24 September 2020

'He answered, "I will not"; but afterwards he changed his mind and went.' Sunday Reflections, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Red Vineyard
Vincent van Gogh [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 21:28-32 (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’, but afterwards he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir’, but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterwards change your minds and believe him.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

The Little Fruit Seller

Fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.

The above scene, at the Coliseum in Rome, comes shortly before the end of the 1983 made-for-TV move, The Scarlet and the Blackwhich tells the true World War II story of Vatican-based Irish priest Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, known as 'The Vatican Pimpernel' and played here by Gregory Peck, and Colonel Herbert Kappler, head of the Gestapo in Rome during the Nazi occupation from September 1943 till June 1944, played by Christopher Plummer. The priest has managed to save the lives of many Allied soldiers and others, getting under the skin of Kappler.

When the German knows that the Allies are about to liberate Rome he sends for the Irishman at night, guaranteeing his safety. 
The Wikipedia article on the movie tells us what happens after their exchange of 'pleasantries' above. 

Colonel Kappler worries for his family's safety from vengeful partisans, and, in a one-to-one meeting with O'Flaherty, asks him to save his family, appealing to the same values that motivated O'Flaherty to save so many others. The Monsignor, however, refuses, disbelieving that after all the Colonel has done and all the atrocities he is responsible for, he could expect mercy and forgiveness automatically, simply because he asked for it, and walks away in disgust . . .

Kappler is captured in 1945 and questioned by the Allies. In the course of his interrogation, he is informed that his wife and children were smuggled out of Italy and escaped unharmed into Switzerland. Upon being asked who helped them, Kappler realizes who it must have been, but responds simply that he does not know.

At the very end we read on the screen: After the liberation Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty was honored by Italy, Canada and Australia, given the U.S. Medal of Freedom and made a Commander of the British Empire.

Herbert Kappler was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes. In the long years that followed in his Italian prison, Kappler had only one visitor. Every month, year in and year out, O'Flaherty came to see him.

In 1959 the former head of the dreaded Gestapo in Rome was [received] into the Catholic faith at the hand of the Irish priest.

Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial, Killarney, Ireland

[You can view the whole scene between the Colonel Kappler and Monsignor O'Flaherty on Gloria TV here, starting at 06.10. The whole movie is available on Gloria TV here.]

St Paul tells us in the Second Reading, Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. The priest has been putting his life at risk time and again to save the lives of others, while the soldier has been taking the lives of others. But now Kappler looks beyond himself and wants to save the lives of his wife and two children.

St Paul tells us that Christ Jesus made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. Kappler in a real sense can be said to have made himself nothing when he compares himself to a beggar and lame dog as he requests the priest to help his wife and children get to safety. Saving others is all part of your faith, he says to the priest. Brotherly love and forgiveness - that's the other half of what you believe.

When the priest storms off with I'll see you in hell first! Kappler says to himself, You're no different from anyone else. Your talk means nothing. Charity, forgiveness, mercy - it's all lies.

But when Kappler is being interrogated by officials of the Allies [here from 1:30 to 3:06]  we discover that the Irish priest too had emptied himself by overcoming his anger at the request to help his enemy's family to escape, and by enabling them to get to Switzerland. 

Very few of us will have to face the kind of danger that Monsignor O'Flaherty faced. But every day we have to make choices, often between good and bad. The choice to forgive his enemy that the Irish priest made is the kind of choice that faces all of us, even if the perceived crime or 'crime' of our enemy or 'enemy' is rarely on the scale of those of Colonel Kappler. But the latter, in his need, felt the stirrings of hope in his heart, the stirrings of faith in a merciful God, when he approached his nemesis with his plea. 

Those stirrings were dashed by the priest's angry refusal. Charity, forgiveness, mercy - it's all lies. But those stirrings were raised again when he learned that his wife and children were safe and knew that only one person could have seen to that. Then he knew he was wrong when he said, Charity, forgiveness, mercy - it's all lies. Now he knew it was all true.

I don't know if the Irish priest was familiar with these words of St Caesarius of Arles (c.470 - 27 August 542): Whenever you love brothers or sisters you love friends, for they are already with you, joined to you in Catholic unity. If they live virtuously you love them as people who have been changed from enemies into brothers and sisters. But suppose you love people who do not yet believe in Christ, or if they do, yet believe as the devil believes - they believe in Christ but still do not love him. You must love just the same, you must love even people like that, you must love them as brothers and sisters. They are not such yet, but you must love them so that they become such through your kindness. All our love, then, must be fraternal.

'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but afterwards he changed his mind and went.

[You can read a fine article by William Doino Jr published in First Things, November 2013: Hugh O'Flaherty, Ireland's Shining Priest.]

Memento Verbi Tui by Mark Emerson Donnelly 
(In Memoriam Marie Donnelly, 1926-2020)

Antiphona ad Communionem    Communion Antiphon
Cf Psalm 118 [119]:49-50

Memento verbi tui servo tui, Domine:
Remember your word to your servant, O Lord,
in quo mihi spem dedisti;
by which you have given me hope.
haec me consolata est in humilitate meum.
This is my comfort when I am brought low.

On the Sundays in Ordinary Time one of two Communion Antiphons may be used. The first is a text from the Old Testament, as above, the second from the New Testament.

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 27 September, is the Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost in the calendar that uses the TLM. The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 9-27-2020, if necessary).

Happy Birthday, dear Louella 'Lala' Vicente!

Lala with Jordan

Lala's story is here.

I have posted about my friend Lala a number of times, with variations. I first met her in Cebu City in 1992 or 1993 when she was a child. For me, Lala's story is one that should be told over and over again. This Sunday, 27 September, normally the feast of St Vincent de Paul, she is celebrating her birthday. No doubt, the occasion is being marked at Punla, Ang Arko, where Lala lives, the only L'Arche community in the Philippines, in Cainta, Rizal, part of the metropolitan sprawl of Manila. 

In some Western countries fewer and fewer persons like Lala are being born, condemned to death before birth because they have an extra an extra chromosome (Trisomy 21 / Down Syndrome / Down's Syndrome).

You may send a birthday greeting to Lala here.

Lala and Hachiko, each looking more content than the other!

Sadly, this beautiful dog died not long after the photo was taken, choking on a chicken bone.

22 September 2020

Our Lady of China, Covid-19, the Legion of Mary in China

Our Lady of China
With the inscription: Mother of God, pray for us

Someone sent me this photo back in April, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and expressing a desire that we should pray for the people of China, where the virus began in Wuhan.

That city is a conglomeration of three cities: Wuchang, Hankow and Hanyang.

When the first group of Columban priests, including our Co-founder Fr Edward Galvin, travelled to China in 1920 some went to Hanyang. In 1927 Fr Galvin was ordained as the first bishop of what was then the Vicariate Apostolic of Hanyang. It became a diocese in 1946.

Bishop Edward Galvin and Fr John Blowick
Co-founders of the Columbans (mid-1950s)

Bishop Galvin lived through wars and natural calamities, serving the people of his diocese with one desire: to do God's will. He was expelled from the People's Republic of China in 1952. In a report he wrote that year he stated the reasons the authorities gave for this.

You have opposed and obstructed the establishment of an Independent Church in China. You have brought into being a reactionary organisation called the Legion of Mary. You have engaged in anti-patriotic propaganda against the government. You have destroyed the property of the people.

Archbishop Antonio Riberi, appointed Apostolic Internuncio to China in 1946, asked the Columbans the following year if Fr Aedan McGrath could be his delegate to travel through China establishing the Legion of Mary. Father Aedan had been involved with the Legion for quite some time by then with the encouragement of Bishop Galvin.

In his book The Splendid Cause, a history of the Missionary Society of St Columban, my fellow Columban priest Fr Neil Collins writes about the experience of a young Irish Columban priest, Fr Oliver Whyte, newly-arrived in China in 1947 in a place called Nanzin where he began the first praesidium of the Legion of Mary in the district. Three other praesidia followed, in Huchow city, Songlin and Sinkadhay. Members of a legion praesidium undertake apostolic work, especially visitation of hospitals, prisons, hostels for down-and-outs, and private homes. Whyte asked the Nanzin legionaries to visit lax Christians, and to instruct house-bound catechumens. All the members of his praesidium were illiterate, except one lady who had to act as both president and secretary. Perhaps the greatest  fruit of the Legion was the effects on the members themselves. Through involvement in the apostolate of the church, study of the Legion handbook, the discipline of a weekly meeting, and prayer, they become so committed that most could resist all communist pressure and indoctrination.

[The basic unit of the Legion of Mary is known by the Latin word 'praesidium', the plural of which is 'praesidia'.]

In The Splendid Cause, Fr Neil Collins tells us, A Campaign of newspaper attacks began in June 1951, with bitter articles on the 'imperialists' in the church. Chief of these was the papal internuncio, Riberi, but the Legion of Mary was also mentioned. Riberi was expelled on 4 September 1951. Two days later Aedan McGrath whom Riberi had appointed in 1948 to organise the Legion throughout China, was arrested. The Chinese government officially suppressed the Legion on 7 October 1951.

I doubt that the authorities in the People's Republic of China were aware that 7 October was the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

Madonna del Rosario
Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

The Splendid Cause then quotes Columban Fr John C. Casey: The next day the secret police, dressed in black uniforms or in mufti arrived . . . From now on the destruction of the Legion of Mary was the immediate target . . . Beating them, roping them halfway to jail were common methods used in the attempt to break them down . . . This went on for over six months . . . Yet not one of them broke down . . . and in the end the Communists had to admit that they were beaten.

Fr Casey along with three other Columbans, Frs Owen O'Kane, Patrick Reilly and Patrick Ronan, were arrested in June 1952 and imprisoned for 17 months. and expelled 'eternally' from China on 28 November 1953. They became known to the Columbans as 'The Four Felons'. You can read about them here. Several members of the Legion of Mary were arrested along with the four priests but there are no records of what became of them.

L to R: Frs Patrick Reilly, Owen O'Kane, John C. Casey, Patrick Ronan
'The Four Felons' after their expulsion from China.

Fr Aedan McGrath was released on 2 May 1954 after nearly three years in solitary confinement and spent the rest of his long life working with the Legion of Mary, especially in the Pacific region. I came to know him very well in the Philippines. He died suddenly at a family gathering on Christmas Day 2000 at the age of 94. I witnessed something quite extraordinary at his funeral, which I wrote about in A Heavenly Farewell. There's a video version of the article that includes the brief video of Father Aedan himself below.

Fr Aedan McGrath talks about his only friend in prison in China

Fr Aedan NcGrath with St John Paul II

Fr Neil Collins ends his section in The Splendid Cause on the work of Columbans in China with this paragraph.

The small group of Columbans in Huchow, 1946-53, trained no students for the priesthood, and their ministry in the district might seem to have been fruitless. But the most striking achievement was the formation, in a very short time - Casey's praesidium existed for only two years - of several remarkable praesidia of the Legion of Mary. The communists searched for members of the Legion who would make accusations against McGrath or the other priests and found none. When Oliver Whyte returned to Nanzin fifty years later he found a healthy church, and one faithful parishioner was the lady who had been the president of the praesidium.

Legion of Mary Tessera
Leaflet with the Prayers of the Legion of Mary

I know very little about the particular image of Our Lady of China that was sent me. Googling will show many other images of Our Lady of China but not this one.

The whole world has been affected this year by Covid-19 that originated in Wuhan in an area with which the Columbans and the Legion of Mary have close connections. But the Church in China has grown in recent decades despite many hardships. I have met young priests and religious from China who joyfully live their faith and that gives me great hope.

May Our Lady of China obtain God's choicest blessings on the people of China, on the Legion of Mary and on Columban missionaries.

18 September 2020

'Everything is mercy, believe me.' Sunday Reflections, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Johann Christian Brand [Wikipedia]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 20:1-16 (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Jesus said to his disciples:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market-place, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the labourers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,  saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The Grape-Picker
Bernhard Keil [Web Gallery of Art]

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Jacques Fesch - A Murderer's Conversion

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is one of the top soccer teams in Europe. It gets its name from the suburb of Paris where it is located, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It is also the birthplace on 6 April 1930 of Jacques Fesch. He died on 1 October 1957 in Paris. In 1987 Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, opened a diocesan inquiry into the life of Jacques and in 1993 formally opened the process for his beatification. 

This caused considerable controversy in France because Jacques Fesch had been executed by guillotine for the murder of Jean-Baptiste Vergne, 35, a widowed policeman and father of a daughter aged 4, on 25 February 1954. There was no doubt whatever of Jacques Fesch's guilt nor did he show any remorse at his trial or after being sentenced.

How did this man come to be proposed for beatification by a French cardinal who was born Jewish and whose mother was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz in 1943?

During the more than three years that he was in prison, in solitary confinement, Jacques Fesch experienced a profound religious conversion. We know this from the letters he wrote and from the diary he kept during the last months before his execution. Two persons who influenced his were the prison Catholic chaplain and his lawyer, a devout Catholic, named Baudet who expressed his concern for his client's immortal soul.

Jacques Fesch's conversion - he had been baptised a Catholic as an infant - was a gradual one, beginning with reading a book about Our Lady in October 1954 and coming to fruition by the following March, Around that time he wroteAt the end of my first year in prison, a powerful wave of emotion swept over me, causing deep and brutal suffering. Within the space of a few hours, I came into possession of faith, with absolute certainty. I believed … Grace came to me. A great joy flooded my soul, and above all a deep peace.

The Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading today speaks precisely to the situation in which Jacques Fesch found himself through his own sins: Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7).

In the light of that we can interpret the parable in today's gospel as telling us that God's mercy extends to all who will accept it, even to about the eleventh hour, to the very end of our lives. This is not something to take for granted so that we can carry on sinning until the last moment. That is the sin of presumption. But neither is it something to see as impossible, that we are beyond God's mercy. That is the sin of despair.

Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves
Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).

The story of Jacques Fesch is not unlike that of the 'Good Thief', often called St Dismas, at the right hand of Jesus, who repented of his sins on his cross. It illustrates the truth of the words of St Paul in Romans 8: 35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? These words are the inspiration for this Russian hymn.

Who Will Separate Us from the Love of God?

Thomas Craughwell in an article in the American weekly National Catholic Register writes about a number of canonised saints who had 'a history'. One example: Then there is St Callixtus, an embezzler, a brawler, a twice-convicted felon. Yet Callixtus repented, became a priest, was elected pope, and died a martyr.

Craughwell also, to a degree, plays the role of Devil's Advocate: Who among us would not hope that Fesch’s repentance was sincere, that his soul was saved? But it would have been simple for him to fool the prison chaplain, his devoutly Catholic defense attorney, his family, none of whom wanted to believe he was an irredeemable villain. As a man raised in a Catholic household, in a Catholic society, Fesch would have known how to play the role of penitent.

This article also mentions the reaction of some French police to the idea of Jacques Fesch's cause being beatified: A chief of a French police union asked a pointed question: 'Where are we headed, if we start beatifying criminals?' Another police union official warned that judges and prison wardens could expect to hear from condemned criminals who claimed, falsely, to have experienced a religious conversation after sentencing in order to generate sympathy and escape punishment.

These reactions are very understandable. In some ways they resemble the grumbling of those in the parable who had worked the full twelve hours: These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.

However, the parable is not about wages or salaries but about God's boundless generosity and mercy. Each worker was given a denarius, a full day's wage. Jacques, who I believe had a real conversion, understood this. He wrote in a letter to his mother not long before he was executed: Everything is mercy, believe me, and I am confident that one day you will understand this more clearly than I, who am coming to the end of my life, and to whom so much is being given - a superabundance of good things and unimaginable joys. 'Amen, amen, I say to you even if I were to silence them, the very stones would cry out for joy.'

Jacques Fesch believed in the reality of eternal life, something we don't hear as much about as we should. At the top of this blog, under the title Bangor to Bobbio you will find these words of St Columban: Since we are travellers and pilgrims in the world, let us ever ponder on the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our roadway is our home.

In a letter to a priest, the prison chaplain I think, Jacques wrote: I shall carry your name to heaven with me, written in my heart, and when the Lord allows me to cast a glance down to earth, I shall gaze into a dark little cell where a priest is celebrating the greatest of all possible sacrifices, uniting himself each day to crucified love, and then I shall ask our Lord to cast a gracious glance on his faithful minister and fill him with blessings. Peace be with you, my Father, and may the eternal light soon shine upon you also. Until we meet in God. Your humble and grateful sheep, Jacques.

What a beautiful expression of what is at the heart of the vocation of the priest!

Last week I included that great hymn written by another repentant sinner, John Newton, Amazing Grace. This week I will include another version recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic featuring Judy Collins, whose recording in 1970 brought it to the attention of many, including myself, who had never heard it before. It features choirs from different parts of the world. It also includes the stanza that I particularly love but that is often omitted.

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun;
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

Eternal life is the 'denarius' that God in His loving mercy wants to give each of us at the end of our life. May we work faithfully in His vineyard for however long and in whatever way He wishes us to do so and may we receive the precious gift of eternal life from Him 'when evening comes'.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 20 September, is the Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost in the calendar that uses the TLM. The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 9-20-2020, if necessary).

10 September 2020

'They had died hand-in-hand praying for and forgiving one another.' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

St Peter in Penitence

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 18:21-35 (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Then Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Misa Criolla, by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez (1921-2010), is a Mass for tenor, chorus and orchestra, is based on folk genres such as chacareracarnavalito and estilo pampeano, with Andean influences and instruments. It is also one of the first Masses to be composed in a modern language. Ramírez wrote the piece in 1963-1964. 'Kyrie eleison', is translated into Spanish here as 'Señor, ten piedad de nosotros', 'Lord, have mercy on us'. Here it is sung in St Peter's Basilica during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12 December 2014.  

Fr Werenfried van Straaten OPraem
'The Bacon Priest' [Wikipedia]

Today's gospel brings us in touch with what is perhaps its most difficult demand: to forgive. El Greco's painting shows us St Peter praying with hope and trust in God's merciful and forgiving love. The setting by Ariel Ramírez of the Kyrie expresses the same thing. 

Two examples come to mind. One is that of Fr Werenfried van Straaten OPraem (1913-2003), about whom I posted on 6 June 2011. A Dutchman, he appealed to his fellow Dutch citizens who had suffered greatly from the Germans during World War II to help German refugees after the war by supplying food and other necessities. He was also deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the refugees. His request, especially to those who had family members killed by German soldiers, pushed some of his listeners to the limit. But they acted according to today's gospel and found hatred and anger replaced by pity and love.

Another is an extract from a letter of Fr William Doyle SJ, an Irish priest who died in August 1917 while serving as a chaplain in the British Army in World War I. The extract is taken from a post in a wonderful blog called Remembering Fr Willie Doyle SJ.

Father Doyle writes to his father in Dublin about events of 5 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme:

In the bottom of one hole lay a British and a German soldier, locked in a deadly embrace, neither had any weapon, but they had fought on to the bitter end. Another couple seemed to have realised that the horrible struggle was none of their making, and that they were both children of the same God; they had died hand-in-hand praying for and forgiving one another. A third face caught my eye, a tall, strikingly handsome young German, not more, I should say, than eighteen. He lay there calm and peaceful, with a smile of happiness on his face, as if he had had a glimpse of Heaven before he died. Ah, if only his poor mother could have seen her boy it would have soothed the pain of her broken heart.

To Father Doyle no German soldier was an enemy. Indeed, one of the remarkable things in the literature that came out of the Great War is that soldiers didn't seem to have hatred for the official 'enemy'. It was more often against their own generals and bullying corporals. Photos and videos from the war show prisoners of war, especially wounded ones, being treated with the same kindness and consideration as others.
Father Doyle's description of the British and German soldiers holding hands in death illustrates poignantly and powerfully what Jesus asks of us. 

Amazing Grace
Words by John Newton

This song came out of John Newton's experience of God's mercy when shipwrecked off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, in 1748. He was involved in the Atlantic slave trade at the time and continued to be for some more years when he began to work for the abolition of slavery and became an Anglican priest. And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You
Composed by John Rutter
Sung by the Batavia Madrigal Singers (Indonesia)

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

Madonna of Mercy
Blessed Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 13 September, is the Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost in the calendar that uses the TLM. The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 9-13-2020, if necessary).