Archive for September, 2006

Mount Argus Celebration

Before I go to the Chapter, I remember that I have not yet posted the photographs I took on 3 September at the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Passionists in Ireland. So here they are!

The Mass was at 11.00 a.m., so I went out at about 9.00 to take some pictures before people arrived. Here are the front gates which were given by An Garda Siochána, the national police service of Ireland.

Looking back at the gates from the front avenue. The trees on the avenue are copper beeches.

Turning round at this point on the avenue, you see the Lourdes Grotto, with its new altar, and the facade of the Church of Saint Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus. The figure at the top of the facade is Saint Michael the Archangel whose feast day is tomorrow and who used to be principal patron of the Congregation until Our Lady of Sorrows took over the job about thirty years ago. We still celebrate his feast with solemnity, although it is now a festum and is shared with Saints Gabriel and Raphael. Under the statue is a relief showing Saint Paul of the Cross preaching to the crowd from the palco or mission platform. If you enlarge the picture, you might just see the angel whispering in his ear as he preaches.

This is the classic view of the Church and Retreat (monastery); there used to be a pond here surrounded by grass and shrubs which made the view even more classic!

Flower arrangers from Mount Argus and Harold’s Cross Altar Societies were busy putting the finishing touches to their work.

The sanctuary too was decorated with flowers, but fortunately there were not enough to serve as road blocks for processions (which sometimes happens on these occasions).

I went back up to my room to collect my alb (-this is the view from my window) and then went along the ground floor corridor to the sacristy (i.e. from right to left in this photograph). The white statue in the centre is Saint Gemma Galgani.

In the corridor outside the Sacristy there was more space to breathe; here is Father Sylvius (left), who is on a home visit from South Africa, talking to Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor (Belfast)

I didn’t take any pictures during the Mass, but here is part of the procession at the end of Mass. In the centre is the Superior General, Father Ottaviano D’Egidio, with Father Brian D’Arcy on the left and Father Frank Keevins on the right. Behind them you can see Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin with Bishop McKeown’s red zucchetto on the left and the Archbishop’s MC (in alb) further back.

The church, which seats about 1,800, was absolutely full. Here are some of the congregation after Mass. If you look closely, you will see Archbishop Martin’s mitre in the middle of the crowd.

We were very happy to welcome the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, and her husband to Mount Argus for the Mass. Here they are leaving the Retreat after Mass. Doctor McAleese (the President’s husband) is talking to Father Ottaviano and shaking hands with Father Ambrose, who is well known here in Glasgow, having been chaplain to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for seventeen years. To the left of Father Ambrose is our Provincial, Father Martin, accompanying the President to her car. Unfortunately, she could not stay for lunch as she had another engagement – the All-Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park. The President’s Chaplain during the Mass was Father Anselm C.P., who is a member of the Mount Argus community and who had baptised her as a baby (i.e. when the President was a baby, not Father Anselm) when he was stationed at Holy Cross, Ardoyne.

Afterwards Father Nicholas talks to Pat O’Brien from Belfast while Father Ignatius, Bernard and Thomas talk to the sisters and brother of the late Father Hugh. Father Hugh was bursar of Mount Argus when he died last year; I am sure he is much happier watching all this from heaven, as he didn’t like too much fuss.

When all the liturgical celebrations were over, we continued our celebration in the refectory. I thought the flowers were just right: they decorated the tables without creating a barrier to conversation.

After the meal I went for a walk in the grounds with some of the other Passionists and took this picture of the Calvary, a good reminder of what we were celebrating – one hundred and fifty years of keeping alive in the hearts of the faithful the Memory of the Passion of Jesus.

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…to Mother Regina C.P. of the Passionist Contemplative Nuns, who celebrated today her Golden Jubilee of Profession. I was to preach at the Mass in Belmont Abbey, but have been in bed since Saturday with some kind of bug or other (and with a wireless internet connection for blogging purposes), so I had to phone in my apologies on Monday. I’m sorry I was not able to be there, as I remember her Silver Jubilee (which doesn’t seem so very long ago). Mother Regina is from Vermont USA. She entered the Passionist Nuns at Erlanger, Kentucky, and was a member of the founding group of five nuns who came to England in (I think) 1962, so most of her religious life has been spent on this side of the Atlantic. She very kindly made a stole for my Silver Jubilee of Ordination last year, one of many acts of kindness over the past nearly thirty years.

I still intend to be fully operational (and in Rome) on Friday!

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A prayer, please, for my classmates Fathers Patrick Duffy, Hugh McAvoy (R.I.P.), Thomas Scanlon, Martin Coffey, Patrick Sheridan, John Friel and myself on this twenty-ninth anniversary of our religious profession.

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Passionist General Chapter

I leave for Rome on Friday to take part in the General Chapter of the Passionists. In a moment of weakness, my brothers in Saint Patrick’s Province elected me as the province delegate. Our Provincial, Father Martin, is an ex-officio member of the Chapter. Other members of our province who will be members of the Chapter are Brother Martin (delegate of the brothers in North Europe) and Fathers Simon and Michael Ogweno (who are among the delegates for Africa).

The Chapter will open on Sunday, 1 October, and will continue until Sunday, 22 October, which is shorter than other General Chapters in recent years. As well as electing (or re-electing) a Superior General and his Council, the Chapter will address the question of restructuring the Congregation which has decreasing numbers in Europe, Australia and North America, but increasing numbers, and sometimes a shortage of other resources, in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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MauroI have just read in the Vatican Information Service bulletin of the death of Bishop Jose Mauro Pereira Bastos C.P., Bishop of Guaxupe, Brazil. He and three other people were killed in a car accident last Thursday, 14 September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Bishop Mauro and I studied together at the Gregorian in Rome. He was a lovely person, always cheerful and full of fun. He was also a very prayerful person who spent hours in silence before the Blessed Sacrament. He told me that he was fascinated by the monastic life, but his own life seemed to move in another direction when he was made a bishop six years ago at the age of forty-five. I met him in Rome about two years ago; he was still the same uncomplicated and holy man. Now he is called from this life to share the glory of his crucified and risen Lord. May he rest in peace.

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After Regensburg

The Pope and the CrossToday at the Angelus, the Pope said:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Pastoral Visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today. I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday’s General Audience. At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.
The Holy Father is sorry for the reactions to his address; he is not apologising. The reason, which is clear to anyone who actually read what he wrote, is that he has nothing to apologise for.

BTW, what is the difference between the New York Times and the Sunday Times? Here are the Editorials:
The New York Times: The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
The (London) Sunday Times: The Vatican has said he [the Pope] is very sorry his speech caused such offence to Muslims. That is fine but it should not go further than that. He should certainly not be pushed into withdrawing his remarks. As in the case of the Danish cartoons, Muslim zealots are trying to impose their restrictions of free expression on the West. Mindful as we are of religious sensitivities, that cannot be allowed to happen.

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Thomas took some photographs of the Pietà in our church. It is Italian marble and was shipped here from Rome around 1900. The hand of Jesus is worn smooth by over a hundred years of prayerful touches.

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Novena, Day Nine

Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, is the last day of our Novena. Our Lady of Sorrows is the principal patron of the Passionist Congregation (-as far as I remember, this post was held by Saint Michael the Archangel until the 1970s). Frankie has posted my sermon for today; today’s Gospel is read by Father Eustace and the prayers are read by Father Anthony.

Each year, the Novena helps us to focus on our vocation as Passionists. During nine days we meditate together on the Sorrows of Mary and the Passion of her Son. For the people who come to our church, these days of prayer are an opportunity to deepen their relationship with Jesus and Mary. The prayerful spirit in which the people approach these days is always the best sermon of the Novena.

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Photograph: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Yesterday the Pope was at Freising where he addressed priests and deacons in the Cathedral where he himself had been ordained. In the crowd I saw Fathers Gregor, Hubert and Stefan from the Passionist community at Pasing, Munich. In the photograph above, the Holy Father is kneeling before the relics of Saint Corbinian. Father Hubert is in the front row of the group in the bottom right of the picture (but not very visible – I know where he is because I saw him on television) and Father Gregor is in the third row (I think) – he is wearing his black habit without a surplice and is on the right hand side.

Pope Benedict chose not to read his prepared text but instead spoke movingly about the priesthood, encouraging priests to centre their lives on the daily celebration of Mass, the Divine Office and personal prayer. Daily Mass, said the Pope, should not be celebrated as something routine which in some sense “I have to do”, but rather should be celebrated “from within”: “If we celebrate the Mass praying, if our saying “This is my Body” is truly born from communion with Jesus Christ, who imposed his hands on us and has authorised us to speak with his own “I”, if we celebrate the Eucharist while participating intimately in it through faith and prayer, then it is not reduced to an external obligation.”

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Novena, Day Eight

The eighth day of the Novena is also the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This evening, Father Anthony preached on the Cross and told a story from a book by G.K.Chesterton. Frankie will be posting the audio of Father Anthony’s sermon tomorrow. After today’s Masses, we had the Blessing with the Relic of the True Cross.

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