Showing posts with label St Columban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St Columban. Show all posts

8 Nov 2017

'You know neither the day nor the hour.' Sunday Reflections, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Year A


Christ and the Wise Virgins- Mediaeval German Sculptor [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:1-13 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.'


In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head… Secure your own mask before helping others.
I have heard those words hundreds of times before a flight takes off. I have never experienced having to use one of these masks and I hope that I never will. The others mentioned in the instruction refer to children and persons with disabilities of one kind or another who would need help. But the instruction is clear: Secure your own mask before helping others.
Continue here.

1 Jul 2017

'Peregrinari pro Christo' - 'To be an exile/pilgrim for Christ'. Sunday Reflections, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Calling of St Matthew (detail), Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (NAB: USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel Matthew 10:37-42 (NR SV, Catholic Ed)

Jesus said to his Apostles:
‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

Post-World War II Japan [Source]

Whoever loves father or mother . . . son or daughter more than me . . . and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

These words of Jesus in today's Gospel speak to the hearts of missionaries who leave their homelands and who give up the right to have their own families. Up to maybe a hundred years or so ago it was not uncommon for missionaries, and emigrants, never to return home. When I entered the Columban seminary in Ireland in 1961 our priests came home only after seven years. And they travelled by ship across the Atlantic and Pacific. We were, and are, inspired by our patron saint, St Columban, whose motto was Peregrinari pro Christo, 'To be an exile/pilgrim for Christ'
Times have changed and long-distance travel by plane has replaced journeys on ocean liners and freighters and is much cheaper. People fly across the Atlantic for weekends. And people are living much longer, which has led to many missionaries spending their latter days in the country of their birth. For some, this is a second experience of going into exile.
My Columban confrere Fr Eamonn Horgan went to Japan as a young priest in 1954 and came back to Ireland for good in 2013. He writes about these two experiences in his article Two Sorrows.

Fr Eamonn Horgan with Japanese friend       Continue here.

20 Nov 2015

'My kingdom is not from this world.' Sunday Reflections. Christ the King, Year B

From The Gospel of John (2003) Directed by Philip Saville.
Gospel John 18:33B-37 (NRSV, CatholicEdition, Can.)
Christ Before Pilate, Tintoretto, 1566-67
Pilate said to Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
Last Saturday Pope Francis referred to the attacks in Paris the night before as 'piece' of the 'Piecemeal Third World War'. In recent weeks hundreds have died because of attacks by terrorists, in Egypt, when a plane carrying mostly Russian holidaymakers returning home exploded and crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, in Beirut where more than 40 were killed by suicide bombers, 129 murdered in Paris and since then more than 40 in attacks in Nigeria, in one instance a suicide bomber reported to be a girl aged 11.

Last April 148 persons, most of the students, were murdered in an attack on Garissa University College in Kenya. Two years ago 67 people, from 13 different countries and from every continent, were killed in an attack by terrorists on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

None of these incidents, all with an international dimension, reflect the values of the Kingdom of Christ the King. But it is essential that we recognize that Kingdom where it is a reality. And it is a reality, though 'not from this world' but present in this world.

 I came across evidence of the reality of the Kingdom of Christ being a reality in our world, specifically in this instance in Lima. Manuel Duato School was started by Columban Missionary priests more than 30 years ago to respond to the needs of the many young people among the poor of Lima with learning and other disabilities.

‘Team Duato: Two Schools, One Family
The school is now twinned with St Christopher's Primary School in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia

Full post here.

29 Nov 2014

'Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

YoungJew as Christ, Rembrandt, c.1656
Staatliche Museen, Berlin [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 13:33-37  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

Jesus said to his disciples:
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,  or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Liam Whelan  (1 April 1935 - 5 February 1958)
If this is the end, then I'm ready for it
These were the last words of Liam Whelan who died in a plane crash at Munich Airport on 6 February 1958 along with other members of the Manchester United football (soccer) team as they were returning from a match in Belgrade. About seven years ago I learned from a friend named Brendan whom I have known for more than 50 years that, when they were both aged 14 or so, Liam rescued him when he got into difficulties in a swimming pool in their area. And last year I discovered that another friend, who was a classmate of mine for five years in secondary school and for two years in the seminary, also named Liam, that this talented young footballer had been a neighbour of his and that even when he had achieved fame as a professional footballer he would still play knockabout football on the street with the local boys whenever he would come home.
Full post here.

17 Oct 2014

'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.' Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

'I die His Majesty's good servant - but God's first.' St Thomas More
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’

A denarius from 44 BC showing the head of Julius Caesar and the goddess Venus [Wikipedia]
In the time of Jesus a denarius was a day's wage for an ordinary working man.

I spent three months in the latter part of 1982 working in a hospital in Minneapolis as a chaplain. I was one of seven doing a 'quarter' of Clinical Pastoral Education. One day I had to go to a bank and got chatting with an employee at the information desk. When he heard I was based in the Philippines he told me that in the previous elections in the USA he had considered, among other things, what impact his vote would have on the lives of Filipinos and others outside the USA.
Full post here.

14 Oct 2011

'You shall love your neighbor.. .' Sunday Reflections, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Donaghadee, County Down, Northern Ireland

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Matthew 22:34-40 (NAB)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,

they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

+++

Sister Perpetua was Mercy Sister from County Down, Northern Ireland, who died earlier this years. A nurse by profession, she spent some years in Iceland, working in a Catholic hospital there. She had a great love for those who were sick and especially for those who were bereaved.

A few years ago when I visited her in her convent in Downpatrick, where St Patrick is buried, she took me to St Comgall's Church in Donaghadee, probably the most Protestant town in the whole of Ireland. St Comgall's Catholic Church is on a side-sreet. It is part of the parish of Bangor, about the kilometres further north, also on the coast. The parish church there is also St Comgall's.

This saint founded the famous monastery in Bangor in 555. Some years later, during the lifetime of St Comgall, St Columbanus (Columban) entered there. Later he and twelve companions left for Continental Europe as Peregrini pro Christo, 'Pilgrims for Christ'.St Columban, the patron of the Missionary Society of St Columban to which I belong, founded a number of monasterieson the European mainland,preaching the gospel wherever they went. The saint's last monastery was in Bobbio, in northern Italy, where he died in 615.

St Columban set out from Bangor as a missionary. More than thirteen centuries later an Italian ice-cream seller, whose name I do not know but will call 'Luigi, found his way to the area from which St Columban had set out on his long journey. This Italian, to earn a living, opened an ice-cream parlour in Donaghadee, where he spent the rest of his life.

On another occasion when I went to visit Sister Perpetua she had just come back from the funeral of Luigi. She told me she had been afraid that very few would attend. But the church was packed and Sister Perpetua found herself sitting beside a Protestant man who had probably never entered a Catholic church before in his life. He told Sister why he was there.

He was one of a large family that never had money to spare. Occasionally during the summer his father would bring the children to Luigi's for ice-cream, even though he never had enough to buy for them all. 'Luigi never let us go', he told Sister,'without making sure that each of us had ice-cream, no matter how little money my father had. That is why I am here'.

St Columban left Ireland to be a missionary and died in Italy. Luigi left Italy to make a living in the area from which St Columban had set out and died in Ireland. He probably never thought of himself as a missionary but he crossed the religious barrier in Ireland by his simple love for poor children.

'You shall love your neighbour . . .'


I am posting this early because I probably won't have access to the internet for the next eight days as I give a retreat to some Missionaries of Charity in Tagaytay City, an elevated and pleasantly cooler area south of Manila. Please keep the Sisters and me in your prayers. Perhaps you can invoke St Columban and Blessed Mother Teresa.

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