Showing posts with label Pope Francis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Francis. Show all posts

28 Jul 2017

'It is the Eucharist, the Christ who died and is risen, that gives us life.' Sunday Reflections, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Religious pendant showing Christ blessing, framed with rubies and pearls [Wikipedia]

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45).

For Readings and Reflections for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, click on the following:
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Chaldean Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows, Baghdad, Iraq [Wikipedia]
In Sunday Reflections for this Sunday three years ago I highlighted the situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria and included a statement by Patriarch Louis Raphael I of the Chaldean Catholic Church dated 17 July 2014. Below is a video of the Patriarch reopening a Catholic Church in Tel Kaif (Tel Keppe), about 12 kms north of Mosul, in January of this year. This area is historically the centre of the Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq.
Please pray for all of the Christians of Iraq and Syria, all of them Arabs whose ancestors became Christians in the very early days of the Church.
Today we brought back part of our dignity.
A recent article about the situation of the Church in Mosul: Now that Mosul is liberated from ISIS, will Christians return?

21 Jul 2017

' . . . but gather the wheat into my barn.' Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Sheaves of Wheat, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

For Readings and Reflections for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 
The HarvestÉmile Bernard [Web Gallery of Art]
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
An old Protestant hymn from the USA, Bringing in the Sheaves, performed in Cape Town (Kapstadt), South Africa.

 The hymn is based on Psalm 126 [125]:6.
They go out, they go out, full of tears,
 carrying seed for the sowing; 
they come back, they come back, full of song, 
carrying their sheaves.

7 Apr 2017

‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’ Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday, Year A


Christ's Entry into Jerusalem,
Melozzo da Forli

The Commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem

Gospel Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV,Catholic Ed., Can.)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

The following Hymn to Christ the King may be sung during the procession.

Chorus:
Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit,
rex Christe redemptor,
cui puerile decus prompsit
Hosanna pium.
Glory and honour and praise be to you,
Christ, Kind and Redeemer
to whom young children cried out
loving Hosannas with joy.

Readings during Mass
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)

The response for today's Responsorial Psalm is My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? ('forsaken me' in the Jerusalem Bible Lectionary), the last words of Jesus according to St Matthew, whose version of the Passion is read today. The readings carry that theme, explicitly or implicitly. The Prophet Isaiah says, I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The church applies these words to the sufferings of Jesus. Yet there isn't total abandonment: The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Psalm 21 (22) is fulfilled in the Passion and Death of Jesus. St Paul in the reading from his Letter to the Philippians speaks of the self-emptying of Jesus who: though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.


The Agony in the Garden, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Crolaigh (Fr Patrick Crilly) of the Diocese of Derry, Ireland, reflects on this in his poem in Irish, An Crióst Tréigthe (The Abandoned Christ). I have added my own English translation.

Full post here.

31 Mar 2017

'Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ Sunday Reflections, Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A


The Raising of Lazarus, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
For the shorter form of the Gospel omit the passages [in square brackets].
Gospel John 11:1-44 [11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45] (NRSV,Catholic Ed

[Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.] So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ [The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’]

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. [Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.] When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

[When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When] Jesus saw her weeping and [the Jews who came with her also weeping, he] was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

From The Gospel of John

I think it was back in the 1980s when I was at home in Ireland on a visit that I heard a young diocesan priest being interviewed on national radio about his work as a prison chaplain. He spoke about an occasion when he spent an hour in a cell with one prisoner who was there for stealing on a large scale. The priest got no response whatever - until he was about to leave. He then looked at the young man, put his arms around him and said, 'I love you', adding the man's name.

The prisoner broke down and began to open up to the priest. Over a period of time they became friends. After he was released the young man set up a successful security agency, no doubt drawing on his 'professional skills'.
Full post here.

24 Mar 2017

'One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.' Sunday Reflections. Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A


Blind Pensioner with a Stick, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India

Gospel John 9:1-41 [9: 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. [His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’] When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 

From The Gospel of John

In his homily on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2014 Pope Francis said, Salvation cannot be bought and sold; it is given as a gift, it is free . . . We cannot save ourselves, salvation is a totally free gift. The Pope continued: Since it cannot be bought, in order for this salvation to enter into us we need a humble heart, a docile heart, an obedient heart like Mary's. Moreover, the model on this journey of salvation is God himself, his Son, who did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Full post here.

24 Feb 2017

'I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Rest on the Flight into Egypt (detail), Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.’
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,yet I will not forget you
(Isaiah 49:14-15).
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 6:24-34 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Thursday 2 March is the sixth anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, seen with Pope Benedict in the video above during an audience in September 2010. He was assassinated in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after leaving his mother's home. Mr Bhatti, a Catholic, was the first Christian to be appointed to the Cabinet in Pakistan and was responsible for minorities. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for his death.

Full post here.

23 Feb 2017

Pope Francis: A Corrupt Creation, Christian Hope, and Rebirth

On February 22, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the importance of  Christian hope in the face sin during his weekly General Audience. Although his reflections focused on the corruption of creation, they are not the opinions of a left-leaning environmentalist but the profound insights of a man of God.

The Environment

Unfortunately, many Catholics might overreact when they read the title of the pope's latest address, just like they did in September when Pope Francis said it was a sin to destroy the environment, turning it into ‘wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth’  and called for concrete action on climate change. Again, last year, his controversial encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, seemed to upset some conservatives. However, if we do not react to sensational headlines but actually read the Pontiff's homilies, encyclicals and addresses on the environment in their entirety, we will unearth deep spiritual inspiration which stands on the pronouncements of his predecessors.
continue reading

2 Feb 2017

'Let your light shine before others' Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

A View of Toledo, El Greco
'A city built on a hill cannot be hidden' (Mt 5:14)


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’
Childhood of Christ, Gerrit van Honthorst 
'Let your light shine before others . . .' (Mt 5:16).

One of the darkest periods in the history of the world was 1939 to 1945 when much of the world was at war. At the heart of the darkness was Nazi Germany, where freedom had been almost entirely suppressed. But not quite. Between June 1942 and February 1943 a small group of students at the University of Munich with their philosophy professor Kurt Huber formed The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group working against Hitler and the Nazi regime. 

Sophie Scholl
(9 May 1921 - 22 February 1943) [Wikipedia
Full post here.

27 Jan 2017

'Blessed are . . .' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Sermon on the Mountain, Károly Ferenczy
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible
Gospel Matthew 4:12-23 [or 12-17] (NRSV,Catholic Ed)


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.'



Isenheim Altarpiece (First View), Matthias Grünewald[Web Gallery of Art]

In the video below Fr Robert Barron (now Bishop Barron, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) offers a reflection on the Beatitudes based on St Thomas Aquinas and the painting of the Crucifixion by Matthias Grünewald, part of the Isenheim Altarpiece (First View).

Full post here.

14 Jan 2017

'I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Madonna and Child with the Lamb of God, Cesare da Sesto
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales,)
Gospel John 1:29-34 (NRSV)

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

Sunday Reflections for the Feast of the Santo Niño (Philippines) are here.

San Alfonso de Liguori Parish, Rome, 6 January 2014.
Some wonderful photos of Pope Francis with the lamb here.

My friend Frances Molloy in England, founder and project manager of Pastoral Care Project, a ministry in the Archdiocese of Birmingham to persons with dementia and to their carers, told me a beautiful story in an email just after Christmas:

Behold . . . My granddaughter aged 4 was playing with 'Jesus' family', as they are known to her, our hand-knitted nativity set, and she noticed the empty manger. A little later she came to me and said, 'Grandma, I've put the lamb in the manger'. Quite a moment . . .

The Lamb of God is one of the names of Jesus, pointing towards his sacrificial death on Calvary. St John the Baptist, who introduces Jesus to us with the words Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! was to be martyred not long afterwards. The purpose of the mission of St John the Baptist was that he [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel. This is the mission to which each of us is called.

In his letter to the ten new cardinals he announced in January 2014 Francis writes: And, although this may appear paradoxical, the ability to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord: the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant.

St John the Baptist followed that path: After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me. His mission was to lead people towards Jesus. One of the ten new cardinals was Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo OMI of Cotabato where just more than half of the 12,000,000 plus people are Catholics. Most of the others are Muslims.

Full post here.

12 Jan 2017

An Unusual Path to Happiness

The Call to Follow 

In August, 2014, Pope Francis resumed his catechesis on the Church, during his first General Audience since June. He focused his teaching on how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament by giving a new teaching on mercy in the beatitudes.

Key Points:
1.)“John points to Jesus and calls us to follow him in repentance and conversion. The new law which Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount perfects the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai.”


In the Sermon on the Mount we are introduced to The Golden Rule – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (NRSV- Catholic Ed). What I find particularly appealing about this translation is the first two words – IN EVERYTHING.


All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017

1 Jan 2017

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. New Year's Day. World Day of Peace. Sunday Reflections


Altar of Our Lady, Church of St Nicholas, Überlingen, Germany, Jörg Zurn 

Gospel Luke 2:16-21 (NRSV, Catholic Ed

The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


The Adoration of the Name of Jesus, El Greco

At the moment I am re-reading Finola Kennedy's Frank Duff: A Life Story published by Burns and Oates in 2011. Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary on 7 September 1921, though for a very long time he did not consider himself the founder. The biographer relates how a friend in the Vincent de Paul Society in Dublin, Vincent Kelly, introduced him to St Louis Marie de Montfort's Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, usually referred to as True Devotionor True Devotion to Mary. Though Frank Duff was almost repelled initially by this book - it seemed to him 'to border on the absurd' - he read it five or six times, encouraged by another friend in the Vincent de Paul Society, Tom Fallon. 

Continue here.

23 Dec 2016

During Christmas, Find Christ’s Joy In Your Deepest Wounds


In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it dazzled me.”- Saint Augustine.
Most people assume they will automatically feel cheerful during Christmas.  Not only does the Church celebrate the birth of our Saviour with joy, secular society also promotes the idea that everybody is happy during this season, bombarding us with images in the media of lighthearted people giving gifts and enjoying each other’s company.
  In fact, there is so much pressure on people to be in good spirits during Christmas, many sink even deeper into depression when they are unable to force themselves to even crack a smile.  Often, I also feel depleted and empty during the days leading up to Christmas, dismayed my emotions do not line up with my beliefs and certain there is something wrong with my spiritual life.  The more I try with my own willpower to get in the Christmas spirit, the worse I feel.

8 Dec 2016

‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: . . . the deaf hear . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A

St John the Baptist in Prison Juan Fernández de Navarrete
Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Father Joseph Coyle was a Columban priest from Derry, Northern Ireland. He died in the Philippines on 18 December 1991, aged 54, and is buried in a Catholic cemetery here in Bacolod City where I live. Father Joe and I weren't related - my Coyle ancestors moved centuries ago from the north-west of Ireland, where the surname originated, to Rush, a fishing village north of Dublin city - but we felt a sense of kinship. He was ordained on 21 December 1961 during my first year in the Columban seminary in Ireland.
Fr Joseph Coyle
(28 February 1937 - 18 December 1991)    Continue here.

14 Oct 2016

'When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Moses, Michelangelo, 1515, San Pietro, Vinculo, Rome
Gospel Luke 18:1-18 (NRSV, Catholic)

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
Old Woman Praying, Rembrandt, 1629-30
Last Sunday's story about the ten lepers healed by Jesus and only of whom came back to thank him, a Samaritan, a 'foreigner', told us the importance of gratitude to God for everything, especially for the gift of life itself and the gift of faith.
Today's First Reading and Gospel - the two are always linked by a common theme - stress the importance of prayer as an expression of faith. Prayer is the expression of being in a living relationship with God, an expression of a living faith.
But the gift of faith can be lost by an individual, by a whole community, by a whole section of the world. In the early centuries of Christianity North Africa had a vibrant Church and produced great bishops and theologians such as St Augustine of Hippo, which is in Algeria. Today there is only a handful of Christians in that country, nearly all either missionaries or workers from other countries.
Full post here.

30 Sep 2016

'We have done only what we ought to have done!' Sunday Reflections, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Boy ploughing with water buffalo, Laos 

Gospel Luke 17:5-10 (NRSV, Catholic Ed, Canada)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”


In the summer of 1964, after my third year in the seminary, I spent a couple of weeks working in the Morning Star Hostel in Dublin. It was within walking distance of my home. I had been in the Legion of Mary for most of my five years in secondary school and used to rejoin my praesidium during summer vacations. In the summer of 1963 I spent a week on Peregrinatio pro Christo in a parish in Liverpool and in 1965 did the same in a parish in Paisley, Scotland. My last experience of Peregrinatio was in Pewsey, Wiltshire, in the southwest of England in 1966.

Morning Star Hostel has had a small number of what are called 'indoor brothers' taking care of the men who stay there. These are laymen, Legionaries who devote themselves full-time to this work. I remember two from 1963, Tom Doyle and Sid Quinn. The webpage about the Morning Star gives a short biography of Tom, along with a photo. It describes him in these terms: Tom Doyle was the manager of the hostel for about 50 years and he is regarded as an unknown saint by most if not all the people who knew him.


Tom Doyle (1905 - 1992)
I didn't get to know Tom or Sid well, certainly not their inner lives. Sid knew my father as they had grown up in the same area, where I also grew up. Most of the people in our neighbourhood were what were called 'working class'. But I saw the utter dedication of Tom and Sid, or 'Brother Tom' and 'Brother Sid' as they were know within the hostel. During Legion meetings and Legion work members address and refer to each other as 'Brother' and 'Sister' but not outside of that.

As Pope Francis might put it, Tom and Sid well knew 'the smell of their sheep'. That might be the smell of alcohol, the smell of unwashed bodies. Sometimes for Tom it might be the smell of his own blood: Rows and scuffles and fist fights were regular occurrences and poor Tom had the responsibility of calming every storm. No doubt Tom who was small in stature was on the receiving end of some of those blows and it is well known that near the end of his life one of the residents very badly beat him up so that he had to spend time in hospital but when he came out he made himself the best friend of that resident!

When I read the words We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done! in today's gospel I immediately thought of Tom Doyle and Sid Quinn. The words of Jesus seem to be in contrast with what he says elsewhere, especially in St John's Gospel, where he calls us friends, where he asks Peter, Do you love me? Feed my lambs.
Full post here.

8 Sep 2016

'But we had to celebrate and rejoice . . .' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt, c.166

Gospel Luke 15:1-32 (or 1-10) (NRSV, Catholic)

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

[Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

This week I'm going to borrow from others. Fr Paul Andrews SJ is a regular contributor to The Sacred Heart Messenger, a monthly publication of the Irish Jesuits. The general title of his column is One Page Wisdom and the specific title of his column in the September 2016 issue is Messy Families. I'm quoting it in full.

Full post here.

29 Aug 2016


One of my greatest attributes is to not only be acutely aware of my many deficiencies; but also very willing to own up to them.  The one deficiency that I regret the most - and try the hardest to overcome is my lack of hospitality and thoughtfulness.  Though, probably a more fair assessment would be my lack of follow through!

I often think of the nice or caring things I could do to help others - however, for a myriad of reasons (none of them good); my follow-through statistics are very low.   At first this behavior came from self-preservation and lack of instruction; but as an adult with fully formed conscience it is not longer acceptable behavior.  

AWARENESS IS NOT HALF THE BATTLE

While I would love to say, that once I realized the necessity of a life in Christ to include reaching out to others my behavior changed - I can not.  I still every day have to resist my self-absorbed ways.  In all too painful ways the Lord has allowed me to feel the DEEP regret of not acting on an inspiration of the Spirit to reach out to another. Such as ....  read more here

All Rights Reserved,  Allison Gingras 2016

13 Aug 2016

'From now on five in one household will be divided . . .' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The Marriage at Cana,Marten de Vos, 1596-97
Gospel Luke 12:49-53 (NRVS, Catholic Ed, Can)

Jesus said to his disciples: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

About 40 years ago when I had some programs on DXDD, a radio station in Ozamiz City, Mindanao, started by a Columban priest, Fr Charles Nolan, and now owned by the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, two friends of mine brought in a boy of about three whom they had found wandering at night. I appealed on the air for his family to come and bring him home. There was no response. My program was the last for the night and I was wondering what we'd do with the boy. The janitor and his wife, whom I'll call Carlos and Teresa, happened to be there and said, 'We'll take him home. What's one more mouth to feed?' They had a small house and a large family.

The boy's mother, who worked in a night club, was found a day or two later and Carlos and Teresa reunited them.

On 25 July 1968 Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, which begins with these words:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.
Officiating at the wedding 
of friends in 2007
M & J now have five children

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

The encyclical, which upholds the Church's traditional teaching on family planning, immediately caused dissension within the Church, much of it quite bitter. It still provokes strong feelings and has been dismissed by many, maybe even by a majority of Catholics, especially in the West.

Full post here.

Let Christ Rip The Rug Up From Under You

When Jesus invites us to die to ourselves, He is not referring to some pious act of self-sacrifice which will make us look or feel holy....