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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

25 May AD 716 - 2016. 1300 years since St Duncan, Abbot of Iona.

Celtic Cross on St Columba's island of Iona.

St Duncan, Abbot of Iona, in Scotland.
St Duncan's name in Irish is St Dunchadh. (It means Brown (Dun) Noble, Chief or Warrior.

If the ancient Annals of Ulster and the Annals of the Four Masters are correct, today marks 1300 years since this holy man's soul took flight for heaven, leaving his exiled body in the monastery-island of Iona. It was 25 May, 716.

Duncan was a rich young man; well connected. 
His paternal grandfather was Moelcobh, King of Ireland. 

But Duncan heard Our Lord in the Holy Gospels saying...

"If thou wilt....Si vis... If you will

Duncan, if thou wilt be perfect go, 
sell what thou hast and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, 
and come follow me."

Si vis.... If thou wilt... follow Jesus perfectly... 

It would not be an easy choice. 

The Gospel records another young man who being struck at those words went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. But no! 

We rejoice today. 
All rich that he was, Duncan abandoned the world!
He made the perfect choice!
Guided by Jesus he chose for himself
the happiest of all happy options: 
the monastic and missionary life.

We rejoice today.
By God's grace Duncan joined St Columba's missionary-monastic order. 

First he lived in an Irish coastal monastery.  

After a time, he willed to embrace a holy exile for the love of Jesus by leaving his native country. St. Columba had done this. Thousands of other monks had done this same thing.

He had been thinking of going to live as a foreigner in Germany, but instead, it became clear in prayer that God willed him to cross the sea to the monastery island of Iona. He was soon made Abbot. Under his guidance the monks of Iona adopted the Roman calculation for Easter and the Roman Tonsure. Fishermen and seafarers invoked him for the protection of their boats and safety on the sea. He was a saint with the gift of miracles. As a man he was a Scripture scholar. His preaching was persuasive, eloquent and zealous.

We Rejoice that Religious life, 
opened by Jesus to all who will to embrace it
The happiest of all happy options.

Jesus said to him:
"Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, bear not false witness, do no fraud, honour thy father and mother. But he answering, said to him: Master, all these things I have observed from my youth.

And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: One thing is wanting unto thee: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 
Who being struck sad at that saying, went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looking round about, saith to his disciples: How hardly shall they that have riches, enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus again answering, saith to them: Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God? It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Who wondered the more, saying among themselves: Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking on them, saith: With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God. 

And Peter began to say unto him: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee.  

Jesus answering, said: Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, Who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting. (Mk. 10: 19-30)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Written in Her Heart

On Sunday, 8 May, 2016, 
the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer in Christchurch,
 New Zealand, had the joy of once more 
organising what would become the 
fifth annual Maryfest and Grand Procession
 in honour of Our Lady of Christchurch. 
The first procession took place in 2011,
after the terrible earthquake of 22 February that year, 
when the image of Our Lady
 which was standing in the (since collapsed) Cathedral tower
 was seen to have turned to face out towards the torn city;
reminiscent of the Salve Regina:
"Turn then, Most Gracious Advocate, 
thine eyes of mercy towards us."
Much work of preparation bears fruit 
in the rapid assembly of everything required 
in the church hall of the 
Christchurch parish of Our Lady of Victories.
Our Lady's bellringers await the moment 
when they will ring the glory or their Heavenly Queen.
This year a very beautiful crown was 
made painstakingly by the hand 
of a hidden servant of Our Lady 
and offered to her by 
the little cortege of the 
Crown Bearer, May Queen and Train Bearer.

The bier leaves the church borne by the sedarii
assisted by the ribboniers and flanked by the torch bearers.
Our Lady's flower girls and bell ringers go ahead 
strewing the ground with petals
 and ringing little bells.
The Mother of God represented as 
Our Lady of Christchurch is borne aloft 
through the streets 
wearing her silver tiara in preparation for the coronation.
As we process along Main South Road 
the Holy Rosary is played,
the band taking up the Gloria 
and interspersing the decades with 
a verse of the Fatima Ave.
A dozen garlanded banners add to the spleadour of the occasion.

The return to the Church of Our Lady of Victories.
This year for the first time, 
His Lordship Bishop Barry Jones
 was sadly absent, having passed away 
on 13 February this year.
In his stead
Very Rev. Fr Rick Loughnan, 
our Diocesan Administrator, 
consecrated the city and diocese once again to 
the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary 
and gave the Solemn Benediction
of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
As the fanfare resounded through the church...
....our May Queen crowns the image of the Queen of the May.
A miniature orchestra accompanies the congregation 
during the exposition of 
the Blessed Sacrament, 
playing "Jesus my Lord, my God, my All
and the "Tantum Ergo".
Unfortunately pictures cannot sufficiently capture the 
 moving witness of hundreds of souls from the Diocese 
kneeling, singing sweetly to this accompaniment 
in adoration of Our Eucharist Lord.
For the first time Our Blessed Lady 
was, this year, offered an antique votive heart
 enclosing the names of more than 1500 souls
 who had been enrolled
 from all around the diocese.
The very large number of sheets of names 
were gathered, printed in miniature 
and enclosed in the receptacle in the back of the heart
... literally "written in Our Lady's heart"... 
This was formally offered to Our Blessed Mother 
by our Very Rev. Diocesan Administrator.
This year the sedarii were 
captained by Mr Matthew Green 
and the men of our city,
 proud to serve under the banner of Heaven.
Surely another crown is to be found for 
Our Lady in the 
beautiful and innocent souls
 of the children of our Oratory
 pictured here after the procession  
with their chaperons.
They are truly "building Jerusalem" 
once more here in the South Pacific.
May she keep them always as the apple of her eye.
Our human eyes see perhaps
the beauty of the day,
but the wonder of a city placed under 
the mantle of our Heavenly Queen is far greater. 
Everything we saw was brought to
 the feet of their Queen
 by those who live in our city and its environs,
 a truly remarkable witness to their faith.
Our Lady of Christchurch,
turn always thine eyes of mercy towards us!

A large album of photographs may be found here: 

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