May 19, 2014
The saint whom we celebrate on Wednesday was renowned for his eloquence. St. Bernadine of Siena was born in Italy in 1380 and died in Aquila in Italy in 1444. His holiness was so renowned that he was quickly canonised within a few years of his death.
St. Bernadine inveighed against the evils of his day and was known as a powerful and forceful preacher. He followed in the line of others of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries who were keen to attack the corruption and complacency that they detected both within and outside the church. St Bernadine was keen to call the people of his native land back to their Catholic faith. He realised that faith as well as charity need to begin at home, and was acutely aware that there was little point in preaching to non-Christians when so many who thought of themselves as Christians lived lives that were anything but.
We too live in an age that is complacent and thinks that it knows – and easily dismisses – what Christian faith is all about. We too will need to be eloquent like St Bernadine but we will need more than words. Our actions too should show our faith. May his prayers help us to be convincing witnesses to the truth.
May 12, 2014
As well as the fifty days of Easter that we celebrate in the Liturgy, we also have the month of the May to celebrate over the next few weeks. May has always been seen traditionally as the month of Mary and some of our older hymns speak of it in that way.
After the resurrection Mary is found with the apostles praying and rejoicing. She, who had seen her son die in agony on the cross, was now able to share in the resurrection of that same son. In her Assumption that sharing becomes total. Mary is a sign of the power of the resurrection at work among Christian people. The resurrection is not just something that happens to Jesus it is shared with us too.
One of the beautiful traditional chants of Eastertide brings all these sorts of thoughts together. The ‘Regina Caeli’ is a prayer that we should all know and one that children can quickly learn. It can be found in any Catholic prayer book or in our hymn books, in Latin and in English. In it we invite Mary to rejoice because her son is risen as he promised. And we ask her to pray for us.
May 5, 2014
Last week someone wished me ‘a belated happy Easter’. I had to point out that he was well in time as we are now in the midst of our Easter celebrations. In fact they continue for fifty days – a week of weeks in which we celebrate, ponder and proclaim the death and resurrection of Christ.
The readings for these weeks, especially the Sunday ones, take us to the heart of the mystery. We hear of the accounts of the disciples encounters with the risen Jesus, but we are also given much to think and pray about to embed the new life of the resurrection into the life of the Church. The resurrection is not an event in the past, though it is historical, but very much a present reality.
As we gather to celebrate the Mass we are gathering to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The same is true of all the other sacraments. But it is also true of the Church’s communal life. Our caring and our loving are signs of the risen Christ in the world. The new life of Jesus is not on offer in the future but here and now. We are called to that life.