31 July 2008

Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

I would like to ask the readers of Tonus Peregrinus to please offer their prayerful support and financial contributions for the building of the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I quote the following from Fr. Kirby's excellent blog Vultus Christi:

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Good news from Page One of the June 22, 2008 edition of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic! The Diocese of Tulsa is a thriving missionary Church in a state where Catholics are a minority. I appeal to the readers of Vultus Christi and to their friends to offer financial support for the construction of the Cenacle.

Eucharistic Cenacle

"Cistercian Father Mark Kirby has been invited into the Diocese of Tulsa to serve as a spiritual director for the priests and deacons as well as to implement plans announced by Bishop Edward J. Slattery June 8 to establish a Eucharistic Cenacle of prayer and adoration for priests.

Secret of Sanctification

Through Father Kirby's ministry within and for the presbyterate, Bishop Slattery hopes to expand Eucharistic Adoration throughout eastern Oklahoma while helping our clerics rediscover that "the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist ... The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist." (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, Sept. 18).

To Tulsa

Born in Connecticut and a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, Father Kirby has been a priest for 22 years. He is expected to arrive by August 1st and will make his residence in midtown Tulsa, near St. John Medical Center, where he will be able to assist in St. John's program of 24-four Adoration and Intercession. At some point in the future, work will begin on the Cenacle of Prayer, although the Bishop has not disclosed the probable location of the Cenacle, which the Vatican's Claudio Cardinal Hummes described as being 'a kind of Eucharistic shrine.'"

Please send your contributions toward building the Eucharistic Cenacle to:

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery
Bishop of Tulsa
P. O. Box 690240, Tulsa, OK 74169-0240

Kindly indicate that your contribution is for the Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration. Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

30 July 2008

From "Prayers Before Holy Communion"

The Wells Office Book, 1896

O Most Merciful GOD, grant me so to receive
the Body of Thy Only-Begotten SON, our LORD JESUS CHRIST,
and His most Precious Blood,
that I may be incorporated in His mystical Body,
and ever reckoned among His members.
And, O most Loving FATHER,
grant me that Him Whom I now purpose to receive under a veil
I may at length behold with open face,
even Thy Beloved SON, Who, with Thee and the HOLY GHOST,
liveth and reigneth ever one GOD, world without end.

+ + +

Almighty and everlasting GOD, behold I approach the Sacrament of Thy Only-Begotten SON, our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

As sick, I come to the Physician of life :
As unclean, to the Fountain of mercy :
As blind, to the Light of eternal splendour :
As needy, to the LORD of Heaven and earth :
As naked, to the King of glory :
A lost sheep, to the Good Shepherd :
A fallen creature, to its Creator :
Desolate, to the kind Comforter :
Miserable, to the Pitier :
Guilty, to the Bestower of pardon :
Sinful, to the Justifier :
Hardened, to the Infuser of grace.
I implore therefore the abundance of Thine Infinite Majesty,
That Thou wouldest vouchsafe
To heal my sickness, to wash my foulness,
To lighten my darkness, to enrich my poverty,
And to clothe my nakedness,
That I may receive the Bread of Angels,
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords,
With such reverence and fear,
Such contrition and love,
Such faith and purity,
Such devotion and humility,
As is expedient for the welfare of my soul.

Grant me, I beseech Thee, to receive not only the Sacrament of the L
ORD's Body and Blood, but also the virtue of this blessèd Sacrament. Amen.

Postcommunion Prayer

from The Book of Common Prayer according to the Use in King's Chapel, Boston

King's Chapel, Boston is an unusual part of the Anglican diaspora having moved in the Unitarian direction away from credal Christianity long ago. They self-identify as "christian Unitarian in theology, Anglican in worship, ..." and publish a most interesting version of The Book of Common Prayer. I find especially interesting this postcommunion prayer which derives directly from an Anglican original:

O Lord and heavenly Father, mercifully accept our sacrifice of praise, and grant that looking unto Christ and entering into his fellowship, we may be changed into his likeness and with him pass from death to life. Here we offer and present to thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice, humbly beseeching thee that all we who are partakers of this holy communion may be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

25 July 2008

A Collect for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary

which may be said upon Saturdays

O Blessed LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who in taking upon Thee our flesh wast pleased to be conceived of a pure and holy Virgin ; grant that, venerating her memory, we may imitate her example, and may with her enjoy that everlasting blessing which Thou hast pronounced upon the pure in heart, even the vision of Thee our GOD ; Who livest and reignest with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, one GOD, world without end.

The Wells Office Book
Wells Theological College

Wells, England, 1896

Our Lady of the Sign Ikon information

The Last Prayer of St. Charbel

from the Maronite Divine Liturgy

Father of truth,
Here is your Son,
The sacrifice in which you are well pleased.

Accept him for he died for me.
So through him I shall be pardoned.

Here is the offering.
Take it from my hands
And so I shall be reconciled with you.

Remember not the sins that I have committed
In front of your Majesty.

Here is the blood which flowered on Golgotha
For my salvation and prays for me.

Out of consideration for this,
Accept my supplication.

I have committed many sins
But your mercy is great.

If you put them in the balance,
Your goodness will have more weight
Than the most mighty mountains.

Look not upon my sins,
But rather on what is offered for them,
For the offering and the sacrifice
Are even greater than the offences.

Because I have sinned,
Your beloved bore the nails and the spear.

His sufferings are enough to satisfy you.

By them I shall live.

Glory be to the Father who sent His Son for us.
Adoration be to the Son who has freed us and ensured our salvation.
Blessed be he who by his love has given life to all.

To him be the glory.

22 July 2008

For the Faithful

Lord God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs and of all the Saints; even as of thy most loving mercy thou gavest them the will to come to thee, even so, most merciful Father, give unto thy servants understanding, virtue and the means to serve thee according to thy will. Let thy good Spirit lead us in the right way. Give perfection to beginners. Give understanding to thy little ones, give help to those who are running their course. Give penitence to the negligent; give fervour to the lukewarm; give to the perfect a good end. let our mouths speak thy praise, and let us bless thee every day and praise thy name evermore.

Gallican Sacramentary


Who can tell thy lofty and eternal magnificence, O Word of God;

and who may comprehend thy voluntary self-emptying for us?

Who can narrate thy wonderful nativity from the Virgin, and who may weigh thy undeserved and voluntary sufferings, which thou didst endure and suffer for our salvation?

And who is sufficient to adore and celebrate the whole of this thy ministry of salvaiont for us?—

from The Liturgy of the Syrian Jacobites

20 July 2008

The Liturgy leads us out towards Eternity

from The Mystery of Sacrifice, Evelyn Underhill

The Liturgy leads us out towards Eternity, by way of the acts in which men express their need of God and relation to God. It commits every worshipper to the adventure of holiness, and has no meaning apart from this. In it the Church shows forth again and again her great objective; the hallowing of the whole created order and the restoration of all things in Christ. The Liturgy recapitulates all the essentials in this life of sanctification — to repent, to pray, to listen, to learn; and then to offer upon the altar of God, to intercede, to be transformed to the purposes of God, to be fed and maintained by the very life of God. And though it is the voice of the Church, none the less in it is to be recognized the voice of each separate soul, and the care of the Praying Church for each separate soul “Holy things for the Holy!” cries the celebrant in the earliest liturgies, as he lifts up the consecrated gifts. Not “Good Things for the Good”; but supernatural things for those imperfect creatures, who have been baptized into the Supernatural, translated to another order—those looking towards God the Perfect and beginning to conceive of life as a response to God the Perfect; but unable without the “rich bread of Christ” to actualize the state to which they are called.

I will go up to the Altar of God;
Of God, who giveth joy to my youth!

The spirit of adventure, courage, vitality, zest are among the qualities of the good communicant. He is there because he has accepted his mysterious vocation; is prepared to embrace his great opportunity, respond to the awful invitation of God, whatever it may involve for him, with reverence, courage and delight. “Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!” exclaims the Orthodox priest at the beginning of the rite. It is to this Kingdom and its interests that the worshipper looks. Each of these specks of consciousness is pressed from within, drawn from without, to the altar at which it is offered for the purposes of Love.

All the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are here to be carried through into action. The Liturgy declares and expresses the filial dependence of man upon God the Transcendent; it could not exist save in virtue of that link with the Transcendent. It is, from first to last, a hallowing of the Name of God. It calls man, the head of creation, to join with angels and archangels in adoring God. It opens the doors of the natural world to the coming of His consecrating and saving power. In it, the creature offers itself under tokens and without reserve for the purposes of His Will, is fed with heavenly food, reconciled and established in the Kingdom of Love, and subdued to the guidance and fostering care of the Unseen. Step by step, conduct, feeling, will and thought are quieted and transformed to this great purpose. By serial acts of penitence, self-offering, adoration and communion, the transition is made from the ever-changing world of use and wont to the world that is insusceptible of change.

As the life of Jesus proceeds at many levels, from that of perfect man to that of perfect God— “Ye are my brethren: I and the Father are one” —so does the life of the Liturgy proceed at many levels, whilst yet indivisibly one. And as souls at different stages of their growth enter more and more deeply into the significance of the Gospel, and learn to recognize the power and primacy of the Supernatural in and through the earthly acts and words of Christ; so with the Liturgy. Here too, the visible acts and symbols of the expressed religion—the offering, blessing and sharing of the Bread and Wine— stand in close relation to the necessities and simplicities of our Common Life; but they point beyond themselves and are increasingly realized as holy and significant, for they rest upon and manifest the deep union of the Church with God. Since the movement of the Eucharist is thus the movement of the Church’s life, and represents under symbols the very movement and meaning of all life, the individual soul can move with freedom within its majestic rhythms and figures. Its ritual actions provide, as it were, an impersonal frame in which the most secret responses of the spirit to God can find shelter and support. So, without ever losing though with the homely accidents of our physical existence —and indeed by acts and tokens deliberately drawn from that physical existence— the soul is led into the very recesses of the Godhead, and “by love made visible is snatched up to the Invisible Love.”

Papal Homily at Closing Mass in Sydney

"May This 23rd World Youth Day Be Experienced as a New Upper Room"

"Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world."

Image © WYD 2008
Here is the text of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass:

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Dear Friends,

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.

In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ's Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people "from every nation under heaven" (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God's love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ! "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today's Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us - to all those who have received the Spirit's gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord's body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, "one body, one spirit in Christ".

But what is this "power" of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God's life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today's Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace.

Here in Australia, this "great south land of the Holy Spirit", all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: "charged", as the poet says, "with the grandeur of God", filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church's sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit's power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: "Come, come to the Father" (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).

Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God's grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world.

At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: "You will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands - witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the "power" which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God's Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today's Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God's promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ's Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can "renew the face of the earth" (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships.

Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity's sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit! (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4) In today's second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be "sealed" with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ's witnesses. What does it mean to receive the "seal" of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being "baptized" in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being "given to drink" of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord's plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being "sealed with the Spirit" means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God's presence!

Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI
Sydney, Australia, 19 July A.D. 2008

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Íngrid Betancourt at Lourdes

Liberated from the FARC by a "miracle of the Virgin", Íngrid Betancourt Pulecio of Colombia
travelled to the Shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes, France in order to give thanks.

The Holy Rosary Íngrid Betancourt made while hostage to the FARC

Andrew Cusack summarised it well:

Ingrid Betancourt has described her liberation as a “miracle from the Virgin Mary” and has revealed how prayer kept her going during her six years and five months in captivity, admitting that the temptation of suicide was ever-present.

President Uribe of Colombia gives credit where credit is due:

This operation that took place in the light of the Holy Spirit, and placed under the protection of our Lord and of the Virgin, was an operation of intelligence comparable to the great epic sagas in the history of humanity. … Without a drop of blood shed, without one bullet fired, fifteen hostages were liberated.

19 July 2008

Irena Sendlerowa

"Every child saved with my help
is the justification of my existence on this Earth,
and not a title to glory"

Irena Sendlerowa, Letter to Polish Parliament

"Irena Sendlerowa, please pray to God for us
and for all of our children."


Holy Mass for the late Irena Sendler
Zmarła Irena Sendlerowa
Irena Sendlerowa - Wikipedia Article

Irena Sendler/Sendlerowa - BBC 2007 Article

Prayer of Deliverance

prayed for nations and peoples

My Lord, thou art all powerful, thou art God, thou art Father.

We beg thee through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil ones.

All saints of heaven come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness and obsessions -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From hatred, fornication, and envy --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every thought of suicide and abortion -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every form of sinful sexuality -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every form of government abuse, corruption, sabotage, and every form of sinful corporate planning --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

Lord, who didst say, "I leave you peace, my peace I give you," grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every spell and enjoy thy peace always.

In the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

sent to me by a French Catholic friend in La Louisiane
Mon seigneur, vous êtes tous puissant, vous êtes Dieu, vous êtes père. Nous vous prions par l'intervention et l'aide des archanges Michael, Raphael, et Gabriel...)

15 July 2008

Cardinal Pell's Homily at World Youth Day Opening Mass

"Look Ahead to the Future Stretching Out Before You"

The readings for the Mass were: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 23; Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25; Luke 8:4-15.

From the O
pening Mass of World Youth Day at Barangaroo, Australia, the homily of Cardinal Pell:

+ + +

We all know that Christ Our Lord is often described as the Good Shepherd of today’s responsorial psalm. We are told that he leads us near restful waters, revives our flagging spirits, enables us to rest peacefully.

In developing this image on one occasion, Jesus explained that such a shepherd was prepared to leave the ninety-nine sheep to search out the one who was lost.

Few countries today have a shepherd who cares for only 20 or 30 sheep, and in Australia with large farms and huge flocks Our Lord’s advice is not very practical. If the lost sheep was valuable and probably healthy, it might make sense to take the time to search for it. More usually it would be left behind or its absence not even noticed.

Jesus was saying that both He and His Father are not like this, because He knows each one of His sheep and like a good father he goes searching for the lost one he loves, particularly if he is sick, or in trouble, or unable to help himself.

Earlier in this Mass I welcomed you all to this World Youth Day week and I repeat that welcome now. But I do not begin with the ninety-nine healthy sheep, those of you already open to the Spirit, perhaps already steady witnesses to faith and love. I begin by welcoming and encouraging any one, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.

Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come to him for healing, as he has for two thousand years. The causes of the wounds are quite secondary, whether they be drugs or alcohol, family breakups, the lusts of the flesh, loneliness or a death. Perhaps even the emptiness of success.

Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just to Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community.

Our first reading today was from Ezekiel, with Isaiah and Jeremiah one of the three greatest Jewish prophets. Many parts of Australia are still in drought, so all Australians understand a valley of dry bones and fleshless skeletons. But this grim vision is offered first of all to any and all of you who are even tempted to say “our hope is gone, we are as good as dead”.

This is never true while we can still choose. While there is life there is always the option of hope and with Christian hope come faith and love. Until the end we are always able to choose and act.

This vision of the valley of the dry bones, the most spectacular in the whole of the Bible, was given when the hand of God came upon Ezekiel while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, probably earlier rather than later in the sixth century B.C. For about 150 years the political fortunes of the Jewish people had been in decline, first of all at the hands of the Assyrians. Later in 587 B.C. came the final catastrophic defeat and their transportation into exile. The Jewish people were in despair, powerless to change their situation.

This is the historical background to Ezekiel’s dramatic vision where the dead were well dead, whitened skeletons as the birds of prey had long finished their ghastly business of stripping off the flesh. It was an immense battlefield of the unburied.

A hesitant and reluctant Ezekiel was urged by God to prophesy to these bones and as he did so the bones rushed together noisily, accompanied by an earthquake. Sinews knitted them together, flesh and then skin clothed the corpses.

Another stage was needed and the breath, or Spirit, came from the four corners of the earth as the bodies came “to life again and stood up on their feet, a great and immense army”.

While we now see this vision as a pre-figuration of the resurrection of the dead, the Jews of Ezekiel’s time did not believe in such a conception of the afterlife. For them the immense resurrected army represented all the Jewish people, those from the northern kingdom taken off to Assyria, those at home and those in Babylon. They were to be reconstituted as a people in their own land and they would know that the one true God alone had done this. And all this came to pass.

Over the centuries we Christians have used this passage liturgically at Easter, especially for the baptism of catechumens on Holy Saturday night and it is, of course, a powerful image of the one true God’s regenerative power for this life and eternity.

Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots, but we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope.

Believers are heartened by Ezekiel’s vision, because we know the power of God’s forgiveness, the capacity of Christ and the Catholic tradition to cause new life to flourish even in unlikely circumstances.

That same power glimpsed in Ezekiel’s vision is offered to us today, to all of us without exception. You young pilgrims can look ahead to the future stretching out before you, so rich in promise. The Gospel parable of the sower and the seen reminds you of the great opportunity you have to embrace your vocation and produce an abundant harvest, a hundredfold crop.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all place this story of the sower at the beginning of their collection of Jesus’ parables. It explains some fundamental truths about the challenges of Christian discipleship and lists the alternatives to a fruitful Christian life. Fidelity is not automatic or inevitable.

One detail makes the parable more plausible, because it seems the Jews in Our Lord’s time threw the seed on the ground before they ploughed it, so explaining a little better the seed being in unlikely places rather than just in the furrows.

Are we amongst those whose faith has already been snatched away by the devil, as Our Lord explained the image of the birds of the sky gobbling up the seed? No one at this Mass would be in that category. Some might be like the seed on rocky ground which could not put down roots. Those here in this second category are likely to be striving to start again in the spiritual life, or at least examining the possibility of doing so. But most of us are in the third and fourth categories, where the seed has fallen on good soil and is growing and flourishing; or we are in danger of being choked off by the worries of life. All of us, including those who are no longer young, have to pray for wisdom and perseverance.

I have no problem in believing that Our Lord spelt out the meaning of this parable to his closest followers and that he would have been asked by them regularly to do so. But the disciples’ enquiries provoked a disconcerting response, when Our Lord divides his listeners into two groups; those to whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed and the rest for whom the parables remain only parables. This second group is described in words from the prophet Isaiah as those who “may see but not perceive, listen but not understand”. Probably the background to this is the amazement of Our Lord’s disciples at the large number who did not accept his teaching.

Why is this still so? What must we do to be among those for whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed?

The call of the one true God remains mysterious, especially today when many good people find it hard to believe. Even in the time of the prophets many of their hearers remained spiritually deaf and blind, while any number over the ages have admired the beauty of Jesus’ teaching, but never been moved to answer his call.

Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us. Human motivation is complex and mysterious, because sometimes very strong Catholics, and other strong Christians, can be prayerful and regularly good, but also very determined not to take even one further step. On the other hand, some followers of Christ can be much less zealous and faithful, but open to development, to change for the better because they realize their unworthiness and their ignorance. Where do you stand?

Whatever our situation we must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further. If we take God’s hand, He will do the rest. Trust is the key. God will not fail us.

How can we work to avoid slipping from the last and best category of the fruit bearers into those “who are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life” and so do not produce much fruit at all?

The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians points us in the correct direction, reminding us all that each person must declare himself in the age-old struggle between good and evil, between what Paul calls the flesh and the Spirit. It is not good enough to be only a passenger, to try to live in “no-mans land” between the warring parties. Life forces us to choose, eventually destroys any possibility of neutrality.

We will bring forth good fruit by learning the language of the Cross and inscribing it on our hearts. The language of the Cross brings us the fruits of the Spirit which Paul lists, enables us to experience peace and joy, to be regularly kind and generous to others. Following Christ is not cost free, not always easy, because it requires struggling against what St. Paul calls “the flesh”, our fat relentless egos, old fashioned selfishness. It is always a battle, even for old people like me!

Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfilment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days.

To be a disciple of Jesus requires discipline, especially self discipline; what Paul calls self control. The practice of self control won’t make you perfect (it hasn’t with me), but self control is necessary to develop and protect the love in our hearts and prevent others, especially our family and friends, from being hurt by our lapses into nastiness or laziness.

I pray that through the power of the Spirit all of you will join that immense army of saints, healed and reborn, which was revealed to Ezekiel, which has enriched human history for countless generations and which is rewarded in the after-life of heaven.

Let me conclude by adapting one of the most powerful sermons of St. Augustine, the finest theologian of the first millennium and a bishop inthe small North African town of Hippo around 1600 years ago.

I expect that in the next five days of prayer and celebration that your spirits will rise, as mine always does, in the excitement of this World Youth Day. Please God we shall all be glad that we participated, despite the cost, hassles and distances travelled. During this week we have every right to rejoice and celebrate the liberation of our repentance, the rejuvenation of our faith. We are called to open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. And to the young ones I give a gentle reminder that in your enthusiasm and excitement you do not forget to listen and pray!

Many of you have travelled such a long way that you may believe that you have arrived, indeed, at the ends of earth! If so, that’s good, for Our Lord told his first apostles that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. That prophesy has been fulfilled in the witness of many missionaries to this vast southern continent, and it is fulfilled yet again in your presence here.

But these days will pass too quickly and next week we shall return to earth. For a time some of you will find the real world of home and parish, work or study, flat and disappointing.

Soon, too soon, you will all be going away. Briefly we are now here in Sydney at the centre of the Catholic world, but next week the Holy Father will return to Rome, we Sydneysiders will return to our parishes, while you, now visiting pilgrims, will go back to your homes in places near and far.

In other words during next week we shall be parting from one another. But when we part after these happy days, let us never part from our loving God and his Son Jesus Christ. And may Mary, Mother of God, whom we invoke in this World Youth Day as Our Lady of the Southern Cross, strengthen us in this resolution.

And so I pray. Come, come O Breath of God, from the four winds, from all the nations and peoples of the earth and bless our Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

Empower us also to be another great and immense army of humble servants and faithful witnesses.

And we make this prayer to God our Father in the name of Christ his Son. Amen. Amen.

George Cardinal Pell
Archbishop of Sydney

14 July 2008

Yea, Lord, Thou rewarder of them that diligently seek Thee

Yea, Lord, Thou rewarder of them that diligently seek Thee,
Who art rich unto all that call upon Thee ;
the spirit indeed is willing,
but the flesh is weak.
Grant me, then grace by Thine ineffable mercy
like Thee to be in an agony,
to strive in prayer,
to wrestle till the breaking of the day ;
in spirit and in truth,
in union with the ceaseless prayer
of the Church ;
that my prayer may come up
for a memorial before Thee,

And as of old the place was shaken
when the HOLY GHOST helped the infirmity
of the prayer of the Church ;
and as there was a great earthquake
when the Apostles prayed
and sang praises unto God ;
so may it be now
while even I pray and praise Thee ;
to the pulling down of strongholds of satan,
to the glorifying of GOD the FATHER in Thee ;
in Whose name I call,
in Whose promise I trust,
JESUS, my Intercessor, my SAVIOUR,
my LORD, and my God.

Sursum Corda
A Handbook of
Intercession and Thanksgiving
W.H. Frere, D.D.
A.L. Illingworth

Music from Auschwitz


This movement is actually from the words scratched into a cell wall in the Gestapo's headquarters in Zakopane by Helena Wanda Blazusiakówna, praying to the Holy Mother.

Taken from "HOLOCAUST - A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz".

For the first time since its liberation, permission was granted for music to be heard in Auschwitz and a number of leading musicians were brought there to perform music for the film.

This part of the film is from Henryk Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It is performed and filmed in Auschwitz.

http://claudet.club.fr/Terezin/Ullmann/BBCAuschwitzDVD.html :

Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs", II Movement
Sinfonietta Cracovia
conducted by John Axelrod
Isabel Bayrakdarian -
soprano solo

A prominent living Polish composer, Gorecki comes from the city of Katowice which is not far from Auschwitz.

The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is one of his best known works, based on poetry connecting with the theme of motherhood.

The text of the second movement, heard in the film, comes from a message found inscribed on a Gestapo prison cell wall in 1944 by an 18 old-year girl, Helena Wanda Blazusiakowna.

The Canadian-Armenian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian gives a powerful performance of the music, not least given that the snowy conditions in which she sings in the film are real.

This movement is actually from the words scratched into the Gestapo's headquarters in Zakopane by Helena Wanda Blazusiakówna, praying to the Holy Mother.

13 July 2008

The Lord will not bless warfare conceived by human greed

The Lord will not bless warfare conceived by human greed.
Christ never blesses violence, but turns to human need :
he sets his face against war that harms humanity
and raises up peacemakers with his integrity.

Christ saves the homeless victim for whom Earth was not home.
He rescues yet the righteous and saves each broken soul.
Christ weighs the works of nations and sees all lies laid bare.
He judges leaders, empires and peoples unaware.

The Lord of all the ages -- who loves both small and great --
insists we love creation, choose peace not wars of hate;
demands we turn from evil and walk his Way alone --
Christ's love of every person, our Gospel to make known.

© 2008 by Vincent Uher

Suggested Tunes: Blairgowrie, King's Lynn, Passion Chorale (O Sacred Head)

Father Andrew of East London

anglo-catholic Church of England monk

These days there are very, very few who remember Father Andrew. I suspect this has a great deal to do with the scattering and expulsion of anglo-catholics from the Anglican Communion. My intention with this post is to shine light on two of his poems that would make marvellous hymns. The first poem entitled "The Sacred Wounds" is very simple and straightforward. The impulse within it, of the soul seeking blessing so as to entirely serve Christ, is very similar to the type of prayer known generally as a Wesleyan or Methodist Covenant Prayer. The second entitled "Laudamus" is a splendid hymn of praise.

THE SACRED WOUNDS by Father Andrew

O DEAREST Lord, Thy sacred Brow
With thorns was pierced for me :
O pour Thy blessing on my head,
That I may think for Thee.

O dearest Lord, Thy sacred Hands
With nails were pierced for me ;
O send Thy blessing on my hands,
That they may work for Thee.

O dearest Lord, Thy sacred Feet
With nails were pierced for me ;
O send Thy blessing on my feet,
That they may follow Thee.

O dearest Lord, Thy sacred Heart
With spear was pierced for me :
O shed Thy blessing on my heart,
That I may live for Thee.

One cannot help but make the connexion to the Theresian Carmel and St. Teresa of Ávila's own words of commission to her sisters.

LAUDAMUS by Father Andrew

PRAISE we our God, for we are His creation !
Naught life can bring should make His sons afraid.
Keep we our souls for Him a pure oblation :
In His own perfect Image we were made.

Praise we the Saviour for His great salvation !
We are the purchase of His precious Blood;
He King and Priest of God's own holy nation,
Himself our Leader, and Himself our Food.

Praise we the Spirit, Comforter indwelling !
Lifting our lives to ways of righteousness.
Praise we the love of God, all love excelling !
Live we in love with God's own loveliness.

As I have said before I believe a local musician knows best which tune to pair with what text so that an unfamiliar text may be given a chance being buoyed aloft by a locally familiar tune. Sometimes though a new tune is the best partner for a text, and I am of the opinion that a tune named SADIE, the copyright of which is held by Selah Publishing in the USA, is the perfect partner for Father Andrew's poem on the Wounds of Our Lord.

+Ora pro nobis.

06 July 2008

Prayer of Humble Access

I have come to believe that the following is the best form of this prayer
for Anglican Usage Catholics and anglo-catholics:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in thy manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.
But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy;
In these holy mysteries, grant us therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood,
that our souls and bodies may be washed and cleansed
by the Sacrifice of his most precious Body and Blood
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

phrase from the earliest form of this prayer
phrase from the Liturgy of Comprehension, 1689