Friday, 24 May 2019

Excellent lecture on the Sacred Heart

I have just watched, on facebook, an excellent lecture on the Sacred Heart devotion; a devotion which in the last year or so I have been particularly drawn to. Here Sebastian Morello talks about the art of the devotion but also its context historically and politically. It is what I have been searching for and now I have found it. Thank you Sebastian and I highly recommend it to you all.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Novena to the Holy Spirit

A novena of prayer is a Catholic devotional practice of praying a devotion for nine consecutive days. It usually would take something like 10 minutes per day to complete. It consists of one or more prayers repeated daily (e.g. an act of consecration), a short daily meditation, and a number of Our Father's, Hail Mary's, and Glory be's to be said each day. There are Novenas to St Jude, St Joseph, and for Intercession for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, to name but a few.

A Novena to the Holy Spirit
The novena in honour of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian.

In 1912 the Holy Ghost Fathers published a form of this Novena which asks the Holy Spirit for a fresh outpouring of the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit (given to us in the Sacrament of Confirmation), and for the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

On this blog I will publish each day the prayers and devotions for this Novena.
If however you would prefer to print off your own copy please email me and I will send you a 'pdf' of an A4 Z fold sheet, which contains the whole Novena and can be placed in your Bible, Missal or Prayer Book.
Email me on :

Every blessing
Fr Ian Hellyer
Pastor of the Buckfast Ordinariate Mission

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Peace: constant inner strength and interior serenity

Peace that comes from God alone

John 14: 27-31

Christ grants a peace that surpasses any kind of peace the world could offer. The peace He is referring to is not merely an absence of war, or aggression even – what our Lord is talking about is a peace that is an infusion of God’s constant strength and interior serenity. The world cannot provide this kind of peace – human beings on their own cannot achieve that inner peace. And our Lord is clear that the source of this inner peace, inner strength and inner serenity is God the Father. And the only way we can tap in to that source of peace is through Christ – Christ being in Himself that unity of God and man.

“The Father is greater than I” – this phrase of Jesus can cause confusion if we consider it in the context of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Surely in the Trinity the Father is equal to the Son is equal to the Holy Spirit. And that is true. In their divinity they are equal. But our Lord is referring to His humanity. And He is talking about completing His mission of bringing His human nature (which resulted from the Incarnation) to the Godhead. In “returning” to the Father our weak human nature is lifted fully into the Godhead, and the consequence is that the peace that our Lord is talking about becomes a real possibility. But not only peace but all the means of grace that can enable us to also “return to the Father” that is “eternal life in bliss and perfect love and joy”.

What we must do now, in this world, is make sure we do what our Lord did, which is obedience to the Father. Obedience reveals love. Our Lord is bidding us to obey because we love.

Friday, 19 April 2019


Good Friday

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the Cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

What is good about today?

What can be good about a man dying a cruel death on a cross?
This is the question of course that a non-believer or a new believer might ask about the liturgical name for today’s celebration. It seems incongruous to put together crucifixion and goodness.

But that is exactly what our Christian faith does.

Now, of course, our Faith is not teaching us that crucifying someone can in some circumstances be a good thing in itself. The act of crucifying is a wicked act. Those who performed it did a wicked thing. Those who authorised the act of crucifying did an even more wicked thing. And those who persuaded the man in authority to allow this to occur did a very wicked thing. By saying Jesus’ crucifixion is actually a great good we are not condoning the wickedness that led to it and the wickedness involved in performing it.

Nevertheless today we call good! Today is good not because of what men did but because of what Christ did. That’s an important distinction to appreciate. It is a great and good day because we focus on Christ and understand it as Christ understood it.

During Holy Week there are dark and evil moments. The darkest moment was arguably on Holy Tuesday. On Holy Tuesday we remembered the final consent Judas gave to the suggestion that had come to his mind that he should betray Jesus. St John, in his gospel, tells us that the idea to betray Jesus was in fact a demonic suggestion by Satan himself.

Now as we all know we all can have wicked thoughts. Some of those wicked thoughts are generated by us – by our own inner life. Some of those wicked thoughts come from the world around us. Some of those wicked thoughts though come from fallen angels, the demons. And principle amongst them is of course Satan. So, St John tells us Satan made the suggestion in Judas’ conscious thoughts. Such a suggestion can happen to any of us, by the way. It doesn’t mean we are bad. Our Lord Himself received demonic suggestions/temptations in the desert. But Judas began his wickedness by acting upon that suggestion to betray Jesus. However, the really dark moment occurred in the gospel of Holy Tuesday when we heard that Jesus revealed who would betray him to St John, the beloved disciple, through the handing of the morsel after dipping it. In that moment Judas gave total consent to betraying Jesus to His enemies who would do away with Him. And in that moment Judas became possessed by Satan because of Judas’ total consent in the act of doing away with Jesus.

This was in fact the darkest and most evil moment because Judas was one of the Twelve Jesus had chosen.Judas had believed in Jesus. He had witnessed the miracles of Jesus. He had responded to Jesus’ call. He had followed Jesus when many had fallen away. He had been raised to the great dignity of being one of the Twelve. He knew who Jesus was!

His fall began through sin. St John tells us Judas had been stealing from the common purse. Judas, despite everything, had given into the temptation of stealing money for selfish gain. Sin builds on sin. It starts small and gets bigger unless we repent. By consenting to smaller secret sins it became harder for Judas to resist temptation to greater things. In secret Judas began slipping down a terrible slope which ended in consenting to the greatest sin, that of killing God incarnate – which resulted in Satan taking possession of Judas. St John in his gospel puts it over in three words: “it was night.” Yes, outwardly the sun had fallen below the horizon. But great darkness had occurred because of the fall of Judas one of the Twelve.

So let us return to the final outworking of Judas’ betrayal of his Lord – to the crucifixion on Good Friday. And the next thing we need to understand is that God allows evil to occur. God does not want evil to occur but permits it to occur. This is because God has given angels and men free will. He cannot just stop evil occurring because it would contradict His gift of free will. So, we come to the Redemption – the revelation of how God conquers evil, conquers sin and its consequence death without taking away free will.

God began revealing this plan all the way back at the time of the Exodus under Moses – and it is what the Jews celebrated in the Passover. Lambs were sacrificed, their blood poured out, stopped the Jews from the plague of death and they were delivered from the death of slavery in Egypt. God began revealing that His plan to save sinners was through sacrifice. Through Moses God decreed that worship of Him would always involve sacrifice. For the Jews it involved the bloody sacrifice of animals and the unbloody sacrifice of grain or bread. All of this was pointing towards Good Friday. Jesus, God made man, would become the final sacrificial victim, the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins not just of the Jews but of the world.

It is revealed to us from God after the first sin by Adam and Eve, that the consequence of sin is not just suffering and hardship but death. The locus of sin is towards death always. We see this in Judas’ fall. God’s way of deliverance from sin is through sacrifice, and He reveals, through the prophey of Isaiah, it is through God’s innocent suffering servant becoming a victim. Jesus is this innocent victim. Death is the ultimate locus of all sin, and God conquers sin by allowing the only innocent man to enter into the consequence of sin, by entering into death. Jesus willingly allows Himself to do His Father’s will by becoming the sacrificial victim, by becoming the lamb of God. Satan thinks God has made a great mistake in becoming a vulnerable and weak man. God knows that through self-emptying humility, redemption will happen. Evil does its worst and falls into its own trap! Christ allows Himself to become the victim of our sins, He pays the price of our sin, but because He is sinless and doesn’t therefore deserve death, death is overturned! Death, which is the consequence of sin, is defeated because God the Son enters it; and therefore, also the Cross becomes the means of defeating sin.

Today is Good Friday because the Cross of Jesus is not the revelation of evil, it is the revelation of divine love – and in this divine love on the cross both sin and death are defeated.

The sacrifice of Jesus in divine love on the Cross is our Redemption and the heart of all the Sacraments of the Church. The power of all the Sacraments, and the power and the authority of the Church, all come from this Cross – and most especially the Holy Mass. There is an error abroad that the Mass is mainly about the Last Supper when friends gathered together for a last meal. It is an error that Protestants unfortunately believe (I know because I was a Protestant). The Mass is everything to us Catholics because its power comes from the Cross and the sacrifice of Jesus which is the revelation of divine love. The Mass is sacrifice most of all because it brings the fruit of the Cross to us; it brings to us Christ Himself offering Himself to us. Christ the Victim offering Himself and coming to us under the outward appearance of bread and wine. This is what divine love is: total offering, total obedience, total gift.

Good Friday: Draw near with faith to the Cross

Thursday, 18 April 2019


Maundy Thursday

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon Him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of His resurrection; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A New Commandment of Divine Love

The Jewish festival of Passover is approaching, and Jesus knew that His hour was coming, when His own Passover and exodus was to occur. This is the new Passover which would accomplish all that the Father had asked Him to do. The new Passover is His Passion, Death and Resurrection which we celebrate over the next three days.

The New Passover is the great act of salvation in which God’s love defeats the power of sin and ransoms those enslaved to sin. The Cross would definitively reveal divine love. When we see images of the cross, we should see that it is the revelation of divine love.

On this night when we celebrate the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and also the Ordination of the first priests (the Apostles) who bring the Eucharist to God’s people, we do so in the context of the New Commandment that Jesus gives the disciples – gives to us all.

We might however ask, what is new about the New Commandment?

Our Lord had already agreed with teachers of the Law that all of the Law of Moses can be summarised in the Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is known already. So what is ‘new’?

The New Commandment is a love on a different level altogether. The Law of Moses summarised all the Law as two commandments of human love. We are to first love God with every part of our being, and then we are to love our neighbour in the same way we love ourselves. What is new is that Jesus commands His disciples to love not just as they love themselves, they are now to love as Christ loves them. In other words, He is commanding them to love with divine love. That is what is new.

And what is divine love? The Cross of Jesus Christ is the revelation of divine love. If you want to know what the New Commandment is about you must meditate on the Cross of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow’s Good Friday liturgy is the best time to do that.

Our Lord also interprets the meaning of the Cross by His washing of the disciples’ feet. In His time feet would get very dirty on the road. So hospitality would demand the washing of feet when guests arrived and this would be done by the lowest members of the household, usually slaves. Jesus is saying in this gesture of washing that the master must do the degrading work of the slave. On the Cross, Jesus, the divine Word, must descend to the most miserable depths of human existence. It enacts what St Paul speaks of in Philippians 2: “Though He was in the form of God… taking the form of a slave… he humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death… Because of this God greatly exalted Him…” (Phil 2:6-9)

St Peter came to realise that He must yield to Jesus’s action to wash his feet which displays Christ’s saving work on the Cross. We too must yield to Christ’s action in our lives. Some people resist Christ because they do not consider themselves sinful enough to require Him to wash them (in baptism or sacrament of penance). Others have the opposite problem, they stay away because they are ashamed of their lives or secret sins. To both, Jesus speaks gently but firmly, as He did to Peter, “Come, for unless I wash you, you cannot share in my inheritance.”

Psalm 22

Deus, Deus meus

MY GOD, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me : and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint?
2. O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not : and in the night-season also I take no rest.
3. And thou continuest holy : O thou worship of Israel.
4. Our fathers hoped in thee : they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them.
5. They called upon thee, and were holpen : they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded.
6. But as for me, I am a worm, and no man : a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people.
7. All they that see me laugh me to scorn : they shoot our their lips, and shake their heads, saying,
8. He trusted in God, that he would deliver him : let him deliver him, if he will have him.
9. But thou art he that took me out of my mother's womb : thou wast my hope, when I hanged yet upon my mother's breasts.
10. I have been left unto thee ever since I was born : thou art my God, even from my mother's womb.
11. O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand : and there is none to help me.
12. Many oxen are come about me : fat bulls of Basan close me in on every side.
13. They gape upon me with their mouths : as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint : my heart also in the midst of my body is even like melting wax.
15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my gums : and thou shalt bring me into the dust of death.
16. For many dogs are come about me : and the council of the wicked layeth siege against me.
17. They pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones : they stand staring and looking upon me.
18. They part my garments among them : and casts lots upon my vesture.
19. But be not thou far from me, O Lord : thou art my succour, haste thee to help me.
20. Deliver my soul from the sword : my darling from the power of the dog.
21. Save me from the lion's mouth : thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns.
22. I will declare thy Name unto my brethren : in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23. O praise the Lord, ye that fear him : magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob, and fear him, all ye seed of Israel.
24. For he hath not despised, nor abhorred, the low estate of the poor : he hath not hid his face from him, but when he called unto him he heard him.
25. My praise is of thee in the great congregation : my vows will I perform in the sight of them that fear him.
26. The poor shall eat and be satisfied : they that seek after the Lord shall praise him; your heart shall live for ever.
27. All the ends of the world shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the Lord : and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.
28. For the kingdom is the Lord's : and he is the Governor among the people.
29. All such as be fat upon earth : have eaten and worshipped.
30. All they that go down into the dust shall kneel before him : and no man hath quickened his own soul.
31. My seed shall serve him : they shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation.
32. They shall come, and the heavens shall declare his righteousness : unto a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made.

Maundy Thursday: Mass of the Lord's Supper