Saturday 31 October 2009

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 5)

Among the stirring lines that affirm the high endeavour of the Gaelic Race in the cause of Christ, few can equal for sheer force and colour, some anonymous lines urging fidelity to the True Church against the wiles of heresy. Qui legit intellegat!

Ní trácht ar an Ministir Ghollda,
Ná a chreideamh gan bunús gan bhrí,
Mar 'sé ba bhunchloch dá Theampall,
Magairlí Anraoí an Ríogh!

File gan anim

Mass in Rathangan

A brave band of traditionalists ventured forth to brave the weather and the puca this Hallowe'en afternoon to attend Mass in the Gregorian Rite in the Church of the Assumption and Saint Patrick in Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr. James Larkin, P.P., in whose Parish the Latin Mass Chaplaincy of the Archdiocese of Dublin found a home two years ago. As with the other Masses organised during the Year for Priests, this was a Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost offered for Priests. The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin had graciously granted the Plenary Indulgence for the Holy Year for Priests to all those who attended the Mass under the usual conditions and the special conditions set by the Apostolic Penitentiary. As usual with the Masses organised by St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association, the congregation were encouraged to attend Mass in their local Church and were told of the Sunday Mass times in this Church.

The following article was contained in the 1956 Year Book of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin:

Rathangan Builds
The New Church and Schools are a Credit to Ireland

On Sunday, 6th November, 1956, the little town of Rathangan, by the River Spate, with a proud past that can be traced back well over a thousand years, added one more page to an illustrious history of Catholic devotion. For this memorable day witnessed a twin triumphant accomplishment, the laying of the foundation stone of the new Church of the Assumption by his Lordshop, Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and the blessing and opening of Rathangan's new schools named in honour of Saint Brigid.

Speaking with characteristic sincerity Most Rev. Dr. Keogh paid tribute to the priests, nuns, and faithful to whose devotion and self-sacrifice the new Church and Schools present so lasting a monument. "The people have dona a grand work in building their Church, the laying of the foundation stone of which symbolises that Christ and Christ's teaching should be the foundation stone of our lives."

And so, almost two hundred and fifty years from the year in which the first humble Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin was built in Rathangan, and one hundred and forty years from the founding of its successor, St. Patrick's Church, this second Church dedicated to the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven is rearing its graceful lines to the sky.

The site upon which the new Church and Schools were destined to stand were donated by the local Order of Mercy nuns. Most Rev. Dr. Keogh visited these sites on Monday, 14th February, 1955. One week later fundamental operations were under way. Building started on May 16th. on the 6th November of 1955, the Feast of all Saints of Eire, "under the invocation also of St. Patrick," the cornerstone was solemnly blessed and laid. Already progress is well in evidence, and it seems a foregone conclusion that this beautifully planned Church will be completed well within the scheduled period of 15 to 18 months.

Designed in the Irish traditional style the Church will cost £60,ooo and accomodate a congregation of four figures. One hundred and ninety feet long, sixty feet wide, and fifty two feet high, it will be graced with a belfrey rising to an imposing height of one hundred and twelve feet. Its front elevation shows a dignified proportioned piece of architecure with gentle, graceful lines, the whole effect in perfect taste and symmetry.

Monday 26 October 2009

Why are Catholic Bishops afraid of their own heritage?

Tim Collard, a retired British diplomat who spent most of his career in China and Germany and an active member of the British Labour Party says that, as an Anglican, he can't understand why Catholic Bishops fear the Latin Mass. He writes in Saturday's edition of the Daily Telegraph.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Traditional Vocations Blog

Our associated blog promoting vocations to traditional religious congregations has recently hit another milestone, having more than 100,000 hits in slightly more than a year. The blog was established as part of the efforts of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association's efforts to mark the Year of Vocations declared by the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland.

As of this morning, the blog had received 113,251 hits from 56,626 unique visitors. 12.9% of visitors return more than 5 times. Of the recent visitors, 36.9% are from the United States, 8.7% are from France, 8.3% are from Ireland, 7.4% are from Britain, as well as substantial number from Poland, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and The Philippines.

The Pontifical Commission for Social Communications issued this message for World Communications Day. "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the word - The essential task of the priest is to announce the Word of God made flesh; made man in human history. The efficacy of this ministry requires that the priest himself should have a profound relationship with Christ, rooted in a deep love and knowledge of Sacred Scripture, the written witness to the divine Word. The Message for the 44th World Communications Day invites priests, during this Year of the Priest and following on the deliberations of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to see the new media as a great resource for their ministry as servants of the Word and encourages them to confront the challenges posed by the new digital culture. The new media, if adequately understood and appreciated, can open up to priests and pastoral ministers a wealth of scholarly and devotional materials that were previously difficult to access and they can facilitate forms of collaboration that were in the past unimaginable. With the support of the new media, those who preach and make known the Word can aspire to reach with their words and images - with a new language specific to these means - individuals and communities across continents and time-zones and to create new communities of learning and dialogue. Used wisely, with the assistance of those who are experts in the technologies and the culture of communications, the new media can become for priests instruments of profound evangelization and communion. They will be a new form of evangelization by means of which Christ can continue to walk the streets of our cities and stand at the threshold of our homes: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me." (Rev. 3,20)"

Reminder - Rathangan - Hallowe'en

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered in the Gregorian Rite for Priests at 2 p.m. on Saturday, 31st October, 2009, in the Church of the Assumption and St. Patrick, Rathangan, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

The Mass is being organised by St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association to honour the Holy Year for Priests.

"O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests." Fr. William Doyle, S.J., M.C.

Friday 23 October 2009

Titulars of Churches in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

Interior of Carlow Cathedral c. 1910

In the Irish Ecclesiastical Calendar, today is the feast of the Dedication of the consecrated churches of Ireland except cathedrals, which have their own individual feasts. In any Diocese, the numbers of consecrated churches would have been relatively low. In Kildare and Leighlin, it appears that, certainly until the 1950s, only four churches in the Diocese had been consecrated: Carlow Cathedral, Edenderry, Naas and Newbridge. However, I propose to look at the whole range of dedications throughout the Diocese. Those churches listed with an asterisk have a secondary dedication. Parishes are listed in brackets.

Blessed Virgin Mary
Of the 137 churches in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, it is unsurprising that more are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under various titles than to anyone else, in fact, 37 Churches.

St. Mary is the most popular dedication with nine churches: Askinagap (Hacketstown), Ballyconnell (Clonmore), Bennykerry (Bennykerry), Broadford (Balyna), Clonaghadoo (Mountmellick), Edenderry (Edenderry), Raheen (Killeigh), Stratford (Baltinglass), Wolfhill (Ballyadams).

Next is the Assumption with six churches: Cathedral (Carlow), Paulstown (Paulstown), Rathangan* (Rathangan), The Heath, (Portlaoise), Tynock (Rathvilly), Vicarstown (Stradbally).

Then the Immaculate Conception with five churches: Allenwood (Allen), Ardattin (Tullow), Cappinan (Daingean) Knockananna (Hacketstown), Walsh Island (Clonbullogue).

There are five churches of Our Lady: Caragh* (Caragh), Killamote (Hacketstown), Naas* (Naas), Prosperous* (Caragh), Sallins* (Sallins).

There are three churches dedicated to the Holy Rosary: Abbeyleix (Abbeyliex), Lugacurren (Ballyadams), Tullow (Tullow).

There are two churches dedicated to the Holy Family: Askea (Askea), Kilshanroe (Carbury).

There are also churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mayo (Doonane); to Our Lady of the Wayside, Clonmore (Clonmore); Our Lady of Lourdes, Skeoghvosteen (Graiguenamanagh); the Nativity of Our Lady, Newtown (Kilcock); Our Lady of Victories, Kildangan (Monasterevin); Mary, Mother of God, Daingean (Daingean) and Duiske Abbey (Graiguenamanagh), being a former Cistercian Abbey, was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. An icon of Our Lady of Duiske hangs in the Church there, which may well be the present dedication.

Of all the dedications to God, the Sacred Heart is the most popular with eight churches: Arles (Arles), Borris (Borris), Clonbullogue (Clonbullogue), Rath (Emo), Stradbally (Stradbally), The Hollow (Mountrath).

The Holy Trinity and the Holy Cross have both three dedications.

Holy Trinity: Allen (Allen), Derrinturren (Carbury), Goresbridge (Paulstown).

Holy Cross: Killeshin (Graiguecullen), Myshall (Myshall), Ratheniska (Portlaoise).

Christ the King: Cooleragh (Cooleragh)

Once again, it is no surprise that, in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, that St. Brigid of Kildare, Muire na nGael, tops the list of dedications to saints.

Fifteen churches are dedicated to St. Brigid: Ballinakill (Ballinakill), Ballycomman (Daingean), Clane* (Clane), Clogherinkoe (Balyna), Clonegal (Clonegal), Croghan (Rhode), Curragh (Curragh Camp), Hacketstown (Hacketstown), Kildare (Kildare), Kill (Kill), Milltown (Allen), Rosenallis (Rosenallis), Shanahoe (Raheen), Suncroft (Suncroft), Talbotstown (Rathvilly).

The next most popular saint is St. Patrick with ten dedications: Ballymurphy (Borris) Ballyroan (Abbeyleix), Clane* (Clane), Johnstownbridge (Balyna), Killeigh (Killeigh), Mountmellick (Mountmellick), Newtown (Bagenalstown), Rathangan* (Rathangan), Rathoe (Ballon), Rathvilly (Rathvilly).

After that, St. Joseph, with six, narrowly beats two local saints, Laserian and Fintan, with five each.

St. Joseph: Ballinagar (Killeigh), Ballyadams (Ballyadams), Baltinglass (Baltinglass), Caragh* (Caragh), Prosperous* (Caragh), Tinryland (Tinryland).

St. Laserian: Ballinakellen (Bagenalstown), Drumphea (Myshall), Kildavin (Clonegal), Knock (Ballinakill), Leighlin (Leighlin).

St. Fintan: Ballinabranna (Leighlin), Ballyfin (ballyfin), Mountrath (Mountrath), Raheen (Raheen).

Saints Peter and Paul, either together or apart, have three, two and one dedication respectively.

Ss. Peter and Paul: Ballon (Ballon), Monasterevin (Monasterevin), Portlaoise (Portlaoise).

St. Peter: Rhode (Rhode), Two-Mile-House (Two-Mile-House).

St. Paul: Emo (Emo).

St. Michael has two dedications: Portarlington (Portarlington), Timahoe (Stradbally).

St. Anne has two dedications: Ardclough (Kill), Ballylinan (Arles).

The rest of the Saints (and Angels) have one didication each: Guardian Angels*, Sallins (Sallins); St. Conleth, Newbridge (Newbridge); St. Coca, Kilcock (Kilcock); St. Abban, Doonane (Doonane); St. Finian, Kilquiggan (Clonmore); St. Andrew, Bagenalstown (Bagenalstown); St. Benignus, Staplestown (Cooleragh); St. Brendan, Drummond (St. Mullins); St. Brochan, Bracknagh (Clonbullogue); St. Clare, Graiguecullen (Graiguecullen); St. Coleman, Kilclonfert (Daingean); St. David*, Naas (Naas); St. Fortchern, Rathanna (Borris); St. John the Baptist, Grange (Tullow); St. John the Evangelist, Killenard (Portarlington); St. Manman, Clonaslee (Clonaslee); St. Moling, Glynn (St. Mullins); St. Oliver, Grangecon (Baltinglass); The Irish Martyrs, Ballycane (Naas).

May the Saints of the Diocese and the Angels of the Churches of the Diocese pray for us!

Monday 19 October 2009

International Clergy Conference

It has been announced that the music for the Liturgies associated with the English Language Clergy Conference for the Holy Year for Priests to take place in Rome in 2010 will be provided by the Lassus Scholars, well know to those attending the Latin Mass Chaplaincy in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Thirteenth Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

The thirteenth Mass took place today, the third Sunday instead of the second Sunday, and only 25 minutes late. There was a congregation of 10, including two small children. That is a joint lowest attendance with June.

However, if all of the 6 people who turned up last Sunday had attended this Sunday as well, the congregation would have been a respectable 14. That would have been the third lowest attendance after June (lowest: 10) and February, July and September (joint second lowest: 13).

Saturday 17 October 2009

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 4)

As the Penal Laws took hold through the 18th Century, it was State policy to ensure that the resources of a persecuted Catholic People dwindled. In the Lament for Kilcash, the death of Lady Margaret Butler of Kilcash, and with her, a source of benevolent patronage for Catholics.

The central theme is contained in the lines "bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann, is an t-aifreann binn á rá." Nobles made their way o'er the waves thence, and there the sweet Mass was said. The poem is variously attributed.

Caoine Cill Cháis

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Cháis ná ar a teaghlach
ní bainfear a cloig go bráth.
An áit úd a gcónaiodh an deighbhean
fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhná,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann
is an t-aifreann binn á rá.

Ní chluinim fuiaim lachan ná gé ann,
ná fiolar ag éamh sois cuain,
ná fiú na mbeacha chun saothair
thabharfadh mil agus céir don tslua.
Níl ceol binn milis na n-éan ann
le hamharc an lae a dhul uainn,
ná an chuaichín i mbarra na ngéag ann,
ós í chuirfeadh an saol chun suain.

Tá ceo ag titim ar chraobha ann
ná glanann le gréin ná lá,
tá 'smúid ag titim ón spéir ann
is a cuid uisce g léir ag trá.
Níl coll, níl cuileann, níl caor ann,
ach clocha is maolchlocháin,
páirc an chomhair gan chraobh ann
is d' imigh an géim chun fáin.

Anois mar bharr ar gach míghreanní,
chuaigh prionsa na nGael thar sáil
anonn le hainnir na míne
fuair gradam sa bhFrainc is sa Spáinn.
Anois tá a cuallacht á caoineadh,
gheibbeadh airgead buí agus bán;
's í ná tógladh sillbh na ndaoine,
ach cara na bhfíorbhochtán.

Aicim ar Mhuire is ar Íosa
go dtaga sí arís chughainn slán,
go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall,
ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh;
go dtógtar an baile seo ár sinsear
Cill Chais bhreá arís go hard,
's go bráth nó go dtiocfaidh
an dílená feictear é arís ar lár.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 9

Day Nine - Feast of the Blessed Gerard
Blessed Gerard, Pray for us!

We know little about Blessed Gerard. We revere him as the founder of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. There are documents which testify to Gerard’s activity and legends that sought to embellish it.

Through Gerard, ‘the Jerusalem Hospital’ for 900 years has been the basis for defence of the faith and service of the sick - tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum.

More than in life, Gerard has, like many saints, perhaps had greater effect after his death, after his ‘heavenly birhday’ as the Church was accustomed to call the day of one’s death. The Order of Saint John has given witness to this with its traditions, its international potential, its new initiatives and with the noble character of its particular spirituality.

‘Our confraternity wil be everlasting since the ground, in which this flower has taken root, is the misery of the world and since there will always be people, please God, who will give of themselves to lessen suffering and make this misery more bearable.’ These are likely not the words of Gerard, but they have been attributed to him. It falls to us here and now, as it did to Gerard, to reduce the suffering in our time, to make misery more bearable, so that Jesus Christ may be glorified in all.


Jesus Christ, ‘my Lord and my God’ (Jn 20:28). Strengthen in your service our
Holy Father N...., all bishops, priests, deacons and all members of the Order.
Lord hear our prayer.
Assist our Grand Master Fra’ N... and all those in authority in the Order to live out their calling and their mission in the present day.
Lord hear our prayer.
Raise up suitable and devout vocations for the hospitaller Order of Saint John.
Lord hear our prayer.
Let us be faithful and joyful in your service and once our earthly life is ended, lead us to your Easter glory.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
God of unchanging power and everlasting light, look with favour upon the mystery of the entire Church and bring to fulfilment your eternal plan of redemption; then may the whole world observe and know that the fallen have been lifted up, what has grown old is made new and that all has been restored to wholeness through Christ, the source of all things, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. (Prayer after the seventh reading of the Easter Vigil)


Let us pray.
O God, who exalted Blessed Gerard because of his care for the poor and the sick and through him founded in Jerusalem the Order of Saint John the Baptist, give us the grace of seeing, as he did, the image of your Son in our brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of Blessed Gerard, Founder of our Order)

Monday 12 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 8

Day Eight
Christ has has died; Christ has risen

With the reform of the liturgy in years following the Second Vatican Council, the acclamation ‘mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur’ rendered as ‘Christ has died; Christ is risen’, became our profession of faith after the consecration.

This phrase repeats the original credo of the Church, the confession of the death and resurrection of the Lord. It was with this faith too that Blessed Gerard worked in Jerusalem near to the place where the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem that embraced the the traditional sites of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord: ’...and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain...’ (1 Cor. xv:14).

In our own day, we must again become aware of this Easter faith that Gerard lived. During Easter, we, the baptized, are most intimately joined with Christ. ‘God raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. ii:6); ‘so if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God’ (Col. iii:1-2).


Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, strengthen us in faith, in trust and in love.
Lord hear our prayer.
Make the Holy Land a land of peace between peoples where your praises may sound.
Lord hear our prayer.
Send us your Spirit that we may proclaim your death and profess your resurrection until you come in glory.
Lord hear our prayer.
Welcome our dead in your heavenly Jerusalem.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
Let your people, renewed in youth of spirit, O God, rejoice always that those who now take delight in the glory of being your adopted children, may look forward with certain hope to the day of resurrection. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Third Sunday of Easter)

Sunday 11 October 2009

Mariana in the South

'Mariana in the South' by J.W. Waterhouse

Dreaming, she knew it was a dream:
She felt he was and was not there.
She woke: the babble of the stream
Fell, and, without, the steady glare

Shrank one sick willow sere and small.
The river-bed was dusty-white;
And all the furnace of the light
Struck up against the blinding wall.

She whisper’d, with a stifled moan
More inward than at night or morn,
‘Sweet Mother, let me not here alone
Live forgotten and die forlorn.’

And, rising, from her bosom drew
Old letters, breathing of her worth,
For ‘Love,’ they said, ‘must needs be true,
To what is loveliest upon earth.’

An image seem’d to pass the door,
To look at her with slight, and say
‘But now thy beauty flows away,
So be alone for evermore.’

‘O cruel heart,’ she changed her tone,
‘And cruel love, whose end is scorn,
Is this the end to be left alone,
To live forgotten, and die forlorn?’

From 'Mariana in the South' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A small congregation turned up this afternoon for the thirteenth monthly Mass. As bad luck would have it, it didn't happen. The Church was unlocked but no sign of celebrant, server, organisers. Fortunately, the sacristan happened to be on hand to confirm that a note awaited her saying that the Mass had been cancelled... Well, it's nice that someone knows what's going on.

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 7

Day Seven

In Blessed Gerard’s time, the title ‘Lord’ (Dominus) was used only for popes, bishops, emperors, kings and other distinguished persons; and yet Gerard was also called Dominus (in a document of 1112 regarding a foundation established for the honour of God by several bishops, which was dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre and the Hospital). The title ‘Lord’, as a term of honour, can only be justified if we recognize that all power and glory and honour belong to God alone, as we sing in the Gloria of the Mass: ‘You alone are the holy one, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the most high, Jesus Christ’. (Tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus altissimus, Iesu Christe). Perhaps it is time to reflect upon these words and our own relationship with the one Lord, Jesus Christ.


Jesus Christ, holy one, Lord most high, may we recognize you in our lords the sick.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may see our responsibility as you would see it.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that all who hold office and authority in politics and business may contribute to
the good of all.
Lord hear our prayer.
Send your Holy Spirit that we may rightly judge our strengths and our weaknesses.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
Grant, we beseech you, almighty God, that we who have received the grace to know the Lord is risen, may, through your Spirit’s love, rise to newness of life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Friday in the Octave of Easter)

Saturday 10 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 6

Day Six
Servant and Helper of the Hospital

Gerard described himself in 1101 as ‘servant (servus) of the Hospital of Holy Jerusalem’ in a document given to Pope Paschal II and the Patriarch Daimbertus;

And again, in 1110, to the Abbots of Cluny and of Moissac as ‘ servant and minister of the hospital’. ‘Servus’ means not only ‘helper’ or ‘servant’, but also ‘slave’, although we should keep in mind that even though slaves were not freemen, they were not, according to Roman Law, entirely without rights. ‘Minister’ is not a term of authority, as we might be led to think; minister, in this context, is to be understood much more as one who carries out the Lord’s will. Helper, servant, slave, assistant, executor of the Lord’s will: Who would be that today?

Gerard was and is thereby a call upon our obedience to God, to the Church, and the Superiors in our Order.


Jesus Christ, obedient unto death, even death on a cross, strengthen and sustain us as your followers.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may recognize our responsibility for human life from its beginning.
Lord hear our prayer.
Bless all those who provide service in hospitals, homes for the aged and hospices.
Lord hear our prayer.
Help all people to serve you and their neighbour in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
Almghty and everlastingGod, who in the paschal mystery established the covenant of reconciliation with all mankind, grant that we may show forth in our lives what we solemnly profess. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Friday in the Octave of Easter)

Friday 9 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 5

Day Five
Servant of God

“Dei servus”, helper, servant of God (in a document of Bishop Ademar di Rodez, 1120): This description of Blessed Gerard is a description often used by the Church for her members, the baptized. During the beatification process, as a declaration of heroic virtue, of an exemplary life, the candidate is accorded the title of ‘Servant of God’. The servant of the servants of God, ‘servus servorum Dei’, is also one of the titles of the Holy Father. We are all, therefore, servants of God; by his actions, Gerard demonstrated this fact to us in an exemplary fashion.


Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, Messiah, preserve us from arrogance and selfishness.
Lord hear our prayer.
Keep us in your service.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may know our duty in the Church and in the world – and to fulfill it.
Lord hear our prayer.
Direct our hearts and minds towards the things of heaven.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
O God, you dispose the hearts of the faithful as one in their desire; grant that your people may love what you command and desire what you promise, that amid the varied changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys may be found. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Sunday XXI of the Year)

Thursday 8 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 4

Day Four
Guardian of Christ’s Poor

Gerard was called the ‘guardian of Christ’s poor’ (procurator pauperum Christi – in a document of Bishop Ademar di Rodez, 1120). Procurator can mean administrator or governor, but also representative, who acts on someone’s behalf in court. Through his works, Gerard was the defender of the poor, the weak, the abandoned. The term ‘Christ’s poor’ shows us that obsequium pauperum is a service rendered not only to the poor but also to Christ himself: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” ( Mt. xxv:35-37).


Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour, Redeemer, let us recognize you in the poor, the sick and the stranger.
Lord hear our prayer.
Bless and protect all the goods of the earth and give to all their daily bread.
Lord hear our prayer.
Call forth vocations for your service alone.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant unto us the strength of the Holy Spirit to give of ourselves for the persecuted and oppressed, whether it suits us or not.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
O God, you show to those in error the light of your truth that they may return to the right path; grant that all who profess the Christian faith may reject those things which are contrary to that name and follow such things that are appropriate to it. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Sunday XV of the Year)

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 3

Day Three
Father of the Hospital

In the year 1120, King Baldwin of Jerusalem described Gerard as the’father’ (pater) of the Jerusalem Hospital.

A good father watches over his children with love and also with strictness when required. He is present when his family needs him. Gerard directed his foundation and regarded his paternal responsibility as a gift from God, as a talent to be used. In our days, we must never presume to set ourselves up as fathers, teachers or instructors on our own account (cf. Mt 23:9-11), but rather see our duties asparents, as superiors or as academics before God and man: All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (cf. Mt. xxiii:12)


Jesus Christ, God and man, Son of the Father: Help our families to see ever more clearly their duties as the domestic Church.
Lord hear our prayer.
Help couples to remain united in fidelity in a world hostile to marriage.
Lord hear our prayer.
Help parents and children to understand one another.
Lord hear our prayer.
Help academics, researchers and teachers to fulfil their duties responsibly in your sight.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
O God, in love of you and of our neighbour, you have established everything that the sacred laws decree; grant unto us that, in keeping your commandments, we may enter into eternal life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Sunday XXV of the Year)

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 2

Day Two
Provider and Almoner

The term ‘provider’ (provisor: Paschal II, 1113) describes Gerard as a man capable of planning and foreseeing what the pilgrims, the poor and the sick would need and where help was required. Prudent organization put Gerard in the best possible position to fulfill his duties as an ‘almsgiver’ (elemosinarius: in a document of Count Adalbert de Perigord, 17th September 1116).

In today’s world, we stand in need of efficient organization of the Order* and its aid services which are active throughout the world. But organization must not become an end in itself or be smothered in paperwork. Its objective must be to act to bring assistance promptly and effectively.

We must never forget what the Lord says to us: whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you...let your alms be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (cf. Mt. vi:2).


Lord Jesus Christ, friend of the poor and of the sick:
Grant to all people in this world an increase of peace and freedom.
Lord hear our prayer.
Give us a ready ear and open hand for those in want.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may never be entangled in worldly considerations, techniques and
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that all projects and planning maybe for the love of our neighbour.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father…

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
Almighty and merciful God, let not the concerns of this world keep us from hastening towards your Son but let the guidance of heavenly wisdom make us into his companions, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent)

*The Order in question is the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.

Monday 5 October 2009

Novena in honour of the Blessed Gerard - Day 1

Founder of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem

Coinciding with the end of our own Annual Novena for the perpetuation of the Traditional Latin Liturgy, and following upon an article in the most recent issue of our journal CHRISTVS REGNAT, the following novena was sent to me. I post it, not only because of the excellence of the subject but also on account of the introduction, which deserves to be more widely read.


Specific rules and forms are helpful and indeed indispensable for the spiritual life of man. This principle applies in a particular way to the celebration of the liturgical year but also to prayer formulas which can be repeated to assist us in living our baptismal faith, even when our hearts may not be filled with the spirit of Easter.

The novena is a very ancient and most human form of devotion. In classical Roman times, there were novendialia - nine days of diverse sacrifices or nine days of preparation for a feast. The term novendialia is still used today with reference to the nine days of solemn liturgies following the death of a pope and the nine days between the Feast of the Ascension and the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which were always days of particular prayer (once called Expectation Week) for the Church.

The present form of the novena appeared in the 17th century. As a series of prayers to be completed in nine days, either privately or in common, its object was to ask a particular favour of God in conformity with Jesus’ teaching: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (Jn. xiv:13)

It is a good exercise in one’s prayer life to pray a novena individually while being spiritually united with others who are praying the same prayer at the same time.

Novenas are frequently made for a particular need. The novena here presented in honour of Blessed Gerard is offered in a specific way for the Order and all its works with a particular urgent prayer for vocations to the consecrated life.
In this way, we pray to be like the first Apostles at Pentecost :

All these with one accord were constantly at prayer, together with a group of women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers (Acts i:14), that is to say, his next of kin (his “brothers” according to the language of the time) in company with all those who, through baptism, have become sisters and brothers of the Kyrios, the Lord, Emmanuel, the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Risen Christ.

The theme of the novena from day one to day seven is a contemporary interpretation of the life of Blessed Gerard, the historical information being based primarily on Alain Beltjens, Aux origines de l’Ordre de Malte, Brussels, 1995.

The Life of Blessed Gerard

Gerard was born between 1035 and 1040, some say to a noble Provencal family, or more probably in the city of Scala (Amalfi) where the powerful patrician families maintained particularly close ties with the Holy Land and had seen to the foundations of monasteries and small houses for the reception of pilgrims in Jerusalem.

It is possible that the terrible menace of Norman invasions started the young Gerard on his journey towards his future vocation, but it is more likely that he went to Jerusalem in order to be of assistance to pilgrims, thanks to the influence of a merchant named Mauro.

This charitable mission could be carried out easily under the role of the Caliphate of Egypt. However, in the battle of Manzikert (1071), the Byzantines were heavily defeated by the Seljuk Turks and 30,000 churches (among which the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) were destroyed during the reign of the insane Caliph Hakim.

The ensuing persecution of Christians and obstruction of pilgrims provided Godfrey de Bouillon with the motive for taking Jerusalem on the 15th July 1099.
Help was provided to the crusaders by Gerard in the form of information and foodstuffs. Legend has it that he threw down bread from the walls of the city to the Christians who were besieging Jerusalem, but that the bread turned into stones when he was discovered. Gerard thereafter undertook the construction of a large hospital with the result that the name “Hospital” came to be the very name of his confraternity.

Possessed of a remarkable talent for organization, building a hostel for pilgrims and a church in honour of Saint John the Baptist, handling administration, reception, boarding and pastoral assistance for numerous wayfarers, caring for the wounded and infirm, Gerard was known even then as the “Master of the Sick”.

Gerard also appears to have organized pilgrimages to the Holy Land, personally.
The starting point was probably the Order’s branches in Italy and southern France by means of which Gerard had already given his community a European base.

Pope Paschal II placed the ‘Jerusalem Hospital’ under the protection of the Holy See on the 15th February 1113 and the Kings of Jerusalem, Portugal, Castille and Leon, along with many other princes and bishops, lent Gerard their support.

Gerard died on the 3rd September 1120. It is clear that his directives and his own example were the inspiration behind what is, by tradition, the first written Rule of the “Order of the Hospital of Jerusalem” enacted by Raymond du Puy between 1145 and 1153.

Day One
Founder and Superior of the Pilgrim’s House

With the Bull Pie Postulatio Voluntatis of 15th February, 1113, Pope Paschal ll placed the newly founded hospice under the protection of the Holy See. In it, he described Gerard as the “Founder and Superior of the Jerusalem Hospital” (Institutor ac praepositus Hierosolymitani Xenodochi).

The word ‘xenodochium’ stood for much more than ‘hostel’ means today. It was a shelter for strangers, for visitors and for pilgrims. Assistance to pilgrims in the Holy Land thereby became a responsibility of the Knights of Saint John at that time, as it later became along the “Way of Saint James” to Compostela or during the Holy Year 2000 in the Roman Basilicas of Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and Saint Peter Outside the Walls.

In Gerard’s shelter, pilgrims were cared for in both body and spirit. So that their journey might be without incident, both the House and several of the roads used by pilgrims were watched and protected from the very beginning by armed men under the command of Gerard; but the fundamental element was spiritual fortification. In this, Gerard was the model – a man of action and a man of prayer.


Jesus Christ, Lord of time and eternity:
Grant that all people may recognize the light of your truth.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may understand events in the light of the holy Spirit
and with your help persevere in goodness and compassion.
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant that we may recognize people’s needs in or own day and come to their aid.
Lord hear our prayer.
Send helpers to our side and do not abandon us in our earthly pilgrimage.
Lord hear our prayer.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...

Pray for us, Blessed Gerard
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
Direct our actions, O Lord, with your inspiration and accompany them with your aid, that all our works may at all times begin in you and through you reach their end. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday)

Saturday 3 October 2009

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 3)

The figure of High King Brian Boru stands astride the history of Gaelic Ireland like a colossus. Although not of the Uí Neill dynasty that had ruled Ireland since Niall Noígiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages) in the 5th Century, Boru showed himself to be the strongest and most fit for the throne. It is a testimony to the cultural stability of Gaelic Ireland that Máel Sechnaill II, who had abdicated the High Kingship in his favour, was also his successor when his line was extinguished at the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday, 23rd April, 1014.

Perhaps the greatest 'what if' in Irish history is 'what if Brian Boru had survived the Battle of Clontarf'. It is conceivable that Ireland could have taken a great leap forward towards unity or feudalism at a moment when Robert the Pious struggled to maintain his throne, even against his own sons, and when St. Henry II found it difficult to gain recognition for his claim to the Imperial throne. At the time, Spain was struggling for survival against the Moors and Richard, Duke of Normandy, grandfather of William the Bastard, was withstanding a revolt of peasants. An Ireland united culturally and spiritually under the leadership of a powerful and dynamic dynasty would surely have been a very different one from the one seen from Bannow Bay in 1169.

While a good deal of romanticism surrounds our perceptions of Boru and Clontarf - and over-simplification of issues - it should be noted that Gaelic Ireland avoided the fate of England, which received Canute as King the following year. It was another class of Viking, the Normans of Wales, who descended a century later to begin the most sorrowful chapters of Irish history.

The following is a poetical account by William Kennealy of the address of King Brian, holding aloft the Crucifix, to his troops before the Battle of Clontarf:

"Stand ye now for Erin's glory! Stand ye now for Erin's cause!
Long ye've groaned beneath the rigor of the Northmen's savage laws.
What though brothers league against us? What, though myriad be the foe?
Victory will be more honored in the myriads' overthrow.

"Proud Connacians! oft we've wrangled in our petty feuds of yore;
Now we fight against the robber Dane upon our native shore;
May our hearts unite in friendship, as our blood in one red tide,
While we crush their mail-clad legions, and annihilate their pride!

"Brave Eugenians! Erin triumphs in the sight she sees to-day-
Desmond's homesteads all deserted for the muster and the fray!
Cluan's vale and Galtees' summit send their bravest and their best-
May such hearts be theirs forever, for the Freedom of the West!

"Chiefs and Kernes of Dalcassia! Brothers of my past career,
Oft we've trodden on the pirate-flag that flaunts before us here;
You remember Inniscattery, how we bounded on the foe,
As the torrent of the mountain bursts upon the plain below!

"They have razed our proudest castles , spoiled the Temples of the Lord,
Burned to dust the sacred relics, put the Peaceful to the sword,
Desecrated all things holy, as they soon may do again;
If their power to-day we smite not, if to-day we be not men!

"On this day the God-man suffered - look upon the sacred sign;
May we conquer 'neath its shadow, as of old did Constantine!
May the heathen tribe of Odin fade before it like a dream,
And the triumph of this glorious day in our future annuals gleam!

"God of heaven, bless our banner, nerve our sinews for the strife!
Fight we now for all that's holy, for our altars, land and life,
For red vengeance on the spoiler, whom the blazing temples trace,
For the honor of our maidens and the glory of our race!

"Should I fall before the foeman, 'tis the death I seek to-day;
Should ten thousand daggers pierce me, bear my body not away,
Till this day of days be over, till the field is fought and won;
Then the holy Mass be chanted, and the funeral rites be done.

"Men of Erin! men of Erin! grasp the battle-ax: and spear!
Chase these Northern wolves before you like a herd of frightened deer!
Burst their ranks, like bolts from heaven! Down, on the heathen crew,
For the glory of the Crucified, and Erin's glory too!"