19th October – Ss John de Brebeuf, Issac Jogues and Companions – Martyrs

Between 1642 and 1649 eight Jesuit priests left France to go to North America to bring the Gospel to the Native Americans.

I am always inspired by the great leap of faith these men took.

Saints John de Brebeuf, Issac Jogues and companions are known as the North American Martyrs. They died in a most brutal way [being subjected to terrible tortures].

Even though they died as martyrs, what often impresses me is the daily dying to self they went through for years in the freezing cold, and boiling hot summers. They lived very primitively with the Native Americans, slowly trying to learn their language, showing them love and mercy. Only a few of the natives actually converted but this didn’t stop these great men from continuing day in day out to show the light of Christ. (Fr Marius’ WhatsApp reflection for today).

Much of my breakfast reading comes from the www.newadvent.org Catholic news site. This morning’s reading was a comprehensive examination of last Sunday’s Mass readings. If you’re interested in reading it later on, click on this LINK .

This video is a much shorter reflection (1:42) on the Sunday liturgy. It is from SOLT member Sr Mediatrix of All Graces.

18th October – St Luke, Evangelist.

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A considerable number of those who read this blog are from Co Donegal. The following announcement from DONEGAL PRO-LIFE about a bus going to Dublin may be of some interest.

Donegal Pro-Life have arranged a Free Bus to attend The “Life Institute National Rally” on this Wed. 20th Oct. at 7.30pm outside the Dáil. Booking seat is essential by 6.30pm tomorrow Tuesday 19th.  Ring 0892469599 please.
Bus Leaving Buncrana at 1.30pm; Letterkenny at 2.30pm; Lifford at 3pm; (Home approx 12.30am).
With over 13,000 babies already aborted in Ireland We all need to lobby our TDs to Rethink Abortion Legislation and “Reverse NOT Expand” abortions.  TD’s are currently deciding on an abortion legislation review.


Many people today question the accuracy and trustworthiness of the gospels with regard to the details of Jesus’ life. I am currently reading a book THE CASE FOR CHRIST by former atheist Lee Strobel (available on AMAZON BOOKS). Here is an excerpt from the book about the accuracy of Luke’s gospel regarding the secular historical events of the first century. If St Luke was accurate about those matters, it is a good indication he was accurate about the details of Jesus’ life.

If you have limited time, just read PART 1.

PART 1.

luke aluke b

PART 2

luke cluke d

17th October – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Below is a picture of a new pro-life billboard campaign being run by the Life Institute. If you would like to read more about it later on, click on this LINK. If you would like to donate to the campaign using either a credit card or Paypal, click on this LINK .

BILL BOARD PRO LIFE

This was my homily today for the 11:15am and 12:30pm Masses at the Resurrection Church, Rye.

According to the world of hi-tech science, our planet Earth is just over 4.5 billion years old – when it started off as a big ball of molten lava. One of the most amazing days in that very long history happened over 104 years ago. I am talking about the great Miracle of the Sun that happened in Fatima, Portugal on Oct 13th, 1917.

This was the last of 6 monthly appearances of Our Lady to the 3 three shepherd children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta who were 10, 8, and 7 years old respectively at the time. The children described their heavenly visitor as a beautiful woman who shone with a light brighter than the sun itself.

our_lady_of_fatimaOur Lady had said in an earlier visitation that a great public miracle would happen on Oct 13th to prove or validate the truthfulness of her appearances and message.

On the day itself a crowd of some 70,000 people had gathered; among them were many sceptics who wanted to have a big laugh when nothing happened.

FATIMA MIRACLE OF THE SUNSomething DID happen. The sun danced in the sky and everybody saw it, believers and non-believers alike. It was such a sobering event that many sceptics ran away professing their sinfulness and seeking repentance. A second independent miracle was that over the 10 minutes of the sun miracle, the ankle deep mud dried to a fine power. The following day it was reported by communist controlled newspapers who had earlier scoffed at the idea of a great sign coming from heaven.

I’d like to suggest that you look it up yourselves on the internet. Google FATIMA APPARITIONS and read the Wikipedia article [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_F%C3%A1tima ] . Also search on YouTube for FATIMA APPARITIONS. The video which is 27:59 long is a good starting point [ https://youtu.be/RxZBxEJz1v8 ] .

St John Paul II was deeply moved by the Fatima apparitions. He went on pilgrimage there in 1982 and his homily on the occasion is well worth reading. Just Google JOHN PAUL FATIMA HOMILY 1982 [ https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/message-of-marys-maternal-love-8659 ] In this homily he sums up the Our Lady’s message as “an exhortation to conversion, prayer – especially the Rosary, and reparation for one’s own sins and those of mankind.”

In his homily the pope said that the Fatima message was now more urgent and more relevant than it was then. I believe that if Pope John Paul was to speak to us now he would say that the Fatima message is more urgent and relevant in 2021 than it was back in 1982!

Today for brevity I want to mention just one main point from Our Lady’s overall message. One EACH of the six appearances she repeated one request, even exhortation: Pray the Rosary every day for peace. Now every day means all seven days of the week, no excuses. So it’s not just a matter of praying the Rosary when we attend a funeral or wake or we visit our holy granny or there is a crisis in our life. It not just a matter of praying the Rosary when we feel like it or when we think there is sufficient time left in the day, etc, etc. We pray the Rosary daily like we put our shoes on daily and have breakfast daily.

St Francis de Sales has some useful advice in this regard. He said that if we are too busy to pray, we are too busy; we have wrong priorities. Furthermore a family that prays the Rosary will receive a great blessing according to the saying: A family that prays together, stays together. It is indeed a true saying.

If you feel a bit rusty on how to say the Rosary, there is no worry. Just Google PRAY THE ROSARY and you’ll get a few million websites to help you out!

So in summary: Possibly the greatest public miracle that has happened in the long history of the world was the miracle of the sun at Fatima on Oct 13th, 1917. Our Lady’s primary message at Fatima was to pray the Rosary each day, no excuses.

16th October – Saturday Memorial of Our Lady.

We are familiar with the three great virtues of faith, hope and love. Of the three, the one that we tend to focus less on is, perhaps, hope. We strive to be people of faith, and we know that our faith in God is to find expression in the love of others. Yet, our faith is also to be a hopeful faith. We believe in a God of love, and, so we are hopeful about the future, including our eternal future.

In the first reading at Mass today, Abraham is presented as a person of hope, a man of hopeful faith, ‘though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed’. God made a promise to Abraham, which at the time, seemed unlikely to be fulfilled, and, yet, Abraham believed in God’s promise to him and remained hopeful that God would fulfil his promise to him.

We are called to be people of hopeful faith, like Abraham. Jesus makes many promises to us throughout all of the four gospels. We find one such promise in today’s gospel reading. He promises that if we declare ourselves for him before others, if we witness publicly to our faith in him, then he will declare himself for us before the angels in heaven. Elsewhere, he promises us that if we turn to him in trusting faith, he will bring us to the banquet of eternal life. He makes many other promises to us, a lot of them relating to life beyond this earthly life.

This life of Christian hope is beautifully summed up in the following hymn based on the writings of yesterday’s St Teresa of Avila: Let nothing disturb you.

15th October – St Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church.

Every car I’ve had since the age of 21 has had a pro-life sticker on the back bumper / window. I once attended a pro-life conference where it was said that two ways to make an effective and low cost witness for the unborn was to write letters to the editor and put a sticker on the back of the car. The sticker on back of my car back in Ireland is the following. If you’d like to order one for free, click on this link . A witness for the unborn is ultimately a witness for Jesus – “Whatever you do [for] the least of these my brethren, you do [for] me.” Matt 25:40.

CHOOSE LIFE

St Teresa of Avila (+1582) is one of the spiritual ‘greats’ of the Catholic Church and for this reason Pope Paul VI made her a ‘doctor’ of the Church in 1970. I recently came across an article detailing 5 primary lessons from her life. This is a link to the full article: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/5-important-lessons-from-st-teresa-of-avila Below is a shorter excerpt from the larger article.

teresa avilaThe first is a huge hunger for heaven. I was impressed that when I visited in Alba de Tormes the cell in which she died, I saw painted above her bed a mural of a scene that happened when she was 7 years old. She had precociously built a little hermitage in the backyard of her house.

One day there she and her 5-year-old brother Rodrigo began to converse about the happiness of the saints in heaven. They were transfixed by the thought of living “forever and ever.” Rodrigo asked how they could get to God in heaven fastest, and Teresa replied through martyrdom. He asked how they could become martyrs and Teresa told them Muslims were killing Christians in Morocco.

And so off they impetuously began to walk south toward Morocco, forgetting the geographical complication of the Mediterranean between Spain and North Africa! They got outside the city walls as far as the ancient Roman Adaja Bridge where their Uncle Francisco, returning from a hunt, saw them and asked where they were going. When they told him they were heading to Africa to be martyred by the Moors, he cleverly volunteered to give them a ride. After they hopped on his horse, he galloped them back to a different type of martyrdom awaiting them at home.

The story is one of the most beautiful in hagiography, attesting to the childlike love we ought to have for God, for heaven, for eternity. That love still radiated from within her as her hopes were finally fulfilled in 1582.

The second lesson is about the importance and art of prayer. She is a doctor of the Church precisely because, with her fellow Carmelite reformer St. John the Cross, she is one of the most important teachers of the interior life in the history of the Church.

She used a vivid writing style and the image of an Interior Castle with seven “mansions” (each containing many rooms) to communicate deep truths about prayer and the spiritual life. St. Teresa invited all her sisters — and others — through each of these stages of spiritual progress by opening themselves up more fully to the work of the Holy Spirit.

The third lesson is about continual conversion. She entered the Carmelite monastery when she was 20, but the house was in a spiritual malaise. Some nuns had suites of rooms, with servants and pets. Eventually she succumbed to the worldliness herself, spending vast amounts of time entertaining visitors and friends in the parlor, giving herself over to various compromises with mundane vanity. When she was 39, God reawakened her from her lukewarm life in which she was tolerating venial sins and renewed her desire for holiness, for happiness.

That experience of conversion leads to the fourth lesson, which is a Church conversion. She witnessed and experienced what can happen to people even in places where people profess total dedication to God. She became aware of how much Church institutions, beginning with Carmelite convents, needed profound reform, and, despite great personal suffering, spent the rest of her life trying to be an instrument to bring her fellow Carmelites, and through them the Church, back to her first love.

The Church is always in need of reform and of holy reformers, who are instruments of God to bring us back to what Jesus in Bethany called the “better part” and “one thing necessary” [putting the Lord Jesus first in our life].

Finally, in this Year of St. Joseph, she shows us all to grow in devotion to him. Her love for the man God the Father chose to raise his Son according to his humanity and to protect and provide for the Holy Family began when, at the age of 26, she was cured of a physical illness after praying to St. Joseph.

“Finding myself so crippled while still so young and earthly doctors having failed to cure me,” she wrote, “I took the glorious St. Joseph for my advocate and protector, and commended myself earnestly to him. … His aid has brought me more good than I could ever hope for from him. I do not remember once having asked anything of him that was not granted.”

She tried to spread a contagious love for the spouse of the virgin.

“I wish I could persuade everybody to be devoted to this glorious saint, for long experience has taught me what blessings he can obtain from God for us. Of all the people I have known with a true devotion and particular veneration for St. Joseph, not one has failed to advance in virtue; he helps those who turn to him to make real progress. … All I ask, for the love of God, is that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will then learn for himself how advantageous it is to commend oneself to this glorious patriarch Joseph and to have a special devotion for him. Prayerful persons, in particular, should love him like a father.”

14th October.

Last Sunday a Coastal Rosary campaign saw a community praying of the Rosary at coastal sites around Ireland. It was offered for the sanctity of human life (particularly the unborn) and the preservation of our Catholic Christian faith. Such a Rosary was prayed at St Naul’s Old Abbey in my parish of Ardaghey, Inver in Co Donegal. I was touched by the fact that they had a candle to represent me at the event. The church ruins date back to the endeavours of St Naul (+564) a Munster missionary who encountered St Colmcille at this spot adjacent to the Atlantic ocean.

St Naul Rosary Coast

Earlier this week I read a challenging commentary by Mgr Charles Pope on last Sunday’s gospel about Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Man: http://blog.adw.org/2021/10/what-does-heaven-cost-a-homily-for-the-28th-sunday-of-the-year-2/ The basic point made by the article is that we have to make a radical choice between living for this passing world or God’s eternal world; we have to travel on the Titanic or alternatively on Noah’s Ark / the Barque of Peter sponsored by the Lord.

The same message is expressed by the following music video referenced at the end of the article.

13th October – Our Lady of Fatima, Apparition of the Sun.

This morning we had a funeral in the parish with a visiting priest who was a cousin of the deceased. During a chat in the sacristy beforehand he mentioned that he was a professor in Biblical Studies. I asked him if he knew what was the first car mentioned in the Bible to which he shook his head. I said that in the Act of the Apostles it says that “they all lived in one accord”. The Accord is of course a model of Honda car range!

If you’d like to listen to some talks on the Catholic faith, here is some material from the recent HAIL HOLY QUEEN CONFERENCE sponsored by Radio Maria and the Totus Tuus magazine https://www.radiomaria.ie/hail-holy-queen-conference-2021/

This is a screenshot of the conference talks.

HHQC

FatimaPictureToday is the memorial of Our Lady of the Fatima, specifically the anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in 1917. Below is a homily extract of Pope Benedict XVI when he visited the shrine in 2010 and talked about the relevance of the apparition. Try to give it a ‘quality’ and prayerful reading.

I have highlighted the final section which speaks about how we can cultivate and deepen the spiritual vision that the gift of faith gives us. Basically we need more silence and prayerful contemplation in our lives and less of the distracting noise of the secular world surrounding us.

Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, I have come as a pilgrim to Fatima, to this “home” from which Mary chose to speak to us in modern times. I have come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary’s presence and maternal protection. I have come to Fatima, because today the pilgrim Church, willed by her Son as the instrument of evangelization and the sacrament of salvation, converges upon this place. I have come to Fatima to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings. Finally, I have come to Fatima with the same sentiments as those of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, and the Servant of God Lúcia, in order to entrust to Our Lady the intimate confession that “I love” Jesus.

In seven years you will return here to celebrate the centenary of the first visit made by the Lady “come from heaven”, the Teacher who introduced the little seers to a deep knowledge of the Love of the Blessed Trinity and led them to savour God himself as the most beautiful reality of human existence. This experience of grace made them fall in love with God in Jesus, so much so that Jacinta could cry out: “How much I delight in telling Jesus that I love him! When I tell him this often, I feel as if I have a fire in my breast, yet it does not burn me”. And Francisco could say: “What I liked most of all was seeing Our Lord in that light which Our Mother put into our hearts. I love God so much!” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 42 and 126).

Brothers and sisters, in listening to these innocent and profound mystical confidences of the shepherd children, one might look at them with a touch of envy for what they were able to see, or with the disappointed resignation of someone who was not so fortunate, yet still demands to see. To such persons, the Pope says, as does Jesus: “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mk 12:24). The Scriptures invite us to believe: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29), but God, who is more deeply present to me than I am to myself (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, III, 6, 11) – has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses. For this to happen, we must cultivate an interior watchfulness of the heart which, for most of the time, we do not possess on account of the powerful pressure exerted by outside realities and the images and concerns which fill our soul. Yes! God can come to us, and show himself to the eyes of our heart.

12th October.

I was on for the 8am Mass this morning and afterwards a woman came over and said she appreciated a bit of humour I shared at yesterday’s Mass. I was speaking about St Pope John XXIII who was known for his sense of humour. One day he was showing a visitor around the Vatican and he was asked about how many people worked there. “About half of them” was the Pope’s reply!


These were my few words for today followed by the day’s gospel.

There is a very simple and important point in today’s gospel. Jesus is correcting the Pharisees because they were concerned only with outside appearances without striving for inner purity before God. He says that the way to regain inner purity, to achieve a spiritual detox, is to give alms to the poor.

This is a matter not only for the Pharisees but for all of us. Maybe we are not filled with “extortion and wickedness” but we have less that a 100% record regarding spiritual innocence. We too can purify our inner selves by being generous with the poor.

This is a major theme in Jesus’ teachings. Last Sunday he asked the Rich Young Man to give his possessions to the poor and become a follower / disciple. This is not a request Jesus makes of all his followers but we are all required to share with the less well off. We can to this in being generous with our three Ts: Time, Talent and Treasure.

When it comes to sharing our money, a teaching of the Old Testament is that of tithing. This means giving 10% of our annual income to God and the poor. If we are used to just giving our ‘spare change’ to God and the poor, giving 10% may seem radical and extreme. Yet I know many people of moderate income who do this and who testify to the blessings that it brings to their lives. It is a certain way to accumulate treasure in heaven while eliminating worldliness and unnecessary luxuries from our way of life.

Gospel Luke 11:37-41

Jesus had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at the table. The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness. Fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too? Instead, give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you.’

11th October.

Today begins the start of my week of annual retreat. I’ll stay in the rectory but staying as quiet and low key as possible and doing the minimum of correspondence. It’s said that silence is God’s favorite language to communicate with us. As it says in the Psalm “Be still and know that I am God” (46:10).

Here is Fr Marius’ reflection on the Sunday Mass readings.

Dia dhuit,

There once was a poor man who lived on the streets.  One day it was announced that the King was coming to the town.  Great crowds gathered.  The King walked through the town saluting everyone and he seemed to advance towards the poor man.  The poor man couldn’t believe it. 

The King motioned towards the poor man to come to him.  The poor man took all he possessed, a bag with 10 stones, and he went towards the King.  The King asked for the bag of stones.  The poor man became angry saying to himself “here is this King with everything and He wants all I possess.”  He decided to give the King two of the stones. 

The next day he looked into his bag and there were two gold nuggets where the stones had been.  He thought to himself “if only I had been wise and given the 10 stones as requested, I would have 10 gold nuggets now.”  The poor man lacked what today’s psalm calls “wisdom of heart.”

Wisdom is different to intelligence, it is a gift from God.  King Solomon, the son of King David, in our First Reading today, desires God’s wisdom more than anything in this world.  He prays for it.  He esteems God’s wisdom “more than sceptres and thrones.”  Compared to wisdom he says he holds riches as nothing.  No priceless stone can compare to wisdom, and beside wisdom, silver ranks as mud. He values wisdom more than health or beauty.  

The wise person knows the need to read God’s word in Scripture and to meditate upon it.  It keeps the wise person close to God and His ways. We are told in our Second Reading that God’s word is alive and active, in other words, that His word is as relevant today as it was 1,000 years ago, and as it always will be.  Scripture can tell us exactly what we need to hear because it can “judge secret emotions and thoughts.”   If we want to grow in wisdom then reading Scripture is a must.

In our Gospel the young rich man is doing well enough.  He is keeping the commandments.  However he is not wise like King Solomon because his possessions are too important in his life.  They are above God.  To be wise is to put God first above our possessions, our relationships, our comfort zones etc.

You may ask like Peter, but what is there to be gained?  

Jesus says these incredibly comforting words:  

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Are you willing to risk it all?

God bless you,
Fr Marius

10th October – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B).

I mentioned recently the death of my good friend and SOLT colleague Fr Robert Copsey. His funeral Mass will take place at St Simon Stock Church, Putney, London on Friday 29th October at 11am. The event will be livestreamed – lookup the parish website for details. The funeral reception will take place the previous evening at 5pm. As we say in Irish: “Ar dheis lamh De go raibh a anam dilis” (At God’s right hand may his true soul be).

If you are looking for some extra reading this week, TOTUS TUUS is a commendable new Catholic magazine which is published 6 times a year. It makes for an ideal gift to a family member or friend (see page 2) and the lastest Oct / Nov edition can now be viewed online at http://www.tiny.cc/TTE22 .

John SheaJohn Shea, no relation of mine,  is an American Catholic writer of some note. He has a key observation that sheds light on today’s gospel.

He says that material possessions are only the tip of the iceberg. So what’s the other 90% that is hidden below the surface? “The iceberg itself [the invisible bit] is the drive to own and accumulate. This drive [to own and accumulate] in turn arises from a profound sense of insecurity.” It is about living within the illusion that the one who dies with the most toys, wins.

The person who is driven to accumulate and seek security in wealth and possessions is well represented by the Rich Young Man in today’s gospel. He is a very self-possessed individual. He is perfectly law-abiding, self disciplined and has kept the Ten Commandments all of his life.

RichYoungMan 2a

As far as this goes, Jesus tells him he is off of a good start. The Commandments are the foundation of moral living and living right with God. In last week’s gospel Jesus spoke about the Sixth Commandment  and the right use of our sexuality which is strictly limited to a husband and wife who are validly married. Furthermore we heard that God doesn’t recognise civil divorce.

But the Kingdom of God is more than just avoiding wrong things, keeping the law and a life of minimalism. Rather the Kingdom of God is about a life of LOVE, love of God and of our neighbour. If we were to be bold, we could say that the Kingdom of God is allowing ourselves to be possessed by God, as what takes place in a deep, intimate relationship.

If we are to live for God, we need to be detached from worldly possessions – we cannot serve two masters. St John of the Cross, one of the great teachers within the Church uses a beautiful example of a bird who is earthbound and trying to fly. If he is attached by even a little string he won’t be able to lift off and take to the air.

The Rich Young Man in today’s gospel can’t respond to Jesus’ invitation and fly with him because he is possessed by his possessions. We are told that he goes away sad because he was a man of great wealth. We too will be sad if we seek our ultimate security in riches and possessions. We are reminded of this each time we pass a cemetery. As the Book of Job teaches: “Naked I came into this world and naked I shall return” (1:21).

When we say YES to Jesus’ invitation to friendship with him, he will become our Good Shepherd and our ultimate source of true and lasting security. As he promised his disciples in today’s gospel, those who detach from the things of this world will receive a hundred fold in return and obtain eternal life in the world to come. John Shea reminds us to this effect “Treasure in heaven means that we must value above all our relationship with God.”

So maybe some homework for this week might be an audit of our lives. What are the strings or even ropes of attachment that block our full reception of friendship with God, our following of the Christian path and our solidarity with the poor?

So in summary: Jesus wants to possess us rather that to see us possessed by our possessions.