Monday, February 10, 2014



POPE FRANCIS "In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is REAL, truly REAL.”

(Vatican Radio) To rediscover the sense of the sacred, the mystery of the Real Presence of God in the Mass: that was Pope Francis’ invitation during the Eucharistic celebration this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The first Reading of the day speaks about the “theophany” of God in the time of Solomon the king. The Lord came down like a cloud upon the temple, which was filled with the glory of God. The Lord, the Pope said, speaks to His people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Sacred Scriptures. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, “different from the Word: it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.” This, he explained, happens in the liturgical celebration. The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of the faithful to pray together. It is something else. In the liturgy, God is present,” but it is a closer presence. In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is real, truly real.”

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation. It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”

Nativity scenes, the Way of the Cross... these are representations. The Mass, on the other hand, “is a real commemoration, that is, it is a theophany: God approaches and is with us, and we participate in the mystery of the Redemption.” Unfortunately, too often we look at the clock during Mass, “counting the minutes.” This, the Pope said, is not the attitude the liturgy requires of us: the liturgy is God’s time, God’s space, and we must place ourselves there, in God’s time, in God’s space, and not look at the clock”:

“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery; however, someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta: it’s a tourist stop, right?’ All of you here, we are gathered her to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us.”

The pope recalled that, as a child, during the preparation for First Communion, there was a song that spoke about how the altar was guarded by angels to give “a sense of the glory of God, of God’s space, of God’s time.” And when, during the practice, they brought the hosts, they told the children: “Look, these are not the ones you will receive: these count for nothing,” because they have to be consecrated. So, the Pope concluded, “to celebrate the liturgy is to have this availability to enter into the mystery of God,” to enter into His space, His time, to entrust ourselves to this mystery:

“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us this ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible... The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power... He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”

Text from the Vatican Radio website 


A financier from New York rules his numerous family, consisting of his wife and his four sons, with the meticulousity of a bookkeeper. The wife and children try to get the father baptized even though he is very reluctant.
1947 - A light family movie
 Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers: Clarence Day, Donald Ogden Stewart (screen play)
Stars: William Powell, Irene Dunne, Elizabeth Taylor | 


Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
Lectionary: 329

Reading 1         1 KGS 8:1-7, 9-13

The elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes,
the princes in the ancestral houses of the children of Israel,
came to King Solomon in Jerusalem,
to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant
from the City of David, which is Zion.
All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon
during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month).
When all the elders of Israel had arrived,
the priests took up the ark;
they carried the ark of the LORD
and the meeting tent with all the sacred vessels
that were in the tent.
(The priests and Levites carried them.)

King Solomon and the entire community of Israel
present for the occasion
sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen
too many to number or count.
The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD
to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,
the holy of holies of the temple.
The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark,
sheltering the ark and its poles from above.
There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets
which Moses had put there at Horeb,
when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel
at their departure from the land of Egypt.

When the priests left the holy place,
the cloud filled the temple of the LORD
so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud,
since the LORD’s glory had filled the temple of the LORD.
Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;
I have truly built you a princely house,
a dwelling where you may abide forever.”

Responsorial Psalm                 PS 132:6-7, 8-10

R. (8a) Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter into his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Advance, O LORD, to your resting place,
you and the ark of your majesty.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!

Gospel            MK 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.
They scurried about the surrounding country
and began to bring in the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.


Fr Frankie Mulgrew was once so depressed he used to watch EastEnders for relief. Then he learned how to relish the divine sense of humour
Fr Frankie Mulgrew
Fr Frankie Mulgrew
“God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us” Blessed John Paul II
The day before my ordination last summer I was giving my four-year-old nephew a lift in the car. I wanted to test him, so I said: “Tristan, what’s happening tomorrow?” He said: “Uncle Frankie, you’re being ordained.”
I was surprised. I thought: four years old and he knows terminology like that. This kid’s a genius. Then I said: “And Tristan what happens when I am ordained?” He said: “You become a priest.”
I thought: that’s two out of two. I need to go for the third and final question, so I said: “And Tristan, what do priests do?” And he said: “They wear dresses!”
I’ve put the cause for his canonisation on hold, but it certainly made me laugh out loud! I’m a Catholic priest with a background in stand-up comedy, so maybe it was only natural that I should be inspired to bring the two worlds together in a book. Does God LOL? has contributions from comedians including Ken Dodd, Tim Vine, Ricky Tomlinson, Jo Brand and Milton Jones. The idea must have originated in my background since as I’m from not only a traditional Irish Catholic background but also a deeply rooted showbusiness background. If I hadn’t gone into the priesthood, it probably would have been Riverdance.
When I was in comedy it was a great privilege to make people laugh. I mainly used props. I would look at the audience and say: “If the corkscrew hadn’t been invented would Australians look like this?” Then I would put on an Australian hat with the bottles still attached to their corks. Seeing people happy and enjoying themselves brings great joy – even on the nights when it is not going all that well. Once I was heckled with the line: “Get off!” To which I replied: “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t do requests.”
A few weeks ago my youngest sister Katie got married. She’s a comedian and so is my dad. He is the comedian Jimmy Cricket. After the speeches, one comedian commented on how we were all enjoying one another’s banter and good humour. “Your family were raised on laughter,” she said. Joy begets joy. Laughter begets laughter and surely God would not have given us this great gift if he wanted us all to be miserable.
You may ask why I decided to write a book called Does God LOL? (LOL, of course, is internet slang for Laugh Out Loud,) My response would be: “Because God is fun.” For example, Jesus appears and announces the Kingdom of God is like a great wedding feast. How many wedding feasts have you been to that are boring and dull? Jesus said that he had come to give life in abundance (Jn 10:10).
Surely abundant life is not possible if you celebrate all the attributes of being human but leave out smiling and laughter. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) Pope Francis comments that an “evangeliser must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral”.
During some of the most difficult times of my life – some personal and others while assisting those going through hard times – a laugh or a smile has been a sign of hope that a brighter day is ahead, that amid tragedies and loss there is light, in a joy that is heaven-sent.
I mention in the book a true story about a young man with cerebral palsy. He was a Catholic, but because of his condition whenever the time came for him to receive Holy Communion he could not open his mouth. The priest realised that the only way he could get him to open his mouth was to tell him a joke and make him laugh. While he was laughing the priest was able to give him Holy Communion. I love that story because it tells us that under such special circumstances God came to that young man at such a sacred moment with the aid of laughter and joy.
A recurring theme throughout the scriptures is that those who have God have joy. An evidential sign that any person from the Bible has the Spirit of God within them is great joy matched with inner peace. Regardless of ever-changing circumstances around them they have an underlining peace and joy that no person, place or thing can take away from them. I would have to agree: that has certainly been my experience, as a former sufferer of depression. I’ll tell you how bad my depression was: I used to watch episodes of EastEnders as an antidepressant.
In the Our Father we have the line: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” From the advent of Jesus and ever since, the Kingdom of Heaven has been breaking into the world, becoming more and more present – dependent on how open we are to it – revealing itself bit by bit. We see this, in glimpses of heaven on earth, of things now on earth as they will be for all time in heaven: acts of love, kindness and so on. It is my belief that when we laugh, from an innocent and integral source, that laughter is a glimpse on earth of the happiness we will feel for all time in eternity. That’s fundamentally where the inspiration for this book came from. I wanted to explore where this gift – all this laughter and the ability to create happiness – comes from. It’s not a book written by theologians and philosophers. That’s been done. But the idea was to have it written by comedy’s foot soldiers, the laughter-makers who day in and day out see their vocation in life as bringing happiness and joy into people’s lives. As Thomas Merton expressed it: “Comedians and clowns are likely to have a high place in heaven because they must be near to the heart of God.” The hope in the book is that we will try to get nearer to understanding God’s humour through his different faces in the world.
Comedians are experts in realising that a sense of humour also helps us laugh at ourselves when we begin to take ourselves too seriously. Surely God had that in mind too: the gift to laugh at one’s self. There is a true story that I mention in the book. It concerns a bishop who goes to visit a priest in his diocese one Sunday for Mass. The priest gets up to preach the homily and begins by saying: “I’m in love with another’s man’s wife!” The congregation gasps. The Bishop gasps. And the priest goes on to say: “I’m in love with another’s man’s wife… I’m in love with my mother.” And then he continues with a homily about unconditional love, while the bishop sits there marvelling at the ingenious way the priest had begun his homily. A few weeks later the bishop himself has to give a homily on unconditional love. He thinks to himself: “I’ll begin it in the same way as that priest did.” He stands up in the pulpit and announces: “I’m in love with another man’s wife.” The congregation gasps. And then his mind goes blank. He has forgotten what comes next. Then he says into the microphone: “For the life of me I can’t remember who it is now.” And then he says: “Wait, I’ve got it! It’s a priest in my diocese: it’s his mother!”
I miss the camaraderie from other comedians now that I am not doing stand-up anymore. It was always such fun, bouncing off one another with jibes and funny quips backstage in the dressing room. There was always the feeling of being all in this together. Whether it was a great crowd or a tough crowd, we were helping each other through. I remember once being really nervous. It was my first time performing at an open spot at the Comedy Store. A well-known comedian picked up on my nerves and gave me a friendly pep talk. It was as if he were my personal coach and I was going out there to run my personal best.
It was always fun and inspiring to journey and converse with the different comedians. Some of the contributors to the book were personal friends, while some were acquaintances. Others we just pitched cold, in the hope that they would contribute – and they did. The book also features the work of leading cartoonists who answer the title question through illustrations.
Giving the authorship profits from Does God LOL? to my favourite children’s charity, Mary’s Meals, has been an added incentive, both to the contributors and to me. A charity named after Our Lady that helps to feed and educate more than 800,000 children a day in the developing world and which tries to guarantee that 93p out of every £1 goes to the front line has to be a worthy cause.
So the book contains a rich tapestry of personal reflections and accounts of faith, interspersed with funny anecdotes, as the comedians share the ways in which they interpret God’s sense of humour. They also express their understanding of how faith, Scripture and signs in the world can point to God laughing out loud. According to professional laughter-makers, God is interested in our happiness. As C S Lewis put it: “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
Does God LOL? is published by Darton, Longman & Todd, priced £7.99

This article first appeared in print edition of The Catholic Herald (31/1/14)


The 25 year old was arrested and admitted his guilt. Witnesses: he was shouting against God and Christianity. Among the victims, a nun who tried to stop the killer. Local priest she is a "martyr of Christ".

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Dressed in black, with a swastika behind his back and armed with a pistol, a 25- year-old broke into a church in Eastern Russia and, after firing indiscriminately against icons and faithful, killed two people and injured six others.  The incident took place on February 9 in the Cathedral of the Resurrection, the main church of the Eparchy of South Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands.  A nun and parishioner, who had tried to stop the man, died o the spot from their injuries . According to investigators' reports, the young man - who works for a private security firm - was drunk at the time of the shooting. The murderer was found and admitted he was guilty, but did not explain the reasons for his actions. The Investigative Committee has opened an investigation for "murder of two or more persons" ( art.105.2 of the Russian Criminal Code ) and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
Police sources revealed to Interfax news agency that the young man had shown interest in neo-pagan literary texts. The same sources have not ruled out that the gesture was caused by a prolonged depression, noted both by friends and by relatives.

The site Lifenews , named the killer as Stepan Komarov: the young man served in the Navy before being hired as a security guard . Local media reported that at the time of the shooting he was wearing two crosses on his chest. According to the newspaper Moskvovsky Komsomolets , the murderer had received the weapon from his company, which had commissioned him to escort an armored car from a local bank that day. None of his colleagues, however, saw him. According to unofficial reconstructions, the 25 year old returned home, dressed in the black clothes with a swastika on his back, then headed to the church.
Speaking to the religious news site , Archpriest Viktor Gorbach, Moscow Metropolitan in Sakhalin, said that the young man entered the cathedral shortly after the end of the Mass and began to shoot t the faithful and icons hanging on the wall, after having broken a cross. Not many people were left and some managed to escape, but the nun and the parishioner who tried to stop the attacker were killed. According to him, the killer cursed God and Christianity, and for this reason - he added - the killed nun must be considered a "martyr of Christ". According to his reconstruction, the nun tried to draw to the attention of the armed young man to allow those who were still in the church, women and children, to escape.

The attack on the Cathedral of the Resurrection comes a few days after another incident that has rocked Russia: the shooting at a high school in Moscow February 3 where a student killed a professor and a policeman and took an entire class hostage for half an hour. (N.A.)



St. Scholastica
Feast: February 10

Feast Day:February 10
480, Nursia, Italy
Patron of:convulsive children; nuns; invoked against storms and rain
This saint was sister to the great St. Benedict. She consecrated herself to God from her earliest youth, as St. Gregory testifies. Where her first monastery was situated is not mentioned; but after her brother removed to Mount Cassino she chose her retreat at Plombariola, in that neighbourhood, where she founded and governed a nunnery about five miles distant to the south from St. Benedict's monastery. St. Bertharius, who was Abbot of Cassino three hundred years after, says that she instructed in virtue several of her own sex. And whereas St. Gregory informs us that St. Benedict governed nuns as well as monks, his sister must have been their abbess under his rule and direction. She visited her holy brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went out with some of his monks to meet her at a house at some small distance. They spent these visits in the praises of God, and in conferring together on spiritual matters. St. Gregory relates a remarkable circumstance of the I last of these visits. Scholastica having passed the day as usual in singing psalms and pious discourse, they sat down in the evening to take their refection. After it was over, Scholastica, perhaps foreknowing it would be their last interview in this world, or at least desirous of some further spiritual improvement, was very urgent with her brother to delay his return till the next day, that they might entertain themselves till morning upon the happiness of the other life. St. Benedict, unwilling to transgress his rule, told her he could not pass a night out of his monastery, so desired her not to insist upon such a breach of monastic discipline. Scholastica finding him resolved on going home, laying her hands joined upon the table, and her head upon them, with many tears, begged of Almighty God to interpose in her behalf. Her prayer was scarce ended when there happened such a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that neither St. Benedict nor any of his companions could set a foot out of doors. He complained to his sister, saying, "God forgive you, sister; what have you done?" She answered, "I asked you a favour, and you refused it me; I asked it of Almighty God, and he has granted it me." St. Benedict was therefore obliged to comply with her request, and they spent the night in conferences on pious subjects, chiefly on the felicity of the blessed, to which both most ardently aspired, and which she was shortly to enjoy. The next morning they parted, and three days after St. Scholastica died in her solitude. St. Benedict was then alone in contemplation on Mount Cassino, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he saw the soul of his sister ascending thither in the shape of a dove. Filled with joy at her happy passage, he gave thanks for it to God, and declared her death to his brethren, some of whom he sent to bring her corpse to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. She must have died about the year 543. Her relics are said to have been translated into France, together with those of St. Bennet, in the seventh century, according to the relation given by the monk Adrevald.1 They are said to have been deposited at Mans, and kept in the collegiate church of St. Peter in that city, in a rich silver shrine. In 1562 this shrine was preserved from being plundered by the Huguenots as is related by Chatelain. Her principal festival at Mans is kept a holyday on the 11th of July, the day of the translation of her relics. She was honored in some places with an office of three lessons, in the time of St. Louis, as appears from a calendar of Longchamp written in his reign.

Louis of Granada, treating on the perfection of the love of God, mentions the miraculous storm obtained by St. Scholastica to show with what excess of goodness God is always ready to hear the petitions and desires of his servants. This pious soul must have received strong pledges and most sensible tokens of his love, seeing she depended on receiving so readily what she asked of him. No child could address himself with so great confidence to his most tender parent. The love which God bears us, and his readiness to succour and comfort us, if we humbly confess and lay before him our wants, infinitely surpasses all that can be found in creatures. Nor can we be surprised that he so easily heard the prayer of this holy virgin, since at the command of Joshua he stopped the heavens, God obeying the voice of man! He hears the most secret desires of those that fear and love him, and does their will: if he sometimes seems deaf to their cries, it is to grant their main desire by doing what is most expedient for them, as St. Austin frequently observes. The short prayer by which St. Scholastica gained this remarkable victory over her brother, who was one of the greatest saints on earth, was doubtless no more than a single act of her pure desires, which she continually turned toward, and fixed on her beloved. It was enough for her to cast her eyes interiorly upon him with whom she was closely and inseparably united in mind and affections, to move him so suddenly to change the course of the elements in order to satisfy her pious desire. By placing herself, as a docile scholar, continually at the feet of the Divine Majesty, who filled all the powers of her soul with the sweetness of his heavenly communications, she learned that sublime science of perfection in which she became a mistress to so many other chaste souls by this divine exercise. Her life in her retirement, to that happy moment which closed her mortal pilgrimage, was a continued uniform contemplation, by which all her powers were united to and transformed into God.


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