Thursday, 17 August 2023

Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ


The following sermon relates to the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew Ch.17 v. 1-9), which this year was celebrated on the 6th August.


 'The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ'

                                    -  Giovanni Bellini c1490.

 “Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ

on Mount Tabor, which is near the town of Nazareth, between the

Mediterranean Sea and the Lake of Gennesaret.

 It is interesting to see that Our Lord transfigured on a mountain

and in a solitary place, and in the presence of His three Apostles.

 In a spiritual way, we can understand from this that divine favours

are especially for those who, by their virtues, raise themselves above

all earthly things; who retire into solitude, and flee from the distractions and 

from the cares of the world.

Now St. Peter represents those who are steadfast in their faith;

St. James those who control their passions;

and St. John the chaste and pure.

So one could imagine that Jesus selected these three apostles to enjoy so great a privilege in order that we might hope to receive His special favours if we are firm in our faith like St. Peter; if we overcome our passions like St. James; and if we are pure in mind and body like St. John.

Jesus showed Himself in His glory which was of course normal for Him, but which during the rest of His Life, was hidden by His Humanity; and in this way He proved His Divinity.

He did so to strengthen these Apostles and to sustain their faith when they would later  see Him in humiliation and in suffering.

Also, He wanted by His Transfiguration, to encourage them and all future Christians, to suffer voluntarily the trials of the apostleship and of observing the law, by letting them see a glimpse of that consolation which they would enjoy in the vision of God in Heaven.

But why did He cause ‘Moses and Elias’ to appear?

Moses was the promulgator of the Law which God gave him on Mount Sinai; and Elias was considered by all as the Prince of the Prophets.

The Mosaic law prepared the way for the promised Messiah, and all the sacrifices prescribed by the Old Law were only figures of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

All the predictions of the prophets pointed to Jesus Christ, and so we see why Our Lord caused Moses and Elias, and not others, to appear.

Then we see that St. Peter was so affected by the magnificence of the vision, and the joy of soul, that he desired nothing more, and thought it good to remain there forever.

And that was the effect of only a single ray of the glory of Christ on earth!

If that already could cause such profound emotions in St. Peter, what will our joy be when at the resurrection we shall arise immortal and see God in the fulness of His Majesty, sitting at the right hand of His Father amid the splendour of the saints?

The bright cloud during the Transfiguration, manifested the most Blessed Trinity, just as in the Baptism of Christ.

The Eternal Father spoke there; the Divine Word was present in the person of Christ; and the Holy Ghost appeared in the semblance of a ‘bright cloud’, as He appeared in the form of a ‘dove’ at the baptism of Christ.

While Jesus was transfigured, a voice came from a bright cloud which was the voice of the Eternal Father; for He alone could say, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.”

 St. Leo the Great  says that by these words, the Eternal Father wished to proclaim to the whole world:-

          ‘This is My beloved Son,

                   not adopted, but My own,

                   not created, but generated;

          this is My Son, by Whom all things were made,

          in Him, I am well pleased.

                   Whose words, bear witness of Me,

                   Whose humility, glorifies Me.

                   Hear ye Him, because He is the Truth, and the Way.

                   He is my wisdom, He, Who was foretold by the prophets,

                   And Who redeemed the world by His blood.

          He opens the way to heaven

                   And by His Cross gives us the means

                   To enter the kingdom of heaven.’


          One can wonder why Our Redeemer forbade the apostles

          to speak of what they had seen until after His resurrection?

    St Jerome says that this event was ‘so great and wonderful

          That nobody would have believed it, and one

                   Would have been scandalised at seeing

                   Our Lord so utterly humiliated in the time

                   of His Passion after having manifested such

                             great power and glory'.


The proper time then to publish such a wonderful event

was after the Resurrection, for then those who saw Him

raised from the dead could have no difficulty in

acknowledging Him to be the true God, and able to

          transfigure Himself as He did, on Mount Tabor.

 Then, to witness that glorious vision was a special privilege

          granted to the three apostles alone, and Our Lord

          forbade them to speak of it, probably that they might

          learn to hide from others the special favours they had

                   received, in order not to expose themselves

                   to vainglory, and perhaps to the envy of others.

 From this we can learn not to noise abroad the

special graces we receive, to avoid that we become vain.

 When God grants us favours let us be thankful for them,

          And correspond with them as well as we can,

                   so that we save our soul

                             and the souls of others. Amen.

                                (Ack. Anonymous).

Sunday, 18 June 2023

Pentecost - the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost


In or about 1953 I acquired a new copy of the ‘Saint Andrew Daily Missal with Vespers for Sundays and Feasts’, by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre O.S.B. of the Abbey of St Andre, near Bruges, Belgium, and published in 1952. I still have this Missal, re-covered a few years ago, and in good, readable condition. I must admit that there are parts of the Missal which I have rarely if ever read, although as the years go by I use the Missal more than in earlier years, and I discover information and gems of spiritual wisdom of which I was previously unaware. Such was the case during the octave of Pentecost this year, when I learnt of the dedication of each day to a specific Gift of the Holy Ghost, of which there are seven in number. In my Saint Andrew Missal, there is an introduction to the specific Gift allocated to each day, which by the end of the week has the effect of cementing and unifying the essence and spirituality of the great Feast of Pentecost. I reproduce these short introductory articles, which I hope you find as interesting as I do.

                               Pentecost - French 15th century. Condee Museum. Chantilly.

Vigil of Pentecost

Station at St John Lateran

          The First Mass for Pentecost, formerly celebrated during the night, has, like that of Easter, since been anticipated. This great and solemn festival, therefore, begins with the vigil. In early days the catechumens whom it had not been possible to baptise at Easter received this Sacrament at Pentecost, which exclaims the similarities between the Mass for the Vigil and that for Holy Saturday. It is preceded by the readings of six Prophecies and the blessing of the water in the Baptismal Font, and it is also celebrated at St John Lateran.

                        THE PROPHECIES

            The celebrant and assistant ministers are robed in violet vestments, and the candles on the altar are not lighted until the beginning of Mass, as on Holy Saturday.  At the end of the Prophecies the Collect is read, but ‘flectamus genua’ is omitted.



‘The "Gift of Wisdom" is an illumination of the Holy Ghost, thanks to which our intellect is able to look at revealed truths in their more sublime light, to the greater joy of our souls.’

            Our Lord laid the foundations of His Church during His public life, and after His resurrection He gave it the powers necessary for its mission. It was by the Holy Ghost that the apostles were to be trained and endued with strength from on High. “At Pentecost we celebrate the first manifestation of the Holy Ghost among Our Lord’s disciples and the foundation of the Church itself.” Hence the choice of the Basilica dedicated to St. Peter for today’s Station.

            We read in the Gospel that our Lord foretold the coming of the Paraclete to His disciples, and the Epistle shows us the realization of that promise.

            It was at the third hour of the day (Terce, nine o’clock a.m.) that the Spirit of God descended upon the Cenacle and a mighty wind which blew suddenly upon the house, together with the appearance of tongues of fire within, were the wonderful tokens of His coming. Taught by the “light of Thy Holy Spirit” (Collect) and filled by the gifts of the same Spirit poured out upon them (Sequence), the apostles became new men to go forth and renew the whole world (Introit). It is at High Mass, at the third hour, that we also receive the Holy Spirit, whom our Lord “going up above all the heavens, on this day sent down …. on the children of adoption” (Preface); for each of the mysteries of the cycle brings forth its fruits of grace in our souls on the day which the Church keeps as its anniversary.

            During Advent we raised to the Incarnate Word the cry: “Come Lord and purge the sins of Thy people”; at this season let us, with the Church, say to the Holy Ghost, “Come, O Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love” (Alleluia).

            Of all ejaculatory prayers this is the most beautiful and necessary, for from the Holy Ghost, that “sweet Guest of our soul”, flows all our supernatural life.

            Every parish priest celebrates Mass for the people of his parish.


Monday after Pentecost.

‘The “Gift of Understanding” enlightens us by shedding a clear, searching and extraordinary light on the meaning of revealed truth, and by giving us a certitude that what God has revealed bears such and such a sense and no other.’

            The Church extends the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles over eight days. In the Epistle we see the Head of the Church (in whose church the Station is held), giving testimony to Jesus Christ before the Jews and the Gentiles. “Whosoever believeth in Me shall not perish,” said Our Lord, “for God sent His Son that the world may be saved by Him” (Gospel).  And as St Peter says, “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins through His name.” All men without exception, are called to believe in Jesus Christ, to be baptised in His Name, to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in which the Holy Ghost is given, and the Eucharist where our Divine Redeemer feeds souls with the finest of heavenly wheat. May Jesus and the Holy Ghost, of whom we have received testimony from the lips of Peter, head of the Church, defend us against our enemies and give us peace.


Tuesday after Pentecost.

‘The “Gift of Counsel” is a light given by the Holy Ghost, by means of which our practical intellect sees and judges rightly both what should be done in individual cases and the best means to do it.’

            The Church continues to address herself to the new-born children she has acquired through Baptism.  In former times she brought them together on this day in the Church of St Anastasia, where also was celebrated the Mass at dawn on Christmas Day.

            The Introit reminded them of the great blessing of their Christian calling.

            Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the power of the Holy Ghost had come down upon them and had purified their hearts (Collect), for “the Holy Ghost is Himself the remission of sins”.

            In the Sacrament of Confirmation, they had, like the Disciples of Samaria of old, been filled with the power of the Spirit (Epistle).

            In the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, they had eaten the Bread of Angels (Offertory).

            So, like faithful sheep of the divine Shepherd (Gospel), they entered the fold, that is the Church, by Him who is “the door” of the fold and hearkened always to the teaching of the Holy Ghost (Alleluia) imparted to them by the ministers of the Church.  Let us pray to God that our souls may be renewed in the Holy Ghost (Post communion).


Ember Wednesday after Pentecost

Station at S. Mary Major

‘The “Gift of Fortitude” is a permanent power which the Holy Ghost communicates to our will to assist us in overcoming the difficulties which might deter us in the practice of what is right.’

            The Ember Days always fall during the octave of Pentecost.  The Church then offers up to God the first fruits of the new season, and prays for the priests who, on the coming Saturday, are about to receive the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

            The Station on Ember Wednesday was always held at St Mary Major. It was at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, whom the Holy Ghost filled with His grace in the Cenacle, that the newly baptized gathered.  The Liturgy reminded them of the miracle of Pentecost (Lesson) and the marvels wrought by the Apostles, by which the number of those who believed in the Lord was greatly increased (Epistle).

            Moved by the Holy Ghost, the Catechumens also believed in Jesus: they turned to Him, and Jesus gave them to eat of the bread that would make them live for ever (Gospel).

            Let us implore the divine Consoler to enlighten us always more and more, and to place us in full possession of the truth (Collect).


Thursday after Pentecost

Station at St Laurence-without- the -Walls.

‘The “Gift of Knowledge” is a supernatural light of the Holy Ghost which shows us the credibility and acceptability of revealed truths, even for reasons which are based only on the order of creation.’

            The Station on this day takes place in the church dedicated to St Laurence the deacon, whose soul was so consumed with the fire of the Spirit of love that he scarcely felt the flames torturing his body.

            “When you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you,” Jesus said to His apostles, “you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.”

            The Mass of today tells us how Philip the deacon, filled with the Holy Ghost, preached the Gospel in Samaria, where he worked many miracles (Epistle).  And the Gospel reminds us of Christ, Who in conferring on His apostles the power of healing the sick, commanded them to preach everywhere the Kingdom of God.

            Filled with the Holy Ghost, the Apostles spoke the wonderful works of God” (Communion) and filled the whole earth with the marvellous operations of the Divine Spirit (Introit, Alleluia).

            And what the Church did in her earliest days she continues to do through the centuries during the festivities of Pentecost, when the light of the Holy Ghost illumines in a very special manner the souls of the faithful (Collect).

            Let us beseech God to grant us the gift of the Holy Ghost, that we may relish what is right and ever rejoice in His holy consolations (Collect).


Ember Friday after Pentecost

Station at the Church of the Twelve Apostles

‘The “Gift of Piety” awakens in our souls an inclination and readiness to glorify God as our Father and to have a filial confidence in Him.’

            The Station takes place in the Church of the Twelve Apostles, who were the embodiment of the early Church, of which the Holy Ghost was the soul.

            The bountiful harvest of the fruits of the earth which the Church now asks of God at the beginning of summer is emblematic of the wealth of spiritual blessings which the Holy Ghost lavishes on our souls in these days (Epistle). And it was for this reason that the Liturgy filled the mouths of the children newly born into the Church by Baptism with hymns in praise of God (Introit, Offertory) and of the Spirit of the Lord “so good and sweet within us” (Alleluia).

            The Gospel recounts the wonders that Jesus worked by the power of the Holy Ghost in healing the sick, and more particularly the man with the palsy, whose sins He remitted, at the same time that He restored him to health.

            The Church, built up by the Holy Ghost (Collect), follows in a very special way the example of the divine Master at this season, for at Pentecost she receives in abundance Him, who is the remission of all sins (Post communion for Tuesday), and she exercises the power given her by our Lord when He said to her in the person of the apostles:  “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them.”

            Let us beseech the Holy Ghost to help us in our weakness (Post communion) by protecting us against the attacks of our enemies (Collect).


Ember Saturday after Pentecost

Station at St Peter’s

‘The “Gift of Holy Fear” or the “Fear of God”, is actually the foundation of all other gifts. It drives sin from the heart, because it fills us with reverence either for the Justice of God or for the divine Majesty.’

            After swelling the ranks of her children during the night of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost today is about to supply the Church with the priests who are to be her ministers of grace all over the world, for He will pour out His Spirit upon her servants, as Joel prophesied He would upon the apostles (First Lesson). Very appropriately therefore, the church appointed for the Station this day is the basilica of St Peter, the pastor of the fold, and the Gospel tells of a cure worked by Jesus in the house of Simon.

            The priest, as the minister of Christ, devotes himself to the healing of souls consumed by the fever of sinful passions.

            As it has already been pointed out, the Mass on the Saturday in Ember Weeks has five Lessons with Collect and Tract between the Introit and the Epistle.  The fifth Lesson never varies:  it is the record of the miraculous preservation of the three young Hebrew men in the furnace, followed by an extract from their canticle of praise and thanksgiving.  The Collect of the Mass is based upon this Lesson and beseeches the divine goodness that we may not be consumed by the flame of vice.

            In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest receives a large outpouring of the divine Spirit (Epistle) that will enable him to preach the kingdom of God (Gospel).

            The Second, Third and Fourth Lessons refer to the harvest, and to the offerings of the first fruits of the earth, for Ember Weeks were instituted with the object of obtaining the divine blessing on each of the several seasons as they came in.

            Having entered the promised land, the Israelites offered its first fruits to God.

            Let us, having entered the Church by baptism, offer to almighty God the first fruits of all that we do, through the supernatural influx of the Holy Ghost into our souls.  Let us pray to God that He may increase our faith in Christ (Epistle and Gospel) and fill our hearts with His holy love (Epistle).




As a matter of interest, my Missal has the following introduction by Arthur Cardinal  Hinsley,  signed ‘Arthur +, Archbishop of Westminster’ and dated January 25th 1937. Feast of the Conversion of St Paul:-

“A re-issue of the Daily Missal is a welcome sign of the renewal of liturgical piety among Catholics.

The Church is calling all her children to a deeper understanding of her sacred liturgy.  It is her wish that all the Catholic people should take an active part in the sublime sacrifice of the Mass, joining together with heart, mind, and voice in the corporate prayer of the Church.

            May the unity of Catholics in offering the Mass, the central act of our religion, inspire us to a holier life, and to a restoration in human affairs of the rule of Christian charity and social justice.

            The Daily Missal, which besides the Ordinary and the Proper of the Mass throughout the year, includes the liturgical offices of Prime, Vespers and Compline, should be of assistance to those who wish to pray with the Church.

            It is my earnest desire that those who use this Missal may find in the liturgy the road to sanctification and the love of Christ."



                                           Cardinal Arthur Hinsley  (1865-1943)                                                                                              (portrait from biography cover)






Thursday, 4 May 2023

'The Litany of Intercession for England' - Bishop Challoner


                                Our Lady of Walsingham 

                        Quidenham Carmelite Monastery, UK.

We are now in the month of May, traditionally regarded in the Catholic Church as the month especially devoted to the honour of Mary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

Prior to the Reformation, England was known as the Dowry of Mary, with many shrines, monasteries and convents, spread throughout the land, many of which were dedicated to Our Lady and many of which were subject to pilgrimages from far and wide.

Sadly in England today the scene has changed, with relatively few active monasteries and convents, and just a few centres of Catholic pilgrimage, among which Walsingham, Launceston, and Aylesford, come immediately to mind.  Nevertheless, there is still great devotion to Our Lady, evidenced by the widespread devotion to the recitation of the rosary.

This post reproduces a litany of which I was totally ignorant, and which is taken from ‘The Garden of the Soul’ prayer book, originally written by Bishop Challoner, revised by Rev Edward Price, with Imprimatur ‘N. Card Wiseman’, and signed and dated by donor, Isabella -----, 17th July 1860.

As the Coronation of King Charles 3rd will be taking place in a few days, it seems particularly appropriate in these anxious and uncertain days, to offer this ‘Litany of Intercession for England', that Almighty God will hear our prayers, and that England will return to God and to the one, true  Church founded by Christ, the Roman Catholic Church. 

‘The Litany of Intercession for England’

'Remember not, O Lord, our offences, nor those of our parents; and take not revenge of our sins.'

Lord, have mercy on us.                  Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.               Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.                 Lord, have mercy on us.


Jesus, receive our prayers.             Lord Jesus, receive our petitions.


O God the Father, Creator of the world,        Have mercy on England.

O God the Son, Redeemer of mankind,                                   

O God the Holy Ghost, Perfector of the elect,                         

O Sacred Trinity, three Persons and one God,                             


Holy Mary, Mother of God,                                Pray for England

Holy Mary, Queen of Angels, whose powerful

                         intercession destroyeth all heresies,              

Holy Mary, Virgin of virgins, whose eminent sanctity            "                                 

                    Our Lord has honoured with so many miracles.

St Michael, Prince of the Church,                                            

St Gabriel, glorious messenger of our Saviour’s incarnation,  "

St Raphael, faithful guide of those who have lost their way,   

Holy Angel, to whose custody this province is committed,      "

All ye holy angels and blessed spirits of heaven who

                   celebrate with joy the conversion of sinners,         

St John, Baptist, precursor of the Messias,                               "

                   and great example of penance,

All ye holy patriarchs and prophets, friends of God,                

                  and advancers of His truth,

St Peter, prince of the apostles, and supreme pastor

                  of Christ’s sheep,                                                     "    

St Paul, doctor of the Gentiles, who, of a persecutor,

                 became a preacher,                                                    "

St Andrew, first disciple of Christ, and constant                                             

                 lover of the cross,                                                      "   

All ye holy apostles and evangelists, chief planters

                of the Christian faith, and zealous maintainers             

                of Catholic union,

St George, our principal patron,                                                  "

St Alban, our first Martyr,                                                          

St Thomas of Canterbury, who, as a faithful shepherd,

                laidst down thy life in defence of the Church,            

All ye holy martyrs of this nation, who voluntarily

               lost your lives here to find them in a joyful eternity,    

St Gregory, most vigilant bishop of the universal church,

              whose pious zeal sent missioners from Rome              

              for the conversion of our ancestors,

St Augustin, apostle of this nation, by whom our

         forefathers were reclaimed from paganism and infidelity, 

St Bede, most venerable confessor, by whose religious life

and learned writings the Catholic faith was                     "

eminently propagated amongst us,

All ye holy bishops and confessors, by whose wisdom and        

            sanctity this island was once a flourishing

           seminary of religion,

St Helen, most holy queen and mother of the first                       

          Christian emperor,

St Ursula, most blessed martyr, who diedst in the glorious

          defence of faith and chastity,                                              

St Winifride, most admirable virgin, even in this unbelieving

         generation still miraculous,                                                  "

All ye holy saints of this nation, who, amidst the                                            

         innumerable joys of heaven, still retain a particular           "

         charity for the salvation of your country,

All ye holy saints of all places, who, though divided here in

         several regions, were yet united in the same faith,              

         and now enjoy one common felicity,

Be merciful, O Lord, and spare us,     Be merciful, O Lord, and hear us.


From the dangers most justly threatening our sins,    Deliver England.

From the spirit of pride, rebellion, and apostasy,                     "

From the spirit of hypocrisy, profaneness, and sacrilege,        

From presuming on their own private opinions, and

         contemning the authority of thy church,                         "                                   

From schism, heresy, and all blindness of heart,                     "                 

From gluttony, drunkenness, and the false liberty                   

         of an undisciplined life,

We sinners,                                               We beseech thee hear us.


That it may please thee to hasten the conversion

           of this our miserable country, and reunite it to

           the ancient faith and communion of thy church,         

That it may please thee to have mercy particularly

           on our relations, friends, and benefactors,

           and open their eyes to see the beauty of thy truth,

           and embrace it,                                                           

That it may please thee to comfort and strengthen

          thy servants, who suffer for the Catholic faith,

          and not to permit the weakest of us, by any

          temptation whatsoever, to fall away from thee

          and thy truth,                                                                

That it may please thee to assist with thy special grace

          those good pastors who venture their lives for

          their flock, and daily augment in them the fire of thy 

            love and the zeal of gaining souls.

That it may please thee to preserve the Catholics of this     "

            land from all sin and scandal, and so adorn their

            lives with solid piety, that others seeing their 

        good works,  may glorify thee our heavenly Father,

That it may please thee to enlighten the hearts of all           "

    schismatics, who live out of the church, 

    seriously to apprehend  the danger of their state,

     and the great importance of eternal salvation,

That it may please thee mercifully to look down from       "

    heaven on the tears of the afflicted, and the blood

         of so many martyrs, who have spent their lives,                                 

           and suffered death to convert us to thee,

Son of God.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,              

                                                                Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,              

                                                                Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,              

                                                                Have mercy on us.

Christ hear us,               Christ graciously hear us.


                                                Let us Pray.

Almighty and Everlasting God, whose judgments are righteous, and counsels unsearchable; who visited the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and the fourth generation, and yet at length rememberest mercy; forgive we beseech thee, the sins of our forefathers, and turn away thy wrath from their posterity, deliver the ignorant from being seduced by false teachers, and the learned from being abused by their passions, and the whole nation from the spirit of contradiction, licentiousness, and discord; that instead of so many divisions and changes in religion, under which they labour, they may be again restored to that unity of mind, steadiness of faith, and tranquillity of conscience, which is nowhere to be sought but in the communion of thy Church, nor possible to be found but by the conduct of thy grace.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.        AMEN.