Peter Jesserer Smith Blogs
July 26, 2022
LAC ST. ANNE, Alberta — Among Indigenous Catholics of North America, St. Anne is greatly revered as the grandmother of Jesus. So Pope Francis’ July 24-30 “pilgrimage of penitence” to Canada’s First Nations, Meti, and Inuit peoples fittingly centers the beginning and ending around two shrines dedicated to St. Anne.
In North American Indigenous cultures, grandparents and elders are traditionally revered. But grandmothers have an especially honored status, since as women they are blessed with the Creator’s gift of nurturing life, and as grandmothers, they nurture their children’s children with their gifts of memory, wisdom and unconditional love.
Many of us can recognize their spiritual insight the Vatican affirmed as the “idea of the nonna” recalling memories of our own grandmothers’ role and influence in our own lives — and their love that could be our refuge in times of trouble. So St. Anne, as Jesus’ grandmother, is the perfect patron saint of this papal pilgrimage.
On July 26, the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, Pope Francis opens the week-long Lac St. Anne Pilgrimage, which is attended by tens of thousands of Indigenous Catholics every year. The waters of Lac St. Anne, located northwest of Edmonton, Alberta, are known as a place of healing. The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation calls Lac St. Anne, “God’s lake” or Wakamne — and people have experienced healing here, both physical and spiritual, similar to those experienced at Lourdes. All are welcome to join this pilgrimage.
A grandmother wants to see her children and children’s children live in loving harmony, and certainly Jesus’ grandmother is working to bring that about in this pilgrimage. Pope Francis learned about the pilgrimage when the elders and representatives of Canada’s First Nations spoke with him about the pain of the Church’s involvement in colonialism, and most particularly the residential schools, which devastated their peoples as children were separated from their families. Children were robbed of their right to flourish with their parents and be raised in the love of their families. They were deprived of their language, their community and their very identity — often under extremely brutal circumstances. Many children lost their lives, and many children suffered horrific abuse of all kinds. First Nations people told him about their pain, but also about their enduring faith, and the St. Anne pilgrimage.
There’s a beautiful icon of Jesus and St. Anne featured in traditional regalia of the Plains First Nations with Lac St. Anne as the backdrop. (You can check out the profile I wrote on the artist, Canadian Andre Prevost, and his First Nations iconography series). Prevost completed the icon, commissioned by Metis elder and Catholic priest, Father Garry Laboucane, in time for the 2017 Lac St. Anne pilgrimage. Prevost’s description of the icon prophetically reinforces how vital Jesus and St. Anne are in leading Pope Francis and the whole Church’s next steps for healing and reconciliation:
St. Anne embodies the grandmother figure, having a respected place in Aboriginal societies, and pivotal within the preservation and teaching and formation within ‘the culture.’ This icon is set within the dance, a culmination of this teaching with her grandson, who in turn is so loving and honoring of his grandmother.
The dance is central to Indigenous culture, and based upon honor, respect, joy, and the ‘learning from the elders’.
This dance setting has Ste. Anne and Christ portrayed as the ‘Head Dancers.’ ‘Head Dancers are the designated female and male dancer, who are appointed to lead all the other dancers. This position is one of honor, with all other dancers offering the deserved respect. For any given set of songs, no other dancer will dance until the heads dancers commence.’ … This symbolism is central for the icon, both within the actual cultural setting, but also within the global community of Faith.
Pope Francis’ pilgrimage next brings him to Quebec, Canada, where he will go to the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré before concluding his pilgrimage by visiting the Inuit city of Iqaluit. This basilica shrine is also known as a place of healing, and thousands of Indigenous people in Canada have visited it every year. From coast to coast, the Pope will be praying for true healing and reconciliation under the protection of St. Anne.
Hopefully with St. Anne and her grandson Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, we are being led to a new era of reconciliation. The original missionaries in Canada dreamed of a Catholic Church native in its expression. If the Church walks with Indigenous communities, it can be that Church once again. The Mass is finally being translated into the Squamish language in Western Canada, for example. The Church can support language revitalization that is saving lives and restoring cultures, especially by making use of Magnum Principium to translate the Mass and liturgies into their languages upon request. The Church is long overdue to honor the request to translate the Mass into St. Kateri’s own Mohawk language.
But the Church’s history in North America should also be revisited and retold. We all live in the shadow of 20th-century Catholic historians who could not reconcile colonialism with the truth of the Church’s early story found in original sources — and basically wrote Indigenous Catholics out of the story, or “rewrote” the facts to fit a colonizing narrative. But all Catholics deserve to know the real St. Kateri Tekakwitha as the Mohawk who flourished in a Garden of Haudenosaunee Saints who were all Catholics living their faith fully alive in their beautiful cultures. All Catholics deserve to know the men and women honored as martyrs, saints and evangelists, such as St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and other Jesuit martyrs and priests in their own time. They deserve to know men and women like the Wendat (Huron) Catholic proto-martyr Joseph Chiwatenhwa, his wife Marie Aonetta and their family, for whom St. John Paul II was practically begging the Canadian Church to start a cause of canonization. He praised them for having “witnessed to their faith in an heroic manner” and stated they “provide even today eloquent models for lay ministry.” Catholics deserve to know about the incorruptible St. Kateri of the West, Rose Prince of the Dakelh, who nourished by the Eucharist, chose to stay and comfort other Dakelh children suffering in the residential school, teaching them prayers and songs in their language — an act forbidden by the government but enabled by the sisters.
So much of the story of lay holiness in the Americas is Native holiness. With St. Anne’s intercession, Pope Francis’ pilgrimage will truly begin to brighten the chain of faith between the Church and First Nations.
Peter Jesserer Smith
Peter Jesserer Smith Peter Jesserer Smith is a staff reporter for the National Catholic Register. He covered Pope Francis's historic visit to the United States in 2015, and to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 2014. He has reported on the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis, including from Jordan and Lebanon on an Egan Fellowship from Catholic Relief Services. Before coming on board the Register in 2013, he was a freelance writer, reporting for Catholic media outlets as the Register and Our Sunday Visitor. He is a graduate of the National Journalism Center and earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Christendom College, where he co-founded the student newspaper, The Rambler, and served as its editor. He comes originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
Peace Cathedral; At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, bordered by the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, Georgia has withstood constant threat of invasion for its strategic location by Mongols, Ottomans, Persians, Russians and others. Like Ukraine, Georgia has European Union and NATO aspirations, and it is watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with trepidation.
The Heroine of Dawhan, Ethiopia
by Naomi Nkrumah SSL
I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done on to me according to Your word. (Luke 1:39).
We are relieved and grateful to hear that Abeba and her children are still safe and doing well, and that the region is calm at the moment. It is still deserted however, and there is no network or internet connection, no money in the banks and food is difficult to get. Access to the area also remains difficult.
Despite all the challenges in the region, we hope to be able to return soon and are praying that the Civil War ends soon.
Here are some interesting articles that you might like to read:
Sisters Flee Civil War in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia, Issue 106 of Musings, 29 March 2021. Click HERE to read.
Update from our Mission in Ethiopia, Issue 116 of Musings, 28 February 2022. Click HERE to read.
Ethiopia’s Tigray war: The short, medium and long story. Click HERE to read.
By Sheila Pires
Marsabit, 13 July, 2022 / 9:28 pm (ACI Africa).
Pastoralists in the Catholic Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya have been left with “absolutely nothing” as starvation in the Kenyan region intensifies due to severe drought, the Executive Director of Caritas Marsabit (CM) has told ACI Africa in an interview.
In the Wednesday, July 13 interview, Isacko Jirma Molu said the drought situation in the region has gone from bad to worse as some areas “have not had rain for almost two years” and that as a result, “livestock died in large numbers, leaving pastoralists with absolutely nothing.”
Mr. Molu said, “Pastoralist communities derive their entire livelihood from livestock keeping; this livestock provide milk, provide meat, and this livestock depends on the rainfall. The drought has significantly reduced the livestock population in the county."
STORY: Today, I would like to tell you the best story from my time away. It’s actually a story of Tori, the wife of a former college roommate I visited. It is a God story which all involved are happy to share with others, and this story is entirely true...
By Walter Sanchez Silva
Managua, 07 July, 2022 / 8:00 pm (ACI Africa).
The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, which has been in power for 15 years, expelled 18 Missionaries of Charity from the Central American country on July 6.
According to the newspaper El Confidencial, the nuns were taken by the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration and the police from the cities of Managua and Granada, where they had been serving the poor, to the border country of Costa Rica.
Of the 18 sisters, there are seven Indians, two Mexicans, two Filipinos, two Guatemalans, two Nicaraguans, one Spaniard, one Ecuadorian, and one Vietnamese.
India Celebrates the Holy Legacy of St. Devasahayam
A post-canonization Thanksgiving Mass was held June 5, drawing hundreds of thousands of the faithful.
By Sheila Pires
Aliwal, 09 June, 2022 / 8:56 pm (ACI Africa).
A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has called on Ugandan nationals to ensure they are living in the country legally and make every effort to integrate with natives, including learning local languages.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Feast of the Ugandan Martyrs, Ugandan-born Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal Diocese in South Africa encouraged Ugandans in the country to refrain from illegal activities and to keep South African laws.
One of Ybarra’s roles is serving as Grand Knight of Council 3245 of the Knights of Columbus at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, a parish that has been at the forefront of efforts to help the traumatized community of 16,000 people cope with the shooting deaths of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School on May 24. Eleven of the victims were parishioners of Sacred Heart. This past week, the Knights provided hamburgers for participants at a candlelight vigil held Thursday night.
His other role: working as a mortician at a local funeral home that has prepared the bodies and organized funeral arrangements for 16 of the 21 victims.
“It's the hardest thing I've ever seen, the hardest thing I've ever seen,” Ybarra told CNA on June 2. “I never ever thought something like this would happen in Uvalde.”
Fourth Sunday after Easter
15th May 2022
Dear Friends of Sacred Heart Church,
This is the Fourth Sunday after Easter. The Introit of today’s Mass begins with the words “Cantate Domino’; Sing ye to the Lord, highlighting the significance, along with our need to give praise to the Lord with music.
We understand well the impact of the spoken word, but we are reminded today of the importance of music and song in giving glory to the risen Lord, which in turn fills our souls with delight as we praise His Name. “I will sing to my God as long as I shall live, Alleluia” (Psalm 145)
We welcome with joy, Monsignor Wach, Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. He has been in Ireland on a pastoral and fatherly visit to the various foundations of the Institute, familiarising himself with the evolving and expanding ministries here.
In addition he has been participating in meetings with some members of the Irish hierarchy and local authorities to ensure good relations. Monsignor will be with us for the week-end as he continues his busy schedule of meetings. Please pray for him. You can listen to the beautiful sermon he delivered this morning here.
At the end of the 10:30 Mass today we had the May Crowning of Our Lady. Please click on the picture below to see this part of the ceremony.
Thank you for all the beautiful flowers placed at her shrine. In Fatima, Our Lady requested that a bier be made to carry her statue in procession, adorned with flowers. She loves your attention to her shrine and the array of colour and magnificence that these flowers bring. She will bless you for honouring her in this way.
Please add to your calendar the procession in honour of Our Lady that will take place on Tuesday 31st May after the 6 pm Mass.
Canon de Martin is in Belfast this week to allow Canon Heppelle to take a well deserved but short break after Easter. Remember to pray for your priests.
Wishing you a blessed Week,
Yours in Christ,
Prior of Sacred Heart Church
ESCAPE: Lilly Toth literally ran — and swam — for her life to escape the Holocaust.
During the Nazi takeover of Hungary, Toth was tied to a friend of hers on the shores of the Danube River. Her friend was shot and killed, but Toth managed to unfasten her bonds and swim away down the icy river.
That's just part of her remarkable story.
Despite huge upheaval and loss, Toth amassed a collection of 1,119 miniature books, which she gave to Montreal's Jewish Public Library prior to her death last year.
The collection includes cookbooks, musical scores, sports books, children's literature and more. Shakespeare features prominently in two nearly-complete 24-volume sets published between 1890 and 1930.
Vatican City, May 15, 2022 / 05:40 am
On Sunday, Pope Francis declared 10 holy men and women to be saints of the Catholic Church before around 45,000 people during a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
DFLA's Executive Director, Kristen Day, was featured on the latest episode of The Gloria Purvis Podcast.
NBC isn’t exactly a bastion of pro-life opinions. But, even they agree with us about the moves by Senate Democrat leadership to impose abortion on the country from the halls of Congress. Here’s what they wrote:
“Senate Democrats are once again headed for a show vote – this time on abortion – that risks dividing their party, depressing their base, and looks all but certain to be defeated.”
Our Party has better things – more uniting things – to do than try to impose abortion on the nation from Congress. We are done with pro-abortion federal mandates!
That’s why I’m asking you to help DFLA help our Party by showing a
better way – contribute to our Post-Roe Fund TODAY! Your support of
$25, $50, $100, or more helps us lead the charge as we reform this Party
With our Post-Roe campaign, we are working to elect pro-life, Whole Life leaders, enact state laws consistent with those values, and build a culture of life within our Party and across our country.
Now is the time that we have been working for, and we eagerly look forward to, with your help, seizing this opportunity.
For Life, Kristen
By Agnes Aineah
Niamey, 18 May, 2022 / 8:30 pm (ACI Africa).
Pierre, a native of the West African country of Niger, remembers the day he entered a welding shop where he worked and found a book that changed his life forever, making him convert to Christianity.
As he read the book, which he later found to be a section from the New Testament, Pierre, who was brought up a Muslim, says he interacted with various characters in the Bible and came across stories he says touched his heart.
In a Tuesday, May 17 Agenzia Fides report, Pierre who is now part of the Catholic community of Dosso located south-east of Niger's capital Niamey, says that he does not regret converting to Christianity.
Born Lucile Randon on Feb. 11, 1904, Sr. André converted to Catholicism at age 19. At age 25, she began caring for the elderly and orphans at a French hospital. She later entered the Daughters of Charity at age 40.
The sister is also blind and in a wheelchair. She lives in Sainte-Catherine Labouré retirement home in Toulon, France.
Home communications director David Tavella told France 24 that Sister André hopes she surpasses Jeanne Calment, who passed away in 1997 at age 122.
“She’s happy, she likes very much this attention,” Tavella said. “But it’s just another step, because her real goal is to overtake Jeanne Calment.”
[See also: Follow ChurchPOP on GETTR!]
Guinness World Records published a video documenting the 118-year-old sister’s life shortly after news broke regarding Tanaka’s death.
POPE Francis presided over the Celebration of Penance in St. Peter's Basilica before performing the Act of Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The act, performed in different forms by previous popes, ties back to the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal in 1917, during which many Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared before three children to ask that the Pope consecrate Russia to her heart.
Saint Katharine Drexel’s Story
If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that.
Born in Philadelphia in 1858, she had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, Katharine also had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn.
Katharine had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.
Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.
Katharine Drexel could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of Saint Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!”
After three and a half years of training, Mother Drexel and her first band of nuns—Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored—opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942, she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.
Two saints met when Mother Drexel was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.
At 77, Mother Drexel suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations, and meditations. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.
Saints have always said the same thing: Pray, be humble, accept the cross, love and forgive. But it is good to hear these things in the American idiom from one who, for instance, had her ears pierced as a teenager, who resolved to have “no cake, no preserves,” who wore a watch, was interviewed by the press, traveled by train, and could concern herself with the proper size of pipe for a new mission. These are obvious reminders that holiness can be lived in today’s culture as well as in that of Jerusalem or Rome.
Saint of the Day for March 3. Saint Katharine Drexel’s Story
(November 26, 1858 – March 3, 1955)
It may seem like a long time ago, distant to the interests of Americans today. Nonetheless, this was a crucial turning point for the world, for freedom and for faith. It is an inspiring history lesson worth taking to heart, especially this Christmas 2021, a time when so much of the news around the world is depressing. Here was something truly uplifting for those who love faith and freedom. Sometimes, there really are happy endings.
Paul Kengor Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. His books include A Pope and a President, The Divine Plan and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism's Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration.
Get started now to oust vulnerable Democrats from the House
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Get started now to oust vulnerable Democrats from the House
November 3, 2021
Yesterday’s elections in places like Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota show us just how fed up the American public is with the extreme policies of the Democrat party.
A Republican won the gubernatorial race in Virginia for the first time in more than a decade and Republicans have reclaimed the Virginia House of Delegates. In midnight blue New Jersey, the Democrat incumbent is in a dead heat with his Republican challenger. In Pennsylvania, pro-life judges were elected! And in Minneapolis, where the delusional “defund the police” movement had its start, city residents voted in favor of keeping their men and women in blue.
These are all fantastic outcomes and we should celebrate. And we must also activate!
The midterm elections are one year away. There will be numerous races at every level of government. A third of the US Senate seats will be up for election. And every seat in the US House will be on the ballot, and we must make sure pro-life candidates win as many seats as possible.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has identified Democrats in more than 50 districts in 23 states that they consider vulnerable.
Do you live in one of these districts, or have family or friends who do? Find out by clicking through this alert to the action page.
If you live in one of these districts represented by a Democrat, or know someone who does, it is very important that you keep abreast of what your representative is doing, particularly on the issue of pro-life or pro-abortion legislation.
If they are Democrat, they will have failed to sign the discharge petition for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. They will have failed to oppose the abortion-friendly Equality Act and taxpayer-funded abortion.
Exceptions to this rule are extremely rare.
They will have also supported the all-abortion-all-the-time Women’s Health Protection Act.
Lawmakers who can’t protect babies don’t deserve a seat in the House, and I don’t just mean the people in the targeted districts. We need to vote them out.
The first thing to do is to make sure every pro-life voter you know is registered to vote. If they move before the 2022 election, they must make sure to register in their new district. You also can get involved right now by signing up to take part in our periodic election calls to keep abreast with what’s happening and to find out how else you can help.
The Democrat majority in the 117th Congress is very, very slim, but that’s not good enough. We need the majority of House members to come from the party that knows the difference between serving the public and killing the public.
When you click here, you will find out how to sign up with Priests for Life’s election efforts.
Please act today, and please pass along this email to as many others you know who may be interested.
Thank you for being part of the Priests for Life Family!
Sincerely, Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Priests for Life
PO Box 236695
Cocoa, FL 32923
Toll Free: 888-735-3448
By Blanca Ruiz
Cordoba, 26 October, 2021 / 7:00 pm (ACI Africa).
Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 companions, who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War, were beatified this month in Córdoba.
“While he announces the hatred of the world to us, Jesus reminds us of his favorite love, the merciful love with which he has chosen us,” Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said during his homily at the Oct. 16 beatification Mass said in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
“Death and life have fought in an amazing duel, the Lord of life conquers death. This consciousness animated our martyrs, many of whom when they were assassinated shouted, ‘Viva Cristo Rey!’” the cardinal preached.
Religious Freedom Matters
‘This Is the Truth’ — Edith Stein Saw Human Dignity in the Light of the Cross
Through Christ’s love on the cross, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross perceived the heights of human dignity and the depth of offenses against it, from Auschwitz to abortion.
October 21, 2021
In 1974, the Seattle Youth Symphony performed Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Dies Irae,” a highly dramatic oratorio in memory of the victims of Auschwitz.
Although I was a violinist in the orchestra at the time, violins were not included in the score, so I left the backstage area that night and listened to the performance as I stood just inside the door at the back of the concert hall. Choir voices began, mimicking plaintiff wailing of doomed victims, while instruments in the orchestra accompanied in prolonged somber tones that sometimes surged in war-like sound effects. Dissonant chords transitioned into longed-for consonance, expressing texts from both scriptural and secular sources.
But for me, one line particularly stood out that reminded me of the death camp’s youngest victims and of a tragic, present-day reality: “Bodies of children.”
A sad legacy, the memory was still fresh in my mind that four years previously my home state of Washington had become the first in the country to legalize abortion. I could not help but make the correlation at that moment between the innocent “bodies of children” exterminated in Auschwitz and those of the innocents now being murdered in abortion clinics.
“Please, God,” I prayed, “stop the horror.”
An answer to prayer in her time, among those who offered their lives to end the death camps, legalized abortion and other atrocities against the dignity of the human person during the early 20th century, God raised up the Carmelite and mystic, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, born as Edith Stein in Breslau, Germany. She was the youngest of 11 children in a Jewish family and one day would also be counted among the victims of Auschwitz. This year marks the 130th anniversary of her birth on Oct. 12, 1891.
From her earliest days, Edith had a clear sense of human dignity. In her autobiography, Life in a Jewish Family, although she admits to frequent displays of anger as a child, “Within me,” she wrote, “there was a hidden world.” The mere sight of a drunkard would haunt her for days and compelled her to pledge to abstain from alcohol for the rest of her life to avoid, as she put it, “being personally responsible for losing even the smallest particle of my human dignity.”
Intellectually gifted, she rebelled against the academia of kindergarten and resisted her amused brother’s grasp as he sang folk songs, carrying her to school each day, but at last surrendered her unruly behavior after observing the same in others and realizing the price of self-indulgence was the loss of one’s dignity.
Her sense of dignity inspired dreams within her and convinced her she was destined for greatness. She poured herself into her schooling and finished each year at the head of her class. She delved into classic literature and poetry and attended concerts of music by great composers such as Bach, Wagner and Richard Strauss. In the summer of 1913, she began studying for state board examinations under the tutelage of the world’s leading phenomenologist, Edmund Husserl, and hoped to gain a professorship in philosophy.
Then, suddenly, all sense of security vanished. “Our placid student life was blown to bits by the Serbian assassination of royalty,” Edith wrote, recalling the event that triggered the First World War. Setting aside her private for life a year, she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to care for the sick and dying soldiers. But as the war ended and Edith resumed her studies, a new plan was already being plotted in secret by the burgeoning Nazi party to eliminate the births of those the party’s leader, Adolph Hitler, deemed “unfit,” particularly the Jews.
In his article, “As Many Abortions as Possible,” Mike W. Perry quoted the destructive ideology outlined by Hitler in his 1924 Mein Kampf: “No diseased or weak person should be allowed to have children.” Implementing his destructive intent under the ruse, “Protection of Motherhood,” in 1933, he enacted the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases, which led to the sterilizations of some 350,000 women, the majority non-Aryans and Jews.
In 1935, unsatisfied with a remaining Jewish population, he transitioned to outright killing by legalizing abortion up to viability and mandated forced abortions upon Jewish women, who were often raided and attacked within their own homes as the dismembered bodies of their babies were trashed and carried away.
Edith grieved, learning of these cruelties, but although she had given up prayer at age 15, she now prayed, asking for an end to the evil, enlightened by the cross.
Her first encounter with the divine power of the cross occurred in 1917, when, upon witnessing the faith of a Christian widow in mourning, she said, “My unbelief collapsed, and Christ began to shine his light on me — Christ in the mystery of the cross.” Four years later, after spending all night reading the autobiography of the Carmelite reformer, St. Teresa of Ávila, she declared, “This is the truth,” and was baptized into the Catholic Church.
From then on, Christ’s love on the cross revealed to Edith her full dignity. Christ’s love on the cross strengthened her as she suffered the denial of a professorship and was forced from her teaching position on account of being a Jew. Christ’s love on the cross inspired her vocation to Carmel and the name she chose in religion, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Christ’s love on the cross inspired her literary works, written in Carmel, including her autobiography, Woman, and The Science of the Cross.
In 1942, Christ’s love on the cross impelled her to leave Cologne and transfer to the Carmel of Echt, Holland, to safeguard her sisters from the terrorism of the Nazis, now rounding up Jewish men, women and children in Germany and exterminating them in death camps.
But even Echt was not safe. On Aug. 2, 1942, the Gestapo arrived and arrested Edith while she was praying with her sisters in the chapel. Transported to Auschwitz, there, amid the chaos and despair, Edith calmly reached out to the women and children around her.
According to one eyewitness account, she “went among the women like an angel, comforting, helping, and consoling them. Many of the mothers were on the brink of insanity and had sat moaning for days, without giving any thought to their children. She washed them, combed their hair, and tried to make sure they were fed and cared for.” It was on Aug. 9, then, that Edith was led away to offer her life to God within the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Her work, however, is not over. Now glorified, she is with us now, praying for an end to abortion and atrocities against the dignity of the human person. She is with us now, teaching us how to offer hope to grieving post-abortive mothers and fathers, and life-giving options to those tempted to abortion. She is with us now, encouraging us to persevere in faith. And she is with us now, in joy, reassuring us that the faces of once-despised “bodies of children” now and forever behold the face of our heavenly Father.
Jennifer Sokol Jennifer Sokol writes from Shoreline, Washington.
MOV043St Pio Pilgrimage.MOD
The Presbytery, Abbeydorney (066 7135146)
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 3rd October 2021
During the weekends of September, you have been hearing a
little bit about the Season of Creation, that will come to an end with the feast
of St. Francis, tomorrow 4th October. Some of the Prayer of the Faithful
petitions related to the care of our earth and the protection of our environment.
I wonder did the publicity about the Season of Creation and the promotion of it
touch our lives in any way! It is probably true to say that, in Ireland, the effects
of climate change, that are visible in many parts of the world, are not showing
themselves to us. Does that mean that we do not have to heed the call to be
ready to change our ways and to lead by example!
The following piece is taken from the liturgy resources provided by our diocese
for this weekend. As has been the case with material provided for the
weekends of September, reference is made to the Encyclical Letter of Pope
Francis – Laudato Si (Praised be). This weekend, we mark the end of the Season
of Creation, a time where we celebrate all that is part of our beautiful world,
God’s creation. It is a season where we pray with and for creation and remind
ourselves that we are protectors of this earth, given responsibility ‘to till’ and
‘to care’, ‘not to plunder and destroy’. Yet, we know that our world is suffering.
Pope Francis, in his letter, ‘On care for our Common Home’ asks us to hear the
cry of the earth, to awaken to what is happening to God’s creation and to take
the urgent action that is needed. Laudato Si describes the roots of the
environmental crisis as a deeply spiritual crisis because we have forgotten who
we are and where we come from. We are called to reconnect with God’s
creation and take example from St. Francis of Assisi, who is the patron saint of
ecology and saw God in all of creation. He saw the deep interconnectedness of
all things and experienced God’s creation as family, ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon,
Brother Wind, Sister Water’.
As we end the ‘Season of Creation’, we start Mission Month, which reaches its
high point with ‘World Mission Sunday’ on 24th October. This weekend, you
have a chance to read why such importance is given to ‘being missionary’ in a
world which is very different from that when the ‘Missionary Society of St.
Columban’ (1918) and ‘St. Patrick’s Missionary Society’ (1932) were founded.
‘A Clare heroine’ was written by one of our parishioners. (Fr. Denis O’Mahony)
We cannot but speak..... (Fr. Michael P.O’Sullivan, Intercom October 2021.)
After the first World War, Pope Benedict XV invited Catholics to bring light to a
world devasted by conflict. By virtue of their baptism, all Catholics were called
to be missionary minded, and missionaries needed to be men and women of
God. His successor Pope Pius X1 made the second last Sunday of October a day
dedicated to ‘the missions’, that is a special day to pray for and assist
missionaries in their call to ‘go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good
News’. Over a century has passed since this missionary call gave a fresh impetus
to the Church to ‘go out to the whole world.’
From sending to exchange: Mission is no longer as ‘Ad Gentes’ the title of the
Vatican 11 decree, suggests with its proposition ‘ad’ seen purely in terms of
sending out to far distant territories bringing human, financial, organisational,
or spiritual resources that the recipients do not have. Today our missionary
praxis invites us into a logic of exchange and of service, of sharing, of giving and
receiving. There is a realisation that the Holy Spirit is already present in every
person, and he has preceded us in the many post-modern Galilees where no
one is too helpless to give nothing, nor too rich to have nothing to receive.
The world is a place of mission: The second possible change in paradigm is that
we must rid ourselves of outdated preconceived notions. In the Church, there
are no ‘Catholic countries’ or what some people refer to in the Middle East as
‘Christian villages’. The Lord’s mission is everywhere and all the baptised are
called to become missionary. This is the constant teaching of Pope Francis.
Re-invention mission: The third challenge which we in Ireland have become all
too aware of in recent years is the fact that there is an increasing number of
baptised Christians who no longer belong to any community, the so-called ‘non-
denominational’. How do we proclaim the Good News to those who say they
already know Jesus, but for whom the message of the Gospel has lost its
meaning and relevance? How do we communicate with those who believe
they know Christianity, or who sometimes claim to have gained from its
positive elements, but who no longer identify with the Catholic Church.
Mission as dialogue and communion: The fourth challenge is the fact that the
history of salvation does not present itself as the progressive conquest of
peoples or territories even if, historically speaking, missionary activity was
sometimes closely associated with colonialism. Today Catholicism refuses
proselytism and has no product to sell other than the joy of the Gospel.
Dialogue with other faiths has become an integral part of the mission of the
Church. Missionaries’ only treasure to share is the witness of people who, for
over two thousand years, have been transformed to following the footsteps of
him who ‘did not come to be served but to serve.’ (Mt. 20:28). Missionaries
today own nothing, they are only ‘carriers’ of a message of hope and peace
which gives true meaning and joy to their lives. Missionary work today is a work
of love, of giving, of sharing of gratuity which so many missionaries today give
witness to. As his followers, we missionaries passionately believe in the total
worth of every person and that the world can be transformed by the
powerful message of the Good News. For this reason, the universal Church is
called each year during the month of October to celebrate mission, to pray for
the missionaries and to give generously to the churches in need. Thank you for
your prayers and for your support of Missio Ireland. Pope Francis will use your
gifts to bring the Good News of God’s love to 1,100 dioceses in the world.
A Clare heroine: It was while I was watching “Hector in Africa” the other night
that I got thinking about my neighbour at home in Clare, Sr. Ethel Normoyle,
who, sadly, died from lung cancer this past month of August. She joined the
Religious Order of the Little Company of Mary, trained to be a nurse and was
sent to South Africa in 1972. She missed her parents and her six brothers and
sisters so much that she was ready to return to Ireland, when she happened
upon a slum, where she thought cattle would not survive. She had always loved
animals and she went to investigate the area and discovered, to her horror, that
there were people living there. She decided there and then to do something to
improve the conditions of the people. She began her work under a tree -
teaching, nursing and fighting against poverty HIV and Aids. When her family
and people back at home in Clare learned what Sr. Ethel was doing, they set
about finding ways to help her. Money was raised through collections, dances,
golf competitions and, after some time, groups of tradesmen volunteered to go
to South Africa to build resource centres, classrooms and anything that she
needed. The area where she worked was called Missionvale and Sr. Ethel had
the privilege of welcoming Queen Elizabeth and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to
see the wonderful work that was being done by her helpers and herself. As a
person, Sister Ethel was a beautiful, happy, caring person and a wonderful
singer. Her faith in God was stunning and she knew her parents and her family
kept her well protected with their prayers. Her work will not be forgotten. She
has been an inspiration to people of all ages in Ireland and in South Africa.
Sunday 3rd October
The world is in crisis. In many poorer parishes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
it is overseas missionaries who are on the front line. There will be a collection
for the Missions the weekend of Mission Sunday (23rd/24th October).
Alternatively donate at www.missio.ie or call Missio Ireland on 01 497 2035.
To learn more, go to www.missio.ie
Missio Ireland is the Holy Father’s official charity for overseas mission. Through
your generosity, they support missionaries who are caring for some of the most
vulnerable communities in the world. (Mission Ireland Update)
Seeing your Life through the Lens of the Gospel John Byrne osa
1. Marriages do break down, but in this story Jesus appears as the wise person
urging people to seek first the original harmony where possible, rather than
seek escape routes when difficulties arise. When have you found that, in
marriage or in other relationships, the bonds have been strengthened when
you have been prepared to work through difficulties?
2. There are other things that we needlessly and wrongly put in opposition:
young and old, male and female, people from different cultures, body and soul.
Perhaps at times you have discovered the advantages of exploring the richness
in combining such apparently exclusive opposites.
3. The children in the second story can be taken as representing any group of
‘little ones’ whose opinion we may be inclined to dismiss. When have you found
that you have been taught an important lesson about life, about love, or about
faith by people whose views you had been inclined to dismiss?
(Intercom October 2021)
Month of the Rosary: The dedication of the month of October to the Rosary
developed towards the end of the twentieth century, with the special
promotion of the Rosary by Pope Leo X111 (1878-1903). At the centre of the
month is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Its history involves victories in
battles and decisions of several Popes. Pope Pius the V attributed the victory
over the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, off the coast of Greece, on the first Sunday of
October 1571 to the power of the Rosary prayed in Rome and elsewhere on that
day. He ordered a feast of the Rosary, ‘Our Lady of Victory’ on that day. Pope
Pius X transferred the feast from Sunday to its original date, 7th October. In
1960, the feast was given its present title, ‘Our Lady of the Rosa
In the School of St Benedict
Let the abbot remember always that at the dread Judgement of God there will be an examination of both these matters, of his teaching and of the obedience of his disciples. And let the abbot realise that the shepherd will have to answer for any lack of profit which the Father of the family may discover in his sheep. On the other hand, if the shepherd have spent all diligence on an unruly and disobedient flock and devoted his utmost care to the amending of its vicious ways, then he will be acquitted at the Judgement and may say to the Lord with the prophet: I have not hid thy justice within my heart: I have declared thy truth and thy salvation; but they have despised and rejected me. And so at the last, for these sheep disobedient to his care, let death itself bring its penalty.
RSB Chapter 2, 6-10
A prayer for the Earth (Martyn
Goss, Diocese of Exeter)
God our Creator, maker, and shaper of
all that is, seen and unseen;
You are present in the breadth and depth
of the whole of creation,
and in the processes that make life
Yet, we are distracted by the gods of the
Our lives have become fractured and
In our brokenness, we disturb
the Earth’s capacity to hold us
Call us back from the brink.
Help us to choose love and not fear,
to change ourselves and not the planet,
to act justly for the sake of the
and to make a difference today for the
We make this our prayer in your name,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Presentation Secondary School Listowel is delighted to congratulate our Leaving Cert student of 2016 Iseult O’Callaghan Leahy.
Iseult has been awarded a UCC Quercus Entrance Scholarship for the 2016/17 academic year on the basis of Leaving Certificate results:
The Scholarship Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday 7 December 2016 in UCC,
Approximately 60 students are selected on the basis of their performance in the Leaving Certificate or EU equivalent. In any one year, up to 15 scholarships are awarded in relation to any one of the Colleges as follows: Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences; Business and Law; Medicine and Health; Science, Engineering and Food Science.
We wish Iseult our best wishes as she begins her studies in UCC and we are very proud of her achievement.
Sunday after Pentecost
Dear Friends of Sacred Heart Church,
Today is the 18th Sunday after Pentecost. The opening words of the Introit are ‘Da Pacem Domine’, ‘Grant us Peace, O Lord’. Peace is a fruit of Holy Communion. In this most mysterious moment, one receives the whole person of Jesus Christ, whilst at the same time, s/he is being received into the person of Christ. This is the spiritual action of becoming a part of Him. This opens us to be imbued by His grace to bend our hearts and souls to His Will. A transformative action where we are consumed by His divinity to become the person He wills us to be.
Please keep in prayer, the first years who recently joined the Seminary. Do you remember Christopher who served as an altar boy here and Michael Dirkson who was with us during the summer? Both are among this intake of students. Thank God there are 26 students this year.
There are five young Irish men (we are claiming Christopher among them because he served in our church for the three years he was a student at MIC) in our seminary at present. Given this growing number already on the journey towards the sacred priesthood, we are starting a fundraising drive to help in their support. Please visit see the window below to support their priestly formation.
This coming Wednesday is the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. We keep in our prayers the Sister Adorers of the Royal Heart in Naples, Italy. On that day five postulants will receive the religious habit and will become novices. -----------------------------
Prior of Sacred Heart Church
The Adventures of Sr M. Juliana Culhane in July 1922, Part 1
by Marian McGreal SSL, coordinator
The scene - in St Louis Convent, Louisville, Monaghan. I was a boarder there from 1919 to 1922. I came with an inlaw of my Auntie’s, Maria Brosnan, a sister of Con Brosnan – the famous Kerry footballer. I loved the place. The Sisters were very kind to us. Sr M. Laurentia was the Mistress of Schools then. At that time there was Junior, Middle, and Senior Grade (in the Inter Exams). I did Middle Grade in June 1922. The times, due to the 1922 Civil War, were very disturbed. The exams for some, ended about June 18th and Sr M. Laurentia did her best with information from Headquarters in Dublin, to send the girls home safely. But some of the subjects like Art, Commerce etc. dragged on, and it was well on in June by the time about 30 or 35 of us were finished. We were all set in great form for going home, when the news came, urgently from Dublin that there was trouble in the city and that there was no means of travelling for any girls from the south. No trains running from Dublin to Limerick or Cork, or from Dublin to Waterford. So there we were about twenty of us “all dressed up an nowhere to go.” I often think what the poor sisters felt like with us crowd on their hands! Then just before the news from Dublin had come I had been making plans how I would spend my holiday, as I had made up my mind to enter September 8th. Well we just had to make the best of a bad matter and be grateful to God and the Srs that we were safe and sound with them. Then bright and fair one morning Sr M. Laurentia got word that the city was quiet, and that we could get to Dublin, but no trains to the south. Well, God was good to me, I had a pal, Margaret Fleming from Castleisland, Kerry. She luckily had a cousin in Dublin married to a D.M.P. [Dublin Metropolitan Police] man, and she made me come with her. I forgot their names, but they had the greatest sympathy for us, were so good to us. The D.M.P Inspector had a heart of gold. He knew well that our relatives would be in a very bad way about us, no means of sending a wire or letter. So the good and kind man went out every morning and found out if there was any chance of a train to the south. So, praise to the good God, he came back in haste one morning and said that there was a train going to Waterford in an hours’ time that we could also get a connection to Mallow that same day. Well, in two shakes of a lambs tail he had us across the city, and just in time for the Waterford train. It was like a passport to Heaven to get that train!! The good D.M.P. man wished us the best of luck. Thank God we got to Waterford in time to catch the train to Mallow.
To be continued.
From: Sean Sheehy
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2021,
Subject: 22nd Sunday B
The term “cafeteria Christian” is often used to describe those members of Jesus’ Church who pick and choose the doctrines they like and ignore or reject what they don’t like as if they were food items in a cafeteria. The problem with being a cafeteria Christian is that such a person isn’t a true believer. Jesus was very clear when He said, “Say, ‘Yes’ when you mean ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ when you mean ‘No.’ Anything beyond that is from the evil one.” (Mt 5:37) In other words, Jesus expects His followers to be unambiguous in their total commitment to Him and His Church’s teaching. This Sunday, Jesus’ Church shows Him describing the faith of some of the Pharisees: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me. Empty is the worship they do me because they teach as doctrines mere human precepts.” (Mk 7:6-7) They were putting more emphasis on washing their bodies than on cleansing their souls through lovingly keeping God’s Law. Jesus explained what love involves: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and live in His love.” (Jn 15:9-10) So in order to live in Jesus’ love keeping the commandments, what He taught His Apostles, must be heartfelt expressions of our faith in Him. Remember Jesus said that, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” (Mt 6:21) Our heart, then, is where our treasure is. Each of us must ask our self: “Is Jesus Christ my treasure or do I treasure something else more?” What I treasure is where my heart is.
Jesus revealed that many of the Pharisees didn’t really treasure God and so their worship of Him was merely empty lip-service. An Irish Cardinal Bishop was asked a number of years ago to describe the Catholic Faith in Ireland. He said: “Ireland is a pagan country with a veneer of Catholicism.” The implication was that the majority of those who called themselves “Catholic” didn’t have Jesus and His Church, which are inseparable, as their treasure and the locus of their faith. The Irish demonstrated that when a majority voted to legalize abortion and so-called same-sex “marriage”, both of which are totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus and His Church. Many of those who voted for this immoral legislation considered themselves practising Catholics but were obviously paying only lip-service to Jesus and His Church’s teaching. Their hearts were somewhere else. In America surveys show that a large percentage of those who call themselves “Catholic” don’t believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus taught that, “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him.” (Jn 14:23) Jesus’ command to His Apostles at the Passover Meal after He changed bread and wine into His body and blood was “Take and eat … Take and drink … This is my body … This is my blood …Do this in memory of me.” Thus He enabled His Real Presence to continue in His Church until the end of time through the agency of His Church’s ordained bishops and priests. Cafeteria Christians choose not to adhere to all Jesus’ teaching but the bits and pieces that suits them. As someone said, “Jesus wants hearts not hypocrites.”
Pope St. Paul VI called for a “New Evangelization” to reach out especially to cafeteria Christians and help them to meet Jesus Christ in a personal relationship and live that relationship fully as faithful members of His Church. The motivation for this is found in the words of Moses: “What great nation is there that gods so close to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call upon Him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole Law which I am setting before you today?” (Deut 4:1-2, 6-8) If you replace the word “nation” with “Jesus’ Church” you recognize that there’s no religion whose God is as close to its members as Jesus Christ is to those who make Him their treasure and give Him their hearts. The Holy Spirit revealed through James that God is the source of all the good which He bestows on the faithful through Jesus. “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of all light … Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the Word and not merely hearers only, deluding yourselves.” (Jas 1:17-27)
Jesus wants to plant His word of life in our souls but we must open our hearts to receive it. He knocks on the door of our heart but it can be opened only from inside. Therefore we must not only hear God’s word but we must let it enter our heart so we can put it into action in our life. Jesus reminds us that words without actions are empty and ineffective. “A man who listens to God’s word but does not put it into practise is like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with: he looks at himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. There is, on the other hand, the man who examines freedom’s Word and abides by it. He is no forgetful listener, but one who carries out the law I practise. Blessed will this man be in whatever he does.” (Jas 1:23-25) Jesus’ Church isn’t a cafeteria: She has only one charter for orderly living, namely Jesus’ Commandments, and one menu for her members, namely Jesus Himself as the food for their souls. He warns the cafeteria Christian: “But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16) Are you a “doer” of God’s Word or a mere listener picking and choosing what suits you, or have you made Jesus, present in His Church, your treasure, the locus of your heart? (frsos)
IRISH NUNS IN INDIA
Again the Daughters of the Cross have to record the loss of one of their Sisters, who died at Anand on Sunday, 18th July, after an illness of only a few hours. Sister Agnes Mary was born in Kerry, Ireland, in April, 1865, and joined the congregation at Liege in October, 1884.Two years later she arrived in India, and since that time worked with the greatest earnestness in the convents at Karachi, Igatpuri, Bandra, Panchgani, Dadar, and finally at Anand, of which house she was made Superioress in December, 1908. In the first week of July, cholera broke out in that locality, and some of the orphan children confided to the care of the Sisters; contracted the disease. A few cases proved fatal. However, on Sunday last it was hoped that the epidemic had ceased, an intimation to that effect
having been written by the Superioress herself, little thinking that she would be the next chosen victim. Sister Agnes Mary saw without fear death approaching, and was perfectly calm and resigned to God’s holy will. During the years she spent in India, and in whatever house she laboured, she was ever a subject of the greatest edification to her Sisters in religion and to all with whom She came in contact. Her happy disposition endeared her to everyone, and her loss will be keenly felt. Quietly and religiously she spent her days, and one may truly say: “She went about doing good.” Her death was a fit crowning to her life—a victim to duty, she has fallen at her post.
Dave O’Sullivan has the answer.
I can confirm that Sister Mary Agnes who died in India was the aunt of Mgr Michael Leahy.
She was born Honora LEAHY was born about 11 Apr 1865 in Lisaniskea, Knockanure, Co. Kerry. She was christened on 13 Apr 1865 in Moyvane, Co. Kerry. Her parents were James Leahy and Kate O’Connor.
Mgr Michael Leahy was the son of Honora’s brother Tom Leahy.
From: Sean Sheehy
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2021, 14:58
Subject: Feast of the Assumption
Celebrating Mary’s Assumption into Heaven: It’s Implications
Jesus’ Church, from her earliest times, believed that upon the end of the Virgin Mary’s life on earth her body wasn’t buried but rather was assumed in its entirety by God into Heaven. The word ‘assume’ comes from the Latin and means to ‘accept, or ‘to take up.” In the Bible, Mary isn’t the first person to be taken into Heaven. In Second Kings we read: “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into Heaven by a whirlwind …” (2 Kgs 2:2) As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary concerning Elizabeth’s pregnancy even though she was sterile, “for nothing is impossible with God.” (Lk 1:37) Jesus Himself said to His disciples concerning who can be saved that, “For man it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:16) To show God’s power flowing through Him, Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, changed water into wine, walked on water, and changed bread and wine into His body and blood thereby enabling believers to “live in me as I do in you … I am the vine, you are the branches.” (Jn 15:4-5)
Mary’s assumption symbolizes the completion of Jesus’ redemption of mankind. In Mary’s assumption, the Old Testament record of David and the Ark has a number of parallels. The early Church writers described Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant.” Just as the Ark in the Old Testament was a golden box that held the two tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments signifying God’s Covenant with Moses, so Mary was seen as the Ark of the New Covenant because she carried the God’s Word-made-flesh in her womb. The Assumption put Mary in Heaven as the “Queen Mother” “arrayed in gold.” “The queen takes her place at Your right hand in gold of Ophir.” (Ps 45:10) Just as the Ark of the Old Covenant was made of incorruptible acacia wood so Mary’s body, the Ark of the New Covenant, was incorruptible demonstrated by her Assumption.
In his inspired visions, John, records, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she laboured to give birth.” (Rev 12:1-2) The “woman” here is, of course, Mary experiencing the pain of childbirth which was the result of Adam and Eve’s sin, but “the woman” also symbolizes Jesus’ Church bringing Jesus to the world. The twelve stars represent the Twelve Apostles. Following this John saw the conflict between good and evil with “a huge red dragon that … stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour the child when she gave birth” (vs 3-4) symbolizing Satan. In a clear reference to Mary, John records, “She gave birth to a son – a boy destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” (v 5) The “iron rod” symbolized Jesus’ power to break the power of evil and restore justice in the world. “Her child was caught up to God and to His throne” meaning that evil failed as indicated by Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into Heaven. It was revealed to John that, “The woman (Mary and the Church, of which she is the Mother designated by Jesus from His Cross) fled into the desert (symbolizing a place of rest, consecration, and protection), where a special place had been prepared for her by God.” (v 6) That special place for Mary was Heaven into which she was assumed.
Mary is a pattern of Jesus’s Church in all kinds of ways. The mission of both was and is to bring Jesus into the world as its Saviour and Redeemer so He could bring us to His Father to adopt us as His children through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary suffered deeply seeing Jesus’ passion and death just as the Church suffers deeply through persecution by the agents of Satan. Like Mary, consecrated from the moment of her conception, Jesus Church is consecrated by the Holy Spirit who gives her rest, continues to consecrate and protect her from her enemies. Like Mary, who withstood evil through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Church has withstood evil both from within and from outside during the last two thousand years. Mary is also the pattern of fidelity to Jesus for every believer. She is that woman of great faith who expressed it simply to the Angel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) Listening to God in prayer and worship, Mary’s words should be our consistent response.
Why should we make Mary our exemplar as Christians? Elizabeth tells us why when she was inspired by the Holy Spirit to exclaim when Mary visited her: “Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45) What does it mean to have Mary as the pattern of our life in Christ, living as intentional disciples of Jesus? She spell it out in her Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) First of all, our being, our life, our existence should “proclaim the greatness of the Lord” so that our “light must shine before men so that they may see the goodness in (y)our acts and give praise to (y)our Heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:16) Secondly, our spirit should find “joy in God (our) Saviour” for He has looked upon us to serve Him in our unworthiness. Thirdly, we must realize that “God who is mighty has done great things” for us. So we must be grateful. His Name is holy and He is merciful in all generations. So we must respect His Name and be merciful. God is omnipotent and brought down those who were powerful. So we must be humble and not attempt to dominate others. He raises the humble above the powerful. So we mustn’t seek power for its own sake but to serve others. We must realize that God gives food to the hungry, especially those whose souls hunger for Him. The rich who think they don’t need God will go hungry forever. So we must receive Jesus as the food for our souls and not spend all our resources in pampering our body. Following in Mary’s footsteps we become faithful, grateful, moral, humble, merciful, Eucharistic, generous and trusting servants of God who is always faithful to His promises. In Mary’s company we can pray that at our death, while our bodies will become ashes, Jesus will assume our soul into Heaven where God is the Father, Jesus is our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier, and Mary the Queen Mother. (frsos)
FR. FRANK REPORTS...
St. Margaret’s profound physical ailments teach a powerful lesson about how every life –
no matter how compromised, no matter how “imperfect” - has value and every person has a
contribution to make.
And the question that challenges us most deeply is, if we were there, and knew Margaret was
locked up in that cell, would we have spoken up?
St. Margaret’s canonization comes at an interesting time in the U.S., as more states are
passing laws to protect babies from abortion based on their sex, race or disability.
Prenatal testing now allows parents to know long before their baby is born if he or she
will be everything they have dreamed of and planned for. Babies falling short of that ideal
I invite everyone who believes in the sanctity of every human
life to join me in praying this prayer I wrote some years ago for
Margaret of Castello, the newest saint for the pro-life movement.
Your care extends to every human person,
And you uphold the dignity of every human life,
Regardless of the false ways that the world may calculate its
You gave us St. Margaret of Castello as a sign and a
You permitted your glory to shine through her human weakness,
And called those around her to love her
Despite her physical limitations.
Forgive us when we fail to defend the least among us.
Through the intercession of St. Margaret,
Give us grace to speak up for the outcast
and to welcome those who are rejected.
When this brief life is over,
Grant that we who have welcomed all our brothers and sisters,
May be welcomed by you into the life that never ends.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Kenmare Parish August 2021
It’s been a hectic week. I arrived c 5.00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon with the car packed with some of my belongings. It had been a busy time, over recent weeks, trying to conclude in the
parish of Glenflesk, where I ministered for the past five years. So, on Wednesday night, I was pretty exhausted. But sleep is restorative, and I slept soundly here in the presbytery in Dromneavane. And on rising early on Thursday morning, I looked out the window, with the enchanting view down toward the town of Kenmare, and what did I see? A little fawn with two adult deer grazing contentedly. It brought to mind the line from scripture “like the
deer that years for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God”
(Psalm 42). I love nature and, in Kerry, we are blessed to live in one of the beautiful parts of God’s creation. I will savour these environs and the beauty of hill and mountain, sky, and bay.
Over the past number of years, I write these ponderings weekly for the parish newsletter.
The writings are simply a stream of consciousness and vary from a reflection on life, a book I’ve read or a quotation I’ve seen, an experience I’ve had or a thought I’ve believed is worth sharing. The reflection takes in the scriptures and a life of faith, but the writings are not based exclusively on religious matters. I keep my engagement with scripture to my homilies at mass each weekend – during the week, I like to offer a two-minute reflection on the scripture at our celebration of Mass.
So now it is time to begin the journey together. I hope you will be ready for the adventure. This weekend we will greet each other and say hello. May God bless all that we will do in the years ahead. May the Spirit of God help us to discern God’s call to us in our lives. We will comfort and console each other in times of sorrow. We will laugh and delight in moments of joy. We
will walk together. In all things, let the living Lord be in our hearts.
(Fr. George Hayes)
Following he conclusion of the Olympics last week, I read somewhere that the
motto of the Olympics, Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) was first
used by a Dominican priest, Fr. Henri Didon, at the opening ceremony of a school
sports day in 1881. It was later adopted by Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympics
founder, who was present on the day, as the Olympics motto in 1894. On the
Olympics theme, I was listening to an interview in the aftermath of the gold medal
win by the Skibbereen rowers, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. McCarthy’s sister was being
interviewed about her brother’s magnificent achievement. On being queried by the interviewer, she told us that Fintan had no interest in sport until he was c. 15 years of age. He wasn’t interested in football, hurling or soccer but in his mid-teenage years, he discovered an interest in rowing. I thought isn’t that marvellous. What we need to do is to encourage each person to find their particular skill and nurture that. That really is the guiding philosophy of St. Benedict. He says that we all have gifts, and we should search to discover what each one of us is good at. Someone could be a great cook. Another loves to play the piano or write poems. Someone else can build anything. Another loves science. Someone is great at organising. Another has a passion for caring. One of our tasks in life is to discover our gift, develop that gift and share it with the community. Our inclination sometimes can be to look at another person and to think how talented they are. And we live in a world where social media presents the best side of everyone – people are photographed in the perfect kitchen or having a perfect holiday on a perfect beach or living the ideal life. But you’d wonder is that always real? So, let’s try to discover our particular gift and let’s try to use that at the service of God and the community. When I am talking to the children in primary school, I always say to them, no one else has your fingerprint. No one else in the world has your thumbprint. Each one of us is unique. In the week ahead, let’s thank God for all that we’ve been given...and let’s discover and nurture that gift!
(FR. GEORGE HAYES)
The Presbytery, Abbeydorney (066 7135146)
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 8th August 2021.
In last week’s ‘Dear Parishioner’, I included a few ‘diary entries’ from the book, ‘The Diary of a Parish Priest’, a translation in English of a book published in 1964. The priest diarist, Fr. Theodor Blieweis, had already spent thirteen years in charge of a parish in the city of Vienna
in Austria. I think one could say about the book, as used to be said about an English Sunday newspaper, ‘All human life is there.’ You can read two further diary entries inside.
Time and time again, most of us (true or false!) tend to say that we are sick and tired of hearing bad news on radio and TV and reading it in news-papers. News about drugs is nearly always bad news. It might be said to be ‘good news’ , as happened when a large amount of drugs was found
hidden in a low loader being brought into Ireland, via Rosslare Port. While I myself get tired of bad news too, I feel that when we hear about the harm done by drugs, there is a possibility that somebody who has been thinking of using drugs may be steered away from doing so.
Fr. Peter McVerry has dawn attention to the drug problem, the harm done to young people and families, the failure on the part of Government to tackle the problem and the need to pay attention to some of the reasons why people resort to drug use. You have read many articles by the
Jesuit priest, taken from his monthly column in Reality Magazine, and included in past issues of Dear Parishioner. I think one cannot but be alarmed at the headline of the article in this ‘Dear Parishioner’ ‘The 13-year-old drug dealer.’ He concludes his article ‘Ensuring that every child
feels valued and has equal opportunity to succeed in life is necessary for reducing drug violence. Is that too much to ask?’
I felt a bit embarrassed last week, when I discovered that an athlete from my native parish was due to compete this week in the Olympic 25 kilometre ‘walking race.’ David Kenny’s parents, natives of Killarney Parish, came to live in Firies Parish (the Ballyhar side, where my old home is),
when some newly-built house became available. David did not get a medal but I am sure, like many other non-medal winners, he felt honoured to represent his country and, hopefully, will do so again in 2024.
(Fr. Denis O’Mahony)
Reality Check – Peter McVerry, (Reality Mag. July/August 2021.)
The 13-year-old Drug Dealer.
Ensuring that every child feels valued and has equal opportunity to succeed in life is necessary for reducing drug violence. In many parts of our cities, you can order any illegal drug of choice and it
will be delivered to your door quicker than a pizza and it may be delivered by a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle. In a few years, this boy will be a major drug dealer, involved in violent crimes, if he is not already dead or in prison. What makes a