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Archive for June, 2009

Twenty Nine Years Ago Today

I was ordained on the Vigil of Saints Peter and Paul 1980 in Saint Mungo’s Church, Glasgow, by Bishop Charles McDonald Renfrew. I am amazed to see that Bishop Renfrew, who seemed so much older and wiser, was actually four years younger then than I am now. Congratulations also to my classmates Patrick, Thomas, Martin and Patrick, and John who will celebrate his ordination anniversary tomorrow, and may Hugh enjoy his anniversary in heaven.

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Saints John and Paul


Even if you are on your way to the Lateran you won’t grudge the twenty minutes it will take you, on leaving the Colosseum, to turn away under the Arch of Constantine .. toward the piazzetta of the church of San Giovanni e Paolo, on the slope of Caelian. No spot in Rome can show a cluster of more charming accidents. The ancient brick apse of the church peeps down into the trees of the little wooded walk before the neighbouring church of San Gregorio, intensely venerable beneath its excessive modernisation; and a series of heavy brick buttresses, flying across to an opposite wall, overarches the short, steep, paved passage which leads into the small square. This is flanked on one side by the long mediaeval portico of the church of the two saints, sustained by eight time-blackened columns of granite and marble. On another rise the great scarce-windowed walls of a Passionist convent, and on the third the portals of a grand villa, whose tall porter, with his cockade and silver-topped staff, standing sublime behind his grating, seems a kind of mundane St. Peter, I suppose, to the beggars who sit at the church door or lie in the sun along the farther slope which leads to the gate of the convent. The place always seem to me the perfection of an out-of-the-way corner – a place you would think twice before telling people about, lest you should find them there the next time you were to go. It is such a group of objects, singly and in their happy combination, as one must come to Rome to find at one’s house door; but what makes it peculiarly a picture is the beautiful dark red campanile of the church, which stands embedded in the mass of the convent. It begins, as so many things in Rome begin, with a stout foundation of antique travertine, and rises high, in delicately quaint mediaeval brickwork – little tiers and apertures sustained on miniature columns and adorned with small cracked slabs of green and yellow marble, inserted almost at random. When there are three of four brown-breasted contadini sleeping in the sun before the convent doors, and a departing monk leading his shadow down over them, I think you will not find anything in Rome more sketchable.
(Henry James, Italian Hours)

Tomorrow, 26 June, is the Feast of Saints John and Paul, early Christian martyrs whose names are included in the Roman Canon (First Eucharistic Prayer). The Basilica of Saints John and Paul is the church of the Passionist generalate in Rome. The Summer and Fall 2001 issue of Compassion magazine was devoted to the Basilica of Saints John and Paul. Also interesting is a letter written by Father Marius from the Monastery of Saints John and Paul in which he describes how it looked when he visited about ten years ago and when he lived there as a student over fifty years ago. For pictures of the Basilica, both old and recent, have a look at Vedute di Roma.

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MSM Blog


I have recently added a link to a new blog called Journey of a Young Priest to the sidebar, in the section for Sites of Passionist Interest. The author is a member of the Mission Society of Mandeville, Jamaica. This young missionary institute, founded under the guidance of Bishop Paul M. Boyle, first Bishop of Mandeville, has expressed a desire to deepen its links with the Passionist Congregation.
Here is a prayer to Saint Paul of the Cross which I found on Father Michael’s new blog:
Dear Saint Paul of the Cross
Teach me to obey your words:
to meditate on and follow the Passion of our Lord
to be constant in practicing every virtue
to live in such a way that I may bear
the image of Christ Crucified
both outwardly and inwardly
to conceal myself in Jesus Crucified,
to hope for nothing
except that all peoples may
be converted to His will.
Amen !

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Cor Jesu


When you were scourged, what were the sentiments of your Sacred Heart?
Saint Paul of the Cross, Diary, 1720

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Changes at passiochristi.org

Passio Christi, the website of the Passionist Generalate, has recently changed its layout. The address of its English-language version has also been changed; the new address is for information in English is www.passiochristi.org/EN/EN.htm. At the same time, www.passiochristi.org, which used to be a portal offering links to the different languages (including Italian) has now become the Italian version of the site: an interesting change for an international congregation working in sixty countries, only one of which speaks Italian!

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Corpus Christi

We had our Corpus Christi procession last Sunday. I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to take photographs during the procession, as I was carrying the Monstrance, but here are some from the barbecue afterwards.

Smoke gets in your eyes


All that fresh air gives you an appetite.


The adults waited until the children had been fed.


Mother and daughter doing teamwork.


Anyone for more?


You will have noticed the big dish of salad in the fourth photograph; that’s to distract the health police from all the burgers and sausages. The First Communicants enjoyed wearing their outfits again and managed to keep the ketchup off their white clothes.

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Diary of a Country Priest

Six months ago yesterday I arrived at Saint Gabriel’s, Prestonpans, as parish priest. Since then, this blog has been woefully neglected, with only six posts in as many months; in fact, I haven’t even been posting the comments I have received (-my apologies for that). Inevitably, settling in has taken some time. I was more than twelve years in the Saint Mungo’s community, and this is my first experience of living alone. The life of a solitary priest in an almost-country parish is certainly not stressful, but it is constant. However, having got through the first six months, I do intend to try to find some time for Laus Crucis in the future.

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