Sunday, 26 July 2015

Lovely Little Song - Down Among the Bushes of Jerusalem

Found this on Youtube. I think it's lovely - the life of Our Blessed Lord as it might have been envisaged by someone from rural Ireland without the niceties of the archaeological purists.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Friday, 24 July 2015

St. Christina - Virgin and Martyr


 Today is the Feast of St. Christina. The following biography is taken from Catholic Online.

"St. Christina was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urbain. Her father, who was deep in the practices of heathenism, had a number of golden idols, which our saint destroyed, and distributed the pieces among the poor. Infuriated by this act, Urbain became the persecutor of his daughter. He had her whipped with rods and then thrown into a dungeon. Christina remained unshaken in her faith. Her tormentor then had her body torn by iron hooks, and fastened her to a rack beneath which a fire was kindled. But God watched over His servant and turned the flames upon the lookers-on. Christina was next seized, a heavy stone tied around her neck, and she was thrown into the lake of Balsena, but she was saved by an angel, and outlived her father, who died of spite. Later, this martyred suffered the most inhuman torments under the judge who succeeded her father, and finally was thrown into a burning furnace, where she remained, unhurt, for five days. By the power of Christ, she overcame the serpents among which she was thrown; then her tongue was cut out, and afterwards, being pierced with arrows, she gained the martyr's crown at Tyro, a city which formerly stood on an island in the lake of Balsena in Italy, but was long since swallowed up by the waters. Her relics are now at Palermo in Sicily."
St. Chrisina is also associated with a Eucharistic Miracle, which took place at Bolsena in 1263, and is seen as a catalyst to the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi. A priest named Peter of Prague was suffering doubts about the reality of Transubstantiation. While saying Mass in the Church of St. Christina at Bolsena (a station on a pilgrimage to Rome), he broke the consecrated Host, and experienced blood dripping from it onto his hands and the corporal.

In light of her life and this miracle, it may be good to invoke St. Christina's prayers for persecuted Christians, for the victims of so-called 'honour beatings' and 'honour killings', and for priests who are currently experiencing crises of faith or vocation.

Ora pro nobis.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

St Mary Magdalene - Penitent


Today we celebrate the Feast of a Saint who is important and inspiring because of her sheer humanity, and because of the miraculous change wrought in her life upon encountering Our Blessed Lord.

I could write for many hours about St. Mary Magdalene, so will try to limit this post to a few thoughts. Tradition holds that she was a prostitute, certainly Scripture refers to her as having an ill reputation. We can infer from the gospels that she was likely to have been at the more 'high class' end of her profession, if that is the right expression, rather than a common street-walker (otherwise, how come she was in possession of what Judas Iscariot reminds us was a very expensive perfumed ointment - possibly a gift from a wealthy punter, intended for her to use in her profession, perhaps for massaging said client... it is very easy to envisage the reality of her life). She was probably also, as we see in many present-day, so-called, celebrities, someone who courted notoriety, and traded on her sexual reputation, with the mistaken belief that she was having a good time, and in some way important, when, in reality, she was just being used by those who would gain a bit of quick pleasure, and then probably denigrate her in conversation afterwards. Then, suddenly into her life comes a man who doesn't see her in this way, who is interested in her soul rather than her body, and who can see the real beauty beneath the mask of flaunted sexuality, and He genuinely values her, and wants to give her a gift far greater than money or expensive scent - to see her enjoy eternal life in Heaven.

Though not a great fan of Lloyd-Weber's 'Jesus Christ, Superstar', I do like the song 'I don't know how to love Him', sung by the Mary Magdalene character in the musical, the lyrics of which seem to reflect a very natural response of a woman experiencing a spiritual awakening and real holy Charity after a life of sexual pseudo-love, and feeling both passion and confusion over what is happening.

And it is interesting to reflect that on His Resurrection, Our Lord shows Himself first, not to the priests or the supposedly important leaders of the people, but to Mary, an ex-prostitute, who once showed some insight that He was due to suffer and die at the hands of those by who He was then being feted, perhaps because she was herself only too aware of human fickleness and the metaphorical 'slap-down'; a woman who wept for Him, and who symbolically anointed Him for His burial. Tradition also holds that another penitent, Salome, was with her at the tomb when Christ appeared to them - presumably the same Salome, the former stripper, who had once been incited to become an accessory to the murder of His cousin. What a pair to be granted the gift of the first sight of the Word Made Flesh, God Incarnate, conquering death!

On this Feast, please pray for all those in this world currently caught up in some form of exploitation or sin due to sexuality, be it from their own poor choice, or from coercion or duress. In particular, of your charity pray for those men who have left, or are the process of leaving, priestly and Religious vocations due to the temptations of the flesh. I do not want to see even one soul consigned unnecessarily to the flames.

Domine, miserere nobis.

Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

St Lawrence of Brindisi - Confessor and Doctor


Today is the Feast of yet another great Franciscan, and Doctor of the Church, St. Lawrence of Brindisi. The following life is taken from Catholic Online.

"Caesare de Rossi was born at Brandisi, kingdom of Naples, on July 22nd. He was educated by the conventual Franciscans there and by his uncle at St. Mark's in Venice. When sixteen, he joined the Capuchins at Verona, taking the name Lawrence. He pursued his higher studies in theology, philosophy, the bible, Greek, Hebrew, and several other languages at the University of Padua. He was ordained and began to preach with great effect in Northern Italy. He became definitor general of his Order in Rome in 1596, a position he was to hold five times, was assigned to conversion work with Jews, and was sent to Germany, with Blessed Benedict of Urbino, to combat Lutheranism. They founded friaries at Prague, Vienna, and Gorizia, which were to develop into the provinces of Bohemia, Austria, and Styria. At the request of Emperor Rudolf II, Lawrence helped raise an army among the German rulers to fight against the Turks, who were threatening to conquer all of Hungary, became its chaplain, and was among the leaders in the Battle of Szekesfehevar in 1601; many attributed the ensuing victory to him. In 1602, he was elected Vicar General of the Capuchins but refused re-election in 1605. He was sent to Spain by the emperor to persuade Philip III to join the Catholic League, and while there, founded a Capuchin house in Madrid. He was then sent as papal nuncio to the court of Maximillian of Bavaria, served as peacemaker in several royal disputes, and in 1618, retired from worldly affairs to the friary at Caserta. He was recalled at the request of the rulers of Naples to go to Spain to intercede with King Philip for them against the Duke of Osuna, Spanish envoy to Naples and convinced the King to recall the Duke to avert an uprising. The trip in the sweltering heat of summer exhausted him, and he died a few days after his meeting with the King at Lisbon on July 22nd. Lawrence wrote a commentary on Genesis and several treatises against Luther, but Lawrence's main writings are in the nine volumes of his sermons. He was canonized in 1881 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959. His feast day is July 21st."

St Lawrence's relics at the Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain

Ora pro nobis

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel

Ora pro nobis.

Happy Feast

"Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star" - Lovely old hymn to Our Lady, in honour of her Feast, and just because I have loved this hymn since childhood, when my own mother used sometimes to sing it to me as a lullaby.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

St. Swithun, Bishop and Confessor - Local Feast in the Dioceses of Southwark, Portsmouth and Arundel and Brighton

The local Feast on the 15th. July, here in the Archdiocese of Southwark, England, is that of St. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester.

The following are taken from Wikipaedia:

"Swithun (or Swithin, Old English: Swīþhūn, Latin: Swithunus; died c. 862 A.D.) was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, the weather on his feast day (15 July) will continue for forty days. The precise meaning and origin of Swithun's name is unknown, but it most likely derives from the Old English word swiþ, 'strong'."

"The name of Swithun is best known today for a British weather lore proverb, which says that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days.
St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare
A Buckinghamshire variation has
If on St Swithun's day it really pours
You're better off to stay indoors.
Swithun was initially buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request. William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high], which has been taken as indicating that the legend was already well known in the 12th century.
In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains. This story, however, cannot be traced further back than the 17th or 18th century. Also, it is at variance with the 10th century writers, who all agreed that the move took place in accordance with the saint's desire expressed in a vision. James Raine suggested that the legend was derived from the tremendous downpour of rain that occurred, according to the Durham chroniclers, on Saint Swithun's Day, 1315.
More probable is John Earle's suggestion that the legend comes from a pagan or possibly prehistoric day of augury. In France, Saint Medard (8 June), Urban of Langres, and Saint Gervase and Saint Protais (19 June) are credited with an influence on the weather almost identical with that attributed to St Swithun in England. In Flanders, there is St Godelieve (6 July) and in Germany the Seven Sleepers' Day (27 June). There is a scientific basis to the weather pattern behind the legend of St Swithun's day. Around the middle of July, the jet stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of the British Isles then continental high pressure is able to move in; when it lies across or south of the British Isles, Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems predominate."

Happy Feast to all those in Southwark, Portsmouth and A&B.


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