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Archive for July, 2007

Prayers please

Please remember my mother in your prayers. She was admitted to hospital yesterday, after a fall. Here is a photograph of her with Father Frank Keevins (right) and myself; it was taken about three weeks ago. I will be leaving Australia tomorrow and returning to Glasgow to be with her.


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Happy Birthday


Congratulations to Mother Catherine C.P., former superior of the Passionist Contemplative Nuns in England, who celebrates her 100th birthday today. In the early 1960s, Mother Catherine left Erlanger, Kentucky, with four companions to found a new Passionist community in England, marking in this way the Beatification of Blessed Dominic Barberi. A convert to the Catholic faith, she told me once that reading the Prima Pars of Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, when she was thinking of becoming a Catholic, “just blew my mind”. After more than forty years in England, I wonder if she qualifies for a telegram from the Queen.

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Herald of Hope


Ovada, the new Passionist publisher based at Saint Mungo’s, has brought out in book form the nine sermons from last year’s Novena of Hope at Mount Argus, Dublin. These nine reflections on the life and spirit of Saint Charles of Mount Argus have been published under the title Herald of Hope. Copies (at £5.95 or €8.95 plus postage) are available from Thomas Davie at Saint Mungo’s Bookshop, Glasgow: phone from UK 0141 552 1823; phone from outside the UK 0044 141 552 1823 or something like that; the e-mail address is mungoshop(at)gmail.com. To give you a taste, here is the text from the book’s back cover:

What can someone who died over a hundred years ago possibly say to us today? Saint Charles of Mount Argus died in Dublin in 1893. Can his life speak to people who live in a very different world? These nine reflections on Charles’ life and spirit attempt to allow him to dialogue with us, to share with us his sense of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The secret of Father Charles – his love for God, his love for people – came from the truth that he was an intimate friend of God. He can teach us how, through loving God in prayer and loving our brothers and sisters in their need, we can become in truth the friends of God.
Paul Francis Spencer c.p.

Charles of Mount Argus spent every day and many a night facing the reality of suffering. He never denied it or cloaked it. Following his example, we are called to grapple with suffering and not be afraid. Somewhere in the suffering is a trace of Jesus.
Aidan Troy c.p.

Charles is not a remote saint with nothing to offer our generation. Look at his life and discover that our greatest gift is to be people of compassion; to be willing to walk with people along their way of the cross, in search of meaning rather than handing out futile answers.
Brian D’Arcy c.p.

He truly was a man of God. And people instinctively, intuitively, recognised that. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t speak very well or preach very well. What he said came from the heart – and from a heart in tune with God.
Ignatius Waters c.p.

This is what inspired and motivated Father Charles: he loved the sick as Jesus loved the sick, he had time for the sick as Jesus had time for the sick, he blessed the sick as Jesus blessed the sick, and this led people to recognise true holiness in him.
Frank Keevins c.p.

Like all Passionists, he stood with Mary at the foot of the Cross and had his gaze firmly fixed on Jesus giving his life in love for us. Everything he knew about love and kindness and the service of others he learned there.
Martin Coffey c.p.

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I have been at Holy Cross Retreat Centre, Templestowe (Melbourne) this week for a meeting of the Passionists’ international committee for the World Youth Day. Before the World Youth Day in Sydney (2008), we will have a meeting of young Passionist priests, brothers and students here at Holy Cross, Templestowe, beginning on Saturday, 5 July. The theme of the meeting is taken from the Pentecost 1750 letter of Sant Paul of the Cross: Inflamed with love, we proclaim Jesus, our Crucified Love. This will be followed by a Passionist Youth gathering for young people who are associated with our communities in different parts of the world, beginning on Wednesday, 9 July. The youth gathering will be based on three questions from Saint Luke’s Gospel (the Road to Emmaus):
– What things are you discussing as you walk along?
– Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer?
– Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road?

Meanwhile, Berenike left this message in the comments box: Padre, you haven’t posted on the most important happening of the weekend! So, Berenike, knowing your views on what is important, this photo of Saint Mungo’s is dedicato a te.


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Passionist Youth Assembly


(Photo: John Pole, Crucifix of Saint Paul of the Cross)

I’m blogging from the Emmaus Retreat Centre, Swords, Co. Dublin, where this weekend we have our Passionist Youth Assembly, attended by young people from Ireland (north and south), Scotland and Paris. The Passionists present are Sister Maureen McNally, Fathers Charles Cross, Patrick Fitzgerald, Frank Keevins, Victor Donnelly and myself. The focus of the weekend is on living the Passionist Charism as young people today. This morning I gave a talk on Saint Paul of the Cross at the end of which I listed some things that helped the young Paul find his way in his life. These were: having good friends (family and companions); having someone to listen to him (including a spiritual director); reading the right books (especially the Bible); making mistakes (and learning from them); making a space for prayer in his life (including Eucharistic Adoration); having a real friendship with Jesus. In the feedback session, people added his experience of suffering and his devotion to Our Lady as things which helped Paul in his early adult years. (Here is the statue of Our Lady at Emmaus Retreat House:)


The other talks today were on Growing as a Passionist (Father Patrick) and the Passion of Christ in the four Gospels (given by Father Charles). Father Frank celebrated a votive Mass of Saint Paul of the Cross. As you can see below, Father Victor was in fine liturgical voice.


After supper, Sister Maureen let loose our creativity by putting us into groups and telling each group to draw a poster which said what the day was about. Poster paper and pencils were handed out.


Then we had to puzzle over what we were going to do.


This group got into a huddle…


…while this group decided to divide itself into artists and models (and the other two must be art critics).


After this, the groups had to exhibit – and explain – their posters.


This group looks as if it’s ready to answer any questions.


It was lots of fun and helped us see one another’s hidden talents. Afterwards, we brought the day to an end with Eucharistic Adoration, followed by musical teas!


The Assembly will finish tomorrow at lunchtime, after which I’ll be leaving for Melbourne and Sydney for a meeting of the Passionists’ international committee for the 2008 World Youth Day.

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Congratulations, Joachim


Today at the Chapter of Holy Spirit Province (Australia), Father Joachim Rego was elected Provincial. Until now, he has been on the parish team at Saint Brigid’s, Marrickville; the parish has a short biography of Father Joachim here. His Consultors are Fathers Brian Traynor, Tiernan Doherty, Thomas McDonough and David King. Congratulations to all; I look forward to meeting you all again next week.

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