Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Timetable for Easter Ceremonies

William Blake, Angels Rolling Away the Stone from the Sepulchre; Bible Art: Resurrection
William Blake, The Resurrection (1808)
Angel Rolling Away the Stone from the Sepulchre

Please click here to read our Newsletter giving (p.2) the timetable of the Easter Ceremonies.

Monday, April 3, 2017

World Meeting of Families 2018

Closing Mass for 50th Eucharistic Congress, Dublin 2012
 Sunday, 17th June 2012, Croke Park
View from Seating Area Allocated to Our Parishes
This morning we had a special collection to raise funds for the holding in Dublin next year of the 9th World Meeting of Families  In a letter dated 25th March to Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Archbishop Martin, the Pope addresses the Church in Ireland thus: 'My thoughts go in a special way to the archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event. May the Lord recompense you as of now, granting you abundant heavenly favours. May the Holy Family of Nazareth guide, accompany and bless your service, and all the families involved in the preparation of the great World Meeting in Dublin.' (For full text of the letter see J4 for 2.4. Incidentally, Cardinal Farrell is a man from Drimnagh: see his story here.)

The last big event of this kind was the Eucharistic Congress in June 2012. We all have our different and abiding memories of that summer.  Again, a huge amount of organization went into hosting the Congress, as will, no doubt, have to go into hosting the World Meeting of Families. Many of us can remember the Ireland of 1979 when Pope John Paul II came (to the Republic).  Before that, there was the 31st Eucharistic Congress of 1932. The series The Revolution Papers (No.1, 28 December 2015, devoted to the Easter Rising) has reached No.65 this week with an issue devoted to the Eucharistic Congress of 1932. The issue of the Irish Independent for Monday 27th June (reproduced in facsimile) makes for fascinating reading as it recounts in detail all the epic events of the preceding few days culminating in the Mass held in the Phoenix Park, followed by Benediction on O'Connell Bridge. (See the video here for film footage of the time.) The photo below is of Benediction on O'Connell Bridge. Reading the Independent or looking at the film footage of the time will prompt us to compare the Ireland of then to the Ireland of today as venues for major Catholic events. And so our focus turns to the next big such event in 2018, for which a promotional video can be viewed here.

Eucharistic Congress, Dublin 1932 : Benediction, O'Connell Bridge

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beannachtai Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Cover of an old prize-book,
St Patrick's College, Maynooth

The above is a very traditional representation of St Patrick. Every Sunday in St Mary's we gaze up at him in his bishop's robes in the stained-glass window above the altar, between St Brigid and St Colmcille. Next Friday is his day, then, and we (especially those called after him) will think of him in many different ways, each of us conjuring up our own images and associations. The fact that there are so many schools, colleges, hospitals (e.g. St Patrick's), streets (e.g. our own St Patrick's Crescent, Rathcoole) and even towns (e.g. Patrickswell) called after him shows just how deeply influenced Ireland has been by this British-born propagator of the faith who, back in Britain after six years' captivity in Ireland, heard as in a dream the haunting voice of the Irish calling him to come, this time voluntarily, and walk among them once more.

One lasting association for me. Many years ago, my wife and I found ourselves abroad (in London) on St Patrick's day. As it happened, evening drew on without our having done anything to mark the day, even (mea culpa, because of an all-day meeting for me) going to Mass. We decided to go to a production of Hamlet. It looked like the day was thus going to end on a Shakespearean note far removed from St Patrick and Ireland. The first act unrolls and scene five arrives. Hamlet sees his father's ghost and, after rejoining his friends, tries to conceal what has happened, while apologizing to Horatio for his mysteriousness. Horatio reassures him, saying, 'There's no offence, my lord' but Hamlet disagrees: 'Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio, / And much offence too.'  (The ghost has come from purgatory and the saint is invoked here because of his connection, known far and wide in medieval times, with St Patrick's Purgatory, Lough Derg, Co. Donegal.)

So, against all expectations and quite unintentionally, we did mark St Patrick's Day that year after all!

Please see the Newsletter 12.3 for times of Masses and details of the local parade.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feast of St Brigid / Lá Fhéile Bríde

St Brigid in East Window
Saggart Church
The above photo is not a very good one but will have to do until a better one can be found/supplied.  The feast-day of St Brigid prompts us to take a close look at this window that we know so well but never really dwell on.   Seeing it up close, however indistinctly (click to enlarge), we notice that the name is in Latin (S. Brigida). We also notice that she is bearing a branch of  oak leaves, symbolizing the Church of the Oak Tree (Cill Dara).  (Next year we will feature the fine window of St Brigid in Newcastle church.)

There is still a community of sisters in Kildare today, the convent of the Brigidine Sisters called Solas Bhríde.  Read about the community here and about how they are celebrating their founder's feast-day here. The life of the Brigidine convent and school in Mountrath which closed in 2009 is recalled in these photos.

Contrasting with the 19th century window in our parish church is the window in St Mary's, Ballinrobe, created by Harry Clarke in the following century, an account of which can be found here (not easy to read in parts, e.g. on the subject of the oak leaves). 

But what is surely one of the most spectacular (as we have to call it) visual portraits of St Brigid is to be seen in northern Italy, in the early 16th century chapel located in the grounds of the Villa Suardi in Bergamo. In 1524 the Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto depicted scenes from the life of St Brigid (as well as St Barbara) in frescoes that should -- in addition to our own homely portrait in Saggart, of course, -- really concentrate our minds on her feast-day. See here for a description of the wonderful frescoes, making sure to to click on the links at the bottom of the page for some really close-up views. (For a general account of the Villa Suardi in a fairly obvious English translation from the original Italian, see here.  Details of the St Brigid fresco are given in the 6th and 5th paragraphs from the end.)

Finally, back to our own excellent art/craft work in Saggart: 

St Brigid's Cross (work of Mervyn Ennis)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Belated New Year Wishes

Cover of an Old Writing Pad
click on photo to enlarge

     May God 

     look after us all in 2017   

     And may we 

     look after each other