Saturday 27 June 2009

Some were different...

Fr. Edward J. Flanagan

The Ryan Report, released in May, opened a window into a shameful part of our heritage as Catholics, the abuse of children in so many institutions run by Catholic Religious Orders. However, it is as much a part of our Catholic heritage as any other. It is part of what makes us what we are and we must ensure that we learn from it in order to become what we should be - and what we should have been all along.

To say that some were different should not minimize the sufferings of children or the wrongs of abusers. It should show us that we can always choose what is right, even in the midst of wrongdoing.

Father Edward J. Flanagan was different. He was the world-famous founder of 'Boys' Town' in Nebraska. It was not because of his fame that he was different but because of his sense of goodness and his courage to live up to that sense. Because he was different, President Harry S. Truman asked him to undertake a tour of Asia and Europe in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War to assess the plight of children - and to assess what might be done to alleviate that plight.

While travelling, he stopped off in Ireland. His visit to Ireland wasn't part of the official itinerary. It was simply a visit to the land of his birth, as he passed through Europe. However, because he was different, because he could not be indifferent to the situation of children, while in Ireland, he visited some of the institutions that housed them. His reaction was a stark condemnation of those institutions and the system that controlled them.

Because of the Hollywood film Boys' Town, released in 1938, ten years before this mission, Fr. Flanagan was treated like a National hero and a media celebrity - at first. Addressing a packed auditorium in Cork's Savoy Cinema, Fr. Flanagan said: "You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it."

He called Ireland’s penal institutions "a disgrace to the nation," and later said "I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character." He also condemned the Industrial School system as “a scandal, un-Christlike, and wrong,” adding that the Christian Brothers had lost its way.

The Irish Minister for Justice later stated: “I am not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them.” Sadly, in that last point, he was correct.

Fr. Flanagan died in Berlin in 1948 while on this mission for the children of the world.

Some were different from the men and women who abused children under the veil of Religion or who hid that abuse under the same veil. The rest, the rest of us, it seems, were indifferent at best.

We participate in the sin of another: by counsel; by command; by consent; by provocation; by praise or flattery; by concealment; by partaking; by silence; by defense of the ill done.

We are forgiven our sins: by acknowledging our fault; by confessing our guilt; by our sorrow and our repentence; by purposing amendment; by reparation for the harm done.

Our Lady, Comfort of the Afflicted, pray for us!

Saturday 20 June 2009

Blessed Peter O'Higgins, O.P.

Blessed Peter O'Higgins, O.P.

The Dominican Peter O'Higgins, of the Priory of Yeomanstown between Newbridge and Naas, on the banks of the River Liffey, was beatified with 16 other Irish Martyrs on 27th September, 1991. Today is their collective feast day.

In his Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland Under the Rule of Cromwell and the Puritans, Rev. Dr. Patrick Francis Moran as he then was, Vice Rector of the Irish College in Rome and later Cardinal Archbishop of Sidney, gives the following account of the martyrdom of Blessed Peter O'Higgins:

F. Peter O'Higgins belonged to the order of St Dominick and in 1641 he was led to the scaffold for the Catholic faith in the court yard of Dublin Castle. We will allow father Dominick O'Daly to describe the scene of his suffering:- "This pious and eloquent man," thus writes O'Daly, in 1655, "was arrested and brought before the lords Justices of Ireland on a charge of endeavouring to seduce the Protestants from their religion. When his accusers failed to sustain any capital charge against him, the men in power sent to inform him that if he abandoned his faith he might expect many and great privileges; but all depended on his embracing the Protestant religion. From the first he knew well that they had resolved on his death; but it was on the morning of the day fixed for his execution that the messenger came to him with the above terms."

"O'Higgins in reply desired to have those proposals made to him under the signature of the Justices, and requested, moreover, that it should be handed to him in sight of the gibbet. The lords Justices hearing this, together with the order for his execution, sent the written document for pardon on the aforesaid condition. Now when the intrepid martyr had ascended the first step of the ladder leading to the gibbet the executioner placed the paper in his hand. He bowed courteously on receiving it, and loud was the exultation of the heretical mob who thought he was about to renounce the Catholic faith; but he standing on the scaffold, exposed to the view of God and man, exhibited to all about him the document he had received, and commenting with warmth on it, convicted his impious judges of their own avowed iniquity."

"Knowing well that there were Catholics in the crowd, he said addressing them:- 'My brethren, God hath so willed that I shonld fall into the hands of our relentless persecutors. They have not been able, however, to convict me of any crime against the laws of the realm; but my religion is an abomination in their sight, and I am here to-day to protest, in the sight of God and man, that I am condemned for my faith. For some time, I was in doubt as to the charge on which they would ground my condemnation; but, thanks to Heaven! it is no longer so, and I am about to suffer for my attachment to the Catholic faith. See you here the condition on which I might save my life. Apostacy is all they require but, before high Heaven I spurn their offers and, with my last breath, will glorify God for the honour He has done me in allowing me thus to suffer for His Name.' Then, turning to the executioner, after having cast the Justices autograph to the crowd, he told him to perform his office, and the by-standers heard him returning thanks to God, even with his latest breath. Thus did iniqnity lie unto itself - thus did the martyr's constancy triumph." (From History of the Geraldines by Dominick de Rosario O'Daly, O.P., originally written in Latin, and printed at Lisbon in 1655; translated by Rev. C.P. Meehan, and printed in Dublin in 1847. See also De Burgh's Hib. Dom., page 561.)

In the aforementioned The Geraldines, Earls of Desmond, and the Persecution of the Irish Catholics, translated from the original latin, with notes and illustrations, by Rev. C. P. Meehan, in the footnote to page 251, where the martyrdom of another Dominican in 1651 in Clonmel is recounted, we read:

Thomas O Higgins was put to death in the year 1651. In the Hib. Dom. p 561 there is mention made of Peter O Higgins, who was slain for no other crime than that of being a Dominican Friar. His death took place in the year 1641, immediately after the rising of the Catholics. The mortal remains of this victim were denied sepulture in the city of Dublin; and as the friends of the murdered priest were carrying him to a burial place outside the walls, the partisans of the Lords Justices shattered the lifeless head with their muskets. Acta Capituli Generalissimi. Romae, 1644. p. 119.

Blessed Peter O'Higgins, pray for us!

Friday 19 June 2009

Opening of the New Holy Year

The Holy Year announced by the Holy Father in March for Priests begins today. In preparation, St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association has distributed copies of a prayer written by Revd. Fr. William Doyle, S.J., M.C.

That prayer runs thus:

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.

The words they say every day at the altar, "This is my Body, this is my Blood," grant them to apply to themselves: "I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another."

O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.

Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

The Life of Fr. Doyle, written by Prof. Alfred O'Rahilly, is available here.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Ninth Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

The ninth monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin took place today. The congregation numbered 10, including one young toddler. The celebrant, one server and the sacristan were also there.

The Ecumenical Value of the Gregorian Rite

A letter to the President of the International Una Voce Federation from a representative of one of the Orthodox Churches has just been posted.

UPDATE: Another view.

Saturday 13 June 2009

The Holy Father's Homily for Corpus Christi

Last Thursday, at the Mass at the Latern Basilica in advance of the Blessed Sacrament Procession through the streets of Rome to the Liberian Basilica, Our Holy Father the Pope gave a homily in Italian of which this is a translated extract:

"St. Leo the Great reminds us that "our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ leads to nothing other than to become that which we receive" (sermo 12, De Passione, 2,7, PL54). If this is true for every Christian, it is so for an even greater reason for us priests. To be the Eucharist! Let this very thing be our constant desire and task, so that at the offering of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we accomplish on the altar, there comes also the sacrifice of our existence. Every day, we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord that free and pure love which makes us worthy minister of Christ and witnesses to His joy. And this is what the faithful are waiting for from the priest: the example, indeed, of an authentic devotion for the Eucharist; the love to see him spend time in long pauses of silence and of adoration before Jesus as did the Cure of Ars, whom we will remember in a special way during this now imminent Priestly Year."

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar!

Thursday 11 June 2009

The Sequence of Corpus Christi

As is well-known, the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted at the request of Our Lord to St. Juliana of Liège on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Pope Unban IV, who instituted the feast, had been Archdeacon of Liège before his election. It is also well known that St. Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus, was asked to compose the Mass and Office of the feast. His compositions were not only theological and artistic masterpieces but they have provided the Church and the Christian Faithful with several of the most universally popular hymns in honour of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Among those compositions, is the Adoro Te Devote, Pange Lingua, Sacris Solemnis and Verbum Supernum. Sadly, not as universally popular is the Sequence of the Mass of Corpus Christi Lauda Sion Salvatorem. Indeed, perhaps the only part of it that has entered the popular repertoire are the few lines Ecce Panis Angelorum, factus cibus viatorum: vere panis filiorum, non mittendus canibus that have frequently been set to music independently of the rest of the Sequence.

This is also true in the case of the Pange Lingua, which, although the full hymn is memorably used on Holy Thursday, the last two verses form the Benediction hymn Tantum Ergo, which is a stock favourite. Likewise, in Sacris Solemnis, the sixth verse gives us the famous Panis Angelicus, and the hymn of Benediction O Salutaris is found towards the end of Verbum Supernum.

The second video clip is the popular and most common version of Ecce Panis Angelorum, while the third is the setting by the famed Don Lorenzo Perosi.

In speaking of the Sequences of the Roman Missal, the Catholic Encyclopedia says: Each of the five has its own special beauty; but the "Lauda Sion" is peculiar in its combination of rhythmic flow, dogmatic precision, phraseal condensation."

In common with the other Sequences, Lauda Sion is double strophed. That is, it repeats the same melody in two lines before moving to another melody for the next two lines. This doubled strophing, or strophe and counter-strophe pattern that sets the Sequence apart from the hymn. Effectively, each strophe/counter-strophe would have been sung alternately by the two liturgical choirs. Such double strophing is found frequently in the Books of the Old Testament, particularly in the non-Major Prophetic Books, Hosea, Amos and Job being particular examples.

Saturday 6 June 2009

St. Coca of Kilcock

Dr. Comerford's entry on the Parish of Kilcock begins thus:

"Derives its name from St. Coca, virgin, whose chief feast was celebrated on the 6th of June. We find her name calendared in the Martyrology of Donegal also, at the 8th January: "Cuach, virgin, of Cil-Cuaigh in Cairbre na Ciardha;" and again, in the same, under date April 29th : "Coningen, i. Cuach i. Ci Finn Maighi." A gloss on this passage states that the maiden Coinengean, or Cuach, was the pupil or Daltha of Mac Tail, Bishop of Kilcullen. She is stated to have been sister of St. Kevin of Glendalough, of St. Attracta, and other saints. (See Loca Patr.,p. 150.note.) Colgan, it should be added, considers that this was a different person from the Patron Saint of Kilcock. In the life of St. Ciaran of Saighir, it is stated that "he used to go to the sea rock that was far distant in the sea (where his nurse, i,e., Coca, was), without ship or boat, and used to return again." St. Coca was identified with this locality from a very early date... The Holy Well of the Saint, called Tubbermohocca, stood in what is now an enclosed yard in the town."

The well of St. Coca, which appears to have been in the yard of what was the Christian Brothers' Monastery in the Square, seems to have been covered over some time in the nineteenth century.

Tradition has it that St. Coca embroidered vestments for Saint Colmcille.

St. Coca of Kilcock, pray for us!

One Year On...

Today, as well as being the feast of St. Coca of Kilcock, is also the first anniversary of this blog. In the past year, 4 contributers have published 100 posts. 12,092 visits have been made to the blog by 7,099 unique visitors.

Of the last 500 visitors, 35.9% were from Ireland, 22.4% were from the United States, 16.2% were from Britain, 5.2% were from Canada, 2.9% were from Sweden, 2.8% were from France, 2.4% were from Italy, 2.1% were from Australia, and a delightful 2% from the Holy See!

Among our most faithful returning visitors have been from Portlaoise (Ireland), Preston (England), Pisa (Italy), Paris (France) with no less than three such, Justice-equality-lawreform-ireland (Ireland), Toulouse (France), Dept Of Environment Dr Allocation (Ireland), Dublin (Ireland), and Mountmellick (Ireland), each with more than 20 recent visits.

Google was the search engine for 90.1% of recent visitors by search engine, with AOL, Bing and Yahoo about equal. Vodafone-ireland-mobile-isp was the mobile server of our most frequent mobile visitors, followed closely by Eircom Ltd. (Ireland), both with over 40 recent visits each. The Hermenutic of Continuity, Forest Murmers and Brendan Allen were the source of a great number of the most recent guests.

Indicentally, our two associated blogs had reached 21,357 ( and 81,514 ( by this morning.

St. Brigid, St. Conleth and St. Coca pray for the contributers, for the visitors and for the friends who showed them the way! May everything they publish and every internet visit they make redound to the Greater Glory of God, the honour of His Blessed Mother and the good of souls!