Monday, 16 September 2013

Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis

The Stigma of St Francis by Giotto

I recently posted concerning Saturday's feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and mentioned that it was on that day in 1224 that St. Francis received the stigmata or imprint of the wounds of Christ. The Franciscan Order soon initiated a distinct feast in honour of the event, which was celebrated on the first available day after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was the 17th. of September. The feast was eventually made universal and added to the Roman Calendar by Pope Clement IX in 1669.

Please pray again for the suffering Church and for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Happy Feast.

Sancte Francisce, ora pro nobis


Hymn to St. Francis - note especially verse 2

Feast of St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian

Today is the feast of two of the martyrs of the early Church: St. Cornelius, the legitiamate successor of Peter, who faced the schism of the first antipope, Novantian; and St. Cyprian, a former lawyer and later Bishop of Carthage, a great leader of the African Church in the Third Century. The two are linked both in a shared feast-day and by being mentioned jointly in the Roman Canon, as Cyprian was martyred on the day in 258 when Cornelius' relics were transferred to Rome.

Orate pro nobis.

Happy Feast.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Lady

This Sunday the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady is commemorated.
Our Lady of Sorrows

For those not familiar with this devotion, the Seven Sorrows (or Seven Dolours) are as follows:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon (at the Presentation, when the old man, Simeon, told Our Lady that her heart would be pierced with a sword of sorrow)
  2. The Flight into Egypt (particularly pertinent at the present time with the large number of refugees leaving Syria, and the troubles in Egypt itself)
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (culminating in the Finding in the Temple. A child going missing must be every mother's worst nightmare)
  4. The Meeting of Jesus and His Blessed Mother on the way to Calvary
  5. The Death of Jesus on the Cross
  6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and the Placing of His body in His Mother's arms
  7. The Burial of Jesus

The Seven Sorrows

Devotion to these Mysteries is particularly associated with the Servite Order, notably through two objects, the Black Scapular of the Seven Sorrows (not to be confused with the Passionist Black Scapular. The Servite Black Scapular forms part of the Fivefold Scapular - I'll try and write posts about these sometime), and the Dolour Rosary - this consists of seven sets of seven beads, separated by medals depicting the Seven Sorrows, and a 'tail' of three beads and a medal of Our Lady of Sorrows, which commemorates the tears of Our Lady. The 'Our Father' is said on each medal (including the large one on the 'tail') and the 'Hail Mary' on each bead. Meditate upon each Dolour, as you would on each of the Mysteries of the Rosary. An Act of Contrition should be made before saying the Dolour Rosary, and there is a concluding prayer as follows:
V. Pray for us, O Most Sorrowful Virgin
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ
Lord Jesus, we now implore, both for the present and at the hour of our death, the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of Thy Passion with a sword of grief. Grant us this favour, O Saviour of the world, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. 

Dolour Rosary

Sequence 'Stabat Mater' for the feast of the Seven Sorrows

Exultation of the Holy Cross

From the St. Andrew Daily Missal (1962 Edition):-
"This Feast on September 14 was celebrated originally soley to honour the anniversary of the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helena and the dedication of the basilicas consecrated at Jerusalem  on September 14, 335, on the very site of the Holy Sepulchre and of Calvary. But today'sfeast is also the commemoration of another event - the return of the the Holy Cross by the Persians in 629. It had been carried off years ealier on the occasion of a Persian victor and was brought back in triumph by the Emperor Heaclius who ad defeated the Persia armies.

The Liturgy of the Cross is a triumphant liturgy; in it the Church celebrates the emblem of our Redemption. The bronze serpent lifted up by Moses over the people was a foreshadowng of he salvation thatwas to come when Jesus was lifted up on the Cross.
 Alleluia verse from the Mass of the Exultation of the Holy Cross (E.F.)
We should unite ourselves in spirit with the faithful who, in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem at Rome, today venerate th relics of the sacred wood on which wrought the triumphant work of the redemption of humanity."

Today, I would extend this to suggest we unite ourselves also with the Christians of the Middle East and other parts of the world who are still sharing, in a very real and tragic way, the sufferngs of Christ - may thay also have a share in His Resurrection.

As well as the celebrations of the western Latin Church, this is also one of the great feast of the Eastern Rites, so again an for us to be close in spirit with our brethren in the Middle East, and perhaps also an occasion to pray for a healing of the schism between Catholic and Orthodox.


St Francis receiving the stigmata
Finally, it was also on this feast day in 1224 that St. Francis received the stigmata - again occasioning us to pray for the suffering Church, and for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

More Public Witness to the Faith

Further to my recent post on Religious Habits, either I am becoming more observant, or there is definitely a resurgence in Catholics willing to show their Faith in public.

Sunday: another habited Capuchin Friar, this time waiting at a bus stop.

Today: I wasn't the only person to cross myself and say grace before eating my lunch in the canteen (I have been making an effort to do this for a while, ever since Annie Elizabeth put me to shame by doing so before eating a take away burger on Charing Cross Station when a group of us were coming home following a talk by Michael Voris). Today, it was particularly busy and an elderly gentleman asked if I minded him sharing my table; once he had joined me, his first action was to make the Sign of the Cross and say grace - will remember him in my prayers.


Support for Fr. Ray Blake

Messages of support for Fr. Blake seem to be growing across the blogosphere.

I am happy to repost the image below and ensure Father that he has my support and my prayers.

Thanks to the Bones for posting this.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Fr. Ray Blake

Fr. Ray Blake

Fr. Ray Blake has become the target of a less than pleasant article from a Brighton journalist by the name of Bill Gardner. Mr. Gardner has chosen to object to a recent blogpost by Fr. Blake concerning the poor, particularly the homeless, and how it is sometimes difficult and challenging to find ways to help and care for them. In an article in the Brigton Argus, Mr. Gardner has represented Father's comments as an attack on the poor, and implied arrogance and lack of charity on Father's part.


Mr. Gardner

There has already been considerable comment on this from other bloggers, notably Fr. Tim, Mac, Laurence (Bones) and Leutgeb, so I am just going to reproduce Fr. Blake's response here, as he requested on his blog.

"I was saying that the poor, the really poor, turn our lives upside down. I know the local paper pays peanuts and expects its journalists to create stories in order to get onto the news networks but this is just a malicious and deliberate misrepresentation.
"It is very interesting to see what a disreputable journalist can do with a few carefully chosen adjectives. I didn't 'condemn', 'complain', 'blast' etc, and I am pretty certain that some of his other quotes are not my words, especially not, 'test my holiness', I don't speak like that, 'only God is Holy'. Though I admit in an informal moment I might question the marriage of the parents of someone who disrupts the worship of an entire congregation, especially if they consistently steal from the church or other poor people.
"It is interesting to see how an unscrupulous journalist can so easily put an entirely different slant on a simple theological reflection, presumably even basic Christian concepts are beyond the comprehension of some.
"Well, journalists are obviously as messy as the poor; except unscrupulous journalists can do more damage. Perhaps Mr Gardner might like to help on our soup run, it doesn't have to be 365 day a year, once a week would be fine, providing he treats our clients with respect, or maybe he could take Jason or Daryl or Pawel or Dawn out for a cup of coffee or a meal, or just come a clear up the next time someone comes in and vomits or bleeds all over my kitchen because he is drug or has been beaten up.
"Maybe next time I run out of money I could tap him for a few quid when some vulnerable 17 year old girl needs to top up her phone to speak to her mum because her boyfriend has beaten her up or she needs a roof over head because she is sleeping in a tent and it is just few degrees above zero and she is vulnerable, or maybe the next time I am arranging a child's funeral and someone comes to the door in need of someone to talk because they are suicidal I can send them round to Bill's place so he can spend a couple of hours listening to them.Here, to, I am neither complaining, blasting, lambasting or anything else, just asking.
"I understand Mr Gardner's little piece has been syndicated internationally, perhaps kind readers might, if possible post my response."

I know that Fr. Blake is caring and hardworking priest, in charge of quite a tough parish - Brighton has quite a big share of people with problems of one kind or another, and this can be very demanding on a PP (or, for that matter, any minister of religion). From many candid posts that he has put on his blog, it is obvious that Fr. Blake sometimes finds this hard and stressful. What is also obvious is the way in which he continues in his vocation and doesn't give up.

Religious Habits

I don't know whether I have just been in the right places at the right times over the last few days, but I seem to be seeing more Religious wearing their habits in public recently. Could this be the beginnings of a revival? If so, it would be wonderful.

Notably, a few days ago, two sisters of the Missionaries of Charity (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's order) in full habit, got on a bus on which I was travelling and then spent much of their journey quietly praying the Rosary: a splendid example of quiet and dignified witness to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and quite humbling to be in the presence of.


Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

The following evening, I came face-to-face with a Capuchin Friar, again fully habitted, as I was leaving a railway station, and who wished me a polite 'Good Evening' (immediately putting me in mind of the Holy Father's first greeting from the balcony).


Capuchin Franciscan habits, in readiness for a ceremony of Clothing (source

It's lovely to see Religious dressed as such, and very comforting - just nice to be aware that these people are around and praying for us (I always try to say a short prayer for them, and recall any intentions of my own, when I see someone in habit). It is also important and powerful witness, especially these days when it seems every religion apart from Christianity is making a big thing of distinctive dress (you can't go very far in London without seeing someone in a hijab, turban, burka, orthodox Jewish garb, etc.).

Please pray that more Religious will have the courage to return to the use of their habit.


Unfortunately, computers aren't very tolerant of human frailty

I seem to have had some problems with the internet over the last few days.

First, I seem to have got something wrong with the scheduling on this blog, and managed to publish a post on Our Lady's Birthday several days in advance of when it was intended: I have now deleted it and will publish a new version tomorrow. Apologies if I confused anyone.

Also, I have been losing my internet connection quite a lot, sometimes at critical moments, but seems to be all right now.

Have run antivirus just in case, but I suspect there may be an element of 'human error' on my part, as I have been very tired due to a busy start of a new term at work, and probably pressed something by mistake when half-asleep.

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