22nd April

Almas-do-purgatório2I was once in a parish where I was forbidden by the parish priest to give a homily on Purgatory in case it upset people. Imagine if I had wanted to give a homily about hell! Yet ignoring the reality of something doesn’t make it go away – on the contrary, we are all the less prepared to face that reality as we approach it later in our lives. It is called escapism (living with your head in the sand).

Yesterday’s Divine Mercy Novena prayer was dedicated to the souls in Purgatory. It comes directly from St Faustina who received direct revelations from Jesus and who was even brought to visit Purgatory and Hell. When you read her Diary, the description of hell is nothing less than harrowing – in keeping with the language Jesus himself uses in the gospels.

Here is yesterday’s novena prayer.

Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.”   

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

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Pro-Life: Today the Citizen’s Assembly voted to recommend a referendum to repeal the pro-life 8th Amendment of the Constitution. Here is a press release from the Pro-Life Campaign.

The Pro Life Campaign has said it is “disappointed but not surprised” by today’s vote at the Citizens’ Assembly recommending a referendum to dismantle the Eighth Amendment.

Commenting on today’s result, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “The writing was on the wall for this outcome after the Citizens’ Assembly invited oral presentations from groups like BPAS Britain’s largest abortion provider, yet refused to entertain a single presentation, for example, from parents who contemplated abortion but changed their minds and openly say they owe the life of their child to the Eighth Amendment.

“This one-sided approach was typical of how the Assembly conducted its business from the get-go. It cannot be left unchallenged. If the next phase of the process is to have any credibility the Oireachtas committee charged with considering the Assembly’s recommendations must give urgent priority to shining a spotlight on how the Assembly actually went about its work.”

Ms Sherlock said: “Pro-life supporters will understandably be disappointed with today’s result but it’s no reason to become disheartened. Human rights don’t get old. They don’t pass their sell-by-date. There is nothing liberal or progressive about any assembly proposing a referendum to strip unborn babies of their first and most basic human right, namely the right to life itself.”

Referring to a possible referendum in the future that would take away protections from the unborn child, she said: “It’s far from certain that it would pass. According to polls, support for dismantling the Eighth Amendment is extremely soft. With each passing day people are becoming more aware of what’s at stake and the barbarity of what happens in the name of ‘choice’ and ‘compassion’ once abortion is legalised.

“Some might think that the fact that pro-life and pro-choice groups have criticised the Assembly’s recommendations today is a sign that a reasonable position was arrived at. This is simply not the case. The fact that the Assembly has recommended ‘amending’ the Eighth Amendment rather than full ‘repeal’ changes nothing.

“Once abortion is introduced, even on ‘restrictive’ grounds, it is only a matter of time before the grounds are expanded. When particular categories of human beings are singled out as unworthy of legal protection in the womb, we undermine respect for all human life, born and unborn. There is no escaping this reality. I am confident this message is starting to hit home with people. That can only be a good thing for the future of the Eighth Amendment.”

Ends

[1] BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) is Britain’s largest abortion provider. They regard unborn babies as having no right to life at all and routinely abort them right up to birth. BPAS received a scathing health and safety reprimand from the British Care Quality Commission in 2016 after 11 serious incidents in a 15-month period involving women being transferred for emergency medical care in hospital after undergoing an abortion in BPAS clinics. The Citizens Assembly invited BPAS to address them as “impartial experts” and never challenged them or flagged to the public any of the issues raised above.

 

 

21st April – Easter Friday

This Friday was another chemo clinic day. The consultant was concerned about the chest infection I’ve had since Sunday and decided to defer the chemotherapy. She will see me again in a week. I was prescribed a week’s antibiotics and an inhaler.

iraq

This email ended up in my JUNK folder and just as I was about to delete it, I opened it and read it. The group do commendable work in looking after the needs of persecuted Christians – particularly in Iraq –  if you feel called to support them.

Hi Fr Morty,

In a few hours we will have left Iraq.

And we have to ask for more help!

We return to the comfort and the safety of our houses in the West, leaving a part of our hearts here and thousands of stories and lessons of suffering, sacrifice and heroism, pain and hope. Stories of people like you and me, who, in some cases, has lost everything.

We leave behind us…

…250 new settled Christian families in Kirkuk with Bishop Mirkis… and the new school they are building, the new church…; the student homes in Kirkuk, now sheltering more than 700 students, the destroyed and vandalized church in Bashiqa, where some of us cried seeing the destruction, the hate of the DAESH (ISIS) against the Christians; the inspirational Palm Sunday procession in Ashti2 IDP camp in Ankawa / Erbil, where 5000 displaced Christians have been living in containers since the summer of 2014; the wall of a schoolyard in Intel Esqof where we removed the DAESH inscriptions…

We leave it all behind us…  and I’m sure you will agree we still have to help them.

As I said in one mail I sent to you some days ago, it is not about a lack of food, it’s a lack of future. 

That’s why, with my greatest hope, I’m asking you…

Can you make a donation right now of €15, €35, or €50 (or any other amount you consider appropriate) so that we can give humanitarian aid to our persecuted brothers and sisters and also restart new and effective measures to help them in the political and international sphere?

https://donate.citizengo.org/en/ 

To help our persecuted brothers and sisters. To make their voices heard.

Thank you very much once again for all you do, for being there…

All the best,

Caroline Craddock and the CitizenGO team

P.S.  I’ve been telling you some things about our trip in the past days, I’ll write to you again (asap) with more details and stories. By the way… If you already answered some of our past emails in which we asked for help for our persecuted brothers and sisters, excuse us, you are receiving this e-mail by mistake!

But if you still have not sent your help… The support we are asking from you is deeply urgent… so, please (I would appreciate it), if you could make your donation right awayhttps://donate.citizengo.org/en/. If you prefer PayPal, you can make it here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&item_name=Citizengo en&hosted_button_id=WMD8NFT9WKSZY&lc=us

After you have finished making your donation, I welcome you to share this email with your friends, family and contacts. For sure, more than one will understand it and will be grateful to you.

Some of our goals/projects in this trip:

  • To directly experience the harsh situation that Christians and other minorities are facing in an area devastated by war.

  • To record testimonies of refugees (Christians and other minorities) in order to raise awareness in our huge CitizenGO community, so we could better influence the International sphere to protect the persecuted Christians.

  • To spread the word: disseminate with all our means, a reality often forgotten by the Western media

  • To collaborate in concrete projects:

    • Student homes project, Archbishop of Kirkuk, Monsignor Mirkis

    • Nisthiman Camp Kindergarten project under supervision of Etuti (an NGO founded by young active Christians)

    • Stone cutting factory to provide employment for the people in the four villages belonging to the Mar Mattai Monastery

    • Undetaking construction and probiding supplies to facilitate the resettlement of the inhabitants of Tel Esqof, Baqofa and Batnaya in Alqosh diocese, Bishop Warda

    • Water for Ain Bakra, a very small village of poor Christian families very close to the area conquered by DAESH (ISIS)

    • And much more (I hope – with your help). As I have said before, I´ll write to you again and more detailed in a few days

CitizenGO is a community of active citizens that seeks to defend life, the family and fundamental rights worldwide. To find out more about CitizenGO clickhere or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

To contact CitizenGO,  reply at this link: http://www.citizengo.org/en/contact.

 

20th April – Easter Wednesday

mary-the-resurrected-christ-0001233-fullI was reading the National Catholic Register online this morning and came across this Easter address of Pope Francis. I have underlined a few of his key points.

“(Christianity) is not so much our search for God, but, rather, God’s search for us. How beautiful to think that Christianity, essentially, is this!” Jesus, the Pope said April 19, “has taken us, has seized us, has conquered us, in order to not leave us anymore.”

In his catechesis for his first general audience of the Easter season, Francis spoke about the “grace” and “surprise” found in our Christian faith, saying we need hearts able to wonder, because hearts that are closed off cannot understand the truth of what Christianity is.

Even though we are sinners and might look at our lives realizing how many times we have failed to live out our good intentions, we can follow the example of the men and women in the Gospel on Easter morning, he said.

“We can do as those people spoken of in the Gospel: Go to the tomb of Christ, see the large upturned stone and reflect that God is building for me, for all of us, an unforeseen future.”

And we can all go into the tomb of our hearts, he said, and see how God is able to transform death into life.

“Here is happiness, here is joy and life, where everyone thought there was only sadness, defeat and darkness,” Francis said, adding that “God raises his most beautiful flowers in the midst of the most arid stones.”

Pope Francis then reflected on the start of Christianity following Christ’s death and resurrection, emphasizing that these events aren’t just an “ideology” or a “philosophical” belief, but real events witnessed by Jesus’ disciples.

These, he said, are the facts: “He died, was buried, is risen and has appeared. That is — Jesus is alive! This is the core of the Christian message.” This underpins the faith of St Paul who was no “altar boy,” but actually persecuted Christians and the Church. “And the persecutor becomes an apostle because?” he asked, explaining that the reason was he saw the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus.

“This is the foundation of Paul’s faith, like the faith of the other apostles, like the faith of the Church, of our faith,” he said. “Because I have seen Jesus alive! I have seen the risen Jesus Christ!”

Francis closed his audience saying that Christianity comes not from death, but from God’s love for us in defeating our “bitter enemy.”

“God is bigger than anything, and you only need one lit candle to overcome the darkest of nights,” he said. “Paul cries, echoing the prophets: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’”

“In these days of Easter, let us carry this cry in our hearts, and if they ask us for the reason for our smile and our patient sharing, then we can respond that Jesus is still here — he continues to live in the midst of us. Jesus is alive!”

18th April – Easter Tuesday

Jesus Mary MagdalenToday’s gospel is St Mary Magdalen’s search and encounter with the risen Jesus at the empty tomb (Jn 20:11-18, below). This is the In Conversation with God commentary entitled: “Seeking and loving Christ. Mary Magdalene’s example teaches us that whoever seeks Our Lord sincerely will always end up finding him.”

Christ lives and in various ways is present among us, and even within us. We should therefore set out to meet him, as it were, and try to be more aware of his ineffable presence. Thus being more conscious of his presence we will speak with him more and his love will grow in us. We must seek Christ in the Word and in the Bread, in the Eucharist and in prayer. And we must treat him as a friend, as the real living person he is – for he is risen. Christ, we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, ‘holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever … consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God, since he always lives to make intercession for them’ (Heb 7.24-24).

Christ, the risen Lord, is our companion and friend. He is a companion whom we can see only in the shadows – but the fact that he is really there fills our whole life and makes us yearn to be with him forever. If we contemplate the risen Christ, if we try to look at him with an unclouded vision, we shall understand in a profound way that it is possible now also to follow him closely, to live our lives close beside him in such a way that they expand and acquire a new meaning.

After doing this for some time a personal relationship will gradually become established between Jesus and ourselves – a loving faith – that can be today, after the passing of twenty centuries, just as authentic and strong as the faith of those who contemplated him risen and glorious and still bearing the signs of his Passion in his Body. We will notice that, with ever-greater naturalness, we will find ourselves referring to our Lord everything that forms part of our existence and see that we wouldn’t be able to live without him. Finding Our Lord will mean for us at times a patient and laborious search, beginning and beginning again every day, perhaps even having a distinct impression that we are only at the very beginning of our interior life. Nevertheless, if we struggle, we will always grow closer to Jesus. But it is important that we should never allow discouragement to enter our souls through possible setbacks, which will often be only apparent anyway.

The example of Mary Magdalene, who persevered in fidelity to our Lord in moments of difficulty, teaches us that whoever sincerely and constantly seeks Jesus will end up finding him. And in the particular circumstances of our lives we will find him much more easily if we start out on our search led by the hand of Our Lady, our Mother. To her we say in the ‘Hail Holy Queen’: Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

 

17th April – Easter Monday

Easter and the Resurrection is the central mystery of our faith. I thought that the following reflection from Dr Micha Jazz at Premier Christian Media highlights one important dimension of it. It is based on “The LORD is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

pray-for-mercyLight is an essential element throughout life. I notice as age creeps up on me, I require brighter light to read at nights. Our chihuahua [pet dog] enjoys disappearing into the garden in search of hedgehogs, so I’m grateful for an outside light that gives me a chance of locating him when he starts barking at his quarry. Light reveals the way forward and enables us to locate things previously obscured by darkness.

I first discovered God’s light as just such a resource. It revealed to me how I was living and exposed the many fissures which I preferred to turn a blind eye to and hoped I hid from friends and family. God’s light revealed the narrow way, although I often skulked in the shadows. Knowing and living God’s way was different to my inclination to follow my own path.

As I have learned to choose the light ahead of both shadows and darkness, I also discern that there is an inner light within. It is the very essence of the Divine. Now I am invited to explore living both focused upon the world that demands my attention, from house management to caring for Mum, and equally dwelling with this inner divine presence.

It is this light the psalmist speaks of; the Lord who is light and is within me. My life is not primarily about rising to serve a God-inspired moral and ethical code. It’s about discovering the presence of God deep within, and living in the reality of God even as I engage in everyday tasks, from the mundane to the sublime. This light once identified requires my commitment to develop in understanding of how I might, as Paul writes, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV) for I am in the divine presence 24/7. My problem is that life can distract me away from such an awareness, at which point I lose my clearest navigational aid to living for Christ today.

QUESTION: What do you need to do each day to be able to clearly see Christ, your light?

PRAYER: Lord, you have set a light within me, help me to let it shine.

 

16th April – EASTER SUNDAY.

easter-resurrection-sunday-jesus-christIn my homily today I spoke about a headstone in the Welsh village of Rhayader where I served on and off from 2005-2012. It was of a young woman who had died in her early 20s back in the early 1900s. One the headstone was written also THY WILL BE DONE. I spoke about the marvelous Christian faith which inspired such a statement. It could only be based on a total conviction of God’s goodness and power. The proof of God’s goodness was that Jesus died for our sins. The proof of his power is that Jesus was raised from the dead.

This is the reflection I put in the parish newsletter.

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead, the day when the history of the world changed forever. Its fundamental message is summed up by Jesus’ words at the tomb of Lazarus: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me even though he die yet shall he live and he who lives and believes in me will never die.’ (John 11:25-26). Here is the Bible Alive commentary.

Our faith is rooted in real and actual events that occurred in history. Jesus, God made man, was born as a baby in the town of Bethlehem, he ministered in Galilee and Jerusalem, he died on a cross at Calvary and rose again on the third day. All of these events are historically verified by reliable witnesses: the birth and the ministry of Jesus by the historians Josephus and Pliny the Younger, and the resurrection by the disciples. In about AD 56 Paul wrote, ‘I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve’ (1 Cor. 15:3-5). Paul is referring to what we can call the living tradition of the resurrection and we are inheritors of this living tradition today.

However, the primary evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a sign and a confusing one at that: the sign of the empty tomb. None of the Evangelists witnessed the actual event: they described only its aftermath, if you like. Why is this? Of course, like many things in relation to faith, in order to understand we need first to believe: faith comes before understanding. In accepting and believing that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, we then enter into its mystery.

What happened then when Jesus rose from the dead? Pope Benedict explains that  when Jesus rose from the dead, an ‘evolutionary leap’ occurred and a new kind of life broke forth from the tomb. This new life is outside of the boundaries that we know and understand. Although it occurred within history, Jesus’ resurrection is beyond history and it is beyond mere flesh and blood to grasp. In order to take hold of it we need the gift or grace of revelation.

The resurrected Jesus revealed a new human being, set free from the corruption of sin and death. The disciples experienced the Lord as a risen and real person and laid down their lives for this faith. Perhaps the truth of Jesus’ resurrection can only truly be grasped with the eyes of faith. Today we open wide our eyes of faith and let the light of the resurrection radiate and illuminate our lives.

Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is risen today!

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One way I visualize the atmosphere at the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning is through the traditional Irish air PORT NA bPUCAI. It can be heard at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17VdUlxarMg