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Informing, Inspiring, Challenging Today’s Catholic

MARCH 2018




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IN THIS MONTH’S ISSUE FEATURES 12 THE WAY OF THE CROSS A young Liverpool artist painted a set of Stations of the Cross for a prisoner of war camp By Marian McCarthy

19 THE GREAT WEEK The celebration of the last three days of Holy Week is a single liturgy, from the Lord’s Supper to the Resurrection By Sarah Adams

23 THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MAYNOOTH MISSION TO CHINA This year marks the centenary of the foundation of the Missionary Society of St Columban, founded initially for the Chinese Mission but now active worldwide By Fr Niall Collins SSC


28 PRAYING WITH THE ROSARY The feast of the Annunciation on March 25 invites us to reflect on the first Joyful Mystery By Fr George Wadding CSsR

33 FAMILY IN EARLY IRELAND What the scholars have discovered about family life in Celtic Ireland and how the arrival of Christianity altered it profoundly By Fr John J Ó Ríordáin CSsR

36 “TAKE THIS ALL OF YOU AND DRINK FROM IT” Why Catholics should receive Holy Communion in both kinds By Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR













Just over half of all adults in the UK pray, and they are increasingly likely to call on God while engaged in activities such as cooking or exercising, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund. Although one in three people pray in a church, and a third pray before going to sleep or on waking, others combine prayer with daily activities. One in five pray while doing household chores or cooking, 15 per cent pray while travelling, and 12 per cent pray during exercise or other leisure pursuits. Just under half of those who pray said they believed God hears their prayers. Four in ten believe prayer changes the world; a similar number say it makes them feel better. The most common intention in prayer was for the well-being of family (71 per cent), followed by prayers of thanks (42 per cent), healing (40 per cent) and friends (40 per cent). Less common prayer intentions were



global poverty or disasters (24 per cent). People who do not consider themselves religious tend to pray at times of personal tragedy, and one in four claimed that they prayed to gain comfort or to feel less lonely. One respondent, Henry (64) said he prays every night, kneeling by his bed, despite not being religious. “I worry about it quite a lot – is it some kind of an insurance policy, is it superstition or is it something more real?” Asked if he believed in God, he said: “I don’t know but I would describe myself at the sceptical end of agnosticism. I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as religious.” He usually begins his prayers with the Lord’s Prayer and then mentions all his loved ones to be kept safe and well. Rachel Treweek, Anglican bishop of Gloucester, said: “We should not be surprised by these recent findings, which reflect human longing for the mystery and love of God amid experiences of daily life.”

Ivo Poppe


A Belgian deacon has gone on trial accused of killing at least 10 people, including his own mother. Ivo Poppe, 61, a former nurse, is suspected of injecting air into some of his victims’ veins to kill them. The married father of three has been called the ‘Deacon of Death’ by Belgian media. His ten alleged victims include his mother, father-in-law, two other relatives and patients he nursed during his three decades in the nursing profession. A criminal inquiry, however, has established a list of 50 suspicious deaths REALITY MARCH 2018

during his time at a clinic in the town of Menen. He was arrested in 2014 after telling a psychiatrist he had “actively euthanised” dozens of people, claiming that he was acting out of compassion to end their sufferings. He has since retracted that statement. The Belgian Church has raised concerns that the country’s liberal euthanasia law is killing people without consent, and that the Federal Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission has failed to refer suspected abuses for investigation. “It’s shocking that

15 years since its creation, this commission has not referred a single file to prosecutors or condemned a single doctor,” the report said.




The leaders of Christian churches, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and a representative from an Islamic group, issued a joint statement on the question of gender alteration last December. “We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created

by God,” they said, “and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God.”


While acknowledging that some people are uncomfortable with their gender and may wish to be identified with the other sex, they stated that it is “a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth” and committed themselves to urging the members of their communities “to respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love”. Children are harmed, they said, when they are told that they can "change" their sex or are given hormones that will affect their development into adulthood. Parents deserve clear guidance in this matter, they said, and “gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and selfdoubt”. They stated that the movement to enforce a false idea that a man can be or become a woman, or vice versa, deeply troubling, and compelled people “to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalisation, and other forms of retaliation”. They concluded by hoping for a renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture, and support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau


Canada’s Catholic bishops have sharply criticised the country’s Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for “undermining religious freedom” by requiring that employers sign an attestation supporting abortion and transgender rights in order to benefit from grants for employing students during the summer holidays. “This new policy conflicts directly with the right to freedom of religion and conscience which too are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as in associated case law,”said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It seriously undermines the right to religious freedom since the Government of Canada is directly limiting the right of religious traditions to

hold, teach and practise their principles and values in public. Faith communities consider abortion, sexual orientation, and gender identity as major questions with ethical, moral, social and personal bearing which determine our understanding of human dignity, and our appreciation for the meaning and significance of every human life.” A minister in Trudeau’s cabinet, Patty Hajdu, made it clear that the party did not want pro-life groups receiving summer job grants. Trudeau, who considers himself a Catholic, has stated that pro-life groups explicitly opposed to abortion are “not in line with where we are as a government and, quite frankly, where we are at as a society”. continued on page 6




A recent US survey claims that more young Catholics are leaving the faith than ever before, ahead of any other religion. The survey, Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, was sponsored by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Jesuitrun Georgetown University, Washington. “Of all the major denominations, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses because of affiliation changes, despite these losses having been largely offset by Hispanic immigration to the United States,” the authors state. They estimate that “approximately 12.8 per cent of US young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are former Catholics, and approximately 6.8 per cent of US teens between the ages of

15 and 17 are former Catholics". Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed in the study abandoned the faith between the ages of 10 and 20. Experiences such as divorce, illness, and death often led to faith conflicts. For one category of respondents, identified as “drifters”, there was a slow disconnect between what they describe

PRIEST FOR A DAY Brett Haubrich, an 11-yearold boy from St Louis, was dying of cancer, and he knew it. He was invited by the Make-A-Wish foundation to choose what he would most like to do for a day. Brett had Brett Haubrich being helped with his clerical shirt three career options – to become a priest, a doctor or an engineer, but priest was, by far, number one, so he asked could be “a priest for a day”. Family, friends and priests had plenty of ideas, but his local bishop had an even better one. On Holy Thursday 2017, at the invitation of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St Louis, Brett took his place in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as a "Priest For a Day". The 11-year-old boy served two Masses – the morning Chrism Mass at which all the priests of the diocese gather around their bishop, and the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, at which, along with 11 seminarians, he had his feet washed by Archbishop Carlson. He was a little nervous, but everything went like clockwork. Wearing a brand new clerical collar provided by one of the seminarians, Brett processed with priests, deacons and seminarians at the Chrism Mass. He said he loved the smell of incense burning in the thurible, enjoyed confession and liked "communion, and the songs, too". Brett died shortly after Christmas 2017, thrilled to have been “a priest for a day”. REALITY MARCH 2018

as “meaningless rules and rituals” of the church and their experience of the “real world”. Another group, “dissenters”, were more active in their rejection of certain teachings of the church, such as those on gay marriage, contraception, and abortion, but their dissent is also sometimes based on questions of doctrine, such as salvation, heaven, and hell. Thirty-five per cent of the respondents no longer have any form of religious affiliation; 29 per cent identify as a non-Protestant Christian, 14 per cent as atheist or agnostic, and 9 per cent as Protestant. Twenty-eight per cent said they rarely or never attended Mass when they considered themselves Catholic; only 17 per cent said that they attended Mass weekly and three quarters never attended a Catholic school.

CHURCH COLLECTIONS CONTINUE TO DECLINE The Dublin diocesan Share collection dropped significantly in 2016. The total Share collection for the year ending December 31, 2016, was €6,273,000, or averaging weekly at €120,635: this was a significant decline from the €128,692 the previous year or from 2011 when it averaged €133,558. The overall value of the Share fund at year’s end stood at €14,765,000, up from €14,447,000 at the end of the previous period. The total income for the Common Fund, which covers the remuneration of priests serving in the diocese, as well as sick and retired clergy, stood at €14.3m in 2016, a very slight dip from the previous 18 months. Income from donations and legacies were badly down: in 2016 it was only €3,000 (compared to a previous level of €547,000). Parish income, from the family offering collection, rose slightly, giving an average weekly income of €575,641. More difficult to evaluate is the value of diocesan assets, including heritage items and schools, which are kept in custody rather than owned.


POPE MONITOR KEEPING UP WITH POPE FRANCIS PAPAL VISIT TO CHILE AND PERU Pope Francis made his fifth papal visit to South America, visiting Chile and Peru from January 15-21, 2018. Chile was regarded as a particularly challenging place for a papal visit. It is the second most secular country in Latin America: some 38 per cent of Chileans regard themselves as agnostic, atheist or non-religious, and the Catholic population is 45 per cent – very low for Latin America. A poll prior to the visit gave Pope Francis a score of 5.3, the lowest ranking for any pope, and rated the Catholic Church at 36 per cent – the lowest in Latin America. The visit came under criticism for the costs involved in a country where many people are struggling under the poverty threshold. Privately owned estates and huge timber plantations have left the lands in the extreme south of Chile environmentally depleted and their people mired in poverty. In the days preceding the visit, three churches in the capital, Santiago, were firebombed, and leaflets were left, warning that the next was for Pope Francis. The Chilean church was also struggling with a high-profile sex abuse case. A priest involved in the case had been appointed bishop, which raised protests in many quarters in the country. The crowds that turned out to receive the pope were smaller than usual during his South American visits, and while some cheered, others carried placards demanding attention for the sex abuse case. One of his first acts during his meeting with President Michelle Bachelet was to express his pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church: "It is right to ask for forgiveness and to make every effort to support the victims." He repeated it again at the Mass celebrated in O’Higgins Park in Santiago (named after Bernardo O’Higgins, liberator of Chile who had Irish ancestry). Taking up the same theme in another speech, he spoke in defence of the bishop whose nomination had attracted criticism. The next leg of the journey was to Peru which has been undergoing a political crisis for some time. He told the Peruvian bishops they need to speak the language of young people to help them understand the message of the Gospel, just as missionaries learned the languages of indigenous peoples as they worked to convert them. The highlight of the visit was Mass celebrated for more than a million people in the Peruvian capital Lima. During the press conference on the return journey, Pope Francis reflected on some of the highlights of the visit. He said he was especially moved by his visit to the women’s prison in Santiago. “Seeing these women and their ability to change their lives, to return to society with the power of the Gospel, moved me very much.” He also mentioned his meeting with indigenous people in Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazonian rain forest. Asked about his response to some of the victims which had been openly criticised by Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, who attended the visit in Peru, he expressed his appreciation of the cardinal’s intervention and said: “I ask pardon if I have hurt them without realising it,” insisting that this was not his intention. He also admitted that the words he had used were unfortunate, but said the bishop in question would remain in place – because, as he said, “I cannot condemn him if I do not have evidence.”

With Chilian President Michelle Bachelet

Mass at Las Palmas Air Base in Lima, Peru


Pope Francis offered the fun of a night at the circus to Rome's poor through the Papal Almoner or administrator of the papal charities. It also provided an opportunity to offer the services of health care professionals for those in need. Poor families who live in the heavily populated outskirts of Rome were invited to a special “Circus of Solidarity”, thanks to the generosity of Pope Francis. The Holy Father provided tickets to more than 2,000 of Rome’s poor or homeless people, as well as refugees, a group of prisoners, and many families in great need. In addition to the circus, they were given a “packed supper”. A mobile clinic from the Vatican’s health care system was also on hand for those who needed medical care. Braina Casartelli, head of the Casartelli family circus, promised that the circus would be “a marvellous evening in honour of the many people of Rome who live in difficulty”. Italy’s Animal Protection League criticised the circus outing, on grounds of the “unnatural condition of detention and exploitation, if not mistreatment” of circus animals.




Part of my work in 1984 was preaching at the Solemn Novena in honour of the Mother of Perpetual Help in Galway Cathedral. It was Galway’s Quincentennial celebration of receiving a charter from the king of England, something on which the loyal burgesses of the town placed great store. Don’t ask me for details, but it seems to have meant a lot for trade, and trading was the lifeblood of this seaport town. What has this got to do with St Mura of Fahan, County Donegal? Well, that’s quite another story. You see while honouring the preaching assignment I had a fair amount of free time, and not being the kind of person to be rushing at the last minute to prepare a sermon, my homework was well in hand. On several evenings then, I attended UCG for Professor Etienne Rynne’s archaeological lectures for mature students, and it was during one such lecture that some of the wonders of Fahan Mura were unfolded. Occasionally, Etienne would give scope to a colleague or ‘promising’ student, and it was in such circumstances that our class was privileged to benefit from the scholarship of a student named Clyne. The young lady gave a presentation that has ever since furnished my mind with material on a number of archaeological topics, particularly on the evolution of Irish free-standing stone crosses (High Crosses) beginning with the Donegal Group in which she drew our attention to two crosses in the graveyard at Fahan. When preparing this article, I looked up the internet to see if there was any reference to Ms Clyne, and there she was, 30 years on, Dr Miriam Clyne, on the staff at Trinity College, Dublin. The monastery at Fahan, on the west coast of the Inishowen Peninsula, is only about eight kilometres from the city of Derry. It was probably founded by a Columban monk, if not by Colmcille himself. The seventh century St Mura was not the first abbot, but he is the first abbot whom we can name. He was patron of the district, a tutelary saint of the O’Neills, and credited with being the author of an Irish metrical Life of Colmcille. This is said to have been preserved at Fahan until the 16th century. In the time of the Franciscan historian and hagiographer, John Colgan (1592-1658) the bachall or pastoral staff of St Mura was preserved. Like similar relics of mediaeval times, it was richly ornamented with gold, silver and precious stones, and was considered to have miraculous attributes, particularly in relation to giving testimony. People of the neighbourhood and especially members of the O’Neill family were accustomed to swear on St Mura’s staff. The staff is now in the National Museum, Dublin. St Mura’s Bell which is in the Wallace Collection, London, has no tongue – a common feature of hand bells in olden times. St Mura’s monastery at Fahan was endowed with land and other requirements for the maintenance of a community of monks that flourished for generations. By the 12th century, when Irish ‘Celtic’ monasticism fell into decline, the monastic settlement at Fahan faded into oblivion. The church, however, followed the trend of the 13th century and became the parish church of St Mura, and survived down to the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Mura’s grave is still pointed out, as is his holy well. At Fahan in the 18th century, a bronze pot of Chinese manufacture was discovered two feet beneath the surface. It is now in the Royal Irish Academy Collection but why and how it got to Fahan nobody knows. An Early Christian cross-slab is built into the roadside wall near the entrance to the graveyard; and within the graveyard itself is St Mura’s Cross, a magnificent work of art perhaps of seventh century date. It is a flat stele, sevenfoot-high (c 2.1 m)cross, with arms projecting slightly on either side – a ‘budding’ High Cross. On its northern edge is inscribed a Greek rendering of the Gloria Patri approved by the Council of Toledo in 633: Glory and honour to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Fahan guards many secrets. John J Ó Ríordáin CSsR REALITY MARCH 2018

Volume 83. No. 2 March 2018 A Redemptorist Publication ISSN 0034-0960 Published by The Irish Redemptorists, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin 09 X651 Tel: 00353 (0)1 4922488 Web: Email: (With permission of C.Ss.R.)

Editor Brendan McConvery CSsR Design & Layout David Mc Namara CSsR General Manager Paul Copeland Sales & Marketing Claire Carmichael Administration & Accounts Michelle McKeon Printed by Nicholson & Bass, Belfast Photo Credits Catholic News Service, Shutterstock, REALITY SUBSCRIPTIONS Through a promoter (Ireland only) €20 or £18 Annual Subscription by post: Ireland €25 or £20 UK £30 Europe €40 Rest of the world €50 Please send all payments to: Redemptorist Communications, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin D09 X651 ADVERTISING Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy and validity of adverts placed in Reality, the information contained in adverts does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Redemptorist Communications. You are therefore advised to verify the accuracy and validity of any information contained in adverts before entering into any commitment based upon them. When you have finished with this magazine, please pass it on or recycle it. Thank you.

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REFLECTIONS I plainly told them, 'Be sincerely converted, and turn with your whole heart to the Lord our God, for nothing is impossible to him, that he may today send you food on your road, even until you are satisfied, because he has abundance everywhere.' And, with God's help, it was so done: a herd of pigs appeared in the road before our eyes.

I saw a stranger today and I put food for him in the eating-place and drink in the drinking-place and music in the listening-place. In the Holy name of the Trinity, He blessed myself and my family. And the lark said in her warble Often, often, often goes Christ in the stranger's guise.


Lord, grant me, I pray thee in the name of Jesus Christ thy Son, my God, that love which knows no fall, so that my lamp may feel the kindling touch and know no quenching, may burn for me and for others may give light. Do thou, Christ, deign to kindle our lamps, our Saviour most sweet to us, that they may shine continually in thy temple, and receive perpetual light from thee the Light perpetual, so that our darkness may be enlightened, and yet the world's darkness may be driven from us.

Above all else, deep in my soul, I'm a tough Irishwoman. MAUREEN O’HARA

I was raised in a very old-fashioned Ireland where women were reared to be lovely. ANNE ENRIGHT

Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall. ST PATRICK

I only seek in my old age to perfect that which I had not before thoroughly learned in my youth, because my sins were a hindrance to me.



Mol an páiste agus molann tú an mháthair (Praise the child, and you’re praising the mother). IRISH PROVERB

The poor need help today, not next week. CATHERINE MCAULEY

Our Limerick Brothers are doing more than our good ones here (in Dublin) have done. Every day they are attending the poor cholera patients in the hospitals.  They give a frightful account of the ravages it is making there.  Sixteen sent dead out of their school – which had been turned into a hospital – in one morning. I am not one bit in dread that a priest, nun or monk will sink under its direful hand. BLESSED EDMUND RICE ON LIMERICK CHOLERA EPIDEMIC, 1832

Bíonn grásta Dé idir an diallait agus an talamh (the grace of God is between the saddle and the ground). IRISH PROVERB

My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas, and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

We are a vibrant firstworld country, but we have a humbling thirdworld memory.

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

I took in the children by degrees, not making a noise about it. In about nine months I had 200 children. When the Catholics saw what services I did, they begged that I would set up schools at the other end of town.

Every crag and gnarled tree and lonely valley has its own strange and graceful legend attached to it.







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Geoffrey O’Connell joined the Redemptorists later than most. After studies in the Irish College in Paris in the early 1920s, he was ordained for the Diocese of Cork and Ross, and spent a few years ministering there and in England before joining the Reds. I got to know him as a young priest when I drew on his wide reading to flesh out the historical background of an unfamiliar novel I was teaching to Leaving Cert. Having filled me in on the details of a schism in a 19th century Irish parish and given me the references to it in the back numbers of a historical journal, he allowed himself a reflection on how the Irish and English differ when they part ways with the church. The English Catholic, he suggested, quietly puts on his coat in the hall, before gently tiptoeing out. You only notice he is gone when you turn around to look for him. The Irish, on the other hand, begin their departure with a loud shouting match, pull half of the china from the dresser, slam the door as they go, and then stand outside, pegging stones at the galvanised roof, just in case you think they have gone away. This past few years, the sound of stones hitting the galvanised roof has been like an unremitting hail-storm. There are people who feel they have a genuine grievance with the church. First among them are the abused who have had their childhood stolen from them, and they are right to be angry. So too are those, especially women, who have been at the receiving end of an offensive clerical culture that too often manifested itself in not too subtle forms of bullying. Yet, might it not also be true to say that anti-Catholicism has become modern Ireland’s ‘last acceptable form of prejudice’? When almost 20 years ago, the Limerick-born author of Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt, claimed that “worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is

the miserable Irish Catholic childhood,” it seemed like a signal for commentators to outdo one another in hair-raising accounts of their Irish Catholic childhood, usually with nuns, priests and brothers playing the part of pantomime villains. In public debate, as for example in the forthcoming referendum on abortion, ‘the Catholic side’ is presented by the media as being conservative as opposed to liberal, legalistic as opposed to compassionate. Details of Catholic ritual or practice are sometimes reported, even in ‘papers of record’, as though they were as outlandish as those of a tribe that had only recently emerged from the primeval forest. One might be forgiven for wondering whether there might not be a campaign to remove every vestige of Catholic culture from Irish public life. A Dublin hospital last Christmas ordered the removal of cribs from the reception area and the wards, on the grounds that it was a multi-faith institution. The question of schools, particularly primary schools, has become a contentious one. The row over the so-called 'baptism barrier'presents the church as an enemy of progress for wanting to use Catholic schools for the purpose for which they were intended, namely the education of Catholic children. A newspaper reported earlier this year that American companies are seeking its removal on the grounds it would make Irish education more attractive to multinational companies. It is often forgotten that Catholic schools were always open to religious minorities. Members of Dublin’s Jewish community were grateful to the Irish Christian Brothers who took their children into Synge St school when there was not one of their own faith. One of the senior teachers in St Mary’s Belfast told us how the Jewish boys were excused Saturday class (we weren’t!) because of the Sabbath, but always had their homework done on Monday.

Let’s meet the challenge with humility and the right kind of pride. Humility means accepting where we have gone wrong, and acknowledging the hurt we have caused, rather than instinctively twitching into defence mode. The right kind of pride means first knowing the enormous contribution of Catholics to the human story. That, I believe, should be one of the main planks of a Catholic education. How poorer would humanity be without the music of Mozart, for example, some of whose finest pieces were composed for the liturgy, or without the art of Michelangelo or so many other artists? The first European hospitals were founded by religious communities to nurse the sick poor. The modern hospice movement for the care of the terminally ill and their families grew out of the work of the Irish Sisters of Charity. We could continue the story – the contribution of Catholics to the sciences, the arts, is not an insignificant one. Catholic moral theology is built on a vision that sees in the human person who is fully alive a reflection of the glory of God. Is there any better guarantee than that for respect for even the most vulnerable human being, whether refugee, unborn, terminally sick or homeless?

Brendan McConvery CSsR Editor




Thomas Burke 1906-1945



December 2017 a set of most striking watercolour Stations of the Cross were handed over to the Walker Art Gallery, part of the National Museums Liverpool, to add to their collection. These Stations were painted by one Thomas Burke, a Liverpool artist, who joined the Merchant Navy in 1940 as a radio officer. In early 1941 he sailed in a large convoy which headed right around Africa, up the Suez Canal to Alexandria and eventually to Crete. His ship arrived on the north side of


The seventh station – Jesus falls for the second time

Crete early in the morning of May 14, 1941; by late afternoon it had been hit by German bombs and sunk, a precursor action to the ‘The Battle of Crete’. Thomas was captured, in June 1941, along with several thousand other Allied troops, by the Germans who had overrun Crete. He then spent the rest of the war in various POW camps. TRAINING AS AN ARTIST Thomas painted the Stations for the RC chapel of the Milag Nord POW camp where

he was held from March 1943 until the camp was liberated in late April 1945. There is no real record available of how Thomas spent his time in the camps, but when he returned home, he brought back with him not only the 14 Stations of the Cross, but also a large collection of paintings and drawings which portrayed his fellow POWs and life in the camp. Clearly, he constantly painted and drew as

a prisoner of war, a strange undertaking in such circumstances, but the key to it is that before joining the war effort in 1940, Thomas

He constantly painted and drew as a prisoner of war, a strange undertaking in such circumstances had been making his way as a portrait and landscape painter. Thomas was born on June 5, 1906 in


Thomas and Hilda had a pair of portrait photos taken, at a London studio. They are formal portraits, possibly taken at the time of their engagement, or at least a formal, though perhaps private commitment, to each other. Hilda was then 22 years old and Thomas 27.

Hilda Unsworth


Liverpool, the youngest child of Thomas and Honor Burke, both originally from Ireland. His father was a pub landlord in central Liverpool. They were a practising Catholic family, and all three children, Michael, Catherine and Thomas were baptised at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Toxteth. After secondary education, Thomas enrolled, aged 20, on a five-year (part-time) course at Liverpool Art College. His father had died in 1925 and at this point the family moved to a new house in a developing suburb of Liverpool. This house was Thomas’ home for the rest of his life. In 1928, Thomas met Hilda Unsworth, who enrolled at the college in that year, and their relationship over the next 17 years is key to the story of Thomas Burke as it is known today. After finishing at Liverpool Art College, in 1931 Thomas won a place at the Royal College of Art in London, and embarked on a three-year diploma course there. Gaining a place at the RCA indicates the artistic talent that he was showing. In 1933, Hilda finished college in Liverpool, and got her first job, teaching art at a school in South London, probably to be near Thomas. At this time REALITY MARCH 2018

MAKING HIS WAY IN THE WORLD OF ART Thomas graduated from the RCA in 1934, and from then until 1941, made his way as an artist. His portrait painting perhaps provided a source of income, but he also painted landscapes and still life. His preferred medium was oil. Unfortunately, few of his paintings from this time have survived, though black and white photographs of a few are known. The portraits are very fine indeed and would have potentially commanded a good price. During this period, Thomas lived some of the time in London, as well as making trips to Ireland. He also spent six months at the end of 1938 living and painting in Paris, before returning to London. In both 1938 and 1940, he exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Today, there are a number of Thomas’ prewar paintings held in national collections in the UK including:

Donegal by Thomas Burke

•in The National Portrait Gallery in London, a commanding portrait of the boxing champion Len Harvey, painted in 1938 •in the UK Parliamentary Art Collection, a landscape ‘Donegal’ •in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, two paintings ‘The Student’ and ‘An Old Kitchen’, bequeathed by Thomas’ family •in The Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead, across the Mersey River from Liverpool, two paintings; ‘From my Study Window’ and ‘Still Life with Bottle’, both probably painted in Paris, again bequeathed by Thomas’ family. In addition, the National Gallery of Ireland has two paintings, an unfinished portrait of an unknown woman, and an Irish landscape. However, all this painting came to a halt during 1940 when Thomas joined the Merchant Navy. AFTER THE WAR So, what happened to Thomas at the end of the war, when he arrived back in the UK with his collection of paintings and sketches? At this point the relationship with Hilda again comes to the fore. Although Thomas and Hilda had never married, their ongoing

The boxer, Len Harvey in Burke's studio

relationship was clearly very significant to both. Once in a POW camp, Thomas wrote up

and addressed to the Burke family solicitor. It reveals that after the death certificate w a s is su e d , a post mortem was carried out. This in turn showed that in fact Thomas had been suffering from ‘...Primary Myoxoma of the Left Auricle of the Heart, i.e. Primary Cancer of the Heart.’

These paintings had not actually been on the walls of a church since they were removed from the POW camp chapel in 1945 a detailed diary, accounting his experiences during the Battle of Crete and up to the point of arrival at that first camp. This account is prefaced by a letter to Hilda; he wrote the diary for her, and gave it to her when he finally arrived home in Liverpool in May 1945. He was very ill however, and almost immediately, he was admitted to the Northern Hospital in Liverpool, and on July 15, 1945 Thomas died. His death certificate states the cause of death as ‘Pulmonary Infarction’ and ‘Subacute bacterial endocarditis’, that is, acute lung and heart disease and infection. Following Thomas’ death his mother would have expected to receive a compensation payment for the death of her son whilst serving in the war. However, an extant letter clearly indicates that such a payment was not made, and that his mother appealed the decision. This letter, dated January 31, 1946, is from the medical registrar at the hospital,

The artist at his easel

The letter goes on to say: "This very rare condition was not suspected before death (it has only once been recorded in all the Medical Literature as having been diagnosed during life) and was accordingly not registered on the original death certificate. The details, however, were entered on the patient’s case papers which were forwarded to the Ministry




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The 12th station – Jesus dies on the cross



of Pensions. In these circumstances, the condition being incurable, I regret that I am unable to certify that the treatment received whilst Mr. Burke was a P.O.W. in any way caused or hastened his death." THE FORGOTTEN WORKS His family, and Hilda, were devastated by his death. The family’s one way to commemorate Thomas’ life and talent was to donate his prewar oil paintings to the Merseyside galleries, along with a huge collection of the POW camp works. It was only in the 1970s that Hilda started to reveal to other members of her family how much material she still had of Thomas’ artistic life, his time as a POW and his death. This included a number of pre-war oil paintings, plus works done in the POW camps, and most significantly, the set of 14 stunning watercolours, the ‘Stations of the Cross’ which

Thomas had painted for the Milag prison camp. Hilda never married, and died in 2002, aged 91. By 2015, one of Hilda’s nieces, Marian McCarthy, held all Hilda’s Thomas Burke archive. Marian decided that Thomas’ 70th anniversary should be marked, using the Stations of the Cross. Consequently they were displayed through Lent, 2015, at her local parish church in Chester, to great interest from the parishioners. Everyone found it very moving that these paintings had not actually been on the walls of a church since they were removed from the POW camp chapel in 1945. In 2016 the Stations were again displayed during Lent, in a church in Cardiff, and again during Lent 2017 in Luxembourg. They are now in the safekeeping of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, preserved for posterity along with the rest of Hilda’s archive. In 2015 the Williamson Art Gallery mounted a three-month commemorative

exhibition of Thomas Burke, which brought together Hilda’s collection, the Williamson’s own collection and also included on loan the Donegal landscape. On delivering this painting to the gallery the curator of the Parliamentary Art Collection reviewed the full collection of works and commented “…if this man had lived, then he would probably have been a well-known name.”

Marian McCarthy is a niece of Hilda Unsworth, Thomas Burke’s friend who kept many of his paintings, including the Way of the Cross.

Available from Redemptorist Communications

Denis McBride’s STATIONS of the CROSS

then and now

The way of the cross is not confined to a lonely road in Jerusalem two thousand years ago: it is a busy highway winding through every village, town and city in our modern world. Fr Denis McBride C.Ss.R. reflectively guides us along the way of the cross. He contrasts the beauty and solemn simplicity of the more traditional Stations by artist Curd Lessig with modern images that challenge us to link Jesus’ story to the struggle of our everyday life. Through its rich array of scripture passages, paintings, poetry, prayers, photographs and reflections, Stations of the Cross – then and now becomes a companion not only on our Lenten journey but throughout the year: suffering is not limited to one liturgical season. Whether we walk in solitude or with others, this book translates the passion of Jesus into our own life and times.

To Order: Call 00353 (0) 1 4922488, Email: or go to shop at



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In Tune with the Liturgy A series that highlights some of the features of the Church’s worship in the month ahead



is a story that comes from the Jewish Hassidic tradition. The Baal Shem Tov, the saintly founder of one branch of the movement, would take his disciples to a quiet spot in the forest. There they would make a fire, and dancing around the fire the Baal Shem Tov would lead his disciples in deep prayer. After the death of the saint, the disciples continued to go to that spot in the forest, to light the fire, to dance. But

as they could not remember the prayer, their excursions were not the same. Over time, they forgot to dance and in time, they no longer lit the fire. Eventually even the place in the forest was forgotten. An era had passed and an experience was lost. Just over 2,000 years ago, a motley group of disciples were given the daunting task of continuing the dance that Jesus had

danced for them. It wasn’t going to be easy but the fact that the church still exists today is testament to the tremendous zeal and commitment that they had to fulfilling their mandate. Unlike the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, Peter, James, John, Paul and all the others did not forget the dance.


In Tune with the Liturgy

THE GREAT WEEK As we approach the end of Lent Christians will, once again, enter into this dance in a most profound way. Sometimes also known as ‘The Great Week’, Holy Week is an invitation to each one of us to remember once more the passion of Christ and the events which led up to the final hours of his life. It begins with Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey, a humble and gentle entrance. The crowds

take too much for a happy and joyful crowd to become an ugly, baying mob, seeking the death of this man they claimed to be the Messiah. At the heart of the liturgy of Palm Sunday is the reality that Jesus did not come to save us by being triumphant and powerful. Instead, as St Paul reminds us in the second reading, Jesus "emptied" and "humbled" himself (Phil 2:7-8). Jesus did not cling to glory but instead became a servant, one in solidarity with the rest of us. We join in this commitment to service when, as community, we come together on Holy Thursday night. This marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Triduum, three days, best seen as one single continuous liturgy. On this special night we celebrate the washing of feet. In John’s Gospel this occurs at the Last Supper, which in the synoptic Gospels is where we hear Jesus instituting the Eucharist. In the washing of the feet we remember how Jesus stoops to his disciples’ feet, as only servants would have done (John 13:14). In this action

This is the story we are called to remember, to pass on to those who come after us and ensure that this is a dance which is never forgotten


are joyful, excited, delighted to see him and they wave palm branches, laying them at his feet as his journey progresses. We enter into this spirit as we sing ‘Hosanna’ and carry small palm branches, a reminder to us of that significant entry which Jesus made. Often the palm branches we carry have been shaped into the form of a cross, a reminder to us that the euphoria of Jesus' foillowers didn’t last. It did not


Jesus gives us an example of what it means to love and how we allow his love to come to us. In order to love we have to allow ourselves to be loved by him first. We have to experience his tenderness in our own life and accept that true love is lived out in concrete terms by being at the service of others. People often shy away from the invitation to have their feet washed, as if somehow they are not worthy to have a priest wash their feet. Peter, the disciple, responded in a similar way. He did not want Jesus to wash his feet but Jesus tells him that he cannot be a disciple of his unless he is prepared to have his feet washed! This is true for us too. PREPARATION THE KEY As the washing of the feet is the one of the central actions of Holy Thursday, preparation is key. Knowing how it is going to take place, where people who are having their feet washed will be situated, and choosing appropriate and meaningful music to accompany this action will make all the difference for everyone participating in the liturgy. Taking time to do things slowly will make it prayerful and dignified. It is just

one of the steps of the movement of this threeday liturgy, but it has enormous meaning. Even if we are not having our feet washed, all of us can enter into the moment by reflecting on how God stoops down to us lovingly and tenderly. The Holy Thursday liturgy does not end like any other Mass. There is no final blessing or instruction to go and proclaim the Gospel. Instead we are invited to watch with the Lord as he enters the Garden of Gethsemane. We enter into the night watching with Jesus, conscious of the agony he went through. We might fall asleep like the disciples but it is still good to be there in our weakness as well as our strength. It helps us to prepare for the next movement of the liturgy, the passion and death of Jesus on the cross. GOOD FRIDAY Good Friday is probably one of the bestattended services in the Catholic Church. More people come to this part of the Triduum than any other. People flock to be there and we might wonder why, when the focus of it is the humiliation of Jesus. The enthusiastic crowd have disappeared. Jesus is betrayed with a kiss, abandoned by his friends, denied by Peter, mocked and scourged by soldiers and then hoisted up onto a cross of wood, to die the worst possible kind of death known to humanity. He is condemned by religious leaders and political authorities who deny him any form of justice. It is horrific and only made worse by the fact that Jesus himself feels abandoned by his own Father. All he can do is trust, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Perhaps the reason why so many

of us go to church on Good Friday is because we recognise the total giving of Jesus for us. That Jesus would put himself through this for me! In his suffering and death, Jesus took upon himself all of our pain, our own suffering, our apathy, our lack of integrity, our weaknesses. And all this, so that we may have life and have it to the full! Depending on the numbers in our church, the Good Friday liturgy can seem long and often wordy. We may be tempted to cut it short, so that people are not kept too long. To do so runs the risk of minimising the heart of the action, the moment when we enter into the mystery of this liturgy when we slowly and reverently move forward to kiss the cross. Again, gentle, reflective music and singing serves to enhance this profound movement. It enables people to go deeper, to pray, to give thanks, to fully appreciate the enormity of Jesus’ self-giving. We live in a fast-moving, impatient world. Let us be patient in this relatively short period of time and allow ourselves to be with Christ in his death. Finally, we leave the church, empty only for the cross.

A DAY OF WAITING And we wait. Holy Saturday is a waiting day, a time for silence in hopeful, reflective anticipation of new life to come. It is easy to feel that with Good Friday completed, Holy Saturday marks the beginning of Easter, and of course once we get to the vigil we can begin to sense that, but it is good not to rush these things. Staying with the silence of the tomb helps us to appreciate much more the relief and joy of the resurrection when it comes. ‘An ancient homily for Holy Saturday’ which is read in the Office for this day, reminds us why: "Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled." Naturally we need to get the church ready and prepare it for the vigil but let us do this prayerfully so that those who may come in to pray in the church, can do so without being disturbed. If we are involved in ministry, especially if we are musicians, servers or readers, let us take time this day to prepare ourselves spiritually, so that when we come to celebrate the vigil, the holiest night of all nights, we will be ready to enter fully into the mystery of Christ’s resurrection in all its glory. This is our place of encounter. This is the story we are called to remember, to pass on to those who come after us and ensure that this is a dance which is never forgotten but goes on to feed and nourish the world. Let us rejoice and be glad! Sarah Adams studied liturgical theology at Maynooth. She now lives in Devon, working for the Diocese of Plymouth as a Religious Education adviser. She enjoys hiking on Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside.


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Intelligence, in a secret document, reported the origins of the Columbans. It began: "In the summer of 1916 our attention was first aroused by a number of

ecclesiastical pamphlets which were being sent to Ireland, treating of the success of Protestant (British and American) Missions to China and the Irish were insistently urged to do their utmost to combat this

advance of British influence. As a consequence of this propaganda, the Maynooth Mission to China was inaugurated with the utmost secrecy in the Autumn of 1916." Perhaps the author of the report

did not read the Irish Times of October 11, 1916 which announced the new mission openly, stating that "The Cardinal, Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland joyfully approve the project of establishing


in Ireland a College for the training of Irish priests who are prepared to devote their lives to the propagation of the Catholic Faith in China". The bishops commended the project to the generous help and support of the faithful. BORN IN TROUBLED TIMES We should remember the wider context, the Easter Rising in Dublin, and the Battle of the Somme, which cost the British 420,000 casualties. It is hardly surprising that an intelligence officer misinterpreted some ‘ecclesiastical pamphlets’. These were addressed to Edward J. Galvin from his friend Joseph O’Leary in China. Galvin spent four years in Zhejiang Province, China before his companions persuaded him to return to

The beginning of the society on June 29, 1918

Ireland to set up a mission to evangelise the Chinese. John Blowick, a professor in Maynooth, joined him. Galvin knew that the millions of pagans in China had no interest in the gospel, and he thought The that schools where English was BIOFLOW MAGNETIC taughtBRACELET were the key to gaining entry intoworks! their minds. His plan is natural, inexpensive... and was for a mission in a populous It consistently relieves arthritis, migraine, area, and included high blood pressure,tinnitus, cramps, primary and


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high schools. He even dreamed of a university staffed by professors from Maynooth.

J. McCarthy, John Henaghan and James Conway signed up and with Blowick and Galvin

Someone opposed to the mission reported to Rome that Galvin and his companions were not genuine missionaries However he expected that the French and Italian bishops in China would send him to the barren, sparsely populated mountains. The only hope was for Rome to intervene, and help him to get a suitable place. To persuade Rome to act, he asked O’Leary to send descriptions of the many Protestant schools – the ‘ecclesiastical pamphlets’. The Irish bishops commended the new mission to the generosity of the Irish people and several supported it in their Lenten Pastorals in 1917. Edward

travelled the length and breadth of the country preaching about China and making a collection. Professors from Maynooth and All Hallows lent themselves to the task, as did Redemptorists, Passionists and Dominicans. In May, Galvin predicted that they would have £40,000 by the end of the year. Better still 17 priests and 12 students had decided to join and ‘a legion of sisters’ was interested. OPPOSITION FROM ROME? Someone opposed to the

mission reported to Rome that Galvin and his companions were not genuine missionaries. "We were a bunch of Sinn Féiners who were providing a decent front for priests that didn’t want to go into the army," or so went the rumour about them. Michael O’Riordan, rector of the Irish College in Rome, wired Galvin and John Blowick in May 1917: "Come out and come quickly". On their arrival a monsignor greeted them with the cry, Bolscevici. Apparently, he regarded the Sinn Féin party as the same as the Russian Communists! However with the help of O’Riordan and letters from Cardinal Michael Logue, the two young priests persuaded the officials of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith that they were genuine. Pope Benedict XV gave the mission his most cordial approval.

The team for China, 1920

The next step was to find a house. Blowick later remembered how Galvin and he spent July, August and September "scurrying around the country, north, south, east and west" looking at property. A priest, Fr Denis O’Hara, told them of "a beautiful house and about two hundred acres of land at Dalgan Park" near Shrule, County Mayo. He was sure that they could get it from the Congested Districts Board for a reasonable figure. Dr Patrick O’Donnell, Bishop of Raphoe, happened to be in Dublin just then. When Blowick asked for his help, he took his silk top hat, walked to the board’s offices in Rutland Square, and came back with the whole thing settled. The rent was 200 pounds a year with the option of buying the estate. Furnishing the almost empty house took weeks. Blowick had

to buy everything from beds to salt spoons to coal. He spent practically a fortnight in Arnott’s in Dublin. The first 18 students arrived on a cold, bleak January 29, 1918. There was no electricity and no running water, but they were happy, looked after themselves and had a lot of fun. They hadn’t come for comfort anyway. That evening they met in the oratory, previously a ballroom, for night prayer and a reflection on fraternal charity from St John’s account of the Last Supper. The first issue of The Far East was published in the same month. AN IRISH MISSION Galvin wanted to make the mission "the work of the Irish race". With the project solidly launched in Ireland, he left for the US on November 20, 1917 with Matthew Dolan, a priest of

the Diocese of Kilmore. They set up their headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. In early 1918 the British Army was dangerously short of troops on the Western Front. German troops broke through Allied lines in several places. Lloyd George decided to extend conscription to Ireland. Only those in Holy Orders were exempt. The Irish bishops held ordinations on April 28 instead of waiting until June. Blowick managed to have Dalgan students included. Five became priests, two deacons, and five sub-deacons. Shrule is in the Diocese of Galway and it fell to the bishop, Dr Thomas O’Dea, to erect the society on June 29, 1918. The bishop read the decree of erection. Mass followed and 17 priests signed the oath of membership of the Maynooth Mission to China.



Blowick wrote to Daniel M a n n i x , A rc h b i s h o p o f Melbourne, requesting permission for a collection in Australia. Mannix, formerly

Celebrating the Centenary March 18, 2018 Diocese of Galway–Shrule: First batch for China, March 19, 1920 June 10, 2018 Dalgan: Cemetery Sunday


July 1, 2018 Dalgan: Columban Family & Mission Day: celebrating 100 years of Columban Mission. Celebrant & homilist: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin August 22-26, 2018 RDS: World Meeting of Families–Columban Stand

The first six postulants arrived; two more came the following day; and at midnight a loud knocking at the door announced another pair delayed by the troubled times president of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, invited him to appeal to the archbishops of Australia and New Zealand. Columbans Edward Maguire and James Galvin sailed for Melbourne in December 1919. The archbishop blessed a building there as the headquarters of the Irish Mission to China on December 5, 1921. MOVING AND SISTERS Dalgan Park became too

October 14, 2018 Diocese opening of Cahiracon: Kildysart parish Killaloe October 28, 2018 Archdiocese of Belcarra: John Blowick’s birthday– Tuam November 11, 2018 Dalgan: Celebrating our Martyrs November 18, 2018 Dalgan: Joint Meeting with the Meath Archaeological & Historical Society: 3pm November 23, 2018 Dalgan: Closing of the Centenary Year First sisters to China, 1926


crowded, and the society bought a house and farm at Cahiracon, Kildysart, County Clare. It opened as St. Senan’s Apostolic College on August 31,

1920, and educated philosophy students until 1927. After the British withdrawal in 1921 seven military huts were purchased, adding accommodation in Dalgan. Three Irish Sisters of Charity went to Cahiracon on February 1, 1922 to train a new congregation, the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban. They took over Clifton House, an old farmhouse about two miles from St. Senan’s. A week later, the

first six postulants arrived; two more came the following day; and at midnight a loud knocking at the door announced another pair delayed by the troubled times. Two Australians appeared on February 16, and yet another Irish volunteer on March 22. The first team of Columban Fathers left for China in 1920. Matthew Dolan was already in the US since November 1917. Richard Ranaghan, Alphonsus Ferguson and Michael McHugh sailed for New York on October 2, 1918. Michael Mee was in the Diocese of Alton, Illinois. John Dawson followed later. There was a departure ceremony for Blowick and ten more in Dalgan on St Patrick’s Day 1920. Galvin, Blowick and Owen MacPolin arrived in Hanyang in June and found accommodation for the others who came in August. New teams were sent each year.

ST COLUMBAN’S NAVAN Blowick returned to Ireland as superior of the society. He dreamed of getting a more central site, but it seemed only a foolish dream. The society had a big overdraft at the bank caused chiefly by the colossal sums



spent in opening and outfitting Hanyang. When Bishop Laurence Gaughran of Meath suggested that he look at "a most beautiful property called Dowdstown on the banks of the Boyne near Navan", he consulted Owen MacPolin, the Bursar General on April 10, 1926. MacPolin said that "he was nursing a large overdraft and told him to have sense". On Wednesday April 14, a cheque for £2,000 arrived in the post. MacPolin was staggered, and said that it would not be right to ignore such a sign from God. They bought Dowdstown for £15,250. Mother Mary Finbarr Collins escorted five Columban Sisters to Hanyang, sailing from Cobh on September 13, 1926. The Far East of July 1927

announced that the Chinese Mission was moving its headquarters to Dowdstown House, which would be known as St Columban’s, Navan. Training of seminarians and of the newly established lay brothers would be centralised at Dalgan Park, while the administrative and business section would be transferred to Navan. The sisters took over St. Senan’s. At that point, a little more than a decade since its birth, there were 100 priests, 35 sisters, and 80 students.

Fr Niall Collins SSC has written a history of the Society of St Columban, A Mad Thing To Do – A Century of Columban Mission 19162016, published by Dalgan Press. It and other Columban resources can be obtained through

Fr Edward Galvin in China 1912-1916

Breaking the Word in March 2018

Please pray for the Redemptorist Teams who will preach the Word and for God’s People who will hear the Word proclaimed this month in:

Glenavy, Co. Antrim. (3rd – 11th March 2018)

Derriaghy, Co. Antrim. (17th – 25th March 2018)

Mission preached by Johnny Doherty CSsR and Clare Gilmore

Mission preached by Brendan Keane CSsR and Fodhla McGrane

Kilmurry McMahon Parish, Co Clare.

Kilcar, Co. Donegal.

Mission preached by Laurence Gallagher CSsR, Seamus Enright CSsR and Clare Gilmore

Mission preached by Johnny Doherty CSsR and Maureen Flanagan

(11th – 16th March 2018)

(17th – 25th March 2018)

The details above are accurate at the time of printing. If you have any views, comments or even criticisms about Redemptorist preaching, we would love to hear from you. If you are interested in a mission or novena in your parish, please contact us for further information. And please keep all Redemptorist preachers in your prayers. Fr Johnny Doherty CSsR, Email: Tel: +44 28 90445950

Fr Laurence Gallagher CSsR, Email: Tel: +353 61 315099

Praying with the Rosary – The First Joyful Mystery prayer corner

The Annunciation


I 28

was just 15 when my father Joachim and Joseph’s father Jacob came to an agreement about my marriage. I knew Joseph to see, and my family had occasionally availed of his services as a carpenter. Nazareth, where our two families lived, was a small country village It had a population of a thousand or so. We all knew each other, though strict rules of association between the sexes were observed. People spoke well of Joseph, the carpenter. He was always kind and helpful, they said, and his services were reasonably priced. Local farmers considered his yokes to be the best around – they always fitted well and were not too heavy a burden on the cattle. He had a sign over his workshop that read: My yokes are easy and light. They said I was lucky to get him. He was a good tradesman and would provide a comfortable living for his wife and family. PREPARING FOR A WEDDING Marriage was in the future, however. For now we were just betrothed but legally committed to each other by our parents. The mohar (gifts of Joseph’s parents to my parents) and the dowry (gift of my parents to Joseph’s parents) were agreed. Joseph had time to finish preparing a small home for us, and I had time to learn more about my future husband. At the well each day I would quiz the other women about Joseph. I had time to dream: would he be as kind as they said he was! Would he like my family! How many children would God give us!


My extended family were housed all round us, making one big homestead. While the men worked in the fields or at their various trades, we women attended to the family chores – minding the squabbling children, cooking and baking, laundry and sewing, preserving meats and vegetables for future times, emptying the family latrine into the communal cesspit, fetching water from the village well and, of course, always chatting about the things women chat about. With my wedding now on the horizon, the talk often veered to my kevuda (trousseau). My aunties vowed to make me the prettiest bride ever seen in Nazareth. And I would remind them of the words my mother often said to me: “Miriam, never forget, ‘All the glory of a princess is within’” (Psalm 45). I was so happy and excited! A SURPRISE One evening after supper when things were put away I went to our roof to pray. I loved to find a quiet place to be alone with my Lord and God. He filled my heart with sweetness and I just nestled in his love like a baby in its mother’s arms. I had so much to thank God for – not least the love of my parents and family, and just then my impending marriage to such a promising husband. Just as I settled in, a dazzling brightness shone all round me and a radiant figure who seemed to be made of light stood before me. I pulled back in fright. “Greetings, dear special child,” he said, “God is with you!” I was truly

frightened. How did this stranger get here, what could he mean? I was about to call out for my mother when the figure said, “Don’t be afraid Miriam. God has chosen you for a special favour.” His soothing voice restored a little calm to my soul. “Listen!” he said, “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” This was indeed good news; I instinctively thought of my childless cousin Elizabeth, now nearing the end of her child-bearing years without hope. The angelic figure went on: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, like his ancestor David, and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!” Son of God, son of David, a kingdom that will never end…! What on earth was he talking about? Is he asking me to be the mother of the long-expected Messiah? Surely not! I was a poor country girl; I’d scarcely ever travelled beyond a day’s journey from my village. My poor cottage was no fit place to rear royalty! And what about Joseph! “What about poor Joseph?” I asked the angel, “I am a virgin and, according to God’s law, I am legally committed to him alone; I don’t understand.” “No need to worry,” he replied, “the Holy Spirit will come on you, and God's power will rest upon you. This is why the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God.”  And then, as though he had read my earlier thoughts, he added: “About your cousin Elizabeth: It is said that she cannot

have children – his smile widened – she is already six months pregnant, in spite of her age. You see, Miriam, nothing is impossible to God.” HOPE The news about Elizabeth lifted my spirits straight away. If God did this for Elizabeth then he could and would look after me. I had no idea what being the mother of the Messiah could mean! I suppose people would expect him to take on the might of the Roman Empire. Would I lose him to the extremists who periodically rallied support against our Roman masters? Their petty revolts were foregone failures and invariably led to the horror and obscenity of their crucified young bodies lining our streets. The thought sent a shiver through me. On the other hand, he might bring peace and healing and bring prisoners home to their families! But then, didn’t our great prophet Isaiah say that our Messiah would bear the sins of the people and be brought like a lamb to the slaughter (53:7). God help us! Conflicting thoughts kept tumbling through my head. How on earth could I cope! Finally, the angel’s voice surfaced again within my mind: “Miriam, nothing is impossible with God.” Whatever life might throw at me, God would be there for me. He always is. Yes, and he would take care of Joseph, too… THE ANGEL WAS WAITING “I am the Lord's servant,” I said. “If that is God’s wish, may his will be done as you have asked.” Suddenly, the angel was gone and the roof-space was plunged into darkness again but for the pale blue light of the moon.

I sat for a long time in the semi-darkness and sought refuge in the embrace of God. A strange stirring occurred in my womb and I knew… If only my people knew that their longed-for Messiah had finally come among them! The secret was mine and would remain with me for now. Before too long, however, my pregnancy would become known. What then? AND JOSEPH Above all, how would Joseph take it? Some time later he told me what happened… “Miriam, when I discovered you were pregnant I was devastated. My dreams were shattered. My beautiful bride had committed adultery! What was I to do? My immediate

instinct was to obey the law of God and take you to court. But I loved you too much. I couldn’t live with the thought that my beautiful, laughing girl might be stoned to death. So I would choose the second legal option open to me. I decided to divorce you privately in the presence of select witnesses.” “And why didn’t you?” I asked. “I very nearly did,” he said “but first I slept on it and postponed any decision until the morning. However, in bed that night an angel spoke to me in a dream and made a startling announcement: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Miriam as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt. 1:20-21). The dream was so real – more like a vision. What was I to do? I tossed about all night. By morning I had made up my mind. You know the rest. I would face down the gossips in town and name the baby as the angel had told me to and so I became the child’s – our child’s – legal father.” He paused a moment and then, taking my hands in his, he said, “Dearest Miriam, we will walk the road together – you and I and Jesus”.

Fr George Wadding CSsR is a member of the Redemptorist Community at Dun Mhuire, Griffith Avenue, Dublin. He is the author of Praying with St Gerard, the Family Saint (available from Redemptorist Communications)


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IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT GIVING OF YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF SACRIFICE MAKES THE OTHER PERSON A THIEF. HOW DO WE GARNER THE WISDOM TO KNOW WHEN TO SAY “NO”? Isn’t the innate wisdom of children interesting? I was preparing breakfast for my grandchild who is twelve. I asked would she like scrambled eggs and bacon. She suggested that I grill the rashers and make the toast, and she would cook the eggs in the microwave. She was beating the eggs so slowly with a fork that I suggested that it could be quicker if she used a whisk. She had never used one before and I could see that she was a little hesitant to try something new. However, after I showed her what to do she agreed to use the whisk. “What do you think?” I asked as she put the eggs in the microwave. I was expecting her to report that whisking was the quicker method. To my surprise what she said was, “It’s okay to be cautious, but do it anyway”. “Do it anyway, that’s brilliant,” I told her. “You have just quoted a very famous writer!” I went on to explain that in 1987 a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway was first published in Great Britain. The author, Dr Susan Jeffers, had a doctorate in psychology. Even though she taught students in a university, she lived with fear. Imagine a grown-up who was afraid of making a mistake or not handling things, having fears that stopped her from trying new things. Over breakfast we went on to have a conversation about Casey Anne’s reluctance to try new

“Giving of yourself to the point of sacrifice makes the other person a thief.” I genuinely believed I was doing the Christian thing, making huge sacrifices in setting out to help and support others. I failed to see that when you sacrifice you are not giving freely.

foods. I wanted her to try one of the yellow cherry tomatoes that I had grown in my garden. Aware that she didn’t like red tomatoes, I suggested that she try one, just to see if the taste was different. She declined. It may sound strange that I felt really happy when she politely refused to taste my home-grown produce. That refusal indicated that Casey Anne was her own person. Having the confidence to decline food she didn’t think she would like demonstrated that she was used to thinking about why she made decisions. Into my early adulthood the concept of saying “No” was so foreign to my way of thinking, that it didn’t seem possible to refuse any request. Lacking the confidence that I now see in my grandchild, I did what others expected of me and for all the wrong reasons. I learned the hard way that few things will destroy self-confidence or self-worth more completely than feeling

you must be available to help out regardless of how busy you are. I was an adult before I became aware of how often I felt coerced into doing what I really didn’t have time to do. When you do what is expected because you are afraid to say “No”, a part of you will probably feel controlled and powerless. Even though I was very busy, I agreed to take on responsibility. When I felt under time pressure, as inevitably happened, the burdened part of me resented the tasks that had to be done. Then I felt guilty about feeling resentful about the demands I put on myself to complete what I agreed to do. And yet the next time someone made a request, I’d say “Yes” and make Trojan efforts to again live up to expectations. There is an old saying: when the pupil is ready the teacher will appear. And I was more than ready for change. A quotation from the Course in Miracles challenged my beliefs. It said,

A parent is not serving others when s/he is caught up in tasks to the detriment of the family who will often become resentful of outside interests. Jeffers suggested that at the bottom of every fear is the fear that you can’t handle whatever life brings. Every time you feel afraid, remind yourself that it is simply because you are not feeling good enough about yourself. “If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there 'doing it' despite the fear, then we much conclude that fear is not the problem.” I am always touched by the wisdom of the The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Writing on children, he said, “You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday." Carmel Wynne is a life and work skills coach and lives in Dublin. For more information, visit


nts s cou tomer Dis cus ge alued Lar our v for




BY JOHN J Ó RÍORDÁIN, CSsR The Craggaunowen settlement in County Clare


o f E a r l y I r is h Society in 1953, Professor D.A. Binchy describes it as tribal, rural, hierarchical, and familial. A brief word on the first three categories will give a little background to the fourth, namely ‘familial’ which is the focus of this article. Early Irish society both before and after the coming of Christianity was tribal – 150 little kingdoms or more in a country with an estimated population of half a million or so. Each unit was called a tuath or territory and corresponded roughly to a modern barony. The population at large was rural – no towns or cities – just farmers raising cattle, sheep, cereals. Society had a hierarchical structure. However, it was not egalitarian although practitioners of native Irish law (Brehon Law) were aware of the Roman principle of all citizens being equal before the law. It was stratified down to the last

detail – king, lord, strong farmer, less prosperous farmer, and further on down the ranks to the cumal (female slave) and the mug (male slave). The value attached to each person’s rank was estimated in terms of cumals and milch cows (1 cumal = 3 milch cows). THE DERBFINE The fourth category mentioned by Binchy is ‘familial’. He says that family does not mean the individual person or a nuclear family; rather does the person and family subsist within a wider network of kinship. The kinship group most commonly referred to in the ancient law-texts is called the derbfine, or ‘true kin’. And the ‘true kin’ is made up of the descendants through the male line of the same great-grandfather; that is, the male siblings, together with first cousins and second cousins. In all then, the family adds

up to plus or minus perhaps 20 adult males. By contrast with the derbfine, the modern family is nuclear, urban, egalitarian, and individualistic. This derbfine possessed very considerable legal powers and obligations concerning its members. The acknowledged leader of the kin group is known as the cenn fine – from the Irish word ‘ceann’ meaning ‘head’. He speaks for the kin on public occasions such as an assembly or court of law. For example, the kin-group is responsible for the crimes and debts of its individual members. So if Johnny Murphy gets bored and sets fire to your car and then claims that he has no money to pay the damages, the costs have to be met by the kin-group. And one can fairly assume that when the members of the derbfine have done with Johnny Murphy, he is unlikely to indulge his arsonistic propensities for the craic.

Among other family matters, the cenn fine may also take on responsibility for an unmarried kinswoman on the death of her father. He is liable for any fines which she may incur, and he receives half the value of her dowry if she decides to marry. The most important aspect of marriage was to supply sons, and because of a high mortality rate, it was not easy to have many sons unless a man had a number of wives. The church did not approve of a man having a multitude of spouses "lest many women debase his soul". However, the native jurists were quick to point that God favoured the Old Testament patriarchs who seemed to have done well in spite of having many wives.

complicated because the inheritance of a child will depend on the nature of the mother’s marriage. Questions arise such as whether the child resulted from abduction, rape, or prostitution. Was the father a native of the tuath or an outsider, or from overseas – a cú glas (grey dog)? Or was the father considered unequal to the task of normal parenting – a slave, a lunatic or a priest? STATUS OF WOMEN Exaggerated claims have sometimes been made concerning the power and freedom enjoyed by women in early Irish society. Queen Maeve and other semi-mythical women are cited as examples of a more open liberal preChristian society. Binchy says that the dependent legal position of women is most evident in the earliest Irish texts. These texts are blunt in saying that women are classed as "senseless" and share the same status as captives, drunkards and slaves; in other words, needing to be subject to one form of male control or another. Queen Maeve, how are you! Between the fifth and seventh century, Christian influence slowly brought about change. The church sought to undermine the practice of hostage-taking and slavery. St Patrick urged his clergy to use their own money for the liberation of captives, while

The influence of the Church must have helped to raise the status of women in early Irish society 34

HUSBAND-WIFE RELATIONSHIP The relationship of a married woman to her husband was that of pupil-teacher, or that of a monk or nun to their abbot or abbess. The fact of marrying does not fully break a woman’s link with her own people, her derbfine. If she is the chief wife with sons, then on her death, one third of her inheritable assets goes back to her own kin, and the remaining two thirds go to her sons. I mention ‘chief wife’ because in Brehon Law there are nine or more categories of wife; and things can get very


other funds were also collected for the same purpose. Founders of monasteries were praised for freeing captives or slaves, and the reputation of a monastery was enhanced by such outreach and moral vision. Fergus Kelly of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies maintained that "The influence of the Church must have helped to raise the status of women in early Irish society". Let us look more closely at that issue. From the beginning, Christian women were certainly encouraged and empowered to share in the task of liberating captives. In the seventh century we get glimpses of several women being received into the church by Patrick, and some becoming nuns. This meant that there were new options opened to women – here was a way of life which did not subject them to the authority of father, husband, or sons. There was, for the first time, an alternative: a woman could choose a life consecrated to God rather than taking a husband. In the oldest Brehon Law texts, women were not eligible to give evidence in a court of law except in a few instances of a gynaecological nature. Now by the eighth century we find that a nun could stand up in court and give evidence against a cleric. They could also run their own farms and negotiate with local rulers for the release of hostages. Within the derbfine, mothers could happily see a daughter choosing to become a nun, or not worry about her sons being taken hostage.

ADOMNÁN’S LAW The positive influence of the church was particularly felt through the personal involvement of St Adomnán (+704), the ninth abbot of Iona. An urbane and educated man of God, this abbot is responsible for the Cáin Adomnáin or Adomnán’s Law. The document, said the Celtic scholar, Gilbert Marcus, "was a complete innovation, bearing no relation to the old Celtic laws, either in its content or its administration". It was promulgated by Adomnán himself at the Synod of Birr, County Offaly, in 797, and was widely adopted throughout Ireland and beyond. The Cáin stipulated that women should be exempt from wars and that women and children should not be taken prisoners or killed. The promulgation of Adomnán’s Law in Birr was in many ways a crystallisation of a widespread change, working alongside other social and religious pressures in favour of women, which Markus names as "their protection in time of war, their protection

from sexual assault and abuse, from being abandoned by the fathers of their children, and from insult". Adomnán was not only conscious of the plight of women but ambitious to highlight their vulnerability. Not only does he advance their cause through the Cáin, but also through the touching way in which he describes some incidents in his Life of Columba. There is the story of the young girl who took refuge under Colmcille’s cloak, but that did not save her from being speared to death by her pursuer. There is reference too to the saint providing assistance for women in the pain of childbirth and for cumals (slave girls), and a distraught woman who had a husband that she couldn’t stand; but when the saint prayed for her, she fell in love with him all over again! THE IRISH WAY The Christian faith that took root in fifth century Ireland embedded itself in a culture not remotely structured along Continental

The Spirituality of St Patrick is a fountain of nourishment based on the writings of the man himself. The booklet presented here is not just ‘a good read.’ It is the Rule of Life that gave Patrick meaning in success and adversity – something upon which the reader is invited to reflect, to ponder, to revisit and to live by.

patterns. It has been described more as a ‘state of mind’ than a corporate body. Probably because of its unique Celtic character both St Bede of Jarrow (+735) and St Anselm of Canterbury (+1109) smelt heresy; and even Pope Innocent III (+1216) couldn’t figure it out either and in frustration wrote a letter to its leaders which would surely have made interesting reading. All that survives, however, is a brief summary which reads, "The prelates of Ireland are reprimanded because they settle church matters without regard for the facts, without thought and without taking the advice of competent people. They are told not to settle these cases in future without specialist’s counsel." Pope Innocent, although learned in Canon Law, was indeed innocent.

Fr John J Ó Ríordáin has worked as a parish missioner since his ordination. He has also researched and written extensively on the early Irish church and the wider world of early Irish monasticism in Scotland and the European mainland.

by John J. Ó Ríordáin C.Ss.R.

Besides including “Patrick’s Profession of Faith” and “Sayings of St Patrick,” part 5 of the publication is a ready resource for Patrician hymns in English and Irish, notably Hail Glorious St Patrick, Dochas Linn Naomh Pádraig, and Mrs Alexander’s classic rendition of St Patrick’s Breastplate. Ecumenically the booklet contributes to “the new season of reconciliation that is defrosting the divisions that have scarred our island and pushed believers apart.”


€3 + P &P

Available from Redemptorist Communications Tel: +353 1 4922 488 Web: Email:



Take this

all of you and

drink from it



the chalice to ever yone attending Mass is becoming more common in Irish Catholic churches. Most of us probably grew up receiving communion only under the form of bread as a small host distributed by the celebrant or minister of the Eucharist from a ciborium or other container. This container is usually taken from the tabernacle, having been consecrated at a Mass celebrated earlier that day, or even several days earlier. While it is difficult to find any theological fault with this practice, it does nevertheless diminish the


symbolism and meaning of the celebration of the Eucharist. A LITTLE HISTORY For the first thousand years of the church’s life, everyone receiving Holy Communion received it under the two forms of bread and wine. We are reminded of this from the masterpieces of early Celtic art such as the Ardagh Chalice, or the more recently discovered Derrynaflan Chalice. Both are exquisite examples of Early Irish metal work, and are typical of the chalices used for the

celebration of the liturgy – large two-handled vessels that could be carried by the priest or deacon and capable of holding a measure of wine sufficient for a congregation of some size. When it was discovered, the Derrynaflan treasure trove also contained a paten for the Eucharistic bread, and a bronze strainer used for preparing the wine. It was probably a growing respect for the reality of the sacred presence under the form of bread and wine that led to their being treated with ever greater care in the Middle Ages. Unleavened bread, which was

less likely to leave crumbs, was preferred to leavened. Communion was more likely to be offered by intinction or dipping a piece of bread into the chalice before offering it to the faithful. On the other hand, a growing sense of the mystery and the unworthiness of the

increased, in which there are old, young, and children, some of whom have not enough discretion to observe due caution in using this sacrament: on that account, it is a prudent custom in some churches for the blood not to be offered to the reception of the people, but to be received by the priest alone” (Summa III.Q 80: 12a). It is a short step from this to the general prohibition of the English Council of Lambeth that the precious blood was to be reserved to the priest, while the people were allowed to rinse their mouth with ordinary wine. Theologically, this could be justified by the increasingly complex theology of transubstantiation that, by the words of consecration, under each form, bread or wine, the whole Christ was received “body

A growing sense of the mystery and the unworthiness of the ordinary believer led to holy communion being received only once or twice a year ordinary believer led to holy communion being received only once or twice a year. It had become so rare that the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 imposed on all Catholics the obligation to receive the Eucharist at Easter. Communion in both kinds was also becoming rarer. St Thomas Aquinas in his great summary of theology wrote “because the multitude of the Christian people

and blood, soul and divinity”, and so a separate communion from the chalice was not really necessary. The reception of the chalice by the laity became more rare but it did not totally disappear: the kings of France, for example, enjoyed the privilege at their coronation and for their final communion. A HARDENING AND RELAXING OF ATTITUDES About 100 years before Luther launched the Reformation in Germany, a smaller movement rose in Bohemia (present day Czech Republic), led by a radical priest reformer called John Huss. It was driven by desire for both social and religious reforms. One of their demands was the restoration of the chalice to the laity, hence one of their local names, Kališníci or "Chalice People”. The Council of Basle, called in 1432 to resolve the dispute, was prepared to restore the chalice.


Love’s Doorway to Life is a unique compilation of Patrick Kavanagh’s work, which traces the story of his life from the drumlin hills of Monaghan to the Grand Canal in Dublin. A long time student of the poet, Úna Agnew is a leading expert in the field of Kavanagh study. She is assisted here by her brother Art Agnew, also a Kavanagh enthusiast, and together they offer an alternative biography of Kavanagh’s poetic life and his struggle to fulfill his destiny. Aware of the poet’s eccentric public persona and frequent social improprieties, these recordings remain attuned, to the poet’s unique conviction that “posterity has no use for anything but the soul”. Utilising more than 50 excerpts that cover three


Love’s Doorway to Life – By Ona Agnew and Art Agnew An Alternative Biography of Patrick Kavanagh 3 CD SET for €25 Available directly from Eist at or 0872789390

stages of his life, Kavanagh is celebrated as the people’s poet who captures the spirit of a people and immortalises cameos of Irish life in a lyrical language that is unsurpassed.

Holy Land Pilgrimage 2018

Staying at Tiberias (3 nights) – Bethlehem (2 nights) – Jerusalem (3 nights)

Tuesday 23rd to Wednesday 31st October 2018. Cost: €1,445 per person sharing on a dinner BB basis Single room supplement : €475 Direct flight from Dublin – Tel Aviv Spiritual Directors: Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR and Fr Richard Reid CSsR For more information contact: Claire Carmichael: Email: Tel: 01 4922488

HIGHLIGHTS ·        Walking in the footsteps of Jesus ·        Visit to the Holy Sepulchre ·        Visit the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem ·        Spend time in Nazareth village ·        Visit Mount Tabor ·        Boat trip on the Sea of Galilee ·        Dip in the Dead Sea


Receiving communion in an Orthodox church

This dispute eventually became a tributary to the rushing cascade of the German Reformation. Although liturgical change was not foremost in Luther’s mind, a new kind of Eucharistic celebration was evolving – celebrated in the language of the people rather than in Latin, giving more importance to the reading and preaching of the Bible, and offering the chalice to all. Although the Council of Trent was inclined to define Catholic teaching clearly and without any hesitation, it recognised that communion in both kinds was a matter of discipline, not of doctrine, and was prepared to follow the example of the Council of Basle. The wording of some of its documents however, left little room for discussion. For the next 500 years, the reception of the chalice was strictly confined to the celebrant at Mass. In 1963, reflecting many years of liturgical and historical scholarship, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council decreed that in appropriate circumstances, the laity might be offered communion in both kinds. At first, these occasions were rather rare – on the occasion of special sacramental celebrations like marriage or reception into the Catholic Church. In time, they became more common. Often the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper was the only time the faithful were offered the chalice. Now in many places, it is received every Sunday or daily. HOW IS THE PRECIOUS BLOOD TO BE ADMINISTERED? The Roman Missal specified four different ways in which communion in both kinds could be

administered. Drinking directly from the chalice is the oldest, most common way to receive in both kinds, reflecting the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood.” The second is by intinction, or dipping a particle of bread into the chalice, and placing it in the mouth of the communicant. It can be awkward for the celebrant to handle both a chalice and the paten with the hosts. In practice, the celebrant gives the communicant the host which they dip it into the chalice held by a minister of holy communion, or in some churches, the minister takes the host from the communicant, dips it and administers it. Out of respect for the Blood of Christ and to prevent possible spillages, it was common in the Middle Ages for communicants to drink some of the consecrated wine through a golden straw called a fistula. Some examples have survived, and at solemn Masses celebrated by the pope before Vatican II, the pope and his ministers received in this way. It seems to have disappeared, even in Rome, Offering a spoonful of the consecrated wine was another common method in the Middle Ages. In the Byzantine Rite, as practised by both the Orthodox and Greek Catholics, communion is normally distributed with a spoon. Small pieces of the consecrated bread (they use leavened bread which is more absorbent) is put into the chalice before communion, and administered by the celebrant who takes care not to touch the lips or teeth of the communicant with the spoon. This manner of distribution also makes it possible to give very young children communion. Some Protestant churches administer communion in small individual glass or plastic cups which are carried by the deacons to communicants seated in the pews. This form has never been adopted by Catholics, Orthodox or Anglicans because it misses the symbolism of receiving from the one cup.

Brendan McConvery CSsR is a former lecturer in biblical studies. He is currently editor of Reality.

COMMON REASONS FOR NOT RECEIVING FROM THE CHALICE “I have been receiving just the host all my life, and was brought up to regard the chalice as specially for the priest.” Hopefully the little historical sketch here might help you to understand how offering the chalice to all the faithful is more traditional than limiting to the priest alone.  “Isn’t it very unhygienic for everyone to be drinking from the one vessel?” You have a point but some very simple precautions will show it is a little less simple. The alcohol in wine is actually an antiseptic that kills most common germs. Ministers of the chalice should carefully wipe the inside and outside of the chalice when it is returned to them: wipe with a clean open purificator, do not simply dab it with a folded one. Offering the chalice to the next communicant, the minister should take care to turn it slightly so that no one is drinking from the same side and should use a different part of the purificator for each communicant. If you have a heavy cold it would be an act of charity not to drink from the chalice and instead to simply dip the host. “I am a non-drinker and would be afraid I might develop a taste for it by receiving from the chalice.” The amount you receive is very small and if you prefer, you can dip the host into the chalice. It is good to realise though that both bread and wine are God’s Eucharistic gift to us.


Devised by Fr Denis McBride C.Ss.R. and George Allen

How well do you know the Bible? An inspiring journey through the scriptures • • • •

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UNDER THE MICROSCOPE RESOURCES FOR THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY TOGETHER WE PRAY Together We Pray is a pack designed for imaginative family prayer but it can also be used in a classroom, or any other gathering of primary school age children. The pack consists of beautifully designed, spiral-bound prayer cards and two specially designed candles. The prayers include the cornerstones of our faith (Our Father, Hail Mary and Guardian Angel) as well as prayers for everyday life and family events – mealtimes, times of trouble, when a loved one dies, friends and family, parents and grandparents, birthdays, school, Christmas and Easter, and much more. Here is one small example, the prayer for pets. “Lord, you let animals be near you at birth. Teach us to be kind and gentle to all animals. May we always care and provide for our pets and never ill-treat any living creature you have put on the earth." The range of prayers and wonderful designs will inspire

children and adults in prayer. It can be kept in the prayer corner of the family room, along with the Bible and the family’s treasured religious images, such as a crucifix or statue of Our Lady. Another way of using it is to clear a place for it on the table at the end of the family meal, let one of the children select a prayer, light one of the candles, and say the words of the prayer together and then keep a short period of prayer time for daily needs. Together We Pray is the perfect resource as Ireland prepares for the World Meeting of Families this summer. It would make a nice gift for a family with a child preparing for First Communion or Confirmation.


Together We Pray: Redemptorist Communications: €9.95. For more information or to order: http://www.

THE SOCIETY OF AFRICAN MISSIONS – THE FAMILY TREE The Society of African Missions (SMA) has developed a programme called 'The Family Tree'. It will give families the opportunity to become stronger by working together. Any family can participate: the family in the home, in the classroom or school, in the youth club, sports club or community group. Like trees, families come in different shapes and sizes but they all have

roots and branches. By looking at all the different parts of the tree, completing the activities and thinking about how they connect to the family, the programme encourages participants to learn more about their families and why they are so important. The programme extends over four weeks. Week 1. Our Family: Roots – Look at the roots of the tree, and why they matter. What are the roots of our family? How do they make us stronger? Week 2. Our Growing

Family: Trunk – Consider how the trunk protects and supports the tree as it grows. Who supports our family? What helps it to grow stronger? Week 3. Our Global Family: Branches – The tree reaches out and grows through its branches. It gives shelter and space for animals and birds to live. How does our family reach out to those around us? How do we care for others far away? Week 4: The Family of Creation: Leaves, Fruits and Nuts – A tree produces leaves, fruits and nuts to feed and provide

for others. It gives something of itself to creation. What does our family do to care for creation, to protect the earth? How do we make creation a better place for others? Families are invited to build their own 'family tree' from recyclable household waste. They can enter their tree into a competition and the winning trees will be displayed at the WMOF event in August. For information on the Family Tree and similar projects, contact Dympna Mallon, SMA laity coordinator, at





grew up as a teenager in the 1960s. My memory of those years is that they were a time of optimism that we were facing into a good future. And then we had to live through decades when our faith in human nature was severely dented by reports of conflicts and bad news from around the world. Recently I had the chance to visit one of those apparently intractable running sores that seem to scar the face of humanity, the situation in the Holy Land. Each year, a group of bishops and advisers from European countries, North America and South Africa visit the land between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. This visit has several purposes. The first is to visit and encourage the dwindling communities of Christians. The second is to help us understand the situation so that we can inform our Episcopal conferences in actions they will take or comments they may make.

MEETING THE YOUTH This year –when the church is focussing on young people at the Synod and at the 2019 World Youth Day – we wanted to meet with young people.   On the Israeli side, that meant extended conversations with 16-year-old pupils, 19-yearolds on a gap year programme before they do their three-year military service, and law students at the Hebrew University. We also attended a Shabbat service in a Jerusalem synagogue and had a Shabbat meal with families.  To understand better the Palestinian experience, we attended Sunday Mass with the tiny Catholic community in Gaza City. There are about 2 million people in Gaza, 2,000 of whom are Christians: a mere 10 per cent of the Christians are Catholic and the majority are Orthodox. We visited those responsible for Catholic schools in the West Bank, and had a chance to meet with the Christians and Muslims who attend a local Catholic school. Then

Bishop McKeown on the security route into Gaza.

Bishop McKeown with other members of the delegation outside the parish church in Gaza City


we spent time with some Catholic sisters who run a home for disabled and for elderly women in an overwhelmingly Muslim village. We also met with the students who could qualify as nurses through the great work of the De La Salle Bethlehem University. I also had the chance to meet diplomats from Ireland and other countries and to be briefed on the great work being done by Trócaire.   WHAT WERE MY LASTING IMPRESSIONS? Firstly, I heard a narrative that reminded me of working in Belfast during the worst of the Troubles. The story was of suffering, threat, loss, fear, absence of trust and anger. And it had the familiar refrain that nothing would ever change. The enemy out there wants to get us.  With those narratives, violence is considered the only solution.  Secondly, in circumstances like these, priority is given to security, whatever the cost. Israel is


generally quite a safe country to visit. But the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank – be they Muslim or Christian – pay the price. We saw that when we entered Gaza. The huge barrier around it looks like a prison wall. We crossed from a land of fast motorways, high-speed railways and green fields into a land of battered vehicles, pot-holed roads and donkey-drawn carts. In the West Bank, we saw the fast roads that link up the Israeli settlements and separate little parcels of Palestinian land from one another. The pupils in a Catholic school near Bethlehem look up at Jerusalem, but most them will never be allowed to go there. People in towns in the hills can see the Mediterranean but will never be permitted to visit it. The village of Quibebeh is cut off from its neighbouring settlements by Israeli roads in that occupied territory. To get into the village, we had to pass a checkpoint and then go through a sort of tunnel. There was no apparent way of escape, if there should have been an accident or fire, and no lights. The tunnel could be blocked

at any stage, preventing people from getting from one part of the West Bank to another or just going to work. That ritual humiliation may guarantee safety for the illegal settlements but it creates understandably huge resentment among Christian and Muslin Palestinians in their own land. Thirdly, we sensed deep and barely-concealed divisions within both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The narrative of the ‘enemy out there’ is used to promote a forced sense of unity. What could we say?   BARRIERS DO COME DOWN The representatives from Ireland, South Africa and Germany could only say that, 30 years ago, most people were resigned to the belief that the Berlin Wall would never come down, apartheid could not be ended, and that Northern Ireland would never be at peace. Within ten years, a way forward had been found for all those situations.  As people of faith, we all felt huge compassion for all who were suffering because of the clash

between great tectonic plates in the Middle East. And we all agreed that support for local Christians and their peace-building initiatives was essential. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land can support Christian families and businesses.  Prayer and fasting – not war – will enable good people to bless the Holy Land and to make flowers bloom in the apparent wilderness that human conflict has created. God has not forgotten the land where Jesus walked.

Trócaire has worked in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2002, addressing human rights violations and providing humanitarian aid. The agency’s work in the region is grounded entirely in the belief that international law should be applied and upheld. To find out more visit Bishop Donal McKeown was born in Belfast. After serving as auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor, he was installed as Bishop of Derry in 2014. He is chair of the Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development.

Ennismore Retreat Centre ST DOMINIC’S

Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th February “Into the Desert”: Lenten Retreat by Martina Lehane Sheehan Cost: Res €175 Non/Res €100 Sunday 11th March Mindfulness – Revise the 8 week programme in one day! Time: 10.30a.m. – 4.30p.m. Cost: €60 Thursday 29th March – Sunday 1st April Holy Week Retreat by The Ennismore Team Cost: Res. €175 / Non Res. €100 Ennismore Retreat Centre is set in 30 acres of wood, field and garden overlooking Lough Mahon on the River Lee. It’s the ideal place for some time-out, reflection and prayer. For ongoing programmes please contact the Secretary or visit our website at Tel: 021-4502520 Fax: 021-4502712 E-mail:





Most people want three things more than anything else: a home of their own, a secure job and a happy family. Parents, above all, want these for their children. Parents value education and often make sacrifices to ensure that their children do well in school, knowing that education is the door to a good job. With a good job, their children can save to obtain a mortgage to buy their own home, and with a good job and a nice home, they hope to have a happy family life. However, as our country becomes wealthier, many young people today face increasingly insecure housing, insecure employment and disruption to family life. What their parents took for granted in poorer times, is now beyond the dreams of many of their children in our 'developed' world. A SECURE HOME? Fifty years ago, almost everyone in Ireland could aspire to owning their own home. Anyone on the average industrial wage, a nurse, a teacher, a garda, could obtain a mortgage and purchase their own modest home. If a person’s income was too low to obtain a mortgage, they went onto a social housing waiting list, and within a few years, were given a council house which, if they wished, they could purchase from the local authority. Today, the average cost of a house in Ireland is €269,000 and predicted to continue rising by 8 per cent per annum. To qualify for a mortgage, a first-time buyer would require a deposit of €27,000 and an income of €70,000 per year. Only one in three households in Ireland today has an income of €70,000 per year. REALITY MARCH 2018

cent saying that they would like, but are unable to find, permanent employment. There are approximately 109,000 fewer workers in full-time permanent jobs today than there were in 2008, even though we are now approaching full employment. About 8 per cent of workers are on zero-hours, or 'if and when' contracts, meaning that they never know from week to week how many hours they would work and therefore what their income would be. Others are on short-term contract work, or required to work as bogus 'self-employed', thus cutting costs for their employers and leaving them without the benefit of standard legal regulatory protections. Many others work for the minimum wage which does not allow a person to live at a sociably acceptable standard of living.

In Dublin, where most people work, the problem is much worse. With average house prices at €415,000, a first-time buyer would require a deposit of €41,500 and to qualify for a mortgage would require a household income of at least €100,000. So, going forward, purchasing their own home will only be an option for the wealthiest one-third of young people. The majority will be forced to rent, living their whole life in insecure housing. Should they lose their job, or have a prolonged spell of illness, they may be unable to pay the rent and may face homelessness. Should the landlord decide to sell the house, they face involuntary relocation. When they retire, their income will fall, but

their rent will remain the same or increase. If they suffer a disability, they may be obliged to move out in order to find specially adapted accommodation which may not be available. A SECURE JOB? Fifty ago, a young person could look forward to getting a job which was reasonably secure, even if, at the beginning of their career, they were not very well paid. However, today, secure, regular employment is being replaced by employment that is insecure and unpredictable. Since 2008, there has been a significant increase in temporary employment, with over 50 per

A HAPPY FAMILY LIFE? Two of the greatest pressures on family life today are financial insecurity and lack of a suitable home. Young people today, wishing to start a family life, may be forced to continue living separately, with their respective parents, or to live in poor quality private rented accommodation for which many are paying in excess of 50 per cent of their income just on rent. Over time, relationships become strained and may break up, putting further pressure on a dysfunctional housing system. While disposable incomes for young people today are certainly much higher than they were for their parents at their age, they may live more stressful and less secure lives today and their quality of life may be much lower.

GOD’S WORD THIS MONTH DESTROY THIS TEMPLE! In the Synoptic Gospels, the cleansing of the temple takes place during the final week of the life of Jesus. THIRD SUNDAY OF John has placed it closer to LENT the beginning of his Gospel. Both the synoptics and John agree, however, that it is the first public act which Jesus performs in Jerusalem. It will help to consider this story in two parts. Firstly, there is the account of an incident in the temple (13-16). This is followed by a confrontation with the Jewish religious authorities who ask for a sign to justify Jesus' action. This confrontation is unique to John: in the other Gospels, the temple authorities are horrified at Jesus’ action and are determined to bring him to account for it, but only in John will Jesus engage with them in a controversy about his action. Although the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD, substantial traces of it remain, especially the large platform of compacted earth and rubble on which Herod the Great built his temple. Its supporting wall, known today as the Western or 'Wailing' Wall,



and the remains of some arches connecting it to one of the hills of Jerusalem created a street in there were shops and market stalls. Since the temple was a place of pilgrimage, these would have been servicing the needs of the pilgrims. In addition to souvenirs, the most common objects on sale were the doves required for sacrifice. Only wealthy worshippers could afford the larger sacrificial animals, such as sheep or oxen. The most common activity was the changing of money. Different kinds of coins circulated in Israel: in addition, the pilgrims at festival times came from many other countries, each with their own coinage. The temple tax had to be paid with one particular coin, the Tyrian tetradrachma. It is not unknown for prices to be high in places of pilgrimage and it was much the same in Jesus’ time! Although the temple incident is often described as the cleansing of the temple, its real purpose is deeper. Jesus’ action is not simply cleaning up the temple. Its very violence of overturning tables and stampeding animals is better seen as an act of judgement on the temple, a statement that it has ceased to manifest the presence of God. The temple figures more prominently in John than in any

of the other gospels. For John, Jesus is the New Temple, the place where the glory of God dwells, and worship of the community he will establish will no longer be animal sacrifice, but worship "in spirit and in truth", as he will reveal to the Samaritan woman (John 4:24). The religious leaders demand to know his authority for acting in this way. In John’s Gospel, words often have a double meaning. By Jesus’ time, the rebuilding of the temple begun by Herod the Great had been going on for more than 40 years and was still incomplete. Jesus’ words, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” might be taken as the words of a deranged madman and that is how the Jews understand them. The narrator supplies the explanation of the misunderstanding to the reader – the new temple is the Temple of Jesus' body. Even his disciples are unable to understand what it means. Only in the church, after the resurrection, will they be able to grasp the full import of the words. Today’s Readings Exodus 20:1-17; Ps 18; 1 Cor 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

Reconstruction of Holy Temple in Jerusalem

God’s Word continues on page 46


GOD’S WORD THIS MONTH strange image for the cross but a moment’s reflection will show how it combines both the horror of crucifixion and the life-giving nature of the death of Jesus. A sign saying simply 'John 3:16' sometime appears among the fans at sports matches. It is a reference to a key verse in today’s reading that in some ways sums up the essence of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16). Judgement and eternal life are not reserved for the remote future. Both are present realities and are offered on the basis of faith in the Son. Jesus, the light of the world, provokes people into making an option for light or for darkness.




Nicodemus coming to Christ by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)


THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP John’s Gospel has been described as “a gospel of encounters”. One of the most important encounters is between Jesus and a Jewish elder called Nicodemus. Nicodemus, deeply immersed as he is in Jewish tradition, struggles to understand Jesus whom he perceives as a teacher sent by God who is authenticated by the signs he does (John 3:2). Towards the end of the dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus proceeds to reveal the heart of the Gospel. It will be important for us to recognise that words in John often have a wide variety of meanings with which the evangelist plays to explore the deeper meaning of his message. The son of man is a term that occurs in all the gospels. It can mean simply something as simple as ‘that fellow there’ or ‘someone’, the equivalent perhaps of the Irish phrase 'mo dhuine'. It can also refer to other biblical figures such as the prophet Ezekiel who is addressed by God as "son of man" more than 90 times, or "one like a Son of Man", the heavenly figure in the Book of Daniel (Dan 7:13). In the Gospels it refers to Jesus, especially at the suffering Son of Man who undergoes the passion. The “lifting up” of REALITY MARCH 2018

the Son of Man also has a possible range of meanings. First of all, it might just simply mean the physical act of raising up but with specific reference to being raised on a cross. It can also be used in a wider sense of exalting or honouring. The prophet Isaiah had spoken of a mysterious figure, the Suffering Servant who would “be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high” (Isa 52:13). Taken together, the raising up of the Son of Man refers to both the crucifixion of Jesus and his vindication by God by being raised from the dead. Moses and the bronze serpent refers to an episode during Israel’s desert wandering. Not for the first time, they complained about how God was treating them. “The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died” (Num 21:5-6). When the people repent, God instructs Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole so that anyone who is bitten can look at the serpent and live. It may at first glance appear to be a

Today’s Readings 1 Chronicles 36:14-23; Ps 136; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

THE LAST DAYS MARCH We read the Passion story in its entirety twice during Holy Week. On Good Friday, we read SUNDAY OF THE the majestic account of PASSION John. On Palm Sunday, (PALM SUNDAY) we read the account of the evangelist of the year. This year, we read the account of Mark. Although Mark is the shortest of the Gospels, it will not be possible to comment on the Passion account in detail. The entire Gospel of Mark had been described as “a passion Gospel with a long introduction”. It is a detailed account of the last day of Jesus’ earthly life, from the supper to the tomb.


Today’s Readings Isaiah 50: 4-7; Ps 21; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47


THE HOUR HAS COME Gospel begins with a reference to some MARCH Today’s Greeks who wish to see Jesus, and make a request through Philip who in turn enlists the help of Andrew. Who were these mysterious Greeks of whom we hear no more in the chapter? The easiest FIFTH SUNDAY solution is that they are Greek-speaking Jews from OF LENT the diaspora who have come to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. After the inhabitants of Galilee and Jerusalem, and the Samaritans (ch 4), they represent the final element of the scattered flock of Israel that the Good Shepherd has come to gather, and so this marks the final stage of the ministry of Jesus and he recognises that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be gloried through his death on the cross. Like the imagery of the flock for whom the Good Shepherd lays down his life, the image of the seed dying to bring forth life is a key image in John's interpretation of the death of Jesus. Seed imagery (e.g. the sower, the mustard seed) is common in the synoptic parables of the Kingdom. Verse 25 draws the contrast between those who love their life in this world only to find that they have lost it, and those who "hate" or re-evaluate their earthly life only to find that it is kept for eternal life. Eternal life in John is not something that begins in heaven: it is the depth of life that flows from knowing and sharing in the life of Jesus through faith and discipleship. The Fourth Gospel has no account of the agony in the garden. Today’s Gospel, however, describes a moment in the prayer of Jesus that is unique to John. It has several points of contact with the prayer in the garden. Jesus begins by saying that his soul is troubled (compare: “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake” Mark 14:34). The prayer to be spared the suffering but to submit to the Father’s will (compare “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want” Mark 14:36). He is answered by a heavenly voice which some of the bystanders interpret as thunder, others as an angel speaking to him (compare “then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength” Luke 22:43). The gospel concludes with a final reference to the death of Jesus and its significance. It is the judgement of the prince of this world who will be overthrown in the final struggle between Jesus and the forces of darkness. It is the exaltation of Jesus: by being raised on the cross (see last Sunday) he will draw the world to himself for its salvation.


SOLUTIONS CROSSWORD No. 10 ACROSS: Across: 1. Cleric, 5. Keaton, 10. Romulus, 11. Debates, 12. Ream, 13. Degas, 15. Pair, 17. Wok, 19. Thomas, 21. Angels, 22. Rubdown, 23. Serape, 25. Easels, 28. Pan, 30. Hack, 31. Canal, 32. Seer, 35. Roundup, 36. Trinity, 37. Stamps, 38. Ripple. DOWN: 2. Lumbago, 3. Rule, 4. Cashew, 5. Kodiak, 6. Albs, 7. Outrage, 8. Ararat, 9. Usurps, 14. Gordian, 16. Harps, 18. Annal, 20. Sue, 21. Awe, 23. Sahara, 24. Recruit, 26. Ezekiel, 27. Strays, 28. Pampas, 29. Natter, 33. Adam, 34. Limp.

Winner of Crossword No. 10 Seán Higgins, Martinstown, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

ACROSS 1. Computerised location device. (3-3) 5. A large feather from the wing or tail of a bird. (6) 10. Vehicle used to clear ice and snow from roads.. (7) 11. Something done to show your importance. (3,4) 12. Sicilian volcano. (4) 13. A messenger from God. (5) 15. A continuous dull pain or bittersweet emotion. (4) 17. Part of a circle. (3) 19. Legendary sailor of the 1,001 Night. (6) 21. Passages between pews. (6) 22. The first Jesuit Pope. (7) 23. Cooking area on a ship or plane. (6) 25. He stepped into the lion's den! (6) 28. Poem devoted to the praise of a person, animal or thing. (3) 30. Plants and fruits of the Middle East. (4) 31. Spanish mission battle site in San Antonio, Texas. (5) 32. Be constantly or visibly anxious. (4) 35. Imperial dynasty of Russia until 1917. (7) 36. Medicines brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses? (7) 37. Imaginary line marking places of equal barometric pressure. (6) 38. A priest or religious leader. (6)

DOWN 2. 14th century home of the papacy. (7) 3. A brief written record as an aid to memory. (4) 4. Where Shakespeare located two gentlemen. (6) 5. Predominantly French-speaking Canadian province. (6) 6. An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. (4) 7. Beautifully full of emotion. (7) 8. Herons with mainly white plumage. (6) 9. Knocks something over and causes to be unhappy. (6) 14. City of the Alhambra. (7) 16. Thin disk of unleavened bread used in the Eucharist. (5) 18. Credit cards for international travel. (5) 20. Not wet or moist. (3) 21. Help of a practical nature. (3) 23. Dogsbodies, people who run errands. (6) 24. Peas and beans. (7) 26. Nationality of a Tel Aviv native. (7) 27. The most recent news or fashion. (6) 28. The boy who asked for more. (6) 29. Medicine intended to cause vomiting. (6) 33. Ignore disdainfully. (4) 34. Woodwind instrument. (4)

Entry Form for Crossword No.2, March 2018 Name:

Today’s Readings

Address: Telephone:

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ps 50; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33 All entries must reach us by March 31, 2018 One €35 prize is offered for the first correct solutions opened. The Editor’s decision on all matters concerning this competition will be final. Do not include correspondence on any other subject with your entry which should be addressed to: Reality Crossword No. 2, Redemptorist Communications, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin 09 X651






Reality March 2018  

Informing, inspiring, challenging today's Catholic

Reality March 2018  

Informing, inspiring, challenging today's Catholic