08 May 2024

'She had faith that did not shake.' Sunday Reflections, Ascension, Year B

The Venerable Edel Quinn
14 September 1907 - 12 May 1944 [photo]

Solemnity of the Ascension

The Ascension is celebrated on Ascension Thursday, 9 May, in England & Wales, Scotland. In the USA it is celebrated on Ascension Thursday in the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia. In all of these places Ascension Thursday is a Holyday of Obligation.

The Ascension is observed on Sunday, 12 May, in Aotearoa-New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Philippines, USA (apart from the jurisdictions mentioned above).

Ascension, Year B 

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel  Mark 16:15-20  (English Standard Version, Anglicised)

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B

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

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel  John 17:11b-19  (English Standard Version, Anglicised)

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Servant of God Frank Duff
7 June 1889 - 7 November 1980 [photo]

In her biography of her godfather Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary, Finola Kennedy has a chapter with the heading Edel, Fr Aedan, Alfie. Under the title is a quotation from today's First Reading: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Edel, Fr Aedan and Alfie were the Venerable Edel Quinn, Columban Fr Aedan McGrath and Servant of God Alfie Lambe.

This Sunday, 12 May, is the 80th anniversary of the death of Edel Quinn in Nairobi, Kenya.

Both Edel and Alfie Lambe felt called to religious life. Because of her tubercolosis (TB) Edel could not enter the Poor Clares. Alfie spent some time in the novitiate of the Irish Christian Brothers, known officially as the Congregation of Christian Brothers whose ministry is teaching, but had to leave for health reasons. Both became witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth, Edel in East and Central Africa and Alfie in South America. Both died young, Edel at the age of 36 and Alfie at the age of 26. Alfie is buried in the vault of the Irish Christian Brothers in Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, a touch of what I call 'the thoughtfulness of God', something I first became aware of after my mother's sudden death in 1970.

Edel left for Africa in December 1936. Some in the leadership of the Legion of Mary thought it was a bad idea to send a young woman in poor health on such a difficult mission. After seven years of intense work involving long journeys on poor roads, an intense spiritual life focused above all on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our Blessed Mother's central role in God's plan of salvation for all of us, Edel's TB caught up on her and she died on 12 May 1944 where she is buried in the Missionaries' Cemetery.

The cause for her beatification began in 1957 and in 1994 Pope St John Paul II declared her Venerable. The cause for her beatification continues.

Frank Duff said of Edel Quinn: She had a faith that did not shake. Without that foundation you would not have that special characteristic of devotion to Our Lady, whose faith is singled out for praise in the Gospel . . . Things like fear would naturally assert themselves in her. Why did they not carry her away as they do with most people? I suggest that in her case the ground was so drenched with the Holy Ghost that the sparks of temptation did not start a conflagration.

Servant of God Alfie Lambe
24 June 1932 - 21 January 1958 [photo]

Alfie went to South America in July 1953 and served in Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. Because of his family name and short stature he acquired the nickname El Corderito, 'The Little Lamb'. The Archdiocese of Buenos Aires introduced the cause of his beatification in 1978.

Fr Aedan McGrath with Pope St John Paul II

Fr Aedan McGrath was born in Dublin on 22 January 1906 and died suddenly at a family gathering on Christmas Day 2000. He spent two years and eight months in solitary confinement in China for his work with the Legion of Mary. I remember his return to Ireland in 1954 after being expelled from China. He was met at Dublin Airport by the President, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and thousands of others. He told me that when he saw the large crowd when the plane landed he said to himself 'There must be somebody important on board'.

Father Aedan spent the rest of his life promoting the Legion of Mary. Based in Manila from 1979 he visited many countries in the Pacific Rim. His story was one of the reasons I became a Columban missionary priest and I was graced to have come to know him very well as a friend during my years in the Philippines and as an inspiring brother Columban priest.

These three missionaries took to heart the words of Jesus in the gospel for the Ascension: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. The 80th anniversary of the death of Edel Quinn reminds us of this and of what we are all called to be, proclaimers of the gospel by the way we follow Jesus in our daily lives.

You can find quite a bit of material on these three great missionaries by googling their names.

Fr Aedan tells the story of the bird that befriended him in prison

I saw two extraordinary things at Father Aedan's funeral in our cemetery here. During the prayers of commendation before the coffin was lowered a robin redbreast was hovering all the time over it. Then as it was being lowered into the ground a flight of birds in V formation approached from the southwest. Just before they passed over our cemetery one of the birds flew into the middle turning the 'V' into 'A'. You can learn more about this in A Heavenly Farewell, a video I made while still in the Philippines.

Traditional Latin Mass

Ascension Thursday

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 05-09-2024 if necessary).

Lesson: Acts 1:1-11. Gospel: Mark 16:14-20.

Lorenzo Ghiberti [Web Gallery of Art]

Sunday after the Ascension

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 05-12-2024 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Peter 4:7-11. Gospel: John 15:26 - 16:4.



Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
What an extreme cruel punishment for being more than two years in solitary confinement... One often wonders WHY the human race can act like that?!
And yet, some very strong souls with unwavering Faith manage to live through that.
A bird, or any little creature of course would be appreciated and treasured!
May God reward all those that endured so much.
Thanks for creating that video.

GinggingA said...

Dear Fr. Sean,

Every time this story is told in your blog, warm thoughts and feelings gush forth, giving comfort and hope for good and better things to come. The swirl of evil in our world is left powerless in breaking one's spirit, whose soul is intimately close to God. Fr. Aedan's testimony is powerful in drawing our attention to notice God's signs of hope amidst chaos.

Jesus promises us that, He will not leave us like orphans. He will send the paraclete that will teach us the ways of and to the Father.
Thank you Fr, Sean for the inspiring video.
Much love,