Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Celibacy- a Way of Loving

A Celibate way of Loving-- my testimony
There are many today crying out for the abolishment of Celibacy as a way of living for the Catholic clergy. They say it leads to loneliness, to frustration and to sexual abuse. Might I add something of my own experience to the debate.

It came as a light in the darkness to discover that in Christian terms celibacy is not to be seen as a restriction, but as one of the charismatic gifts which has its source in divine love. Unless it continues to drink from that well-spring of grace, it may indeed be a legalistic burden and we might as well abandon it. The priest who is frustrated and angry with what he perceives as a mere legal requirement for priesthood is on a road to nowhere.

It may as well be noted that celibacy is not a way for religious and clergy only. The unmarried are bound by this same condition, and if married people are to live by the strict rule of their Church, they find themselves having to abstain from sexual intercourse for certain and often long periods of their lives. So this is a far wider issue than one might at first sight think. And over all this range of living,-- love and relationship must prevail.

Celibate clergy think of themselves as signposts to the Kingdom of God, pointing out the heavenly way. But they must not be wooden signposts with wooden hearts. Priests should be Princes of love showing a way to relationship that is at once totally human and authentically divine.

Christian celibacy lays down a clear distinction between sexuality and genitality. The celibate person is of course a sexual being and is called to rejoice in the wonder of his being, but with the grace of God and the discipline of a maturity, he does not stray into the area of genital sex. The lives of several Catholic saints tell of beautiful and holy celibate relationships between people like Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal. Look up that delightful book: To Heaven with Diana -- the story of the two Dominicans, Jordan of Saxony, the successor of St Dominic and Blessed Diana. When he travelled to preach the Gospel, Jordan carried Diana in his heart and longed to get back to her. His love for her enabled him to be a loving presence to all he met on the way.

To everyone, single or married, cleric or lay, applies the basic text of Scripture: It is not good for man to be alone. That sacred word seems to go contrary to the one so many priests heard in the seminary: Nunquam solus cum sola-- Never be found alone with a woman!

A Dominican Provincial, Fr. Damian Byrne now gone from this world told me that he was fed up with alcoholics and workaholics under his care and wished that every of them had a good woman of God in their lives. Before all the world, I confess that while being madly in love with my Lord Jesus and rejoicing in my celibacy, I make no secret of the fact that God has sent such a woman into my life. And because of her, I love and relate to all others in an ever more delightful way. Because of her, I love the wider commuity and experience being loved by others in a holy and wholesome new way.Cherchez la femme. -- Look out for the woman should no longer strikes a note of trouble, but be seen as divine command and bring with it a fruitful blessing!
Some time ago, wanting to develop the above theme, I had the nerve to write a book entitled: A Celibate way of Loving. Not being able to compose a whole treatise, like St. Francis de Sales, I hit on the idea of putting it in the form of short pieces with the subheading: Letters to the Beloved. If you can't find it in he bookshops, I would happily send you a copy. Contact me at: The Dominican Priory, Tallaght Village, Dublin 24, Ireland or at: 15 Brett Ave. Lurgan Northern Ireland BT66 6HZ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Souls of our Departed Legionaries

Handbook:Page 103

As we prayed around the grave of Fr. Herman, the much loved Spiritual director of this Curia, I mused that: More than most perhaps, Legionaries pray: Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. The Handbook reminds us that “through all eternity—Legion membership will last. ‘Now at last confirmed in Legionary service.”
What a tribute! What a reward! Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.

In one of his talks on the subject of Death and the hereafter, Frank Duff asks himself why people are afraid of death. It must be he suggests they are motivated by fear rather than by the goodness and the love of God. They may too think that heaven excludes the pleasures they knew here on earth and that all there will be to do in heaven is to play harps and sing hymns. “I have to confess,” he says that if I were thrown back on these employments, I would not feel any attraction to Heaven myself. I cannot join any more in that popular item; I’ll sing a hymn to Mary, because I have now sung it ten thousand times and I’m tired of it.”

From his experience in the Morning Star Hostel, he discovered that the men there might not have thought heaven to be a place they feel at home in. He came across a group of them looking at the notice board with the record of the former residents who had died: One of those peering at the list cried out: “If all them fellas is up in heaven, it must be a hell of rough joint !”

Frank goes on to say that anything that gave us real joy here on earth will be present in heaven but in a higher and more refined and beautiful manner than we could ever dream of. He places particular stress on the ardent longing to meet our beloved ones again. “We will embrace our again in a union that will never cease or grown stale--- no distress or departure—nothing but a blissful encounter that will last for all eternity.

The final remark Frank makes is indicative of his understanding of the divine power that he brought to bear on his own Legionary service here on earth, and which he holds out to every true Legionary: We will see all, know all, have all. We will be able to do all, because living in God we will be given entry into his power. We will play with his power as a child would play with toys.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Frank Duff was once asked how to be a good Legionary. His reply was: first study the Handbook of the Legion. If you want to do good through the Legion, you must first know it. You cannot work the system unless you understand it. The Handbook is a short document. You could get through it quickly. Imagine any student being told that he can learn all the essentials of his science in about 300 pages. In one week he would have it off by heart.

Imbibe not only the doctrine but the mentality of the Legion” He frequently spoke of Veronica O’Brien, Secretary to Archbishop Suenens, who was given a copy of the Handbook. She took it with her to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and sat before the Blessed Sacrament and read it from beginning to end.

Secondly, Frank said: “Concentrate on a faithful service to your praesidium. Make the work assigned to you a further means of understanding the doctrine. The doctrine is the root the work is the flower. They cannot be separated. The doing of the work must be a deliberate practice of the doctrine.

When you have become a faithful member do something, that may seem to be really drastic. Go on the Peregrinatio pro Christo. Give up a holiday and your holiday-money to a Legionary enterprise. When you have been through one such venture as that you are a changed person. You will have learned the grave need there is for people to do apostolic work and you will have learned your own power. You will realise your capacity.”

With regard to officership in the Legion, Frank has very strong words. “They should get their priorities right and enquire if the things which prevent their becoming officers are so important that they should be given precedence. They should make the time for what is notable and important.

How often one hears it said: If you want a job done, ask a busy person. Becoming an officer however, is more than a matter of taking on a job. It is a vocation -- a distinct call from above. It is at once a privilege and a response to God. One should respond to it as Mary did, saying: Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word. And one can expect the answer from above: Well done good and faithful servant. Because you have been faithful in small things, I will set you over greater things. Enter into the joy of your Master.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Covenant heart of the Eucharist

It is the term Covenant that is most deeply rooted in Scripture and that opens up so much breath of spirituality for our souls. It furnishes too, a high and wide horizon for the apostolate.
That is why I have chosen to write these lines for my allocutio to the Legion of Mary.

At the consecration of the chalice, the priest says: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. That echoes Moses' words in ratifying the ancient Mt. Sinai Covenant. Behold the blood of the Covenant!
Exodus. 24:7-8
Then he (Moses) took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient. And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words

At Mass, we express that same obedience and response to the covenant when we say Amen. When the host is offered and we say Amen, what we are doing is saying our Yes to the Covenant in his blood. This goes beyond the mere reception of a gift. There is a mutual self-giving at the heart of the Sacrament.

No need to be afraid of the term Covenant: Rather, must it be one that comforts and assures us: As we read in Exodus; 19:3-5: You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.

Covenant comes from the Latin and means coming together, bonding as in marriage: In marriage we have the sharing of gifts and possessions-- this gold and silver, I thee give. But going deeper, it is an exchange and sharing of persons. This is my Body given up for you.

A covenant is not imposed. It has to agreed and entered into. In the Eucharist not only does Christ offer Himself freely and fully, but we are called to reciprocate with the same gift of self. In receiving the Christ's Body in the Eucharist we are entering into a covenant, agreeing to reciprocate that gift. When Jesus gives His body, blood, soul and divinity to us, we give our body, blood, soul and humanity to Him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Secret of Meditation

Our Lady gave an interesting instruction to the Children of Fatima-- one that is often overlooked: She said: Learn to read and then I’ll tell you what else I want. Implicit in that statement is a call to read the Scriptures, the living word of God. One of the great sources of the divine healing is the life-giving word of God. Take one of the quotations below and ponder it in your heart. You could spend the whole time of prayer, simply turning one of these sacred words or phrases over in the silence of your heart. This is the secret of meditation.

Perfect love casts out fear. 1 Jo.4:18

Abide in my love Jo.15,10

Those who love me... my Father will love them
and we will come to them
and make our home with them. Jo.14,23

Know that I am with you always:
yes, even to the end of time. Mat. 28.20

With God all things are possible. Mk. 10:27

Cast all your care upon Him,
for he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5: 7

Come to me, all you who labour
and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest. Mat.11 :28

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me
according to your word. Lk.1.38

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and for evermore. Ps.131

The Dominican Mass of the Rosary

The Rosary in former times was understood as a Proclamation of the Gospel. Lacordaire, the famous French Dominican Preacher spoke of the Rosary as L’evangile a genoux,-- The Gospel on its knees!

Up to the reform of the Liturgy that went with Vatican 2, the Dominican Missal had a special Votive Mass text, known as The Privileged Mass of the Rosary. The particular Gospel for that Mass seemed at the time, perplexing to some. They would have thought it should have been the Annunciation story or something like that. As is being stressed once again in these days, the mysteries of the Rosary are scripturally based and are the seeds that produce a harvest, one hundred fold.

Commenting on the Gospel text, Jesus addresses his disciples in these words: "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven…” Dominican friars known as the Order of Preachers, would have been mindful of this text as they used the mysteries of the Rosary as a means of proclaiming the Gospel.

Any authentic Rosary apostolate should lay claim to the old adage: The Rosary is a method of preaching as well as form of prayer. The Latin phrase to be found in older works is delightfully precise: Rosarium magis est modus praedicandi quam orandi. Little wonder that a Dominican at profession is solemnly clothed with the beads and reminded in the words of Our Lady to St.Dominic: Go, preach my rosary.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make my House a house of prayer

One of the strongest words spoken by Jesus, was: My house will be a house of prayer. Lk19:46 He said it as he drove the traders from the Temple in Jerusalem. But we can apply the words to our own house or to the home of our heart.

Before leaving Ireland, Pope John Paul made this fervent plea: My wish is that every home would once again be a home of prayer. We are more than willing to make provision for those of our household. We see to it that our children have adequate shelter, food and education. We would not neglect anything that was for their material welfare.

What of the spiritual food and formation they hunger for? A house without prayer is a house without heart. Let’s put new hearts into our homes.

Below are set out a few ideas that may be helpful in providing for the hunger and thirst that must be satisfied. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Stepping stones to Stillness
It is not necessary to be all the time saying prayers aloud. With all the bustle and noise that fills so much of our lives, there is a great need for silence. This can prove a healing remedy for mind and heart and soul and it can be a precious means towards building unity and peace in the home

The prayer on which all prayer rests is the Lord’s own prayer. Each phrase is a stepping stone to the Father who cares for us. It might be good to take one word at a time and rest in it. Father, thy name, thy kingdom, thy will. Cease thinking of your own name. Let go of the concerns of your personal kingdom. Surrender your will to the gracious will of the Father. Be still and know that I am God. Do not try to think things out. Do not try to read other people's thoughts, or trouble yourself with plans for the future. Do not burden yourself with disturbing and distracting detail. Leave those things for their own time, and to those whose task it is to care about such matters.

Likwise in the Hail Mary, you could find rest in the words of acceptance that Our Lady spoke: Be it done unto me according to your word. And in the Glory be you let the glory of God take over the little glory that yoo so often cling to. What is being suggested here, is that you find time to be silent and still. Rest from simply saying prayers to enjoying the Lord and delighting in his presence. Just as we long to sit in silence with those we love, so should we find delight in being still with the Lord.

This lingering in love with the Lord is the secret of meditation. Rest in my love and lose yourself in my presence. You know how friends linger in love, and long to sit in stillness and silence. When you turn to a mystery of the Rosary, be silent and still before you say the decade. Let its fragrance fill your home and your heart with its grace.

Mary our Advocate

I will send you another Advocate: The text refers primarily to the Holy Spirit, but it is applied to Mary as the Bride of the Spirit and the intercessor with the Lord on our behalf. Like the role of a Barrister who pleads one’s cause before the judge and jury, the most ancient title for Mary is that of Advocate. St. Irenaeus-the first half 2nd century writes: Whereas Eve had disobeyed God, Mary was persuaded to obey God, that the Virgin Mary might become advocate of the virgin Eve."

This role is foreshadowed in the OT. The mother of the king the Gebirah, literally, Great Lady held the exalted office of Queen Mother. Because the kings of Israel normally had numerous wives, the mother of the king was chosen to be the queen. The Gebirah or First Lady of the realm assisted the king in ruling the kingdom. The office and authority of the queen mother in her close relationship to the king made her the strongest advocate to the King the prime intercessor. No one had more intercessory power than the queen mother, who had her own throne at his right side. She it was, who enjoyed the role of choosing the successor to the king, so that this was no mere honorary title. It was one of authority and immense power.

Observe the response of King Solomon (who had 700 wives,) to his mother Bathsheba: The king bowed down to her and had a seat brought for her. She sat on his right. He said to her, Ask anything you wish. I will deny you nothing”1 Kings 2: 19-20) What encouragement for us, to know that the Lord of Heaven speaks such words to the Mary our Advocate. Let us claim them ourselves and on behalf of those for whom we intercede.

At the Annunciation Mary is becomes the new Gebirah, the Mother of the King of kings. She is to be the Advocate with the him who takes possession of the Kingdom of his father David.

At the Visitation, Elizabeth cried out Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me. Lk. 1:44 .The title, Mother of my Lord, the court language of the ancient is fulfilled in Mary.

The 12th century Hail Holy Queen contains the words: Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us. It is the task of Mary, Advocate for the People of God, to implore the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, at times of special need. Since Mary's role as Advocate is inseparable from the divine action of the Spirit, it will be the Spirit and the Bride who will jointly prepare the world for the glorious return of Christ the King

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Faith to conquer the world

The concluding prayer of the Legion of Mary has these wonderful sentiments:   Confer, O Lord, on us, that fullness of faith to which it is given to conquer the world.  Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity, a faith, firm and immovable as a rock, a faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire

Faith is of two kinds: Faith in doctrine and faith in action: Faith in the truth of God and faith in the God of truth

Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch. Ramona C. Carroll

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Legion speaks of taking Symbolic Action. That is a matter of taking the first step in faith and trusting that the Lord will honour your trust.

It is clear from the Concluding prayer that the faith presented to the Legionary of Mary is something that springs from the fire of charity and moves out courageously to become a pillar of fire. The chosen people in the desert followed the Pillar of fire until it led them into the Promised Land to conquer it for the Lord. Legionaries are in the fore-front of those Chosen people leading them into a place of eternal hope.

As faith is strengthened there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit. Emmanuel Teney  This is one of the benefits of being in an organization like the Legion of Mary. You don’t need to be in control. Like Our Lady, you yield in faith to the unknown and the human impossibility: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let your word be done unto me.

You are not setting to conquer the world on your own or in your own strength. You are part of that Pillar of Fire which is of God’s making and is continually fanned into flame by the grace of your weekly meeting and the support of your officers and fellow members.  The faith written of in our concluding prayer is very much a faith that steps out taking the next peaceful step in faith.

 You may have heard the story of the watch bought in for repair: “I had great faith in that watch,” said the client to jeweller.  "I’m afraid," he replied,  “Like Grandmas old clock, it has stopped short—never to go again. Faith’s fine but without good works its not much good. So while trusting the Lord in everything, we still have to expend all our energy in God's service and do everything that is in our human power.


Friday, April 10, 2009

The Venerable Edel Quinn

The sons and daughters of St. Patrick are ever ready to say: “We have kept the faith.” The founder of the Legion of Mary always went further: “It is not enough to keep the faith, we have to proclaim it—to spread it.”

This is evident in the life of heroic life of the servant of God, Edel Quinn. Going to Africa she would say is not a picnic! In Edel’s heart were engraved those words of Grignion de Montfort that are enshrined in the conluding prayer of the Legion: Confer, O Lord on us who serve beneath the standard of Mary, that fullness of faith in thee and trust in her to which it is given to conquer the world.

This young woman, knew her own frailty, but she put her trust completely in the hands of the God who was her strength. The Eucharist was the food that nourished her soul and while she knew the weakness of body, her daily profession was that of Christ himself: “This is my body given up for you..” What she lacked, she knew God would supply out of his own unlimited resources. And so she conquered, not only the physical territory assigned to her, but she conquered every human heart that has heard her story.

Edel never failed or flinched before the obstacles that lay in her path. We’ve all heard of the swollen river and the hidden bridge beneath the waters and the motorist who would not dare drive through. Edel did not want to fail the waiting expectant legionaries who awaited her. “O Father,” she said, please go on. I’m sure Our Lady will protect us.” The priest couldn’t resist such faith and they drove on.

Edel despite her continual illness never complained, but pushed herself to the ultimate. She was there to serve and be at the disposition of others. She knew the secret of the Scriptures: " Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Mat.16,25

Frank Duff, speaking about Edel in her native Kanturk, remarked on how strongly she attracted people to her. Like St. Francis what brought about this attraction, was the conviction that she was really interested in each one. This should be powerful motive for seeking Venerable Edel Quinn's intercession.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I have just been reading the following by James Bone in new York. 
The two surviving Beatles have reunited on stage to promote transcendental meditation among schoolchildren around the world. The reunion came at a concert to bring transcendental meditation to one million schoolchildren. "It started for us when we met the Maharishi in India, and it's going to get bigger and bigger and rule the world," McCartney told the crowd.

What a pity that our Catholic schools are not hearing much about their own tradition of meditation. The few that have been introduced to it are very happy and I would like to hear from some of them. The stillness and security that this practice brings is a blessing beyond description.  All that is needed is to set aside a short time of silence and rest and let one of the Christian words of life enter the soul. The sacred word of Jesus will do infinitely more than a mantra from the Maharishi of India. Let the Jesus word linger in your heart in love.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do no be afraid.

On the long flight to St. Louis USA, I wondered if I would be able for the journey and the heavy week ahead. From the time of leaving Tallaght to arriving was the best part of 12 hours, but I made up my mind to live just one moment at a time. As the hours passed by on the plane, I recalled the word of St. Catherine of Siena: All the way to heaven is heaven too! So I decided to enjoy every detail to the full.

I remembered the Meditation Group back in the Retreat House and tried to imagine them around and along with me. I kept repeating my sacred word quietly in my inner being: Father, thy will be done. As long as that was being accomplished nothing else mattered. And when I began to falter and be afraid of what lay ahead, I recalled what Joe Dalton once told us: God does not God those who are able. He enables those whom he has called. The following lines came to me and I share them with you now in the hope that you too may find strength from them, in your calling.

For the moment, do not try to think things out.
Do not try to read other people's thoughts,
or trouble yourself with plans for the future.

Live to the full, the present moment,
and let my Annunciation for this time
be made known to you.
You too, have an angel who waits on you.
His dearest wish is to let the light of my love
reveal the way to you.

Do not burden yourself
with disturbing and distracting detail.
Leave those things for their own time,
and to those whose task it is
to care about such matters.

My wish for you, is that you rest in my love
and lose yourself in my presence.
My Son waits for you in the secret place.
Stay there and watch with him,
as you watch and wait
with those who are closest to you.

You know how friends linger in love,
And long to sit alone
in stillness and silence.

Words and thoughts are not necessary,
Plans and projects
can be left to work themselves out.
All that matters is that you let me direct you
in loving and in being loved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Annunciation Day

The Readings for this day highlight the words: Here I am Lord, I come to thy will. Mary re-echoes the theme when she Be it done unto me according to your word. We all have our moment of annunciation and are called to lay our lives open to God, that his will,-- his creative word may take flesh in us.

In meditation little else is asked of us, but that we sit in God's presence and let the river of his life and love flow through us. Here I am Lord, I come that your wonderful will may wash me clean and give me a new heart, a new purpose.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Legion of Mary Acies

Legionaries meet in the familiar homely atmosphere of their praesidium each week to pray and undertake the personal tasks committed to them. That meeting is delightfully described in the Handbook as: A local presence of Mary. We go to our meeting then as one goes on a personal pilgrimage to a holy place of presence. For the Acies, however we are drawn up in battle array, like a great battalion to publicly proclaim allegiance to the Queen of heaven and earth. So there is a note of celebration and consecration about this day.

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array? The words apply not only to the Queen, but to each one of her faithful legionaries.

You yourself are a rising morning star. In the eyes of God, you too are fairer than the moon, and brighter than the sun. You come before your Queen this day drawn up in battalion array. It is good to acknowledge your own dignity and rejoice in it on this day of celebration.

The Latin word terribilis is hardly well translated into English as terrible. Rather does it mean awesome, wondrous resplendent.” And that’s how Mary sees you in all your splendour. She is waiting to greet you. She appreciates you and thanks you for your service.

Walk then with head held high to the Vexillum of the Legion, and profess your allegiance. This noble Standard is modelled on that of the Roman Legion. Where the eagle was poised, now rests the Holy Spirit. That Spirit rests on you as it rested on the Maid of Nazareth and in the power of the Spirit, you too bring forth Jesus in your life and in the lives of those for whom you work.

Where stood the Emperor beneath the Arch of Triumph to welcome home his battle-weary soldiers, now stands the Empress of Heaven to welcome each one of you to share in the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

When the Emperor turned his eyes upon the battle-tried soldiers, he not only accepted their expression of loyalty, but rewarded them handsomely for their service. On such occasions, it was the Roman custom to pay out favours to the conquering heroes. These gifts and favours were way beyond the normal rates of pay. They were called charismatic gifts and they denote for us in the our legionary service, the gifts we need for service in the Kingdom of God and his people.

You come then in triumphal procession before heaven and earth this day. While you are an army set in battle array, you are asked to come individually to the Vexillum for thus the Queen sees you. When Bernadette at Lourdes was asked, “Did the Lady look at anyone else but yourself,” she replied: “Yes indeed she did. She Looked all around the crowd and she stopped at some as if they were old familiar friends.” Thus indeed does Our Lady look at each one of you this day. You are not only her loyal servants. You are her old famiiar friends.

You will hold on to the cherished Vexillum, the standard of our Legion and the sign of Victory. You will proclaim the solemn words of your allegiance: “I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all I have is yours.” Be sure of this, the Queen will be more than gracious to you. Thus she speaks to each one of you: “I see your hand stretched out to my sign of victory, and know this: My hands reach out to you. You are bringing about the triumph of my Immaculate Heart and from that Heart I answer: “Beloved Legionary I am yours and all I have is yours."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rosary Confraternity Part Four

Enrichment and evangelization
Any Rosary group operating today, or, indeed, anyone who prays the Rosary, can only enhance their prayer by affiliation to the Confraternity. The apostolate of the Rosary is not limited to gathering more people in, but must reach out with a whole programme of spiritual enrichment and evangelisation.

Do not fear that in placing in Mary's hands the fruit of your works to be shared among others, you may lose out. You are dealing with a gracious Queen, who will treat you like the prince or princess you are. Blessed Alan de la Roche points out that since we are dealing with spiritual food, and not with material things, sharing with others does not mean loss. The more mouths there are for bodily bread the less there is to go round. The bread of heaven, on the other hand, kneaded with the yeast of faith, hope and love, increases the more it is divided.

Obligations of membership

1 To be affiliated, a person's name must be enrolled on the register in a church where the Confraternity has been established.

2 Members of the Rosary Confraternity are asked to say, at the very least, the complete round of fifteen decades within the week. To encourage a slower pace and a lingering rhythm, they are given the privilege of breaking up the decades any way they wish.

3 They must meditate or contemplate the mysteries to the best of their ability.


1 The special protection of the Mother of God in life and at the hour of death.

2 A share in the prayers and good works of all the members worldwide.

3 Over and above the plenary indulgence granted to all who pray the Rosary in the family or in a group or religious communiry, there are special plenary indulgences for members of the Rosary Confraternity on the day of admission, on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, the Annunciation, the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.

Further information can be had from any Dominican priory or Rosary centre.

The Rosary Confraternity Part Three

Anyone familiar with this original teaching will see the source from which St Louis Marie de Montfort drew to form his own True Devotion to Mary. We know from the Saint's own words, that what troubled him was that in his day there did not exist any true Rosary Confraternity. So he set himself about remedying the matter.

Dominican praise of de Montfort

Little wonder that the Provincial of the Dominican Order commended him, in this statement still in existence:
We, the Provincial of the Order of Preachers, do certify, that Louis Grignion de Monrfort, Brother of our Third Order, preaches everywhere and with much zeal, edification and fruit, the Confraternity of the Rosary in all the Missions which he gives continually in the towns and country places.

Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary

Once, when discussing this matter with the founder of the Legion of Mary, Frank Duff told me, that had he been aware of this background to the Rosary Confraternity, he would have made it the basis for the Legion spiriruality. The idea of beginning with a serious consecration and entrustment to Mary, and the concept of spirirual sharing and participating, are essential elements common to the Legion and to the Rosary Confraternity.

The Rosary Confraternity Part Two

A complete consecration to Jesus and Mary
This sharing is not confined to the saying of prayers, but embraces concern for the whole spiritual and bodily welfare of one's companions. It is primarily concerned with the sharing of the supernatural values, which arise from the intercessory prayer and good works of all members. Those who wish to join, are asked to make a complete consecration of themselves to the Blessed Virgin, allowing her, in her gracious wisdom, to share out the combined treasury of grace with the whole group. We can see from this, that what we are talking about in the true Rosary fellowship, is not a question of counting of heads, or being together in one place or united in one voice. The oneness aimed at is a oneness in Christ.

William Pepin
That other great preacher of the Rosary Confraternity, William Pepin, a contemporary of Michael de Insulis, has left us a splendid collection of sermons on this subject of the shared spirituality of the Rosary. He pointed to the text: All that I have, is yours...' Luke 15:31: which comes from rhe story of the Prodigal Son. The father gives the elder son a powerful lesson in the matter of sharing with his brother. In those words, 'All that is mine, is yours,' the father is telling him to assume the authority of an elder brother. The generous father tells his first-born that he is perfectly entitled, indeed obliged, to go into the family treasure- room, and take out what is necessary for the younger needy one. He is being challenged to put the cloak of mercy on his brother's back, to put the shoes on his feet, and the ring of loving relationship on his finger. The cloak is for protection, the shoes are for freedom - only slaves went barefoot. The ring symbolises love, friendship, covenant relationship. Celebrate our brothers and sisters

Members of the true Rosary Confraternity are expected to exercise this same ministry towards their fellow members, that is to support and upbuild each other as the Father of the Prodigal did and as the Elder Brother ought to have done. These are the qualities of confraternity, united brother/sisterhood, which brings with it genuine respect and generous sharing. Far from the begrudgery of one who has 'slaved all these years', the long-standing elders should realise that everything the father has is already their own, and that they are perfectly entitled to kill the fatted calf themselves and to celebrate their brothers and sisters. They claim that authority, not for their own selfish interests, but for the common good of all.

Step out wth head held high
The Book of Revelation speaks of those who win the victory and are given the right to share the throne. Rosary leaders then, have should not disclaim this God-given authority. If, out of false humility, they do so, then others suffer by their failure to act as true elder brorhers or sisters. William Pepin continues: every member of the Rosary Confraternity should step out with head held high, not only to claim personal inheritance, but to share it in a spirit of Christian fellowship. As princes and princesses of the royal blood we enjoy innumerable privileges which, however, bring with them obligations of love and service in the royal household of the Confraternity.

The Rosary Confraternity Part One

The Rosary Confraternity, the official society of the Rosary is often presented in terms of the
obligations and privileges with which it has been enriched by the Church. There are indeed certain prayers to be said and there are blessings to be gained, but if one is to enter into the depths beneath these duties and graces one must search for the spirituality that initially inspired this society.

Alan de la Roche and his spiritual son St.Grignion de Montfort
Alan de la Roche who gives testimony to the Dominican origins of the Rosary describes the Confraternity in amazingly strong terms: the Society of the Slaves of Jesus and Mary in the Chain of the Rosary.

The holy and willing slavery together with the chain of the Rosary form the basis of the
brother/sisterhood. Alan gives a detailed account of how the members entrust themselves as loyal and loving servants to the Queen of heaven, and how they mutually support each other by the sharing of spiritual riches. St. Grignion de Montfort several centuries later seems to have taken inspiration from this statement when he preached the true devotion to Mary.

Napoleonic war booty
It was in the year 1486 that Michael de Insulis appeared in the University of Cologne at the time of public debates, with his Defence of the Rosary Confraternity. This author's work was so important and so beautifully designed and illustrated that the five copies that existed in Italy were seized as war booty by Napoleon and brought to the National Library in Paris, where they are to be found today.

Francois de Lillle
The teaching of Michael de Insulis, or Francois de Lille as he is named in the Paris catalogue, is of profound importance for an understanding of the true nature of the Rosary Confraternity. He made it clear that fraternity or fellowship in the Holy Spirit was an essential element of the Rosary as a shared prayer. He took his inspiration from verse 3 of Psalm 118: I share as companion with all those who keep your law.
The picture above is of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. No words were spoken, but the silence and the imagery are eloquent. One can sit before the Lamb on the Altar and find stillness and security.

True Devotion to the Rosary

First time I heard of the Rosary Confraternity I was turned off. The literature at the time seemed a kind of Holy Algebra. Do ABC and you get XYZ in return! It was a matter of performing this and that and expecting a free hand-out. The whole thing appeared cheap.

It was only when discovering the original thrust of the Confraternity that I began to make sense. In particular I came across the Golden Book of Alan de la Roche, (Opus aureum Alani de Rupensis) and found that he was the legitimate ancestor of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and the True Devotion to Mary. The spirituality of de Montfort and all the detail of his work as devleoped later by his Congregation, are a replica of the original thrust of the Rosary Brother/Sisterhood.

It would seem that in the centuries following Alan de la Roche and his associates, that Dominicans let the meat fall out of the sandwich! In the Posts to follow I have endeavourd to reclaim the true nature of this great Rosary Society. I would indeed welcome comment from you, dear reader. In particular I would wish to explain to members of the Legion of Mary, that the statement made by Frank Duff, their Holy Founder, was a purely private remark. There were two witnesses, but they have long since gone to their reward. (See section Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Place of Sanctuary

I have just arrived back from my visit to St. Louis, Missouri where I have seen the magnificent site proposed for a Sanctuary of the Rosary. It is a former convent situated on 140 acres of wooded land overlooking the lorldly Mississippi River. Seldom have I set foot in a more awe-inspiring location. The view from the Convent building is breathtaking and with wild deer roaming about and birds singing in the woods, this is indeed a place of sanctuary. Heaven and earth come close here. It is surely a sacred space where the visitor feels urged as Moses was, to take one's shoes for this is holy ground.

Mary Broome, who was my host tells me that since 2003, the Year of the Rosary, the St. Louis Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima has been searching for a suitable location to establish a Shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary. I believe that they have found such a spot. With the spacious grounds and the large building on it, this is destined to become not only a Shrine, but a place of stillness and security that makes it a veritable sanctuary. Picture above shows the building that is at present on the site and gives some idea of the splendour of the place as it looks down on the flowing water of the Mississippi river.

The immediate problem is that the money needed to have this dream come true, the sum of 4.5 million dollars is needed. It seems an impossible dream, but the fact is that this sum for 140 acres of land close to the city and in such an overwhelmingly splendid situation is like a gift from heaven. To help with the dream and the gift, donations can be sent to:
Rosary Shrine Fund,
PO Box 31353
St. Louis, Missouri, 63131

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Entwined in love

The Lourdes Novena in our Priory, Tallaght, was conducted by the Parish Priest, Fr.Dermot Brennan, OP. Fr. Dermot has given many splendid years of his ministry to the care of the sick and the dying, and this was vividly illustrated by the many moving stories he told during the Novena. One of these I wish to recount, though if you want to hear more, you may just have to look out for the next time he is conducting the Novena. See him at work, in front of his computer

The story as I recall it runs: ( for reasons of privacy, I am changing the names and other details)

John was in the Hospice badly deformed and in continual pain. It was not easy to look at him or speak to him. However, there was this lady, Margaret, who had been his teacher and trainer in the Hospice, and she made it her business to visit him every day. She would just make eye contact and speak gently and hope that he could understand.

Very often, all that would happen is that she would stretch out her hand on the bed towards the patient. She would spend long hours with him-- just being there. "But one day." said Fr.Dermot, "I slipped in and notice that their two hands and arms were entwined, which indeed seemed an almost impossible situation, as John's arm was twisted and deformed.

Something deep within me, made me think-- these two are in love!" And so things turned out to be, though no one else had noticed.

The staff and the family were brought together and all wondered at the marvel of human love and devotion that had developed in that Hospice room. When the death notice appeared in the papers, the obituary mentioned Margaret and referred to her as John's fiance.

As the preacher and gifted story-teller was coming to last lines of his tale, I can't deny that I had to wipe a tear away.

Love, human and divine is a blessing. But as Fr.Dermot himself added, "and how easily we might have missed the wonder of it all. Watch out today and in your own situation for the hidden glory that may be be around and beside you."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Celibates-Living Signs

Celibates are sign-posts, but they must be living signs. They must not be wooden signs pointing to the kingdom, but not going in themselves. We, who are led to love must lead to love.There is no other path for us. We can show no other path to others.

Those who seek Jesus as the Reconciler will place all their trust in him. He understands their particular human needs and will alleviate them through each other according to their trust in him. Sincere souls will come to understand the magnanimity of Christ and be wounded and touched by his tender compassion. They will find their needs understood in ways that are extraordinary. You will find your flesh in your spirit,if your spirit is in God. Under the guidance of the Divine Humanity, you will find fulfilment. 

Place Jesus in majesty at the deepest level of human longing and he will lead you into the kingdom. If the Word made flesh dwells in you, and that means human cooperation, you will be a companion of Jesus and you will have the courage to love. You will never do anything but what you do before his face. His command is to love before his face. Do not be negative in loving. Delight God in love and he will give you a land flowing with milk and honey, no longer barren and dry, but resplendent with life.

A Call to chastity- a Call to Love

The following are words that came to a certain lady as she waited on the Lord one day. I have embodied them and made them my own in the book, A Celibate way of Loving, published by Columba Press, Co. Dublin.

"The enjoyment of natural love is from me. Those who seek to love beyond, without or far from me, may for a time enjoy a purely physical sensation, which when shriven of its initial attraction leaves emptiness and bitterness, leaving the souls far from me. If I am sought through human loving. If I am understood and accepted as the author, giver and source of love, then my support, my tenderness and my power will give to those who love, an understanding of the true meaning of love and of human life.

I will divinise natural love between persons who seek to love through my Divine Humanity. Celibates depending on my Divine Humanity will receive support whereby they may love humanly while remaining faithful to me. They will find freedom to show great affection. Trust in me, will carry them through difficulties. By loving each other while placing all their trust in me, the love and gratitude of their hearts for me will be deepened. I will enter into your flesh and chasten it and make it sweet to love. Love without expression, if expression can help or heal another, is sterile. I have called you to love, and thus to love each other. If you do not first find me, you will be unable to love. I will be in your loving and you will find it sweet to love. Know me as the Divine Humanity.

Along the secret stair

On a dark night
When Love burned bright
Consuming all my care,
While my house slept,
Unseen, I crept
Along the secret stair.

So wrote St. John of the Cross (left) as he escaped from the dungeon where he had been imprisoned at Toledo. One can see the diminutive figure of the heroic friar, as he crept along the secret dark passages in his escape to the devoted Discalced nuns of St Teresa of Avila.

During the long lonely nights of enforced darkness and desolation, when human love had forsaken him, the great bright light of Divine Love burned brightly within him. With the little loves of this world asleep in the house of his being, his eager heart led him on to where none but the Lover of his soul awaited him.

A guide as bright
As noonday light,
Which brought me where none but he
Could wait for me
And make his presence felt.

While few of us can rise to the heights of divine love as expressed in these verses of St.John of the Cross, we can all creep along the secret stair the Lord reveals to each one of us. For myself, the sacred steps of the rosary have been that stairway.

From the basic steps of the Lord's  Prayer along the pathways of the Hail Marys and through the caverns of the blessed mysteries, I have found stillness and security, holding on to the life-line of my Rosary-beads. What is your life-line? Pray that you may find your secret stair?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prayer for Divine Love

O! Most Holy Trinity grant your holy wisdom
to men and women, celibate and married,
that they may seek to love
through the Divine Humanity of Jesus.

Through the burning love of his Heart,
through his sacred wounds,
pour light into our souls so that all may understand
that lasting love and its true enjoyment
is only possible through Jesus, the Reconciler.

Mary, Immaculate, Queen of the Universe,
Mother of God, be with us in our love.

O Divine Humanity, I crave
for the Church and for the world
and understanding of thy unique, beautiful
and all satisfying love.
O heal the wounds of sin carried
by your children for so long.

O rhythm of Divine Love,
pulsate through all creation,
so that we may reach that fulness of love
for which you minutely designed us.

O good God, let us enjoy you and each other
in the harmony of your love.
Pulsating love of our Trinitarian God,
Sweep mightily through your expectantcreation.
Cf. Romans 8,22

The above prayer is taken from my book:
A Celibate Way of Loving,

published by The Columba Press
55A Spruce Ave.
Stillorgan Industrial Park,
Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Monday, February 2, 2009

The splendour of silence

There is an spirit of stillness and silence about this picture by Fra Angelico. The artist shows Christ being mocked and crowned with thorns. He is blindfolded, but in the silence he sees and hears all. Mary sits beneath,-- pondering these things in her heart. On the other side is St. Dominic with the Gospel on his knees, as he keeps Our Lady company, meditating on the mystery. I have already described the Rosary as so many stepping stones to silence.

Aldous Huxley remarked that the 20th century was the Age of Noise: He spoke of radio nothing as a medium through which din can flow into our homes. What might he have thought of the tyranny of the Box in the corner of the living room?

John Connell founder of the UK Noise Abatement Society noted, "noise is the forgotten pollutant in our society," Given the important relationship between silence and the ability to think, it is no wonder we live in a more thoughtless society. These days a hospital ward with its hustle and bustle, is no more immune to the scourge of noise than a panel- beater's workshop. So writes George Winterfrom whom I have been borrowed some of these lines.

George Winter continues: "It is worth reiterating what has been known for some time: Noise can induce hearing loss, delay healing, impair immune function, raise blood pressure, and increase stress.

At our JOHN MAIN meditation group in the Dominican Priory, Tallaght, one of our speakers read from George Winter's article and went on to speak of discovering the wonder of our own being, and the delight we experience, as we listen to the inner rhythm that issues from silence and stillness. We become like the infant resting on its mother's breast as mentioned in Psalm 131: I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a child at its mother’s breast; like ac child that is quieted is my soul.

Observe the active tone of those verbs—stilled and quieted. It is not a matter of things just happening by some fortunate chance. The author of the Psalm has taken definite steps to ensure that stillness and silence work their way into the mind and heart and soul. Silence is not the simple negation of noise. It is a dynamic and positive drive that lets life flourish and become a blessing to all around. How often we find healing in the haven of stillness that emanates from a person of peaceful silence. Lord make me an instrument of your peace.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Go slow, -- Stay low, -- Don’t blow!

Joe was always ready to fly off the handle. He was full of anxiety and tension, -- all part of his racing restless mind. He was a good man with high ideals, a little too high at times. At least, they were beyond his reach for the moment. He needed to take one day at a time, to slow down in his rush for the stars. It would have been good if he could have taken on board the sentiment of the 17th century Blaise Pascal that “all the troubles of the world stem from the fact that we cannot sit still in a room.”

If he had met the right kind of girl who would have listened, not just to his mind, but to his fast-beating heart, perhaps he might have found the stillness that would have healed him. She could have told him of Meister Eckhart the 14th century Dominican friar who said that
nothing in all creation is so like to God as stillness.

At a prayer meeting one night, they told him not to trample the flowers under his feet as he rushed on headlong to achieve his ambition. Someone spoke these words: Go slow, stay low and don’t blow! He’s now praying, “Slow me down Lord and help me not to blow it every time I open my mouth.”

Joe hasn’t yet found the girl who would touch his heart, but he has learnt a few lessons from his little furry black cat. She sleeps a lot, cuddles up to the hot pipes and stretches herself in the sun. She is stay low personified. But when the time is right, she springs into action, climbs trees, chases birds and murders small mice. She could teach any human being how to be a contemplative like Mary and a woman of action like Martha—all in one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

St. Louis, Missouri

I have just been invited to come to the city of
St.Louis, Missouri, USA
to talk with some friends who are hoping
to start an Open-air Shrine of the Rosary.
At the age of 88, it seems a little crazy
to be setting off this distance.
It is about 1,500 miles further West than New York,
so I ask you to pray that I may get there all in one piece.
I hope to fly out from Dublin, early in March and stay for six days.
For further information on the Rosary see www.worldpriest.com

The Rosary and Contemplation

St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort says, “the Rosary cannot possibly harm the sweet smelling flowers of your contemplation, for it is a heavenly tree and its scent is beautiful. Clearly, de Montfort sees the Rosary not just as a one-fit-all formula of prayer, but as a living organic growth leading to deep contemplation and sweet rest in the Lord. At the same time, he warns against those who seem to soar like eagles to what they personally think to be a height of contemplation, when in fact they may have been pitifully led astray. “I found out how wrong they were,” he says, “when I observed how they considered the Hail Mary and the Rosary beneath them.” He sees the Rosary as “ this easy form of meditation before progressing to the highest state of contemplation.”

“Even then,” he adds, “if by the grace of God, you have already reached a high level of prayer, keep up the practice of saying the Rosary, if you wish to remain in that state and if you hope, through it to grow in humility. On the other hand, if Almighty God in his infinite mercy draws you to him as forcibly as he did some of the saints while saying the Rosary, make yourself passive in his hands and let yourself be drawn towards him. Let God work and pray in you and let him say your Rosary in his way and this will be enough for the day.”

For the Lourdes Novena

The Lady looked at me,
She smiled
and said: “Come Closer.”

These three simple statements from

the lips of the little child at the Grotto,

sum up the heart of the Lourdes message.

When the young Bernadette knelt enraptured before the Lady of the Grotto in Lourdes, she didn’t even know that there were mysteries to the Rosary. For all that, she was a mystic in the making, for she knew how to be still and linger in love. “I simply looked at the Lady and she looked at me and smiled.” Bernadette knew something simpler yet deeper than the saying of words and the thinking of thoughts. She had the sense of divine presence and heaven was very close. “The grotto was my heaven on earth.” It was for her,-- a holy communion.

The Parish priest was at first sceptical and asked for a sign. “Tell the Lady, to make the wild rose at her feet burst into bloom and then I’ll believe.” It was February and the icy winds of the Pyranees were cutting through the bones of the people and through the bushes and brambles of the Massabielle rock. It was not the season for roses.

The physical miracle did not happen, but the breath of the Spirit blew through the valley, and the desert began to blossom like the rose of Sharon. Here, is an image of the splendour that can bring honey out of the rock and living water to wash our souls in the Siloe of stillness and silence.

For the one who has grown to maturity in the Rosary, it is often enough to simply hold on to the blessed beads and let them blossom and emit their own healing fragrance. Before ever the beads have been in our soiled hands, the mother of God has come with them in her sacred hands. They are her jewels and she entrusts them to us poor sinners. We hold them and touch them in faith, as the woman of the Gospel reached out to touch the hem of the Lord’s garment.

In our Winter weakness, may we help even a little to make the wild rose bloom in our valley. Just as there is no end to the variety of the rose family, so the garden of the Rosary continues to bring forth fresh and varied blooms.

The busy mind is a troubled mind

The busy mind is a troubled mind,
the quiet mind is a wholesome mind,
but the still mind is a divine mind.

John who was letting things get him down by excessive care and concern for detail heard these words, as he prayed.

“Just now, don't try to reason things out. Don't be concerned by what other people think of you, or what their plans and projects may be. Don't let the future hem you in or let the past invade your present space.

Just take up your beads and let my Annunciation for this day reveal itself sweetly and surely to you. You too, have an angel who waits on you. His dearest wish is to let the light of my love reveal the way to you. Don't concern yourself with complicated detail. Leave to others those things which are their concern and which they will deal with in their own time.

My wish for you, is that you rest in my love and lose yourself in my presence. I wait for you in every situation of your life. Trust me and be still.

Relate to me, as you relate to your beloved, only more so. You know how she truly loves you, and how you long to sit with her in sheer silence. Words are not necessary. All that matters is that you let me direct you in loving and in being loved.”

John was a married man with a lot of business to attend to, yet the Lord made it clear to him that he would accomplish more in stillness and silence than in undue haste and anxiety. Sometime later, he was led into a weekly meditation group and now spends half an hour morning and evening in the practice of wordless and imageless prayer.

The man I write of was the owner of a chain of stores and had his name in bold bright letters over each one of them. John Laskey and Sons Ltd! Night and day, he pondered that sign of his prosperity until he was, as he told me “full of himself.” The day came however, when things started to go sour. A far greater multinational chain-store than his came to town and he was forced out of business. A physical illness and a mental depression brought him into a dark night of loneliness and despair.

This was the time that my friend took to prayer in a serious way. Looking back now, he realises that everything was providentially planned by a God who is not only wise but full of love. His own name once written big and bold on his store sign, has given way to a greater name. His mantra has become: Father, hallowed be thy name! He would recall the words of the poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

Here is the Celebration!

Joseph took to bed for Christmas—nothing to do with Santa or the shopping, just a man’s sized dose of the flu. He was disappointed with not being able to fulfil his role as Eucharistic minister.

He asked his daughter Joan to stand in for him, and when she returned full of the joys of Mass and the heart-warming sound of the Christmas carols, Don sadly remarked, “I missed the celebration.”

Joan with her engaging smile, immediately held up the Sacred Host, she had brought from the Church and said: "Daddy, here is the celebration!”

When I told the story to a friend, she remarked, “Joseph was there, really. It happened to me once, when I slept in and missed the 10.30 Mass. In a vision, I saw myself in my Sunday coat kneeling in my usual place. You know, God takes the desire for the deed.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

For the Inner grace of the Rosary

O Virgin Mother, grant that the recitation of your Rosary
may be for me each day, in the midst of occupations,
a bond of unity in my actions,
a sweet refreshment and an encouragement
to walk joyfully along the path of duty.
Grant above all, O dearest Mother,
that the contemplation of the sacred mysteries
may form in my soul, little by little,
a spiritual atmosphere,
which will penetrate my understanding,
my will, my heart, my memory.
Let my imagination, my whole being
acquire a habit of praying while I work,
without the use of formal prayers,
by interior acts
especially by aspirations of love
By a French Dominican

Because I said so

Anne Marie liked to take the children to the Cinema from time to time, but was careful to pick what she thought would be right and proper for them to see. Like all parents, she was watchful for anything might not be quite right for her lovely family. This time however, one of the more daring daughters suggested that they would do the choosing. So along they all went and were settling down to their crisps and sweets.

The film was about a mother and her teen-age daughter, and Eileen cocked her ear as she heard the line from the mother:Because I said so!” When the same line began to repeat itself, Eileen seemed to recognize it. "What am I doing here," she whispered? Is this daughter of mine trying to tell me something.

St. Paul is firm in telling children to honour and obey their parents, but he is equally firm in telling parents not to provoke their children. In itself, parental authority like any other authority is an excellent thing. Authority exercised with love and prudence and sensitivity is a source of security and provides the direction we need.

There may be danger in overdoing the Because I said so! side, but without someone to tell us the truth and to give sound advice, where would we be? In matters of faith, it is the supreme norm. Ultimately, I accept the doctrine of the Real Presence Christ in the Eucharist, because he says so. When Jesus asked, “Will you too go away?” Peter replied: “Lord to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.

Thank God for parents, teachers and priests who tell us in words of life, --what is so, and why it is so.

Larger than life@God.com

We were glad to receive a copy of the latest book Larger than life@God.com by our Dominican colleague, Fr. Vincent Travers. The title brings it right into the present high tec area of experience. We hear that it is flying off the shelves and you may well come across Fr. Vincent face to face, as he is moving round parishes that make him welcome. In his engaging way, he told me he is a bit like Jesus, asking to have doors open to him to preach the word in speech and in writing every Sunday.

Commenting Larger than Life@God.com, Fr. Paul Murray who teaches in Rome, remarked: "It is a great, fresh and bracing breeze of light and truth."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frank Duff and the Economic Crisis

We are at present experiencing a crisis of authority and leadership both in Church and in state. Authority need not be a bad word. It derives from the word Author, which conjures up the notions of creativity and inventiveness. It implies and enabler an encourager. An encourager is one who can put new heart into another. From the Latin en--cor-agere

Jesus spoke with the authority of a leader. A good leader provides security. I may know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future in his hands.

A Leader is one who like Jesus, has to go alone into the desert. He may be a voice crying in the wilderness. But he really is a Voice with Capital V and he speaks not only in the wilderness but from the wilderness. Remember what Moses did there. By the power of God, he provided bread in the wilderness, --which is indeed the model for our time of economic crisis.

The Irish Bishops in 1999, when the Celtic Tiger was at the height of its roar, issued a Document that has proved prophetic: Prosperity with a Purpose subtitled: Christian faith and values in a time of economic growth. I quote: “The implications of cash alone being the reason why a job is done well and the loss of any sense of vocation are nowhere more damaging than in the public sector.”

Pope John Paul II wrote: “People demean their own dignity when they measure the value of their work they do by the measuring stick of money. Moderation in hours of work in the interest health and personal development.

Oliver Goldsmith Ill fares the land where wealth accumulates and men decay.

The Legion of Mary Handbook has a section that is relevant to our present financial crisis: True Devotion to the Nation: “When parts of the Community are misfits--then communities work at a terrible price of poverty, frustration and unhappiness. Money and effort are poured out to drive parts which should be moving effortlessly, or which indeed should be sources of power. Results: problems, turmoil, crises.”

Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion had a profound sense of the need for good leadership. He tells how he went to Eamon deValera, head of the Irish government, to ask what was the secret of good leadership. Dev, as he was affectionately known, opened a drawer and took out a note from a former Irish patriot named Fintan Lawlor, which read: The people will follow the flag that floats nearest to the stars.

They tell of deValera, that when he wished to know what was good for Ireland, he simply looked into his own heart. People laughed at the remark. Truth, however, is that the prophetic leader has to do just that-- go alone into the desert to search for the truth. He has to search his own heart and listen to voice of God.

While leaders struggle with the demands and distresses of the land, it is good to know that there is an Inner Land and and an Inner Voice that must be attended to. The Church in the Modern world of Vatican 2 speaks of the inner voice of Conscience as: “A voice within the sanctuary of man, alone with God whose voice echoes within him."

Pope John Paul II wrote: that conscience is an interior dialogue of man with himself, as well as a dialogue of man with God---the reflection of God’s creative wisdom which like an imperishable spark shines in the heart. Our task at this time of crisis of authority and leadership is to rediscover that imperishable spark.