25 August 2014

Columban Superior interviewed on Korean TV on significance of visit of Pope Francis



A few days before Pope Francis arrived in Korea on his recent Apostolic Journey, 13-18 August, on the occasion of the 6th Asian Youth Day, the Regional Director of the Columbans in Korea, Fr Donal O'Keeffe, was interviewed on Korea Today, an English-language current affairs programme on South Korea's Arirang TV.


 13-17 August 2014, Republic of Korea

Fr O'Keeffe speculated, in the context of the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs on 16 August, that the Pope would emphasise the heritage that the Korean church of today had received from the witness of the martys, and to show similar witness, even if it would not involve having to lay down their lives.
As it turned out, Pope Francis put great emphasis on this. (Emphases added below.)
  • In his address to the Bishops of Korea on 14 August he called on them to be guardians of memory and guardians of hope. Being guardians of memory means more than remembering and treasuring the graces of the past; it also means drawing from them the spiritual resources to confront with vision and determination the hopes, the promise and the challenges of the future
  • In his homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption the Pope said: As Korean Catholics, heirs to a noble tradition, you are called to cherish this legacy and transmit it to future generations. This will demand of everyone a renewed conversion to the word of God and a passionate concern for the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our midst.
  • In speaking to the delegates to Asian Youth Day on 15 August the Holy Father said to them: Just as the Lord made his glory shine forth in the heroic witness of the martyrs, so too he wants to make his glory shine in your lives, and through you, to light up the life of this vast continent
  • The Bishop of Rome continued the same theme in his homily at the Beatification Mass on 16 August: The victory of the martyrs, their witness to the power of God’s love, continues to bear fruit today in Korea, in the Church which received growth from their sacrifice
  • 16 August was a very busy day for Pope Francis, who spoke to leaders of  the Apostolate of the LaityThe Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution. Blessed Paul Yun Ji-chung and the martyrs beatified today represent an impressive chapter of this history. They bore witness to the faith not only by their sufferings and death, but by their lives of loving solidarity with one another in Christian communities marked by exemplary charity. This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service
  • Faith as a gift, as a heritage received from earlier generations and therefore to be handed on by us to future generations, was spoken of by Pope Francis
    in his homily at the closing Mass of Asian Youth Day on 17 August: The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time. Further on the Pope reminds the young delegates from all over Asia that they are part of the Church in the present: As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! 
     

The Vatican website, www.vatican.va, has a link to all of the Pope's homilies and addresses 

22 August 2014

'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Saint Peter, El Greco, 1610-13
Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel Matthew 16:13-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter,  and on this rock  I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.



Pope Francis in Korea, 13-18 August 2014 [Wikipedia]

In his homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June 2013, Pope Francis said: I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word 'confirm'.  What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm? By 'Petrine ministry' the pope was speaking of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, of the Pope, the successor of St Peter. He said that the Pope is called to confirm in faith, to confirm in love and to confirm in unity. Here is what he said about confirming in faith.

The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God' (Mt16:16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven.  Because of this confession, Jesus replies: 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church' (v. 18).  The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high.  In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms.  When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: 'He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him . . . This must never happen to you' (16:22).  Jesus’ response is harsh: 'Get behind me, Satan!  You are a hindrance to me' (v. 23).  Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks.  Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!

Apostolic Journey on the Occasion of 6th Asian Youth Day (AYD2014)
13-18 August 2014, Republic of Korea

On his recent Apostolic Journey to the Republic of Korea Pope Francis through his words and actions carried out his ministry of confirming in faith, as well as in love and in unity, not only the people of Korea, not only the delegates to the 6th Asian Youth Day, but all of us.

At the Mass in the World Cup Stadium in Daejeon - the Diocese of Daejeon hosted AYD2014 -  on the Solemnity of the Assumption the Bishop of Rome said [emphasis added]: 

Today, in venerating Mary, Queen of Heaven, we also turn to her as Mother of the Church in Korea. We ask her to help us to be faithful to the royal freedom we received on the day of our Baptism, to guide our efforts to transform the world in accordance with God’s plan, and to enable the Church in this country to be ever more fully a leaven of his Kingdom in the midst of Korean society. May the Christians of this nation be a generous force for spiritual renewal at every level of society. May they combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife. May they also reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers, and the culture of death which devalues the image of God, the God of life, and violates the dignity of every man, woman and child.

As Korean Catholics, heirs to a noble tradition, you are called to cherish this legacy and transmit it to future generations. This will demand of everyone a renewed conversion to the word of God and a passionate concern for the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our midst.

The same day at the Shrine of Solmoe, known as 'The Birthplace of Catholicism in Korea', Pope Francis met with the delegates to AYD2014 and once again spoke of the importance of baptism along with the two other sacraments of initiation into the faith, Confirmation and the Eucharist:

Dear young friends, in this generation the Lord is counting on you! He is counting on you! He entered your hearts on the day of your Baptism; he gave you his Spirit on the day of your Confirmation; and he strengthens you constantly by his presence in the Eucharist, so that you can be his witnesses before the world. Are you ready to say 'yes'? [Yes!] Are you ready? [Yes!] Thank you! Are you tired? [No!] Really? [Yes!]

Beatification Mass

On Saturday 18 August Pope Francis beatified Paul Yun Ji-chung and 135 martyr companions at the Gwanghwamun Gate, Seoul. In his homily he emphasised the gift of faith that we are called to pass on, no matter what the cost:

The victory of the martyrs, their witness to the power of God’s love, continues to bear fruit today in Korea, in the Church which received growth from their sacrifice. Our celebration of Blessed Paul and Companions provides us with the opportunity to return to the first moments, the infancy as it were, of the Church in Korea. It invites you, the Catholics of Korea, to remember the great things which God has wrought in this land and to treasure the legacy of faith and charity entrusted to you by your forebears.

The Holy Father linked the sacrifice of these martyrs of Korea with the situation in today's world and what our Christian faith demands of us:

The example of the martyrs also teaches us the importance of charity in the life of faith. It was the purity of their witness to Christ, expressed in an acceptance of the equal dignity of all the baptized, which led them to a form of fraternal life that challenged the rigid social structures of their day. It was their refusal to separate the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor which impelled them to such great solicitude for the needs of the brethren. Their example has much to say to us who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded; and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need.

Pope Francis spoke of the joy of being a Christian, one of his basic themes since becoming Pope:

If we follow the lead of the martyrs and take the Lord at his word, then we will understand the sublime freedom and joy with which they went to their death . . . The legacy of the martyrs can inspire all men and women of good will to work in harmony for a more just, free and reconciled society, thus contributing to peace and the protection of authentically human values in this country and in our world. 

In his address to leaders of the apostolate of the laity the Pope spoke once again of faith as a gift, as a legacy handed down to us:

The Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution . . . This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service. Today, as ever, the Church needs credible lay witnesses to the saving truth of the Gospel, its power to purify and transform human hearts, and its fruitfulness for building up the human family in unity, justice and peace. We know there is but one mission of the Church of God, and that every baptized Christian has a vital part in this mission. Your gifts as lay men and women are manifold and your apostolates varied, yet all that you do is meant to advance the Church’s mission by ensuring that the temporal order is permeated and perfected by Christ’s Spirit and ordered to the coming of his Kingdom.

The faith was introduced to Korea by Korean laymen who were part of a delegation to Beijing and who discovered the faith there.

The inspiring words of Pope Francis were meant not only to confirm Korean Catholics in their faith but all of us. Faith is the most precious gift that God has given us but one that can be lost by individuals and by whole areas of the world. North Africa is one example, where the Christian faith disappeared everywhere except in Egypt and Ethiopia after the rise of Islam. Western Europe is another example, where the Christian faith has been rapidly disappearing in recent decades, as it has to a lesser degree in North America.Two generations ago Quebec in Canada had a flourishing Church that was sending missionaries to many parts of the world, including the Philippines, but where it is now pretty much on the margins.

The words of Jesus to Peter show us clearly that our faith is a gift: Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.

May we thank God each day for the gift of our faith and ask for the grace for ourselves and for Pope Francis to live it as the Korean martyrs did, with the sublime freedom and joy with which they went to their death.

In the words with which Pope Francis concluded his homily at the beatification of the 124 martyrs: 

May the prayers of all the Korean martyrs, in union with those of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, obtain for us the grace of perseverance in faith and in every good work, holiness and purity of heart, and apostolic zeal in bearing witness to Jesus in this beloved country, throughout Asia, and to the ends of the earth. Amen.


+++

The following petition was added to the Prayer of the Faithful at the Pope's Mass for Reconciliation in Myeong-dong Cathedral, Seoul, on 18 August before he flew back to Rome:


Prayer for Cardinal Filoni for Iraq:

For Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who cannot be with us because he was sent by the Pope to the suffering people of Iraq in order to assist our persecuted and dispossessed brothers and sisters, and all the religious minorities who are afflicted in that country. May the Lord be close to him in his mission.

May we continue to pray for all who are being persecuted in Iraq and Syria, especially those who are suffering because they are Christians.

A report on Arirang TV, Korea, a few days before the beatifications.



Antiphona ad introitum   Entrance Antiphon  Cf Ps 85[86]:1-3

Inclina, Domine, aurem tuam ad me, et exaudi me.
Turn your earl, O Lord, and answer me;
Salvum fac servum tuum, Deus meus, sperantem in te.
save the servant who trusts in you, my God.
Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam ad te clamavi tota die.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long.

Laetifica animam servi tui, quia ad te, Domine, animam meam levavi.
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, Lord, I lift my soul.

Inclina, Domine, aurem tuam ad me, et exaudi me.
Turn your earl, O Lord, and answer me;
Salvum fac servum tuum, Deus meus, sperantem in te.
save the servant who trusts in you, my God.
Miserere mihi, Domine, quoniam ad te clamavi tota die.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long.

[The text above in bold print is sung or said in the Ordinary Form of the Mass; in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass the whole text above is sung or said.]




The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 22 August

The Coronation of the VirginVelásquez, 1645
Museo del Prado, Madrid [Web Gallery of Art]

Collect

O God, who made the Mother of your Son
to be our Mother and our Queen,
graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession,
we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom
the glory promised to your children.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Ave Regina Caelorum is one of four Marian antiphons or hymns sung at the end of Compline (Night Prayer), the last 'hour' of the Liturgy of the Hours. (Only one antiphon is sung each nithg.) It is the antiphon sung on the Solemnity of the Assumption and on today's feast. In the video above it is sung at the end of Mass in the Sistine Chapel the morning after Pope Francis was elected.

Ave, Regina Caelorum,
Hail, O Queen of Heaven.

Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Hail, O Lady of Angels

Salve, radix, salve, porta
Hail! thou root, hail! thou gate

Ex qua mundo lux est orta:
From whom unto the world, a light has arisen.

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,

Super omnes speciosa,
Lovely beyond all others,

Vale, o valde decora,
Farewell, most beautiful maiden,

Et pro nobis Christum exora.

And pray for us to Christ.

Below is a setting by Palestrina, sung by a choir in Budapest, Hungary.





In this period I have recalled several times the need for every Christian, in the midst of the many occupations that fill our days, to find time for God and for prayer. The Lord himself gives us many opportunities to remember him. Today I would like to reflect briefly on one of these channels that can lead to God and can also be of help in the encounter with him. It is the way of artistic expression, part of that 'via pulchritudinis' — the 'way of beauty', of which I have spoken several times and whose deepest meaning must be recovered by men and women today.

14 August 2014

'Lord, Help me.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Christ andthe Canaanite Woman, c.1500, Juan de Flandes
Palacio Real, Madrid [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 


Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.


The video above was posted on 22 July. There seemed to be some hope for the Christians of Iraq. But thousands have since fled from their homes because of threats to their lives by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

ISIS hope to control a much wider area, including the region known in Biblical times as Canaan, which is further south.

The anguish and prayer of the Canaanite woman in today's gospel reflects the anguish and prayer of the Christians of northern Iraq and Syria today, whose ancestors were already there in the time that the incident in today's gospel happened and who became Christians in the time of the Apostles. Lord, help me. Lord, help us.

Pope Francis expresses his anguish about the situation in a letter to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Pope writes: 

It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events of these past few days in Northern Iraq where Christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee from their homes and witness the destruction of their places of worship and religious patrimony. Moved by their plight, I have asked His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who served as the Representative of my predecessors, Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, to the people in Iraq, to manifest my spiritual closeness and to express my concern, and that of the entire Catholic Church, for the intolerable suffering of those who only wish to live in peace, harmony and freedom in the land of their forefathers.

In the Gospel Jesus seems to insult the Canaanite woman as a foreigner by comparing her people to 'dogs'. She gives back as much as she gets and reminds Jesus that even the dogs get fed from the scraps. Jesus marvels at her faith and responds to it: Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.

If we were to use the analogy of Jesus in the context of what is happening in northern Iraq and Syria perhaps the vast majority of Catholics, who belong to the Latin or Roman Rite, might be surprised to find the Catholics of Iraq and Syria, most of whom belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, to be the guests of honour at the table, as they trace their Catholic faith to the very origins of the Church.

But many of them no longer have even a table


Pope Francis further says in his letter to Ban Ki-moon: 

The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes. The tragic experiences of the Twentieth Century, and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.



Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church (above) has also written Ban Ki-moon:

We, as the Christian community, appeal to the United Nations to put political pressure on the international community, the Security Council cannot stand by and be a witness to the ongoing atrocities committed against Christians. We were happy when your statement acknowledged that the crimes committed against Christians constitute crimes against humanity, we therefore urge  you to put pressure on all to respect human rights.Excellency, we Christians are peace-loving citizens  caught up in the middle of a clash between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as attacks from Military groups. Our community has suffered a disproportionate share of hardship caused by sectarian conflicts, terrorist attacks, migration and now even ethnic cleansing: the militants want to wipe out the Christian community. [Emphasis added.]

Let us make our own, on behalf of the suffering Christian community- and on behalf of their neighbours who are suffering with them - the prayer of the Canaanite woman that touched the heart of Jesus: Lord, help me.


Ruins of St elijah's Monastery, south of Mosul, Iraq, founded AD 595 [Wikipedia]


The above, by Spanish Renaissance composer Francisco Guerrero (1528 - 1599) and sung by Música Ficta, tells the story of today's gospel, in Latin and in a shortened version.

Clamabat autem mulier cananea
ad Dominum Iesum dicens:
Domine Iesu Christe,
fili David, adiuva me.
Filia mea male a daemonio vexatur.
Respondens ei, Dominus dixit:
Non sum missus nisi ad oves,
quae perierunt domus Israel.

A Canaanite woman  started shouting to the Lord Jesus, 'Lord, Son of David, help me. My daughter is tormented by a demon.' The Lord answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'  

At illa venit, et adoravit eum,
dicens: Domine, adiuva me.
Respondens Iesus, ait illi:
Mulier, magna est fides tua,
fiat tibi sicut vis.

But she came and adored him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' 

Christ and the Canaanite Woman, 1617, Pieter Pietersz Lastman
Riksmuseum, Amsterdam [Web Gallery of Art]