19 August 2019

'In giving us faith, the Lord has given us what is most precious in life.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Syro-Malabar Catholic Wedding [Wikipedia]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 13:22-30 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition, Canada)  

Jesus[ went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’

Luke 13:22-30 in Filipino Sign Language


Six years ago when I was at home in Dublin from the Philippines a friend who had been a parishioner of mine in Mindanao when she was a child and now works near Dublin, invited me for a meal in a hotel. When the waitress came along I asked her if she was from Poland or Lithuania or 'one of those countries. 'One of those countries', she replied with a smile, 'Latvia.' She took our orders but the food was brought by an Indian waiter. Later on an Irish waiter looked after us.

St Andrew's Church, Westland Row, Dublin [Wikipedia]


A week later I found myself in St Andrew's Church, Westland Row, beside one of Dublin's main railway stations. While I was praying there a grandfather and his grandson aged about three came in. The grandfather was wearing bright summer clothes - unlike grandparents when I was young who seemed to be always dressed in dark clothes - and genuflected before kneeling in the pew. After a while the little boy asked him some questions. His grandfather pointed at the altar and also at some of the Stations of the Cross as he explained things to the youngster. They then left.

St Brigid's Church, Blanchardstown, Archdiocese of Dublin

On one Sunday a month in St Brigid's Church, Blanchardstown, in the Archdiocese of Dublin and the parish that became my home parish after my late father and my brother and his family moved there in the late 1970s has Mass for the Syro-Malabar Catholic community in Dublin once a month. Many of these are nurses from Kerala, India, working in Irish hospitals. St Brigid's Parish also has a Filipino choir that sings at one of the Masses on the last Sunday of the month, except during the summer.

Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us in the Gospel this Sunday. Forty years ago churches in Ireland were still full at Sunday Masses, with young and old, and almost everyone Irish. Today there are fewer priests,  fewer Sunday Masses and fewer people attending them, most of them old. A large proportion of Sunday congregations are from places such as India, Nigeria, Poland, the Philippines. Mass servers - and there aren't too many of these anymore - are likely to be either immigrants or the Irish-born children of immigrants.

The above are snapshots of contemporary Ireland, as different from the Ireland of my childhood as are the mobile phones that everyone has from the box cameras that a few had and the telephones  that even fewer had in my time. 


But we had something precious that has been largely lost - our Catholic faith. There are various reasons for the rejection of the Church by many and the outright rejection of the Christian faith by some. But this can remind us that our faith is pure gift from God, a gift that can be shared and that was generously shared, even to the point of giving up life itself, by the countless missionaries who went overseas, or it can be lost, not only by individuals bu by whole communities.


The gift of faith can be lost by taking it for granted, by apathy, by not taking it seriously, by not passing it on. Jesus in the Gospel is telling his fellow Jews - and we must never forget that he is and will be for all eternity a Jew, just like Mary - that many of them are in danger of losing the precious gift of the faith, the faith they inherited from Abraham, our father in faith (Eucharistic Prayer I - Roman Canon) Isaac and Jacob, and that others will accept that same gift with gratitude.

Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Archbishop of Manila [Wikipedia]


In 2003, at a gathering of priests in Antipolo City, near Manila, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, then Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle, now Cardinal-Archbishop of Manila, spoke about a then recent survey on the values of young Filipinos. What he projected could happen within twenty years in terms of the loss of the Catholic faith in the Philippines was what had been happening in Ireland over the previous twenty years.

I was heartened by the sight of the grandfather passing on our Catholic Christian faith to his young grandson by his example and by his readiness to answer the boy's questions. I am heartened by the living faith of so many immigrants to Ireland.

My hope is that the Catholic faith will continues to be passed on in Ireland and elsewhere by grandfathers - and grandmothers and parents - like the one I saw in St Andrew's Church. My hope is that the Catholic faith will be renewed in Ireland and elsewhere by the example and fervour of immigrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, by people from east and west, from north and south and that together we will all will eat in the kingdom of God, not only in heaven but here and now as brothers and sisters working together to build a world where the values  of the Gospel prevail, a world where everyone will have heard the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed to them, especially by the lives we lead. 

Blanchardstown Parish has a Nigerian priest as an assistant, Fr Aloysius Zuribo, who came to Ireland as an immigrant and later was ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin.

My hope is that the nurses from Kerala, who trace their Catholic faith back to St Thomas the Apostle, the waiters, drivers, caregivers and nurses from the Philippines, whose faith embodies a tender love of Mary the Mother of God as our Mother, will help the Irish to re-discover the greatness of the gift that their ancestors received more than 1,500 years ago from a great missionary who first arrived in Ireland at the age of 16 as a kidnapped slave, St Patrick.

My fear is that there will not be enough grandfathers - and grandmothers and parents - who will know and value the gift of faith enough to pass it on and that the youngsters, children of immigrants to Ireland and elsewhere in the Western world, will succumb to the values of their contemporaries and reject the most precious gift that God has given us - our Catholic Christian faith, an invitation to share in the love of God for all eternity.


Though the video was made for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord it invites us to reflect on our faith, received through baptism, as pure gift from God, something we should do constantly. 

Dear friends, in giving us faith, the Lord has given us what is most precious in life, that is, the truest and most beautiful reason for living: it is through grace that we have believed in God, that we have known his love with which he wants to save us and to deliver us from evil. Faith is the great gift with which he also gives us eternal life, true life. Now, dear parents and godparents, you are asking the Church to receive these children within her, to give them Baptism; and you are making this request by virtue of the gift of faith that you yourselves, in turn, have received (Pope Benedict XVI).

Baptising a young girl in the Philippines

13 August 2019

'Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prophet Jeremiah
Byzantine Mosaic Artist [Web Gallery of Art]

So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud (Jeremiah 38:6, First Reading).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 12:49-53 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition, Canada)  

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
    and son against father,
mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

Luke 12:49-53 in Filipino Sign Language

Giovanni Battista Montini in 1919
The Future Pope Paul VI aged 22 [Wikipedia]

About 45 years ago when I had some programmes on DXDD, a radio station in Ozamiz City, Mindanao, started by a Columban priest, Fr Charles Nolan, and now owned by the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, two friends of mine brought in a boy of about three whom they had found wandering at night. I appealed on the air for his family to come and bring him home. There was no response. My programme was the last for the night and I was wondering what we'd do with the boy. The janitor and his wife, whom I'll call Carlos and Teresa, happened to be there and said, 'We'll take him home. What's one more mouth to feed?' They had a small house and a large family.

The boy's mother, who worked in a night club, was found a day or two later and Carlos and Teresa reunited them.

On 25 July 1968 Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, which begins with these words:   

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

Officiating at the wedding of friends in 2007
[M & J now have five children, God bless them]

The encyclical, which upholds the Church's traditional teaching on family planning, immediately caused dissension within the Church, much of it quite bitter. It still provokes strong feelings and has been dismissed by many, maybe even by a majority of Catholics, especially in the West.

While no one threw Pope Paul into a well, as happened to the Prophet Jeremiah (First Reading), many did so metaphorically. Jeremiah had preached a message the authorities and the people didn't want to hear. The message wasn't his own but from God. He had told the people that those who stayed in Jerusalem would be slaughtered by the Babylonians, while those who fled, while losing their possessions, wouldn't lose their lives. All of this came about because leaders and people had ignored God's Covenant with them.

The role of the prophet can be summed up in the title of a book by Fr Bruce Vawter CM that we used in Scripture studies in he seminary: The Conscience of Israel.

Forty years after Humanae Vitae 
Pope Benedict spoke of the division that it had caused: The Document very soon became a sign of contradiction. Drafted to treat a difficult situation, it constitutes a significant show of courage in reasserting the continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition. This text, all too often misunderstood and misinterpreted, also sparked much discussion because it was published at the beginning of profound contestations that marked the lives of entire generations. Forty years after its publication this teaching not only expresses its unchanged truth but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated.

The Church has always seen marriage as the proper and only context for the most intimate relations between a man and a woman. And every human society has seen marriage in the context of the continuation of the human race, more specifically of the particular clan/tribe/nation and most specifically of the two families united through a wedding. And it's hardly an accident that in St John's Gospel the first sign or miracle of Jesus was the changing of the water into wine in Cana so that the marriage festivities could continue.

Pope Paul was reiterating in Humanae Vitae what the Church had always taught and what the Second Vatican Council teaches in Gaudium et Spes, Nos 47-52. No 51 includes this passage that speaks of the relationship between husband and wife in a way that calls them to the highest idealism: For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. The sexual characteristics of man and the human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms of life. Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence.



Wedding rings of M and J

Down the years since Vatican II individuals who have rejected the Church's teaching have sometimes been described as 'prophets'. Many, no doubt, honestly thought that they were right and the Church's leaders wrong.

But we see the results of the most intimate act between a man and a woman being removed from its proper context or when a responsible openness to new life is lacking. There is now an imbalance in many countries in the developed world where the proportion of younger people is getting smaller and smaller, where the one-child family is becoming more and more common, sometimes by coercion, as in China, sometimes by the choice that couples make. Many more than before now have no brothers or sisters, no uncles or aunts.

We see in many countries the increase in abortion, despite the availability of contraceptives.

Gaudium et Spes says, Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence. We see the very opposite in today's world where the acts that the Council speaks of are seen as a form of 'recreation', not even within the context of some kind of commitment, and where the openness to cooperating with God in the creation of new life is thwarted.

We see the utterly bizarre notion of 'marriage' between two persons of the same sex being passed into law in many jurisdictions as a 'right' and the perhaps even more bizarre reality that so many think this is right and proper.

Pope Paul was reviled and dismissed by many for Humanae Vitae. The experience of married couples who have generously planned their families in a way that respects nature has not, by and large, been taken seriously.

The DXDD janitor, Carlos, and his wife Teresa had an openness to accepting new life, even if temporarily, that reflected a generosity of heart. They had no idea how long they might have to look after their new charge.

Vatican II and Pope Paul were both addressing that generosity that we are capable of, even when great sacrifice may be demanded. Pope Paul must have been aware of the great division that his encyclical would cause. He surely experienced the inner suffering that the words of Jesus in today's gospel imply: 
Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! Pope Benedict speaks of the publication  of Humanae Vitae as a significant show of courage in reasserting the continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition.

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhoration Amoris Laetitia, published in 2016, reiterates the teaching of Humanae Vitae:
 Blessed Paul VI, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, further developed the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. In a particular way, with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae he brought out the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life: ‘Married love requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time must be rightly understood… The exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties towards God, themselves, their families and human society’ (No 68). In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Paul VI highlighted the relationship between the family and the Church.

In today's world, especially in the West, the very concepts of husband and wife, father and mother, have been rejected by many and, in some jurisdictions even in law where 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2' have replaced 'father' and 'mother'. Abortions are soaring while many countries are not having enough children to maintain their populations. In some places abortion right up to the moment of birth is legal and seen as a woman's 'right', with no reference to the rights and responsibilities of fathers, never mind to the rights of the human being in its mother's womb.

More than fifty years after Humanae Vitae perhaps we  should recognise as true prophets St Paul VI who taught clearly and lovingly and the many married couples who, down the years, have faithfully lived the teaching of the Church that Jesus founded on the rock of Peter.

Ego sum panis vivusGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1535 - 1594)

Cappella Victoria, Jakarta, Indonesia.

A choir that mostly specializes in 16th-century sacred polyphony, especially the works of Palestrina and Victoria. A choir in line with the spirit of diaspora; has developed to include 33 singers from 14 parishes throughout the Jakarta Archdiocese (from its blog).

Communion Antiphon (John 6:51-52)

I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord. 
Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever.

Antiphona ad Communionem (Johannes 6:51-52)

Ego sum panis vivus, qui de caelo descendi, dicit Dominus: 
si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum.

09 August 2019

'Now and at the hour of our death.' Sunday Reflections, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

St Francis and Brother Leo Meditating on Death
El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 12:32-48 [or 35-40] (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition, Canada)  

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’
Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Luke 12: 35-40
Jesus said to his disciples:
 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’


Luke 12:35-40 in Filipino Sign Language


On the evening of 24 July I got word that my oldest friend, Philip O'Brien, had been admitted to the Palliative Care of Our Lady's Hospice in Harold’s Cross, Dublin and that he wanted to see me. When I went the following day the first thing he asked of me was to give him the Last Rites. I was prepared for this and celebrated the sacrament of confession and the sacrament of the sick with a dear friend with whom I had started off in school at the age of four in 1947. Philip specifically referred to the sacrament of the sick by its old name, ‘Extreme Unction’, the final anointing. He was well aware that in his situation that that is what it was. When we were finished Philip, who rarely spoke about his faith, said to me, ‘I have always trusted in Jesus. May he trust in me now.’

Philip’s final illness had come as a shock to his family and to his friends. His wife Barbara - I had officiated at their wedding in 1968 - and their three sons Ciaran, Rory and Alan were fully aware of the situation and prepared for the end. Most importantly, Philip was prepared, filled with the hope that our faith in the Risen Lord Jesus gives us. He died peacefully two days after I had anointed him and I celebrated his funeral Mass on 1 August.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that day was not a celebration of Philip’s life but a celebration of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus in which we commended Philip’s soul to the mercy of God.

I think that the words of Pope Benedict from his encyclical Spe Salvi [acti sumus—in hope we were saved], No 47,  and quoted in the homily, touched the hearts of those present and reminded us that our death is not the end but, in God's plan when we cooperate with it, is the beginning of eternal life.

The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death—this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon?

. . . We should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another . . . The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too.

There are a number of prayers in the Irish language for a happy death. Here is one: 


Glór na n-aingeal ós mo chionn,
ola Chríosta ar mo chorp,
Dia go raibh romham agus liom.
Is duitse, a Chríosta, m’anam bocht.

The voice of the angels over me,
the anointing of Christ on my body,
may God be before me and with me.
And my poor soul is yours, O Christ.


A Naomh-Mhuire, a Mháthair Dé, guigh orainn na peacaigh, anois agus ar uair ár mbáis. Amen. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


No Man is an Island by John Donne

Pope Benedict quotes from this poem in Spe Salvi.

02 August 2019

'It is the Eucharist, the Christ who died and is risen, that gives us life.' Sunday Reflections, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Corn Harvest (detail)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder [Web Gallery of Art]

The land of a rich man produced abundantly (John 12:16).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 12:13-21 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition, Canada)  

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ 
Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’


Luke 12:13-21 in Filipino Sign Language


Some martyred bishops and priests of our time

Fr Jacques Hamel, Archdiocese of Rouen, France
30 November 1930 - 27 July 2016


Fr Ragheed Ganni 20 January 1972 - 3 June 2007 and Archbishop Mar Paulos Faraj Rahho 20 November 1942 - February or March 2008
Both of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, Iraq

Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, Archdiocese of Warsaw, Poland
14 September 1947 - 19 October 1984

15 August 1917 - 24 March 1980

Fr Vernon Francis Douglas, Columban, New Zealand / Philippines
22 May 1910 - 27 July 1943

13 January 1891 - 23 November 1927

This is what the priesthood is about
This is what the Mass is about
This is what the Catholic Church is about

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison

[Thanks to Fr Ray Blake of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in England who posted the photo from Aleteia above with the caption beneath on his blog.]

Both St Óscar Romero and Fr Jacques Hamel were murdered while celebrating Mass. Fr Ragheed Ganni was murdered just after celebrating Mass

Church of Saint-Étienne (St Stephen's) 

Father Jacques, born on the feast of St Andrew, Apostle and Martyr, was martyred in his parish church, named after St Stephen the First Christian Martyr, on the day after the feast of his patron St James, Apostle and Martyr. (Jacques is the French form of James).

The three readings today remind us of what is essential. 

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! (First Reading).

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.(Second Reading).

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Gospel).


This Mass was celebrated in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday 27 July 2016.

In his homily below Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney refers to the many killings by terrorists in recent weeks in different parts of the world - and most victims were Muslims. He refers to Fr Jacques's friendship with Muslims. He also reminds us of the response of leaders of the Islamic faith in France to the killing of Fr Hamel.

‘A church is a place of peace and love, and when he is saying Mass the priest stands in the place of eternal Love, who is Jesus Christ Himself. So this attack is an attack on a particular priest, his congregation, his community, his country; but it also an attack on all priests, all congregations, all communities, all countries because its aim is to undermine people's sense of security everywhere, freedom of religion everywhere, and our love of peace.


We need to be always prepared for a sudden death, not matter in what way it may come. And we need to prepare for that by frequent confession, as Pope Francis has reminded us so many times, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is believed that Fr Francis Douglas was scourged by Japanese soldiers while tied to one of the pillars in St James' church, Paete, Laguna, because he would not break the seal of confession.

St Óscar Romero:

How easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin! And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt, and everyone is responsible. We are all sinners, and we have all contributed to this massive crime and violence in our country. Salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin. [Source: The Violence of Love]

Fr Ragheed Ganni:

It is among such difficulties that we understand the real value of Sunday, the day when we meet the Risen Christ, the day of our unity and love, of our (mutual) support and help. There are days when I feel frail and full of fear. But when, holding the Eucharist, I say 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world', I feel His strength in me. When I hold the Host in my hands, it is really He who is holding me and all of us, challenging the terrorists and keeping us united in His boundless love.

In normal times, everything is taken for granted and we forget the greatest gift that is made to us. Ironically, it is thanks to terrorist violence that we have truly learnt that it is the Eucharist, the Christ who died and is risen, that gives us life. And this allows us to resist and hope. [Source: AsiaNews.it] 

Kyrie from Gregorian Mass XI (Orbis factor)
Sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir

'Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison' is the Greek for 'Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy'.