Archive for December, 2007

On This Day

From the Spiritual Diary of Saint Paul of the Cross, Feast of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, 29 December 1720:
At prayer during the night I was peaceful, and also a little distracted. I felt a particular recollection in offering his most holy Life, Death and Passion, also in my petitions, especially for heretics. I had a particular inspiration to pray for the conversion of England, especially since I wanted the standard of the faith to be raised there so that the devotion, reverence, homage, love and frequent adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament, the ineffable mystery of the most holy love of God, would be increased so that his holy Name might be glorified in a more special way. The desire to die as a martyr never leaves me, especially for the most Blessed Sacrament, that is, in places where people do not believe.

Picture found at Writings of Dominic Barberi and Ignatius Spencer

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Reading Level

cash advance

I found the above at Recapturing our Catholic Patrimony, whose level was College (Postgrad). As a Passionist, I was consoled to discover that my blog has a lower reading level. Here’s why:
No brother of this least Congregation may use in his preaching so lofty and elegant a style that it might render his message obscure to the poor people. Rather they should break the bread of God’s word with clarity and devotion, so that it might be more effective for penetrating hearts, and for promoting the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.
(Passionist Rule and Constitutions, 1736)

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Snowing in Schwarzenfeld

For some time now, I have been aware that there is a programme on my computer called Windows Movie Maker. This evening, as an alternative to spending Saturday Night at the Movies (which I confess I never do), I thought I’d spend some of Saturday night with Windows Movie Maker. The resulting production is dedicated to my Passionist brothers in the Vice-Province of the Five Wounds (Germany and Austria).

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This evening we began a new season of Evangelium, Father Marcus Holden and Father Andrew Pinsent’s course of education in the Catholic Faith for adults. The programme is published by the Catholic Truth Society; have a look at it here. I wasn’t sure how many people would be there tonight, as we had already offered the course last year (2006-2007), but there was a respectable crowd of twenty, which was encouraging, particularly as most of them were younger (than myself) people. We will have another session next Thursday (20 December) and then continue after the New Year. Sessions begin at 7.30 p.m. in the parish Hall.

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Verbum Crucis

Today Pope Benedict spoke at the Wednesday Audience about Paulinus of Nola, one of my favourite poet-saints. He said: In his poetry and his vast correspondence, Paulinus expressed his deep faith and his love of the poor. His letters to such contemporary churchmen as Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Martin of Tours, reflect his asceticism, his deep sense of the Church’s communion and his cultivation of the practice of spiritual friendship as a means of experiencing that communion within the mystery of Christ’s mystical Body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

Here’s a poem by Saint Paulinus about the Cross, followed by an English translation from Helen Waddell’s Medieval Latin Lyrics.

Cerne deum nostrum velatum corpore Christum,
qui fragilis carne est, verbo cibus et cruce amarus:
dura superficies, verbum crucis et crucis esca est,
coelestem Christi claudens in carne medullam.
sed cruce dulcis item, quia protulit arbore vitam
vita deus noster; ligno mea vita pependit,
ut staret mea vita deo. quid, vita, rependam
pro vita tibi, Christe, mea? nisi forte salutis
accipiam calicem, quo me tua dextra propinet,
ut sacro mortis pretiosae proluar haustu.
sed quid agam? neque si proprium dem corpus in ignes
vilescamque mihi, nec sanguine debita fuso
iusta tibi solvam, quia me reddam tibi pro me,
et quicquid simili vice fecero, semper ero impar,
Christe, tibi, quia tu pro me mea, non tua, Christe,
debita solvisti, pro servis passus iniquis.
quis tibi penset amor? dominus mea forma fuisti,
ut servus tua forma forem; et res magna putatur
mercari propriam de re pereunte salutem?
perpetuis mutare caduca et vendere terram,
caelum emere? ecce deus quanto me carius emit
morte crucis? passus, deiectus imagine servi,
ut viles emeret pretioso sanguine servos.

Look on thy God, Christ hidden in our flesh.
A bitter word, the Cross, and bitter sight:
Hard rind without, to hold the heart of heaven.
Yet sweet it is; for God upon that tree
Did offer up his life: upon that rood
My Life hung, that my life might stand in God.
Christ, what am I to give Thee for my life?
Unless take from Thy hands the cup they hold,
To cleanse me with the precious draught of death.
What shall I do? My body to be burned?
Make myself vile? The debt’s not paid out yet.
Whate’er I do, it is but I and Thou,
And still do I come short, still must Thou pay
My debts, O Christ; for debts Thyself hadst none.
What love may balance Thine? My Lord was found
In fashion like a slave, that so His slave
Might find himself in fashion like his Lord.
Think you the bargain’s hard, to have exchanged
The transient for the eternal, to have sold
Earth to buy Heaven? More dearly God bought me.

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Father Ignatius Gibney

Last Sunday on RTE Radio’s Sunday Miscellany , there was a section of the programme entitled The Boy Named Ignatius by the Irish poet and physicist Iggy McGovern. Like a number of other boys of his generation, Iggy (Ignatius) McGovern was called after the renowned missioner and healer, Father Ignatius Gibney c.p., the centenary of whose entry into the Passionists occurs this year. In his tribute to Father Ignatius, Iggy McGovern quoted an obituary from 1952 which described Ignatius’ preaching as dramatic and versatile: he could equally enthral a church of tiniest children and enrapture a congregation of Cistercian monks…. but, the obituary continued, his preaching was but a shadow of his greater quality: his appeal as a confessor.

As a postulant in Saint Gabriel’s Retreat, The Graan, in the early 1970s, and later as a student in Mount Argus, I heard many a tale of the miraculous cures worked through the Blessing of Father Ignatius. The story, however, that touched me most was not about Ignatius’s intercession for others, but of a saint interceding for him. Throughout his life, Ignatius Gibney had a very strong stammer, because of which those charged with his formation wondered if he was wise to have entered a congregation whose main work was preaching and if he would be better elsewhere. One night after night prayers, the young Ignatius, who at that time was coming close to ordination, came along to the Director of Students and, with great difficulty, told him that Thérèse of Lisieux (whose Cause of Canonisation had just recently been introduced) had appeared to him and had told him that, although his speech impediment would be with him for the rest of his life, it would not affect the exercise of his priestly ministry. The Director handed him a Bible and told him to read a passage, which he did without stammering, and, on that basis, he was later admitted to ordination. While it is true that sometimes people who have an impediment in conversation are able to express themselves without any speech impediment when acting or singing, I like to think that by ‘only half-curing’ him, the Little Flower, as Father Ignatius loved to call her, was reminding him that everything we have or say or do is ultimately a gift of God’s love.

I kiss the wounds in your sacred head
With sorrow deep and true;
May every thought of mine today
Be a million acts of love for you,
Of love for you, dear Lord.

I kiss the wounds in your sacred hands
With sorrow deep and true;
May everything I touch today
Be a million acts of love for you,
Of love for you, dear Lord.

I kiss the wounds in your sacred feet
With sorrow deep and true;
May every step of mine today
Be a million acts of love for you,
Of love for you, dear Lord.

I kiss the wounds in your sacred Heart
With sorrow deep and true;
May every beat of my heart today
Be a million acts of love for you,
Of love for you, dear Lord.

(Prayer of Father Ignatius Gibney c.p.)

To listen to The Boy Named Ignatius, click here, move to 36 minutes into the programme, and wait until the music stops!

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Students for Life

Today Sister Maureen and I met some students from Glasgow Caledonian University who would like to set up a pro-life society at the University. We were joined at the meeting by Kaye Smith, who is the universities officer (I think) for SPUC Scotland; Kaye spoke to us about the work done by Students for Life of America. Before joining SPUC, Kaye was a student at Glasgow University where she was a member of Alive, Glasgow University’s pro-life group. We will meet again in January and, in the meantime, those who were there today will try to let others know about the group; please keep this initiative in your prayers.

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Elizabeth Prout

The Norbertine Vocations blog has a post on Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus, the foundress of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. The Norbertines are now living at Saint Chad’s in Manchester where Mother Mary Joseph (Elizabeth Prout) and her first companions received the habit in 1851. The photograph shows the Prior with Sister Dominic Savio c.p. who is untiring in her devotion to the Foundress. You can read one of Sister Dominic Savio’s articles on Mother Mary Joseph here.

(When the Cause of Canonisation was being introduced, the Sisters decided to list the Cause under their Foundress’s baptismal name, Elizabeth Prout, as there are already a number of other people called Mary Joseph of Jesus who are journeying towards the honours of the altars.)

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Tota Pulchra Es

Tota puchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te.
Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the original stain is not in thee.

This evening, Gareth, Father Justinian, Father Anthony and I attended an Advent Service at Scotus College. Being Advent and the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception and one of the celebrations marking the five hundredth anniversary year of the death of Blessed John Duns Scotus, there was a Marian dimension to the service. Afterwards, we were offered mulled wine and mince pies in the seminary refectory. This used to be a day of fast and abstinence when I was young but, as the mince pies were ordinary ones, we went ahead.

Was the Blessed Virgin conceived in sin? The answer is no, for as Augustine writes: “When sin is treated, there can be no inclusion of Mary in the discussion.” And Anselm says: “It was fitting that the Virgin should be resplendent with a purity greater than which none under God can be conceived.” Purity here is to be taken in the sense of pure innocence under God, such as was in Christ.
(Blessed John Duns Scotus)

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Photo Album

I have just signed up for picasaweb.com – so if you are really bored, you might consider looking at one hundred and fifty-four photographs I took recently while visiting the Passionists in Germany. Click Slideshow at the top of the page to see them better. Warning: these are mostly pictures of buildings; I’m generally shy of photographing people. You can find them here.

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