Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Julius Caesar Russo was born at Brindisi (Apulia) Italy, on July 22, 1559, the son of Elizabeth Masella and William Russo. After his father died, Julius was sent to the Conventual friars as an oblate. Upon the subsequent death of his mother, Julius moved to Venice to be under the guidance of an uncle, a priest, who enrolled him in a private school.
At Venice, Julius was captivated by the Capuchins who lived on Giudecca Island. Especially attracted by their austerity, he entered the Capuchin novitiate at Verona on February 19, 1575, taking the name, Lawrence. He made profession of vows on March 24, 1576. Following profession, Lawrence was sent to Padua to study logic and then returned to Venice to study philosophy and theology. He was exceptionally intelligent, enamored of scripture, both as a source for intellectual stimulation and for spiritual growth. Thus motivated, Lawrence studied the biblical languages and even impressed rabbinical scholars with his linguistic fluency. Eventually he became proficient in seven languages. Lawrence balanced his studies with meditation and austere penitential practices. He was ordained to the presbyterate on December 18, 1582 by the patriarch of Venice, John Trevisan.
Lawrence quickly became recognized as an effective, scriptural preacher. Physically robust, his body was proportional in such a way as to make him appear very masculine and full of dignity. He enjoyed a depth of feeling and spontaneous dignity that attracted others and commanded their respect. He possessed a penetrating gaze and an authoritative voice. His gestures were spontaneous and energetic which gave him a dramatic flare. He also had a great memory. He was able to think and analyze quickly, with clarity of thought and precision of words that enabled him to improvise with great facility and efficacy. His erudition was vast. In addition, his holiness was profoundly persuasive.
When he preached, Lawrence impressed people with an integrity of intellect, sentiment and soul. He allowed himself to be emotionally moved by the thoughts he expressed which, in turn, moved his listeners all the more. Lawrence prepared for his preaching through prolonged prayer and penance. He would meditate for hours on the gospel of the day. Due to his fluency in the biblical languages and his knowledge of talmudic and rabbinic studies, Lawrence preached even among the Jewish population.
For three years, Lawrence was assigned as professor, then as local minister and novice director, and once again as preacher. His renown extended far beyond the borders of the Venetian province. The general minister, Jerome of Polizzi, intended to make use of Lawrence's skills. Lawrence was elected vicar provincial of the Tuscan province. He subsequently held the office of provincial minister of the Venetian province, then of the Swiss province, and, in 1596, was elected general definitor of the Order.
In 1593, the Capuchin Order was implanted in central Europe with the establishment of a fraternity at Innsbruck, the Tirolian capital. This was accomplished through the intervention of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his consort, Anna Catherine. The second establishment came in 1596 when, as provincial minister of Venice, Lawrence accepted a new foundation at Salzburg by invitation of the archbishop-prince Wolfgang Theodoric von Raitenau. Lawrence began establishing a chain of friaries connecting Venice, Trent, and the Tirol. In 1599, under Lawrence's guidance, Capuchin missionaries, esteemed as a major force for spiritual and clerical renewal (as were the Jesuits), were invited into various parts of ultramontane Europe. The general chapter of 1599 gave Lawrence a mandate to bring the Order beyond the Alps by selecting competent Capuchins from the various provinces for this mission. The beginnings of this missionary endeavor met with great hardship. The friars were confronted with substantial anti-Catholicism, epidemics, cold, and derision. Nonetheless, it was a purifying experience for them. They set out first to evangelize inactive Catholics. Through open and informal dialogue in homes, the friars facilitated the return of many to the faith. In 1600, Lawrence established a friary at Vienna, and one at Graz in Styria.
In 1601, Lawrence was with the emperor's troops at Albareale when the Turks began their attack. So outnumbered were the imperial forces that defeat seemed a near certainty. Nonetheless, Lawrence faced every danger with the troops, giving moral support in word and action, and stood as a physical symbol of invulnerability. Thus inspired, and against all odds, the imperial troops defeated the Turks.
In 1602, Lawrence was elected general vicar of the Order. At that time, the Capuchins were divided into 30 provinces with about 9,000 friars. Lawrence was mandated to conduct a visitation of all the provinces, including the transalpine jurisdictions. The 43-year-old Lawrence set out on foot immediately. The itinerary for his first year in office led through Italy, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Lawrence then resumed his visitation of the Italian provinces. Despite a typical day's journey covering 25 to 30 miles on foot, when Lawrence arrived at his destination he never failed to be present at the midnight and daytime offices, always followed the rigorous penances and fasts of the Order, and insisted on not being shown any preferential treatment. Familiarity and affability marked his fraternal visits. His term as general minister ended in May of 1605, and at the beginning of 1606, he returned to central Europe. With the Capuchin friary and church situated next to the imperial palace at Prague, Lawrence was anxious to preach in the church in order to influence (and at times denounce) the most powerful personages of reformation Europe. Facing a renewed threat of religious and political upheaval by the Evangelical Union, Lawrence was appointed by the Duke of Bavaria as ambassador to Spain and Italy, to seek financial aid and military support for the Catholic League in their campaign against the Lutheran and Calvinist forces. On his return, Lawrence's mediation skills were called upon to settle a dispute between Prague and Monaco. The Catholic League was viable only through the efforts and accomplishments of Lawrence. For the following three years, Lawrence was papal nuncio to Monaco. To facilitate access between Lawrence and Duke Maximilian, an underground tunnel was built linking the friary to the ducal palace.
In 1613, Lawrence was elected general definitor for the third time and was sent to visit the province of Genoa (which included the Piedmont and Liguria). The Genoese province was experiencing internal tension due to the fact that friars held differing political allegiances. Upon completion of his visitation, at the provincial chapter at Pavia on September 13, 1613, the Genoese capitulars elected Lawrence (against his will) as their provincial minister. The Savoy duke was not amused, and refused Lawrence permission to set foot in Liguria. The tension of the "independents" was a cross for Lawrence throughout his three years as provincial minister.
In 1616, Lawrence returned to his home province of Venice. His retirement at Bassano was interrupted in 1618 by a papal mandate commissioning him as a mediator of peace to Milan. There, Lawrence convinced the Spanish governor, Peter of Toledo, to accept a peace treaty with Charles Emmanuel I.
On July 22, 1619, his 60th birthday, Lawrence died at Belem near Lisbon, Portugal, while on a diplomatic mission. The cause for Lawrence's canonization was introduced four years after his death. However, the process was delayed due to a decree of Urban VIII prohibiting the introduction of any cause until at least 50 years after death.
Pius VI beatified Lawrence on May 23, 1783, and Leo XIII canonized him on December 8, 1881. Lawrence was declared the Apostolic Doctor by John XXIII on March 19, 1959.
Lawrence's writings span homiletic, scriptural, apologetic, autobiographical, and Mariological themes.

The above is by Patrick McSherry OFM Cap and taken from the Capuchin Franciscan Sacramentary (© 1995 North American Capuchin Conference).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I apologize for the shakiness of the pics but a small digital camera (Kodak Z1285 12mp HD) is not the best camera for photos is the gloom of a cathedral. I was reluctant to use the flash and when I did it bounced off the nearby worshippers so I gained no advantage. I felt like a paparazzi (even worse I was in my habit) but I could not let this experience go by without some mementos. This was my first Extraordinary Form Mass and it was an interesting experience. I will blog about it when I've had a little time to reflect. I think these photos are in order. I don't know who the celebrant was (Cardinal Pell presided) but the MC was Fr. Alcuin Reid and the deacon (?) was one of the German FSSP priests (nice guys). I don't who the other priest was (not much of a reporter am I?) An annonymous commentator over at the New Liturgical Movement has the following info: "The music for the Mass in Cobh Cathedral was supplied by the Dublin Lassus Scholars. They sang Palestrina's Missa Tu Es Petrus with motets by Bruckner, Byrd and Palestrina." The schola sang well.
Hope you like the photos.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I am just back from the International Liturgical Conference in Cork on "Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture". I had never been to such an event before (though I did attend a set of lectures by Fr. John P. Meier once) and wow! it has certainly been an experience. The lectures were informative, challenging and insightful and they have, each in their own way, broadened my horizons and raised many questions and ideas. I'll give my impressions in more detail once I get over the effects of the three hour drive in heavy rain.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Blessings on the Holy Father on this his name day. Rather than give the life of St. Benedict of Norcia, patron of Europe, I thought I'd do a brief piece on St. benedict's medal to which I have some devotion. All the inscriptions are in Latin. The medal has on one side an image of St. Benedict holding up a cross in his right hand and with the Rule or Gospels in his left. To his right is a raven carrying off a poisoned loaf and to his left a poisoned cup (both attempts to kill him). Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words:

Crux s. patris Benedicti
(The Cross of our holy father Benedict).

On the margin of the medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the words:

Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!
(May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!).

On the reverse side starting at the top (the medal shown above is different than the one I describe as it lacks the IHS and instead starts with PAX) we have the letters
IHS which, of course, are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek. Next going to the right around the rim we have
Vade Retro Satana
(Get behind me Satan)
and then
Numquam Suade Mihi Vana
(Do not suggest vain things to me).

The we have Pax (Peace) after which there is

Sunt Mala Quae Libas
(They are evil things that you offer)

followed by
Ipse Venenum Bibas
(Drink the poison yourself).

Around the cross in the centre are four letters

C, S, P, B
Crux s. patris Benedicti
(The Cross of our holy father Benedict).

On the vertical of the cross from the top down are the letters

Crux Sancta Sit Mihi Lux
(May the Holy Cross be Light to me).

On the horizontal there are

Non Diabolos Sit Mihi Dux
(May the Devil not be my guide/leader/commander).

The medal has its origin in Benedict's own struggles with temptation and his conquering them with the sign of the cross. Over time is has developed into its present form and comes in many sizes, sometimes coloured with enamel.
In these difficult times for Christians any aid we can get in resisting the wiles of the enemy and remaining faithful to Christ are very welcome. May Benedict bless, protect, guide and intercede for his namesake the Holy Father and lead Europe back to Christ.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today is a feast for us Capuchins, the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani, Capuchin Poor Clare, mystic, stigmatist, Abbess and perhaps one day a doctor of the Church. She truly was an extraordinary woman. The image top is froma painting of her in Citta di Castello where she spent her life as a nun and the image below it is of her death mask kept in the same place.
She was born on December 27,1660 to Franceso and Benedetta Giuliani At Mercatello int he Duchy of Urbino, Italy. She baptized Orsola, the youngest of five daughters. Their mother died when she was young but not before she had dedicated her daughters to the wounds of Christ. Angela was dedicated to the wound in Christ's side, something she never forgot. Something of her temperament can be gathered from her childhood nickname 'fire.' Their father, a civil servant, was left to struggle on and despite his resistance she persisted in her pursuit of a vocation to the toughest religious life she could find - the Capuchin Poor Clares at Citta di Castello. From the start she was deeply prayerful and experienced extraordinary graces. She was drawn to suffer for Christ and in union with Him and yet she still managed to function successfully as Abbess and Novice Mistress and formed a devout and holy community of sisters. Even though hampered by her stigmata she managed to renovate and improve the monastery.
One of the sufferings she endured was the keeping of her diary imposed on her by her confessor and now a valuable record and resource. She did not want to do it and neither did the evil one. The diary would be ripped from her hands and damaged so that she would have to do her work all over again. The enemy saw something in her writings that made him afraid!
She opposed the entrance of Florida Cevoli to the monastery fearing it would be too much for the young noblewoman. Instead Florida became her friend, devoted disciple and successor and is herself a beatus. Veronica died in 1727 and was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839.

Today the pain in my hands, feet and heart returned and I spent a night that was precious to me because it was filled with pains and torments. Thanks be to God! Early in the morning I went to confession and this gave me the strength to suffer more. Later at Holy Communion I experienced the grace of God reigning deep in my soul with some kind of new internal sensation. As well as this, for some days now I have a certain feeling in my heart the nature of which I cannot make out; so I will simply describe the effects it has on me.

First, there is the realisation of my faults and sorrow for them; the overwhelming desire for the conversion of souls for whom I am ready to offer my life's blood; a deep trust in the mercy of God and in the loving concern of Our Lady. The second effect is that I feel myself abandoned and submerged in a sea of temptations. As soon as I experience this inner sensation I seem to become fully content and possessed by the most profound sense of peace, firmly established in the will of God.

The third and last effect is like this: when I am disturbed interiorly by the temptations of the devil and when exteriorly I concentrate on other things, running here and there in the course of my duties, the hidden working results in my doing everything without being aware of it, so that I find the task is completed but I do not know how. This happens to me in the most important events of the day, such as receiving the sacraments, in prayer and in the spiritual conversations which we have. I feel myself overcome by fatigue, dried up, empty, so that it scarcely seems possible to go on living. When I am in this state it seems a waste of time to go to confession. But hardly have I felt in my heart the smallest trace of this third effect when I find myself transformed, renewed with such strength, that no matter what the aridity, vexation or numbness, any task even the most difficult, becomes easy for me. May God be glorified in all things.

Veronica Giuliani, from her diary, Un Tesoro Nascosto VIII, pp. 629-30

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I know the title isn't very nice but this morning has been frustrating. At long last I made up my mind to buy some stuff from Sancta Missa. I know what I want and how much it will cost (including postage and packaging) and I decide that I can probably get the whole thing done in the Post Office. There's a queue. That's to be expected. I get to the hatch. I explain that I want to send money to America. Can't do it - only do Sterling and Euro drafts. Now I could've sent the money as a euro draft but I wasn't sure if that would be accepted. She wasn't very helpful. I know American's say we accept a much lower standard of service here... So I head offf to the bank. It's like Fort Knox. Another queue. I wait and when it's my turn I explain I want to send money to America. No problem but have I an account. I'm a religious so I'm not allowed a private bank account (don't have much to put in one anyway) and I've no credit card (see previous reasons). I don't have an account so I can't PAY them to give me an International Money Order so I can send money to America and pay for the goods I want. I wanted to give these people, these institutions cash and was willing to pay extra for all the inconvenience etc., at NO RISK to themselves or their investors but no, no account no deal. Puff! There goes any good will I might have towards the banking system. I will not now be a customer of theirs. Indeed my reluctance to ever have accounts or dealings with these institutions (I have long believed them to be intrinsically dishonest and wrong) has only increased. Now I must seek other avenues. There, that's my rave.

Friday, July 3, 2009


The following conference is to be held in Cork Sunday week:

St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy
Fota II International Liturgy Conference

Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture
12-13 July 2009
Sheraton Hotel, Fota, Co. Cork


Sunday, 12 July 2009

4 pm
Conference Opening
Chair: Prof. D. Vincent Twomey, SVD
Joesph Ratzinger on Aesthetics and the Liturgy

4.15 pm Dr. Joseph Murphy
The Fairest and the Formless: The Face of Christ as Criterion for Christian beauty according to Joesph Ratzinger

5 pm
Fr. Daniel Gallagher
The Liturgical Consequences of Thomistic Aesthetics: exploring some philosophical aspects of Joseph Ratzinger’s Aesthetics

6 pm
Dr. Janeth Rutherford
Eastern iconoclasm and the defence of divine beauty

Monday, 13 July 2009

9 am
Dr. Helen Dietz
The Nuptial Meaning of Classic Church Architecture

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Cong. Or.
Louis Bouyer and Church Architecture: Resourcing Benedict XVI’s Introduction to The Spirit of the Liturgy

11 am

3 pm
His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
Benedict XVI on Beauty: Issues in the Tradition of Christian Aesthetics

4 pm
Prof. Duncan Stroik
The Church Building as an Image of Eternity: Cardinal Ratzinger and the Architecture of Ecclesia

5 pm
Mr. Ethan Anthony
The Third Revival: New Gothic and Romanesque Catholic Architecture in North America

6 pm
Dr. Alcuin Reid
‘Noble Simplicity’ Revisited

7 pm
Dr. Neil Roy
The Galilee Chapel: A Medieval Notion Comes of Age


Further information is available at: colman.liturgy@yahoo.co.uk

Registration forms at: www.scscLiturgy.com

I hope to get to this myself and perhaps another brother will accompany me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I know the Holy Father is holding up St. John Vianney as a model for priests in this Year of the Priesthood. St. John was a member of the Franciscan Third Order and tried to join the Capuchins a number of times but was always sent back to his vocation: parish priest. There are many other saints who might also be held up as examples for imitation but for Ireland there can hardly be a better one than St. Oliver Plunkett (feast day July 1). He courageously and obediently returned from Rome to a country and a Church in chaos and turmoil. He had six dioceses in his care! He held a council and worked to support his few clergy and keep the faith alive. Betrayed by some of his own people he was taken to England for trial and despite his innocence (he wasn't even allowed to bring witnessed from Ireland) he was found guilty and hung, drawn and quartered. If I may be a little biased here but as someone once said such is British justice 'innocent until proven Irish' or in this case 'Irish Catholic'. He face death calmly and full of faith. He gave himself totally for his people.
The icon above is by Maria Gnikala who lives and works in Cavan.


This is our library at the moment. It was once the choir and a lovely one too by all accounts but then St. Bonaventures in Cork closed and the students came here along with the library. When I arrived as a newly solemnly professed friar in 1995 it had been the exclusive domain of an elderly friar until his incarceration in a nursing home. My job then was first to sort out the shelving and then the books. It's hard to believe but here am I on my second stint in Raheny and I'm still trying to sort it out. As we are facing either a redesign/new build scenario with the house it is also important to reduce the library to manageable size. Friars use libraries as dumping grounds. So my principal job has been weeding out the rubbish and reducing the library to its proper function; a resource for students of philosophy and theology. It's not all rubbish. In the past I have found books as old as 1648 (the sermons of St. Anthony of Padua in latin, wax cover) and newer books from the early 18th Cent. Some are beautifully illustrated and many are of particularly Irish interest but that's not what the libraries for. I have removed some books (such as Missalae Romanae to the Common Room). Some books have been given away. I hope to sell off the rest of the books we don't want or need to raise funds to buy more modern texts. It's dirty work but one comes up the occasional jewel such as Micahel Davies' Apologia for Marcel Lefebvre vol. I and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, 10th Edition, 1958 by Fortescue and O'Connell. We have the rubbish too - Kung, Haring etc but I'm the librarian not a censor. Stilll books do go missing...


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