Vocation Sunday

Today is Vocation Sunday. May we each hear the voice of God in our hearts, calling us to follow him in a way that is unique to each individual: our personal path to “life in all its fullness”.
And may the Lord grant to religious orders and dioceses fresh vocations to the religious life and the priesthood, so that we might continue to make Jesus Christ "better known and loved" (Jean-Marie De La Mennais).

Good Friday 2019 - part 3

And finally, something very different, the aforementioned Eddie Kirkland cover of “How He Loves”.

Good Friday 2019 - part 2

Here’s the Arvo Pärt (“Passio” - his own setting of St. John’s telling of the Passion narrative, John 18:1-40). This recording by the Hilliard ensemble is still my favourite, 30 years after it’s release. Pärt, a living Estonian composer born in 1935, is, together with Henryk Gorecki, one of the best known exponents of a musical style that is, at once, ancient and modern, that some call “Holy Minimalism”.The final moments of his Passio, when Pärt adds an extra line of text sung by the Chorus to round things off, breaks me every time I hear it, and I’m sure today will be no different.“You who have suffered for us, have mercy upon us. Amen."

Good Friday 2019

This Good Friday, I’ll be going to the Pantasaph Stations of the Cross in North Wales (outdoors, winding its way up a steep hillside). Back home, I’ll be listening to my Good Friday “standards”, in other words, Bach’s “St. John’s Passion” and Arvo Pärt’s “Passio”. This morning, I have begun with another old favourite: Eddie Kirkland’s cover of John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves”, set to the drawings of Si Smith that imagine, in cartoon form, Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, but with symbolic references to the Passion story along the way.First up, here’s the Bach:Bach’s Passion itself starts at 5min50secs.
"In addition to the ensemble performing on period instruments, further elements of both authenticity and intimacy were added by inserting other music used in the Leipzig Good Friday service that Bach himself would have heard and by inviting the audience to sing the responsory portions of the chorales that bookend the Passion. Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall on August 20th 201…

Our final day in Ploërmel

The final day of our four day preliminary Chapter meetings in Ploërmel, Brothers and lay people together. Photo 1 = me and the 2 Corentins, 2 of our young adult youth movement leaders, providing musical accompaniment to a time of prayer. Four days of smiles, laughter, fellowship, productive small group and plenary discussions. I think we all left energised and renewed by the multitude of ideas and potential projects that we came up with for taking our work with young people forward as a Mennaisian Family. 

De La Mennais Brothers - Preliminary Provincial Chapter meetings

Weds. Feb. 13th was the second day of the first part of our Provincial Chapter, held at our Mother House in Ploërmel and involving 21 De La Mennais Brothers + 21 lay people, fired up by the desire to serve young people, “making Jesus Christ better known and better loved”,  inspired by the charism of our founders, Fr. Jean-Marie De La Mennais + Fr. Gabriel Deshayes. Delegates attended a Mass for the young people of our “Foi et Prière” (“Faith and Prayer”) youth movement who happened to also be in Ploërmel.  One of our French Brothers (Frère Pierre Orain) has written a new hymn to mark our religious order’s bicentenary, in a style suitable for use at youth events. Here’s an extract of the hymn being sung at the end of Mass.

My friend Bro. Léo + the Rwandan genocide

Sunday January 27th was Holocaust Memorial Day. when we not only remember the atrocities committed against the Jews and other groups during the 2nd World War, but also all genocides that have been carried out since then, including those in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Armenia.This year we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. I will never forget the years I spent in Paris during my studies in the late '90s with a Rwandan De La Mennais Brother, Bro. Léodomir Barakagendana (see photo), a Hutu who, as Head of a secondary school near the Congolese border, had managed to save dozens of Tutsis by driving them across the border after having hidden them in his school. Léodomir had a nervous breakdown whilst in Paris and had to be taken to a psychiatric hospital for his own safety where he stayed for over a month. He was having auditory hallucinations and would wake in the middle of the night hearing the screams of those he'd witnessed being massacred by machete. Lé…

La Vallée des Saints - remarkable site in Brittany

Here are some photos (in b&w and colour) taken Jan. 3rd on a visit to La Vallée des Saints between Guingamp and Morlaix in Brittany (France) with my good friend Frère Bob Léaustic. The name of the place is ironic, because the statues (over 100 of them, each representing a Celtic saint) are actually on a hillside, not in a valley. Quite a remarkable place. Although our order’s founder, Father Jean-Marie De La Mennais, hasn’t yet been proclaimed a Saint, those responsible for this outdoor exhibition are planning to install a statue of him sometime this year to mark our order’s 200th jubilee. 

Here are links to 2 photos albums I’ve uploaded to Flickr (colour + b&w):
Here’s the site’s official website:

Happy New Year!! + some musical research

Best wishes to you all for a fulfilling, grace-filled 2019!! As my friends will know, I'm someone who likes to share with others the things that move me, that touch me in some way, the things I'm passionate about, that open me up to the presence of God in my life and the lives of others, be they films, pieces of classical music, worship songs, photographs, etc... I also like to use the school holidays to catch up on classical music research of the kind that we can do nowadays, thanks to the internet, music streaming services, etc..., comparing recordings of the same piece. Among the pieces that I have been researching during the past few days are the following pieces that are among my all-time favourites:
- Howells' Requiem
- Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (the slow mvt.)
- Bruckner's 8th Symphony
- Mahler's 5th Symphony
- Tallis' hymn "Why fum'th in fight the gentiles spite" (which provided the inspiration for Vaughan Williams' heavenly Fantasia …

“God With Us” + "Maybe It’s Ok” - We Are Messengers

Last night, the school Worship Band (pupil lineup) performed with me a version of the We Are Messengers Christmas song from a couple of years ago “God With Us”. Our boys did a cracking job, (vocalist, 2 guitars, keyboard, bass guitar, drummer + percussionist) some of whom are not very experienced at performing in public. It’s a song that mixes the idea of Jesus being “God-with-us”/Emmanuel with the idea that we are called to recognise and depend on his presence at all times, and that Christmas is a reminder of this most reassuring of realities.
“He is with us always, in our joys and in our pain. In the lonely midnight keep looking up. Love has come, God with us."

The following is another great song by N. Irish band We Are Messengers (“Maybe It’s Ok”). This, their new single, was written in the aftermath of being involved in a fatal accident when their tour bus ploughed into the back of an unlit car that had broken down on an interstate road in Georgia, USA in Match 2017. The dri…