Sunday, 31 March 2013

Pope's Easter Vigil Homily

Nunraw Abbey Liturgy
Paschal Time, Eastertide. 


(March 31, 2013)  

(March 31, 2013)  


Easter Even: The Resurrection Faith – Evelyn Underhill

Contemplating life's  puzzle...
I am writing to you at the moment in the Christian year when, as it were, we pause and look back on the richest cluster of such spiritual facts ever revealed to man. Paschal Time, to give its old name to the interval between Easter and Ascension, marks the end of the historical manifestation of the Word Incarnate, and the beginning of His hidden life within the Church. But the quality of that hidden life, in which as members of the Body of Christ we are all required to take part, is the quality which the historic life revealed. From the very beginning the Church has been sure that the series of events which were worked out to their inevitable end in Holy Week sum up and express the deepest secrets of the relation of God to man.
That means, of course, that Christianity can never be merely a pleasant or consoling religion. It is a stern business. It is concerned with the salvation through sacrifice and love of a world in which, as we can all see now, evil and cruelty are rampant. Its supreme symbol is the Crucifix—the total and loving self-giving of man to the redeeming purposes of God.
Because we are all the children of God we all have our part to play in His redemptive plan; and the Church consists of those loving souls who have accepted this obligation, with all that it costs. Its members are all required to live, each in their own way, through the sufferings and self-abandonment of the Cross; as the only real contribution which they can make to the redemption of the world.Christians, like their Master, must be ready to accept the worst that evil and cruelty can do to them, and vanquish it by the power of love.
For if sacrifice, total self-giving to God’s mysterious purpose, is what is asked of us, His answer to that sacrifice is the gift of power. Easter and Whitsuntide complete the Christian Mystery by showing us first our Lord Himself and then His chosen apostles possessed of a new power—the power of the Spirit—which changed every situation in which they were placed. That supernatural power is still the inheritance of every Christian and our idea of Christianity is distorted and incomplete unless we rely on it. It is this power and only this which can bring in the new Christian society of which we hear so much. We ought to pray for it; expect it and trust it; and as we do this, we shall gradually become more and more sure of it.

Evelyn Underhill

Letter to the Prayer Group, Eastertide 1941, from The Fruits of the Spirit 
 The illustration, Completing life’s puzzle by: Doug Burke is via Seed Resources.
 I hope you have enjoyed these extracts from the writings of Evelyn Underhill, who died in 1941. If they have whetted your appetite for more, may I suggest you do not begin, as I did, by plunging into ‘Mysticism‘, which is hard going in parts if you are not yet a mystic yourself. I suggest that this anthology of her writings, Lent With Evelyn Underhill, which was first published in 1964, and edited by G P Mellick Belshaw, would be a better introduction to her work, as would one of the other anthologies.  

Friday, 29 March 2013

Holy Thursday 'On the washing of the feet Holy Week Year 1

Night Office
After missing the 2nd Reading, I heard a comment with the monks later and prompted to my curiosity.
The heading, "The Angels stood at.." the washing of the feet prompted to further search,and provides the fuller version in a Web Site (below).
The Links are rewarding.  

Second Reading:  
From a homily by Severian of Gabala (Homily On the washing of the feet 15-21)
The angels stood at his side in awe, but the disciples were seated with him,
full of confidence

Thoughts from the Early Church
Holy Thursday
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

April 21, 2011

Reading I: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 
Responsorial Psalm: 116:12-13, 15, 16bc, 17-18Reading II: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel: John 13:1-15
Commentary: Severian of Gabala
To the end Jesus showed his love for them.

The whole visible world proclaims the goodness of God, but nothing proclaims it so clearly as his coming among us, by which he whose state was divine assumed the condition of a slave. This was not a lowering of his dignity, but rather a manifesting of his love for us.

The awesome mystery which takes place today brings us to the consequence of his action. For what is it that takes place today? The Savior washes the feet of his disciples.

Although he took upon himself everything pertaining to our condition as slaves, he took a slave’s position in a way specially suited to our own arrangements when he rose from the table.

He who feeds everything beneath the heavens was reclining among the apostles, the master among slaves, the fountain of wisdom among the ignorant, the Word among those untrained in the use of words, the source of wisdom among the unlettered. He who nourishes all was reclining and eating with his disciples. He who sustains the whole world was himself receiving sustenance.

Moreover, he was not satisfied with the great favor he showed his servants by sharing a meal with them. Peter, Matthew, and Philip, men of the earth, reclined with him, while Michael, Gabriel, and the whole army of angels stood by. Oh, the wonder of it! The angels stood by in awe, while the disciples reclined with him with the utmost familiarity!

And even this marvel did not content him. He rose from the table, as Scripture says. He who is clothed in light as in a robe was clad in a cloak; he who wraps the heavens in clouds wrapped round himself a towel; he who pours the water into the rivers and pools tipped some water into a basin. And he before whom every knee bends in heaven and on earth and under the earth, knelt to wash the feet of his disciples.

The Lord of all creation washed his disciples’ feet! This was not an affront to his dignity, but a demonstration of his boundless love for us. Yet however great his love was, Peter was well aware of his majesty. Always impetuous and quick to profess his faith, he was quick also to recognize the truth.

The other disciples had let the Lord wash their feet, not with indifference, but with fear and trembling. They dared not oppose the Master. Out of reverence, however, Peter would not permit it. He said: Lord, are you going to wash my feet? You shall never wash my feet!

Peter was adamant. He had the right feelings, but not understanding the full meaning of the incarnation, he first refused in a spirit of faith, and afterward gratefully obeyed.

This is how religious people ought to behave. They should not be obdurate in their decisions, but should surrender to the will of God. For although Peter reasoned in human fashion, he changed his mind out of love for God.
(Homily on the Washing of the Feet
in A. Wenger, Revue des Etudes Byzantines, 227-229)

Severian (c.400), bishop of Gabala in Syria, was a strong opponent of Saint John Chrysostom and took part in the intrigues that led to his condemnation by the Synod of Oak. According to Palladius he was also responsible for the transfer of the exiled Patriarch from Cucusus to Pityus. which resulted in his death. Severian is important as an exegete of the strict Antiochene school. He had some popularity as a preacher.

Journey with the Fathers
Commentaries on the Sunday Gospels
 - Year A, pp. 50-51.

Edith Barnecut, O.S.B., ed.
To purchase or learn more about
this published work and its companion volumes,
go to

short blue line
Art by Martin Erspamer, O.S.B. (formerly Steve Erspamer, S.M.)
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
Used by permission of Liturgy Training Publications. This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go to:

Ecce Homo - Jo,s Sojourn in Holy Land

Arch - Ecce Homo, Via Dolorosa, (the dark dome)
Church of the Condemnation & Imposition of the Cross - white domes (right)

Arch - Ecce Homo, Via DolorosaFrom: Donald ...
Subject: Fw: Holy Land 1st 2nd 3rd Chronicle
To: "Jo... "
Date: Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 20:06

Holy Thursday. Chapel of Repose. ...
Dear Jo,     
Thank you , keeping us to follow up with your Sabbatical Holy Land travels.
I am thrilled to trace your pathway remebering the loved for holy places.
You are not distracted by the usual IT technology, 
Chapel of Repose, Nunraw Abbey
In fact it is possible now to download pictures from everywhere.
Let me check, if easily 
Your .....

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Jo ...
Sent: Monday, 11 March 2013, 13:20
Subject: Holy Land
Dear N... and all,
                  Peace from Jerusalem!
Having had a wonderful first week here in Jerusalem, I am repacking my cases to move to Ecce Homo tomorrow afternoon. My good angel, Sr. Emmanuella,and I have managed to see a lot of the holy sites in the Old City and I begin to know my way around.  
On Sunday, I went alone to the 8.30am Laudes and Solemn High Mass at the Holy Sepulchre which was a lovely experience but hard to describe in a few words! The Coptics and others were worshipping nearby so it was "pandemonium" but,after a while,the voices seemed to blend and it became more like singing in tongues.Praise the Lord!
Entry of  Holy Sepulchre   
The 4 Srs.from Bethlehem made a quick visit here yesterday and invited me to stay with them sometime. Sr. Maria G. sends her love to the Srs.she knows.
Christina got through to me on Skype this morning and I heard her speak a few sentences.However, we could not see each other and my speech was jumbled and we were soon cut off - the usual story!!
I hope that all keep well and have a truly blessed Easter. I will try to keep in touch from Ecce Homo.
Much love to each and all,
Jo.  ...

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Jo ...
Sent: Sunday, 17 March 2013, 16:21
Ecce Homo-15th,16th
Dear N... and all,
Today the site is a museum that teaches about the history of Jerusalem's Old City.These are some of the largest fortifications in Jerusalem and the tower itself is higher than the Temple Mount.   
What have we been up to these last few days?

Friday 15th:  8.30 am saw us off to David's Citadel and up, many many steps, we went to the top ramparts from which we had a spectacular view of the whole of the Old City. The young guide pointed out all the important holy places and explained the history and geography of Jerusalem as we made our way down the different floors and studied the various exhibits. Very interesting!
In the afternoon, it was back to the classroom for the next two lectures on the Book of
Exodus. It was good to sit down and rest the weary legs and enjoy Fr. Walter who has a good sense of humour!
Jewish families invite us to join them for their "Shabbat Meal" on Friday evenings.This is an arrangement by an organization promoting Jewish and christian friendship. Heinz, an Australian religious teacher, and I set off by taxi for our host family- an elderly couple and son whose warm welcome made us immediately feel at home.I had felt a bit apprehensive
but there was no need! After chatting for a while the husband explained what they usually do and then proceeded to read from Proverbs on" the virtuous woman" in appreciation of his wife. Before the meal, they sang a long prayer, a bit longer than our usual Grace!! We drank some wine and then had a delicious meal served by the woman and helped by her husband. It was all very natural and relaxed with plenty of conversation about our lives,Judaism, etc. They sang a long prayer at the end followed by Psalm 126 and Heinz and I read the same psalm in English from his i pod. Mobile phones can be very useful!!!
It really was a delightful experience! May God bless them.
Sat. 16th ; This was a sit-down day as we had two lectures (1 hour each) in the morning and the afternoon. However, at 6 pm, we walked over to the Western (Wailing) Wall for the end of the Jewish Sabbath. It is always uplifting to see so many people praying with such earnestness. It is another story at 4.15am when the Muslims blare out their call to prayer!!
The others tell me about it but I have yet to hear it !!!
God bless and much love to all,

 Ecce Homo Scripture Course, year of 2003/4 Donald (Scot), Emma (Philippines), Auxilia (India), members in class.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Jo ...
Sent: Wednesday, 27 March 2013, 18:37
Subject: Ecce Homo cont.

Dear N... and all,
It's Wed. of holy week and already we are practising singing,etc. for the ceremonies.
March 19th....We started the day with two interesting lectures on PASSOVER JUDAISM
                    by a Jewish lady and at 11.30 we departed for BETHLEHEM.

Our first stop was
THE SHEPHERD'S FIELD. In this Franciscan enclosure is a large cave and above it is a small chapel in the shape of a star. At one side is an alcove where animals would be kept in winter and in such would Jesus have been born. 
Our second stop was The CHURCH of the NATIVITY, after a picnic lunch in Manger Sq.
We entered the very low door and found a large queue waiting to visit the Grotto which is revered as the birth place of Jesus marked by a large star which pilgrims kiss.We finally got down the stairs only to find a guide rushing the pilgrims through so they had no time to pray!! When we got to the bottom step, he suddenly stopped us and a few minutes later an orthodox priest came through to incense the grotto! Then the guide started rushing us through again! I am very glad that I am going back again but it was disappointing for the others.

After a time for shopping, our bus took us to
Chapel of the Divine Child
BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY (run by the De la Salle Brs) where we had a grand tour, watched a video about the university,admired their beautiful Chapel and then had a discussion with several of the Palestian students. They were lovely young people and they shared with us their difficulties and hopes. We were surprised to hear that 76% of the students are girls.
Wed. 20th.....In the morning, we had three further lectures on "EXODUS" and in the afternoon on "JEWISH CHRISTIAN RELATIONS TODAY"  from
In the evening, there was another excursion through another famous tunnel but I decided to give it a miss and rest.  Obama arrived so roads were blocked off and traffic disrupted for a few days.
That is all for now. Have a WONDERFUL EASTER!
Much love and union in prayer,

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Maundy Thursday 28 March 2013 Evening of the Lord's Supper

Priestly Life in Christ (Magnificat com Meditation of the Day)

I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me. I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is Risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me to go forward with certainty. May this help us to go forward, and at this moment I wholeheartedly thank all those who have continually helped me to perceive the “yes” of God through their faith.

The Altar of the Chair in the Vatican Basilica
, 4 November 2011
 Priestly Life in Christ

There are certain conditions to ensure growing harmony in priestly life with Christ. I would like to emphasize three of these, which emerge from the Reading that we have just heard: aspiration to work with Jesus in spreading in the Kingdom of God, pastoral duty freely given and the attitude of service.  

First, in the call to the priestly ministry we meet Jesus and are drawn to him, struck by his words, his actions, and his person. It is to have the grace to distinguish his voice from so many other voices and to respond like Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69). It is like being touched by the radiance of Goodness and Love that shines from him, feeling enfolded and involved to the point of wishing to stay with him like the two disciples of Emmaus — “Stay with us, for it is toward evening” (Lk 24:29) and to proclaim the Gospel to the world. God the Father sent the Eternal Son into the world to bring about his plan of salvation. Jesus Christ established the Church so that it might extend in time the benefits of Redemption. The vocation of priests is rooted in the Father’s action realized in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Gospel minister is the one who lets himself be seized by Christ, who knows how to “stay” with him, who enters into harmony, into an intimate friendship with him, so that all is done “not by constraint but willingly” (1 Pet 5:2), according to his will of love, with great interior freedom and profound joy in the heart.

In the second place, we are called to be administrators of the Mysteries of God “not for shameful gain but eagerly”, St Peter says in the Reading of this evening’s Vespers (ibid.). One should never forget that one comes into the priesthood through the Sacrament of Orders and this means exactly opening oneself to the God’s action by choosing daily to give oneself up for God and for one’s brethren, according to the Gospel saying: “You received without pay, give without pay” (Mt 10:8). The Lord’s call to the ministry is not the fruit of special merit but a gift to be received and responded to by dedicating oneself not to one’s own plan but to God’s, in a generous and disinterested way, for he sends us out according to his will, even if this might not correspond to our idea of self-fulfilment. To love with him who loved us first and gave all of himself and to be open to allow oneself to become part of that act of full and total love for the Father and for every human being, fulfilled on Calvary. We must never forget — as priests — that the only legitimate ascent to the ministry of the pastor is not that of success, but of the Cross.

In this logic, being a priest means being a servant also through an exemplary life. Be “examples to the flock” is the Apostle Peter’s invitation (1 Pet 5:3). Priests are stewards of the means of salvation, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, not to dispense them according to their own will, but as humble servants for the good of the People of God. It is a life profoundly marked by this service: by care for the flock, by faithful celebration of the liturgy, and by ready concern for all brothers and sisters, especially for the poorest and most needy. In practising this “pastoral charity” modelled on Christ and with Christ, wherever the Lord may call you, every priest can completely fulfil himself and his vocation.

  + + + 


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

COMMENT: Mocking of Christ by Annibale Carracci



Reading Selections from The Humiliated Hero by Elizabeth Lev

May 17, 2011
Annibale Carracci's 1603 oil painting of the Mocking of Christ

Elizabeth Lev is an American-born art historian who lives and works in Rome. She teaches Art History at Duquesne University’s Italian campus and also is on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies program in Rome. Her first biography, The Tigress of Forli: The Remarkable Story of Caterina Riario Sforza, is coming out this year from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.

Humility But Not HumiliationWe all like our heroes to be humble, but humiliated is another matter. Superman can lose his powers, Batman can take a beating, but even the most die-hard fans balk at seeing their idols ridiculed rather than respected. The same holds true with the Passion of Christ. The history of art has meticulously explored every moment of Christ’s Passion, with particular emphasis on the Last Supper, the Betrayal by Judas and the Crucifixion. Yet other passages describing Christ’s suffering, for example the Mocking of the Christ, have been eschewed by most artists and patrons although the episode is mentioned in all four of the Gospels.
. . .
. . .
Sixteenth Century Catholic RomeBut while sixteenth century Catholic Rome understood the value of one’s good name, artists such as Annibale Carracci, Orazio Gentilleschi and Domenico Zampieri invited the faithful to transcend their desire for worldly recognition in search of Heavenly favor. Their meditations on the Mockery of Christ yielded profoundly searching images designed both to disturb and inspire their viewers. Annibale Carracci’s 1603 oil painting of the Mocking of Christ stands out for its intensity and intimacy as only three faces are represented, unlike the throngs that usually encircle Christ. His tormentors remain in shadow as one affixes the crown of thorns to Christ’s head while wagging a finger under His nose. The other man stands behind Christ, his helmet glinting in the darkness as he summons the other soldiers to watch.

Christ’s head is at the heart of the canvas, not tall and majestic, but bent low towards the soldier. Jesus responds to the accusatory finger by lifting His bound hands towards the man in a gesture of friendship and brotherhood. Christ’s face, blood spattered and exhausted, nonetheless glows with a warm radiance. He responds to the taunts with an expression of such love that the viewer is taken aback on witnessing this astonishing example of charity.

If the figures could speak, one imagines that the soldier leaning towards Christ would be spitting and laughing as he hailed the “King of the Jews,” while at the same time Jesus, weakly clasping his persecutor’s shoulder, would whisper “I am doing this for you because I love you.” Annibale’s version of the Mocking of Christ is more than a realistic narrative; it is a call to greatness of spirit.

The Modern AgeThe images of the mockery again receded in the modern age, as man’s dominion over the earth progressed by leaps and bounds. Even in Mel Gibson’s meticulously rendered “Passion of the Christ,” where the viewer is not spared a single second of Christ’s physical torture, relatively little time is dedicated to deriding Christ. The tone of the movie emphasizes the heroic-that Jesus could stop the events at any time but doesn’t, and the determination of Christ as He carries the cross to Cavalry. It is always clear that it is Jesus’ free choice to be at the mercy of the crowds. The pathetic, ridiculed Jesus, dejected and forlorn, is difficult to hold in our heroic imagination.
But perhaps it is in this modern age, the era of man who splits atoms, clones living beings and walks on the moon, that the example of the all-powerful Christ, who embraced the humiliation of jeers, taunts and slaps is the most needed to overcome our pride and our fear of rebuke, calumny and scorn. In times of testing, we may hope that recollection of the humiliated Christ will enable us to say with Paul, “Therefore I am content with weakness, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Holy Week. Christ; the weight of human sin is far more difficult to bear than the physical torture of the soldiers.

MAGNIFICAT Holy Week 2013-03-26. 
The Art Essay of the Month

Mocking of Christ ("1596),
Annibale Carracci (1560-1609),
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna, Italy.
ROME granted Annibale Carracci's Mocking of Christ a singular honour, previously bestowed only on Raphael. This painting crowned Carracci's catafalque during his 1609 funeral at the Pantheon, just as Raphael's Transfiguration had graced his coffin in the same church a century earlier.
Unlike Raphael's monumental altarpiece, the Mocking of Christ was a smaller, more intimate work, meant for personal devotion. The commission had come from Annibale's most important patron, Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, scion of the family that had produced Pope Paul III. Never intended to embellish one of the numerous chapels endowed by the Farnese, it graced the private quarters of the cardinal's palace.
Three figures occupy the canvas expanse. Christ dominates the scene, his head and shoulders filling the centre; one soldier reaches from the lower right corner to place a crown of thorns upon his brow, while another, immersed in shadows, turns, perhaps to call his comrades. The frame encloses only the heads and shoulders, focusing our attention tightly. We find ourselves standing, perhaps uncomfortably, at the heart of the action.
The Gospels describe how Pilate ordered the scourging of Christ before handing him over to be crucified. After the flagellation, the Roman soldiers laid a purple mantle over his soldiers, thrust a reed in his hands, and fashioned a crown of thorns which they pushed on his head, while mocking him with salutes and bows as King of the Jews..
In Carracci's scene, the battalion of sol­diers is reduced to two, but in this close-up the viewer perceives Jesus' pain more intensely. No longer are we bystanders watching from a safe distance, as in Renaissance frescoes. Annibale thrusts us to the forefront. One might easily imagine oneself as one of the soldiers in the realisation of how our own sinfulness makes a mockery of Christ's great love for us.

Annibale's brush erases the welts from the scourge, leaving pristine the flesh of Christ. Only his face reveals his suffering; Christ appears exhausted, as if the weight of human sin is far more difficult to bear than the physical torture of the soldiers.
Carracci did not ignore the written Scriptures lightly. As one of the preferred painters of Counter Reformation patrons, he was keenly aware of how the Church prized fidelity to the Gospels in art. As a Christian and a proponent of artistic naturalism, Carracci's decision to omit the blood shed by Christ and the lacerations of his flesh carried deeper meaning.
Carracci was the forerunner of a new breed of artist, one who would be able to flank theologians and preachers in trying to render the Gospel more vivid and personal to a pub­lic rocked by the Protestant Reformation. One of Annibale Carraccci's closest advisors was Archbishop Giovanni Battista Agucchi, member of the innermost court of Pope Clement VIII. This pope, who had led the Church into the Jubilee year of 1600, fervently believed that art and beauty could inspire the faithful to spiritual greatness. Archbishop Agucchi, consulting with Carracci and his circle, wrote a treatise on beauty and art to guide future generations of painters to use their talents for evangelisation.

 Carracci's Christ radiates beauty. He is luminous while his tormentors are swarthy, his hair curls softly around his shoulders, and his fingers are long and elegant. The red mantle cascading from his shoulders evokes his mortal flesh and his human blood shed for us.
The gnarled fist that presses the crown on Christ's head forms a dramatic contrast with his graceful hands bound by the Roman rope.
Christ's serene beauty draws us to him.
We gaze easily upon his fair features and are all the more outraged to see the soldiers mar his noble face with their rough hands and vicious thorns. He is surrounded by ugliness, cruelty, and ignorance, but the reality of their brutality cannot outshine the beauty of his truth.
Cardinal Ratzinger, addressing a meeting in Rimini in 2002, spoke of beauty and truth in terms that seem intended for Annibale's painting.
"In the Passion of Christ," he said, "the experi­ence of the beautiful has received new depth and new realism. The One who is Beauty itself permitted himself to be slapped in the face, spat upon, crowned with thorns."
The most powerful aspect of Carracci's painting, however, is Christ's expression. Head bowed with weariness, eyes heavy with pain, Jesus nonetheless confronts his aggressor. His face bears neither defiance nor rancour, but profound compassion. From the depths of his suffering, Christ understands the human condition even better. His hands, bound by his captors, do not struggle to break free or remove the crown from his head, but reach out, even at this extreme moment, to draw another soul to himself. Annibale painted the ultimate form of self-giving, il­lustrating the words of John the Evangelist, "now he showed how perfect his love was" (Jn 13:1).
Annibale left a vacant space between Christ and his persecutor, meant to be filled by the viewer. As we stand before it, the outstretched hand of Christ reaches for us, whose sins are like the thorns pressing into his flesh, to call us out of our darkness and into his light.
Elizabeth Lev Writer and professor of art history in Rome, Italy.
To view this masterpiece in greater detail, visit: