The Destructive Trade in Dangerous Drugs. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 28 May 2016

The Destructive Trade in Dangerous Drugs

By Fr Shay Cullen

Opium poppies, Afghanistan, a major source of drugs [Wikipedia]

Young people by the thousands are dropping dead by consuming chemicals into their bodies to forget their problems or just to get an exciting high and overcome inhibition. A few weeks ago in an open air dance concert in Manila, another five people collapsed in the outdoor dance area and died on the spot or later in hospital from presumed drug overdose. Ecstasy and a powerful variety of marijuana and crystal meth are easily available. These young people were seemingly victims of the drug culture. What a tragic loss of young lives and pain and suffering for their family and friends. They could be your children or grandchildren, nephews or nieces- all are targets of the drug pushers and dealers. We cannot stand idly by wringing our hands helplessly. We must act and campaign for a drug-free society, not a society that tolerates, ignores, or as in some Northern hemisphere countries legalizes dangerous drugs.

Murdering drug pushers or denouncing them without evidence or a trial or accusing them before TV cameras is wrong. It is a violation of their rights. In that system anyone can accuse you or me and we could be shot without due process.

Any person accused is entitled by law to due process and a fair trial. Vigilante killing of suspects without a trial is not a solution, it is murder. More pushers, drug lords and dealers will take their place, who would they be? If they are politicians with hit squads who kill suspects they are no saints and can easily take over the drug business and remain in power forever. Goodbye democracy, here come the goons.

It is only by having a high value of our lives and health of our children and all our citizens and teaching our children by good example to be drug and alcohol-free and eat healthy food will they have a healthy, productive meaningful life. The drug users did not have these values and are victims. They need recovery, therapy and rehabilitation.

Full post here.

‘In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist . . . the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ Sunday Reflections. Corpus Christi Sunday, Year C

Sheaves of Wheat, Van Gogh, 1885

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands [Web Gallery of Art]

‘Fruit of the earth  and work of human hands,

it will become for us the bread of life.’

Corpus Christi Sunday

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel  Luke 9:11b-17 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

When the crowds found out about it, they followed Jesus; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

In countries where Corpus Christi is observed as a holyday of obligation on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday

Readings (Jerusalem Bible)


Corpus Christi. Responsorial Psalm (NAB Lectionary; Philippines, USA)

Chapel at the University of the East, Manila

Before fire on 1 April 2016

After fire

At 9:00 am on 1 April John Lambert Minimo, a 20-year-old student at the University of the East (UE), Manila, where he is the Overall Student Responsible in Campus Ministry, got a phone-call from a fire volunteer friend, John Paul Justin Aquino. UE is on fire, John Paul said. The first and only thought that came into Lambert’s mind was the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel because it is the True Body of Christ, as he later wrote.

Lambert rushed to university but the campus guards wouldn’t let him in. He contacted Fr Bernard Martin, the UE chaplain, at the Columban house but told him not to come as the fire was still raging. Fr Martin turned 85 that day. There were no classes as the academic year had ended a week or two before. The young man, who prepared everything for Mass each day, felt a certain helplessness but prayed as he waited at the gate, Lord, I will save you no matter what happens.

By noon the fire was out but John Lambert’s cellphone was dead by then and he had no money to buy lunch. He still waited. It was three in the afternoon before he was able to get to the chapel as a clearance was needed from the Bureau of Fire Protection. And not everyone seemed to understand why he was so anxious to save the Blessed Sacrament. A number of people told him to go home.

Crucifix and tabernacle after the fire

Finally, at 3:00 pm Lambert, accompanied by a school official and a security guard, was able to enter the chapel, which had been badly damaged. But the crucifix behind the altar hadn’t even been charred and the tabernacle was safe.

Lambert wrote, I genuflected as a sign of reverence to the Lord. I started to sing hymns we use at Mass. I went immediately to the sacristy to get as many corporals as I could to wrap the pyx that contained the Blessed Sacrament. I gave the Paschal Candle to the security guard. Wearing my sotana, I approached the tabernacle. As I opened it, I sang “O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine.” I wrapped the pyx and placed it in my pocket so that I could take it to the Columban house.

Before I left I looked up at the crucifix. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, ‘Lambert, anak (son). Don’t worry, I am still here. I’m safe. You can take me. We conquered the fire, I stood up and I am here.’ That was a moment I will never forget. The Lord spoke clearly to my heart.

O Sacrament Most Holy

A UE van took Lambert and his friend John Paul to the Columban house. As we travelled, we started to pray and continuously sing ‘O Sacrament Most Holy’. I felt tired. My head continued to ache, I was very hungry and my hands were shaking. But I continued to embrace the Blessed Sacrament tightly. When they reached the Columban house at around 4:00pm Fr Martin placed the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel there and Lambert and John Paul then joined the birthday celebration.

Fr Bernard Martin with Lambert (r) and Beth Briones (l) at UE Campus Ministry

Beth spent some years in Fiji as a Columban Lay Missionary

It was an experience that I will never forget, wrote Lambert. Out of my love for the Blessed Sacrament, I would do anything for Him, even in the simplest way. Even in the toughest moments the Lord is always there to remind me and call me anytime He needs my help.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, UE Chapel

Each time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered in the chapel of UE, as in every other church, the bread and wine brought to the altar at the offertory become the Body and Blood of Christ. They’re not ‘symbols’ of this. They are the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord Jesus. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 33, puts it, At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. 

Paul Comtois, (1895-1966) 

Fifty years ago, just after midnight 21/22 February 1966, a fire destroyed the official residence of Paul Comtois, the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Canada,  the official representative of Queen Elizabeth of Canada who lives in England, where she is also Queen. Lieutenant Governor Comtois had been given permission, reluctantly, by the Archbishop to have the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel in his residence. He prayed there every night

Like John Lambert Minimo, he immediately thought of the Blessed Sacrament when the fire broke out. Having made sure that others in the house were safe he went to the chapel, already in flames. He was able to rescue the Blessed Sacrament but didn’t make it to safety. The pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament was found, untouched by the flames, under his charred body.

Canadian priest Fr Raymond de Souza wrote last March in National Post, one of Canada’s dailies, Paul Comtois, the former lieutenant governor of Quebec, was a different kind of martyr. He was not killed by the hatred of others; rather, he was motivated by his own love of Christ. He might be considered a martyr for the Eucharist.

I might have missed it, but it didn’t seem as though anything was done last month, by either church or state, to mark the 50th anniversary of his death on Feb. 22, 1966. And his story is one that needs to be told.

Fr de Souza quotes from an article by Andrew Cusack in which a family friend, Mac Stearns, relates: His tremendous religious faith impressed me greatly and was no doubt instrumental in my embracing the Catholic faith some time after his death. Knowing his great fervor for the Blessed Sacrament, I have no doubt whatsoever that Paul would do all in his power to rescue the Holy Eucharist from the fire.

The reason for the death of Lieutenant General Comtois was ignored at the time not only by the secular press but by the Catholic press. Cusack quotes Sr Maureen Peckham RSCJ writing in 1988: Yet, Paul Comtois was a man of the world, a well-known socialite, one who had reached the heights of worldly glory; he was one whom the world could recognize as its own. Furthermore, his chivalrous and brave death should, even on the human and wordly level, have merited the title of hero. That he, who had been honored by the world during his lifetime, should have been ignored by the world at the moment of his death, can only be explained by the fact that he died for One Whom the world does not recognize and has ever refused to acknowledge.

I had never heard of Paul Comtois until quite recently when I came across his story on the internet. I’m sure that young Lambert had never heard of him either until I sent him a link the other evening to this wonderful story. God did not ask Lambert to give his life but he has given him a deep faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, as he did Paul Comtois. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 1374, teaches: The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ ‘This presence is called “real”- by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be “real” too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present. [Emphasis added.]

It is that Presence of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that the Church celebrates today.

Corpus Christ Procession, Appenzell, Switzerland

[Thanks to Fr Oliver Quilab SVD on FB for photos]

Antiphona ad communionem   Communion Antiphon  John 6:57

Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem,

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

in me manet et ego in eo, dicit Dominus.

remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.

Political Power and Sexism. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 20 May 2016

Political Power and Sexism
Fr Shay Cullen

Fr Shay Cullen with promoters of Preda Fair Trade

Fury, anger and outspoken protest was registered by a group of French women politicians in France demanding an end to the sexual harassment and sexism among male politicians and government officials which they themselves were subjected to.

They directed their sharp criticism at an enduring attitude and what could be described as male political entitlement to sexually harass female politicians and journalists.

A few weeks ago, they stood outside the French parliament with placards and megaphones and riot police on standby demanding a stop to the daily practice of male politicians – their colleagues – physically touching, groping, harassing them with sexist talk and in some cases, sexual assault by the male politicians.

But that is not all. Last 2015, a group of female journalists spoke out in public demanding the same respect for their status, dignity and rights. Many have come out openly describing they were sexually assaulted by male colleagues.

Full post here.

‘The family is the image of God, who is a communion of persons’ (Pope Francis). Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year C

The Two Trinities, Murillo, 1675-82

National Gallery, London [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  John 16:12-15 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Responsorial Psalm

New American Bible version (Philippines, USA)

During my kinder, primary and secondary school years, 1947 to 1961, my brother and I had breakfast and dinner – a midday meal in Ireland in those days – with our mother. In the evening we had ‘tea’, as that lighter meal was known in some English-speaking countries. My father had his dinner and tea combined, the four of us together. I often heard my mother ‘complain’ about having to prepare two meals for my father in the evening. It would never have crossed her mind, or that of any other working-class housewife in urban Ireland in those days, to have dinner for the whole family in the evening.

However, we did have dinner together on Saturdays and Sunday’s. My father, like other construction workers, had a half-day on Saturday. Saturday was the only day when we had soup, very often barley soup, served in cups, not in bowls.

Phoenix Park, Dublin, in the summer [Wikipedia]

Sunday dinner was special, as it was for all families, and meant extra work for my mother who would spent the whole morning after Mass and breakfast preparing it. My father would take the two of us to meet our paternal grandfather and then for a walk in the nearby Phoenix Park. 

I don’t ever recall my parents telling us that we were a family. We just knew. But it was only as an adult and after ordination that I realised that it was at our evening meals on weekdays and at our midday meals on Saturdays and Sundays that I experienced, without being aware of it, what family is. And our Sunday walks with my father were what is now called ‘bonding’. Another part of that was Dad taking us to soccer games from time to time in nearby Dalymount Park. 

When I went as a young priest to the USA to study I discovered that families had to really work at being families, as the family couldn’t be taken for granted, as it still could be in Ireland at that time.

Pope Francis is probably familiar with Murillo’s painting above, The Two Trinities. In his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, On Love in the Family he states in No 29: With a gaze of faith and love, grace and fidelity, we have contemplated the relationship between human families and the divine Trinity. The word of God tells us that the family is entrusted to a man, a woman and their children, so that they may become a communion of persons in the image of the union of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Begetting and raising children, for its part, mirrors God’s creative work. The family is called to join in daily prayer, to read the word of God and to share in Eucharistic communion, and thus to grow in love and become ever more fully a temple in which the Spirit dwells. [Emphases added.]

Pope Francis highlights this link again in No 71: Scripture and Tradition give us access to a knowledge of the Trinity, which is revealed with the features of a family. The family is the image of God, who is a communion of persons. At Christ’s baptism, the Father’s voice was heard, calling Jesus his beloved Son, and in this love we can recognize the Holy Spirit. Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself and redeemed us from sin, not only returned marriage and the family to their original form, but also raised marriage to the sacramental sign of his love for the Church.In the human family, gathered by Christ, ‘the image and likeness’ of the Most Holy Trinity has been restored, the mystery from which all true love flows. Through the Church, marriage and the family receive the grace of the Holy Spirit from Christ, in order to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s love. [Emphases added.]

Holy Family with the infant St John, Murillo, 1655-60

Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest [Web Gallery of Art]

Almost every Catholic in Ireland went to Sunday Mass in those days and our Protestant neighbours went to church. When I was a child it was usually my father who took me to Mass on Sunday morning. And on special days such as Easter Monday, Whit (Pentecost) Monday, which were public but not Church holidays, he would take me to High Mass in one of the churches in Dublin belonging to religious orders such as the Capuchins and the Dominicans. 

Before Pope Pius XII changed the Holy Week liturgies in 1955 the ceremonies on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday were held in the morning. Not too many would attend these. but on the afternoon of Holy Thursday my mother would take my brother and me to visit seven churches for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose. That practice disappeared after 1954 in Dublin but is alive and well here in the Philippines in the larger cities where it is called Visita Iglesia. This was an experience, without being aware of it, of being drawn into the wider family that is the Church.

I must confess that as a child I didn’t appreciate too much my father bringing me to High Masses or my mother bringing me to visit seven churches on Holy Thursday. But I could see clearly how Dad loved the solemnity of the  High Mass and how central the Mass was to his life. He went to Mass every day of his life right up to the day he died. I am grateful now for the way my parents brought me into the life of the Blessed Trinity in this way. But I am also grateful for the way they drew me into the life of the Trinity, without being aware of it, through our daily family life, especially our evening meal together.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are often referred to as the three monotheistic faiths. Those who belong to these three faiths believe in only One God.

I have often heard Catholics say in a well-meaning way, ‘We all believe in the same God.’ But that is not so. Only Christians believe in a God who is a communion of persons.

And Pope Francis has very forcefully reminded us that while the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery that we can never fathom, the Triune God is intimately part of our lives, especially through the sacrament of matrimony and the family: The word of God tells us that the family is entrusted to a man, a woman and their children, so that they may become a communion of persons in the image of the union of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

Family Meal, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, 1757

Villa Valmarana ai Nani, Vicenza, Italy [Web Gallery of Art]

Antiphona ad introitum    Entrance Antiphon

Benedictus sit Deus Pater, Unigenitusque Dei Filius,

Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God,

Sanctus quoque Spiritus,

and also the Holy Spirit, 

quia fecit nobiscum misericordiam suam.

for he has shown us his merciful love.

This is the Offertory Antiphon in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

Election Outcome: The Rule of Law or the Gun. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 13 May 2016

by Fr Shay Cullen  
San Pedro Cathedral, Davao City [Wikipedia]
The greatest upset in Philippine presidential elections this past May 9 has been the phenomenal ninety-day campaign by the then little-known mayor of Davao City in Mindanao – Rodrigo Duterte, a one term congressman but mayor for more than two decades. He rose to national prominence three months ago by being his own true self. 
However bombastic, crude and frightening his threats to impose autocratic rule and kill without trial may have been, one thing is sure – it worked and more than sixteen million Filipinos approved and voted him in as presumptive president. 
However 26 million plus Filipinos did not vote for him but for one of the other four candidates. Yet his 40 percent support of the voting public across all sectors of society is astounding. It was a rejection of the Aquino administration which failed to improve the plight of the poor and the middle class.
Rodrigo Duterte is the head of a local powerful dynasty, his family and friends have controlled Davao city since 1988. He is frank, honest and unrepentant in his oft-repeated admission on television of his human weakness and his crude offensive language and mannerisms. “That’s the way I am, that’s the way I talk,” he explained. 
Full article here.


‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.’ Sunday Reflections, Pentecost, Year C

Pentecost, El Greco, 1596-1600

Museo del Prado, Madrid [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Vigil Mass  (Years A, B and C)

Mass during the Day

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) [This page gives the readings for both the Vigil Mass and the Mass during the Day]

Liturgical Note. Pentecost, like Easter and some other solemnities, has a Vigil, properly so-called. This is not an ‘anticipated Mass’ but a Vigil Mass in its own right, with its own set of prayers and readings. It fulfills our Sunday obligation. There may be an extended Liturgy of the Word,er similar to the Easter Vigil, with all the Old Testament readings used. 

The prayers and readings of the Mass During the Day should not be used for the Vigil Mass, nor those of the Vigil Mass for the Mass During the Day. 

Gospel  John 20:19-23 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”


Gospel  John 14:15-16,  23b-26 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)  

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate,  the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

The Gospel of John

John 20:19-23 (Good News Bible)

More than 20 years ago I was asked to celebrate Mass for a group of girls aged around 14  from a Catholic school in Cebu City in the central Philippines. They were having a recollection day in a retreat house. I made myself available for confession about 30 minutes before Mass. It soon became clear to me that many wanted to go to confession and after half an hour I went to the teacher and suggested we wait a while before starting Mass.

As the girls continued to come, some also sharing problems, I realized that this was their need. I spoke again to the teacher and suggested that we not have Mass that afternoon but that we arrange for one in school a few days later. She readily agreed.

These youngsters were experiencing God’s infinite loving mercy and recognised that. Pope Francis has been highlighting this ever since he was elected. 

In his homily on 17 May 2013 at his Mass in St Martha’s, where he lives, Pope Francis spoke again about God’s mercy. In his homily he said, Peter was saddened that, for a third time, Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” This pain, this shame – a great man, this Peter – [and] a sinner, a sinner. The Lord makes him feel that he is a sinner – makes us all feel that we are sinners. The problem is not that we are sinners: the problem is not repenting of sin, not being ashamed of what we have done. That’s the problem

Pope Francis added, Peter let himself be shaped by his many encounters with Jesus and this ‘is something we all need to do as well, for we are on the same road,’ the Holy Father said, stressing that ‘Peter is great, not because he is good, but because he has a nobility of heart, which brings him to tears, leads him to this pain, this shame – and also to take up his work of shepherding the flock.’ [Emphases added.]

Regular confession is an ongoing encounter with the loving Jesus in which he shapes us. Pope Francis notes that ‘Peter let himself be shaped’. We make a decision each time we go to confession, a decision that’s not always easy to make. But Jesus never spurns us.

On 28 April 2013 Pope Francis confirmed a group of young people from different countries. The last of three points he made in his homily was this: And here I come to my last point. It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people! [Emphases added.]


Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.

Pope Francis hears young persons’ confessions, 23 April 2016

Among other things, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost has given us the sacrament of confession/reconciliation/penance, that beautiful expression of God’s mercy.

In his Message for the Jubilee of Mercy for Adolescents, held in Rome 23-25 April this year, Pope Francis writes: I realize that not all of you can come to Rome, but the Jubilee is truly for everyone and it is also being celebrated in your local Churches. You are all invited to this moment of joy. Don’t just prepare your rucksacks and your banners, but your hearts and your minds as well. Think carefully about the hope and desires you will hand over to Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in the Eucharist which we will celebrate together. As you walk through the Holy Door, remember that you are committing yourselves to grow in holiness and to draw nourishment from the Gospel and the Eucharist, the Word and the Bread of life, in order to help build a more just and fraternal world. [Emphases added].

One of my greatest joys as a sinner is receiving forgiveness in confession from the priest, who absolves me in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that is, with God’s full authority. One of my greatest joys as a priest is to welcome a fellow sinner, whether young or old, whether someone who comes frequently to confession or is returning after many years, and to assure that sinner of God’s mercy and absolving my fellow pilgrim in the name of that merciful God.

Veni Sancte Spiritus

(Sequence for Mass on Pentecost Sunday. This may be sung or said after the Second Reading.)

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,

et emitte caelitus

lucis tuae radium.

Come, Holy Spirit,

send forth the heavenly

radiance of your light.


Veni, pater pauperum,

veni, dator munerum

veni, lumen cordium.

Come, father of the poor,

come giver of gifts,

come, light of the heart.


Consolator optime,

dulcis hospes animae,

dulce refrigerium.

Greatest comforter,

sweet guest of the soul,

sweet consolation.


In labore requies,

in aestu temperies

in fletu solatium.

In labor, rest,

in heat, temperance,

in tears, solace.


O lux beatissima,

reple cordis intima

tuorum fidelium.

O most blessed light,

fill the inmost heart

of your faithful.


Sine tuo numine,

nihil est in homine,

nihil est innoxium.

Without your grace,

there is nothing in us,

nothing that is not harmful.


Lava quod est sordidum,

riga quod est aridum,

sana quod est saucium.

Cleanse that which is unclean,

water that which is dry,

heal that which is wounded.


Flecte quod est rigidum,

fove quod est frigidum,

rege quod est devium.

Bend that which is inflexible,

fire that which is chilled,

correct what goes astray.


a tuis fidelibus,

in te confidentibus,

sacrum septenarium.

Give to your faithful,

those who trust in you,

the sevenfold gifts.


Da virtutis meritum,

da salutis exitum,

da perenne gaudium.

Grant the reward of virtue,

grant the deliverance of salvation,

grant eternal joy.

[The English translation is one of many].



The Candidate of Your Choice. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 5 May 2016

The Candidate of Your Choice

by Fr Shay Cullen

What is it that drives voters, the common people, to cry out and vote 
for the false messiah to be their president and leader? Some voters are 
drawn away from more virtuous leadership and favor unrealistic fantastic 
promises of the bombastic candidate.

Even if such a candidate promotes hatred, racism and violence and 
approves and practices womanizing, insults religions and church leaders 
and supports vigilante killings of any suspect without trial, they can 
arouse a rabble of extremist followers. Can they be trusted to serve and 
lead a nation?

  In the United States and the Philippines, there are candidates that 
share such positions and attitudes. They are not the ideal leaders of a 
nation that aspires to be caring, compassionate and that respects the 
rights and dignity of all.

Good honest Republicans in the USA are outraged and disavow the extreme 
policies of Donald Trump, now the Republican Party presidential 
candidate. He will likely run against the democratic candidate Hilary 

He will ban Muslims from coming into the USA, and all illegal immigrants 
will be deported. Thousands of Filipinos could be in jeopardy.
Trump has insulted women, mocked a disabled person in public and vows to 
strike the enemies of America with overwhelming force if they don’t 
agree to his negotiating positions. If elected president, he will tear 
up every free trade treaty.

For Trump, it is America first and to hell with the rest of the world. 
For him, corporate America and big business should rule America and the 
world; not the regulatory agencies of government, not the UN. And yet he 
has reached a popularity that boggles the mind and troubles the heart.

Full post here.

‘You are witnesses of these things.’ Sunday Reflections, The Ascension of the Lord, Year C

The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt, 1636

Alte Pinakothek, Munich [Web Gallery of Art]

The Solemnity of the Ascension

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 24:46-53 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, andreturned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Where the Ascension is observed on Ascension Thursday

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Responsorial Psalm for the Ascension

(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

World Communications Day

The Sunday on which the Ascension is now celebrated in many countries is also the Church’s World Communications Day. The first was in 1967. Jesus tells the disciples in today’s Gospel – and through them tell us – You are witnesses of these things. Jesus is asking us to use all modern means of communication so that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

When I went home to Ireland on vacation from the Philippines in 1994 before beginning six years as vocation director I took a short course for missionaries in the use of computers given by a religious sister who had worked in an African country for many years. She wasn’t the best teacher I’ve ever had in teaching the ‘mechanical’ basics of her subject but she was a wonderful motivator. Although the internet was still in its infancy she told us stories of how it had helped save lives in the country where she worked.
Some years ago when checking my email in the Philippines I found myself ‘chatting’ with a friend, a Filipina married to a Westerner and living in her husband’s country. I’ll call her Maria. It was clear to me very quickly that she was going through a crisis and thinking of doing the worst to herself. At the time she ‘hated’ everyone except me and ‘didn’t believe’ in God anymore.

I was able to help Maria see that the issue wasn’t any of the things she mentioned but was within herself. I also got her to agree to meet a priest in her own area, someone I had never met and still haven’t. But I was able to contact him through email, having got his address from someone else whom I have never met in person. 

I learned later that that meeting with the priest was to be a turning point for my Maria. She was able to face the world again with hope and hasn’t looked back since.

At the time this happened I had come to know a 16-year-old girl in the Philippines who had been made pregnant by her boyfriend. I’ll call her Ana. I’m not sure to what degree she had consented to the activity that led to her carrying a baby. She was from another part of the country but was welcomed by religious sisters who run a home for girls, most of whom have had pretty bad experiences. Ana was was very angry and part of that anger was directed at the baby she was carrying.

I told Maria about Ana. One of the ironies was that Maria couldn’t have a child, a great sorrow to her and her husband. Despite her ‘not believing’ in God I asked her to pray for Ana, something she readily agreed to do, and told her that I would ask Ana to pray for her. When I met Ana a day or two later she too readily accepted her mission of prayer.

Visitation, Luca della Robbia, c.1445

San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoia, Italy [Web Gallery of Art]

Shortly after that we celebrated the feast of the Visitation. After Mass I asked Ana if she would like me to bless her and the baby in her womb. She was happy with this and later told me that she had felt the baby moving for the first time. More importantly, her anger had disappeared. Some time later she was able to go home to her own family and delivered her baby there.

This incident opened my eyes to the truth of what the Sister who gave us classes on the use of computers and the internet had told us. Here was I at my computer in the Philippines when ‘by chance’, the ‘chance’ being undoubtedly the Holy Spirit, giving crisis counselling to a friend on another continent and helping her to meet someone I had never met who could listen to her in person.

Pope Francis, Palo, Leyte, Philippines

17 January 2015 [Wikipedia]

Ascension Sunday this year is the Church’s 50th World Communications Day. The theme of the message of Pope Francis is Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter.

I’ve added my own emphasis to this paragraph from the message: Emails, text messages, social networks and chats can also be fully human forms of communication. It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal. Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarization and division between individuals and groups. The digital world is a public square, a meeting-place where we can either encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful discussion or unfair attacks. I pray that this Jubilee Year, lived in mercy, ‘may open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; and that it may eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination’ (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). The internet can help us to be better citizens. Access to digital networks entails a responsibility for our neighbour whom we do not see but who is nonetheless real and has a dignity which must be respected. The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing.

My online communication with ‘Maria’ was fully human and charged with the grandeur of God (Gerard Manley Hopkins). So was my communication with ‘Ana’ and her unborn child when I blessed them both after Mass on the Feast of the Visitation.

Pope Francis concludes his message with these words (emphasis added): Communication, wherever and however it takes place, has opened up broader horizons for many people. This is a gift of God which involves a great responsibility. I like to refer to this power of communication as ‘closeness’. The encounter between communication and mercy will be fruitful to the degree that it generates a closeness which cares, comforts, heals, accompanies and celebrates. In a broken, fragmented and polarized world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family.

Both Maria and Ana experienced the encounter between communication and mercy, one through the internet the other face-to-face. God communicated his merciful love to each.

May all of us accept and use the internet as a gift of God which involves a great responsibility.

Last week I included Portia’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Pope Francis quotes from this in his message for today. Above is the speech from a 2004 film production of the play.

Pope Francis: For this reason, I would like to invite all people of good will to rediscover the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships and to restore peace and harmony to families and communities. All of us know how many ways ancient wounds and lingering resentments can entrap individuals and stand in the way of communication and reconciliation. The same holds true for relationships between peoples. In every case, mercy is able to create a new kind of speech and dialogue. Shakespeare put it eloquently when he said: ‘The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes’ (The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I).