‘Blessed are those who mourn . . .’ Sunday Reflections, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

There are no fixed readings for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day). Below are links to selections of readings.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

In England and Wales this year the Solemnity of All Saints will be celebrated on Sunday 2 November and All Souls’ Day will be observed on Monday 3 November.

Readings for All Saints’ Day (England and Wales, Jerusalem Bible)

Fr Edward McNamara LC of Zenit responds here to a reader’s query about the celebration this year of the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. One can truthfully say that there are reasons for confusion!



Synaxis of All Saints, Unknown Icon Artist, early 17th century

Musei Vaticani, Vatican [Web Gallery of Art]

The following gospel is that for All Saints’ Day and may be used on All Souls’ Day and in any Mass for the Dead.

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.“

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The video above is a production of Jesuit Communications, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines. The speaker is Luis Antionio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila.


The video above was produced by the L’Arche Community, Bognor Regis, England.


Antiphona ad communionem  Communion Antiphon  Cf. 4 Esdras [Ezra] 2:34-35 

Lux ætérna lúceat eis, Dómine,
Let perpetual light shine upon them

 cum Sanctis tuis in ætérnum, quia pius es.

 with your Saints for ever, for you are merciful. 

 Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,

et lux perpétua lúceat eis, 

and let perpetual light shine upon them,

cum Sanctis tuis in ætérnum, quia pius es. 

with your Siants for ever for you are merciful.


The first part above is the Communion Antiphon in the second Mass formulary for All Souls’s Day. The whole is used as the Communion Antiphon in the first formularu for funeral Masses outside Easter time.

‘You shall love the Lord your God . . .you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Sunday Reflections. 30th Sunday in Ordinary Ti

St Matthew and the Angel, Vincenzo Campi, 1588

 San Francesco d’Assis, Pavia, Italy [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 22:34-40 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) 
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.  
And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In reparation for the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January 2015 Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, reflects on today’s gospel.

The first of the three videos in this series has the theme The Works of Mercy. In the second Cardinal Tagle looks at The Beatitudes

Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, Archbishop of Seoul (1922 – 2009)

I’m in Korea at the moment, partly because of the ordination to the priesthood on 1 November of revered Lee Jehoon Augustine, a Columban who spent two years working in the Manila area as part of his preparation for the priesthood.

Yesterday, Friday, I went with two Columban priests, Fr Liam O’Keeffe, a classmate from County Clare, Ireland,, Fr Con Murphy from County Cork, Ireland, who has been here in Korea for more than 50 years, and a woman named Pia to visit the graves of five Columbans in a cemetery owned by the Archdiocese of Seoul, but outside both the city and the archdiocese.  One of the five Columbans buried there, Fr Mortimer Kelly from Gort, County Galway, was a classmate of Father Liam and myself. Pia had known Fr John Nyhan, from Kilkenny, Ireland, since her childhood.

The cemetery is on hillsides, as is the Korean custom. A little higher on the hill where my companions are buried is the grave of Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, a man who was revered in Korea, not only by Catholics but by nearly all South Koreans.

While we were there Father Con told me of a homily that Cardinal Kim once preached at a Mass in a Catholic university. He took out two daily newspapers and began to speak in such a quiet voice that those present had to strain forward and ‘eavesdrop’. Cardinal Kim was flipping over the pages of both newspapers and some were thinking he was unprepared. Then he came to a particular story about young women working on the railways who collected fares of last-minute passengers and helped ‘push’ people into trains at rush hour.

The report in both papers was about accusations by higher authorities that some of these young women were perhaps pocketing some of the fares. Cardinal Kim’s voice grew stronger as he spoke about this. Then he began to remind the students of how privileged they were, getting higher education and an opportunity to find better jobs than the young women working for the rail company who were at the bottom of the heap.

Cardinal Kim, who was noted for his love for the poor and who knew many poor people, now speaking in a very strong voice, asked the students if they were going to treat others with the contempt that some showed towards the young women in a menial job or if they were going to use their professional qualifications in the service of others.

Cardinal Kim

In that homily the late Archbishop of Seoul was bringing together the two Great Commandments that Jesus gives us in today’s gospel and between which there is no conflict. In the First Reading, to which the Gospel is linked by theme, God reminds the Hebrew people of how they are to treat those who are poor or different – aliens, widows, orphans. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down. That cloak was what a person, especially a poor person, slept in.

In other words, Jesus is asking us to see each person through his eyes. GK Chesterton in one of his biographies, maybe that of St Francis of Assisi or of St Thomas Aquinas, has a wonderful image of a huge crowd looking up at God on a balcony, rather as in St Peter’s Square when the Pope is on the balcony there or at his window for the Sunday Angelus. However, Chesterton didn’t see himself among the crowd but with God on the balcony, looking down on the people and seeing them as God sees them.

Cardinal Kim was doing something similar. He was looking at both the university students and the railway workers through the eyes of God. Rank means nothing to God as he looks on his children. As Psalm 149 so beautifully expresses it, God takes delight in his people [Grail translation].

I don’t have my copy of the Handbook of the Legion of Mary with me but in it members are told to look upon each person they meet as higher than themselves. The Legion was born in the slums of Dublin in 1921 and to this day is involved to a large degree in serving people who have little or nothing.

God is constantly blessing the Church and the world through persons who embody the Gospel in their lives. I know from my friends in Korea in particular that Cardinal Kim was an embodiment of the Two Great Commandments, an embodiment of what each of us is called to be in virtue of our baptism in the different situations in which we find ourselves.

Cardinal Kim’s grave [AsiaNews.it]

A Columban colleague who has taught at university here in Seoul, Fr Kevin O’Rourke, captured something of the grace that Cardinal Kim was and still is, not only to the Church in Korea, but to the Church throughout the world, in a poem he wrote after the death of the Cardinal. [Korean personal names may be spelled in different ways when Roman letters are used. Fr Donal O’Keeffe uses ‘Sou-whan’ for the Cardinal’s name while Fr O’Rourke uses ‘Suwhan’.]


In Memory of Cardinal Kim Suwhan

Dust of snow,
a wind that chills to the bone,
pinched mourning faces,
collars raised, hats pulled low,
the shiver of death everywhere.
Cardinal Kim Suhwan
is lowered to his final resting place.


He brought forth simplicity,
a water simplicity that quickened
every root it touched.
He brought forth patience,
a medicament patience that salved
the wounds of the poor.
He brought forth compassion,
a loving compassion that embraced the world.
Simplicity, patience, compassion,
these three:
timber for a master carpenter,
clay for a master potter,
the hub of a master priest’s wheel.
“If you bring forth what is inside,
what you bring forth will save.”


Antiphona ad introitum  Entrance Antiphon  Cf Ps 104 [105]:3-4

Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum.

Quaerite Dominum et confirmamini, quaerite faciem eius semper.

Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice;

Turn to the Lord and his strength, constantly seek his face.

[Confitemini Domino, et invocate nomen eius: annuntiate inter gentes opera eius.

Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name: declare his deeds among the Gentiles.

Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum.

Quaerite Dominum, et confirmamini, quaerite faciem eius semper.

Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice;
Turn to the Lord and his strength, constantly seek his face.]

[The text in bold is used in the Ordinary Form of the Mass while the rest is included in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.]

‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday

I die His Majesty’s good servant – but God’s first.’ St Thomas More

A Man for all Seasons

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 22:15-21 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) 

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’

A denarius from 44 BC showing the head of Julius Caesar and the goddess Venus [Wikipedia]

 In the time of Jesus a denarius was a day’s wage for an ordinary working man.

I spent three months in the latter part of 1982 working in a hospital in Minneapolis as a chaplain. I was one of seven doing a ‘quarter’ of Clinical Pastoral Education. One day I had to go to a bank and got chatting with an employee at the information desk. When he heard I was based in the Philippines he told me that in the previous elections in the USA he had considered, among other things, what impact his vote would have on the lives of Filipinos and others outside the USA.

I was very struck by his attitude. We never got into partisan politics nor did we discuss religion. The man was almost certainly a Christian, probably a Lutheran if he was from Minneapolis or a Catholic if from St Paul, the other ‘Twin City’. I saw in him a person reflecting the teaching of Vatican II.

One of the major documents of that Council, Gaudium et Spes, addresses the political life of society. No 75 says: All citizens, therefore, should be mindful of the right and also the duty to use their free vote to further the common good. The Church praises and esteems the work of those who for the good of men devote themselves to the service of the state and take on the burdens of this office . . . 

All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community. It is for them to give an example by their sense of responsibility and their service of the common good. In this way they are to demonstrate concretely how authority can be compatible with freedom, personal initiative with the solidarity of the whole social organism, and the advantages of unity with fruitful diversity. They must recognize the legitimacy of different opinions with regard to temporal solutions, and respect citizens, who, even as a group, defend their points of view by honest methods. Political parties, for their part, must promote those things which in their judgement are required for the common good; it is never allowable to give their interests priority over the common good.

Robert Schuman (1886 – 1963) [Wikipedia]

A politician of the last century who may be beatified one day is the Servant of God Robert Schuman, one of the founders of what is now the European Union. His politics of reconciliation in post-World War II Europe flowed from his deep Catholic Christian faith. Yet he was never an ‘agent’ of the Catholic Church. He was an embodiment of the vision ofGaudium et Spes, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in December 1965.

Incidentally, Robert Schuman, when Foreign Minister of France – he had been Prime Minister in 1947-48 despite having been born a German citizen in Luxembourg – said at a congress in 1950 to mark the 1,400th anniversary of the birth of Ireland’s greatest missionary saint: St Columban, this illustrious Irishman who left his own country for voluntary exile, willed and achieved a spiritual union between the principal European countries of his time. He is the patron saint of all those who now seek to build a United Europe.

Robert Schuman’s deepest identity was as a Christian. It was as such that he became a patriotic Frenchman and a visionary European. St Thomas More was one of the greatest Englishmen in the history of his country. However, he was His Majesty’s good servant – but God’s first. In 2000 St John Paul II proclaimed him patron saint of politicians and statesmen.

Jesus doesn’t give us any detailed way of being involved in the political life of whatever country we belong to. But he gives us the values to live by. We cannot leave those values at the entrance to the polling booth or at the entrance to the legislative chamber if we happen to be elected to public office. Nor can we leave them at the door of the church after Mass on Sunday.

As voters and politicians Catholic Christians may have very different views on most matters of policy. But there are certain issues on which we must all take a Gospel stand. We may never advocate abortion or support the very new idea of ‘marriage’ between two persons of the same sex.

Last year a member of the Irish parliament who voted in favour of legalising abortion in certain circumstances was aggrieved when his parish priest told him that he could no longer be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. It is far more important to try to live as Gaudium et Spes teaches – All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the political community – than to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or a lector, important though these roles may sometimes be. But they are simply roles. No one has a ‘vocation’ to be either of these or to take on similar roles. But the Council tells us that each of us has a specific vocation within the political community.

Robert Schuman lived that vocation to the full. St Thomas More was martyred because he lived that vocation to the full.

St Thomas More, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

 Frick Collection, New York [Web Gallery of Art]

The words of today’s alternative Communion Antiphon were sung as the Alleluia verse at the canonisation of St Pedro Calungsod and others, 21 October 2012.

Antiphona ad communionem  Communion Antiphon Mt10:45

Ritus hominis venit,

 ut daret animan suam redemptionem pro multis.

The Son of Man has come

to give his life as a ransom for many.

World Mission Day

This Sunday is World Mission Day. You may wish to read the Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Day 2014The opening sentence is a start reminder to us:Today vast numbers of people still do not know Jesus Christ.

RTÉ, Ireland’s national radio and television service, interviews three older Irish missionaries, including Columban Fr Bobby Gilmore, in the context of World Mission Day in Nationwide, broadcast 17 October. It will be available for viewing here for 21 days. Fr Gilmore spent many years in the Philippines and later worked in Jamaica. He also worked for some years with Irish migrants in England and is now involved with immigrants to Ireland through the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland of which he is a founder.

[Editor’s note: Giving the link to Nationwide does not imply agreement with all the views expressed on the program.]

Fr PJ McGlinchey

Though not specifically in the context of World Mission Day, Columban Fr PJ McGlinchey, who has spent most of his life as missionary priest in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, has the been named as one of the recipients of a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for 2014 in Ireland.

Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Columban Fr PJ McGlinchey



It has just been announced that Columban Fr PJ McGlinchey has been named as one of the recipients of a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for 2014 . He will be presented with the award by Irish President Michael D Higgins at a ceremony later this year. Fr McGlinchey’s baptismal names are Patrick James but he is known to everyone as ‘PJ’.

Fr McGlinchey, a native of County Donegal, Ireland, has spent his missionary life on Jeju [formerly ‘Cheju’] Island about 139 kms off the southern coast of South Korea. The citation for his award reads:

Arriving in Jeju, Korea in 1954 Fr McGlinchey, a priest with the Missionary Society of St Columban, was faced with a society that was deeply traumatised and ravished by poverty. Lead by his faith and knowledge in agriculture he set about helping to pull thousands of Jeju citizens out of poverty.

His model of development and profitable farming encouraged use of underused farm land and new farming methods. St Isidore farm was founded to include pigs, sheep, cows and now a stud.


Fr McGlinchey with a sick person in Korea


A textile factory, employed up to 1,700 Jeju women in a time when jobs on the island were scarce. His forming of a credit union changed the economy of the island and helped the citizens emerge from poverty.

Fr Mc Glinchey never forgot the island people setting up Isidore Nursing home, hospice, kindergarten and a youth centre which for over 18,000 young people from all over Korea. These welfare activities, some funded completely from donations and profits from the farm, take care of Jeju’s most vulnerable.

For 60 years, his extraordinary drive, dedication and vision has changed the lives of those on Jeju and Ireland is now associated with this great island. His tireless dedication gave them not just hope but a belief in what they could achieve themselves.

You can read more about the work of Fr McGlinchey here.

President Ramon Magsaysay 

(31 August 1907 – 17 March 1957) [Wikipedia]

In 1975 Fr McGlinchey was one of the Ramon Magsaysay awardees in Manila. His award was for Rural Development. The website of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation has a biographical page on the priest here. The foundation was set up to honour President Ramon Magsaysay of the Philippines who died in a plane crash in the Philippines on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1957. 

The website of the Isidore Farm founded by Fr McGlinchey is here. It is named after St Isidore the Farmer, widely venerated in the Philippines as San Isidro Labrador or simply, San Isidro.


San Isidro (c.1070 – 15 May 1130) and his wife Blessed Maria Torribia

Source of report: Website of Columbans, Ireland.

Opening of the Jubilee Year to mark the 1400th anniversary of the death of Saint Columbanus

Statue of St Columbanus in Luxeuil, France

Yesterday morning, 12 October, Cardinal Seán Brady, retired archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, was the Principal Celebrant at Mass at the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, at the opening of the Jubilee Year to mark the 1400th anniversary of the death of Saint Columbanus. The Irish missionary saint, also known as ‘Columban’, died in Bobbio in northern Italy, on 23 November 1615. He is the patron saint of the Missionary Society of St Columban, formally established in 1918.

Cardinal Seán Brady [Wikipedia]

Pope Francis greeted the pilgrim group marking the centenary at the end of his address today after praying the Angelus.

Interior of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome [Wikipedia]

Here is the homily of Cardinal Brady, published in Zenit

I am very pleased to see you all here in Rome, in this beautiful Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.  We are here to celebrate the opening of the Jubilee Year of Saint Columbanus. The Jubilee Year commemorates the 1400th anniversary of the death of that great monk and missionary, who died in Bobbio in AD615. 

The Jubilee Year was opened yesterday in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, after the arrival and solemn reception of the relics of the saint from Bobbio, followed by a Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Vallini, Vicar General of Pope Francis for the Diocese of Rome. 

Monastery ruins at Annegray, France [Wikipedia]

In a sense, the ceremony brought closure finally to the earthly pilgrimage of Columbanus who ardently desired to reach Rome, but failed to do so since he died at Bobbio – a diocese and a city which not only preserves his mortal remains, but admirably keeps alive his memory, example and spirit to this day.

In fact, we Irish are profoundly touched by the fact that so many parishes in Italy and elsewhere, so reverently keep alive the memory of Columbanus – an outstanding monk and missionary and saint.

Basilica of San Colombano, Bobbio, Italy [Wikipedia]

I remember the first time I visited Bobbio – some 50 years ago and the warm welcome we received – simply because we were Irish.  I remember the bunch of fresh flowers placed on his tomb – clear proof that someone, with a grateful heart, after all the centuries, had remembered the poor abbot – come from a distance to announce the Good News. 

But what has Columbanus to say to us – citizens of the third millennium – after fourteen centuries?  Sure, Columbanus is far distant from us in time and space, but the relevance of his thought and spirituality is extraordinary.  This was underlined by Saint John Paul II in a message to the people of Luxeuil in 1990 to commemorate the foundation of the monastery there by Columbanus fourteen hundred years earlier when the Holy Father wrote: 

You are recalling a past that is still alive and recognising the gift, given by God, to the Church, in the person of great pioneers like Saint Columbanus.  For the Lord has marvellously combined in Saint Columbanus, love of evangelisation, devotion to monastic life and the fullness of human dignity.

Abbatial Palace, Luxeuil, France [Wikipedia]

In this Mass of Thanksgiving, we too express our gratitude to God for the gift of the faith and for the goodness of all those who played any part in handing onto to us the Good News.

To help us to do so better, we recall the example of Columbanus.  During the long years of being a monk in the monastery of Bangor and earlier in Cleenish – it obviously became clear to him that, in every age, the Church is called to make all its members disciples and missionaries of Christ – Christ who is the way – the truth and the life.  So he sought the permission of his Abbot – the renowned Comgal – to leave the Monastery of Bangor and to set out as a pilgrim for Christ.  Abbot Comgall eventually agreed and so it was that Columbanus set out, on his missionary journey, accompanied by twelve brothers from the community.  So there began the long journey which would take them first to present-day France, then Germany, Switzerland, Austria and finally to Bobbio in Italy.  It was the summer of 592 – Columbanus would have been fifty years of age and rather old for such an adventure in conditions of those days. 

St Columbanus, stained glass window, Bobbio Abbey crypt [Wikipedia]

Over the next twenty years he founded a number of monasteries:  Annagray and Luxeuil, in France; Bregenz in Austria and Bobbio here in Italy.

Saint John Paul II often called for a new evangelisation of Europe after the decline in faith of recent decades.  Saint Columbanus could be seen as a model and a patron of this new evangelisation.  His missionary work could also be described as a second, and new, announcing of the Good News after the damage inflicted by the invasions from abroad and by the fall of the Roman Empire in the West.  Columbanus and his monks brought the light of faith to people who, themselves, in turn became evangelisers until Europe became, once more, a Christian continent. 

Everywhere he went, Columbanus remained devoted to the monastic way of life.  He founded monasteries; he wrote his own Monastic Rule.  It can be truly said that the ways opened up through Europe, and the monasteries founded by him, were often the places where, later on, the Benedictine rule would flourish.  With Saint Benedict, he helped to lay the basis for the European Monasticism of the Middle Ages.

The rule of Columbanus recommended that the monks should confess privately, and often, to one particular confessor. It was an effort to address the crisis that flowed from having only public confessions which were rarely celebrated more than once in a lifetime.  Perhaps he has something to say to all of us today on that topic.

Columbanus loved the monastic life of prayer and contemplation; the silence and the solitude; the fasts and the penance.  He would have seen them not alone as the golden way to a closer union with God but also as the indispensable pre-requisite of successful conversion and the winning of hearts and minds to the following of Christ. 

It is the same spirituality that saw Saint Thérèse become the Patroness of the Missions because of her prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the missions.  There can be no renewal of faith that is not preceded by a renewal of prayer because to evangelise is to transmit life and is the fruit of holiness.

Bregenz, Austria [Wikipedia]


In Saint Peter’s Basilica there is a mosaic dedicated to Saint Columbanus.  It bears the inscription – If you take away freedom you take away dignity.  The phrase is taken from one of the letters of Columbanus.  Indeed it is something that could have been written, not only by a seventh century missionary, but also by a citizen of today’s world, where so many people live in terrible conditions of slavery, fear and oppression.  In addition to the ancient forms of oppression such as war, poverty, loneliness, violence and exile, the modern world has new forms of slavery such as drug and alcohol addition, which are particularly destructive of human dignity.

The glory of God is the human person – fully alive.  Columbanus succeeded in uniting faith with human dignity and freedom.  These are the values on which, for centuries, the identity of Europe was founded and without which the Europe of today risks failing to have a future. May the jubilee year of Saint Columbanus, as well as his life and his writings, inspire all of us to strive for the defence of basic human rights for all.

We make our own the prayer of Saint John Paul II who, writing to the people of Luxeuil, expressed the hope that all who would commemorate the great founder of their famous abbey would be spurred to even greater fidelity to Christ and enthusiasm for His Kingdom.

My hope and prayer is: that by participating in this pilgrimage and Jubilee celebrations, and through the intercession of Saint Columbanus, we may all draw closer to Christ – the way, the truth and the life.                           


‘Go . . . and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Sunday Reflections, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A


The Inspiration of St MatthewCaravaggio, 1602

Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 22:1-14 [or 22:1-10] (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) 

Jesus said to the chief priest and the elders of the people:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

[“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”]

Antiphona ad introitum     Entrance Antiphon  Ps 129 [130]:3-4

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?

Quia apud te propitiatio est, Deus Israel.

De profundis clamavi ad te Domine: Domine exaudi vocem meam.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto; sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper. Amen.

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?

Quia apud te propitiatio est, Deus Israel.


If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

But with you is found forgiveness, O God of Israel.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

But with you is found forgiveness, O God of Israel.

[The longer form is used when Mass is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, using the 1962 Missal.]

swing made from tires in East Timor

A friend of mine who has three young daughters and a fourth child on the way and who now lives in California posted on her Facebook the other day that the authorities in some school are removing the swings from its playground because they are ‘dangerous’ for children. I wonder if the committee in the Vatican who drew up the Lectionary we have been using since 1969 thought that some of the words of Jesus might be ‘dangerous’ for us since they have given us the option today of leaving out the last four verses of the Gospel [in square brackets above].

In Matthew 3:7 Jesus addresses some Pharisees and Sadducees with the words, You brood of vipers!, which he repeats in 12:34 and in 23:34 he’s even more scathing: You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?

The words of Jesus aren’t always ‘nice’. And not all the words in the homily of Pope Francis last Sunday at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family were ‘nice’. Addressing the assembled participants, mostly bishops, he said, And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others . . . We are all sinners and can also be tempted to ‘take over’ the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can ‘thwart’ God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit

Still-life, Floris, Claesz van Dijck, 1610

Private collection [Web Gallery of Art]

The First Reading and the Gospel speak clearly of God’s desire for all of us to be with him, sharing in the abundance of his riches, symbolized in both readings by a lavish banquet.

President Ramon Magsaysay (died 1957) of the Philippines wearing a barong Tagalog [Wikipedia]

Nearly 30 years ago I officiated at a wedding in Sacred Heart Church, Cebu City. The reception was held next door at a centre attached to the church, which belongs to the Jesuits. At the reception I noticed an elderly man wearing a barong Tagalog, which is formal dress for men in the Philippines, especially at weddings. But it turned out that nobody knew him. He wasn’t a guest, but had invited himself along. As there were weddings almost every day at Sacred Heart Church I figured that maybe he invited himself along whenever the reception was held at the adjacent centre.

But nobody minded. Filipinos are hospitable and nobody is ever turned away. Many of us were amused and I had noticed the man at Mass. In other words, he wasn’t a freeloader but participated in the wedding ceremony, something that many invited to weddings an baptisms don’t do. They just turn up for the meal.

The harsh words of Jesus, which I suspect many priests won’t read at Mass, jolt us out of our complacency. The man who turned up at the banquet without bothering to dress for the occasion clearly thought that cultural norms and good manners didn’t apply to him. It’s not a crime to turn up at a wedding or some similar event dressed casually but to do so shows a lack of respect for the celebrants and for oneself.

However, in the parable, Jesus isn’t telling us to be ‘nice’ and well-mannered. He’s telling us forcefully that in order to share in the ‘dream’ that he and our heavenly Father have for us we have to do the Father’s will. Pope Francis referred to this in the closing words of his homily: My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by ‘the peace of God which passes all understanding’ (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 21:43).

We have to make choices. We often choose to sin. God is merciful, bending down to welcome us back, to acknowledge our sins and to ask for and receive his forgiveness. Jesus has given the Church the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession/Penance, precisely so that he can meet us in our sinfulness, forgive and heal us. And the Church teaches us clearly that when we have committed a grave sin we must avail of that sacrament. By the same token, he wants us priests to be available for penitents and to go to confession  regularly ourselves.

When God gave us the gift of freedom he also placed some ‘swings’ in our ‘playground’, knowing that we would sometimes fall and ‘graze our knees’ or even hurt ourselves more seriously. He didn’t protect us from all possible eventualities. Had he done so he would have made prisoners of us. He invites us to his heavenly banquet, paid for by the sacrifice of his Son on Calvary.

In the parable the king’s servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. Both good and bad had a sense of being blessed and honored by the invitation, except for one – we don’t know if he was one of the ‘good’ or one of the ‘bad’ – with an insolent sense of entitlement rather than a wondrous sense of being graced.

The Two Trinities, Murillo, 1675-82

National Gallery, London [Web Gallery of Art]

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Synod on the Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan. 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.


Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis October 2014: Peace, World Mission Day.

Apostleship of Prayer


Our Lady of PeaceEDSA Shrine, Quezon City, Philippines

Universal Intention – Peace

That the Lord may grant peace in those parts of the world  most battered by war and violence.


Members of the Missionary Society of St Columban have been in some ofthose parts of the world most battered by war and violence, as Fr Michael Martin tells us in the video below. Fr Martin experienced the reality of violence during his many years in the Diocese of Bacolod in the province of Negros Occidental in the central Philippines. He is now based in Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, which he speaks about here.


 Evangelization Intention – World Mission Day

That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into every part of the world.


The zeal for carrying the Gospel into every part of the world is rooted in our baptism and confirmation. For some, that means leaving their homeland. Fr Carlo Eiukyun Jung, ordained priest on 3 May in his native Korea, spent two years on First Mission Assignment in Fiji while still a seminarian and will be going to Myanmar/Burma in 2015. The Reverend Augustine Jehoon Lee was ordained deacon on 3 May and will be ordained priest on All Saints’ Day. He spent his First Mission Assignment in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Columbans Celebrate 80 Years in Korea
On 29 October 2013 the Columbans in Korea began a series of celebrations to mark their 80 years of missionary presence in Korea.  

L to R: Fr Carlo Eiukyun Jung, Joon Bin Lim, Rev Augustine Jehoon Lee. 
3 May 2014. 
 [Source of photo: FB of Joon Bin Lim] 


The Columban Superior General, Fr Kevin O’Neill, joined Archbishop (now Cardinal) Andrew Yeom Soo-jong of Seoul, missionaries, benefactors and parishioners from former Columban parishes in a commemorative Eucharist in St Mary’s Cathedral, Seoul, to give thanks to God for these 80 years of missionary presence.

‘The Columbans have made a wonderful contribution to the Korean Church and people. We are truly grateful to them’, said Archbishop Yeom at the commemorative Eucharist.The first Columbans arrived in Korea on that same date, 29 October in 1933. There were ten of them, nine having been ordained the previous year. Their average age was 25 years. One of them, Fr Dan McMenamin, was to die of uberculosis four years later at just 29 years of age.On the Second Sunday of Easter in April 1934, the newly arrived Columbans took possession of their first parish in Korea on the outskirts of the city of Mokpo. This was to be the first of 129 parishes that the Columbans would establish during those 80 years in Korea. In the city of Seoul alone, Columbans established 25 parishes.The 80-year celebrations of missionary presence in Korea will continue until the Second Sunday of Easter this year, 27 April, and will give thanks to God for the work of Columbans in nine different dioceses throughout the country.

First and third videos from the website of the Apostleship of Prayer, Milwaukee, WI, USA. 

‘By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’ Sunday Reflections, 27th Sunday in Ordina

The Virgin of the Grapes, 1640s, Pierre Mignard

 Musée du Louvre, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]

Winegrowers in France celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of Mary  as the Feast of Our Lady of the Grape Harvest.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 21:33-43 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada) 
Jesus said to the chief priest and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”  They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.

First Reading, Isaiah 5:1-7 [Revised Standard Version]


The young Fr Edward Galvin in China

Just over a century ago the young Fr Edward Galvin of the Diocese of Cork, Ireland, was sent by his bishop to work for some years in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, because he had no place to put him. This was common at the time and many young Irish diocesan priests spent their early years on loan to English-speaking dioceses in other countries. While in Brooklyn Father Galvin found himself answering God’s call to go to China. This was to lead eventually to the formal founding of the Missionary Society of St Columban, to which I belong, in 1918 with Fr Galvin and Fr John Blowick, another young Irish diocesan priest, as the co-founders. Fr Galvin later became Bishop of Hanyang, China, and was expelled by the Communist authorities.

When I was growing up in Ireland people who were critical of the Church, sometimes with good reason, often used the term ‘priest-ridden’ to describe the country. Today there are parishes without priests and the average age of priests is over 60. In twenty years or so it could well happen that priests will be a relative rarity in the country.

When I was young almost every Catholic in Ireland went to Sunday Mass and the seminaries were full. Today only a minority take part in Sunday Mass, the seminaries have nearly all closed and only a handful or young men are preparing for ordination in the two or three that still remain open. More and more young people are choosing not to get married and not to have their children baptised.

In 1961, the year I entered the seminary, Ireland celebrated the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. Very few could have foreseen the falling away, not only from the Church, but from the Christian faith, within two generations.

St Paul tells us in the Second Reading today: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

I sometimes get disheartened at the situation of the Church in my native land and in other Western countries. The First Reading and the Gospel remind us that many have rejected God’s love, God’s gift, especially the gift of faith. Through the Prophet Isaiah God poignantly asks, What more was there to do for my vineyard  that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

St Andrew Kim Daegon, Martyr, First Korean Priest

But in the readings the Lord is really asking us to see what he has given us, to treasure it and to pass it on. In his homily at the beatification of 124 martyrs in Korea on 16 August Pope Francis said: The victory of the martyrs, their witness to the power of God’s love, continues to bear fruit today in Korea, in the Church which received growth from their sacrifice. Our celebration of Blessed Paul and Companions provides us with the opportunity to return to the first moments, the infancy as it were, of the Church in Korea. It invites you, the Catholics of Korea, to remember the great things which God has wrought in this land and to treasure the legacy of faith and charity entrusted to you by your forebears.

The following day in the opening sentence in his homily at the concluding Mass of Asian Youth Day Pope Francis said, The glory of the martyrs shines upon you! These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all. Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ

The Pope was reminding the young people, and all of us, of the legacy of the Christian faith that we have received.

Pope Francis in Korea


The Bishop of Rome touched on this again on 21 September when he celebrated Mass in Mother Teresa Square, Tirana, very conscious of the persecution that had ended less than 30 years ago. He concluded his homily with these stirring words: To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say ‘thank you’ for the example of fidelity to the Gospel. Do not forget the nest, your long history, or your trials. Do not forget the wounds, but also do not be vengeful. Go forward to work with hope for a great future. So many of the sons and daughters of Albania have suffered, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and, above all, of peace. So may it be.

The Lord is calling each of us today to look back with gratitude for the gift of faith we have received individually and as community so that we can live that faith fully in the present as we move in hope and love into the future.

But the readings also remind us of the reality that the precious gift of the Christian faith has been lost, not only by individuals but in large areas of the world such as North Africa not that long after the time of such giants as St Augustine.

Columban Fr Seán Holloway RIP



Fr Seán Holloway

25 August 1921 – 29 October 2014


Fr Seán Holloway was born in Horseleap, County Offaly, Ireland, on 25 August 1921. He was educated at Horseleap National School, Tubber National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar. He came to St Columbans, Dalgan Park, Navan, Ireland – known to Columbans simply as ‘Dalgan’ – in 1941 and was ordained priest there on 21 December 1947.

Horse Sculpture in Horseleap [Wikipedia]

Assigned to the Philippines, he spent the first two years in Mindanao, the southern island, before being assigned to Negros Occidental where he would spend the next 18 years in the parishes of Isabela and Himamaylan. Father Seán was among the first Columban group to be assigned to this new District in 1950. It covered a huge area, had been served by a bare handful of priests, and few of its old churches were standing. The area covered the southern part of the Diocese of Bacolod, which then included the whole province of Negros Occidental. That area became the Diocese of Kabankalan in 1987.

Camangcamang, Isabela [Wikipedia]

Building up the existing parishes and developing new ones was a herculean task. Father Seán  had the gift for bringing the best out of laypeople. Working with the help of innumerable praesidia (branches) of the Legion of Mary, he wore himself out over the following two decades.

Altar used at Legion of Mary meetings [Wikipedia]


Assigned to the Region of Ireland in 1970, he spent three years on Vocations Ministry, followed by five years as Farm Manager and Bursar of Dowdstown House. Availing of the expertise of competent lay friends, he established the beginnings of the present cattle herd.

He was also responsible for developing and sustaining Dalgan’s much-admired network of forest walks. [You can see some of these walks in the video below, with links to two other videos in the series.]




Part Two and Part Three

There followed a twelve-year period as Assistant and later Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, Balcurris, Ballymun, Dublin. As in the Philippines, his charm, and reliance on the laity won him many friends. He established a school for the Travellers (a nomadic ethnic group in Ireland also called ‘Pavee‘) and helped integrate them into the parish.


Ballymun Lullaby
Father Seán is remembered in Balcurris with great affection. On returning to Dalgan in 1991 he served in other management roles until his health began to deteriorate. A man of great charity and generosity, there was a childlike transparency in him, and a great capacity for making friends, helping persons develop their gifts, and seeing creative possibilities in every situation.


Father Seán  wrote in his will:  I wish to thank everybody for their personal kindness to me over the many years that the Good Lord has given to me.

May he rest in peace.