Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Serving With the Angels : This article was originally written and published by me in the November 1998 former Newsletter "FOUNDATION". It has to-day been amplified slightly to highlight the compelling reasoning of Pope Pius XI.

It is interesting how many treasures both sacred and profane get buried and forgotten with the passage of time -

tilling the soil in Ireland reveals a Mass kit buried for safety (its priestly owner perhaps executed before he could return for it), 

a vast hoard of Roman coins recovered at the bottom of the excavation of an English well (if only the barbarian attackers had known) or,

 a Papal Encyclical buried in the subsequent documentation of World War II and the Second Vatican Council “churchquake”. But the dust has settled and the advent of the computer database is shining light on some gems.

Eighty years ago the great Pope Pius XI issued the crystal clear gem of an encyclical Mortalium Animos on fostering true religious Unity.  He drew attention to what St. Cyprian says:

 “The Spouse of Christ cannot commit adultery; she is incorrupt and modest, she knows one house, she guards with chaste modesty the holiness of one room.” (De Cath. Ecclesiae Unitate, 6.) This same holy martyr marvelled, and with reason, how anyone could think that “the unity which proceeds from the stability of God and is bound together by the sacraments of Heaven could be torn asunder in the Church or separated by the wills of the discordant.” (Ibidem.)

SAINT JOHN by Titian
The great Pope goes on to emphasise
"All remember how John — the very Apostle of Charity who in his Gospel seems to have opened the secrets of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who always inculcated in the minds of his disciples the new commandment, Love ye one another — had wholly forbidden them to have relations with those who did not profess entire and uncorrupted the teachings of Christ. If any man cometh to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house nor say to him, God speed you. (II John 10.) Since charity is founded in whole and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united by the bond of unity in faith and by it as the chief bond."

Pope Pius XI uses his logical scalpel deftly and to great effect in Mortalium Animos :

"Since the Mystical Body of Christ, that is to say, the Church, is, like the physical body, a unity (I Cor. 12, 12), a compact thing closely joined together (Eph. 4, 16), it would be false and foolish to say that Christ’s Mystical Body could be composed of separated and scattered members. Whoever, therefore, is not united with it is not a member of it, nor does he communicate with its Head Who is Christ. No one is found in the one Church of Christ, and no one perseveres in it, unless he acknowledges and accepts obediently the supreme authority of St. Peter and his legitimate successors. (Emphasis added — Ed.) Did not the very ancestors of those who are entangled in the errors of Photius and the Protestants obey the Roman Bishop as the high shepherd of souls?"

Photius, it will be remembered was the heretical Patriarch of Constantinople who was the architect of the Great Schism over the "Filioque" Clause which the Council of Nicea added to the Creed, defining that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.


Strangely it is not referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in the Second Vatican Council documents. It seems then ironical that it was last officially referred to by Blessed Pope John XXIII in his very first encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram (To the Chair of Peter) in which he announced the Council ... “this unity, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, must be solid, firm and sure, not transient, uncertain or unstable. Though there is no such unity in other Christian communities,
all who look carefully can see that it is present in the Catholic Church.” (with footnote reference to Mortalium Animos).

The between the wars Pan Christian ecumenical movement which Pius XI so decisively addressed re-surfaced in the post-war period and in various ways tended to colour the post-Conciliar ecumenical project. In the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s ecumenical fever brought on a great deal of irrational hopes, activity and talk. But in the 1990s and this century the fever has declined, leaving some confused others lost and the majority exchanging knowing looks as one might when an
errant relative comes to his/her senses. 

The accelerating decay of the Anglican “Communion” and the libertarian excesses of the Uniting Church are only two examples of the shock therapy administered to Catholic ecumenical zealots. But 80 years ago the Pope, who - in 1930 with Casti Connubi exposed the intellectual fraud of the Anglican decision allowing for the practice of contraception and - in Mit Brennender Sorge (With burning sorrow) in 1937 (smuggled into the Third Reich by a priest on bicycle) blasted the pathetic claims of superiority of race and nation and again in 1937, with
Divini Redemptoris, revealed the perversity of Communism, with clarity and powerful reasoning and the deftness of a scalpel-wielding surgeon, exposed the perils of, and the reality of the false ecumenicism we have in recent decades suffered - and against whose “false irenicism” Pope Saint John Paul the Great repeatedly warned.

Pope Pius XI teaches with impeccable logic, with Saint Cyprian " one room", with Saint John : " ....receive him not.....", we cannot abandon logic, such a great Saint and the Apostle Jesus loved for a mess of "niceness" and equivocation.


Pope Pius XI pray for us.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


St.Stephen's Cathedral Brisbane The Funeral of Archbishop Dunne
The illustrious Episcopate of Archbishop Duhig was about to begin. money was tight-
Faith was strong.
Yesterday we introduced you to the great Priest Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi -  a glorious example to all Priests and a true son of Nigeria. We noted the great debt of Australia and particularly Queensland to our Nigerian missioners both Priests and Seminarians,who have inspired the faithful by their orthodoxy,devotion and reverence. One of their number has added in a Comment that it is a two way traffic, with some of the Priests and Seminarians returning to Nigeria after a few years here,in terms of the original agreement. 

We are realists enough to know that the Nigerian leaven here will far exceed in its effect upon our relatively few people, the influence of the Queensland  patina carried by the returning few , upon the burgeoning numbers of their brethren at home in Nigeria.

Consider the necessity, only a few days short of 9 months later, after the Beatification of Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi  for the December, 1998 Statement of Conclusions, the necessity for the deposing of a Queensland Bishop , the fact that a now deceased  Queensland Bishop  in a Pastoral Letter , referred to the Eucharist as "a symbol",and many other scandals reported in sorrow in this Blog. The fact is, that it is WE who need, and so gratefully received the help, we know that we are the ones very deeply  indebted. 

We should pray that none of those returning to Nigeria will carry home any taint of the problems that made Queensland the sick man of the Church in Australia.

Homily at the Mass for the 
Beatification of Father Cyprian Tansi


"God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. God has given me the joy, for the second time, of coming here to Onitsha to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with you. Sixteen years ago you welcomed me to this fair land, and I experienced the warmth and fervour of a faith- filled people, men and women reconciled to God and eager to spread the Good News of salvation to those near and far.
Saint Paul speaks of "the new creation in Christ" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17) and goes on to tell us: "God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men's faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled . . . the appeal we make in Christ's name is: be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:19-20). The Apostle is touching here on the history of every man and woman: God, in his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, has reconciled us to himself.

This same truth is presented even more vividly in today's Gospel. Saint Luke tells us of a young man who left his father's house, experienced the painful consequences of this action, and then found the road of reconciliation. The young man comes back to his father and says: " Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants" (Lk 15:18-19). The father welcomes his son back with open arms, he rejoices because his son has returned. The father in the parable represents our Heavenly Father, who wishes to reconcile every person to himself in Christ. This is the reconciliation which the Church proclaims.
When Bishops from all over Africa gathered for a Special Session of the Synod to discuss the problems of this continent, they said that the Church in Africa has to become, through the witness of her sons and daughters, a place of true reconciliation (cf. Ecclesia in Africa, 79). Being first reconciled among themselves, the Church's members will bring to society the forgiveness and reconciliation of Christ our peace (cf Eph 2:14). "Otherwise" — the Bishops said — "the world will look more and more like a battlefield, where only selfish interests count and the law of force prevails" (Ecclesia in Africa, 79).

Today I wish to proclaim the importance of reconciliation: reconciliation with God and reconciliation of people among themselves. This is the task which lies before the Church in this land of Nigeria, on this continent of Africa, and in the midst of every people and nation throughout the world. "We are ambassadors for Christ . . . and the appeal that we make in Christ's name is: be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20). For this reason, the Catholics of Nigeria must be authentic and effective witnesses to the faith in every aspect of life, both in public affairs and in private matters.

2. Today, one of Nigeria's own sons, Father Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, has been proclaimed "Blessed" in the very land where he preached the Good News of salvation and sought to reconcile his fellow countrymen with God and with one another. In fact, the Cathedral where Father Tansi was ordained and the parishes where he exercised the priestly ministry are not far from this very spot in Oba where we are gathered. Some of the people to whom he proclaimed the Gospel and administered the sacraments are here with us today — including Cardinal Francis Arinze, who was baptized by Father Tansi and received his first education in one of Father Tansi's schools.

In the great joy of this event I greet all those taking part in this liturgy, especially Archbishop Albert Obiefuna, Shepherd of this local Church of Onitsha, and all the Bishops from Nigeria and neighbouring countries. With particular affection I greet the priests, the men and women Religious, the catechists and all the lay faithful. I thank the members of other Christian Ecclesial Communities, of the Muslim community and of other Religious Traditions who have joined us today, and the various state and local authorities present at our celebration. In a special way, I ask God to reward those who have worked so hard, giving generously of their time, talents and resources, so that this Beatification might take place on Nigerian soil. I make my own the words of the Psalmist as I invite all of you: "Glorify the Lord with me; together let us praise his name" (Ps. 34:3)!

3. The life and witness of Father Tansi is an inspiration to everyone in the Nigeria that he loved so much. He was first of all a man of God: his long hours before the Blessed Sacrament filled his heart with generous and courageous love. Those who knew him testify to his great love of God. Everyone who met him was touched by his personal goodness. He was then a man of the people: he always put others before himself, and was especially attentive to the pastoral needs of families. He took great care to prepare couples well for Holy Matrimony and preached the importance of chastity. He tried in every way to promote the dignity of women. In a special way, the education of young people was precious to him. Even when he was sent by Bishop Heerey to the Cistercian Abbey of Mount Saint Bernard in England to pursue his monastic vocation, with the hope of bringing the contemplative life back to Africa, he did not forget his own people. He did not fail to offer prayers and sacrifices for their continuing sanctification.

Father Tansi knew that there is something of the Prodigal Son in every human being. He knew that all men and women are tempted to separate themselves from God in order to lead their own independent and selfish existence. He knew that they are then disappointed by the emptiness of the illusion which had fascinated them, and that they eventually find in the depths of their heart the road leading back to the Father's house (cf. Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 5). He encouraged people to confess their sins and receive God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He implored them to forgive one another as God forgives us, and to hand on the gift of reconciliation, making it a reality at every level of Nigerian life. Father Tansi tried to imitate the father in the parable: he was always available for those searching for reconciliation. He spread the joy of restored communion with God. He inspired people to welcome the peace of Christ, and encouraged them to nourish the life of grace with the word of God and with Holy Communion.

4. "God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19).
When we speak of the world as reconciled to God, we are speaking not only of individuals but also of every community: families, clans, tribes, nations, states. In his providence, God made covenant after covenant with mankind: there was the covenant with our first parents in the Garden of Eden; the covenant with Noah after the Flood; the covenant with Abraham. Today's reading from the Book of Joshua reminds us of the covenant made with Israel, when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in the land of Egypt. And God has now made the final and definitive covenant with all of humanity in Jesus Christ, who reconciled individual men and women — as well as entire nations — to God by his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Christ is thus a part of the history of the nations. He is a part of the history of your own nation on this continent of Africa. More than a hundred years ago missionaries arrived in your land proclaiming the Gospel of reconciliation, the Good News of salvation. Your forebears began to learn of the mystery of the redemption of the world, and came to share in the New Covenant in Christ. In this way the Christian faith was firmly planted in this soil, and in this way it continues to grow and to produce much fruit.
Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi is a prime example of the fruits of holiness which have grown and matured in the Church in Nigeria since the Gospel was first preached in this land. He received the gift of faith through the efforts of the missionaries, and taking the Christian way of life as his own he made it truly African and Nigerian. So too the Nigerians of today — young and old alike — are called to reap the spiritual fruits which have been planted among them and are now ready for the harvest. In this regard, I wish to thank and to encourage the Church in Nigeria for her missionary work in Nigeria, in Africa and beyond. Father Tansi's witness to the Gospel and to Christian charity is a spiritual gift which this local Church now offers to the Universal Church.


5. God, in fact, has blessed this land with human and natural wealth, and it is everyone's duty to ensure that these resources are used for the good of the whole people. All Nigerians must work to rid society of everything that offends the dignity of the human person or violates human rights. This means reconciling differences, overcoming ethnic rivalries, and injecting honesty, efficiency and competence into the art of governing. As your nation pursues a peaceful transition to a democratic civilian government, there is a need for politicians — both men and women — who profoundly love their own people and wish to serve rather than be served (cf. Ecclesia in Africa, 111). There can be no place for intimidation and domination of the poor and the weak, for arbitrary exclusion of individuals and groups from political life, for the misuse of authority or the abuse of power. In fact, the key to resolving economic, political, cultural and ideological conflicts is justice; and justice is not complete without love of neighbour, without an attitude of humble, generous service.
When we see others as brothers and sisters, it is then possible to begin the process of healing the divisions within society and between ethnic groups. This is the reconciliation which is the path to true peace and authentic progress for Nigeria and for Africa. This reconciliation is not weakness or cowardice. On the contrary, it demands courage and sometimes even heroism: it is victory over self rather than over others. It should never be seen as dishonour. For in reality it is the patient, wise art of peace.

6. The passage from the Book of Joshua which we heard in the First Reading of today's liturgy speaks of the Passover which the children of Israel celebrated after arriving in the Promised Land. They celebrated it with joy because they saw with their own eyes that the Lord's promises to them had been fulfilled. After forty years of wandering in the desert, their feet now stood on the land which God was giving to them. The Passover of the Old Testament, the memorial of the exodus from Egypt, is the figure of the Passover of the New Testament, the memorial of Christ's passing from death to life, which we recall and celebrate at every Mass.
As we stand before the Altar of Sacrifice, soon to be fed and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we must be convinced that each of us, according to our particular state in life, is called to do no less than what Father Tansi did. Having been reconciled with God, we must be instruments of reconciliation, treating all men and women as brothers and sisters, called to membership in the one family of God.

Reconciliation necessarily involves solidarity. The effect of solidarity is peace. And the fruits of peace are joy and unity in families, cooperation and development in society, truth and justice in the life of the nation. May this be Nigeria's bright future!

"The God of peace be with you all. Amen" (Rom 15:33).

(Sunday, 22 March 1998 at Onitsha, Nigeria)

Monday, May 02, 2016



This Post first appeared 4 years ago, it is timely to refresh our memories , and deepen our gratitude for the great gifts Nigeria continues to bestow on the Australian Church from Tasmania to Victoria to New South Wales and Queensland.
As the debt of the Church in Australia (and especially in troubled Queensland) to the Church in Nigeria, grows apace, it might be helpful for us to know more about the life of the Church in that  nation.

To be well regarded by the great Cardinal Francis Arinze, with his sharp, penetrating mind and marvellous wit, is a major testimony in itself, here , in 1998 he speaks about the  approaching Beatification of the then Venerable Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi a Priest of Igbo Nigerian birth.


On 22 March 1998 the Holy Father is going to beatify the Ven. Father Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, o.c.s.o., at Onitsha in Nigeria. Father Tansi is in many ways a priest who has a message for our times.

Born at Aguleri, in the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria, in 1903, Michael Iwene Tansi was ordained diocesan priest in Onitsha Cathedral in 1937, he worked as an assistant priest at Nnewi for two years and was then parish priest at Dunukofia (1939-1945), Akpu (1945-1949) and Aguleri (1949-1950). He entered Mt St. Bernard Cistercian Monastery near Coalville, Leicester, in England, in 1950 and there he died on 20 Jan 1964. The actuality of the Ven Father Tansi for our times can be seen from the following considerations.

1. Pastor: As a priest, Fr. Tansi was devoted to his people. He was available. He catechized; he inspired catechists; and he himself conducted the final test for those for the various Sacraments of Christian initiation. He preached clear and incisive homilies which people recall even after 50 years. He was courageous in preaching the whole Gospel and all the commandments without discount or equivocation. He heard Confessions with zeal. The parish which he initiated and animated with as means of travel a push bicycle and an old motor-cycle which often broke down is now divided into at least 14 parishes.

2. Promotion of Women and Families
Father Tansi promoted the status of women. He insisted that betrothed girls should attend a 6-month marriage training centre where they were taught Catholic doctrine, home keeping, Christian family traditions, sewing, knitting, etc. He thus laid solid foundations for Christian families. He opposed the Igbo practice of men calling their wives "onye be m" (the person of my house) because this suggests inequality of the spouses.

3. Educator: Fr Tansi promoted education in many senses of the word. He ran primary schools and succeeded in inspiring teachers, like headmaster Patrick N. Okeke, who saw their role not just as teachers but as formators of the growing population. At Dunukofia, Father Tansi built boarding-houses for pupils in Standards 5 and 6 (around 11 or 12 year olds). These boys lived there from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. They had fixed times for morning and evening prayers. They took turns in serving Mass which they all attended each morning when Fr Tansi was not visiting the many outstations of the parish. Fr Tansi himself read "Spiritual Reading" to them for 15 minutes each day.
Fr Tansi, himself a footballer in his youth, appreciated the place of sports in the education of the young.

4. Vocations Promoter:
Father Tansi did much to promote priestly and religious vocations. His personal life witness was the best argument. He was a man entirely for God, happy and singleminded in his answering of God’s call. It is remarkable that the areas where he worked had and still have a high flowering of priestly and religious vocations.
Father Tansi educated especially the young in the virtue of chastity and thus made them ready for Christian marriage or for priesthood or the religious life
5. Eucharistic Faith
Father Tansi had strong faith in the Holy Eucharist. He celebrated Mass in a way that inspired faith. His Eucharistic Benediction celebrations nourished faith. Even the way he genuflected showed his eucharistic faith. He prayed for long hours in the Chapel by day and by night.

6. Sense of the Church
Father Tansi loved the Church. He never criticized the Bishop or the Pope. He ran the parish in such a model way that once the Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Charles Heerey, C.S.S.p., said to his priests: "Go to Dunukofia and see the wonders which Father Michael is doing". And at that time, 95% of the priests were Irish Spiritans.

7. Asceticism
Fr Tansi was known to be a very ascetical priest. He ate little. His cook did not have much work, except when he had visitors. And yet Fr Tansi was very generous with his visitors.
Once he said to his visiting seminarian (who later became Bishop Godfrey Okoye): "Promise me that you will do whatever I request". The innocent seminarian promised. When it was time to go to bed, he pointed out to the embarrassed seminarian his portable bed, while he himself sat on a chair the whole night.
Fr Tansi either wore the soutane or long khaki trousers and khaki long sleeve shirt. He insisted on himself and others walking at the same pace, whether it was fine weather or was raining.

8. Inculturation
Fr Tansi was not a champion of inculturation understood as the incorporation of local cultures in the Christian life. It is to be remembered that sixty years ago there was not the clear emphasis on inculturation in the Church to which we are accustomed today. Moreover, local Nigerian culture was not as yet well known to the missionaries. There was yet no university in Nigeria (today there are nearly 40) and no institute of African Traditional Religion.
Nevertheless, Father Tansi lived and explained the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in a way that was authentic, convincing, clear and attractive. He did not believe in compromise with local customs like title-taking ceremonies and masquerading which at that time were permeated with superstitious practices. Today these customs have undergone some change and are now acceptable on certain conditions to Christians in many places, although not everywhere. The firm stand of Father Tansi reminds us that in our efforts to promote inculturation, there should be no compromising of firm points of Christian faith and morals.

9. The Actuality of Father Tansi
Some of the messages which Father Tansi is delivering to Church and Society today are the following:
He is telling everyone, lay, clerical or religious faithful, that we should live entirely for God and that there should be no compromise on the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Fr Tansi gives priests and consecrated people a model of total consecration to the Gospel Message, faith and love without regrets, consecrated chastity lived with generosity and producing abundant fruit in spiritual fatherhood, evangelical simplicity of life-style, radical detachment from earthly goods, and ready obedience to God’s will manifested through the Bishop and Religious Superiors.
Father Tansi is telling Nigerians and other Africans and indeed the wider world to respect women, to live pure lives and to build up healthy families.
To Nigerians and Africans, Fr. Tansi is a model of a citizen who loves his neighbour beyond religious, ethnic and cultural frontiers.
To civil and religious authorities, Fr Tansi shows how to live authority as service and sacrifice of self for the benefit of others.
To Europeans and Africans, Fr Tansi shows how different races can live in harmony and solidarity in recognition of God as our common father.
Father Tansi is telling Africans that all are called to holiness which is the perfection of charity.

The Beatification of the Ven. Father Cyprian Michael Iwene TANSI, o.c.s.o., is indeed of great actuality in our times.
27 February,1998

Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene, pray for us, and for your fellow Nigerian Seminarians and Priests working in and coming to Brisbane , Australia.



"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole World and lose his immortal soul ?" Mark 8:36

What a marvellous gift we have in our Catholic Faith which binds us not only to one another, and through the Communion of Saints to our ancestors , no matter how remote, and to our descendants already in God's Mind, but most importantly to God Himself made Man, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the True Vine through the one true Church he founded on Saint Peter and promised to remain with until the end of the World.

As Saint Paul reminds us :"You were bought with a great price ......" Cor. 6:20.  We are not free to do as we wish. We belong to Christ through His Church : "I Am the Vine, you are the branches ..apart from Me you can do nothing."John 15:5

The Successor of Saint Peter and great student of Saint Augustine the noble son of Africa, has stated the case with Authority and love for God and the faithful . What blessings are available to us! 


"To abide in Christ means, as we saw earlier, to abide in the Church as well. The whole communion of the faithful has been firmly incorporated into the vine, into Christ. In Christ we belong together. Within this communion he supports us, and at the same time all the members support one another. They stand firm together against the storm and they offer one another protection. Those who believe are not alone. We do not believe alone, but we believe with the whole Church.

The Church, as the herald of God’s word and dispenser of the sacraments, joins us to Christ, the true vine. The Church as "fullness and completion of the Redeemer" (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35 [1943] p. 230: "plenitudo et complementum Redemptoris") is to us a pledge of divine life and mediator of those fruits of which the parable of the vine speaks. The Church is God’s most beautiful gift. 

Therefore Saint Augustine also says: "as much as any man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Spirit" (In Ioan. Ev. Tract. 32:8 [PL 35:1646]).

 With and in the Church we may proclaim to all people that Christ is the source of life, that he exists, that he is the one for whom we long so much. He gives himself. Whoever believes in Christ has a future. For God has no desire for what is withered, dead, ersatz, and finally discarded: he wants what is fruitful and alive, he wants life in its fullness. "

Let us never forget the privilege that is ours, to belong to the one true Church Christ Himself  founded, and never put our association with Her , and therefore Him, at risk.Amen.

Sunday, May 01, 2016



There are aspects of our Catholic Faith that we sometimes set aside as too complex to trouble ourselves with, these vary from person to person, but might include the precise meaning of the Kingdom of God,  the nature of Glorified Bodies etc. With the help of Pope Benedict XVI, we intend to examine the latter, relying on the Holy Father's  excellent Book Jesus of Nazareth, Part II HOLY WEEK.

There is no doubt that there are questions to be asked about the phenomenon of the appearances of the Resurrected Christ:

How is it that repeatedly He is at first, not recognised ?That He is taken for some ordinary person, a gardener, a traveller, a bystander on the shore? Again , how is it that He enters instantly into locked rooms? How is it that He eats normally, and even asks for food? And how is it that He appears and the disappears, yet His risen Body is quite real : eating, wounded  ? Yes, we are a little lazy perhaps and prefer not to think it through, not to draw the various threads together from Sacred Scripture . It is a tribute to the intellect and responsibility of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI that he does not shrink from the task, but rather for our benefit applies himself to it.

He begins by considering in principle, what is involved : a "theophany"that is an action of God in the presence of men. At p 268 he says "What is radically new about the "theophany"of the Risen Lord is that Jesus is truly man : He suffered and died as a man and now lives anew in the dimension of the Living God/ He appears now as true man and yet as coming from God - as being God Himself."

He then defines the outlines of this wondrous circumstance. Jesus Risen is not the same type of body as Jesus before death : death itself can never again affect His risen body. Again His Presence is not some mystical phenomenon.Nor is it simply some interior event. The meetings with Him are intensely real events - He remains embodied , yet in a new way. Saint Luke the "dear and glorious physician" is at pains to emphasise the real physicality of the Risen Lord Who has "flesh and bones"( Lk 24 : 36- 43), rather Saint Luke records the words, but it is Jesus Himself that makes the point to the Disciples who were thinking they beheld a Spirit. So, we have it from the Lord's own Mouth and we know that He wants us to get it right - to Him it is an important reality.

His appearance is in some way different - we are not told how . But it is a recurring theme first He s not recognised , then "They recognised Him in the breaking of the bread"or "It is the Lord!"recognition by some varying cause. And the capabilities of His Risen Body are different, it can pass through physical obstacle e.g.walls, it can appear and disappear  and move at His Will . He is clearly in a new order of reality, yet really physical.

The Holy Father spells it out for us at p 269: "Jesus, however,does not come from the realm of the dead, which He has definitively left behind: on the contrary, he comes from the realm of pure life, from God; He comes as the One Who is truly alive, Who is Himself, the Source of life."

He goes on to analyse the common elements in a number of the Risen Jesus' appearances among His disciples : He appears, speaks with them and shares a meal with them - He thus proves to them that He is truly alive! But the Holy Father digs deeper  to reveal all that Saint Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, intends. At Acts 1 3:4 we read :"For forty days He had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When He had been at table with them, He had told them not to leave Jerusalem." 
The Holy Father tells us that .."...the word used by Luke - synalizomenos   - is of great significance "though lost in most translations. He continues "Literally translated , it means "eating salt with them ". Luke must have chosen this word quite deliberately. Yet what is it supposed to mean? In the Old Testament, the shared enjoyment of bread and salt, or salt alone, served to establish lasting covenants( cf. Num 18:19; 2Chron 13:5; cf Hauck,TDNT 1, p.228). Salt is regarded as a guarantee of durability.It is a remedy against putrefaction, against the corruption that pertains to the nature of death. To eat is always to keep death at bay- it is a way of preserving life. The "eating of salt"by Jesus after the Resurrection, which we therefore encounter as a sign of new and everlasting life, points to the Risen Lord's new banquet with His followers. It is a covenant-event and in this sense it has an inner association with the Last Supper, when the Lord established the New Covenant. So the mysterious cipher of eating salt expresses an inner bond between the meal on the eve of Jesus' Passion and the Risen Lord's new table fellowship : He gives Himself to His followers as food and thus makes them sharers in His Life, in life itself." 

The Holy Father goes on to summarise : 

"...the encounters with the Risen Lord are not the same as mystical experiences, in which the human spirit is momentarily drawn aloft out of itself and perceives the realm of the Divine and Eternal, only to return then to the normal horizon of its existence. Mystical experience is a temporary removal of the soul's spatial and cognitive limitations. But it is not an encounter with a person coming toward me from without. Saint Paul clearly distinguished his mystical experiences, such as his elevation to the third heaven described in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-4 , from his encounter with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus, which was a historical event - an encounter with a Living Person."

The Holy Father shows that essentially, something beyond all human experience has happened in the Resurrection : a man did not simply come back to life on that occasion. No, an entirely  new way of being human was opened to all of us  ( cf Christ "the first born from the Dead"( Rev 1: 5) "opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life , a new space of being in union with  God. 
Col . 1: 18) 

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Thursday, April 30, 2015


Battle of Gettysburg
Bearing in mind our posts of the last couple of days, "Love"    and "Love, Tolerance and Labels " we can draw it all together in this significant post, which is worth reading and re-reading.

One of the participants in the Battle of Gettysburg almost 152 years ago spoke of the sound of the battle at its height as a monstrous roar unlike anything he had known - certainly other than human. One can reflect on the turning of the earth and the vast cacophony of human activity - good and bad, beautiful and ugly - and imagine it like a giant humming top emitting its combined cries of joy and pain, creation and destruction in a immense chorus into the heavens. All of it too much for us, but all of it is known continually, immediately and forever to God.

In 2006 Abbot Hugh Gilbert of Pluscarden Abbey preached on the subject “Christ the Light” and posed the question, “What’s really going on in life in the world? What on earth is really happening?” We might re-phrase the question as, “What’s it all about?”

The Abbot takes us back to St Augustine around 400 AD to begin the answer:

“So, my brothers and sisters, our whole business in this life is the healing of the eye of the heart, that eye with which God is seen. It is for this the holy mysteries are celebrated, for this the word of God is preached, to this that the Church’s moral exhortations are directed” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 88, 5).

Read St. Cyril of Alexandria or John Chrysostom or Gregory the Great on this same Gospel - or, for that matter, on any - and it’s clear they see the same. For them, for the Fathers of the Church, the Bible is an organic whole, fully present in any part. So, my brothers and sisters, our whole business in this life is the healing of the eye of the heart, that eye with which God is seen. If the Fathers are right, then, any passage of Scripture, a fortiori any passage from the Gospels, can yield us a vision of the whole.

What is really going on in the world? The Bible, Faith, give their answer: it is this mysterious, half-hidden, half-revealed, work of God. It is the Father’s work through his Son; it is the bringing back of his sons and daughters from the place of exile and abandonment to the house destined for them from all eternity. 

This is no small matter. It is the work for which the first promise of salvation after the Fall, and the covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel and the house of David all prepare. It is the work achieved when Christ for the last time left Galilee, and Jericho, for Jerusalem, ‘took the toss / And rode the black horns of the cross - / But rose snow-silver from the dead’ (R. Campbell, To the Sun). It is the work carried on, offered to the whole of humanity, through the preaching and sacramental life of the Church, already visible in the communion of the Church, to be completed in the Land, the City, the House and Temple of the everlasting Kingdom. It is the bringing of creation to its goal. 

Faith has the nerve to say that under, in and through all things, even apparently contrary things, even the random, inexplicable, un-connectable things, it is this that is going on. ‘I am going tothe Father’s house,’were the last words of John Paul II.”

We need to keep the eye of our heart on God, remembering what it’s all about. God is not watching us “from a distance” as the song had it, but knows us continually, immediately and forever and knows how well we are keeping the eye of our heart on Him.

Friday, April 29, 2016


The words of Our Lord Jesus Christ are of critical importance for mankind - this is God Himself speaking directly to Man. So that when He gives us a command we have no more important thing to do.But did He do that?

" A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." And the Lord goes on to say : " By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34)

That is crystal clear.

But in the modern Western world an alternative is proposed and generally accepted unthinkingly because it has become " politically correct" . TOLERANCE is the civic ideal. But we need to remember that mere tolerance is NOT a Christian Virtue. Love is what is expected of us , for as we are told, where there is Love , there is God for"God is Love"( 1 John 4:8).

What is the nature of the " Love" proposed? Saint Thomas  Aquinas tells us that Love means wanting only the very best for the one loved.And in following the command of Our Divine Lord, that very best means everything that accords with God's Will and excludes anything that does not.

Whereas tolerance would have us watch on while others do wrong and not reprove them, and not seek to persuade them to do the right thing, or to convince them of the Truth.

But is there no room for tolerance?

As regards people, there is not - it is the superior Divinely mandated "Love"  that must be our objective.But in other areas, as long as God's Law , the teaching of the Magisterium or the discipline of the Church is not transgressed, tolerance has its place.

Strangely enough, it is in the area of Religion - specifically the Liturgy - that intolerance seems to be systematically entrenched.

In the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council , the word " Liturgist" became synonymous with a type of radical liberal "spirit of the Council" type of intolerant fascist - he was tolerant of everything except orthodoxy and the Rubrics. It was so bad that jokes circulated that the only way to negotiate with a Liturgist was with a sub-machine gun! At the other end of the spectrum there are those who hold that the 1962 Missal saw the end of all legitimate and valid Liturgical change. Accordingly they reject the Ordinary Form of the Mass outright and some of them go so far as to say that there is no Pope and there has not been since Ven. Pope Pius XII.

What is clear, at both ends of the spectrum, is that there is very little , if any "love" in evidence. Of course the dwindling numbers at each end of the spectrum both hold the that their approach is , the correct one by appealing to the ( false) " spirit of the Council" and, in  the other case, by relying on their own interpretation of the perceived faults of the Council ( oddly for people who would think of themselves as conservative,this is a very Protestant " every man his own Pope" approach.)

For my own part, I stick firmly with the " teach what the Catholic Church teaches, do what the Catholic Church does, and let the chips fall where they may " approach of Cardinal George Pell. I love the Extraordinary Form and always have, since my earliest childhood memories, but, of necessity I happily assist at the Ordinary Form and rejoice when it is devoutly celebrated and get uptight when it is not.I try to avoid labelling people unless they label themselves, as the false " spirit of the Council" folk do. And I strive to be as charitable as I am able - sometimes failing under severe provocation. 


I would like to see the Extraordinary Form far more widely available and I am pleased to see the number of young Priests learning to celebrate it. Everyone will benefit from the sense of the sacred it engenders.

Thursday, April 28, 2016



Love, the song tells us: “Love, changes everything….” This was of course written about romantic love, with its myriad complications. But it is no less true of all other forms of love and there are numbers of them.

Where do we see Love? We can most readily recognise it by its concomitants:

Communication, Respect, Joy, Spontaneity, Loyalty and Attention.

Yes, even outside romantic Love, Love changes everything.
It is important to test our relationships with those we love along these lines, to see how well we are playing our part.

But when we come to consider the ultimate non-romantic Love – our love for God Most High, our testing needs to be intense, for this is a matter of an entirely different order, and some of those concomitants even change their realities and their  names.

For Communication we have Prayer,
for Respect we have Worship
and for Attention we have Devotion. 


Joy, Spontaneity and Loyalty, in regard to our love of God, seem, strangely to become, in many cases,  victims of the modern world and its pre-occupations.

That this is so, suggests that some prior intrusion has subverted the person’s love of God. For, if through Prayer , Worship and Devotion one is evidencing commitment to God, Joy, Spontaneity and Loyalty would be such as to “ overcome the World” especially with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
So perhaps we are driven back to re-assess the quality of that Prayer, Worship and Devotion.

The old saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” is deep in wisdom and applies in many ways and situations. But in the case of our relationship to Almighty God the risks are too great to neglect the most extraordinary measures to avoid it being a factor. Yet this seems to be the very nub of the matter.

We see of course, in times of woe, a rapid and intense scurrying back to God for help – in times of war, disaster, grief, illness etc. even on a community wide scale. This phenomenon is hardly new; consider this poem by the English Poet Francis Quarles from 1632:

Our God and soldier we alike adore,
Even at the brink of danger, not before;
After deliverance, both alike requited.
Our God’s forgotten, and our soldiers slighted.”

But especially in the Season of Lent, which leads us, and should condition us, to enter into Holy Week and to experience the glorious joy of Easter, seeks to help us to “ get real “ , to wake up to ourselves and shake off that familiarity that breeds contempt or even carelessness.

And, if you had the slightest lingering doubt that “ Love changes everything” pay attention to Saint John who speaks to us, not about our love for God, no, but about God’s love for us-


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

The Word made Flesh, for the love of the Father, burst out of Eternity into the sad confines of Time, to manifest the Father's infinite love for us.And to suffer grievously , and to die horribly, that we might be saved from our sins. 

Truly God's Love changes EVERYTHING.