27 January 2021

'What is this? A new teaching with authority!' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B


Christ as Teacher (Cristo Docente)\
Fourth Century Roman Sculptor [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 1:21-28 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)

[Jesus and his disciples] went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

O'Connell Primary School, Dublin [Source]

The stadium in the background is Croke Park, the renovation of which was completed in 2005. One of the main events of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018 took place there.

In September 1953 the school building above was opened. O'Connell Schools - there is both a primary and secondary school - were founded in 1828 and named after Daniel O'Connell, the outstanding figure in Irish history in the first half of the 19th century, known as 'The Liberator'. He was a major benefactor in the building of the original school. He was also largely responsible for the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 in Westminster which abolished most of the Penal Laws against Catholics in the United Kingdom, of which the whole of Ireland was a part at the time.

I was in Fourth Class (Grade Four) in 1953-54 and was blessed to have a wonderful teacher named John Galligan. I didn't realise until about twelve years later when I was in the seminary what a wonderful teacher and mentor he was. He was around the same age as my father at the time, 40 or thereabouts. All my other teachers in the primary school, both Irish Christian Brothers and laymen, were all in their 20s.

John gave us a great grounding in the grammar of both Irish and English. He encouraged us to read the newspapers - and not just the sports pages. He stimulated my interest in writing and in reading, though I was already an avid reader at that stage, borrowing books from Dublin's public libraries. And he taught with a delightful sense of humour.

He was forever talking about his wife Mary. Their son Bernard was in our class and John treated us all with the same respect. One day he brought in Mary so that we could meet her.

At that time in Ireland children made their confirmation once they reached the age of ten. John prepared us for the sacrament which we celebrated in March 1954 in St Agatha's, North William Street, the parish in which our school was located. He was also sponsor or godfather to all of us when we were confirmed.

Mr Galligan, as he was known to us boys (the school was only for boys), also taught us how to use the hand missal that many had so that we could participate fully in the Mass, which in those days, as it had been for centuries, was what is now often referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass.

During my seminary years it dawned on me that not only had John Galligan been a first-class teacher, but a first-class mentor of the faith. The way he prepared us for confirmation and the way he taught us how to use the missal were not 'mechanical' acts but expressions of his living faith. His love for his wife Mary was a living out of the Sacrament of Matrimony that they had conferred on one another on their wedding day.

Whenever I read or hear these words in today's gospel, And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes . . . What is this? A new teaching with authority!, I think of John Galligan and others like him. He spoke to us youngsters in Fourth Class not only with the authority of his being our teacher but, much more importantly, with the authority of the integrity of the way he lived his Catholic Christian faith. He was quite probably unaware of that.

This is what the people in Capernaum could see in Jesus: his inner authority. That was the only authority he had, which came from the reality that he was God who became Man, doing the will of the Father. Each of us through baptism and confirmation is called to share in that authority of Jesus in the way we live our daily lives.

One of my regrets is that I did not invite John Galligan to attend my First Mass. However, in the 1980s I was invited to write a weekly column for The Freeman, a daily newspaper in Cebu City. My second column was an appreciation of John Galligan. I sent a copy of it to him through the school, though he he had by then retired. This led to my visiting him and Mary a number of times when on visits home from the Philippines, a delightful experience.

I am grateful to God for John Galligan - and for many others -  who taught me the faith as one who had authority, the authority of Jesus himself.

Antiphona ad communionem  
Communion Antiphon Cf Ps 30 [31]:17-18

Illumina faciem tuan super servum tuum,
Let your face shine on your servant.
salvum me fac in tua misericordia.
Save me in our merciful love.
Domine, non confundar, quoniam invocavi te.
O Lord, let me never be put to shame, for I call on you.

This Communion Antiphon, one of two alternatives, is also used in today's Traditional Latin Mass (see below).

Extraordinary Form of the Mass
Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

Septuagesima Sunday 

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 1-31-2021 if necessary).

Epistle1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16.  

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.

Title music from Shane
Music composed by Victor Young

A wider selection from Victor Young's soundtrack played by The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is here. The movie was produced and directed by George Stevens and released on 1953, the year I started in Fourth Class under John Galligan. I first saw it when it was re-released in the mid-1960s. It was based on the 1949 novel with the same title by Jack Schaefer that begins with a wonderfully evocative paragraph: He rode into our valley in the summer of `89. I was a kid then, barely topping the backboard of father`s old chuck-wagon. I was on the upper rail of our small corral, soaking in the late afternoon sun, when I saw him far down the road where it swung into the valley from the open plain beyond.


21 January 2021

'Repent and believe in the gospel . . . follow me.' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Calling of Sts Peter and Andrew

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 1:14-20 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.


Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Willie Bermingham 
(29 March 1942 - 23 April 1990)
[Source: ALONE]

Duringthe cold winter of 1976, Willie and his colleagues found the bodies of a number of older people in tenements throughout the city. They had died in appalling conditions. Willie was so shocked by this that he, and a small group of friends and colleagues began distributing food, fuel and blankets to those older people who were most in need. They also started a campaign to raise awareness of these ‘forgotten old’ in the media and to the government. Today ALONE continues its work providing direct services to thousands of older people as well as campaigning for the rights of older people in our society.

Willie Bermiingham himself recalled one of those incidentsLike many old men and women he had been cast away on the scrap heap. He was left to face loneliness, cold, hunger and depression behind the closed doors of a capital city. He had been sentenced to death, alone and in misery. It shocked me so much that I set up a society called ALONE.

Willie Bermingham, a Dubliner, worked in the ambulance service of Dublin Fire Brigade. Like Simon (Peter) and Andrew, James and John in today's Gospel, he experienced a turning point in his life. For him this was through those experiences of finding elderly persons who had died alone in poverty. He felt in a very real way the words of Jesus, Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.

In Willie's case, with the full support of his wife Marie and their five children, along with colleagues, he was to be a 'fisher' of elderly men and women living alone in dire conditions in his native city. And he has been followed  by many, not only in Dublin, but in other Irish cities in doing this work. 

This work is a living out of the words of Jesus: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to meThen the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matthew 25:35-40).

The call of Peter, Andrew, James and John in today's gospel comes just after a call to repent and believe in the gospel. This is not only a call to turn away from sin but a call to see things as Jesus Christ sees them. This is reinforced by the response to the responsorial psalm: Lord, make me know your ways (JB Lectionary), Teach me your ways, O Lord (NAB Lectionary).

Willie Bermingham responded to a need he saw so clearly through his work with the ambulance service of Dublin Fire Brigade, while living out his basic vocation as a husband and father. In the early years of ALONE the office was the living room in his own home.

Another aspect of Willie's life was his ecumenism. At this time, 18-25 January, we are observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Historian Donal Fallon writesAn inspiring friendship blossomed between Bermingham and Dean Victor Griffin of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral [the National Cathedral of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland]. Griffin, much like the earlier Dean Swift, had a distaste for injustice and a strong belief in social duty. In a remarkable life, Griffin protested to save Viking Dublin from demolition, demonstrated against Apartheid and was denounced as a ‘Fenian’ during his time serving the Church of Ireland in Derry.

Griffin and Bermingham came from different religious traditions – Willie came from a Catholic family – yet Griffin opened Saint Patrick’s Cathedral to provide services, complete with choirs, to the homeless and elderly of the city. It was a beautiful act not forgotten, and Bermingham’s own funeral took place at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

Willie Bermingham didn't try to 'save the world'. He responded from his Christian faith to the needs of individuals whose situations he knew of through his work, needs that he and others could respond to. Jesus began his mission, now the mission of the Church, by calling four individuals, two sets of brothers: Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, to follow me

Repent and believe in the gospel . . . follow me.

Responsorial Psalm [NAB Lectionary]

Psalm 24 [25]: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Extraordinary Form of the Mass
Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 1-24-2021 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 12:16-21. Gospel: Matthew 8:1-18.  

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.

by Robert Burns and sung by Kenneth McKellar

In Scotland the word 'bonnie means, 'beautiful'; 'gang'means 'go' and 'weel' means 'well'.

On 25 January, the birth anniversary of Robert Burns (29 January 1759 - 21 July 1796), many in Scotland and Scottish people throughout the world gather for a Burns Night supper.

The best-known song of Robbie Burns is Auld Lang Syne.

A Happy Burns Night to Scottish readers!

15 January 2021

'He put a new song into my mouth, praise of our God.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B; Feast of the Santo Niño in the Philippines


From The Gospel of John, directed by Philip Saville

Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel John 1:35-42 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Apostle St Andrew
Zurbarán [Web Gallery of Art]

The Memorial of St Anthony the Abbot (c.251-356) is observed by the Church on 17 January. However, as it falls on Sunday this year that celebration will be omitted. But his story is very much connected with the First Reading and Gospel of today's Mass the main theme of which is vocation, one's specific call from God.

Each year the Second Reading in the Office of Readings for St Anthony the Abbot in the Breviary causes me to smile as it seems that the young Anthony discovered God's call by being late for Mass. Here is how St Athanasius tell us this story in his Life of Anthony, which he wrote around 360.

He went into the church. It happened that the gospel was then being read, and he heard what the Lord had said to the rich man 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'

The young man Anthony, whose parents had died about six months previously, took these words to heart and went to live in the desert. He became, without planning it, the 'Father of Monasticism' in the Church. And perhaps if he had not been late for Mass that day the Gospel - Matthew 19:16-26 - might not have struck him as it did. He was to be 'later' than most in another sense in that he was 105 when he died, a remarkable age to live to now but even more remarkable in the fourth century. It was through being late for Mass that Anthony discovered what God had in mind for him.

The reading from St Athanasius ends with a detail that always touches me: And so the people of the village, and the good men with whom 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.

St Anthony the Abbot
Zurbarán [Web Gallery of Art]

Some years ago I officiated at the wedding of a young couple in the Philippines whose punctuality eventually led them to the altar. While at university they belonged to a Catholic association that planned an outing for a particular day. They were the only ones to turn up at the designated time and while waiting for the others to arrive their conversation led them to see that they were more than just members of the same association.

A vocation is very personal and often comes through another. The young Samuel heard God's voice calling him three times, thinking it was the voice of Eli, who eventually realised that it really was God's voice that Samuel had heard. The reading concludes with these words: Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

The description of St Anthony the Abbot by those who knew hims as The friend of God goes to the heart of what a Christian vocation is. It is to come to know oneself as a friend of God, as one whom God loves personally and who is called to know God intimately. That is how it was with the two disciples in the Gospel, Andrew and John the Evangelist, who never uses his own name in his gospel. The felt a desire to come to know Jesus, who read their hearts and invited them to where he was staying. 

That was the turning point in their lives. And Andrew was so excited that he ran to tell his brother Simon. When he met Jesus he found himself with a new name: You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). This means 'Rock' and was his specific vocation, to be the Rock upon which Jesus would build his Church. And before he got his new name Jesus looked at him. Some translations add the word 'intently' or 'hard' to 'looked. Clearly Jesus was looking with great love into the soul of Peter. A couples of months ago I heard a married woman share with a group of married couples that the first time she met the man who was to become her husband, at a party, he looked at her and for the first time in her life she realised her own self-worth. In that look God was leading her and the man - to discover their vocation in life.

The verses of the Responsorial Psalm are taken from Psalm 39 [40]. The opening verse is expresses both our desire for God and God's desire for us: I waited, waited for the Lord and he stooped down to me. He heard my cry. He put a new song into my mouth, praise of our God.

He stooped down to me reminds me of the line in Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem God's Grandeur: Because the Holy Ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

And the Second Reading, which is not linked by theme to the First Reading and Gospel, tells us more about our very dignity as Christians and, indeed, the source of our vocation. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

By baptism each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit and it is the Holy Spirit Who leads us to discover our specific vocation in life by leading us into an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus and allow him to look at us as He looked at Simon before giving him his new name / vocation.

Central to the spirituality of St Columban, patron saint of the Missionary Society of St Columban to which I belong are the words of St Paul in the Second Reading: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. St Columban wrote: Christi simus non nostri - Let us be of Christ, not of ourselves. And we are also living in a world where so many do not glorify God in their bodies and where humans are treated as commodities, millions being killed before they are even born, with pressure now to kill off those who are old and 'useless'.

The other day I came across a Chinese proverb that says: A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Our song is praise of our God. Our very vocation as Christians is to sing praise of our God by the way we live. That is why genuinely saintly people attract us so much. 

The Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church sums it all up: "FATHER, . . . this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). "God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) - than the name of JESUS.

Santo Niño (Philippines)

Santo Niño de Cebú

You will find a reflection for the Feast of the Santo Niño in the Philippines here. The Gospel read this year may be different.

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 1-17-2021 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 12:6-16. Gospel: John 2:1-11.  

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.

God's Grandeur
by Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ
Performed by Lance Pearson

07 January 2021

'Above all, God wants to give us himself and his Word.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Baptistry, San Marco, Venice
Italian Mosaic Artist [Web Gallery of Art

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 1:7-11 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)

[John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Pope Benedict XVI baptises in the Sistne ChapelFeast of the Baptism of the Lord 2011




Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 8 January 2012

[I have highlighted parts of Pope Benedict's homily]


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is always a joy to celebrate this Holy Mass with the baptism of children on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I greet you all with affection, dear parents, godparents and all of you, relatives and friends! You have come here — you said so aloud — so that your newborn babies may receive the gift of God’s grace, the seed of eternal life. You, parents, have desired this. You thought of Baptism even before your child was born. Your duty as Christian parents made you think immediately of the sacrament that marks entry into divine life and into the community of the Church. We can say that this was your first educational decision as witnesses of the faith to your children: it is a fundamental decision!

The parents’ task, helped by the godfather and godmother, is to raise their son or daughter. Raising children is very demanding and at times taxes our human capability, which is always limited. However, educating becomes a marvellous mission if it is carried out in collaboration with God who is the first and true educator of every human being.

In the First Reading, we heard from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God addresses his people precisely as a teacher. He puts the Israelites on their guard against the danger of quenching their thirst and appeasing their hunger at the wrong sources: “Why”, he says, “do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?” (Is 55:2). God wants to give us good things to drink and to eat, things that do us good; whereas at times we use our resources mistakenly, we use them for things that are useless, indeed, even harmful. Above all, God wants to give us himself and his Word. He knows that in distancing ourselves from him we will soon run into difficulty — like the Prodigal Son of the parable — and, especially, that we will lose our human dignity. And for this reason he assures us that he is infinite mercy, that his thoughts and ways are unlike ours — fortunately! — and that we can always return to him, to the Father’s house. Thereafter he assures us that if we receive his Word it will bear good fruits in our life, like the rain that waters the earth (cf. Is 55:10-11).

We responded to these words which the Lord has addressed to us through the Prophet Isaiah with the refrain of the Psalm: We will “draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation”. As adults, we have striven to draw from the good springs for our own good and for the good of those entrusted to our responsibility, and you in particular, dear parents and godparents, for the good of these children.

And what are “the springs of salvation”? They are the Word of God and the sacraments. Adults are the first who should nourish themselves at these sources, so as to be able to guide those who are younger in their development. Parents must give much, but in order to give they need in turn to receive, otherwise they are drained, they dry up. Parents are not the spring, just as we priests are not the spring. Rather, we are like channels through which the life-giving sap of God’s love must flow. If we cut ourselves off from his spring, we ourselves are the first to feel the negative effects and are no longer able to educate others. For this reason we have committed ourselves by saying: We will “draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation”.

Baptism of Christ

And we now come to the Second Reading and to the Gospel. They say that the first and principal education takes place through witness. The Gospel speaks of John the Baptist. John was a great educator of his disciples, because he led them to the encounter with Jesus to whom he bore witness. He did not exalt himself, he did not wish to keep his disciples bound to him. Yet John was a great prophet, his fame was very great. When Jesus arrived John drew back and pointed to him: “After me comes he who is mightier than I…. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:7-8).

The true teacher does not bind people to himself, he is not possessive. He wants his son or daughter, or disciple, to learn to know the truth and to establish a personal relationship with it. The educator does his duty fully, he assures his attentive and faithful presence because his objective is that the person being educated listen to the voice of truth speaking to his heart and follow it on a personal journey. 

Let us return once again to the witness. In the Second Reading, the Apostle John writes: “And the Spirit is the witness” (1 Jn 5:7). He is referring to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who bears witness to Jesus, testifying that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is also apparent in the scene of the Baptism in the River Jordan: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus as a dove to reveal that he is the Only-Begotten Son of the eternal Father (cf. Mk 1:10). In his Gospel too, John underlines this aspect where Jesus says to the disciples: “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (Jn 15:26-27). This is a great comfort to us in the work of educating in faith, because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is sustained by the Holy Spirit.

It is very important for you parents, and also for the godparents, to believe strongly in the presence and in the action of the Holy Spirit, to invoke him and to welcome him within you, through prayer and through the sacraments. It is he, in fact, who illumines the mind and warms the heart of the educator so that he or she can pass on the knowledge and love of Jesus. Prayer is the first condition for teaching because by praying we prepare ourselves to leave the initiative to God, to entrust children to him, who knows them before and better than we, and who knows perfectly what their true good is. And at the same time, when we pray we listen to God’s inspiration in order to do our part well, which in any case is our duty and which we are bound to do. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance, enable us to carry out our educational action in union with Christ, in communion with him and continuously renewed by his forgiveness. Prayer and the sacraments obtain for us that light of truth thanks to which we are able to be at once tender and strong, gentle and firm, silent and communicative at the right time, admonishing and correcting in the right way.

Dear friends, let us therefore all invoke the Holy Spirit together so that he may come down upon these children in abundance, consecrate them in the image of Jesus Christ and always go with them on their journey through life. Let us entrust them to the motherly guidance of Mary Most Holy, so that they may grow in age, wisdom and grace and become true Christians, faithful and joyful witnesses of God’s love. Amen.

First Holy Communion after Baptism and Confirmation

Holy Family Home for Girls, Bacolod City, Philippines 

These are the three sacraments of initiation, all of which were received by some of the girls, two of them by others, some years ago on Pentecost Sunday.

May each of us thank God today for our parents and godparents who brought us to be baptized so that we might receive 'the seed of eternal life'. 

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

First Sunday after the Epiphany

Feast of the Holy Family

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 1-10-2021 if necessary).

Epistle: Colossians 3:1-7. Gospel: Luke 2:42-52.  

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.

Jesus bleibet meine Freude
(Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring)

Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Sung in the original German by Voces8 with Nick Deutsch on oboe and Alexander Hamilton on organ.

This music and this performance are for me the embodiment of Pope Benedict's description of Authentic Beauty above.