26 August 2022

'When you give a feast, invite the poor . . . and you will be blessed.' Sunday Reflections, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Young Jew as Christ
Rembrandt [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 14:1, 7-14 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India).

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honour, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person’, and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge 

Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion at Holy Family Home for Girls, Bacolod City

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed . . .

Six years ago I experienced this in a striking way after Mass at Holy FamilyHome for Girls (HFH) in Bacolod City, Philippines. I was based in Bacolod City from 2002 until 2017. Kathy wished to share her birthday joy with the girls at Holy Family Home along with her family and co-workers. Most of the girls living in Holy Family Home - there are usually more than 30 there - have had traumatic experiences in their lives and the majority are from poor families.

Kathy and her husband Hernan had been celebrating their birthdays for some years with the girls at HFH and the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family who run it. There are other families who have been doing the same, some in HFH, some in orphanages or homes for the aged in Bacolod City.

And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you . . .

Kathy, whose father died suddenly when she was only three months old, spoke briefly at the end of the programme after the catered lunch but asked Hernan to take over. (The programme included a magician, some games and dances by the girls.) He told us how blessed his whole family was simply by the joy they saw in the faces of the girls. That was my own experience over the more than 14 years I was involved with HFH. That involvement has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, an ongoing one that I carry with me now in Ireland, and all the greater because it was something I had never expected when I returned to the Philippines in 2002 after a two-year stint in Britain that was supposed to be a four-year one.

Most of these girls have had experiences that no child or young person should ever have. But in HFH they get the best of truly caring professional help that enables them to feel the healing power of God's love. Much of that healing comes form their interaction with each other and from their shared responsibilities. For example, each cubicle for personal hygiene is used by three girls, who also have to maintain it. And something that touched me when I first began to go to HFH and given the 'grand tour' was to learn that each new girl, whether still a child or already an adolescent, is given a cuddly toy which she keeps on her bed. There are two large dormitories, again maintained by the girls. And they make their bed first thing in the morning, have an early breakfast, gather for prayers and then go off to the local elementary and high schools, both within walking distance.

Columban Fr Michael Sinnott visits HFH

The girls had been praying their hearts out for Fr Sinnott, then 79, after he was kidnapped in October 2009. (He died unexpectedly here in Ireland on 23 November 2019, St Columban’s Day.) He visited HFH after his ordeal to thank the girls, the Sisters and the staff for their prayers. This was the reaction of the girls when I told them of his release:

Hernan reminded us in his 'few words' of Jesus and children: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14). 

The First Reading and the Gospel remind me of a line in the Handbook of the Legion of MaryAlways will the legionary bear in mind that he is visiting not as a superior to an inferior, not as one equal to another, but as an inferior to his superior, as the servant to the Lord. This is the opposite of what I have heard many well-meaning people say: We must go down to the level of the poor (or whoever). Jesus identifies himself with the 'outsider', with the 'other', whoever the 'other' may be. 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 25:40)

Children's Games
Pieter Bruegel the Elder [Web Gallery of Art]

by Ronald Raz
Hail Mary the Queen Children's Choir
Quezon City, Philippines 

Traditional Latin Mass

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 8-28-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:4-9Gospel: Luke 10:23-37.

The Good Samaritan
Théodule-Augustin Ribot [Web Gallery of Art]

18 August 2022

'True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Crowning a baby after baptism
George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabar), India [Wikipediaphoto]

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 13:22-30 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India).

Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying towards Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us’, then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge 

Responsorial Psalm (NAB Lectionary, Philippines, USA)

This week I’ll hand over to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Here is his Angelus talk, given in Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, 26 August 2007. I have highlighted some parts of it. Perhaps it is futile to do so since Pope Benedict’s talks and writings are so rich and uplifting. May God strengthen his great servant in his old age.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today's liturgy presents to us enlightening yet at the same time disconcerting words of Christ.

On his last journey to Jerusalem someone asked him: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And Jesus answered: "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Lk 13: 23-24).

What does this "narrow door" mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a few of the chosen?

Indeed, at close examination this way of reasoning by those who were conversing with Jesus is always timely: the temptation to interpret religious practice as a source of privileges or security is always lying in wait.

Actually, Christ's message goes in exactly the opposite direction: everyone may enter life, but the door is "narrow" for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is "narrow" because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one's selfishness.

Once again, as on recent Sundays, the Gospel invites us to think about the future which awaits us and for which we must prepare during our earthly pilgrimage.

Salvation, which Jesus brought with his death and Resurrection, is universal. He is the One Redeemer and invites everyone to the banquet of immortal life; but on one and the same condition: that of striving to follow and imitate him, taking up one's cross as he did, and devoting one's life to serving the brethren. This condition for entering heavenly life is consequently one and universal.

In the Gospel, Jesus recalls further that it is not on the basis of presumed privileges that we will be judged but according to our actions. The "workers of iniquity" will find themselves shut out, whereas all who have done good and sought justice at the cost of sacrifices will be welcomed.

Thus, it will not suffice to declare that we are "friends" of Christ, boasting of false merits: "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets" (Lk 13: 26).

True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life: it is expressed with goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love for justice and truth, a sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.

We might say that this is the "identity card" that qualifies us as his real "friends"; this is the "passport" that will give us access to eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we too want to pass through the narrow door, we must work to be little, that is, humble of heart like Jesus, like Mary his Mother and our Mother. She was the first, following her Son, to take the way of the Cross and she was taken up to Heaven in glory, an event we commemorated a few days ago. The Christian people invoke her as Ianua Caeli, Gate of Heaven. Let us ask her to guide us in our daily decisions on the road that leads to the "gate of Heaven".

Marktl, Bavaria, Germany
Birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI; he was baptised in St Oswald Church (centre-left) [Wikipedia; photo]

True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life, says Pope Benedict. We are invited into this friendship, which Jesus desires to be eternal, at our baptism.

Traditional Latin Mass

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 8-21-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:1-10. Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

Christ Healing the Mute Man
Italian pre-Romanesque painter [Web Gallery of Art

12 August 2022

'We will be true to thee till death.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Blessed Margaret Ball and Blessed Francis Taylor
St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin [Wikipedia; photo]

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 12:49-53 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India).

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”


Léachtaí i nGaeilge 

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Then the officials said to the king, ‘This man should be put to death’ . . . Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, ‘Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies’ (Jeremiah 38: 4, 10; First Reading).

Margaret Bermingham (1515-1584) was born near where I live in County Meath, Ireland, into a prosperous Catholic family. In her mid-teens she married Bartholomew Ball, Becoming part of another prosperous Catholic family. Some sources say that the couple had twenty children, others ten. But only five survived into adulthood. Bartholomew served as Lord Mayor of Dublin for a while. Two of his sons were to find themselves in the same position, as did Francis Taylor, who married Gennet Shelton, a granddaughter of Margaret. Both Margaret and her grandson-in-law were to meet a similar fate and are numbered among the 17 Irish Martyrs beatified by St John Paul II on 22 September 1992.

It was a time when Queen Elizabeth I carried out a persecution of Catholics in England and Ireland who would not submit to her as head of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland, the members of which were called Protestants. Walter Ball, the eldest son of Margaret and Bartholomew, became a zealous Protestant and in 1577 was appointed Commissioner for Ecclesiastical Causes, a position, as far as I can make out, the main responsibility of which was to persecute Catholics.

Margaret's home in Dublin was a safe house for bishops and priests where they could celebrate Mass, something they could not do publicly. When Walter became Lord Mayor in 1580, while still retaining his previous position, a higher one, he had  his mother, who suffered greatly from arthritis, arrested and dragged through the streets of Dublin tied to a wooden pallet and taken to the prison in Dublin Castle, the seat of English rule in Ireland. This was the method often used to bring prisoners to the gallows. Walter said that his mother deserved to be executed for her Catholic faith but that he had spared her.

Two years later Walter's younger brother Nicholas became Lord Mayor. He had remained faithful to the Catholic faith but was powerless to release his mother as Walter outranked him by his royal appointment as Commissioner for Ecclesiastical Causes. However, he visited his mother regularly, bringing her food, clothing and some furniture. But the appalling conditions gradually wore Margaret down and she died in 1584.

She had consistently prayed for her son Walter and did not disinherit him.

Eleven years later Francis Taylor, who had married Margaret's granddaughter Gennet Shelton, both of them faithful Catholics, became Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1595 but was imprisoned for his faith in Dublin Castle, like his grandmother-in-law, and died seven years later in 1613 from the harsh conditions that had gradually worn him down.

Both Margaret and Francis were beatified with 15 other Irish Martyrs on 27 September 1992 by St John Paul II. In his homily the Pope saidAll sectors of God’s people are represented among these seventeen Servants of God: Bishops, priests both secular and religious, a religious brother and six lay people, including Margaret Bermingham Ball, a woman of extraordinary integrity who, together with the physical trials she had to endure, underwent the agony of being betrayed through the complicity of her own son.

Further on St John Paul said: The Martyrs’ significance for today lies in the fact that their testimony shatters the vain claim to live one’s life or to build a model of society without an integral vision of our human destiny, without reference to our eternal calling, without transcendence. The Martyrs exhort succeeding generations of Irish men and women: 'Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called . . . keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ'.

It is unbelievable how cruelly Walter Ball treated his mother and his family. We can hope that his mother's prayers obtained for him the grace of repentance before he died.

For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

St Maximilian Kolbe OFM Conv
8 January 1894 - 14 August 1941

When St John Paul II canonised his fellow-Pole on 10 October 1982 he described him as a Martyr for Charity. He was a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp. On an occasion when a prisoner escaped ten others were ordered to be executed by being deprived of food and water in a bunker. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, a Polish soldier cried out, My wife! My children! The priest offered to take his place, an offer that was accepted. By the time the Nazis needed the bunker again all but the Franciscan had died of starvation and thirst. He was killed by lethal injection on 14 August 1941.This year his memorial is not observed by the Church as it falls on a Sunday. The guards had heard him while the others were still alive leading them in prayer and hymns.

Franciszek Gajowniczek
15 November 1901 – 13 March 1995

Walter Ball had deliberately caused the death of his mother because she would not deny her faith. Fr Kolbe offered his life to keep intact the family of someone he hardly knew. Franciszek was reunited with his wife Helena at the end of the War but, sadly, their two sons had died in January 1945 under a Soviet bombardment. However, he was the guest of St Paul VI at the beatification on 17 October 1971 of the man who had saved him and a guest of St John Paul II at the canonisation of St Maximilian on 10 October 1982.

Persecution and martyrdom have been part of the Church's history from the beginning. On 22 June this year, Pentecost Sunday, at least 40 people were massacred while attending Mass in Owo in southwestern Nigeria.

For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

Faith of our Fathers

Words by Fr Frederick William Faber 

Sung by Frank Patterson

With the Irish Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Fr Faber wrote the words of this hymn to honour the Catholic martyrs of England and Ireland who died during the Reformation. The word 'Fathers' is used in an inclusive sense, meaning 'ancestors'. The version above uses the traditional tune Sawston, the one most common in Britain and Ireland. The tune normally used in the USA is called St Catherine and was written by Henri Hemy.

Up to the 1960s this hymn used to be sung before the national anthem at Gaelic Football and Hurling finals in Ireland.

The final stanza of the hymn expresses for me the faith of Blessed Margaret Ball and her love for her son Walter, despite wht he had done to her.

Faith of our Fathers! we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife:
And preach thee too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life

Faith of our fathers' holy faith!

We will be true to thee till death!

Traditional Latin Mass

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 8-14-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:2-11Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

Church Interior with the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Dirck van Delen [Web Gallery of Art]

09 August 2022

Farewell to an Angel


I Know I'll Never Find Another You

Sung by The Seekers in 2013

(L to R: Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham, Athol Guy) 

Song written for them in 1964 by Tom Springfield in who also produced their original recording of the song that year.

I was very saddened by the news of the death of Judith Durham (3 July 1943 - 5 August 2022). She was less than three months younger than me - 1943 was a vintage year! - and the youngest of The Seekers, all of them from Melbourne, Australia. Judith was from Essendon, the Melbourne suburb where the Columbans have been for 100 years.

This song became the anthem of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (Philippines, Ireland).

Morningtown Ride
Written by Malvina Reynolds

This is one of my favourite songs by The Seekers. According to a comment below the video from a man who was a child in it, the boys were from St Vincent de Paul Boys' Home, South Melbourne, and the two girls with Judith from St Vincent's Children's Home, Black Rock. Though I have watched this video many time, it is only now that I noticed the dog, probably from the Boys' Home, who seems to have enjoyed being on the train!

So many comments under videos of The Seekers and of Judith singing solo describe her voice as that of an angel. I would go along with that. Anything beautiful is a gift from God to all of us. I was going to write Farewell to the voice of an angel as the subject but we have so many recordings and videos of The Seekers and of Judith that her voice is still with us.

The video below from a TV show in 1970 brings out the beauty of Judith's voice as she sings When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day, written in 1901 by Carrie Jacobs Bond. It also brings out her modesty, inner and outer, that for me has always been the embodiment of the wholesomeness to which God calls each of us. 

For mem’ry has painted this perfect day
With colours that never fade
And we find at the end of a perfect day
The soul of a friend we’ve made.

 To slightly adapt the words of Horatio to the dying Hamlet, Good night sweet princess / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

And may God, the source of all beauty, invite Judith to be part of those flights of singing angels.

05 August 2022

'If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.' Sunday Reflections, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


St Francis and Brother Leo Meditating on Death

El Greco [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 12:32-48 (English Standard Version Anglicised: India). Shorter form, Luke 12:35-40. Omit [text in square brackets]

Jesus said to his disciples:

[“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.]

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

[Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming’, and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.]

Léachtaí i nGaeilge  

A stamp with Liam Whelan's photo issued in 2008 by An Post, the Irish Postal Service, for the 50th anniversary of the Munich Disaster. The clock is in Old Trafford, the Manchester United stadium, showing the time and date of the crash.

You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

I've posted a number of times before about the death of Irish footballer Liam Whelan in a plane crash in Munich in 1958. His life and death for me show the meaning of the words of Jesus in the gospel today: You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect

I remember the moment I heard of the plane crash in Munich that killed so many young sportsmen in their prime. It was late afternoon and already dark and a man whom I knew as a street-singer, someone I had perceived, wrongly perhaps, to be a beggar, was running around, almost frantically, telling everyone the tragic news. I was 14 and it was my first experience of what some call 'a public private moment'.

If this is the end, then I'm ready for it. 

These were the last words of Liam Whelan who died more than 64 years ago and who is buried near my parents. Fifteen or sixteen years ago  I learned that when they were both around 14 Liam rescued a close friend of mine who had got into difficulties in a swimming pool. [Brendan, my friend, celebrates his 86th birthday this Sunday. I have baptised two of his grandchildren].

The average age of Manchester United's players was only 22. One who was only 21, Duncan Edwards, from the English Midlands, was considered by many to have the potential to become perhaps the greatest footballer ever. He died 15 days after the crash.

These young men who filled stadiums were being paid only a little more than a tradesman could earn at the time, though very few played beyond the age of 35. Endorsements could bring in a little more income for a few talented players. Their counterparts today are often spoiled millionaires.

Those who knew him described Liam Whelan as 'a devout Catholic'. I know that he sent his mother some money for her to go to Lourdes. 11 February 1958 was the centennial of the first apparition of our Blessed Mother to St Bernadette. Mrs Whelan, a widow since 1943 when Liam was 8, used the money instead towards a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Lourdes over the grave of her son (photo below). I pass it each time I visit my parents’ grave.

Clearly young Liam Whelan had his life focused on what was most important. He was ready to meet death. I have often spoken about him at Mass and on retreats. Today's gospel invites us to focus on the essentials, God’s love for us sinners, the hope that the life and death of Jesus offer us, the necessity of acknowledging our sinfulness to enable God’s love to break through and the importance of being always prepared for death.

But the deaths of so many talented young men still leaves a deep sadness among those who saw them play and followed their fortunes. I feel that sadness when I recall the Munich crash. The February 2008 issue of The Word, a magazine that sadly no longer exists and that was published by the Divine Word Missionaries in Ireland and Britain, had an article, A Sporting Tragedy, in which John Scally spoke for me : Their funerals were like no other. Most funerals are a burial of someone or something already gone. These young deaths pointed in exactly the opposite direction and were therefore the more poignant. Normally we bury the past but in burying Liam Whelan and his colleagues, in some deep and gnawing way we buried the future.

I remember the evening that Liam Whelan's remains were brought to his parish church, Christ the King, Cabra, Dublin, very near to where our family lived. There were thousands outside the church. My brother Paddy went with our Dad. Just recently  he told me that it was the only time he ever saw Dad cry.

I remember reading about Liam Whelan's last words in a newspaper a few days after the tragedy. I've heard Harry Gregg, the Manchester United goalkeeper who survived the crash and who died in 2020, speaking about them. They still move me and challenge me to be ready whenever death may come. Jesus isn't trying to frighten us in today's gospel but to keep us focused on the supremely important realities of
 The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. (That article by Monsignor Charles Pope is well worth reading).

Jesus tells us that when we are honestly trying to follow him in doing the Father's will we are blessed: Blessed are those servant whom the master finds awake when he comes.

You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Liam Whelan's grave, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Pope Benedict XVI opens his encyclical Spe Salvi  with these words:  'SPE SALVI facti sumus'—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). He has a beautiful passage about praying for the dead in No 48 of the encyclical, a passage I have often used at funerals. In it he quotes from John Donne's poem No Man is an Island (quotation highlighted below). 

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

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

No Man is an Island
by John Donne, read by Peter Baker

Traditional Latin Mass

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 8-07-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:6-13. Gospel: Luke 19:41-47.

The Purification of the Temple

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:45-46; today's Gospel).