Monday June 26th 2017


A while ago, Fr Gerard suggested that I write something on music in the Mass for his ‘A Word from your Parish Priest.’  At the same time, there has been quite a lot of talk about music recently from parishioners right up to the parish council.

Music has had a long and varied history as part of our worship, and indeed, most religions in human history.  I think some of the problems people have with music are because we do not fully understand its place in worship.  Often even priests themselves see music as an optional extra, tacked on like background music (known as muzak) in restaurants and shopping malls, ready to be switched off when ‘real’ liturgy happens.

We will see that music is actually an integral part of the liturgy, not an add-on.

Some people want their church music to always be happy and upbeat, no matter what the mood of the part of the Mass they accompany or the liturgical season.  Here the psalms are a good guide — there are psalms of praise, but also psalms of lament, of penitence, etc.  The music fits the occasion.

Then there are those who use music as a means to an end, to sugar-coat the bitter pill — ‘if the music is attractive, maybe they won’t find Mass so boring.  But surely the Mass is such an incredible (and very challenging) experience, that it itself is attractive.  And Christ was very challenging — should we always try to insulate ourselves from challenge if we are to follow him?

But I thought, before getting into specific questions regarding music in Mass, it might be worth reflecting on the spirituality and deeper meaning of music and that may help us see more clearly how it fits into Liturgy.

Let’s start with sound itself.  There are a couple of things about sound which are interesting and perhaps you’ve never thought about them.  Firstly, sound reveals presence.  The cars in Bergvliet Road right now, the dog barking in Children’s Way, the hadidas crying in the sky … their sounds are making these things present to you right now.  With sight, you have to be looking at something, and that means you are not looking at something else.  But sounds can reveal that a whole lot of things are present from all sorts of directions, all at the same time.

And God is everywhere all around us … omnipresent.

Sound reveals interiorities.  As a simple example, tap the side of an object and you know if it is hollow, solid, or if it contains something.

With sight and touch, you need to open or cut open a thing to see its inside.

When we deal with God, we are going to the very interior of interiors … our hearts where he is present.

Sound reveals an exercise of power — the voice of the child next door shouting, ‘No, I won’t wear that!’ is a little human being trying to exercise some control over his or her world.

And Jesus said, ‘Lazarus, come out!’

And sound reveals true reality.  Sound, music, travels through the air.  It leaves no mark, no trace.  And yet it is real.  And it reminds us that there is more to our world than what we can touch and see.

Music itself is all of this and more.  The best place to understand this — this may surprise you — is in a movie.  Think of how the music can create the atmosphere, make you feel romantic, emotional, fearful, on cloud nine, anxious.  A scene can be painted before the actors say or do anything.

In short, music communicates by moving beyond words, images, ideas straight to something other … and when we deal with God, we are dealing with SOMETHING VERY OTHER.

Fr Scott Davidson, CSsR




Corpus Christi (feast)

Today we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (from the Latin for Body of Christ, although we actually celebrate the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist).  Corpus Christi emphasises the joy of the institution of the Eucharist.  Before this feast was created, the Institution of the Eucharist had only been observed on Maundy (Holy) Thursday, situating it within the sombre atmosphere leading to Good Friday.

However, Holy Thursday, also commemorates Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and, earlier in the day, the institution of the sacramental priesthood at the Mass of the Oils.

With so much being commemorated on Holy Thursday, and its overarching atmosphere of the Passion, the principal event celebrated — the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper — was almost eclipsed.

In the early 13th century, Juliana of Liège, belonged to a group of Augustinian nuns, Norbertine canoness in fact, who were particularly dedicated to veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, which shaped their lives of prayer and charitable work.  Juliana developed a special veneration for the Blessed Sacrament and she always longed for a feast day outside of Lent in its honour

One night she had a vision of the full moon having one dark spot marring its face.  In her prayer, she recognised the moon represented the Church and the dark spot signified the absence of a feast dedicated solely to the Blessed Sacrament.

It took some forty years for the feast to spread from Liège to the rest of the Church, helped on by Pope Urban IV developing a love for the feast during his time working as a priest in Liège.  When he became Pope in 1264, he instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost.

When Pope Pius V revised the General Roman Calendar, Corpus Christi and Trinity Sunday were the only two ‘feasts of devotion’ that he kept.  In many countries, Corpus Christi is transferred to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.  There was a separate Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord on the first 1st July.  In 1969, this feast was removed from the Calendar, as the Most Precious Blood of the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, of Corpus Christi, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

At the time of the Reformation, when belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was attacked, we put the tabernacle in the centre of our churches, higher than the altar, to say clearly that the consecrated host is always the presence of Christ.

In the same way, the Feast of Corpus Christi came at a time when it was important to remember that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine.  It continues the message of Pentecost.  In the desert, the Ark of the Covenant dwelt in a tent in the midst of the Hebrew encampment.  As John tells us, in becoming human, God chose a new tent to dwell in — the flesh of Jesus.  At Pentecost, we celebrate God choosing yet another tent — each of the hearts of believers.  And, in the Eucharist, he is made flesh for us once again, and, through our communion, the life of God within our spirits is nourished and strengthened.  Tabernacle is Latin for ‘tent’— and so, through the Eucharist, we are each transfigured daily into a tabernacle of Christ, bringing him to birth anew in our hearts.

Fr Andrew Scott Davidson, C.Ss.R.


Fr Gerard invited me to contribute a few words about our latest Redemptorist Pastoral Publication: THE PRAYER BOOK OF JESUS. All our publications try to address significant issues in an attractive style and in harmony with the best of our Catholic tradition.

This new book runs to 68 pages and can therefore only be a basic introduction to the Psalms.  The book of Psalms itself is a collection of 150 hymns which took 600 years to be finalized and some of the hymns are actually 3000 years old.  Used by Jews and Christians, the Psalms are considered by both religions as part of the inspired Word of God.

The Psalms provide the structure for the daily prayer of Jews from time immemorial. Prayed by the Holy Family and by all the first Christians, they passed seamlessly into the structure of Christian prayer.  They constitute part of the official Prayer of the Church and are prayed by Clergy and Religious every day.

Every weekday before the 8 30 Mass the Redemptorist community here at Holy Redeemer celebrate Morning Prayer of the Church from the Book of Psalms (called the ‘Psalter’) and each evening at 18 00, Evening Prayer of the Church.

Every Bible includes the Book of the Psalms and even a nodding acquaintance with the Psalms shows that they address every human emotion -even anger, rage and cursing!  In these sacred prayers, which Jesus used every day, individuals and communities are given God’s own Word to speak to the Father, to express all our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, our pain and our happiness.

My motive in writing this little book is to share my enthusiasm for this treasure house of prayer and growth in the Spirit. I have found the Psalms an unfailing source of inspiration and hope, a delight and a grace.

In an introductory section I try to summarize the best of modern insights into the Book of Psalms: questions of style and presentation, and some of the challenges facing a 21st century person using such an ancient text.  The heart of the book deals with some of the different kinds of psalms (psalms of praise, penitential psalms, pilgrimage psalms etc). For those wishing to go further I list some larger books which I have found helpful in appreciating the Psalms.

The book is laid out in a way that encourages a reflective style of reading, indeed of actually praying the psalms  which are being discussed. Using the book with a copy of Bible at hand to see the complete text, would enhance the experience.

I am greatly indebted to Stephen Docherty (of Reproductive Images) for his lay- out and imaginative use of photographs which greatly enrich the text.

Fr.  Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.


Today we celebrate the wonderful feast of Pentecost, which marks the bestowing of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the beginning of the Church, bearing witness, to all peoples throughout the ages, of the presence of Jesus in our midst. We have each been given the gift of our own faith through the feast of Pentecost, and the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is my fervent prayer for each of us, and for our families and the entire parish community, that this feast will renew us in our trust in the continuing presence of God’s Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

I will be leaving for Scotland on Wednesday for a month, and so my word this week is full of news about upcoming events. In my absence, Fr Scott will take responsibility for the parish, assisted by Fr Charles, and Br Richard will be responsible for our Redemptorist Community. I am looking forward to spending time with my family. Hopefully the Scottish summer will be kind to me, and that I do not freeze to death! I will take a beanie with me, just in case!

Funeral of Fr Cecil Dowling’s Mother.

By now most of you will have heard of the death of Fr Cecil’s mother. On behalf of our Redemptorist Community, and of the whole parish, we extend our deepest condolences to Fr Cecil and all his family, and pray for the repose of the soul of Mrs. Dowling. Her Requiem Mass will take place on Saturday 10th of June at 10.30.a.m. I am sorry that I will be unable to be present for this, but I know that many parishioners would want to be present to support, in prayer, Fr Cecil and his family.

Eucharistic Ministers.

I would like to inform you that, due to increased work commitments, Tracy Kemp has had to give up her role as coordinator of our Eucharistic Ministers group. On behalf of the whole parish, I would like to thank her for all that she has done over the last couple of years to build up our team through training and her coordination of the monthly roster. Tracy will, of course, continue to be involved in her ministry. I have asked Norma and Joseph September to take over the role as coordinators, and they have accepted this important task. I thank them both for this, and let us all pray that all of our Eucharistic Ministers will continue to work in harmony to serve the needs of the parish, and especially of all our sick parishioners. The proposed meeting, which was due to be held on Saturday 10th June, will be postponed till I return from my trip home.

Our pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Saints.

We are already looking forward to our pilgrimage in September next year, to the sites of our Redemptorist Saints, as well as to Rome and Assisi. Quite a number of people have already expressed interest in this pilgrimage. Shawn Lotters, who will be organising the pilgrimage, would like an indication of the people who are seriously considering going on it. If you are interested, please contact him at or on the cell number 082 543 5762.

Feast of Corpus Christi.

I will not be here as we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, but I would like to remind you that, in preparation for the feast, we will be having our 40 hours of Adoration, from Thursday 15th June till Saturday 17th June. This gives us an opportunity for all of us to spend some time in quiet prayer, asking God’s blessings on our lives, and those of our loved ones, as well as on our whole parish. I pray that all of you may take this opportunity for a time of prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Final words

In the weeks of my absence, Fr Scott will produce the reading material for the bulletin. You may be very glad to have a break from my words! As I look forward to this month with my family, I also look forward to my return and to being at home with my Redemptorist Community and our parish of Holy Redeemer again. Stay blessed.

Fr Gerard, CSsR


Today we celebrate the wonderful feast of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord into heaven after His earthly work was complete. The feast serves, too, as a reminder that, just as the apostles were commissioned on this day to make the name of Jesus known throughout the world, each of us is also called by our baptism, to make known the love of God in our words and actions. I thought that today I would like to share with you some recent reflections of Pope Francis on the significance of the Ascension for all of us:

“In the Creed, we confess our faith in Christ who ‘ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father’. What does this mean for our lives? While he ‘ascends’ to [Jerusalem], where his ‘exodus’ from this life will take place, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but he knows well that the path that will take him back to the Father’s glory passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity. We also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into God’s glory demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans.”

The pontiff referred to the account of the Ascension in the Gospel according St. Luke. “Jesus led his disciples ‘as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven’. This is the first important point: Jesus is the only and eternal Priest who, by his passion, has traversed death and the grave and is risen and ascended into Heaven. He is with God the Father, where he always intercedes in our favour. As St. John affirms in his First Letter: He is our Advocate.”

“How wonderful it is to hear this! When someone is called in front of a judge or goes to court, the first he does is look for a lawyer to defend him. We’ve got one who always defends us, who defends us from the devil’s snares, defends us from ourselves, from our sins! Dear brothers and sisters, we have this Advocate. Let us not be afraid to go to him and ask forgiveness, to ask for blessing, to ask for mercy. He always forgives us. He is our Advocate. He defends us always. Never forget this!”

The Gospel of St. Luke mentions that the Apostles, after seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven, return to Jerusalem ‘with great joy’. This seems a little strange to us,” the Pope said. “Usually, when we are separated from our family members, from our friends, definitively, and especially when caused by death, we are naturally sad because we can no longer enjoy their presence. Instead, the Evangelist emphasizes the Apostles’ profound joy. Why? Precisely because, with the gaze of faith, they understand that, even if they gone from view, Jesus remains always with them. He does not abandon them and, in the Father’s glory, He sustains them, guides them, and intercedes for them.”

He continued, “The Evangelist also tells of the Ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles “to underline that this event is like the link that connects and unites Jesus’ earthly life to that of the Church.” He also mentions that, after a cloud takes him from sight of the Apostles, they remain looking at the sky until two men dressed in white garments invite them not to stay fixed there, looked at the sky, but “to nourish their lives and witness with the certainty that Jesus will return in the same way they saw him ascend to Heaven. It is an invitation to step forth from the contemplation of Jesus’ Lordship and to receive from him the strength to carry forth and witness to the Gospel in their everyday lives: to contemplate and to act in such a way that the glory of God is made manifest in our lives

“The Ascension,” Francis concluded, “doesn’t indicate Jesus’ absence, but rather it tells us that He is living among us in a new way. He is no longer in a particular place in the world as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives, we are never alone: we have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone. The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the Lordship of God’s love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen and ascended into Heaven, we have an Advocate.”

Fr Gerard, CSsR

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Garden of Remembrance Project update


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