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Archive for February, 2008


This amazing one-liner by Benedict XVI appeared a year ago, but I was only knocked over by it today. H/t to James Mawdsley.

Picture: The Bernini Monstrance at Ss Giovanni e Paolo, Rome
(Photographed by Fr Lawrence Rywalt c.p.)

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I was in Dublin for a meeting recently on a clear and sunny February day. Here is a picture of the park in front of Mount Argus, with the monastery and church just visible behind the trees; I took this from the bus stop on Lower Kimmage Road.


Here is a view of the front of the church. When the Retreat (or monastery) was opened in 1863, it was dedicated to Blessed Paul of the Cross, who was not canonised until 1867. In 1878, the present church replaced the temporary chapel which the Passionists had built after their arrival in 1856 (-it was located in front of the entrance to the present community cemetery). Like the Retreat, it was dedicated to Paul of the Cross, now honoured as a saint; he is shown in the tympanum at the apex of the facade preaching to the assembled faithful from the mission platform while an angelic prompter whispers in his ear.


Beyond the three arches are the oak doors of the church. Above each of these is depicted an incident from the life of Saint Paul of the Cross. The first of these is found in various biographies of Saint Paul. It shows Our Lady rescuing him by pulling him out of a river into which he had fallen.


The second shows Our Lady giving the Passionist Habit to Saint Paul of the Cross. As you can see, it seems to be the pigeons’ favourite


The third shows the Pope (presumably Benedict XIV) giving the Rules and Constitutions to Saint Paul of the Cross. If you looke closely, you will see, between the two figures, the galero of the cardinal who is standing behind them.


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New Look

This blog celebrated its second birthday on 7 February, so I thought it was time for a face lift. The picture is from a window in the Chapel of the Passionist Saints at Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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I’ve been meaning to add a link to this site for some time. The site, which was set up by Brother Rupert Allen (who is a novice with the Norbertines), has some very interesting texts of Blessed Dominic and Father Ignatius, including A Short Account of the Conversion of the Hon. and Rev. George Spencer to the Catholic Faith written by himself, in the English College at Rome, in the year 1831. I have put a link to the site in the sidebar under Sites of Passionist Interest.

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Long time no posting, because of: Ash Wednesday, retreat days in Pluscarden with Canmore students, a cold caught in Pluscarden, a meeting in Mount Argus (Dublin). The quotation shown above gave rise to some interesting guesses from Liam, Zadok and Benedict Ambrose. However, here is the title page of my 123 Meme book, with a photograph of the he referred to in the quotation.


Ignatius Spencer became a Catholic in 1830, having resigned his living as a priest in the Church of England. Like his friend, Blessed Dominic Barberi, Ignatius had great hopes for the Oxford Movement. In 1840 he visited Newman at Oxford to ask him to pray for unity in the truth. In his Apologia pro vita sua, Newman writes of their meeting:
This feeling [against the politics of ‘the Court of Rome’] led me into the excess of being very rude to that zealous and most charitable man, Mr. Spencer, when he came to Oxford in January, 1840, to get Anglicans to set about praying for Unity. I myself then, or soon after, drew up such prayers; it was one of the first thoughts which came upon me after my shock, but I was too much annoyed with the political action of the members of the Roman Church in England to wish to have any thing to do with them personally. So glad in my heart was I to see him when he came to my rooms, whither Mr. Palmer of Magdalen [brought him], that I could have laughed for joy; I think I did ; but I was very rude to him, I would not meet him at dinner, and that, (though I did not say so,) because I considered him “in loco apostatæ” from the Anglican Church, and I hereby beg his pardon for it. I wrote afterwards with a view to apologize, but I dare say he must have thought that I made the matter worse….

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I’ve been tagged!

Berenike (Goldilocks of Warsaw) writes:
Padre, you have a very satisfying bookshelf – share it with us:
The 123 Rules:
1. Pick up the book nearest you with at least 123 pages. (No cheating!)
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Count the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five other bloggers.
(though many people seem not to bother with the last bit..)

Here are my three sentences:
He was neither in, nor out of the Oxford Movement, but a most sympathetic outsider, and the letters written in 1845 contain references, fairly numerous, to the great ‘going-out’ from the City of Confusion that was in progress around him. In April we find him writing to a Mrs. Wilkinson who, it would seem, was housekeeper ar Oscott, and who had been ousted from her rooms by Miss Gladstone. Gladstone, President of the Board of Trade under Peel, found time in 1845 for more than commercial matters and published a ‘Manual of Prayers from the Liturgy’.

Can you guess who is the He referred to here? (-For bonus points, you can tell me the title of the book too.)

It’s probably good blogging manners not to tag strangers, so I tag
The Passionist Charism;
Liam (but I know he’s busy writing his review essay, so I don’t expect a hasty response);
The Sisters of the Gospel of Life;
Norbertine Vocations (but only with the Novice Master’s permission);
I would have tagged Paulinus, but cheeky Berenike got there first.

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Surprise Visit


I was standing at the lectern, checking that the Lectionary was marked correctly for Mass, when a man whose faced looked familiar came up near the sanctuary and stood smiling at me. It was Andrian Melka, the sculptor who carved the stone Crucifix and statue of Our Lady for the facade of our church. The last time he was here was when the sculptures were being installed so, until today, he hadn’t seen them without scaffolding and from a distance.


Andrian had come to Britain from Albania in 1997 and worked at the Dick Reid Studio in York. Most of his commissions involved what he calls classical mythic symbolism, such as his Battle of the Centaurs for Lord Rothschild and his Laocoön for the Prince of Wales. He had always wanted to do a Crucifix (and a Statue of Our Lady), but these commissions were not available until our architect recommended Andrian to us.


As you can see, he is a big fan of Michelangelo. He told me today that he is working on a four foot high Pieta, which I look forward to seeing someday. (He did say some very nice things about the Italian marble Pieta in our church here.) After Dick Reid’s retirement, Andrian set up his own studio and website.


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