28 November 2008


Though my house is in ruins, my neighbourhood destroyed, and my City suffering in so many ways, yet my heart is supremely grateful to God Most High for preserving our lives and giving so many an opportunity to begin anew, should they take these grave troubles, raise them up to God in prayer, and receive the gift of His transformation of everything into His Glory and His Kingdom. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

All glory be to God on high!
Peace, laud, and joy be our reply
To angels singing in the sky.
Praise Jesus Christ, true light from light.
Tender his love and great his might,
Christ Jesus, saviour, our delight.

O Word and Wisdom, thee we name,
Jesus the infant, God the same.
Praise and all worship to thy Name.
Son of blest Mary, spotless Lamb,
High Priest most holy, Great I AM,
Receive our lives into thy hand.

Praise God for Joseph, sainted man,
Brave Guardian of God’s saving plan,
Protector of the God-made-man.
Praise God for Mary Mother true,
Faithful to Jesus her life through,
Mother of God, our Mother too.

Lord Jesus Christ, most holy Lord,
With thy blest Spirit be adored
In God’s own glory here outpoured.
Joy now to hear thine infant cries!
Hope of the simple and the wise!
Love from all souls to thee arise!

© 2008 by Vincent Wm. Uher III

TUNE: OLD 113th
(O Mensch, bewein), Strassburger Kirchenamt, 1525

22 September 2008

Illness, hurricane, destruction

I am sorry, dear readers, that I have not kept up with this blog. I have been very ill, and it looks like I will finally need surgery to remove a cyst from within my spinal cord and to remove a cyst at the back of my brain.

Additionally, my home was submerged under 6 feet of water by Hurricane Ike, and I have lost most of my possessions.

Such times teach one that no matter how treasured some object may be the real treasure in life is to be found in the bonds of family and friends within the eternal friendship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please keep us in your prayers, and please ask Our Lady, Star of the Sea, to intercede for Galveston Island and her people.

14 August 2008

Jeremy Taylor and Eucharistic Sacrifice, Part Four

The following prayers are prayers to be said before Reception of the Holy Communion in Taylor's Eucharistic Liturgy which he authored for use during the period when the Book of Common Prayer was banned. The use of material from the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgies is self-evident:

O Blessed Jesus, my Lord and My God, thou art the celestial food and the life of every man that cometh unto thee. I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and am not worthy to partake of these holy Mysteries : but thou art my merciful Saviour : Grant that I may religiously, thankfully, and without reproof partake of thy blessed Body and Blood for the remission of my sins, and unto life eternal. Amen.

I Believe, O God, and confess that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who came into the World to save Sinners, whereof I am chief. Lord, make me this day partaker of thy heavenly Table ; for thou dost not give thy secrets to thy Enemies, but to the Sons of thine own House. Let me never give thee a Judas kiss ; I confess thee and thy glories, I invocate thee and thy mercies : I trust upon thee and thy goodness like the Thief upon the Cross ; Lord, remember me in thy Kingdom, with the remembrances of an everlasting love. Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof ; but as thou didst vouchsafe to lie in a Manger with Beasts, and to enter into the house of Simon the leper, nor didst despise the repenting Harlot when she kissed thy Feet ; so vouchsafe to lodge in my Soul, though it be a place of beastly affections and unreasonable passions ; throw them out and dwell there for ever ; purifie my Soul, accept the Sinner, cleanse the Leper, so shall I be worthy to partake of this divine Banquet. Amen.

13 August 2008

Jeremy Taylor and Eucharistic Sacrifice, Part Three

Jeremy Taylor died on the Thirteenth of August in the Year of Our Salvation 1667. The following is a collect recalling him and using part of a well-known collect authored by Taylor:

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we beseech thee, like thy servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The following quotations reasonably portray Jeremy Taylor's eucharistic theology and his understanding of eucharistic sacrifice when taken in conjunction with the text of his Eucharistic Liturgy:

“The Altar or Holy Table is sedes Corporis et Sanguinis Christi. S. Chrysost: hom: 21. in 2 Cor: et alibi. And if the Altars, and the Arke and the Temple in the Law of Nature and Moses were Holy, because they were God’s Memorialls, as I shewed above, then by the same reason shall the Altar be uperagion, highly Holy, because it is Christ’s Memoriall. ….. Wee doe believe that Christ is there really present in the Sacrament, there is the body and bloud of Christ, which are, ‘verely, and indeed’ taken and received by the faithfull, saith our Church in her Catechisme. ….”

Jeremy Taylor, On the Reverence Due to the Altar, edn Heber-Eden, 1847-1852, V, 330.

“an action among all the instances of religion [as] the most perfect and consummate [which] actually performs all that could be necessary for man, and it presents to man as great a thing as God could give; for it is impossible any thing should be greater than himself. …. Because, after a mysterious and ineffable manner, we receive him, who is light and life, the fountain of grace, the sanctifier of our secular comforts, and the author of holiness and glory. ….. Christ has remained in the world, by the communication of this sacrament. ….. The bread, when it is consecrated, and made sacramental, is the body of our Lord; and the fraction and distribution of it is the communication of that body, which died for us upon the cross.”

Jeremy Taylor, The Great Exemplar, edn. Bohn, 1844: I, 305.

” … whatsoever Christ did at the institution, the same he commanded the Church to do, in remembrance and repeated rites; and himself also does the same thing in heaven for us, making perpetual intercession for his church, the body of his redeemed ones, by representing to his Father his death and sacrifice. There he sits, a High Priest continually, and offers still the same one perfect sacrifice; that is, still represents it as having been once finished and consummate, in order to perpetual and never-failing events. And this, also, his ministers do on earth; they offer up the same sacrifice to God, the sacrifice of the cross, by prayers, and a commemorating rite and re-presentment, according to his holy institution.

"And as all the effects of grace and the titles of glory were purchased for us on the cross, and the actual mysteries of redemption perfected on earth, but are applied to us, and made effectual to single persons and communities of men, by Christ’s intercession in heaven; so also they are promoted by acts of duty and religion here on earth, that we may be ‘workers together with God’, (as St Paul expresses it, 2 Cor. 6: 1) and, in virtue of the eternal and all-sufficient sacrifice, may offer up our prayers and our duty; and by representing that sacrifice, may send up, together with our prayers, an instrument of their graciousness and acceptation. … we ‘celebrate and exhibit the Lord’s death’, in sacrament and symbol; and this is that great express, which, when the church offers to God the Father, it obtains all those blessings which that sacrifice purchased. ...

"… As Christ is a priest in heaven for ever, and yet does not sacrifice himself afresh, nor yet without a sacrifice could he be a priest; but, by a daily ministration and intercession, represents his sacrifice to God, and offers himself as sacrificed: so he does upon earth, by the ministry of his servants; he is offered to God, that is, he is, by prayers and the sacrament, represented or ‘offered up to God, as sacrificed’; which, in effect, is a celebration of his death, and the applying it to present and future necessities of the church, as we are capable, by a ministry like to his in heaven. It follows, then, that the celebration of this sacrifice be, in its proportion, an instrument of applying the proper sacrifice to all the purposes which it first designed. It is ministerially, and by application, an instrument propitiatory; it is eucharistical, it is an homage, and an act of adoration; and it is impetratory, and obtains for us, and for the whole church, all the benefits of the sacrifice, which is now celebrated and applied; that is, as this rite is the remembrance and ministerial celebration of Christ’s sacrifice, so it is destined to do honour to God, to express the homage and duty of his servants, to acknowledge his supreme dominion, to give him thanks and worship, to beg pardon, blessings, and supply of all our needs.”

Jeremy Taylor, The Great Exemplar, edn. Bohn, 1844: I, 308.

“When the holy man stands at the table of blessing, and ministers the rite of consecration, then do as the angels do, who behold, and love, and wonder that the Son of God should become food to the souls of his servants: that he, who cannot suffer any change or lessening, should be broken into pieces, and enter into the body to support and nourish the spirit, and yet at the same time remain in heaven, while he descends to thee upon earth. …. These are such glories, that although they are made so obvious, that each eye may behold them, yet they are also so deep, that no thought can fathom them: but so it hath pleased him to make these mysteries to be sensible, because the excellency and depth of the mercy is not intelligible; that while we are ravished and comprehended within the infiniteness of so vast and mysterious a mercy, yet we may be sure of it, as of that thing we see, and feel, and smell, and taste; but yet it is so great we cannot understand it.”

Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living, edn. Bohn, 1844: I, 498.

“In the act of receiving, exercise acts of faith with much confidence and resignation, believing it not to be common bread and wine, but holy in their use, holy in their signification, holy in their change, and holy in their effect: and believe, if thou art a worthy communicant, thou dost as verily receive Christ’s body and blood to all effects and purposes of the Spirit, as thou dost receive the blessed elements into thy mouth, that thou puttest thy finger to his hands, and thy hand into his side, and thy lips to the fontinel of blood, sucking life from his heart; and yet if thou dost communicate unworthily, thou eatest and drinkest Christ to thy danger, and death, and destruction. Dispute not concerning the secret of the mystery, and the nicety of the manner of Christ’s presence; it is sufficient to thee, that Christ shall be present to thy soul, as an instrument of grace, as a pledge of the resurrection, as the earnest of glory and immortality, and a means of many intermedial blessings, even all such as are necessary on thy part but a holy life, and a true belief of all the sayings of Christ; amongst which, indefinitely assent to the words of institution, and believe that Christ, in the holy sacrament, gives thee his body and his blood. He that believes not this, is not a Christian. He that believes so much, needs not to inquire further, nor to entangle his faith by disbelieving his sense.”

Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living, edn. Bohn, 1844: I, 499.

“Now Christ did establish a number of select persons to be ministers of this great sacrifice, finished upon the cross; that they also should exhibit and represent to God, in the manner which their Lord appointed them, this sacrifice, commemorating the action and suffering of the great priest; and by the way of prayers and impetration, offering up that action in behalf of the people, epi to anw jusiasthrion anapemyaV taV jusiaV, as Gregory Nazianzen expresses it, ‘sending up sacrifices to be laid upon the altar in heaven’; that the church might be truly united unto Christ their head, and in the way of their ministry, may do what he does in heaven. For he exhibits the sacrifice, that is, himself, actually and presentially in heaven: the priest on earth commemorates the same, and, by his prayers, represents it to God in behalf of the whole catholic church; presentially too, by another and more mysterious way of presence; but both Christ in heaven, and his ministers on earth, do actuate that sacrifice, and apply it to its purposed design by praying to God in the virtue and merit of that sacrifice: Christ himself, in high and glorious manner; the ministers of his priesthood (as it becomes ministers) humbly, sacramentally, and according to the energy of human advocation and intercession; this is the sum and great mysteriousness of Christianity …”
Jeremy Taylor, Clerus Domini, edn. Bohn, 1844: III, 694-695.

Jeremy Taylor and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Part Two

This second post continues with selections from the Eucharistic Liturgy of Jeremy Taylor which he composed for use during the period when the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican Church were banned. The Eastern Divine liturgies such as the Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem provide much of the source material employed by Taylor in both his actual language as well as theological framework.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up unto the Lord.

Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
It is just and right so to do.

It is indeed truly just, righteous, and fitting to praise and to glorify, to worship and adore, to give thanks and to magnify thee the great Maker of all creatures, visible and invisible, the treasure of all good, temporal and eternal : The fountain of all life, mortal and immortal : The Lord and God of all things in Heaven and Earth, the great Father of his Servants, and great Master of his Children.

The Heavens and the Heaven aof Heavens, and every power therein ; the Sun and the Moon, and all the stars of the sky ; the sea and the earth, the heights above and the depths below ; Jerusalem that is from above, the Congregation celestial, the Church of the first-born written in the Heavens, the spirits of the Prophets and of just men made perfect, the souls of the Apostles and all holy Martyrs, Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, the spirits of Understanding and the spirits of Love, with never ceasing Hymns and perpetual Anthems cry out Night and Day,

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of Hosts :
Heaven and Earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

* * *

Let all corruptible flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and think within it self nothing that is earthly, nothing that is unholy. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Christ our God comes down from Heaven unto us, and gives himself to be meat for the Souls of all faithful People. All the glorious companies of Angels behold this and wonder, and love and worship Jesus. Every Throne and Dominion, The Cherubim with many Eyes, and the Seraphim with many Wings cover their Faces before the Majest of his Glory, and sing a perpetual song for ever : Allelujah, Allelujah. Glory be to God on high ; and in Earth peace ; good will towards men. Allelujah.

Then shall follow this Prayer of Consecration, to be said by the Presbyter standing,

Have mercy upon us, O Heavenly Father, according to thy glorious mercies and promises, send thy Holy Ghost upon our hearts, and let him also descend upon these gifts, that by his good, his holy, his glrious presence, he may sanctify and enlighten our hearts, and he may bless and sanctify these gifts:




That it may beome unto us all that partake of it this day, a Blessed instrument of Union with Christ, of pardon and peace, of health and blessing, of holiness and life Eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


+Holy and blessed art thou, O King of Eternal ages, fountain and giver of all righteousness.
+Holy art thou the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the World.
+Holy art thou, O Blessed Spirit, that searchest all things, even the depths and hidden things of God.

Thou, O God, art Almighty: thou art good and gracious, dreadfull and venerable, holy and mercifull to the work of thine own hands.

Thou didst make man according to thine Image ; thou gavest him the riches and the rest of Paradise : When he fell and broke thy easy Commandment thou didst not despisehis folly, nor leave him in his sin but didst chastise him with thy rod, and restrain him by thy Law, and instruct him by thy Prophets, and at last didst send thy Holy Son into the World, that he might renew and repair thy broken Image.

Blessed be God.

He coming from Heaven, and taking our flesh, by the power of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, conversed with men, and taught us the way of God, and the dispensation of eternal Life.

Holy Jesus! Blessed be God.

But when for the redemptionof us sinners he would suffer death upon the Cross without sin, for us who were nothing but sin and misery, in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, he looked up to Heaven, he gave thanks, he santified it, he brake it, and gave it to his Apostles saying.

Take, eat,
which is broken for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Likewise after Supper he took the Cup, and when he had given thanks and blessed it he gave it to them saying,

Drink ye all of this, for
which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.

For as often as ye shall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye shall shew forth the Lord's death till he come.


We believe, and we confess.

We delcare thy Death, and confess thy Resurrection.

Then the Presbyter kneeling shall say the Prayer of Oblation...

* * *

Jeremy Taylor and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Part One

Those who know me well know that Jeremy Taylor's Eucharistic and Baptismal theologies profoundly shaped my own theological understanding in my anglo-catholic youth. I continue to believe that his liturgical language is too easily dismissed and represents a significant part of the Anglican patrimony worthy of use within the worship of anglo-catholics and Catholics of Anglican Heritage. Fortunately one of his collects has entered the Book of Common Prayer tradition and is much loved as an expression of faith and an aspiration for a holy death:

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered; Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days: that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favour with thee our God, and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I will always be grateful to the late Anglican bishop the Right Reverend Roger Cilley who, as my parish priest as a youth, first introduced me to Jeremy Taylor and to William Law. May his memory be eternal and may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

The following are some of my favourite excerpts from the Eucharistic Liturgy Jeremy Taylor authored for his community's use when the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican Church were banned in England. It is fairly easy to see how the Eastern and early Latin liturgies of the Church formed the palette from which Taylor constructed his Eucharistic language and theology.

Selections from the Ante-Communion


O King of Glory, Lord and Maker of the World,
.....thou art a God knowing all things and all thoughts
.....even long before they are,
be thou present with us in this religious solemnity calling upon thee.
Deliver us from the shame of our sins,
.....from the corruption and evil inclinations that attend them,
.....and from all evils that may justly follow them.
Cleanse our wills and our misunderstandings
.....from all evil lusts and concupiscence,
.....from the deceits of the world,
.....from the violence and snares of the devil,
.....from all guild and hypocrisy,
.....from every evil word and work,
.....that we may serve thee faithfully,
.....worship thee religiously,
.....and pray unto thee acceptably,
.....through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the Presbyter humbly say this Prayer of Preparation, first in behalf of himself, then of the Congregation.

O Lord God who in mercy and great compassion dost consider thy people and hast given unto us thy unworthy servants, miserable sinners, confidence and commandment to present ourselves before thee at thy holy table to represent a holy, venerable and unbloody Sacrifice for our sins, and for the errors and ignorances of all thy people, look upon me the meanest and most polluted of all them that approach to thy sacred presence. Pity me, O God, and wash away all my sins. Cleanse my heart and my hands, my head and my lips from all impurities of the flesh and spirit : and remove far from me all irreverence and undecency, all foolish imaginations and vain reasonings, and by the power of the Holy Ghost make me worthy for this ministry, accepting this service for his sake whose sacrifice I represent, and by whose commandment I minister, even our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have mercy upon this thy people
.....who with hungry and thirsty souls
.....come to be refreshed and comforted
.....by the divine Nutriment of thy Holy Body and Blood.
Pity our infirmities,
.....despise not our unworthiness,
.....curse not our follies,
.....and take not from thy servants
.....thy grace and the light of the divine Countenance,
but according to the multitude of thy great mercies
.....do away all our offences,
that without self-condemnation we may appear before thy glory,
.....covered with the veil of Jesus,
.....adorned with the robe of his righteousness,
.....and illustrated with the brightness of thy divine Spirit ;
that we may live by thy grace,
.....and feel thy mercy and pardon in this world and in the world to come,
.....through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then follows the rehearsal of the Eight Beatitudes of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ.

+ + +
The Address to the Holy Mysteries, to be said before the Sursum Corda

Let us pray.

O God who by thy unspeakable mercy hast sent thy only begotten Son into the world, that he might bring the wandering sheep into his fold, turn not away from us miserable sinners, who worship and invocate thee in these Holy Mysteries. For we do not approach to thee in our own righteousness, but in the hope and confidence of that glorious mercy by which thou hast sent thy holy Son to redeem miserable and lost Mankind. We humbly beseech thee to grant that these mysteries which thou hast ordained to be ministries of salvation to us, may not become an occasion of our condemnation, but of pardon of our sins, of the renovation of our souls, of the sanctification and preservation of our bodies, that we may become well pleasing to thee our God, in the obedience of our Lord Jesus, with thom, and with thy holy Spirit, thou reignest over all, one God, Blessed for evermore. Amen.

02 August 2008

All Sorts and Conditions

GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men: that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially, we pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church; that she may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those, who are any ways afflicted, or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [*especially those for whom our prayers are desired;] that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer, 1662

Be mindful, O Lord, of thy people present here before thee, and of those who are absent through age, sickness, or infirmity. Care for the infants, guide the young, support the aged, encourage the faint-hearted, collect the scattered, and bring back the wandering to thy fold. Travel with the voyagers, defend the widows, shield the orphans, deliver the captives, heal the sick. Succour all who are in tribulation, necessity, or distress. Remember for good all those that love us, and those that hate us, and those that have desired us, unworthy as we are, to pray for them. And those whom we have forgotten, do thou, O Lord, remember. For thou art the helper of the helpless, the saviour of the lost, the refuge of the wanderer, the healer of the sick. Thou, who knowest the need of each one, and hast heard their prayer, grant unto each according to thy merciful loving-kindness, and thy eternal love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer, 2004
Church of Ireland

31 July 2008

Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

I would like to ask the readers of Tonus Peregrinus to please offer their prayerful support and financial contributions for the building of the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I quote the following from Fr. Kirby's excellent blog Vultus Christi:

+ + +

Good news from Page One of the June 22, 2008 edition of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic! The Diocese of Tulsa is a thriving missionary Church in a state where Catholics are a minority. I appeal to the readers of Vultus Christi and to their friends to offer financial support for the construction of the Cenacle.

Eucharistic Cenacle

"Cistercian Father Mark Kirby has been invited into the Diocese of Tulsa to serve as a spiritual director for the priests and deacons as well as to implement plans announced by Bishop Edward J. Slattery June 8 to establish a Eucharistic Cenacle of prayer and adoration for priests.

Secret of Sanctification

Through Father Kirby's ministry within and for the presbyterate, Bishop Slattery hopes to expand Eucharistic Adoration throughout eastern Oklahoma while helping our clerics rediscover that "the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist ... The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist." (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, Sept. 18).

To Tulsa

Born in Connecticut and a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, Father Kirby has been a priest for 22 years. He is expected to arrive by August 1st and will make his residence in midtown Tulsa, near St. John Medical Center, where he will be able to assist in St. John's program of 24-four Adoration and Intercession. At some point in the future, work will begin on the Cenacle of Prayer, although the Bishop has not disclosed the probable location of the Cenacle, which the Vatican's Claudio Cardinal Hummes described as being 'a kind of Eucharistic shrine.'"

Please send your contributions toward building the Eucharistic Cenacle to:

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery
Bishop of Tulsa
P. O. Box 690240, Tulsa, OK 74169-0240

Kindly indicate that your contribution is for the Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration. Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

30 July 2008

From "Prayers Before Holy Communion"

The Wells Office Book, 1896

O Most Merciful GOD, grant me so to receive
the Body of Thy Only-Begotten SON, our LORD JESUS CHRIST,
and His most Precious Blood,
that I may be incorporated in His mystical Body,
and ever reckoned among His members.
And, O most Loving FATHER,
grant me that Him Whom I now purpose to receive under a veil
I may at length behold with open face,
even Thy Beloved SON, Who, with Thee and the HOLY GHOST,
liveth and reigneth ever one GOD, world without end.

+ + +

Almighty and everlasting GOD, behold I approach the Sacrament of Thy Only-Begotten SON, our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

As sick, I come to the Physician of life :
As unclean, to the Fountain of mercy :
As blind, to the Light of eternal splendour :
As needy, to the LORD of Heaven and earth :
As naked, to the King of glory :
A lost sheep, to the Good Shepherd :
A fallen creature, to its Creator :
Desolate, to the kind Comforter :
Miserable, to the Pitier :
Guilty, to the Bestower of pardon :
Sinful, to the Justifier :
Hardened, to the Infuser of grace.
I implore therefore the abundance of Thine Infinite Majesty,
That Thou wouldest vouchsafe
To heal my sickness, to wash my foulness,
To lighten my darkness, to enrich my poverty,
And to clothe my nakedness,
That I may receive the Bread of Angels,
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords,
With such reverence and fear,
Such contrition and love,
Such faith and purity,
Such devotion and humility,
As is expedient for the welfare of my soul.

Grant me, I beseech Thee, to receive not only the Sacrament of the L
ORD's Body and Blood, but also the virtue of this blessèd Sacrament. Amen.

Postcommunion Prayer

from The Book of Common Prayer according to the Use in King's Chapel, Boston

King's Chapel, Boston is an unusual part of the Anglican diaspora having moved in the Unitarian direction away from credal Christianity long ago. They self-identify as "christian Unitarian in theology, Anglican in worship, ..." and publish a most interesting version of The Book of Common Prayer. I find especially interesting this postcommunion prayer which derives directly from an Anglican original:

O Lord and heavenly Father, mercifully accept our sacrifice of praise, and grant that looking unto Christ and entering into his fellowship, we may be changed into his likeness and with him pass from death to life. Here we offer and present to thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice, humbly beseeching thee that all we who are partakers of this holy communion may be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

25 July 2008

A Collect for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary

which may be said upon Saturdays

O Blessed LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who in taking upon Thee our flesh wast pleased to be conceived of a pure and holy Virgin ; grant that, venerating her memory, we may imitate her example, and may with her enjoy that everlasting blessing which Thou hast pronounced upon the pure in heart, even the vision of Thee our GOD ; Who livest and reignest with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, one GOD, world without end.

The Wells Office Book
Wells Theological College

Wells, England, 1896

Our Lady of the Sign Ikon information

The Last Prayer of St. Charbel

from the Maronite Divine Liturgy

Father of truth,
Here is your Son,
The sacrifice in which you are well pleased.

Accept him for he died for me.
So through him I shall be pardoned.

Here is the offering.
Take it from my hands
And so I shall be reconciled with you.

Remember not the sins that I have committed
In front of your Majesty.

Here is the blood which flowered on Golgotha
For my salvation and prays for me.

Out of consideration for this,
Accept my supplication.

I have committed many sins
But your mercy is great.

If you put them in the balance,
Your goodness will have more weight
Than the most mighty mountains.

Look not upon my sins,
But rather on what is offered for them,
For the offering and the sacrifice
Are even greater than the offences.

Because I have sinned,
Your beloved bore the nails and the spear.

His sufferings are enough to satisfy you.

By them I shall live.

Glory be to the Father who sent His Son for us.
Adoration be to the Son who has freed us and ensured our salvation.
Blessed be he who by his love has given life to all.

To him be the glory.

22 July 2008

For the Faithful

Lord God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs and of all the Saints; even as of thy most loving mercy thou gavest them the will to come to thee, even so, most merciful Father, give unto thy servants understanding, virtue and the means to serve thee according to thy will. Let thy good Spirit lead us in the right way. Give perfection to beginners. Give understanding to thy little ones, give help to those who are running their course. Give penitence to the negligent; give fervour to the lukewarm; give to the perfect a good end. let our mouths speak thy praise, and let us bless thee every day and praise thy name evermore.

Gallican Sacramentary


Who can tell thy lofty and eternal magnificence, O Word of God;

and who may comprehend thy voluntary self-emptying for us?

Who can narrate thy wonderful nativity from the Virgin, and who may weigh thy undeserved and voluntary sufferings, which thou didst endure and suffer for our salvation?

And who is sufficient to adore and celebrate the whole of this thy ministry of salvaiont for us?—

from The Liturgy of the Syrian Jacobites

20 July 2008

The Liturgy leads us out towards Eternity

from The Mystery of Sacrifice, Evelyn Underhill

The Liturgy leads us out towards Eternity, by way of the acts in which men express their need of God and relation to God. It commits every worshipper to the adventure of holiness, and has no meaning apart from this. In it the Church shows forth again and again her great objective; the hallowing of the whole created order and the restoration of all things in Christ. The Liturgy recapitulates all the essentials in this life of sanctification — to repent, to pray, to listen, to learn; and then to offer upon the altar of God, to intercede, to be transformed to the purposes of God, to be fed and maintained by the very life of God. And though it is the voice of the Church, none the less in it is to be recognized the voice of each separate soul, and the care of the Praying Church for each separate soul “Holy things for the Holy!” cries the celebrant in the earliest liturgies, as he lifts up the consecrated gifts. Not “Good Things for the Good”; but supernatural things for those imperfect creatures, who have been baptized into the Supernatural, translated to another order—those looking towards God the Perfect and beginning to conceive of life as a response to God the Perfect; but unable without the “rich bread of Christ” to actualize the state to which they are called.

I will go up to the Altar of God;
Of God, who giveth joy to my youth!

The spirit of adventure, courage, vitality, zest are among the qualities of the good communicant. He is there because he has accepted his mysterious vocation; is prepared to embrace his great opportunity, respond to the awful invitation of God, whatever it may involve for him, with reverence, courage and delight. “Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!” exclaims the Orthodox priest at the beginning of the rite. It is to this Kingdom and its interests that the worshipper looks. Each of these specks of consciousness is pressed from within, drawn from without, to the altar at which it is offered for the purposes of Love.

All the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are here to be carried through into action. The Liturgy declares and expresses the filial dependence of man upon God the Transcendent; it could not exist save in virtue of that link with the Transcendent. It is, from first to last, a hallowing of the Name of God. It calls man, the head of creation, to join with angels and archangels in adoring God. It opens the doors of the natural world to the coming of His consecrating and saving power. In it, the creature offers itself under tokens and without reserve for the purposes of His Will, is fed with heavenly food, reconciled and established in the Kingdom of Love, and subdued to the guidance and fostering care of the Unseen. Step by step, conduct, feeling, will and thought are quieted and transformed to this great purpose. By serial acts of penitence, self-offering, adoration and communion, the transition is made from the ever-changing world of use and wont to the world that is insusceptible of change.

As the life of Jesus proceeds at many levels, from that of perfect man to that of perfect God— “Ye are my brethren: I and the Father are one” —so does the life of the Liturgy proceed at many levels, whilst yet indivisibly one. And as souls at different stages of their growth enter more and more deeply into the significance of the Gospel, and learn to recognize the power and primacy of the Supernatural in and through the earthly acts and words of Christ; so with the Liturgy. Here too, the visible acts and symbols of the expressed religion—the offering, blessing and sharing of the Bread and Wine— stand in close relation to the necessities and simplicities of our Common Life; but they point beyond themselves and are increasingly realized as holy and significant, for they rest upon and manifest the deep union of the Church with God. Since the movement of the Eucharist is thus the movement of the Church’s life, and represents under symbols the very movement and meaning of all life, the individual soul can move with freedom within its majestic rhythms and figures. Its ritual actions provide, as it were, an impersonal frame in which the most secret responses of the spirit to God can find shelter and support. So, without ever losing though with the homely accidents of our physical existence —and indeed by acts and tokens deliberately drawn from that physical existence— the soul is led into the very recesses of the Godhead, and “by love made visible is snatched up to the Invisible Love.”

Papal Homily at Closing Mass in Sydney

"May This 23rd World Youth Day Be Experienced as a New Upper Room"

"Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world."

Image © WYD 2008
Here is the text of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass:

+ + +

Dear Friends,

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.

In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ's Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people "from every nation under heaven" (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God's love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ! "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today's Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us - to all those who have received the Spirit's gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord's body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, "one body, one spirit in Christ".

But what is this "power" of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God's life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today's Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace.

Here in Australia, this "great south land of the Holy Spirit", all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: "charged", as the poet says, "with the grandeur of God", filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church's sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit's power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: "Come, come to the Father" (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).

Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God's grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world.

At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: "You will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands - witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the "power" which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God's Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today's Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God's promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ's Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can "renew the face of the earth" (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships.

Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity's sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit! (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4) In today's second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be "sealed" with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ's witnesses. What does it mean to receive the "seal" of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being "baptized" in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being "given to drink" of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord's plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being "sealed with the Spirit" means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God's presence!

Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI
Sydney, Australia, 19 July A.D. 2008

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Íngrid Betancourt at Lourdes

Liberated from the FARC by a "miracle of the Virgin", Íngrid Betancourt Pulecio of Colombia
travelled to the Shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes, France in order to give thanks.

The Holy Rosary Íngrid Betancourt made while hostage to the FARC

Andrew Cusack summarised it well:

Ingrid Betancourt has described her liberation as a “miracle from the Virgin Mary” and has revealed how prayer kept her going during her six years and five months in captivity, admitting that the temptation of suicide was ever-present.

President Uribe of Colombia gives credit where credit is due:

This operation that took place in the light of the Holy Spirit, and placed under the protection of our Lord and of the Virgin, was an operation of intelligence comparable to the great epic sagas in the history of humanity. … Without a drop of blood shed, without one bullet fired, fifteen hostages were liberated.

19 July 2008

Irena Sendlerowa

"Every child saved with my help
is the justification of my existence on this Earth,
and not a title to glory"

Irena Sendlerowa, Letter to Polish Parliament

"Irena Sendlerowa, please pray to God for us
and for all of our children."


Holy Mass for the late Irena Sendler
Zmarła Irena Sendlerowa
Irena Sendlerowa - Wikipedia Article

Irena Sendler/Sendlerowa - BBC 2007 Article

Prayer of Deliverance

prayed for nations and peoples

My Lord, thou art all powerful, thou art God, thou art Father.

We beg thee through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil ones.

All saints of heaven come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness and obsessions -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From hatred, fornication, and envy --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every thought of suicide and abortion -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every form of sinful sexuality -- We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

From every form of government abuse, corruption, sabotage, and every form of sinful corporate planning --We beseech thee to free us, O Lord.

Lord, who didst say, "I leave you peace, my peace I give you," grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every spell and enjoy thy peace always.

In the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

sent to me by a French Catholic friend in La Louisiane
Mon seigneur, vous êtes tous puissant, vous êtes Dieu, vous êtes père. Nous vous prions par l'intervention et l'aide des archanges Michael, Raphael, et Gabriel...)

15 July 2008

Cardinal Pell's Homily at World Youth Day Opening Mass

"Look Ahead to the Future Stretching Out Before You"

The readings for the Mass were: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 23; Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25; Luke 8:4-15.

From the O
pening Mass of World Youth Day at Barangaroo, Australia, the homily of Cardinal Pell:

+ + +

We all know that Christ Our Lord is often described as the Good Shepherd of today’s responsorial psalm. We are told that he leads us near restful waters, revives our flagging spirits, enables us to rest peacefully.

In developing this image on one occasion, Jesus explained that such a shepherd was prepared to leave the ninety-nine sheep to search out the one who was lost.

Few countries today have a shepherd who cares for only 20 or 30 sheep, and in Australia with large farms and huge flocks Our Lord’s advice is not very practical. If the lost sheep was valuable and probably healthy, it might make sense to take the time to search for it. More usually it would be left behind or its absence not even noticed.

Jesus was saying that both He and His Father are not like this, because He knows each one of His sheep and like a good father he goes searching for the lost one he loves, particularly if he is sick, or in trouble, or unable to help himself.

Earlier in this Mass I welcomed you all to this World Youth Day week and I repeat that welcome now. But I do not begin with the ninety-nine healthy sheep, those of you already open to the Spirit, perhaps already steady witnesses to faith and love. I begin by welcoming and encouraging any one, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.

Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come to him for healing, as he has for two thousand years. The causes of the wounds are quite secondary, whether they be drugs or alcohol, family breakups, the lusts of the flesh, loneliness or a death. Perhaps even the emptiness of success.

Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just to Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community.

Our first reading today was from Ezekiel, with Isaiah and Jeremiah one of the three greatest Jewish prophets. Many parts of Australia are still in drought, so all Australians understand a valley of dry bones and fleshless skeletons. But this grim vision is offered first of all to any and all of you who are even tempted to say “our hope is gone, we are as good as dead”.

This is never true while we can still choose. While there is life there is always the option of hope and with Christian hope come faith and love. Until the end we are always able to choose and act.

This vision of the valley of the dry bones, the most spectacular in the whole of the Bible, was given when the hand of God came upon Ezekiel while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, probably earlier rather than later in the sixth century B.C. For about 150 years the political fortunes of the Jewish people had been in decline, first of all at the hands of the Assyrians. Later in 587 B.C. came the final catastrophic defeat and their transportation into exile. The Jewish people were in despair, powerless to change their situation.

This is the historical background to Ezekiel’s dramatic vision where the dead were well dead, whitened skeletons as the birds of prey had long finished their ghastly business of stripping off the flesh. It was an immense battlefield of the unburied.

A hesitant and reluctant Ezekiel was urged by God to prophesy to these bones and as he did so the bones rushed together noisily, accompanied by an earthquake. Sinews knitted them together, flesh and then skin clothed the corpses.

Another stage was needed and the breath, or Spirit, came from the four corners of the earth as the bodies came “to life again and stood up on their feet, a great and immense army”.

While we now see this vision as a pre-figuration of the resurrection of the dead, the Jews of Ezekiel’s time did not believe in such a conception of the afterlife. For them the immense resurrected army represented all the Jewish people, those from the northern kingdom taken off to Assyria, those at home and those in Babylon. They were to be reconstituted as a people in their own land and they would know that the one true God alone had done this. And all this came to pass.

Over the centuries we Christians have used this passage liturgically at Easter, especially for the baptism of catechumens on Holy Saturday night and it is, of course, a powerful image of the one true God’s regenerative power for this life and eternity.

Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots, but we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope.

Believers are heartened by Ezekiel’s vision, because we know the power of God’s forgiveness, the capacity of Christ and the Catholic tradition to cause new life to flourish even in unlikely circumstances.

That same power glimpsed in Ezekiel’s vision is offered to us today, to all of us without exception. You young pilgrims can look ahead to the future stretching out before you, so rich in promise. The Gospel parable of the sower and the seen reminds you of the great opportunity you have to embrace your vocation and produce an abundant harvest, a hundredfold crop.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all place this story of the sower at the beginning of their collection of Jesus’ parables. It explains some fundamental truths about the challenges of Christian discipleship and lists the alternatives to a fruitful Christian life. Fidelity is not automatic or inevitable.

One detail makes the parable more plausible, because it seems the Jews in Our Lord’s time threw the seed on the ground before they ploughed it, so explaining a little better the seed being in unlikely places rather than just in the furrows.

Are we amongst those whose faith has already been snatched away by the devil, as Our Lord explained the image of the birds of the sky gobbling up the seed? No one at this Mass would be in that category. Some might be like the seed on rocky ground which could not put down roots. Those here in this second category are likely to be striving to start again in the spiritual life, or at least examining the possibility of doing so. But most of us are in the third and fourth categories, where the seed has fallen on good soil and is growing and flourishing; or we are in danger of being choked off by the worries of life. All of us, including those who are no longer young, have to pray for wisdom and perseverance.

I have no problem in believing that Our Lord spelt out the meaning of this parable to his closest followers and that he would have been asked by them regularly to do so. But the disciples’ enquiries provoked a disconcerting response, when Our Lord divides his listeners into two groups; those to whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed and the rest for whom the parables remain only parables. This second group is described in words from the prophet Isaiah as those who “may see but not perceive, listen but not understand”. Probably the background to this is the amazement of Our Lord’s disciples at the large number who did not accept his teaching.

Why is this still so? What must we do to be among those for whom the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed?

The call of the one true God remains mysterious, especially today when many good people find it hard to believe. Even in the time of the prophets many of their hearers remained spiritually deaf and blind, while any number over the ages have admired the beauty of Jesus’ teaching, but never been moved to answer his call.

Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us. Human motivation is complex and mysterious, because sometimes very strong Catholics, and other strong Christians, can be prayerful and regularly good, but also very determined not to take even one further step. On the other hand, some followers of Christ can be much less zealous and faithful, but open to development, to change for the better because they realize their unworthiness and their ignorance. Where do you stand?

Whatever our situation we must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further. If we take God’s hand, He will do the rest. Trust is the key. God will not fail us.

How can we work to avoid slipping from the last and best category of the fruit bearers into those “who are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life” and so do not produce much fruit at all?

The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians points us in the correct direction, reminding us all that each person must declare himself in the age-old struggle between good and evil, between what Paul calls the flesh and the Spirit. It is not good enough to be only a passenger, to try to live in “no-mans land” between the warring parties. Life forces us to choose, eventually destroys any possibility of neutrality.

We will bring forth good fruit by learning the language of the Cross and inscribing it on our hearts. The language of the Cross brings us the fruits of the Spirit which Paul lists, enables us to experience peace and joy, to be regularly kind and generous to others. Following Christ is not cost free, not always easy, because it requires struggling against what St. Paul calls “the flesh”, our fat relentless egos, old fashioned selfishness. It is always a battle, even for old people like me!

Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfilment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days.

To be a disciple of Jesus requires discipline, especially self discipline; what Paul calls self control. The practice of self control won’t make you perfect (it hasn’t with me), but self control is necessary to develop and protect the love in our hearts and prevent others, especially our family and friends, from being hurt by our lapses into nastiness or laziness.

I pray that through the power of the Spirit all of you will join that immense army of saints, healed and reborn, which was revealed to Ezekiel, which has enriched human history for countless generations and which is rewarded in the after-life of heaven.

Let me conclude by adapting one of the most powerful sermons of St. Augustine, the finest theologian of the first millennium and a bishop inthe small North African town of Hippo around 1600 years ago.

I expect that in the next five days of prayer and celebration that your spirits will rise, as mine always does, in the excitement of this World Youth Day. Please God we shall all be glad that we participated, despite the cost, hassles and distances travelled. During this week we have every right to rejoice and celebrate the liberation of our repentance, the rejuvenation of our faith. We are called to open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. And to the young ones I give a gentle reminder that in your enthusiasm and excitement you do not forget to listen and pray!

Many of you have travelled such a long way that you may believe that you have arrived, indeed, at the ends of earth! If so, that’s good, for Our Lord told his first apostles that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. That prophesy has been fulfilled in the witness of many missionaries to this vast southern continent, and it is fulfilled yet again in your presence here.

But these days will pass too quickly and next week we shall return to earth. For a time some of you will find the real world of home and parish, work or study, flat and disappointing.

Soon, too soon, you will all be going away. Briefly we are now here in Sydney at the centre of the Catholic world, but next week the Holy Father will return to Rome, we Sydneysiders will return to our parishes, while you, now visiting pilgrims, will go back to your homes in places near and far.

In other words during next week we shall be parting from one another. But when we part after these happy days, let us never part from our loving God and his Son Jesus Christ. And may Mary, Mother of God, whom we invoke in this World Youth Day as Our Lady of the Southern Cross, strengthen us in this resolution.

And so I pray. Come, come O Breath of God, from the four winds, from all the nations and peoples of the earth and bless our Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

Empower us also to be another great and immense army of humble servants and faithful witnesses.

And we make this prayer to God our Father in the name of Christ his Son. Amen. Amen.

George Cardinal Pell
Archbishop of Sydney