30 October 2020

'The goal of my life is to always be united with Jesus.' Sunday Reflections, Solemnity of All Saints


Blessed Carlo Acutis
3 May 1991 - 12 October 2006
Beatified 10 October 2020

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12a (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Matthew 5:1-12a in Filipino Sign Language


Carlo Acutis Web Missionary

To activate the English subtitles click on the 6th icon from the right at the bottom of the screen.

I asked a friend, a teacher, to look at the video above and to share her comments with me. Her first comment was, He is so ordinary! She added that she wanted to look at it again and to reflect on it more deeply. My friend's reaction was similar to what Fr Will Conquer MEP, the young French priest in the video, said: Carlo is really an ordinary saint

Technically, Blessed Carlo, who was born in London, England, but grew up in Milan, Italy, is not yet a saint in the sense of one who has been canonised. But on the Solemnity of All Saints the Church honours all those who are in the presence of God, that great multitude of 'ordinary saints', some of whom, most likely, each of us knew personally. Father Will quotes St Teresa of Kolkata, Mother Teresa: Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love. All Saints' Day is when the Church honours all those now with God who have done such.

I had read a little about Carlo before his beatification but it was only when a local parish priest here spoke enthusiastically about him in a Zoom meeting  that I decided to learn more about him.

The most striking thing for me watching the video is Blessed Carlo's deep personal relationship with Jesus, especially through the Blessed Sacrament. Father Will notes: First Communion was a real encounter with Christ. Carlo was nourished by the Eucharist every day and it is this friendship with Christ in the Eucharist that would nourish his life. His mother Antonia says, For him his day was to meet Jesus at Mass . . . For him, it was obvious that Jesus is really present wherever there is a tabernacle. She quotes her son, We have the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle and no one is queuing up. His strong sense of this and his desire to be with Jesus in adoration before the tabernacle reminds me of his French namesake Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the French hermit-priest who lived in the Sahara among Muslim nomads and who will be canonised some time in 2021. Through his daily hours of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in his hermitage he discovered himself as 'the little brother' of the Muslims among whom he lived knocking on his door for help.

Young Carlo used to say, The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Another striking thing about Blessed Carlo, who was an only child of wealthy parents, was his respect for others, especially those who were poor. His school friends recalled his friendliness with persons such as the school caretaker. He brought meals to homeless people with Capuchin brothers and, with his pocket money, bought sleeping bags for some of them. This for me came from the deep relationship he had with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In this he reminds me of another handsome young Italian born years before Carlo and who died suddenly at the age of 24, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati whom St John Paul II called 'A Man of the Beatitudes'.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati shortly before his death in 1925

The young Carlo - and he never became old enough to be anything but 'the young Carlo' - had and continues to have a profound influence on adults. He mother says that he was like 'a little Saviour' to her and helped her and her husband Andrea to become active Catholics again. The family's parish priest had great wisdom too when, after Carlo's First Holy Communion, he asked Antonia to become a catechist.

Most striking of all for me is how Rajesh, the immigrant from India who worked with the family, speaks about Carlo. His best friend was Jesus, he says. He used to accompany Carlo to kindergarten and often went to the local park, sometimes with the family dog, Carlo bringing a frisbee to throw for the dog. Sometimes they went to McDonalds. Rajesh shares that the only person who treated him with respect was this young child. (I'm sure Carlo's parents did too). This reminds me of the story I mentioned last week of the homeless Dublin alcoholic who testified that the only person who ever looked up to him was Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary.

Rajesh goes on to say, I valued him more than my teacher because everything he said was really joyful and touched my heart . . . Such a young child could be a role model in my life.He was a true teacher for me which is why I converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

Carlo was a 'geek', as Father Will describes him, the first saint in heaven with an email address. He was a missionary 'geek' who asked himself, How can I share my greatest passion with my friends? Father will says, His greatest passion was Jesus in the Eucharist. In order to share this passion he set up a website about all the Eucharistic miracles he could find out about. He used Google and Wikipedia for research. His work is now being carried on by others.

Father Will says in the video, For me Carlo is a new kind of missionary of this unknown continent, the sixth continent that needs to be evangelized. Carlo is part of a pioneer generation. This echoes the message of Pope Benedict XVI for World Communications Day 2009, the title of which was New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. I'm not sure if Pope Benedict had heard of Carlo at that time. Yet the last paragraph of the Pope's message could have been written with Carlo in mind. I've emphasised some parts.

I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this 'digital continent'. Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the 'Good News' of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing. 

Pope Benedict was not telling young people that they were the 'future' of the Church but rather they were its now, with a special responsibility to bring the Good News to others because of their knowledge and skills as citizens of 'this digital continent'.

A young woman towards the end of the video says, Carlo told us: 'The goal of my life is to always be united with Jesus.' And this touches me a lot because it reminds me of what is essential: always being in a heart-to-heart [relationship] with Jesus. This echoes the recently-canonised St John Henry Newman whose motto as a cardinal was, Cor ad cor loquitur - Heart speaks to heart. 

Blessed Carlo, who died at 15, reminds me of a saint long before the time of the internet and who died at 105, St Anthony the Abbot. St Athanasius writes of him: And so all the people of the village, and the good men with who he associated saw what kind of man he was, and they called him 'The friend of God'. Some loved him as a son, and others as though he were a brother.

Blessed Carlo Acutis

The life of this young man who was so joyful because of his closeness to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament embodies the sixth beatitude in today's Gospel and the Communion Antiphon: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. He understood the opening words to today's Second Reading (1 John 3;1-3): See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are

Blessed Carlo invites us to thank God for the saintly people who have crossed our path. And I would suggest using the video above for prayer. I do believe that God is speaking to us through Blessed Carlo and especially through this video. And with lockdowns in so many countries we have time to reflect and to pray - and to discover for ourselves how the internet can be a tool to bring Jesus to others and to see is as a tool that can bring us closer to one another in these strange time.

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 1 November, is also the Feast of All Saints  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 11-01-2020, if necessary).

Epistle: Revelations (Apocalypse) 7:2-12; Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12.

Authentic Beauty

Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond.

Pope Benedict XVI meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, 21 November 2009.

Beati mundo corde
Music by William Byrd, sung by UniversitätsChor München (Munich)

The Latin text is that of the Communion Antiphon in both forms of the Mass today.

Antiphona ad communionem Communion Antiphon (Mt 5:8-10)

Beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt;
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur;
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum.
Blessed are they who are persecuted  for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

27 October 2020

Marriage is between one man and one woman. Full stop. Period.


Syro-Malabar Catholic Wedding, India

The First Reading in today's Mass was St Paul's magnificent teaching on marriage, Ephesians 5:21-33. Here is the translation from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition.


Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

St Paul quotes Genesis 2: 24, Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. Jesus quotes these same words in Matthew 19:5 and in Mark 10:7-8.

This is against the background of the first account of creation in Genesis 1, Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply . . . (Genesis 1: 26-28).

Any denial of this is an affront to God the Creator, indeed to nature itself. Marriage is between one man and one woman, as the Church has always taught. Every culture since the beginning of time has seen marriage as being between man and woman, though some allow polygamy (a husband with more than one wife) and polyandry (a wife with more than one husband). It is only in our time that some have re-defined marriage as also being between two persons of the same sex, using the lie of 'equality' to get gullible people on their side. This is not marriage as it has always been understood. It is an absurdity.

St Paul sees marriage as reflecting the relationship between Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the Church his Bride. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church. 'Marriage' between two persons of the same sex is a parody on this.

Catholic Wedding, Kyoto, Japan

Once again people are confused about what the Church teaches, or doesn't teach about marriage and about chastity. The Church has always taught that sexual relations may take place only within marriage. In any other situation the Church has always taught that this is objectively gravely sinful. This applies to everyone, whatever their sexual orientation may be. The virtue of chastity applies to both unmarried and married people.

Married people are called upon to practice chastity when they are apart, when one is sick, when practicing natural family planning, for example.

The Church does not turn away anyone who sins against chastity. The sacrament of confession is a gift given by God to us to ask for and received his forgiveness for any sin.

The Church does not teach through press conferences or documentaries, though these may be occasions for highlighting some teaching or other. 

However, when they cause confusion, as they have done in recent years, there is a problem. When a papal encyclical, a formal way of teaching, such as Amoris laetitia causes widespread confusion there is a much bigger problem, especially when cardinals, the Pope's closest advisers, who ask for clarification cannot even get an audience with the Pope. We have the situation now where bishops in some countries, eg, Germany condone what is considered by bishops in other countries, eg, Poland, as adultery.

Fr Gerald E. Murray is a canon lawyer and a parish priest in the Archdiocese of New York. He frequently appears on EWTN.  The Catholic Thing recently published an article by him, Pope Francis Oversteps the Papal Office, that expresses my thoughts.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement on the latest confusion trying to answer the question Where is the Pope coming from? The statement refers to the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11): He refused to judge the woman who had been caught in adultery without saying that what she did was right. He just did not think that condemning people or judging them was the right thing to do in order to work for their conversion. [My emphasis]. 

The words I emphasised are not incorrect but they are not fully accurate either. These are the words of Jesus: Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again. Jesus did more than not saying to the woman that what she did was wrong. He told her clearly, without condemning her, that she had sinned. Jesus had profound respect for her and profound compassion. He was being truly pastoral.


I have used the video above more than once on this blog. The song For Me and My Gal, which dates back to 1917 - the video is from a 1942 movie - speaks more clearly to me about marriage than some of what has been coming out from Church leaders in recent years. Marriage is between one man and one woman - in most cases young and open to welcoming children. A wedding is a community celebration involving community preparation and, in Western society at least in the past, usually took place in a church. For Catholics that means the Sacrament of Matrimony where Jesus himself is the foundation of the spousal relationship, a sacrament that the bride and groom confer on one another. (Many wrongly think it is the priest who does that. He is a witness who blesses the couple on behalf of the Church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

21 October 2020

'Cardinal Kim embodied the Two Great Commandments.' Sunday Reflections, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix)
Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mt 22:39).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version Anglicised)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan 
Archbishop of Seoul (1922 - 2009)

This time six years ago I visited Korea to attend the ordination to the priesthood on 1 November of Fr Lee Jehoon Augustine, a Columban who spent two years working in the Manila area as part of his preparation for the priesthood. He is now serving in Myanmar.

While there I went with two Columban priests, Fr Liam O'Keeffe, a classmate from County Clare, Ireland, Fr Con Murphy from County Cork, Ireland, who came back to Ireland in 2018 after 57 years in Korea, and a woman named Pia to visit the graves of five Columbans in a cemetery owned by the Archdiocese of Seoul, but outside both the city and the archdiocese.  One of the five Columbans buried there, Fr Mortimer Kelly from Gort, County Galway, was a classmate of Father Liam and myself. Pia had known Fr John Nyhan, from Kilkenny, Ireland, another of the five, since her childhood.

The cemetery is on hillsides, as is the Korean custom. A little higher on the hill where my companions are buried is the grave of Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, a man who was revered in Korea, not only by Catholics but by nearly all South Koreans.

While we were there Father Con told me of a homily that Cardinal Kim once preached at a Mass in a Catholic university. He took out two daily newspapers and began to speak in such a quiet voice that those present had to strain forward and 'eavesdrop'. Cardinal Kim was flipping over the pages of both newspapers and some were thinking he was unprepared. Then he came to a particular story about young women working on the railways who collected the fares of last-minute passengers and helped 'push' people into trains at rush hour.

The report in both papers was about accusations by higher authorities that some of these young women were perhaps pocketing some of the fares. Cardinal Kim's voice grew stronger as he spoke about this. Then he began to remind the students of how privileged they were, getting higher education and an opportunity to find better jobs than the young women working for the rail company who were at the bottom of the heap.

Cardinal Kim, who was noted for his love for the poor and who knew many poor people personally, now speaking in a very strong voice, asked the students if they were going to treat others with the contempt that some showed towards the young women in a menial job or if they were going to use their professional qualifications in the service of others.

Cardinal Kim

In that homily the late Archbishop of Seoul was bringing together the two Great Commandments that Jesus gives us in today's gospel and between which there is no conflict. In the First Reading, to which the Gospel is linked by theme, God reminds the Hebrew people of how they are to treat those who are poor or different - aliens, widows, orphans. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall restore it before the sun goes down. That cloak was what a person particularly a poor person, slept in.

In other words, Jesus is asking us to see each person through his eyes. GK Chesterton in his biography of St Francis of Assisi, if my memory is correct, has a wonderful image of a huge crowd looking up at God on a balcony, rather as in St Peter's Square when the Pope is on the balcony there or at his window for the Sunday Angelus. However, Chesterton didn't see himself among the crowd but with God on the balcony, looking down on the people and seeing them as God sees them.

Cardinal Kim was doing something similar. He was looking at both the university students and the railway workers through the eyes of God. Rank means nothing to God as he looks on his children. As Psalm 149 so beautifully expresses it, God takes delight in his people [Grail translation].

On pages 296-297 the Handbook of the Legion of Mary, nearly all of which was written by its founder the Servant of God Frank Duff, quotes from Chesterton's biography of St Francis. St Francis only saw the image of God multiplied but never monotonous. To him a man was always a man, and did not disappear in a dense crowd any more than in a desert. He honoured all men; that is he not only loved but respected them all. What gave him his extraordinary personal power was this: that from the Pope to the beggar, from the Sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown, burning eyes without being certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him, in his inner individual life from the cradle to the grave; that he himself was valued and taken seriously.

This is how members of the Legion of Mary are told to look upon each person they meet, indeed to see them higher than themselves. Fr Bede McGregor OP, Spiritual Director of the Concilium (the central body) of the Legion of Mary in Dublin tells how Frank Duff himself lived that. When he was postulator of the cause for the beatification of Frank Duff he interviewed a man who lived in the Morning Star Hostel, run by the Legion of Mary in Dublin for men who are down on their luck.  Father explained to the man that he was seeking testimonies for the Vatican and he needed the man to swear on the Bible that anything he said concerning Frank was true. Father added that the man was an alcoholic and had lived a tragic life. The man agreed and then he said these beautiful words: Frank Duff was the only man who ever looked up to me

The Legion was born in the slums of Dublin in 1921 and to this day is involved to a large degree in serving people who have little or nothing.

God is constantly blessing the Church and the world through persons who embody the Gospel in their lives. I know from my friends in Korea in particular that Cardinal Kim embodied the Two Great Commandments; he was an embodiment of what each of us is called to be in virtue of our baptism in the different situations in which we find ourselves.

Cardinal Kim's grave 

A Columban confrere who is a published poet and has taught at a university in Seoul, Fr Kevin O'Rourke, captured something of the grace that Cardinal Kim was and still is, not only to the Church in Korea but to the Church throughout the world, in a poem he wrote after the death of the Cardinal. (Please pray for Father Kevin who has been in a coma in Korea for nearly a year now). [Father Kevin died in Seoul today, Friday 23 October. May he rest in peace.]

Dust of snow,
a wind that chills to the bone,
pinched mourning faces,
collars raised, hats pulled low,
the shiver of death everywhere.
Cardinal Kim Suhwan
is lowered to his final resting place.

He brought forth simplicity,
a water simplicity that quickened
every root it touched.
He brought forth patience,
a medicament patience that salved
the wounds of the poor.
He brought forth compassion,
a loving compassion that embraced the world.
Simplicity, patience, compassion,
these three:
timber for a master carpenter,
clay for a master potter,
the hub of a master priest’s wheel.
“If you bring forth what is inside,
what you bring forth will save.”

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 25 October, is the Feast of Christ the King  in the calendar that uses the TLM. In the encyclical Quam Primas dated 11 December 1925 Pope Pius XI placed the Feast of Christ the King on the Universal Calendar of the Church, to be observed on the last Sunday of October. On the calendar for the Ordinary Form of the Mass it is observed on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. 

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 10-25-2020, if necessary).

Epistle: Colossians 1:12-20; GospelJohn 18:33-37.


The Month of the Rosary

Madonna of the Rosary
Lorenzo Lotto [Web Gallery of Art]

Last May I updated a series of posts on The Rosary with the Great Artists. Here are The Glorious Mysteries.

Authentic Beauty

Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond.

Pope Benedict XVI meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, 21 November 2009.

✝평화의 기도 The Prayer of St Francis (in Korean)

이승희 SeungHee Lee Composer

▫서울가톨릭싱어즈 Seoul Catholic Singers ▫지휘 유근창 Conductor Simon, Geun-Chang Riu ▫반주 남효주 Pianist Angela, Hyo-Ju Nam ▫2019. 6. 29 @신천동 성당 SinCheon-Dong Church

SinCheon-Dong Catholic Church

15 October 2020

'All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community.' Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


'I die His Majesty's good servant - but God's first.' 
St Thomas More

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 22:15-21 (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.  Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”

Readings for Ireland for World Mission Sunday.  John 17:11, 17-23 replaces the Gospel above. The other readings are the same.

The reflection below is based on Matthew 22:15-21;

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

World Mission Sunday

Here am I, send me (Isaiah 6:8).

Mission is a free and conscious response to God’s call. Yet we discern this call only when we have a personal relationship of love with Jesus present in his Church. 

A denarius from 44 BC showing the head of Julius Caesar and the goddess Venus [Wikipedia]

In the time of Jesus a denarius was a day's wage for an ordinary working man.

I spent three months in the latter part of 1982 working in a hospital in Minneapolis as a chaplain. I was one of seven doing a 'quarter' of Clinical Pastoral Education. One day I had to go to a bank and got chatting with an employee at the information desk. When he heard I was based in the Philippines he told me that in the previous elections in the USA he had considered, among other things, what impact his vote would have on the lives of Filipinos and others outside the USA.

I was very struck by his attitude. We never got into partisan politics nor did we discuss religion. The man was almost certainly a Christian, probably a Lutheran if he was from Minneapolis or a Catholic if from St Paul, the other 'Twin City'. I saw in him a person reflecting the teaching of Vatican II.

One of the major documents of that Council, Gaudium et Spes, addresses the political life of society. No 75 says: All citizens, therefore, should be mindful of the right and also the duty to use their free vote to further the common good. The Church praises and esteems the work of those who for the good of men devote themselves to the service of the state and take on the burdens of this office . . . 

All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community. It is for them to give an example by their sense of responsibility and their service of the common good. In this way they are to demonstrate concretely how authority can be compatible with freedom, personal initiative with the solidarity of the whole social organism, and the advantages of unity with fruitful diversity. They must recognize the legitimacy of different opinions with regard to temporal solutions, and respect citizens, who, even as a group, defend their points of view by honest methods. Political parties, for their part, must promote those things which in their judgement are required for the common good; it is never allowable to give their interests priority over the common good.

Robert Schuman in 1949

A politician of the last century who may be beatified one day is the Servant of God Robert Schuman, one of the founders of what is now the European Union. His politics of reconciliation in post-World War II Europe flowed from his deep Catholic Christian faith. Yet he was never an 'agent' of the Catholic Church. He was an embodiment of the vision of Gaudium et Spes, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in December 1965.

Incidentally, Robert Schuman, when Foreign Minister of France - he had been Prime Minister in 1947-48 despite having been born a German citizen in Luxembourg - said at a congress in 1950 to mark the 1,400th anniversary of the birth of Ireland's greatest missionary saint: St Columban, this illustrious Irishman who left his own country for voluntary exile, willed and achieved a spiritual union between the principal European countries of his time. He is the patron saint of all those who now seek to build a United Europe.

Robert Schuman's deepest identity was as a Christian. It was as such that he became a patriotic Frenchman and a visionary European. St Thomas More was one of the greatest Englishmen in the history of his country. However, he was His Majesty's good servant - but God's first. In 2000 St John Paul II proclaimed him patron saint of politicians and statesmen.

Jesus doesn't give us any detailed way of being involved in the political life of whatever country we belong to. But he gives us the values to live by. We cannot leave those values at the entrance to the polling booth or at the entrance to the legislative chamber if we happen to be elected to public office. Nor can we leave them at the door of the church after Mass on Sunday.

As voters and politicians Catholic Christians may have very different views on most matters of policy. But there are certain issues on which we must all take a Gospel stand. We may never advocate abortion or 'assisted suicide' or support the very new idea of 'marriage' between two persons of the same sex. As I prepare this it is reported that the Netherlands is about to legalise euthanasia for children under 12.

In 2013 a member of the Irish parliament who voted in favour of legalising abortion in certain circumstances was aggrieved when his parish priest told him that he could no longer be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. It is far more important to try to live as Gaudium et Spes teaches - All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community - than to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or a lector, important though these roles may sometimes be. But they are simply roles. No one has a 'vocation' to be either of these or to take on similar roles. But the Council tells us that each of us has a specific vocation within the political community.

Robert Schuman lived that vocation to the full. St Thomas More was martyred because he lived that vocation to the full.

Last week I quoted Fr Emil Kapaun, an American army chaplain who died in a prisoner of war camp in 1951 during the Korean war. I will end with that same paragraph as I think he was thinking of what today's Gospel is about.

In a broadcast in Japan on 21 April 1950 Fr Kapaun said: We can be sure to expect that in our own lives there will come a time when we must make a choice between being loyal to the true faith or of giving allegiance to something else which is either opposed to or not in alliance with our faith.

St Thomas More
Hans Holbein the Younger [Web Gallery of Art]

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 18 October, is the Twentieth 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 10-18-2020, if necessary).

Epistle: Ephesians 5:15-21; Gospel: John 4:46-53.


The Month of the Rosary

The Virgin Showing the Man of Sorrows
Hans Memling [Web Gallery of Art]

Last May I updated a series of posts on The Rosary with the Great Artists. Here are The Sorrowful Mysteries.

Authentic Beauty

Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond.

Pope Benedict XVI meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, 21 November 2009.

Vltava (The Moldau)
Performed by the Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Nejc Bečan

This youth orchestra is located in Slovenia. Smetana wrote this piece in 1874 when he was 50 and had lost his hearing. Here is his description of the work.

The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).

The Vltava (The Moldau) in Prague [Wikipedia]