many of my readers in what I discovered and that they will not take long to connect adoration of the Holy Face with the Priesthood. After all, we have Father Mark Kirby who is called to this specific priestly function, and although I agree with Father Z that our Holy Father is 'The Pope of Christian Unity', in my heart I think of him as 'Benedict the Adorer of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament'.

During the coming week I hope to report on my research into the Manoppello Sanctuary and Pope Benedicts' private pilgrimage there in 2006. I have to say that the current 'Inside the Vatican' article would seem to present new insights and discoveries about the 'Face' on the so-called (until recently) 'Veronica Veil'.

In the meantime I've put a link to the official Manoppello site towards the top of the sidebar here and will add more links later..

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Spiritual Mothers of Priests and Friends.

I intended to do a thanksgiving post today but it hasn't been possible. Hope to do so tomorrow after a good night's sleep and the Holy Father's Mass and Angelus in the morning.

Friday, 8 January 2010

A Wondrous Epiphany........ "The second four joys"

I'm always grateful that Epiphanytide lasts a whole week, an octave if you count its Vigil. It gives time for reflection on what we have seen and heard, and a fresh absorption of what we have learned. And this year as I have availed myself of those opportunities, it has given me time to spread these Epiphany posts over several days.

Aside from the central importance of the Mass itself, two things have been paramount, namely the Holy Father's preaching and the daily Office of Readings. I've been much occupied with the concepts of giving, receiving and travelling spiritually in search of our Infant King. All my joys this Epiphany spring from these things.

My fifth joy: Unexpected gifts from my spiritual sisters in Birmingham UK

The minute the Holy Father's Mass was over, the postman arrived bearing an armful of treasures, although he did not know it.

From the 'sister' who was instrumental in beginning the Spiritual Mothers group at St. John Fisher parish came the following:
a letter in which she tells me that she has committed her three spiritual sisters to the love of the Infant Jesus and that through Advent she had found herself continually referring to the second Office reading for the first Friday of Advent. This is from Chapter 1 of St Anselm's Proslogion -'A Rousing of the Mind to the Contemplation of God'. (I too recommend the reading as being well worth tracking down if you do not own a modern Breviary.);
a card of white and gold embossed with the figures of the shepherds and the Magi with the star above them;
a set of prayer booklets published by THE PRAYER TRUST. These were entitled: 'An Advent Calendar of Prayers'; 'A Prayer for You this Christmas'; 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'; 'Prayer for All Seasons'; 'Thinking of You'; 'A Gift for You'; and 'Thank You' . These titles are examples of many other prayer resources produced by the Trust. They are beautifully produced in colour with each page of prayers adorned by appropriate photographs. All resources can be obtained via the Trust's website here The Trust was founded by Fr Pat Swayles, a beloved priest friend of my Birmingham sisters and functions from the Church of Our Lady and St. Benedict, Wootton Wawen, Henley-in-Arden B95 6BQ PLEASE PRAY FOR FATHER PAT. Some time ago he suffered a terrible CAR CRASH and his recovery although steady is taking a long time. Please pray for his work too;

As if all this were not enough, my sister also sent me a single decade Rosary from Assisi, an ideal overnight Rosary to have wrapped round my fingers with its cross enfolded in my palm. If I wake at night a prayer is the first thing in my heart and on my lips. Some time ago, the Rosary I used to use for this purpost broke during a nightmare. Now I have the perfect replacement.

And from my other 'sister'? She is the one without the computer but is gifted with the talent of making indescribably exquisite greetings cards. Even if she buys a card, she will embellish if in some way, especially for its recipient. She never sends the same card twice and is in any case incapable of making the same card again, the reason being that she allows herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit in these acts of creation, and afterwards can never remember how they came to be. And so just before Epiphany noon I opened her card. She had beautified it still further by adding misnight blue and gold edged ribbon to the side of the card. On the front on a background of midnight blue were the illuminatd gold words:

From throne
to manger...
From God
to man...
From heaven
to our hearts.

Inside she had written out a special poem for me and had dedicated the card to my house chapel in memory of our Lord's visit there at the beginning of Advent. There was an accompanying letter in which she described how she had come to send me golden rose petals for Christmas. (More about these later.)
In a second packet lovingly protected with cotton wool were two sprigs of natural 'gold' in the shape of two pressed blooms of winter jasmine. For us this represents St. John the Evangelist because I chose it for him in my first book. Her choice meant a great deal to me, particularly since we missed him this year as his feast fell on a Sunday. It also reminded me that I had promised to post about why I chose the jasmine for him. I must do that soon.

Pope Benedict's Epiphany Angelus: My sixth joy.
Please see here for full text.

The Rosary from Lourdes on kto tv: My seventh joy.
The area round the Grotto was packed even though the weather was horrid. I've added this daily afternoon Rosary to my usual evening one in response to a prayer request from a dear priest friend of mine. Its intention is therefore for all priests who are sick or in distress or pain of any kind.
At the fifth Glorious mystery Mary was invoked under ten of her titles in the Litany. This determined me to post again asking for your support in a letter I propose to write to the Holy Father. Please see my post of January 4. I am praying for a good response before I post the letter and will appeal to you again in another post over the weekend.

International Retreat for Priests in Ars, Repeat video on kto: My eighth joy
After the Rosary, I noticed a ten minute video on the kto schedules for the Epiphany.. You can reach it by going to kto 'Programmes' via Google. Scroll to the programme entitled 'Reportage: Retraite Sacerdotale Internationale' and then click the left hand arrow buttonn in the right hand margin of the programmes list. Even if you do not understand French, this video will warm your heart and fill it with hope.

St Jean Vianney, pray for priests.
Our Lady, Mother and Queen of Clergy, pray for them and cast your protecting mantle over them.

Thanks be to God for His wonderful gift of Epiphany this year, and every year.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Wondrous Epiphany.........3: " The first four joys"

Epiphany Eve:

This brought the first two of my Epiphany joys: Father Mark's Vultus Christi post asking us to pray the Eucharistic Novena with him, and the fact that Mark Miles had posted the Epiphany 'treat' on both my blogs. As to the first, I printed it off so that it would be ready for the next day and was particularly taken by the painting of St. Peter Julian Eymard with St. John Vianney. (May I encourage anyone who does not already know it, to visit here, the site of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, which is the order founded by St. Peter Julian.) As to the second I was particularly happy with the way the choice of 'The Three Kings' video worked when viewed alongside the Vatican Christmas tree in the sidebar of the Oasis. At midnight, according to the tradition in this household, the Shepherds were safely put away in their storage box for another year, and replaced by the Magi.

A 'white' Epiphany Morning: The third joy

It was snowing heavily when I got up and judging from the view from the library window had been doing so for some time. Later as I sat at my desk preparing to join the Holy Father's Mass on kto tv, snow, and the soft silence it always produces, filled the world outside the French windows, stretching across the garden and away over the fields and the woodland on the crest of the hill beyond them. Outside the windows, and under the shelter of a garden table, our solitary resident blackbird, pecked at the fragments of food the cats had left on their breakfast plates. The cats themselves had retreated to the warmth of their 'roosts' in one of the outbuildings, and so he pecked in safety.

That profound silence permeated the house too. It was the perfect atmosphere in which to prepare for Mass.

The Holy Father's Mass: The fourth joy

As regular readers know, because of our geographical situation, I do not get to Mass very often. The Holy Father's televised Masses are not just a bonus to me. They are a spiritual lifeline. In the fifteen years that our bishop has held his see, I have never seen him, nor his predecessor for that matter; we do not have a parish priest anymore. In a very real sense, Pope Benedict, thanks to the Internet, has become both my Bishop and my Parish Priest as well as my beloved Holy Father. He teaches and he feeds by precept and example. Daily, I thank God that Pope Benedict is encouraging us to make full and best use of modern communications, and indeed is endeavouring to do so himself. And by so doing, together with him we become the leaven in the loaf which counteracts so much evil that is perpetrated on the Internet.

I cannot possibly go through his Epiphany Mass in detail. That cannot be encompassed here. But I will share a few thoughts. Firstly, it was a vast relief to see that security has obviously been tighttened since Christmas Eve. Not just the wider nave, but many more 'men in black' flanking the papal procession in and out of St. Peter's, and these men were studying the crowd with increased vigilance. It was clear too that the Holy Father was not prepared to be separated from his flock and went several times, both left and right, to shake outstretched hands, bless and kiss babies, all the time wreathed in smiles. One did not need to be told afterwards that security had been improved. One could see it with one's own eyes and so we were able to enter into the Mass at peace and with almost completely conquered anxiety.

Father Tim was at this Mass and has posted about it on his blog. He reports that he sensed an increased reverence in response to the Holy Father's Mass, compared with what it was like the last time he was there. I don't think he says that the earlier occasion was in this pontificate or the previous one, but as someone who first discovered kto tv when the Pope visited France, I can vouch for the fact, even as a mere viewer, that this sense of the sacred has always been there with Benedict. From the very moment he approaches the altar, he draws us in, he takes us with him into the central liturgical mystery and act of our Faith. It is to begin to live in another, a heavenly reality. His total focus is on what he is about to do, and therefore it becomes the total focus of all present. This happens at his every Mass including the Epiphany just past. (I noticed that even the Sistine boys, who were terribly and distractingly fidgety last year, seem to have acquired increased stillness and concentration.)

It's my habit to jot down any particular spiritual reactions that occur whilst I am enwrapped in these Masses. This year at the Epiphany Gospel I wrote: "Every time you visit the Blessed Sacrament, fall on your knees, and do Him homage as the kings did, and then open to Him whatever treasures you have in your heart."

Then the homily: This of course can be found on many sites, but here I would like to state my humble appreciation of our Holy Fathe's preaching and catechesis. The story is always the same, but 'ever and anew' he finds a fresh, challenging and invigorating way to express it, to really bring it alive for us. However long Pope Benedict remains with us I will always treasure one of his characteristic gestures when preaching and teaching us. He will gesture with his right hand as if holding a many faceted jewel. This he does whilst turning one of those innumerable facets to the light.

Then the Canon: Here, if we follow our Holy Father, we enter the realm of contemplation and that is all I dare say about it tonight.

There are only two things that hurt in the reaction of other people at the Holy Father's Masses, but they do not in anyway diminish my joy in being 'present' at them, nor indeed at this one. Therefore, I will save them until a later date.

I must rest now but will return as soon as possible with the remainder of my Epiphany joys this year.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Wondrous Epiphany in St. Romain and in my heart 2: "The Journey to Epiphany"

My goodness me, that was a nerve-wracking few hours! Thanks to Mark (see previous post) for holding the fort and to his Mum for her calming influence and kindness when I phoned for Mark's help and he was out! He returns to work tomorrow. Please pray for him and his Mum.

I think some of you must have answered his plea for prayers because I eventually solved the problem and won't bore you with details. His quote from Robert Burns was apt, but it's second line, in this case was proved wrong:
"And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joys'"
Well I had a taste of the grief and pain for a while, but the promised joy is unabated. This I am determined to share with you tomorrow if the Lord wills, but it is late now, so I will leave you with the words of my favourite English Epiphany hymn, handed on to me, like so much else that I love in English Literature and hymnody, by my father. Its words and tune always come into my mind after December 31st and I intended them to be part of my next post in any case. I was looking for a YouTube rendition when the 'crash' occurred. Will continue the search tomorrow.


Brightest and best are the suns of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Words: Richard Heber 1783-1826
Tune: Joseph F. Thrupp 'Epiphany', 1853

A demain DV.
God bless you for your patience.

Machina Diaboli

There is a saying here in Scotland, "the best laid plans o' mice and men, gang aft agley" (are oft to go astray).

Sadly, Jane's computer has taken a diabolical whim of its own and seems out of action for the near future. Jane is the main contributor to this blog, so you will all have to bear with us for a while.

Though it be a material concern, please storm the Gates of Heaven, for a swift recovery to the machine!

A Wondrous Epiphany in St. Romain and in my heart: 1

Late this afternoon, I was just about to begin this post when a phone call from a friend necessitated an abrupt change of plan. She had been due to take me shopping early tomorrow morning but weather conditions made her feel if would be safer to go today. Ten minutes later we were en route to the Supermarche 12km away. The meteo has promised us freezing fog overnight and indeed it began on the return jouney. The roads are likely to be dangerous tomorrow morning so my friend was wise to go in today.

I will write the post after supper. The afternoon's disruption has not disturbed my especial joy in today's Solemnity and I do want to explain it.

An Epiphany Treat

A treat for Epiphany: The Three Kings (Cornelius), King's College Cambridge, 1997:

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Eucharistic Novena: January 6-14 begins tomorrow

Please use link above the Holy Father's picture in sidebar right. This will lead you to background information and the text of the Novena itself.

Thanks to Father Mark for alerting me this. I hope many of you will spot it and join me in praying it with him.

+ Tempus Epiphaniae +

Introitus: "Ecce Advenit":

(image: Rembrandt, Adoration of the Magi, 1632;
video: Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, Milan, Italy)

Monday, 4 January 2010

Spiritual Mothers and Friends: Something important for your consideration and prayers....

At least it has become increasingly important to me, and I think it may be to you too.


My husband and I pray this Litany every night after the Holy Rosary and we conclude with the singing of the 'Sub tuum praesidium' . Ever since Pope Benedict announced the Year of the Priest, during the Litany, I have felt something is missing from it. That may seem an arrogant and terrible thing to say. But every night it comes to me that there should be a plea for the intercession of Mary as the Mother and Queen of Clergy. Some nights I have even privately and silently inserted it and then wondered if I'm allowed to do such a thing. But the desire to have such a petition made official has become so strong, that I believe it should be instituted and be enshrined there forever. I cannot remember when I first thought I may have the temerity to write to the Holy Father about this, but the impulse has been there for a long time. As yet, I have not written to him, but the impulse grows daily, particularly I think because of everything that assualts the priesthood worldwide and daily and which I read about on various sites, not to mention how these things are affecting my own dear friends and 'sons' in the priesthood.

I have at last determined to write that letter. I want to ask the Holy Father to insert this petition into the Litany at the end of the Year for Priests, if not before. I will do it anyway, but would be so glad if you would let me know that in this request, I have the backing of all Spititual Mothers who are known to me. I will do it within the coming week. In the meantime the combox is open. PLEASE USE IT.

All the above being said, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the Holy Father has already decided to do this.

God bless you all.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

+ Tempus Nativitatis +

(Tissot's Journey of the Magi)

Friday, 1 January 2010

"Tu es Petrus", a New Year Video with music by Maestro Bartolucci

Mgr. Maestro B was 'put out to grass' after Vatican II but is still alive, in his nineties I think, and is enjoying something of a comeback, probably thanks to 'you know who'.

The video has lots of texts from documents of several Popes including Benedict XVI. At least two of these I spotted mentioned the Year of the Priest and/or were addressed to priests. These texts are all in Italian but the pictures tell the story - I think it's called 'The Hermeneutic of Continuity'! The 'Tu es Petrus' is superb to my ear. (Normally I'm a Chant/Renaissance Polyphony girl.) But the Maestro's setting is a majestic, substantial treatment of the text and suits this video tribute, not only to Pope Benedict and the preoccupations of his pontificate, but to the Papacy itself. Hope you enjoy it.