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The Passover Lamb

Homily for Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday, 28 March 2013.

In the time of our Blessed Lord, have you any idea how many people would have been in the city of Jerusalem for the Passover feast? A hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand! With a population of about thirty-thousand, at least one hundred more would arrive from all parts of Palestine before the Passover and during the festival itself. Most of the pilgrims hadn’t a hope of getting lodgings, so they’d have to find place for a tent. A bit like most adults in Scouting going to Gilwell Reunion each year: there’s only limited indoor accommodation—but there’s plenty of outdoor space for tents. The highlight of the festival was the Passover meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Because of the overflowing city, the lambs would be slaughtered in the temple area and the meals would take place in houses or tents. For those without house or tent, it would be in alleyways, courtyards, and even on the roof of a house!

Why did the Jewish people make quite so much of the Passover? Well it is their remembrance of the time when the God ‘passed over’ the people of Israel in their captivity in Egypt as described for us in the first reading tonight (Exodus 12.1–8, 11–14). The Passover is the eternal remembering, the eternal reliving of that night before the plague, before the departure from Egypt. That is why they were to eat it hastily, with a staff in their hand, sandals on their feet, and a girdle round their waist.

On the night of the Last Supper, in one of the thousands of supper rooms in Jerusalem, our Blessed Lord met with his disciples to celebrate a new feast. As St Paul tells us in the second reading, (1 Corinthians 11.23–26) ‘The Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it’ and said, ‘This is my body which is for you.’ ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’. St John gives us the same message in the Gospel (St John 13.1–15): ‘Jesus knew,’ he tells us, ‘that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father’. What we are being told, in its essence is that Jesus is the Passover Lamb. He is offering himself up in voluntary self-sacrifice for the salvation of the whole world. Just as the plague against the first-born in Egypt passed over the heads of the Israelites, so the plague of sin and death will pass over our hears. We will be freed from a slavery far worse than that of Egypt. We will be fed with the Eucharist on our desert journey through life. We will be expected to wash each other’s feet in the course of that journey.

If we are faithful to the new Covenant that our Blessed Lord sealed with his blood, we can hope—with some confidence—to make it to our Promised Land. Some things need to be proclaimed from the rooftops. What we proclaim and give thanks for on this Passover evening is the salvation won for us by the Passover Lamb!


with thanks to Bishop Joseph Cassidy’s book, These Might Help Too: Homilies for Cycle C.


Instruction for the wording in the Eucharistic Prayer during Tempus Sede Vacante

Recent liturgical books, and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, do not give any guidance as to the wording to be used during the Eucharistic Prayer when mentioning the Bishop of Rome and the Ordinary during tempus sede vacante.

Research on this matter has referred back to the pre-conciliar editions of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described by Fortescue where it suggests that during Tempus Romani Sede Vacante any reference to the Roman Pontiff is omitted;

Therefore during the Canon of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, instead of the phrase “una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N.” is substituted “una cum Antistite nostro N.”;  or in the usage of the Fraternity “una cum Ordinario nostro N.”

When celebrating in the Ordinary Form in the usage of the Fraternity, using Eucharistic Prayer I, the phrase “together with your servant N. the Pope and N. our Ordinary” is substituted by “together with N. our Ordinary“; with a similar substitution in Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV.

During this period of Sede Vacante we pray for all those charged with the election of a new Bishop of Rome, that the Holy Spirit may guide them in their deliberations; and we pray for Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, that he may enjoy a blessed retirement.

Rev Fr Charles FSDM VG
1 March 2013

From failing bodies to ones blazing in glory…

TransfigurationA short meditation on the readings at Holy Mass on the Second Sunday of Lent.1

by Mgr Alban FSDM

This week has been a week where my body has been failing me. I am sure that I am not alone in this. For me, I have been suffering from severe migraines, which have left me almost unable to do anything save lie in bed or on the couch with the lights dimmed.

It is fortunate for us all who follow our Blessed Lord that these trials and tribulations will be followed in the next life by a transfiguration of our bodies. As St Paul says in today’s Second Reading:

“he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body.”

The Transfiguration of Jesus is told to us once again in today’s Gospel,

“Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up into the mountain to pray. AS he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning… And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’”

The disciples who went with Jesus up into the mountain were afraid, for a cloud had appeared just as St Peter was saying to Jesus that they should make three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, as all three were present at that time.

The sacred host during Holy Mass becomes our Lord Jesus Christ, present here on the Altar here with us. We may find ourselves afraid like the disciples. Afraid of approaching the transfigured host, of approaching our Lord. We should not be afraid. If we “remain faithful in the Lord”, we have nothing of which to be afraid.

Our own failing bodies, in time will be made new by Jesus. For now, we experience something of the things of heaven when at Mass and when we receive our Blessed Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. As the Post Communion Prayer says:

As we receive these glorious mysteries,
we make thanksgiving to you, O Lord,
for allowing us while still on earth
to be partakers even now of the things of heaven.

I pray for all observing Lent this year that we may always desire and at last attain that glory whose beauty He showed in His own Body to the amazement of His Apostles. May God Bless you all.

In the Name of the Father, ✠ and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1. Written on the Monday of the second of week as I was unable to write anything yesterday due to illness. Please remember me in your prayers.

‘No ambition except to do good’ – thoughts on the Baptism of The Lord

Some thoughts on the Feast of the Baptism of The Lord.

By Mgr Alban FSDM

OXYGEN VOLUME 13When at school, most of us have been asked, ‘What’s your ambition? What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It’s a question that never really goes away. All through life, those around us, ask us it in various contexts, be it at the beginning of a new job, at a job interview, or even whilst studying a new subject at university.

This morning at Mass we heard read a simple thought from St Paul to St Titus,

‘[Jesus] sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.’

What a joy it would be if we could answer that we ‘have no ambition except to do good’. I don’t believe that St Paul was telling us not to aim to be the best that we can be, but that in all things we must act in order to do good.

Our blessed Lord, whose baptism we celebrate today, was baptised with water and then recognised by the Father in heaven coming down as the Holy Spirit. Like Him, we have been baptised by water and the Holy Spirit, and by this adopted by God as His children. Let us endeavour to show that inward adoption in an outward manner in our lives throughout the week ahead and on into the rest of our lives.

There are many in our society who appear to have no ambition, for whom ambition seems to have evaporated. In Belfast there are many young men who have little opportunity for work, and thus have plenty of time on their hands. We have seen on our television screens this week what can happen when a community lack ambition – especially the ambition to do good. Rioting, burning cars, attacking the police, and attacking people with whom you do not share political opinion, is not doing good. Let us pray that everyone involved in the political strife that is in Northern Ireland at this time seeks to do good.

O God, whose Only Begotten Son, has appeared in our very flesh, grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed through him whom we recognise as outwardly like ourselves. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


  1. Readings at Mass: Isaiah 40.1–5, 9–11; Titus 2.11-14, 3.4-7; St Luke 3.14–16, 21–22. (Year C)
  2. My apologies that this is shorter than normal, but I have been unwell for some days and am still under the weather at present. Of your charity, please pray for my recovery.
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Feast of the Most Holy Name


The readings and propers for today’s Mass1 are as follows:

Entrance Antiphon

At the name of Jesus,
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2.10–11)


O God, who founded the salvation of the human race
on the Incarnation of your Word,
give your peoples the mercy they implore,
so that all may know there is no other name to be invoked
but the Name of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (more…)