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Two illiterate peasant children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were with their cousin Lucia dos Santos when “a Lady-Shining-More- Brightly-Than-The-Sun” appeared to them six times between 13th May and 13th October 1917. Francisco and Jacinta both died young of influenza, the so-called Spanish Flu. Francisco died when he was 10 years old (1919), Jacinta when she was 9 years old (1920). Both were beatified at Fatima in the year 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II. Both are to be canonized at Fatima on Saturday 13th May by Pope Francis. Sister Lucia died in her discalced Carmelite convent at Coimbra on ...

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The encounter with Christ which was granted to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus was certainly one of high strangeness. It seems incredible that they did not at first recognize Him. If one of our nearest and dearest had died before our eyes, and then three days later ‘appeared’ to us, would we not recognize them? How changed would they have to be in order for us not to know who we were speaking with? Their moment of recognition has an unmistakeable Eucharistic resonance. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it – and vanished. His subsequent invisibility did ...

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The resurrection of Christ was of a wholly different category of reality from the resuscitation of Lazarus. Lazarus was given a temporary reprieve. He would later die again and return to the tomb. By contrast, Christ rose from the dead to a new and glorified life, never to die again. He rose from the dead to life in the Spirit. In the moment of Christ’s death He breathed forth, handed over, His Spirit: tradidit Spiritum (John 19:30). His resurrection was the initial public release of His gift of the Holy Spirit. That giving of the Holy Spirit was seen again ...

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“As the solemn days proceed, we shall be especially called on, my brethren, to consider His sufferings in the body, His seizure, His forced journeyings to and fro, His blows and wounds, His scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails, the Cross. They are all summed up in the Crucifix itself, as it meets our eyes; they are represented all at once on His sacred flesh, as it hangs up before us—and meditation is made easy by the spectacle. It is otherwise with the sufferings of His soul; they cannot be painted for us, nor can they even be duly ...

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The raising of Lazarus is a most suitable subject for our contemplation during Passiontide. We would be missing the most important meaning of that gospel miracle if we thought of it as simply an exercise of human affection. Christ Himself says that the meaning is greater than that: “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God…” The raising of Lazarus was not just so that our Lord might continue to enjoy his friend’s company, nor merely for the sake of consoling Martha and Mary. Christ called Lazarus back to  life principally in order to teach ...

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In Lent we follow our Lord into the desert; not the literal desert of Palestine, but the desert which will surround us whenever we deny ourselves some of the comforts and props of life. Such comforts, though not wrong in themselves, can become barriers. By stripping some of them away, we make more space, clear more ground, for a closer encounter with the Lord. When we enter into spiritual solitude, we shall certainly find temptation. Do not be discouraged. When you are in the desert, you will not be alone.  You will be there in the unseen company of countless  ...

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Expulsion from Eden


The Church’s traditional liturgical calendar gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima to get us in training for Lent, our annual attempt at a forty days spiritual marathon. We start our training by soberly recalling the essential facts of our existence and our destiny: our creation, the Fall, the promise of redemption, the life of grace, the cost of discipleship, the malice of the Evil One, the mercy of Christ, the offer of salvation, the hope of glory. These three pre-Lenten Sundays have wisely been restored in the rite now proper to the Catholic Ordinariates (olim Anglicani). ...

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Our Lady carried into the old temple a new and living temple, a new and better temple not made of stone but of living flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of Messiah. In that strange encounter, when the new temple came to replace the former, our Lady heard Simeon’s prophetic words but doubtless she did not fully understand their import. Thirty three years later when our Lady stood at the foot of the cross, the mysterious destiny of her Son, the new temple, became painfully clear to her. She realized why it was that He had to die. It ...

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Church on rock


In his writings St Paul makes it very clear that in his preaching he was passing on to his listeners something that he himself had been given, not something that he had invented: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I had received.” St Paul received a direct and personal revelation from Christ the Lord. That revelation transformed  Saul from being a vicious persecutor of the Church, and converted him into being Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, the most inspiring and most effective missionary the Church has ever had. St Paul’s life exemplifies our human destiny; ...

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SPN hand & heart


Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595) said “The sanctity of a man lies in the breadth of three fingers (the forehead), that is to say, in mortifying the understanding, which would fain reason upon things.” The shorter version of his maxim is “Holiness is three fingers deep”.  With these words the saint exhorts us to mortify the razionale – our habit of trusting too much in our capacity for reasoning. Saint Philip’s maxim does not propose an irrational approach to the life of faith. He simply warns us of the spiritual danger in overvaluing our own intellect. He meant that we come ...

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