Thursday, November 26, 2009


I actually wrote this on Thursday:

The report is out and I went and had a look, a long look. I haven't had time to read it all. I'm not sure I have the stomach to read it all. It is frightening to recognize the names of abusers and victims and to realise how close one can be to people and not know what they have done or what they may have been through.

It's not the descriptions of abuse, bad enough as they are, but the callousness and indifference of the abusers and even of their superiors that is so disturbing. The priest is meant to be an alter Christus, 'another Christ' and to use the sanctity of the priesthood to abuse children is as the Church calls it 'the worst crime'. To then fail to care for the victim and allow the abuser to continue on...

I am horrified at the pain inflicted by some of my brother priests. Even when you put it in context of the many priests who served in the Archdiocese it remains that if only one child suffered that was one too many. What makes it worse is that the victims were not listened to and many abusers were allowed to continue to abuse. The greatest evil that has resulted is that so many have turned away from Christ because of this.

Is any apology ever going to be enough? How can we ease this sorrow and heal this pain? I think we need a miracle. Bishops resigning might make some people feel better but it's only the continued and consistent implementation of the child protection guidelines that will make the difference to those who matter most: the children.

It is a grim day for the priesthood. On Thursday I took a sixth year class on retreat for the day with another priest. The report did not come up and I don't know how I can communicate my shame and disgust if it ever does while somehow also keeping to the teaching of Jesus: hate the sin but love the sinner.

For the rest of us priests we must seek to be holy, really holy. Enough of this compromise, this fudging of our commitment. One thing the Report says is that Canon Law would've dealt with a lot of these issues sooner had it been employed. If we are men of God let us start to really live that and live it so others can see it clearly. The only way to win back the people's trust is to be trustworthy, to be examples that the whole flock can follow.

This is the year for priests, so please pray for us.

St. John Vianney pray for us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


St. Andrew was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. The Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615 and they ministered initially to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during Protestant English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.

Again in the 19th century three times severe persecutions were launched. Between 1820 and 1880, from 100,000 to 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.
Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing witha rebellion led by of one of his sons.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.
During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.
An excerpt of a letter written 1843 by Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, shortly before his martyrdom:

I, Paul, chained for the name of Christ, wish to tell you the tribulations in which I am immersed every day, so that you, inflamed with love for God, may also lift up your praise to God, 'for his mercy endures forever'. This prison is truly the image of the eternal Hell: to the cruelest tortures of all types, such as fetters, iron chains and bonds, are added hate, vindictiveness, calumny, indecent words, interrogations, bad acts, unjust oaths, curses and finally difficulties and sorrow. But God, who once freed the three boys from the path of the flames, is always with me and has freed me from these tribulations and converted them into sweetness, 'for his mercy endures forever...

Assist me with your prayers so that I may struggle according to the law, and indeed 'fight the good fight' and that I may be worthy to fight until the end, finishing my course happily; if we do not see each other again in this life, in the future age, nonetheless, this will be our joy, when standing before the throne of the spotless Lamb, with one voice we sing his praises, exulting in the joy of eternal victory. Amen.

Above from and .

Monday, November 23, 2009


I can't let this day go without mention of St. Columban of Bobbio. He is the one on the left above accompanied by St. Basil (the younger) of Constantinople. Bobbio, in Northern Italy, was where he ended up but not where he started out. He was a Leinster man, like myself and most of my ancestors, born about 543. He studied under St. Sinnell at Cleenish on Lough Erne and then with St. Comgall at Bangor, Co. Down.

Somewhere between the 570's and the 590's he headed off with twelve companions for the Continent. Welcomed by a local king he established a monastery at the abandoned Roman fort at Annegray where he converted the ruined temple of Diana into a church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. Columban's monasticism was the strict Irish form and it attracted followers, men in search of God. Soon monasteries at Luxeil and Fontaine followed.

Falling foul of the new king Columban and his monks were banished and thus began their long and epic search for a home. Along the way some monks founded their own monasteries such as St. Dicuil at Oignon and St. Gall at Lake Constanz.
Having passed over the Alps Columban made it to the court of the Lombard King who offered him the ruined church of St. Peter, 70 miles from Milan. Here at Bobbio he ended his days.

It was during these years he wrote to the Pope. He asserted

For all we Irish, inhabitants of the world's edge, are disciples of Saints Peter and Paul and of all the disciples who wrote the Sacred Canon by the Holy Spirit. We accept nothing outside the evangelical and apostolic teaching. None of us is a heretic, no one a jew, no one a schismatic; but the Catholic faith as it was transmitted by you, successors of the Holy Apostles is maintained unbroken.

He was, of course, an Irishman to the end, valuing informality and good-natured humour:

When an unworthy man like me writes to an illustrious one like yourself, my insignificance makes applicable to me the striking remark which a certain philosopher is said to have once made on seeing a painted harlot: 'I do not admire the art, but I admire the cheek'...

Columban was no painted harlot but a great and holy man whose monasteries acted as beacons in the darkness of Europe and made a huge contribution to its rebuilding. Robert Schuman called him the 'patron saint of those who wish to construct a united Europe'. I would add 'provided it is Christian and Catholic.'

Translations are by the late Tomás Cardinal Ó'Fiaich. Source: O'Brien Pocket History of Irish Saints by Brian Lacey.


Thanks to a link in a comment on the New Liturgical Movement's website:

It's part of a documentary on Orthodox Church life in Russia today.

Friday, November 20, 2009


This Fr. Daniil Sysoyev, 35, a Russian Orthodox priest who was murdered by a masked gunman or men last night. His assistant is in critical condition. The motive is unclear though either Muslim or Pagan extremists are among the chief suspects. Fr Sysoyev had received numerous death threats after being publically critical of Islam. May he rest in peace. H/t to Byzantine Ramblings.

As Fr. comments
it causes me to wonder if I have ever proclaimed the Faith so clearly, so powerfully, with such dedication, grace and Love that I even seemed dangerous to the pagans and other non-Christians around me. I fear that the demons have found little of interest in me due to my own sinfulness and self-condemnatory life - they needn't bother.

Shame on me.
Yet we do not know how much the Lord uses us, sometime despite ourselves. If martyrdom is for us it will come as long as we seek to do the will of God.

He also has a moving account of his wife's last illness. May she rest in peace.

Monday, November 16, 2009


This is a nice short piece on the Crucifix found at


According to David Quinn's blog over at the Irish Catholic retiring Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh has decided to mark his departure with a call
for a debate on celibacy and women priests, for the Church to allow those in second unions to receive the Eucharist, Protestants as well. For good measure, called on the Church to be more welcoming towards homosexuals. You might call it Bishop Walsh's parting shot.

I always thought Bishop was a liberal so now he has come out and identified himself as one. As David Quinn points out this is the kind of approach that has not worked anywhere, for any Church or ecclesial community, ever. It shows how some senior Irish clergy are seriously out of touch with reality and how liberal the Irish clergy have been all along. Once we were poisoned by French Jansenism, since then we have embraced Anglo-American liberalism when will we embrace Catholicism?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


“The annual Solemn Requiem Mass for deceased members of St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy and for all the faithful departed will be celebrated at 11 am on Saturday, 28 November 2009 in St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral Church, Fermoy, Co. Cork.

The Mass will be celebrated in Latin according to the Roman Missal published by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962.

The Gregorian propers of the Requiem and Gabriel Fauré’s Pie Jesu and In paradisum will be sung by members of the Lassus Scholars, Dublin under the direction of Miss Ite O’Donovan.

All are welcome to attend”.


From the Order's website:

GUATEMALA CITY - The body of Br. Miguel Angel Hernández was found in a province in the western part of Guatemala. He had been assigned to a parish in Ocotepeque (Honduras). Police sources in Honduras had earlier announced that Br. Miguel had been kidnapped last weekend while travelling from Ocotepeque to the eastern capital of Chiquimula (Guatemala). The body was found in Esquipulas, some 200 kms east of the capital, with multiple stab wounds. Br. Miguel Angel Hernández had been in charge of the parish of Ocotepeque in Honduras for the past four years. Speaking on local radio, his confrere Br. Juan Pablo Lobos has asked the authorities to investigate the killing of Br. Hernández. Violence against missionaries and religious has grown in recent years in Latin America.

The Capuchins of the Vice-Provincia of "Our Lady of Hope" have worked for many years in the brder region between Honduras and Guatemala,where thjey have a number of fraternities. Br. Miguel was 44. He was a Capuchin, ordained in 1994, and had worked in the parishdes of Chiquimula and Quetzaltepeque (Guatemala), Santa Ana (El Salvador), and for the past 4 years had been pastor and Guardian of the Capuchin friary in Nueva Ocotepeque, Honduras. As head of a Catholic school, Br. Miguel was a great friend to young people. He was a hard worker and had a simple manner, clear in his preaching and always sincere and consistent in all that he did.

May the Lord have mercy on his soul and on those who killed him.


The icon above is by the late Sr. Aloysius McVeigh and is kept in the parish church in Glendalough.

Today is a feast day in the Archdiocese of Dublin as we honour our patron Naoimh Lorcan Ua Tuathail or Lawrence O'Toole (1128-1180) Archbishop of Dublin and a member of the a leading noble family of Leinster. His life overlaps and is comparable with that of St. Thomas a Becket (1118 – 29 December 1170). He was given into the care of the Church after a period as a hostage and became a monk at St. Kevin's monastery at Glendalough. In 1154, at the age of 26 he was made abbot. As abbot he was a reformer but also a man possessed of great compassion for the poor, a feature of his ministry as Bishop. To the end of his life he wore a hair shirt and fasted on Fridays on bread and water yet was ever the generous host with his guests.
In Dublin he had a hard job. The tiny city was a viking (Danish and Norwegian)city. He was the first Irish (Gaelic) bishop and the son of a Gaelic prince but he had the support of the clergy and the people especially after his work during a famine. He was a true pastor and a man of peace. With the arrival of the Normans to aid Diarmait against the other Irish princes Ireland began her long saga of English interference in her affairs and Lorcan found himself 'uncle-in-law' to Strongbow.
He worked to build peace between the invaders and the out-classed Irish.
At the same time he sought to reform the Dublin diocese. He repaired the cathedral and worked to restore clerical discipline. He attended the Third Lateran Council and so impressed the Pope that he was made a Legate. While on another mission for the High King he took ill and died at Eu in Normandy. An Irish historian has suggested that there is something suspicious in the award of Irish lands to the canons of Eu after the death of Lorcan. Did Henry II fins a less obvious way to rid himself of another troublesome priest?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I was celebrant on the 12.00 here today and I get to be celebrant on the 9.30 tomorrow morning. It seems like ages since I was celebrant here (we do a lot of supplies). When I saw the Gospels for these Masses my heart sank a little. These are not easy texts. All the way to the Feast of Christ the King the Gospels get more and more apocalyptical and we are again and again challenged to make the choice between God and the world. By 'world' I do not mean nature but the system of distorted values we keep in our hearts and lives and share with those around us. I mean also the passions, those disordered powers of the soul that constantly tempt to drag us down into the pit.

Today I interpreted 'money' in wider sense as wealth - anything that we want to hold onto as valuable. I told the people that what we really want to hold on to we grip in our fist so to speak. Yet a closed fist is unable to receive. It matters little what it is closed upon whether a halfpenny or a billion Euro, it is not the amount but the fist and the will that is wrapped around it. The love of wealth itself is often only the symptom of deeper problems. Our wealth can be our good name, our pride or hurts we refuse to forgive. The closed fist cannot receive. No matter how we pray if we pray with closed fists we are hypocrites and traitors.

What if we discover that our fists are closed are we lost? No, but we can make a start towards opening the fist and letting go. If we find no desire to do this we must pray for it for really it takes the grace of God to make any progress at all. He must open our fingers one by one. It is the open hand that can receive. What do we receive, what do we get from God? We get Himself. God the Father wishes to give Himself totally through His Son. What a deal! For nothing we get the ALL!

It occurred to me recently that God the Father really takes my salvation seriously but He takes my freedom just as seriously. He is serious enough to allow the Son to endure the Cross and death so as to reveal and make effective the LOVE of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father. Despite this ultimate act of worshipful love the Father so respects my freedom that He will let me choose not to spend eternity with Him. That's some love.

That total love surely demands a total response? Isn't that what Sunday's Gospel is about? Jesus admires the woman for her total love. Her love for God makes her give until it hurts, indeed it puts her life and welfare at risk. In contrast the publicly religious Pharisees only love to the point that it suits them and in the process exchange the true wealth (communion with God) for dross, the passing dust of this world.

The choice is ours: to cast in our lot with God or to hold onto what seems secure and lose eternity. Who has the guts to do it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The 2nd annual 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena is scheduled to take place January 13th - 21st, 2010. People may help this effort by having one or more Masses offered for the following intention: For the protection of unborn human persons. Last year, more than 3,000 Masses were offered in at least 18 countries.

"It has been said that within the last fifty or so years, approximately one billion unborn babies throughout the world have been surgically killed. This number does not include the unborn babies killed
non-surgically," said Patrick Benedict, president of the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization which is the coordinator of the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena. " This unprecedented slaughter of the innocents is hellish. None of us can fully grasp the magnitude of this horror.

" We can, however, engage in pro-life efforts. One of those efforts, of course, is having the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the protection of unborn babies. And, the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena is designed to do exactly that.

" Obviously, the Culture of Death is waging a fierce war against the unborn babies. A major and ongoing spiritual response from the Church Militant is long overdue. I hope the day will arrive that has every priest and bishop in the world offering at least one Mass each week for the protection of unborn human persons", continued Benedict.

A person wanting more information may either go to or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
P.O. Box 41257; Memphis, Tennessee 38174; U.S.A.

" The unborn babies can not have Masses offered for themselves, but each person reading this can. And, I hope a great multitude of people will be doing just that," added Benedict.

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

[The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization was founded in the year 2007. In addition to coordinating the 10,000 MASSES FOR UNBORN BABIES Novena, the Organization plans on coordinating the 3rd annual ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event(May 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2010) and the 3rd annual WORLDWIDE ROSARY FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event(October 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2010).]


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