The Road not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Touch Wood‘Touch wood’ is a saying which has remained very popular down through the ages. It goes back to the Middle Ages and originated, of course, from the practice of touching the wood of the Cross, the most prized relic of all.
Many a Catholic would venerate a relic of the Cross before beginning a journey or undertaking a hazardous task or whenever they encountered a severe danger such as the plague. If they couldn’t touch an actual relic of the Cross then any small crucifix would do, such as those attached to a rosary which many people would carry with them.
Today most people are satisfied with touching any piece wood as a substitute and, being ignorant of its spiritual origins, they regard it as a superstition which might help them to avoid something bad happening.
There is another tradition that the wood of the Cross came from the aspen tree, and it is said that this explains why the aspen always trembles.
A Prayer for the Thirteenth Sunday
in Ordinary Time
your incarnate Word commands our obedience
and offers us true life.
Make our hearts attentive
to the voice of your Son
and our hearts generous in answering his call,
that we may take up the cross
with trust in its promises.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Saint Oliver Plunkett
Born in County Meath, Ireland in 1629, Oliver Plunket studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained there in 1654. After some years of teaching and service to the poor of Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland. Four years later, in 1673, a new wave of anti-Catholic persecution began, forcing Archbishop Plunkett to undertake his pastoral work in secrecy and to live in hiding. Meanwhile, many of his priests were sent into exile, schools were closed, Church services had to be held covertly, and convents and seminaries were suppressed. As Archbishop, Plunkett was viewed as ultimately responsible for any rebellion or political activity among his parishioners.
Archbishop Plunkett was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679. Since it was unlikely that he would have been convicted in Ireland his trial was moved to London. After deliberating for fifteen minutes, a jury found him guilty of fomenting revolt. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered in July 1681, the last Catholic martyr to die in England. Pope Paul VI canonized Oliver Plunkett in 1975. His body lies in Downside Abbey, his head in Drogheda.
The feast of Corpus Christi links us with our recent parish celebration of First Holy Communion. Such events are powerful visual reminders of how we pass on our faith – our legacy of belief – from one generation to the next.
We are also we are reminded of the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle whom we can approach in prayer. We recall too that the Eucharist is taken to the sick at home, or given to the dying as Viaticum, or food for the last journey.
However, we too are a kind of Real Presence as we try to witness to the world by our way of life, being nourished in turn by the body and blood of the Lord.
A Prayer for Trinity Sunday
O God, your name is veiled in mystery,
yet we dare to call you Father;
your Son was begotten before all ages,
yet is born among us in time;
your Holy Spirit fills the whole creation,
yet is poured forth now into our hearts.
Because you have made us and loved us
and called us by name,
draw us more deeply into your divine life,
that we may glorify you rightly,
through your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
The Holy Spirit
It is a cliché in Catholic circles that the Holy Spirit is the neglected Person of the Blessed Trinity. While the Council of Nicaea promulgated formulas for the Father and the Son, it merely stated belief in the existence of the Holy Spirit. More details would be added at future Ecumenical Councils, as the Creed we recite on a Sunday demonstrates, but nevertheless the Spirit retains an element of mystery and ineffability. However, we realise that the Holy Spirit absolutely is essential to the Christian life which is grounded and built upon grace. We understand that the Holy Spirit is at the very centre of the Sacraments, the Magisterium and in the hearts of each individual Baptised person. Through the Spirit we are united to the Mystical Body of Christ and made sons and daughters of God the Father.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises us a new Advocate who will counsel and advise us. The Holy Spirit will continue to make Jesus’ teaching present in the world and in each individual heart until the end of time. Also, each of us has a conscience that is bound up with the Holy Spirit. How we engage with our Faith will inform our conscience but it is the same Spirit that guides all of us. It might be hard to capture the essence of the Spirit in a dogmatic formula but if we open our hearts and minds to it we can hear and know the Spirit. This will be beyond words but rooted in our very essence.
Father Francis Jordan
A phrase in today’s Gospel was considered very important by Father Francis Jordan, the founder of the Salvatorians: ‘Now this is eternal life, to know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ John 17:3.
It was a text he frequently meditated over and it became the centrepiece of the spirituality of our Order. The name Salvatorians is an abbreviation of our proper title: The Society of the Divine Saviour. And from this you can see that our spirituality is focused on Jesus Christ the Divine Saviour.
The important word in that phrase is ‘know’. Father Jordan wanted his new Society to focus on making the Divine Saviour known to as many people as possible in the world.
For this reason, one of his earliest tasks was to set up a printing press which disseminated magazines to the German speaking countries. Eventually we had a large printing house in Berlin which published among many other items the encyclical ‘Mit brennender Sorge’ (1937) in which Pius XI made clear his opposition to Nazism.
Moreover, Jordan wanted each member of his Society to use his or her talents to further this mission of making the Saviour known to the world which is one of the reasons that our Order is open to accepting the widest possible range of apostolates.
Father Alex SDS
We remember in our prayers the children of our parish
who are receiving their First Holy Communion this Sunday:
Emmanuel Aisagbonhi, Jeremy Aisagbonhi, Isabel Bowen, Esmée Dancey, Cora Molloy, Adam Poręba, Helena Radwan, Ioan Robinson, Gabrielle Rowland, Henry Smith, Johan Soby and Khienn Uzziah
The Burning Babe
Robert Southwell SJ
As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth he, “but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.”
With this he vanish’d out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
On Friday we had a very interesting talk by Duncan McGibbon on the poet and martyr St Robert Southwell.
Father Alex McAllister SDS