Friday, 31 July 2015

St. Ignatius Loyola - Confessor


A Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Happy Feast!

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.


St. Henry, Emperor and Confessor

The Feast of St. Henry is celebrated on July 15th. in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Calendar, in the Ordinary Form, it is kept on July 13th,, which is apparently the actual date of the Saint's death.

The following is taken from Catholic Online:

"St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He received an excellent education under the care of St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon. In 995, St. Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin, Otho III, he was elected emperor. Firmly anchored upon the great eternal truths, which the practice of meditation kept alive in his heart, he was not elated by this dignity and sought in all things, the greater glory of God. He was most watchful over the welfare of the Church and exerted his zeal for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline through the instrumentality of the Bishops. He gained several victories over his enemies, both at home and abroad, but he used these with great moderation and clemency. In 1014, he went to Rome and received the imperial crown at the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. On that occasion he confirmed the donation, made by his predecessors to the Pope, of the sovereignty of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna. Circumstances several times drove the holy Emperor into war, from which he always came forth victorious. He led an army to the south of Italy against the Saracens and their allies, the Greeks, and drove them from the country. The humility and spirit of justice of the Saint were equal to his zeal for religion. He cast himself at the feet of Herebert, Bishop of Cologne, and begged his pardon for having treated him with coldness, on account of a misunderstanding. He wished to abdicate and retire into a monastery, but yielded to the advice of the Abbot of Verdun, and retained his dignity. Both he and his wife, St. Cunegundes, lived in perpetual chastity, to which they had bound themselves by vow. The Saint made numerous pious foundations, gave liberally to pious institutions and built the Cathedral of Bamberg. His holy death occurred at the castle of Grone, near Halberstad, in 1024.  He is the patron saint of the childless, of Dukes, of the handicapped and those rejected by Religious Order."

Prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor (from the Extraordinary Form Liturgy of Good Friday, usually omitted, due to their being no present incumbent):

Oremus et pro Christianissimo imperatore nostro [Nomen] ut Deus et Dominus noster subditas illi faciat omnes barbaras nationes ad nostram perpetuam pacem.

Diaconus: Flectamus genua.
Subdiaconus: Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, in cujus manu sunt omnium potestates, et omnium jura regnorum: respice ad Romanum benignus imperium; ut gentes, quae in sua feritate confidunt, potentiae tuae dexterae comprimantur. Per Dominum...
R: Amen.

Let us pray also for the most Christian Emperor [Name] that the Lord God may reduce to his obedience all barbarous nations for our perpetual peace.

Deacon: Let us kneel.
Subdeacon: Arise.
O almighty and eternal God, in whose hands are all the power and right of kingdoms, graciously look down on the Roman empire that those nations who confide in their own haughtiness and strength, may be reduced by the power of Thy right hand. Through the same Lord…
R: Amen.

Sancte Henrice, ora pro nobis


Happy Feast!



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

St. Bonaventure, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church

Today is the Feast of one of the great Franciscan Saints, Bonaventure. The following biography is taken from Catholic Online.

"St. Bonaventure, known as "the seraphic doctor," was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany, in 1221. He received the name of Bonaventure in consequence of an exclamation of St. Francis of Assisi, when, in response to the pleading of the child's mother, the saint prayed for John's recovery from a dangerous illness, and, foreseeing the future greatness of the little John, cried out "O Buona ventura"-O good fortune!
At the age of twenty-two St. Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order. Having made his vows, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies under the celebrated doctor Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan. After the latter's death he continued his course under his successor, John of Rochelle. In Paris he became the intimate friend of the great St. Thomas Aquinas. He received the degree of Doctor, together with St. Thomas Aquinas, ceding to his friend against the latter's inclination, the honor of having it first conferred upon him. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, he enjoyed the friendship of the holy King, St. Louis.
At the age of thirty-five he was chosen General of his Order and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. He did much for his Order and composed The Life of St. Francis . He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but he begged not to be forced to accept that dignity. Gregory X obliged him to take upon himself a greater one, that of Cardinal and Bishop of Albano, one of the six suffragan Sees of Rome. Before his death he abdicated his office of General of the Franciscan Order. He died while he was assisting at the Second Council of Lyons, on July 15, 1274."

Ora pro nobis.

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Feast of the Visitation

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.

Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis.

Sancta Elizabeth, ora pro nobis.

Sancte Ioannes Baptista, ora pro nobis.


Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,

Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:

Cujus una stilla salvum facere

Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.


Pelican of mercy, Jesus, Lord and God,
Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
Might from all transgression have the world restored.
(Hymn of St. Thomas Aquinas)
The Pelican in her Piety - an ancient symbol for Christ.
The pelican was believed, if her young were starving, to peck at her breast
and feed them with her own blood.
The symbolism refers to Christ, God Incarnate, shedding
His own Most Precious Blood
for the salvation of humanity, His children.

A Most Happy and Blessed Feast to you all.


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