Final Profession Photos

Gerard Bennet, from the Mount Argus group of Passionist Companions, took a number of photographs at the Final Profession of Gareth Thomas CP in Holy Cross, Ardoyne, last September. I’ve finally got round to loading some of them onto YouTube.

Mary, Mother of Hope

Our Lady of Hope Hope 2

Mary is the Mother of hope, the most expressive icon of Christian hope. Her whole life is an ensemble of attitudes of hope, beginning with the “yes” at the moment of the Annunciation. Mary did not know how she could become a mother, but she entrusted herself totally to the mystery that was about to take place, and she became the woman of waiting and of hope. Then we see her at Bethlehem, where he who was announced as Savior of Israel and as Messiah is born in poverty. Then, while she is at Jerusalem to present him in the Temple, with the joy of the elderly Simeon and Anna, she hears the promise of a sword that will pierce her heart and the prophecy of a sign of contradiction. She realizes that the mission and the identity itself of that Son exceed her being Mother. We then arrive at the episode of Jesus who is lost in Jerusalem, and she asks: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Luke 2:48), and Jesus’ answer, who moves away from the maternal concerns and turns to the things of the Heavenly Father.

Yet, in face of all these difficulties and surprises of God’s plan, the Virgin’s hope never hesitates! Woman of hope. This tells us that hope is nourished by listening, by contemplation, by patience, so that the times of the Lord will mature. Also at the Wedding of Cana, Mary is the Mother of hope, which makes her attentive and solicitous to human things. With the beginning of his public life, Jesus becomes the Teacher and the Messiah: Our Lady looks at her Son’s mission with exultation but also with apprehension, because Jesus becomes increasingly the sign of contradiction that the elderly Simeon had pre-announced to her. At the foot of the cross, she is the woman of sorrow and at the same time of vigilant waiting of a mystery, greater than the sorrow, which is about to take place. Everything seems truly finished; every hope it could be said was spent. At that moment, recalling the promises of the Annunciation, she also could have said: they have not come true, I was deceived. But she did not say it. Yet she, blessed because she believed, sees blossom from her faith the new future and waits with hope for God’s tomorrow.

Pope Francis, 21 November 2013

A Final Profession at Holy Cross

Holy Cross
Window: The Triumph of the Cross,
Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne

This Sunday, 15 September, our province will celebrate the Final Profession of our brother Gareth Thomas C.P.
Gareth, who is from Wales, was a novice at the Passionist Retreat Centre, Tobar Mhuire, Crossgar, County Down; he is now studying theology at Heythrop College, London. The profession will take place during the 12.00 Mass in Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, Belfast. In preparation, there will be a Vigil of Prayer for Vocations this evening at 7.00 p.m. in Holy Cross. The Vigil will begin with Mass and continue with Eucharistic Adoration. If you can’t be in Belfast this weekend, both the Vigil and the Profession Mass can be followed here. Here is a prayer for Passionist Vocations:

you gave your life on the Cross
so that we could share in God’s own life
and know his love for us,

May the love that flows from the Cross
transform our hearts,
so that we can bring your love and compassion
to those whose lives we touch,
especially those who are suffering.

Give the light of your Holy Spirit
to those young people who have received
the grace of a Passionist vocation.
Inspire them to give their lives
as Passionist priests, brothers or sisters,
keeping the Memory of your Passion alive
in their own hearts and in the hearts of others.

May Mary, who stood by the Cross, be their example,
and may Saint Paul of the Cross be their guide. Amen.

Happy Easter

“What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love of God can do this!
This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell – to the abyss of separation from God – this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.” (Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi, 2013)

Passionist General Chapter 2012

I’m in Rome for the 46th General Chapter of the Passionists, where I’ll be working in the secretariat. The Chapter, which opened on Sunday and lasts for four weeks, is being held at Saints John and Paul, our Generalate house. There is a special blog site for the General Chapter where a daily bulletin will be published. Please remember all the members of the General Chapter in your prayers during these days. Meanwhile, here is a glimpse at the opening prayers of the Chapter when we gathered around his statue, recalling one of the miracles worked by Saint Paul of the Cross after his death at the Retreat of Saint Michael the Archangel at Vetralla.


“During holy Advent humble yourself the more in considering the Infinite Goodness of God who wished to reduce himself to our humanity concealing himself in the unblemished womb of the Immaculate Virgin. Love this Infinite Good with the sweetest heart of the great Lady Mary Most Holy. God will teach you.” (Saint Paul of the Cross, Letter to Agnes Grazi, 28 October 1734)

Salve Sancte Pater

Room of Saint Paul of the Cross, Rome

‘About twelve o’clock on the following morning [19 October 1775], they carried the body down the inner staircase into the Basilica, chanting as they went along the solemn prayers of the ritual. They placed it in the centre of the church without any pomp and only four torches burning around it. No sooner were the doors opened than numbers of persons crowded in, anxious to obtain a sight of the remains, and, in spite of the unfavourable state of the weather, in a very short time the church was quite full. Nobles and plebeians, ecclesiastics and seculars, all were equally eager to approach the corpse of the servant of God to kiss his hand and to take away with them some part of his habit or a portion of his hair. This was carried to such an extent that, to prevent the body being completely stripped, they were obliged to form an enclosure around it with benches, and a German cavalier, a great friend of Father Paul, stood within to protect the body and to distribute little pieces of the clothes. The same concourse of people and the same devout enthusiasm continued throughout the day. All this time Masses were being celebrated by our Fathers and by several other priests who, out of affection for the departed, wished to offer the Holy Sacrifice for his soul. Among these the most distinguished were Cardinal Boschi, the Titular of the church, Bishop Marcucci, the Vicegerent, and Bishop Tiberio Ruffo. At ten o’clock Office for the Dead was chanted by the whole community, and High Mass sung, followed by the customary absolutions. It was a beautiful and moving sight to see the multitude of people remaining unweariedly in the church, weeping and praying and reminding one another of the heroic deeds of him whom they already considered a saint. It was more touching still to see that pale and placid corpse lying upon the boards in the habit of penance with ashes sprinkled upon the head and a crucifix clasped in the hands – it seemed to bring so vividly before all eyes the road of mortification, abjection, and contempt of the world through which he had so faithfully trod in the footsteps of his crucified Lord. There was a glory on his countenance which made those marvel who gazed upon it and forced them to exclaim, “A Saint is dead!” One holy priest of spotless life noticed when he took Father Paul’s hand to kiss it that there came from his virginal body an odour of ineffable sweetness. He confidently mentioned this circumstance to the attendant who had waited upon him, asking if he had poured any scented water upon the corpse. The brother replied that nothing of the kind had been near it.
‘In the evening of the 19th of October, the remains were placed in a wooden coffin, which was to be enclosed in a case of lead, according to the command of His Holiness. Bishop Marcucci then ordered the church to be cleared, but it was found impossible to send all the people away. Many insisted on remaining, among them several persons of distinction. The doors were closed and a plaster cast was taken of the venerable Father’s head, after which the coffin was carried to a room called the sepulchre, at the bottom of the basilica on the left side of the entrance, opposite those holy remains.’
(Saint Vincent Mary Strambi, Life of Father Paul of the Cross)


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