‘Set your minds on things that are above.’ Sunday Reflections, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fr Jacques Hamel

(3o November 1930 – 26 July 2016)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Colossians 3: 2-4. Second Reading.)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 12:13-21 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Some martyred priests of our time

Fr Jacques Hamel, Archdiocese of Rouen, France

30 November 1930 – 27 July 2016

Fr Ragheed Ganni 20 January 1972 – 3 June 2007 and Archbishop Mar Paulos Faraj Rahho 20 November 1942 – February or March 2008

Both of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, Iraq

Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, Archdiocese of Warsaw, Poland

14 September 1947 – 19 October 1984

Blessed Óscar Arnulfo Romero, El Salvador

15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980

Fr Vernon Francis Douglas, Columban, New Zealand / Philippines

22 May 1910 – 27 July 1943

Blessed Miguel Pro SJ, Mexico

13 January 1891 – 23 November 1927

This is what the priesthood is about

This is what the Mass is about

This is what the Catholic Church is about

Kyrie eleison

Christe eleison

Kyrie eleison

[Thanks to Fr Ray Blake of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in England who posted the photo from Aleteia above with the caption beneath on his blog.]

Both Blessed Óscar Romero and Fr Jacques Hamel were murdered while celebrating Mass. Fr Ragheed Ganni was murdered just after celebrating Mass.

Church of Saint-Étienne (St Stephen’s) 

Father Jacques, born on the feast of St Andrew, Apostle and Martyr, was martyred in his parish church, named after St Stephen the First Christian Martyr, on the day after the feast of his patron St James, Apostle and Martyr. (Jacques is the French form of James).

The three readings today remind us of what is essential. 

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! (First Reading).

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.(Second Reading).

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Gospel).

Homily on Father Jacques Hamel at ‘Mass in Time of Persecution’ 

This Mass was celebrated in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday 27 July.

In his homily below Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney refers to the many killings by terrorists in recent weeks in different parts of the world – and most victims were Muslims. He refers to Fr Jacques’s friendship with Muslims. He also reminds us of the response of leaders of the Islamic faith in France to the killing of Fr Hamel.

‘A church is a place of peace and love, and when he is saying Mass the priest stands in the place of eternal Love, who is Jesus Christ Himself. So this attack is an attack on a particular priest, his congregation, his community, his country; but it also an attack on all priests, all congregations, all communities, all countries because its aim is to undermine people’s sense of security everywhere, freedom of religion everywhere, and our love of peace.’

We need to be always prepared for a sudden death, not matter in what way it may come. And we need to prepare for that by frequent confession, as Pope Francis has reminded us so many times, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is believed that Fr Francis Douglas was scourged by Japanese soldiers while tied to one of the pillars in St James’ church, Paete, Laguna, because he would not break the seal of confession.

Blessed Óscar Romero:

How easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin! And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt, and everyone is responsible. We are all sinners, and we have all contributed to this massive crime and violence in our country. Salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin
Source: The Violence of Love

Fr Ragheed Ganni:

Without Sunday, without the Eucharist the Christians in Iraq cannot survive . . . Christ challenges evil with his infinite love, he keeps us united and through the Eucharist he gifts us life, which the terrorists are trying to take away

Fr Aidan Tory CP, an Irish Passionist now working in France, speaks from first-hand experience of violence while he served in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Age of Disbelief. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 22 July 2016

The Age of Disbelief

by Fr Shay Cullen

The Good SamaritanThéodule-Augustin Ribot, before 1870

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau, France [Web Gallery of Art]

It is truly an age of disbelief. Respect for the values of human life has plunged. People of Christian faith who declare belief in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth that upholds the dignity and rights of the human person, stands with the poor and the excluded, shares with the refugees and the homeless, is at an all time low.

Faith in serving one’s suffering neighbor as a Good Samaritan, binding up the wounds of the stranger, reaching out to feed the hungry, working for peace and justice is lost in a world of materialism where the ideology is ‘greed is good’. Our prosperous world of money and power, wealth and possessions has created a generation of people that appears to be more interested in selfish satisfaction and glorification.

Much of the younger generation is absorbed with themselves, cut off in isolation by technology and gadgets and games from loving, serving human interaction. This is a lonely isolated generation. The selfie world is here with the Internet of things.

They seem to retreat into silence and inaction rather than take an open stand for the victims of human rights, child abuse and exploitation. Few march for peace and against racism and war. Where indeed are the cries of those who believe in the love of neighbor and the service to the oppressed and the exploited poor? They are drowned out by the noisy blare of mindless revelry and the drug- dependent pleasure seeking people.

Full post here.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925)

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a great example of a highly-gifted and joy-filled young man engaged, as a person of faith, in the work of the Church, especially among the many poor people in his native city, Torino (Turin), Italy. His relics have been brought to Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day 2016, 26-31 July.

‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy,’ WYD Krakow 2016. Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Man Praying, Van Gogh, April 1883, The Hague

Private Collection [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 Luke 11:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come.
     Give us each day our daily bread.
     And forgive us our sins,
        for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
    And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’  And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’  I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?  Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Responsorial Psalm (NAB Lectionary)

Fr Patrick Ronan, from County Kilkenny in Ireland, was one of four Columbans jailed in China in 1952 by the Communist authorities for ‘subversive activities’. Another Columban, Fr Aedan McGrath, spent nearly three years in solitary confinement in China between 1950 and 1953 because of his involvement in the Legion of Mary. All five were expelled in 1953.

Fr Ronan, known to his fellow Columbans as ‘Pops’, and his three companions, Frs Owen O’Kane, John Casey and Patrick Reilly, were called Four Felons in a book published in 1958 that told their story. They were in the same prison but in separate cells and were often interrogated in the middle of the night, never knowing when they might be called out.

Unlike his three companions, Father ‘Pops’ always managed to sleep soundly, no matter how often he was awakened for an interrogation. When the four were eventually released and told to leave the People’s Republic he learned why when they arrived in Hong Kong. The woman who had been principal when he was in kindergarten had been praying every day of his captivity for one specific intention: that he would sleep soundly.

Like the wonderful bargaining prayer of Abraham on behalf of his people in the First Reading today that woman’s prayer was very down to earth and, like Abraham, she saw God as being down to earth too. Her prayer was also very focused, as was that of Abraham. And, like Abraham, our father in faith, she had a deep faith-filled hope that God would answer her prayer.

The ‘Four Felons’ have all gone to their reward now. I was blessed to have known two of them here in the Philippines, Fr Ronan and Fr Reilly. I happened to be in Ireland when Father ‘Pops’ died there in 1991 and his great friend and fellow ‘felon’ Fr Patrick Reilly told us a story at the funeral Mass that reminded us of the power of the very specific prayer of Fr Ronan’s former teacher, though from a somewhat humorous angle. The four travelled home by boat from Hong Kong. The other three often had difficulty trying to waken Fr Ronan in the morning and suggested that he contact his friend in Ireland and ask her to stop praying for him!

I am often deeply touched by friends in the Philippines who ask me to pray for some particular intention, very often for a family member who is sick. When that person gets better they make a point of thanking me for my prayers. There’s an reminder in this that, like Abraham, I’m called to pray for the people I serve.

And Pope Francis on the evening he first spoke to use as Pope reminded us of the importance of our prayers for him.

I truly believe that it is impossible for God to refuse to listen to prayer that is in harmony with his will. So many of us older people these days have family members and friends who seem to have fallen away from the Church and, in many instances, from the faith itself. There are two things we can do: live as followers of Jesus as intensely as possible and pray that their faith will be renewed.

St John Paul II singing the Our Father in Latin

Old Woman Praying, Matthias Stom, 1640s

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [Web Gallery of Art]

Antiphona ad introitum   Communion Antiphon Matthew 5:7-8
[Alternative Communion Antiphon with New Testament text] 

Beati misericordes, quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

World Youth Day 26-31 July 2016, Kracow

The first verse of the alternative Communion Antiphon is the theme for WYD 2016 Krakow: Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the Merciful is the title of the theme song for the event. The official English version, with audio only, is here. Below is another version, produced in California.

I rather like the version below produced by the Aizawl Diocese Catholic Youth. The diocese is in India, has a population of 4,600,000 or so and maybe 40,000 Catholics. The Mizo people live in north-western India, western Myanmar and eastern Bangladesh. They are nearly all Christians, though only a minority are Catholics.

It doesn’t really matter what language the song is sung in as long as we keep this in mind and heart: Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

WYD Krakow 2016 Official Prayer

‘God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.’
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong.

Columban Fr Edward Quinn RIP

Fr Edward Quinn

(25 June 1928 – 12 July 2016)

After a brief illness, Fr Edward Quinn (’55) died peacefully at the Bellevue Medical Center in Nebraska on the evening of 12 July.

Fr Ed Quinn was born on 25 June 25 in Minneapolis, MN, USA.  His parents were Edward I. Quinn and Mary Frances Graham.

In his early elementary school years he attended public schools in Iowa. From the sixth through eighth grades he studied at Our Lady of Lourdes School, Omaha, NE, 1939-42. His high school years were spent at Creighton Prep 1942-46, Omaha, NE. For college he studied at Creighton University, Omaha, NE, 1946-50 where he received a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He was a gifted athlete who played on the basketball and track teams at Creighton Prep and Creighton University.

St John’s Church, Creighton University [Wikipedia]

He studied for the priesthood at the Columban seminaries at St Columbans, NE, Bristol, RI, and at Milton, MA. Father Ed was ordained to the priesthood on 17 December 1955 in the Milton seminary chapel.

Fr Quinn in Korea, c. 1960

‘This article, circa 1960, is about my uncle caring for those in leper colonies in South Korea. He lived in Korea until 1972. He then worked in Fiji until he returned to Omaha about a decade ago. He did much good for humanity in his 88 years.’ [From Facebook of Fr Quinn’s nephew, also Edward Quinn.]

He served in Korea from 1956 to 1968 doing parish work.

Later in 1968 Father Ed was assigned to the USA for vocation work in Chicago. While there he started the Korean Catholic Center.

Fr Quinn in Fiji

In 1973 he was assigned to Fiji where he did parish work for ten years. While he mainly served in Fijian-speaking parishes, Father Ed also spoke Hindi which he used in Indian-Fijian parishes. While Regional Director in Fiji 1983-87 he periodically visited and spent several months in Vanuatu, where the Columban Region of Fiji had a mission at that time. From 1987 onwards he  served variously in formation, vocations, hospital chaplaincy and parish work before starting the Lay Missionary program in Fiji. 

Father Ed with Korean Columban Lay Missionaries Yean Sin, Bok Ja and Yean Han in Fiji, 1994

Yean Sin died of hepatitis in Fiji on 4 November 1994.

In addition, he was Regional Bursar from 1987 to 1991 and House Bursar/Manager from 1990 to 2007. He was periodically elected as a Regional Councilor throughout his years in Fiji.

From 2007 to the present, he was assigned to St Columbans, Omaha, NE. While he was still able to drive, he chose to be a chauffeur for many Columbans on trips to and from the local airport. He had a low key, unassuming way about him with a wry sense of humor. He is sorely missed.

Crucifix, St Columbans, Nebraska

Obituary by Fr Tim Mulroy, Columban Regional Director, USA.

Christ JyotiAshram – Christ the Light Ashram

Near Nadi, in western Viti Levu

The only time your editor met Fr Ed Quinn was two or three weeks after Easter 1990 when I paid my only visit to Fiji. The late Fr Martin Dobey met me at Nadi International Airport and took me to the Ashram above where the Columbans were on retreat. They greeted me with the traditional yaqona (kava) ceremony. I spent two nights there, as far as I can recall, and then traveled with Father Ed in his vehicle to Suva, a journey of about two hours. Fr Mulroy’s description of him above: He had a low key, unassuming way about him with a wry sense of humor, is how I remember him. As a fellow Columban missionary priest I was inspired by his quiet, joyful presence. 

Coral reef below the Ashram

An abiding memory I have of my stay in the Ashram is the sound of the waves breaking on the coral reef in the photo above, a sound that brought a sense of peace.

May Father Ed rest in the eternal life-filled peace that Jesus has promised to those who follow him and do the will of the Father.

If Proposed Laws Are Passed, Nine-year Old Children Could be Hanged. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 15 July 2016

If Proposed Laws Are Passed, Nine-year Old Children Could be Hanged

by Fr Shay Cullen

Preda Boys Home

A few weeks ago, the Philippine nation and the world that cares for children’s rights and human dignity learned that the new speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippine Congress has filed two proposed laws that will lower the age of criminal liability for children in conflict with the law to nine years old and reintroduce the death penalty by hanging.

This is draconian and oppressive for children and not worthy of the Duterte administration and the Philippine people. The children are innocent, most are illiterate, abandoned, neglected and failed by society and government. The children younger than 15 are being used by criminals to commit crimes because they cannot be prosecuted, proponents of the law say. This is baloney.

If it is true that they are being used (there is no research data or evidence to support it), the children are controlled, used and exploited by criminals and cannot act with free will or be held liable for wrongdoing. So, what’s the point of criminalizing them? The children are scapegoats of uncaring authorities and an indifferent society.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council, has strongly opposed such a move to criminalize children and the civil society is also adamantly against it.

The Catholic Church has strongly spoken against the death penalty and we wait for a statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to support the retention of the 15-years-old age of liability for children. It is very wrong to blame children for the crimes of adults.

Full post here.

‘There is need of only one thing.’ Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Abraham and the Three AngelsGerbrand van den Eeckhout, 1656

The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia [Web Gallery of Art]

[First Reading, Genesis 18:1-10a]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 10:38-42 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;  there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Vermeer, 1654-55 (?)

National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh [Web Gallery of Art]

Perhaps the poorest man I’ve met in my life was Billy Smith. Despite his name, he was a Filipino, though as far as we Columban priests knew his father was an American. He was known to all the Columbans in northern Mindanao where in the 1970s we had many parishes, now staffed by Filipino diocesan priests. Billy would do his rounds of the parishes over a period of months and in each would get some food, some clothing, a little money and a place to sleep. He was tall and thin and in his latter years was going blind. He had a number of illnesses. He carried a sturdy staff. Sometimes children would make fun of him and even throw stones at him.

One afternoon more than 35 years ago in a place where I had been parish priest for a couple of months, the last Columban to serve in that role, but was in charge of a spiritual pastoral formation year for seminarians from five dioceses, I heard the ‘clump, clump, clump’ of heavy boots coming up the stairs to the living quarters. It was Billy. At the time I had a visitor, a young friend named Patricia who was in Grade 5. She never knew her father as he had died when she was an infant. She ‘adopted’ me as a father and called me ‘Tatay’ (Dad) and often dropped by after class before heading home. (She is now a widowed grandmother and still calls me ‘Tatay’.) The family lived in a small house built on stilts that looked as if it might fall over at any minute. Her mother managed to make a living. 

When Patricia saw Billy she immediately went over to him, took him by the hand, sat him down at the table and brought him something to eat and drink. I doubt if Billy had ever received such service in his life. My young friend was unaware that I was taking all of this in.

Patricia had little in life and Billy had even less. But the young girl showed respect, kindness and hospitality to this man of the roads. She did this spontaneously, from the heart. When I told her about this incident years later she couldn’t remember it.

The story in the First Reading of Abraham’s welcome to the three strangers and the story of the welcome Martha and Mary to Jesus in the Gospel show us how blessed we may be by hospitality. Abraham didn’t know that the strangers were visitors from God, who blessed him and Sarah, childless and well beyond the normal age for having children, with a son, Isaac, within the year. It is through Isaac that we can refer to ‘Abraham, our father in faith’ in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

God blessed Billy through the hospitality of Patricia, a child, and he gave me a lifelong blessing through that incident.

Very often what a visitor looks forward to is something to eat and drink. And in the Scriptures when it gives us stories of hospitality such as in the First Reading, there is more than enough. Vincenzo Campi’s painting below emphasises the extent of Martha’s hospitality and the amount of work that faces her. We can understand her frustration with her sister Mary. The painting also shows us something of the generosity of God.

However, there are times when the hospitality needed is simply someone to listen. From what we read about Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus in the gospels of St Luke and St John it would seem that Jesus felt very much at home with them and quite possibly had many meals with them. But on this occasion he simply wants the ear of Mary and Martha. Mary senses this. 

There is need of only one thing, Jesus tells Martha. That, basically, is to know what God wants from us at a particular time and then to do that. In the last chapter of St John’s Gospel Jesus is telling us the same thing in his conversation with St Peter when he asks him three times ‘Do you love me?’ When Peter says ‘Yes’ on each occasion Jesus tells him, ‘feed my lambs, feed my sheep’. But the basic question is Do you love me?

There is need of only one thing.

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, Vincenzo Campi

Galleria Estense, Modena, Italy [Web Gallery of Art]

Responsorial Psalm
NAB Lectionary (Philippines, USA)

Oak of Mamre [Wikipedia]
[First Reading, Genesis 18:1-10a]

The Good News is That Justice Has Been Done. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 7 July 2016

The Good News is That Justice Has Been Done

by Fr Shay Cullen

Preda Boys Home

The serial child sexual abuser Douglas Slade from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire was sentenced to 24 years in jail after he was extradited back to the UK and faced sexual abuse charges.

He was charged in court in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines several times for abuse of children in his luxurious child sex den but was able to bribe his way out of all the charges allegedly with the help of corrupt police, court officials and bent lawyers. Slade admitted in an interview with a UK television channel that he paid lawyers to “fix” the cases.

Preda Foundation social workers and paralegal officers assisted the victims and are legal guardians for some of them with power of attorney. Slade has abused as many as 33 children living within half a kilometer of his house, which he built next to an elementary school and had a gate leading to the playground. He allegedly gave gifts to the school principal to allow the boys to come in his house where he abused them.

The Preda Foundation is working to file civil action cases in the UK against Slade to demand compensation for the degrading and human suffering and psychological damage that the children endure.

One boy reported, as reported by Simon Perry in his report in the Mail Online, that Slade threatened him and other victims with a gun if they or their parents told the police about the sexual abuse. Slade kept a firearm in his house. According to the report, Slade had video cameras fitted to the wall in both the living room and the bedroom. He would film his abuse and told Christian and the other boys he was selling the footage to friends over the Internet. “Mr. Douglas told us to do things to him and he told us we had to do it right as he told us to because it was all going on video,’ he said.

When Slade’s computer broke down, he called in a technician to repair it. This technician saw the pictures of sexual abuse, knew it was indicative of a crime and reported it to police. He made copies so the police would have evidence to get a search warrant. The police raided the home with a search warrant and got the original material in a legal manner. However, in the Angeles City Court, Slade’s lawyers were able to say that the original procurement of the video were illegal and despite the evidence that the police got the same evidence legally, the case was dismissed despite the powerful evidence of the child rape themselves.

It was at this stage that the Preda director in conversation with visiting UK child protection officials brought the case of Slade to their attention. Soon, historic cases in the UK were revived with their help and the help of media and Slade was extradited.

Full post here.

‘Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”’ Sunday Reflections, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Van Gogh, May 1890

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands [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 Luke 10:25-37 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Samaritans’ Passover Pilgrimage, Mount Gerizim [Wikipedia]

Fr Kevin McHugh, a Columban confrere in Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila, sent me the following by the late Monsignor Thomas Waldron (1929 – 1995) of the Archdiocese of Tuam, Ireland. Father Kevin transcribed it from a cassette tape.

NB When posting this yesterday I omitted the last part of Monsignor Waldren’s reflection. It is there now.

Instead of a homily I am going to take a risk . . . I am going to tell the story in the words of the lawyer who asked Jesus the Question that you just heard in the Gospel ‘Who is my neighbor?’

So, I am the lawyer.

We lawyers make our living by asking questions . . . especially when in the court room. Well, I was one of those standing in the crowd that day . . . and I asked a very basic question.

‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

I admired him . . . I liked him . . . but I just wanted to test him. He didn’t answer me! Like any good lawyer he shot back the question . . . two questions.

‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’

I gave the standard answer: ‘Love God with all heart etc . . . and your neighbor as yourself.’

He said: ‘Exactly! Do this and you will live!’

I suppose I could have left it there but I wanted to show off . . . to show the others how smart I was . . . so I asked, ‘But who is my neighbor?’

He gave me a little look as if to say, ‘You are a clever one alright . . .but listen to this!’

And then he went on . . . you know the story . . . Jewish priest . . .. sacristan went down the road . . . passed the man lying at side of road. Samaritan came along and helped to save his life.

It was a beautiful answer to my question.

But he wasn’t finished with me.

‘Which of these three,’ he said to me, ‘would you think was neighbor to the man?’

Made his question personal!

Now the roles were reversed. Jesus was not my witness . . . he was my judge? I was more like a defendant!

‘The one who took pity on him,’ I said.

A few bystanders approached him so I took my leave. I had certainly met my match!

But later on that day I met Jesus in the Market place; he came over to me and said: Good Question!

And I said to him, ‘Great Answer!’

Lawyer:’ I presume that the part you yourself would have played in the story would have been that of the Good Samaritan?’

Jesus: ‘Well, actually, no. I think I would have been the man who was injured and beaten . . . lying on the road. It was from that point of view that I told the story:

  • with the ears of a man who heard people pass by when I shouted out for help;
  • with the eyes of a man who saw feet walk by him – on the other side – when he needed some one on his side;
  • and I told the story with the thanks of a frightened man . . . thanks for the fellow who stopped.
  • The man on the ground – that’s me – is grateful for anyone that stops . . . man, woman or Samaritan.

When you’re down, you don’t care what color, class, creed or nationality is the hand that helps you up.

And he looked at me . . . and he looked at us all gathered here this evening when he said: ‘Go . . . and do likewise.’

Antiphona ad communionem  Communion Antiphon. Cf Ps 83[84]:4-5 

Passer invenit sibi domum et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos. Altaria tua, Domine virtutum, Rex meus et Deus meus! Beati qui habitant in domu tua, in saeculum saeculi laudabunt te.

The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young: by your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, for ever singing your praise.

The Child Prisoners of Philippine Jails. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 30 June 2016

Fr Shay Cullen and friends, Preda Boys Home

The Child Prisoners of Philippine Jails

by Fr Shay Cullen

The recent conviction of notorious British Douglas Slade in the United Kingdom (UK) for multiple acts of sex abuse against children is a historic and significant development. It is rare that British pedophiles are successfully extradited from the Philippines.

He fled to the Philippines to escape justice in Britain several years ago and he allegedly preyed on many young boys here in the Philippines. The Preda Foundation social workers and paralegal officers rescued several victims and brought legal charges against Slade in Philippine courts and pursued justice for them. Soon we will take civil court action in the UK to get justice for the Filipino children he allegedly abused.

In the Philippines he was allegedly able to bribe his way out of these cases. He was video-recorded telling a journalist how he was able to bribe his way and have the cases dismissed.
This is real crime to the eternal shame of irresponsible and corrupt lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Despite strong evidence, including the testimony of the victims, the cases were dismissed and he allegedly carried on abusing more children. More cases were filed and dismissed. The corrupt officials who allowed it should answer to the nation and God.

Full post here.


The Daily Telegraph (London) reported on 1 July that Douglas Slade (75) has been sentenced in England to 24 years in jail.

MailOnline (London) published a background story on 1 January 2015.

‘The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs . . .’ Sunday Reflections, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Madonna and Child, Pompeo Batoni, c.1742

Galleria Borghese, Rome [Web Gallery of Art]

For thus says the Lord:
I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
    and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,
    and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child,
    so I will comfort you;
    you shall be comforted in Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:12-13).

From today’s First Reading.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,  ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

During some of my summer vacations in my seminary years I went on Peregrinatio Pro Christo  – Pilgrimage For Christ – with the Legion of Mary. ‘PPC’, as Legionaries usually call it, was partly inspired by the spirit of Irish monks such as St Columbanus (Columban) and St Columcille (Columba) who left Ireland for other beautiful countries, Columban to the European mainland and Columba to Iona, Scotland, in the modern Diocese of Argyll and the Isles where I spent two months in parish work during the summer of 2013. I also spent two short periods working there in the summer of 1997.

Legionaries go to another country or to another region in their own country for at least a week, usually at the invitation of a particular parish. In 1963 I was in a parish near the centre of Liverpool, around the time the Beatles, from that city, were becoming known throughout the world. Two years later I was in a parish in Paisley, very near Glasgow, and in 1966 in Pewsey, a lovely village in rural Wiltshire in England’s beautiful West Country. I arrived there on the day England won the World Cup in football against Germany and watched the game in a cafe in Bristol.

On PPC most of the Legionaries have never met each other before but they establish a close bond very quickly. Instead of a weekly meeting, as they have in their own praesidium, as a branch is called (the Legion takes its terminology from the ancient Roman Legions) they meet daily. Each meeting includes prayers at the beginning, the middle and the end, a reading from the Handbook, reporting on work done, a short talk or allocutio from the spiritual director, and assignments for the coming week, two hours for senior members.

On PPC this takes place every day, as does the work. And it is usually much longer than two hours. Most of those taking part give up part of their own vacations and pay their own way, though they are usually hosted by local families, just like the 72 in the gospel.

Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool [Wikipedia]

Just like the disciples in today’s Gospel, Legionaries work in pairs. They may never work alone. If one doesn’t turn up the assigned work can’t be done. One of the central works of the Legion of Mary is to visit homes. In Liverpool the parish priest asked us to do a parish census. This served two purposes. It helped the parish update its list but, more importantly, it was an opportunity for personal contact with parishioners, especially with those who had lapsed.

I remember one particular home that I visited with my assigned partner. The parish index card noted that the family who lived there had become quite bitter towards the Church, why, I didn’t know. But I felt nervous when I pressed the doorbell. When the door was opened one of us said that we were from the Legion of Mary and that we were visiting on behalf of the local parish.

Instead of angry words or having the door being slammed in our faces, we got a big smile from the man who had opened the door when we introduced ourselves and he said, ‘O, you’re from Ireland!’ He then told us of vacations that he and his family had spent in Ireland and that they had received a warm welcome wherever they went.

I took this as a cue to speak of the hospitality and friendliness of the Irish people as being an expression of their Catholic faith. We had a long chat in which the man, who had, as I recall, asked his wife to meet us, expressed no bitterness at all towards the Church and it was clear when we were leaving that he was very grateful for the visit. 

I don’t know if he and his family went back to the Church but he had experienced a welcoming Church through our visit. In a very real way we had done what Jesus had asked the 72 (or 70) to do: Cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’  The sickness in question wasn’t a physical one but a spiritual one.

Our faith is a precious gift from God that must be shared. Otherwise it will die. In the gospel the 72 (or 70) are given a specific mission. That is what happens on PPC. But we’re on mission all the time and we may never know how we can lead others to the faith. 

A few years ago when visiting Canada I was invited to give a talk to a prayer group. Afterwards over coffee I was chatting with one of the members, an immigrant from Germany. She had been a Lutheran but for years had been thinking of becoming a Catholic. However, she couldn’t take the final step. One day she was passing a Catholic church and felt drawn to go in. As she was trying to share her hesitation with the Lord a group of teenage boys came in, genuflected to the Blessed Sacrament, spent a couple of minutes in silent prayer, got up, genuflected again and went on their way. This for her was the moment of grace when she let go of her hesitations. She didn’t know who the boys were and they had no idea of the powerful impact their visit to the Lord had made on this woman.

Ballachulish, Scotland [Wikipedia]

Three years ago in St Mun’s Church, Ballachulish, where I spent some time during the summer, I concelebrated Mass with Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles – he is now Bishop of Motherwell – as he baptised and confirmed James Campbell MacPherson and gave him his First Holy Communion. Campbell, as he is known to everyone, is married and his wife Mary and their children are Catholics. I’ve no doubt that it was their influence and that of the parishioners in this small parish that gently led him to the faith.

Whether we’re ‘on duty’ as missionaries, as the 72 (or 70) were and as I was on PPC, or ‘off duty’ the lives we lead can truly remind others that the kingdom of God has come near to you. The people that the Liverpool family met in Ireland, bus drivers, waitresses, newspaper vendors, so many others, probably weren’t aware that they were gentle reminders of God’s love to them. When we honestly try to follow Jesus despite our sinfulness and weakness we can take heart in the words he spoke to the 72 (or 70) as they reported what had happened during their mission, rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Antiphona ad introitum    

Entrance Antiphon Cf. Ps 47[48]: 10-11

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui.

Your merciful love, O God, we have recevied in the midst of your temple.

Secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae;

Your praise, O God, like your name, reaches the ends of the earth;

iustitia plena est dextera tua.

your right hand is filled with saving justice.

Posted by Fr Seán Coyle at 11:43