22 June 2015

'Give her something to eat.' Sunday Reflections, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, Paolo Veronese,  c.1546
Musée du Louvre, Paris  [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)


When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.  Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing[ what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”  And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
David Vinckboons, 1600-10
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [Web Museum of Art]


Because I will be on a pilgrimage to Malta from 24 to 30 June I am posting this early. This reflection, slightly edited, is what I posted three years ago for the same Sunday.

Lyn was someone I met when she was about 15. Three years later, when she was only halfway through her four-year college course, she quit to marry Roberto. (I’m not using their real names). Lyn was madly in love with Roberto, who had a good job and came from a relatively wealthy family.  Lyn’s family could not be described as poor either. I celebrated the wedding Mass and attended the reception in a classy hotel. In the Philippines it’s the groom’s father who pays for the reception. the young couple went to live in Manila, where Roberto was from. About a year later a daughter, whom I’ll call Gloria, was born. She had a mental disability. Another daughter, ‘Gabriela’, arrived a year or two later.

Then tragedy struck. Roberto discovered that his kidneys weren’t working properly and that he needed dialysis. Over the next couple of years Roberto and Lyn spent practically all they had on this and it ended in Roberto’s death. Meanwhile, Lyn’s parents both had serious illnesses and had to spend most of their resources on treatment.

Lyn returned to her own city with her two young daughters. She couldn’t find a job and had no qualifications since she hadn’t finished in college. With much embarrassment she came to see me and asked if I could give her an ‘allowance’. She was able to survive the next few years with help from her siblings and friends and eventually remarried.

I’ve met so many ‘Lyns’ in the Philippines who are like the woman in today’s gospel, who have spent all their resources on doctors and medicine and are still sick. I’ve met families who have pawned their little bit of land in order to enable an aged parent to have surgery that ultimately leaves the whole family impoverished and the person on whom  they had spent the money, out of a perhaps misplaced love, ending up in the cemetery.

Most Filipinos have little access to good health care. Even those who have government health insurance have to come up with ready cash if they go to hospital, unlike in Ireland or the United Kingdom. They are eventually reimbursed but have to pay interest on money they have borrowed in the meantime. I’ve heard people in Ireland and in the UK complain about the poor health services they have and their complaints are often justified. I have also heard many unsolicited words of praise for nurses from the Philippines working in hospitals in those countries.

Bu the sad reality is that most of these nurses, if they were still in the Philippines, would not have access to the kind of care they provide in Ireland and the UK. They would be like the woman in the gospel.

I met a Filipina in Reykjavík in 2000 who told me that she had had a kidney transplant in Denmark, paid for by the taxpayers of Iceland, a country of only 300,000 people or so. Had she been at home she would probably have ended up like Roberto.

Twenty-two years ago in a parish in Mindanao I buried Eileen, like the daughter of Jairus,  a 12-year-old. Again, poverty was a significant factor in her illness and death, despite the efforts of the doctors and nurses in the small government hospital where she died.

So the two stories interwoven by St Mark are stories that many Filipinos have lived or are living.

But sometimes persons experience healing. I once gave a recollection day to a group of 11- and 12-year old children in a Catholic school in Cebu City. We reflected on the story of Jesus staying behind in the Temple when he was 12 and that of the daughter of Jairus, also 12. Before the afternoon session a group of the boys and girls came to tell me that Maria, one of their classmates, had a bad toothache and asked if we could pray with her. Maybe Jesus would heal her as he had healed ‘Talitha’. They thought that that was the name of the girl in the gospel! We prayed with Maria – and her toothache disappeared. The children were delighted.

St Mark gives us illustrations of the humanity of Jesus more than do St Matthew and St Luke when they recount the same stories. Scholars tell us that St Mark’s was the first gospel to be written and that the other two drew on his in writing theirs. St Matthew omits the detail of Jesus perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him. This shows us that Jesus wasn’t a ‘magician’. When he healed a sick person he gave of himself.

St Matthew leaves out another beautiful detail about the humanity of our Saviour. Jesus says to the people in the house, Give her something to eat. I can imagine the joy of everyone, including Jesus. I picture him with a smile on his face, a smile that reflects his joy – and his awareness that the girl’s family had forgotten the very practical detail that she was starving, as is anyone who has come through a serious illness. This detail of St Mark brings home to me the great reality that St John expressed in his gospel and that we pray in the Angelus, The Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14).

20 June 2015

'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' Sunday Reflections, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, USA [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)



On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”




The very first pastoral visit outside of Rome of Pope Francis was to the small island of Lampedusa, the most southerly part of Italy. He went there on 8 July 2013 because of his concern about the plight many migrants and refugees trying to get from North Africa to Europe through Lampedusa and the many who died in trying to do so. The vast majority of these were exploited 'boat people' who had spent all they had, handing over their money to unscrupulous persons who were becoming rich by living off the poor and not caring whether they lived or died.

In his homily that day Pope Francis asked, 'Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families?' 


The question the Pope asked in a way echoes that of the Apostles in the boat to Jesus: 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' 


LÉ Eithne

Since 16 May LÉ Eithne, the flagship of the Irish Naval Service has been engaged, along with ships of navies of other European countries, in the Mediterranean in an effort to rescue 'boat people'. This one small ship has already rescued 1,620 men women and children. The Irish Naval Service has a total personnel of 1,144.

It is estimated that between 2000 and 2014 around 22,000 undocumented immigrants died trying to reach Italy from North Africa. In April alone this year it is reckoned that more than 1,000 died in a number of incidents.

Something similar is happening in South-East Asia with refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar/Burma, Rohingya people who are Muslims, and from Bangladesh being shunned.

So this Sunday's gospel speaks to us of a situation that is all too common in the contemporary world.

The Apostles discovered that Jesus did care: 'He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”' And he shows that same care to the refugees in the Mediterranean and in South-East Asia through the authorities, agencies and individuals who are trying to alleviate their immediate dangerous situation while others try to deal with the roots and causes of that situation.

There is an expression in the English language, 'We're all in the same boat', that indicates especially in a difficult or dangerous situation that all are equal and that all are responsible in some way for changing that situation. In his new encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis echoes this (No 13): 'The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.' 

We can do two things. We can and should pray for all those caught up in the human tragedy of refugees and asylum seekers desperately seeking a better life as they flee from areas of conflict and hopelessness, being exploited ruthlessly by others in their plight - surely an expression of the reality of evil, of sin and of the Devil that Pope Francis frequently speaks about - and often losing their lives in the process.

And we can start reading the Pope's encyclical, whether online or in printed form, while reflecting on it, praying while doing so, and asking the Lord how he wants each of us to change the way we live so that the world, all its creatures and especially we humans made in God's image and likeness will become what God wills for us all.

'God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good' (Genesis 1:31). 


Responsorial Psalm [NAB - Philippines, USA]

19 June 2015

Columban General Council Welcomes Encyclical Laudato Si' On Care for our Common Home


Today, 18 June 2015, the Vatican released Laudato Si' , the encyclical letter of Pope Francis On Care for our Common Home. The date on which the Holy Father signed the encyclical is 24 May, Pentecost Sunday.

As is the tradition with papal documents it gets its title from its opening words:

LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”. 

Unusually, the opening words are in Italian rather than Latin, though it's not the first encyclical to deviate from the norm. Mit Brennender Sorge, the encyclical of Pope Pius XI in 1937 addressing the situation in Nazi Germany, has always been know by its German title, which means "With deep anxiety" and was written in German.

The General Council of the Missionary Society issued the following statement in Hong Kong today.

Columban Missionaries Welcome Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment

HONG KONG, June 18, 2015.   Columban Missionaries welcome and celebrate Pope Francis’ newly released encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home.  This encyclical marks a historic moment in the Church as the first encyclical addressing the human relationship with all of God’s creation.  Laudato Si deepens the contributions of previous papal statements and documents which have addressed the relationship between humans and the natural world. 

Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neill says of Laudato Si, “We thank Pope Francis for his visionary and pastoral leadership which invites us as faithful disciples of Jesus to an ongoing ecological conversion. Our lived experience speaks to us as we see the impacts of the exploited Earth and exploited peoples. We believe, as stated in our 2012 General Assembly, ‘that we are called to solidarity with marginalized people and the exploited Earth [which] are ways we participate in God’s mission’.”

Pope Francis invites us to new understandings, reflections, and actions when he says, “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”[1] 

We are reminded in Laudato Si of the interconnectedness of the human and natural worlds in these words, “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."[2]  For Columbans this interconnectedness and solidarity can be found in our own Constitutions which say, “The biblical perspective of stewardship inspires our attitudes and challenges our use of material resources.  It should lead to a lifestyle in keeping with Gospel values.”[3]

As pastoral leader Pope Francis calls us into communion when he says, “The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own that Trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.”[4]

Internationally recognized eco-theologian, Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh says, “Laudato Si is an important step in the Church’s understanding of our human relationship with both the Creator and all of creation. We must continually learn from science, evolve our theology, and humbly situate ourselves in the wider creation story that began with the initial flaring forth 13.7 billion years ago to the world in which we live now and in to the future.  We must be open to encounter creation and learn from it.”




[1] Pope Francis. Laudato Si, par.14
[2] Ibid. par. 49.
[3] Missionary Society of St. Columban. Constitutions and Directory. C.401.
[4]Pope Francis. Laudato Si. par. 240. 

The Blue Marble [Wikipedia]
Photo of earth by crew of Apollo 17, 7 December 1972

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. 
[Genesis 1:26-31, NRSV, Catholic Edition]
The Heavens are Telling
from The Creation by Joseph Haydn


The Heavens are telling the glory of God,
The wonder of his work displays the firmament.

Today that is coming speaks it the day,
The night that is gone to following night.
The Heavens are telling the glory of God,
The wonder of his work displays the firmament.

In all the lands resounds the word,
Never unperceived, ever understood.
The Heavens are telling the glory of God, 
The wonder of his work displays the firmament.

12 June 2015

'The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground . . .' Sunday Reflections, 11th Sunday in Ordinary time, Year B

A Grove of Cedars of Lebanon [Wikipedia]

On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar (Ezekiel 17:23 - First Reading).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Jesus said to the crowds: “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

The Sower (after Millet)October 1889, Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh
Private Collection [Web Gallery of Art]


Below is part of what I posted three years ago for this Sunday.  It is now 73 years since my parents married and 'the youngest born last month' is now aged three. His father came through the medical procedure successfully, thank God.

The parables in this Sunday's gospel remind us that the faith has had many small beginnings. Perhaps the greatest is the Twelve Apostles. 

As a Columban priest I'm very conscious of our history. Fr Edward Galvin from Ireland went off to China with Canadian Fr John Fraser in 1912. Fr Fraser went on to found the Scarboro Missionary Society in Canada and Fr Galvin, with Fr John Blowick, was to set up the Missionary Society of St Columban within a few years, both societies working to bring the Gospel to the people of China.

The Columbans, along with all other Christian missionaries, were eventually driven out of China after 1949 but have a presence there again, in a different way. And a year ago, as I wrote for last Sunday, the first two Chinese students came to Manila to prepare to be Columban missionary priests. Another small beginning in the service of the mission that Jesus gave to the Church.

70 years ago my parents were married. Another small beginning in faith, a faith nourished, at least in part, by the Eucharistic Congress ten years earlier in their native Dublin. Without that beginning I would not be here. 

Today, Friday, I visited a friend in Cebu City whom I hadn't seen in more than twelve years. When we last met she was single. Today I met her husband and seven children, the youngest born last month. She and her husband have both lost their mothers in the last couple of months. Her husband will be going into hospital on Saturday for a procedure on one of his kidneys.The house they were living in before was burned down and they are now in a very small temporary house from which they will have to move soon. Yet I saw a house filled with love, the older children when they came home from school giving the mano po, the hand to the forehead, a sign of respect in the Philippines and in East Timor, to their parents and to me - and then going to kiss their two youngest brothers. And we shared bread together, pandesal, small pieces of bread that are very popular for breakfast and for snacks.

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.

We just don't know where the seed will be scattered and where it will bear fruit. I once met a young woman from Japan in Manila. She was moving towards the Catholic faith and the seed was being nourished in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. But the seed of her faith came to fruition in Thailand where she was baptised during an Easter Vigil. Thailand, like Japan, is a country where only about one person in two hundred is a Catholic. 


+++

Please continue to pray for the suffering Christians of Iraq and Syria: 

One Year After the Fall of Mosul, Iraqi Christians Remain in Painful Limbo



29 May 2015

'This is my body . . .' Sunday Reflections, Corpus Christi, Year B

La Disputà (Disputation of the Holy Sacrament), Raffaello Sanzio, painted 1510-11
Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican 

You will find a description of this magnificent fresco here and a video on its restorationhere.

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) 

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


On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

Pope Francis leads his first Corpus Christi procession in Rome

‘As a primary school student, each Saturday I would play with my friends in our village but also made time for one hour’s adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church. It was the custom in our village to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday afternoon and the Catholics would spend some time in prayer in the church.  I feel that my personal relationship with God has its origin in those hours before the Blessed Sacrament.’  [Emphasis added].

John Wang Zongshe is one of two young Chinese men who came to Manila four uears ago to prepare to be Columban priests, the first candidates from that country. The original missionof the Columbans was China. John tells his vocation story, Life-giving Connections, in Misyononline.com, the online magazine I edit for the Columbans here in the Philippines.

John is from a village that is one-third Catholic. but his companion Joseph Li Jiangang is from a village where all 800 inhabitants are Catholic.  Joseph, like John became involved actively in the life of the Church when he was young, as he writes in his vocation story, A Church with Room for AllThe Franciscan Missionaries of Mary worked in our village and ran a medical clinic. In junior high school, one Sister got us together for religious education during our summer holidays, and at the age of eleven I began to know more about God.  I was born after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when so much religious practice had ceased. I used to sit at the back of the church when I went alone, but when I joined the youth group we would sit at the front. As a youth I went of my own free will to church.

At that time, I was timid and afraid to read in public. I became an altar server and at twelve I was leading the congregation in half an hour of prayers before Mass. I liked that and on returning from school I’d drop my bag and head for the church.[Emphasis added].

Joseph, John and Emmannuel Trocino, a Columban seminarian from Negros Occidental, on a visit three years ago to Australian Columban Fr Brian Gore at San Columbano Mission Center, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, under the watchful eye of St Columban. Joseph and John have since discovered that God isn't calling them to be Columban priests. Emmannuel is currently in Peru on his two-year First Mission Assignment as part of his preparation for the priesthood.

The first Columbans went to China in 1920 to bring the Gospel to the millions there who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Fr Paddy O'Connor, one of the first students to join the Columbans and who was ordained in 1923, wrote a poem called The Splendid Cause, which became the Columban anthem for many years, in which he used the line To bring to the nations the sweet, white Host
. For Father O'Connor the Eucharist was at the heart of mission. 


The Splendid Cause is also the title of a history of the Columbans from 1916 to 1954 by Columban Fr Neil Collins, who was one of the speakers at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin from 10 to 17 June 2012. St Columbanus (Columban), the patron saint of the Society of St Columban,  was one of the patron saints of the Congress.

Recent polls and studies in Ireland indicate a great loss of faith, even though 84 percent in the 2011 census in the Republic of Ireland identified themselves as Catholics. (About 75 percent in the whole of Ireland would call themselves Catholics). Only about one third attend Mass every Sunday and a large percentage, especially of those who don't go to Mass regularly, don't believe that the bread and wine brought up at the offertory of the Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ at the Consecration. If they receive Holy Communion they believe they are receiving only a symbol.

It was a great love for the Mass and a desire to bring the Catholic Christian faith to the people of China that led two young Irish diocesan priests nearly 100 years ago, Fr Edward J. Galvin, later first Bishop of Hanyang, China, and Fr John Blowick to start what initially was 'The Maynooth Mission to China' and later became the Society of St Columban.

No Irish Columban has been ordained in the Third Millenium of Christianity nor are there any candidates at present. But the first two  seminarians from China, a country where the Church is still being harassed, a country from which Bishop Galvin and all other Columbans were expelled 60 years ago, some after having spent time in prison, have now joined us.

We just don't know God's plans. But absolutely central to the spirituality of Bishop Galvin was doing God's will. He cared little for the trappings of the office of bishop but insisted on his episcopal motto being Fiat voluntas tua, 'Your will be done'. He would surely be delighted that the call of John and John was awakened in communities focuses on the Eucharist.

The Columbans came to Manila in 1929 at the request of Archbishop Michael O'Doherty, an Irishman. One of the speakers at the Eucharistic Congress is his current successor, Manila-born Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle. He also spoke at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, Canada, in 2008.

Please pray that as the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christ, the Body of Christ, which it has done already on Thursday in countries where it is still a holyday of obligation, and that there will be a renewal and deepening of faith in Ireland, a faith centred on the Eucharist, and that the Catholics of China, the Philippines and other countries where Irish missionaries have preached and lived the Gospel, may help re-evangelise the country that produced such missionary giants as St Columban 1,500 years ago and Edward Galvin and John Blowick a 100 years ago.

Lauda Sion Salvatorem
Sequence for Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

English Version

Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.
See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.
The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.
Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.
On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.
On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.
His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!
Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
Lo! bread of the Angels broken,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children’s meat, to dogs denied.
Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.
Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.
Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Young Jew as Christ, Rembrandt, c.1656
Staatliche Museen, Berlin [Web Gallery of Art]

In regions where Corpus Christi is celebrated on the previous Thursday the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, is observed. Here are links to the readings in the New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition, the translation used in the English Lectionary in Canada.

Genesis 3:9-15.

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1.

Mark 3:19-35.

Then Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”