Thursday, 23 April 2009

Comments Tabgha & Hily Sepuchre

William has been very closely connecting my Holy Land Chronicle and he uncovers the H. V. Morton's classic, "In the Steps of the Master". My brother recalls how Morton's book was read in the community refectory reading in the monastery in the 1950s. The hospitality, we enjoyed the monastic guesthouse 2004, seems to re-echo the same welcome that H.V. Morton experienced at Tabghe.

William wrote:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Now I know from whence the engraved stone came... (Morton, page 204ff)...

"The most beautiful spot on the shore is a bower of trees and flowers known at Tabgha....when I awakened on the first morning and looked at the Sea of Galilee, I felt such an unutterable sense of peace and so great a detachment from the world".... and then he writes of the discovery of the little Roman church of the Loaves and Fishes.

With the treasure you brought me beside me, to bed to dream.

William goes on:


Holy Sepulchre

I so enjoy references to and excerpts from your Holy Land Chronicle on your Blog... I am still reading H V Morton, absolutely fascinated! I found reference (page 51) to the Chapel of the Apparition of Jesus to His Mother, and a lovely comment (page 49) that "only in the chapel of the Franciscans is there that chastity of decoration". To bring your Chronicle and Morton's journey alive, I have been onto "google earth" (now that I have broadband), and visited Jerusalem and Galilee. Resting on the book by my bedside is the engraved stone from Galilee and the Emmaus pebble, treasures!

You must so often relive your memories.

From: William.

The previous note on the Apparition of Jesus to His Mother by the Franciscan, Fr. Eugine Hoad, can be appreciated by Pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre.

The latest Edition of the Dominican Archaeologist, Fr. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's, "The Holy Land, An Oxford Archaeological Guide", names the chapel as that of St. Mary Magdalene.

“In the C4 the area north of the rotunda was part of the Patriarchate; buildings one room deep surrounded an L-shaped courtyard, and all the cast-west walls at ground level are Constantinian. In the C:11 the courtyard was transformed into the chapel of St Mary Magdalcne (John 20: 11-16) [15 J with its narthex [16] from which one passed via a two-column entrance into a small atrium [17]. The atrium was reduced to virtually nothing in the C 12 when the Crusaders erected a stairway leading to what is now Christian Quarter Road; its monumental entrance, whose decoration is identical with that of the main door of the Holy Sepulchre, is still partially visible (D in fig. 11) from the street”. (See Plan. Fig. 14. The Holy Sepulchre . . . 15. Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, 16. Franciscan choir, 17. C11 atrium).

This text is only some inkling of the knowledge of Fr. Jerome. I learned too late of his regular each week archaeological walks on the ground of the Holy Places.

His activities from Ecole Biblque continue. Most recently Fr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor was invited to the Pauline Year 2008–2009 » Diocese of Westminster. His lecture, “The Life of St Paul”, can accessed in the Video at

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Blessed Maria Gabriella

We celebrate the feastday of Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu.

April 22nd.

Booklet published by Trappiste, Vitorchiano (VT), Italia. December 2006.

ISBN 978-88-6139-002-7


17.3.1914 - Birth at Dorgali (Nuoro)

22.3.1914 - Baptised in the parish of St. Catherine 29.3.1924 -Receives First Communion

31.5.1931 -Receives Confirmation

1932-33 - After the death of her sister Giovanna Antonia, she is "converted" completely.

30.9.1935 -Arrives at the Trappistine monastery of Grottaferrata

5.10.1935- Enters as a Postulant

13.4.1936- Receives the monastic habit

31.10.1937- Makes temporary vows

18.4/29.5.1938 Spends 40 days in the St. John's Hospital, Rome

23.4.1939- Dies in the monastery infirmary at Grottaferrata

25.1.1983- Beatified by Pope John-Paul 11

Principal books published

M.G. DORE, Dalla Trappa per l’Unita della Chiesa, Suor Maria Gabriella, 6thed., Morcelliana, Brescia 1983

B. MARTELET, La petite soeur de t'unite. Marie Gabriella 1914-1939, Mediaspaul, Paris 1984

P.BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI, A Life for Unity - Sr Maria Gabriella. New City Press, New York 1990

M. DRISCOLL, A Silent Herald of Unity, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo 1990. PEARSE CUSACK, Blessed Gabriella of Unity, Cistercian Press, Ros Cre - Ireland 1995

M. DELLA VOLPE, La strada della gratitudine, 2nded., Jaca Book, Milano 1996.

BEATA MARIA GABRIELLA SAGHEDDU, Lettere dalla Trappa, Ed. San Paolo, Cinisello. Bal. 2006

Night Office Reading


Born in Dorgali, in Sardinia, in 1914, Maria Sagheddu is very representative of the strong shepherd's stock from which she sprang, with all their good characteristics - fidelity, a deep sense of duty, strength of character and intransigent purity as well as their more negative ones - stubbornness, wilfulness and a streak of violence. Her most prominent personal trait as a child and an adolescent was her indomitable temperament, typical of her people.

At the age of 18, a personal encounter with the Lord, the exact circ­umstances of which are unknown, completely changed her life, leading her to lead a deep life of prayer and to devote herself to works of charity. At 21 she decided to enter the Cistercian Convent of Grottaferrata, near Rome. There her life appears to have been dominated by very few but very essential elements. The first and most visible was gratitude for the mercy that God had shown her in calling her to the Cistercian Life. The second element was the desire to respond to this grace with all her strength. After her profession she was inspired to offer her life for Christian Unity.

The impulse came from a request for prayers and spiritual offerings for this cause during the Prayer for Unity Octave, of which Fr Paul Couturier was the great apostle and guiding spirit. Sr.Maria Gabriella had never studied the problem of separation or the history of ecumenism and, in fact, knew very little about it. She was simply dominated by the desire for Christian Unity. During this time the Convent at Grottaferrata had contact with the Anglican Benedictine Abbey of Nashdom which still possesses a card signed by Sr.Gabriella during her final illness.

The fatal sickness that assailed her twenty-three year old body on the very day of her offering (up until then she had always enjoyed perfect health) brought her to her death after fifteen months of suffering. On April 23rd. 1939, her long agony ended in total abandonment to the will of God. It was Good Shepherd Sunday and the Gospel proclaimed: "There will be one flock and one_shepherd.”

Prayer for Blessed Gabriella.

Lord God, eternal Shepherd,
you inspired the Blessed Virgin, Maria Gabriella,
generously to offer up her life
for the sake of Christian unity.
At her intercession,
hasten, we pray, the coming of the day when,
gathered around the table of your word
and of your Bread from heaven,
all who believe in Christ
may sing your praises
with a single heart, a single voice.
Through Christ, Our Lord. . .

Monday, 20 April 2009

Apparition of Jesus to His Mother

The Apparition of Jesus to His Mother.

Given the blessing of having several months in the Holy Land it is not to be sure that the focus must be on the Holy Sepulchre. The Plan of the Basilica lists from 1 to 57 churches, chapels, shrines and unique places One of the places I felt especially, for the frequent occasions drew me there, namely the Franciscan Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. It is only to think about the worldwide Franciscan of pilgrims in the Holy Land inevitably find the warm welcome by the Friars.

In the Franciscan Chapel, one of the moving traditions at Easter time is the memory of The Apparition of Jesus to His Mother.

Around the Holy Sepulchre was the garden of Joseph of Arimathaea where, on the morning of the resurrection where Mary Magdalene was searching for the risen Redeemer, (Jn 20:1-18). In the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the Franciscan Church is known as the Chapel of the Apparition of Jesus to His Mother. Of the apparition the Gospel does not speak, but longstanding tradition has perpetuated its memory on the Church. The Most Blessed Sacrament is reserved in this chapel and the Franciscan day and night recite the Divine Office here. On the altar to the right is the Column of the Flagellation. This is probably the column that was revered on Sion from the 4th century, but from the 10th century has been in the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

(Eugene Hoade OFM. Franciscan Prinitng Press, Jerusalem) Michael

"Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart. Lord, instill in me a faith that is unerring, a hope that is certain, a love that is perfect; a sensitivity and a knowlegde that I may accomplish your holy and true command". (Prayer before the Crucifix by St. Francis of Assisi)

Christ Appearing to His Mother

Fr. Michael Morris, O.P. Professor of Religion and the Arts, given us an admirable account of the tradition highlighted in the famous painting.

There is no mention in Scripture of her whereabouts and she is not singled out as one of the specific individuals to whom Christ made an appearance. But while the Gospel says nothing, Christian tradition has long taken it for granted that Christ appeared to his mother first. For it is logical that she who had shared most in his passion should also share in his glory. This opinion has been held by the Doctors of the Church and by the faithful at large from the earliest times. In the fifth century, the author Sedulius maintained that in the splendour of his risen life Christ first revealed himself to his mother. For at the annunciation she was the means by which he entered the world; likewise she would be the first to witness his entry into glory. Bathed in that glory of the Risen One, she anticipates the Church's splendour.

According to a popular thirteenth-century work called Meditations on the Life of Christ, the Virgin was alone kneeling in her room when her resurrected Son appeared to her. That is how the artist has portrayed her. But in light of Sedelius' balanced equation of the annunciation with the appearance of the resurrected Christ to his mother, it is intriguing to note that the artist has arranged the composition in a way that has a deeper meaning. The two figures here are posing in the same way as the figures would pose in an annunciation scene. In place of an angel bringing the Virgin glad tidings that she will bear the Son of the Most High, Christ himself stands and brings his kneeling mother the glad tidings of his resurrection. The two events act as bookends of revelation in Mary's life, and the artistic rendering of the scene here evokes that earlier event.

Christ shows Mary his wounds, and she raises her hands in wonder with tears of joy running down her cheeks. She is dressed in blue, signifying her unshakeable faith in God, and her cloak is trimmed with the words of the Magnificat emblazoned in gold: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices [in God my Saviour] For he has looked upon his hand maid's lowliness; behold [from now on] will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me . . .” (Lk 1: 46-49). Above her in the arch, and also colour in celestial blue, floats an angel bearing a crown. The banderole flowing from it has an inscription alluding to a passage found in the Book of Revelation (6: 2): “This woman endured and conquered all; to her was given the crown."

Each of the three panels of the Miraflores Altarpiece is shaped like a church door, arranged as a portal to paradise. Each of the doors is similarly decorated with sculptural flourishes. Painted in grisaille, the decorative archivolts on this right panel painting contain little scenes of episodes in the life of the Virgin: three holy Women with the Virgin, the Assumption, Pentecost, the announcement of Mary's death, the death of the Virgin, and Mary's coronation in heaven. On either side of the arch we see figures standing on pedestals with elaborate baldachins over their heads. On the right is Saint Paul with a sword in his hand, and on the left is Saint Mark with his attribute, the lion, resting at his feet. They are part of an overall decorative assemblage within the altarpiece that evokes the four evangelists along with Saints Peter and Paul who all attest to the resurrection appearances of the Lord. Through the window in the back­ground one can see a landscape in which the resurrection is actually taking place. Christ rises from the tomb as guards lay all around him. And in the distance beyond that, the three women begin their journey to the sepulchre bringing spices to anoint Christ's body. The Blessed Mother had no need to join them. His glorified body was already with her, in this first of over five hundred apparitions made by Christ to his disciples between the resurrection and the ascension.

The Miraflores Altarpiece was painted for the Carthusian monastery of that name which contained a royal mausoleum. Thus the theme of the triptych, the cycle of life, was fitting for a chapel devoted to the dead. And it is to Mary that we pray for help at the hour of our death. That association recalls the words of the late Pope John Paul ll who, at a general audience made on May 21, 1997, spoke the following words:

"Present at Calvary on Good Friday (see Jn 19: 25) and in the Upper Room on Pentecost (see Acts 1: 14), the Blessed Virgin too was probably a privileged witness of Christ's resurrection, completing in this way her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery. Welcoming the risen Jesus, Mary is also a sign and an anticipation of humanity, which hopes to achieve its fulfilment through the resurrection of the dead.

"In the Easter season, the Christian com­munity addresses the Mother of the Lord and invites her to rejoice: 'Regina Caeii, laetare, Alleluia! Thus it recalls Mary's joy at Jesus' Resurrection, prolonging in time the 'rejoice' that the Angel addressed to her at the Annunciation, so that she might become a cause of 'great joy' for all people."

Illustration: Christ Appearing to His Mother (c. 1435),

right panel painting of the Miraflores Altarpiece,

Rogier van der Weyden (c. 1399-1464

Acknoweldement: Magnificat Vol. 11, No. 2, i-vi

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Acrostic Psalm 25

Easter Weekend

NRSV Psalm 25: 1-5

To you O Lord I lift up my soul

O my God in you I trust

Do not let me be ashamed

Do not let my enemies exult over me

Make me know your ways

Teach me your paths

Lead me in your truth and teach me

For you are the God of my salvation

For you I wait all the day

On Easter Weekend some friends enjoyed a drive in the Highlands, Balahulish and Nunraw monastery.
The scenery was glorious in the sunshine and took advantage of taking pictures en route. Quickly after returning home they sent us a PowerPoint show making a theme of the scenes with text of Psalm 25: 1-7.

This is one of the acrostic Psalms is another very interesting play of the Hebrew writers.

The pictures send me to study the different versions of this alphabet acrostic Psalm.

Mgr. Knox Bible Psalm 24(25)

An Alphabet of Trust

(Of David.)

1) All my heart goes out to thee,

2) O Lord my God.
Belie not the trust I have in thee, let not my enemies boast of my downfall.

3) Can any that trust in thee be disappointed, as they are disappointed who lightly break their troth?

4) Direct my way, Lord, as thou wilt, teach me thy own paths.

5) Ever let thy truth guide and teach me, O God my deliverer, my abiding hope.

6) Forget not, Lord, thy pity, thy mercies of long ago.

7) Give heed no more to the sins and frailties of my youth, but think mercifully of me, as thou, Lord, art ever gracious.

8) How gracious is the Lord, how faithful, guiding our strayed feet back to the path!

9) In his own laws he will train the humble, in his own paths the humble he will guide.

10) Jealous be thy keeping of covenant and ordinance, and the Lord's dealings will be ever gracious, ever faithful with thee.

11) Kindly be thy judgement of my sin, for thy own honour's sake, my grievous sin.

12) Let a man but fear the Lord, what path to choose he doubts no longer.

13) Much joy he shall have of his lands and to his heirs leave them.

14) No stranger the Lord is, no secret his covenant, to his true worshippers.

15) On the Lord I fix my eyes continually, trusting him to save my feet from the snare.

16) Pity me, Lord, as thou seest me friendless and forlorn.

17) Quit my heart of its burden, deliver me from my distress.

18) Restless and forlorn, I claim thy pity, to my sins be merciful.

19) See how many are my foes, and how bitter is the grudge they bear me.

20) Take my soul into thy keeping; come to my rescue, do not let me be disappointed of my trust in thee.

21) Uprightness and purity be my shield, as I wait patiently, Lord, for thy help.

22) When wilt thou deliver Israel, my God, from all his troubles?

New Jerusalem Bible

Psalm 25: 1-23

1) Aleph ADORATION I offer, Yahweh, to you, my God.

2) Bet BUT in my trust in you do not put me to shame, let not my enemies gloat over me.

3) Gimel CALLING to you, none shall ever be put to shame, but shame is theirs who groundlessly break faith.

4) Dalet DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.

5) He ENCOURAGE me to walk in your truth and teach me since you are the God who saves me.

6) (Waw) FOR my hope is in you all day long -- such is your generosity, Yahweh.

7) Zain GOODNESS and faithful love have been yours for ever, Yahweh, do not forget them.

8) Het HOLD not my youthful sins against me, but remember me as your faithful love dictates.

9) Tet INTEGRITY and generosity are marks of Yahweh for he brings sinners back to the path.

10) Yod JUDICIOUSLY he guides the humble, instructing the poor in his way.

11) Kaph KINDNESS unfailing and constancy mark all Yahweh's paths, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

12) Lamed LET my sin, great though it is, be forgiven, Yahweh, for the sake of your name.

13) Mem MEN who respect Yahweh, what of them? He teaches them the way they must choose.

14) Nun NEIGHBOURS to happiness will they live, and their children inherit the land.

15) Samek ONLY those who fear Yahweh have his secret and his covenant, for their understanding.

16) Ain PERMANENTLY my eyes are on Yahweh, for he will free my feet from the snare.

17) Pe QUICK, turn to me, pity me, alone and wretched as I am!

18) Zade RELIEVE the distress of my heart, bring me out of my constraint.

19) (Qoph) SPARE a glance for my misery and pain, take all my sins away.

20) Resh TAKE note how countless are my enemies, how violent their hatred for me.

21) Shin UNLESS you guard me and rescue me I shall be put to shame, for you are my refuge.

22) Taw VIRTUE and integrity be my protection, for my hope, Yahweh, is in you.
Ransom Israel, O God, from all its troubles. Of David

Psalm 25

It is enough to read the psalm as you prayerfully listen for what God will say to you in those ancient words. However, if you wish to go deeper, continue with the study that follows. It is intended for personal reflection or for family or group conversation.

About the Psalm

Psalm 25 is a prayer song. It is written in acrostic form meaning that the first letter of each line is the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet as was the case with Psalms 9 and 10 studied earlier.

The psalmist appeals several times to God’s “hesed” – “steadfast love and faithfulness.” This psalm alternates sections that express trust in the Lord with petitions that ask something of the Lord. Many things are requested perhaps because the poet needs to work in all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The psalm begins with the line “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” The traditional posture of prayer for Jewish people is to stand with arms raised and palms facing to heaven. This first line is a spiritual description of that that posture of prayer intends. (Prince of Peace online)

[Psalm 25] In the Hebrew original this psalm is an alphabetic poem: the first letters of the lines follow the Hebrew alphabet. The result is a patchwork of standard formulas adding up to a prayer interrupted by lines of Jewish wisdom and covering a number of concepts and attitudes going back to very different layers of the Old Testament tradition: the Covenant, the sufferings at the hands of (pagan) enemies, awareness of sin and prayer for repentance and salvation, "the way" after the fashion of Deuteronomy and the Wisdom books, and the frame of mind of the anawim, the poor of the Lord, who await their rescue from oppression from God alone.

The surprising feature of this psalm, however, is its unity of atmosphere, which shows how all the major elements of the variegated tradition of the Old Testament were eventually fused in the spirituality, at once simple and full of ardour, of the pious Jews after the period of exile, a few centuries B.C. - "This is also the witness of the holy Spirit to us. For first he says: 'This is the covenant I will make with them one day, says the Lord; I put my laws in their hearts, I stamp them on their minds.' And then: 'I will no longer remember their sins and their evil acts.' But where these are forgiven there is no need for a propitiating sacrifice any more. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we may confidently go up to God's holy place in virtue of the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the temple-veil of his own body" (Heb. 10. 15-20). (Fifty Psalms B&O London 1968)