29 July 2022

'God's real presence in the inner sanctuary of my soul imposes on me a threefold duty.' Sunday Reflections, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Altar of St Ignatius of Loyola, Il Gesù, Rome
Andrea Pozzo SJ [Web Gallery of Art]

Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of man's genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of redounding to God's praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning men's minds devoutly toward God (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, No 122).

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 12:13-21 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge  

St Paul
Jusepe de Ribera [Web Gallery of Art]

Second Reading Colossians 3:1-5; 9-11 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.


I will give some quotations from The Presence of God, a 68-page astonishingly rich booklet, by Fr Anselm Moynihan OP that for me are connected with the Second Reading. They are from Chapter 7, The Hidden Sanctuary.

It cannot be overstressed that the presence of God in the soul by grace is a real and substantial presence. God is present in the tabernacle of the heart as really and truly and substantially as he is present in the tabernacle of the altar, although in a different manner . . .

If I fail to honour the Son of God as he is present with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Tabernacle of my own heart, no man can compensate for my indifference. The inner sanctuary of my own heart is utterly and eternally inaccessible to any except myself and God . . .

Yet without devotion to the real presence of God within our souls there can be no full development of our spiritual life, which is essentially an interior life . . .

God's real presence in the inner sanctuary of my soul imposes on me a threefold duty. I must defend the sanctuary: I must adorn and enable it; I must enter frequently to worship him who dwells there . . .

I must, first of all, defend the inner sanctuary of my soul, for during this life it is always under siege . . . Mortal sin destroys the sanctuary completely, leaving the soul ruined and desolate.

God in his mercy has given the Church the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation / Penance / Confession so that that sanctuary can be restored.

In Chapter 6, Guest of Our Soul, Father Anselm tells the beautiful story of St Leonidas, martyred in 202. He was the father of Origen, the great theologian of the early Church. Every night, we are told, Leonidas used to kiss the breast of his sleeping child out of reverence for God who was really present in the living tabernacle of the child's heart.

What a beautiful expression of faith and of fatherhood!

Christ is all, and in all.

St Ignatius of Loyola
Juan Martínez Montañéz [Web Gallery of Art]

As the Sunday Mass takes precedence, the Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, 31 July, is not observed this year on the universal calendar of the Church.

Deus in adiutorium meum intende

Deus in adiutorium meum intende; Domine ad adiuvandum me festina.

O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me!

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nnc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.


The text in bold above, the first verse of Psalm 69 [70], is the opening of today's Entrance Antiphon. We pray these words at the beginning of the Rosary and also at the beginning of most of the hours of the Divine Office (Breviary).

What struck me about this video is that some of the singers are Muslims, singing a verse from the Psalms with a prayer in honour of the Blessed Trinity.

The Batavia Madrigal Singers are based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Batavia was the name for Jakarta until 1945 when independence from the Dutch was declared.

Traditional Latin Mass

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 7-31-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 8:12-17Gospel: Luke 16:1-9.

Wheatfield with Reaper at Sunrise
Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty’  (Luke 18:7; Gospel).

21 July 2022

'For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.' Sunday Reflections, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Man Praying
Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 11:1-13 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
    for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge  

St Francis Praying Before the Crucifix

Then [Abraham] said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” [The Lord] answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (Genesis 18:32; First Reading).


Fr Patrick Ronan, from County Kilkenny in Ireland, was one of four Columbans jailed in China in 1952 by the Communist authorities for 'subversive activities'. Another Columban, Fr Aedan McGrath, spent nearly three years in solitary confinement in China between 1950 and 1953 because of his involvement in the Legion of Mary. All five were expelled in 1953.

Four Felons
by Frs Patrick Ronan, Owen O'Kane, John Casey and Patrick Reilly

Fr Ronan, known to his fellow Columbans as 'Pops', and his three companions, Frs Owen O'Kane, John Casey and Patrick Reilly, were called Four Felons in a book published in 1958 that told their story. They were in the same prison but in separate cells and were often interrogated in the middle of the night, never knowing when they might be called out.

Unlike his three companions, Father 'Pops' always managed to sleep soundly, no matter how often he was awakened for an interrogation. When the four were eventually released and told to leave the People's Republic of China he learned why when they arrived in Hong Kong. The woman who had been principal when he was in kindergarten had been praying every day of his captivity for one specific intention: that he would sleep soundly.

Like the wonderful bargaining prayer of Abraham on behalf of his people in the First Reading today that woman's prayer was very down to earth and, like Abraham, she saw God as being down to earth too. Her prayer was also very focused, as was that of Abraham. And, like Abraham, our father in faith, she had a deep faith-filled hope that God would answer her prayer.

The 'Four Felons' have all gone to their reward now. I was blessed to have known two of them in the Philippines, Fr Ronan and Fr Reilly. I happened to be in Ireland when Father 'Pops' died there in 1991 and his great friend and fellow 'felon' Fr Patrick Reilly told us a story at the funeral Mass that reminded us of the power of the very specific prayer of Fr Ronan's former teacher, though from a somewhat humorous angle. The four travelled home by boat from Hong Kong. The other three often had difficulty trying to waken Fr Ronan in the morning and suggested that he contact his friend in Ireland and ask her to stop praying for him!

I have often been deeply touched by friends in the Philippines who ask me to pray for some particular intention, very often for a family member who is sick. When that person gets better they make a point of thanking me for my prayers. There's a reminder in this that, like Abraham, I'm called to pray for the people I serve. And here in Ireland I've been approached on the street, in buses,  and have been at airports in a number of countries and on flights by people asking me to pray for them.

I truly believe that it is impossible for God to refuse to listen to prayer that is in harmony with his will. So many of us older people these days have family members and friends who seem to have fallen away from the Church and, in many instances, from the Christian faith itself. There are two things we can do: live as followers of Jesus as intensely as possible, with his grace, and pray that their faith be renewed.

St John Paul II singing the Our Father in Latin

Traditional Latin Mass

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 7-24-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 6:19-23. Gospel: Matthew 7:15-21.

Pink Peach Trees ('Souvenir de Mauve')
Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:17-18; Gospel).

14 July 2022

'Jesus, in the person of Billy, a destitute man of the roads, sat down at table in my house.' Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Tintoretto [Web Gallery of Art]

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 10:38-42 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Abraham and the Three Angels
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout [Web Gallery of Art]

And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favour in your sight, do not pass by your servant” (Genesis 18:1-3, First Reading).


I have used this story a number of times in Sunday Reflections, maybe even recently, and have told it on retreats. It is one that this Sunday’s gospel brings to my mind and has been for me what I call ‘an abiding grace’’.

One of the poorest man I've met in my life was Billy Smith. Despite his name, he was a Filipino, though as far as we Columban priests knew, his father was an American. He was known to all the Columbans in northern Mindanao where in the 1970s we had many parishes, now staffed by Filipino diocesan priests. Billy would do his rounds of the parishes over a period of months and in each would get some food, some clothing, a little money and a place to sleep. He was tall and thin and in his latter years was going blind. He had a number of illnesses. He carried a sturdy staff. Sometimes children would make fun of him and even throw stones at him.

One afternoon more than 40 years ago in a place where I had been parish priest for a couple of months, the last Columban to serve in that role, but was then in charge of a spiritual-pastoral formation year for seminarians from five dioceses, I heard the 'clump, clump, clump' of heavy boots coming up the stairs to the living quarters. It was Billy. At the time I had a visitor, a young friend named Patricia who was in Grade 5. She never knew her father as he had died when she was an infant. She 'adopted' me as a father and called me 'Tatay' (Dad) and often dropped by after class before heading home. (She is now a widowed grandmother and still calls me 'Tatay'.) The family lived in a small house built on stilts that looked as if it might fall over at any minute but her mother managed to make a living. 

When Patricia saw Billy she immediately went over to him, took him by the hand, sat him down at the table and brought him something to eat and drink. I doubt if Billy had ever received such gracious service in his life. My young friend was unaware that I was taking all of this in.

Patricia had little in life and Billy had even less. But the young girl showed respect, kindness and hospitality to this man of the roads. She did this spontaneously, from the heart. When I told her about this incident years later she couldn't remember it.

The story in the First Reading of Abraham's welcome to the three strangers and the story of the welcome Martha and Mary to Jesus in the Gospel show us how blessed we may be by hospitality. Abraham didn't know that the strangers were visitors from God, who blessed him and Sarah, childless and well beyond the normal age for having children, with a son, Isaac, within the year. It is through Isaac that we can refer to 'Abraham, our father in faith' in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

God blessed Billy through the hospitality of Patricia, a child, and gave me a lifelong blessing through that incident.

Then 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 25:37-40).

In serving Billy Patricia served Jesus himself and revealed Jesus to me in Billy and in herself. And while reflecting on the incident and praying with the readings as a preparation for these Sunday Reflections, I was really struck by the inner freedom that this young girl had in the way she looked after Billy. Though a visitor, she felt truly at home. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

And as I typed the words of the alternative Communion Antiphon below - a text that expresses what happened so many years ago - it dawned on me that while Jesus, in the person of Billy, a destitute man of the roads, sat down at table in my house at the invitation of my young visitor, Patricia, I didn't join them there. Yet the Lord, in his kindness, has graced me with the abiding memory of his visit that day.

The Infant Jesus Distributing Bread to Pilgrims

Alternative Communion Antiphon
Revelations (Apocalypse) 3:20

The recording above includes verse 21. The text of the words of the Communion Antiphon used at Mass are in bold both in the original Latin and in English.

Ecce sto ad ostium et pulso, [dicit Dominus], si quis audierit vocem meam, et aperuit ianuam, intrabo ad illum, et cenabo cum illum, et ipse mecum.

Qui vicerit, dabo ei sedere mecum in throno meo: sicut et ego vici, et sedi cum Patre meo in throno eius.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock, [says the Lord]. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Traditional Latin Mass

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 7-17-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 6:1-11Gospel: Mark 8:1-9.

A Workman's Meal-break
Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

13 July 2022

Death of Columban Fr William G. Moran


Fr William Gerard Moran
14 May 1936 - 8 July 2022

William Gerard Moran was born 14 May 1936, at Flemington, Victoria, Australia, not far from the Flemington racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup. This led to a lifelong interest in horse-racing. After primary and secondary schooling, Bill worked for two years with the Commonwealth Public Service while doing part-time studies in Latin and Economics.

In 1955 he came to Essendon [a suburb of Melbourne where the Columban headquarters in Australia are located] for Spiritual Year and then moved to our seminary in Sydney for Philosophy and Theology studies. Following his ordination at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in 1961, he was appointed to Rome where he studied and graduated with an STL from the Angelicum. He then began studies in Scripture but had to abandon them because of health problems.

Appointed to the ANZ [Australia and New Zealand] Region, he worked for three years in the Far East Office before an appointment to the seminary in Turramurra [near Sydney] where he taught Dogma and served as Vice-Rector and Rector. In 1979 Bill was appointed to South America where he worked mostly in Chile in various capacities until an appointment back to ANZ in 1988. He served as ANZ Regional Director from 1990 to 1994. 

He returned to Chile but again health problems forced an early return to ANZ where he served as Regional Bursar for a number of years until his retirement. In recent years the success of his grandnephew as an Australian Rules footballer with the Footscray Bulldogs gave him new life and much pride. Bill died 8 July in St Vincent’s Hospital after a period of respite at Mercy Place Aged Care, Melbourne. The word I would choose to best sum up Bill is 'conscientious'.

Fr Ray Scanlon

May Father Bill rest in peace.


Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton North

There is a Columban plot in Carlton Cemetery.

07 July 2022

Jesus said, 'You go, and do likewise.' Sunday Reflections, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Fr Pat McCaffrey with friends in Pakistan

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 10:25-37 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Father Pat with friend in Ba, Fiji

Fr Pat McCaffrey was a classmate of mine who died suddenly in Pakistan on 18 May 2010. His first mission was Fiji, where he worked especially with Indian-Fijians and became fluent in Hindi. He was then part of the pioneering Columban group that went to Pakistan in 1979. Later he worked with people of Pakistani origin in northern England, living in Bradford. He celebrated Mass once a month with Pakistani Catholics in Nelson. Much of his work in Bradford was with refugees from the troubled Middle East. He was then reassigned to Fiji. But his final posting was back to Pakistan.

Father Pat's niece Siobhan McCaffrey describes his death in Following in Father Pat's Footsteps, an article she wrote after visiting Pakistan: On our last day, we travelled to the town of Murree, a seven-hour drive from Lahore, situated on the side of a steep hill, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Murree was where Father Pat died. He had been visiting lay missionaries there. He had left the convent [of the Presentation Sisters where he had celebrated Mass the evening before] around 6:00am to catch a bus to Rawalpindi. He was rushing to catch the bus when he died. The only person around was a street-sweeper [whose name was Latief], considered the lowest of the low in Pakistan’s caste system.

This man had seen Father Pat holding on to the rails outside the compound and then fall back onto the road. He went to his aid but was unable to help. He raised the alarm at the convent and the Sisters came.

We thanked the street-sweeper for trying to help our uncle. He apologized for not being able to save him and explained that it was his moral duty to try, but that God had decided to take him and there was nothing he could do.

Father Pat's whole life was that of a follower of Jesus who had never forgotten the experience of weeping, of suffering with the poor. And God surely blessed him in allowing him to celebrate Mass the evening before he died and in sending a man from the poorest of the poor to be the first to come to his aid, a Muslim who, like Father Pat himself, had never forgotten the experience of weeping, of suffering with others.

Fr Pat McCaffrey’s grave in Pakistan

Unlike the priest and the Levite in today's gospel, nobody passed by Father Pat when he fell. But the first to come to his aid and to raise the alarm was Latief, a street-sweeper, the very lowest on the social scale in Pakistan. Father Pat had spent most of his life as an outsider to one degree or another. He grew up in Northern Ireland where at that time there was discrimination against Catholics. He worked with Indian-Fijians in Fiji whose ancestors had been brought there to work in the sugar plantations. He ministered to immigrants from Pakistan and the Middle East in northern England, most of them Muslims. He celebrated Mass with Pakistani Catholics there, a small minority in their native land and still a small minority among those of Pakistani origin in England.

The man left half-dead in the parable of the Good Samaritan was, presumably, Jewish. He allowed himself to be taken care of by a person he would have seen as 'other' and in doing so was healed. 

Knowing Father Pat as I did, I am certain that nothing would have made him happier than to be attended to in his final moments by a Muslim, Latief, who was a 'nobody' in his own country. We see the nobility of this man's character and his faith in God in what he said to Father Pat's niece Siobhan when he met her: He apologized for not being able to save him and explained that it was his moral duty to try, but that God had decided to take him and there was nothing he could do.


But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion (Luke 10:33).

Parable of the Good Samaritan
Domenico Fetti [Web Gallery ofArt]

Jesus said, 'You go, and do likewise.'

Antiphona ad communionem

Communion Antiphon Cf Psalm 83[84]:4-5 

Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtum nidum, ubi reponet pullos suos. Altaria tua, Domine virtutem, Rex meus, et Deus meus! Beati qui habitant in domo tua, in saeculum saeculi laudabunt te.

The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young: by your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, for ever singing your praise.

Traditional Latin Mass

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 7-10-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Peter 3:8-15. Gospel: Matthew 5:20-24.

The Calling of St Matthew (detail)
Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]