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Latest Space #10

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

On behalf of the Sacred Space Team, I bring you greetings and prayers for the coming season of Lent, and for the Easter season which follows. As Ash Wednesday draws near, it is fitting that we commemorate the launching of Sacred Space five years ago. When the then Director of the Jesuit Communications Centre, Alan McGuckian, conceived the idea of Sacred Space as “something to do for Lent”, who would have thought that five years later some 9 million visitors would have visited the site? It is an occasion to recall, and give thanks for, the significant events of the last five years.
– Gerry Bourke, S.J., Editor of Latest Space

Sections within this issue of Latest Space:

  • Summary of the last five years
  • A message from the President of Ireland
  • The Sacred Space Retreat Day
  • A “Chapel of Intentions”
  • Sacred Space in book form
  • Word from our translators
  • Sacred Space in California
  • A word of thanks
  • “Something to do for Lent”
  • Sacred Space – where people go
  • Easter greetings

    1999 Ash Wednesday: Launch of Sacred Space (1,500 visitors on Day 1!).

    March 17: Launch of Tearmann, the first translation – in the Irish language.

    Summer: Róisín Pye joins the staff, eventually to take over as Webmaster.

    September: “Stuck? / Need inspiration?” points were added for the first time.

    Advent: Launch of Espacio Sagrado, Spanish translation.

    2000 Lent: 1st anniversary of Sacred Space celebrated by ‘posters’ on Dublin buses.

    Launch of Lugar Sagrado, Portuguese translation.

    Summer: Peter Scally leaves JCC for studies in theology and ordination.

    2001 January 1: Launch of Japanese translation by an Argentinean Jesuit in Tokyo.

    (in 2001, there were also translations in Dutch, Korean, Latvian, and Polish.)

    May 1: Gerry Bourke joins staff to handle FEEDBACK correspondence.

    November: Sacred Space “counter” of visitors averages 6,500 per day.

    December 1: Launch of Latest Space, newsletter of Sacred Space.

    2002 Easter: Launch in USA of Sacred Gateway, a youth version of Sacred Space.

    May 1: Launch in Barcelona of Espai Sagrat, Catalan translation.

    June: Launch in Canada of Un Moment Sacré, French translation.

    Early August: Jae-Hong Cheon (from Korea) joins staff to be Webmaster.

    Mid-August: Roisín Pye leaves for further studies in Italy.

    October 15: Launch of Romanian translation

    Early November: Australian publisher proposes a book on Sacred Space.

    December: Launch of Czech translation.

    December 22: Launch of Byzantine version.

    2003 February 23: launch of 9 Days of Prayer for Peace to commemorate 40th anniversary of Pope John 23rd’s peace encyclical, Pacem in Terris.

    Early May: Launch of Maltese translation.

    June 1: Alan McGuckian leaves team to work full-time on Catholic Ireland.
    Garry O’Sullivan joins team as Communications Manager.

    August: Launch of German translation.

    Early October: Leon Ó Giolláin joins team as part-time content editor.

    Mid-October: A Sacred Space Retreat on Feb.28, 2004 is announced.

    October visitors: Mon.- Fri. average – 9,904; Saturdays and Sundays – 6,408

    November 2: Launch of “Chapel of Remembrance” for month of November.

    2004 January 1: Launching in Taiwan of Chinese translation of Sacred Space.

    First 6 weeks of 2004: “Counter” of visitors averages 9,545 daily. (Mon.- Fri. daily average – 10,445; weekend daily average – 6,511.)

    February 19: Mailing of Latest Space #10.

    Ash Wednesday (Feb.25): Commemoration of 5 years of Sacred Space.

    February 28: Sacred Space retreat in Dublin available online.


    I am delighted to send warmest greetings to everyone in the Sacred Space community as you celebrate the 5th Anniversary of SACRED SPACE and the 10th issue of LATEST SPACE. From relatively small beginnings, it is an incredible achievement for the Jesuits to have a daily ‘readership’ of some ten thousand, and a website that is translated into 17 languages around the world.

    For many centuries and through many generations, members of the Jesuit Community have traversed the globe in search of new opportunities to spread the message of Christianity. They have absorbed, and have been absorbed by, the cultures and traditions of their adopted countries. In your publications, you encourage the expression of Christianity through the experiences of missionaries going about God’s work. As President, I have many treasured memories of witnessing the tremendous impact of people who dedicate their lives to keeping the flame of Christian generosity and spirit alive in difficult circumstances.

    I am proud to be associated with your celebrations and I wish all of you peace and spiritual guidance in everything you do. Guím rath Dé oraibh sna blianta atá le teacht. God bless you all in the years to come

    Mary McAleese
    President of Ireland


    Leon O’Giollain SJ will lead the Sacred Space Retreat Day both in Manresa in Dublin and online on Saturday February 28th. He explains the approach he will take:

    “As a child I learned Irish dancing and loved it. As an adult, in recent years, I revived that interest and now attend weekly céilí and set dancing classes. Our teacher is superb. He lines us all up in a line behind him and shows us how to do the steps of a particular dance. We follow his lead, observing him closely and imitating his movements. He then places us together in dance groups and calls out instructions, correcting us as we go along.

    “Step by step, we get into the rhythm of the dance. By year’s end, you would hardly believe the transformation! Steps and movements have been all but mastered. The joy and delight is palpable on the faces of all and we swing around in a unison we thought not possible only some months previously.

    “Jesus is Lord of the human dance! The early Christian thinkers – the Fathers of the Church, known as such for their foundational theology, profound wisdom and holiness of life – likened the inner life of God to a dance. Yes, the early Christian writers thought of the Trinity of Persons as perpetually dancing in a circular movement of love. What a beautiful image! Even more beautiful is the fact that we are invited to join the dance, to share in God’s own life, to be part of the rhythm of life and love that is in God himself.

    “The saints are called such because they are the best imitators of Christ. Many of the great saints have themselves become teachers of the dance, showing us, by word and example, how to move in sync with the Trinity. St. Ignatius was himself a great pedagogue. In his little book, the Spiritual Exercises, he spells out some very basic steps, which will lead us eventually into the deep inner circle of God’s own loving union. These steps may seem very basic at first, but they are essential if we are to make progress in the spiritual life.

    “I will be your ‘dance coach’ on the Sacred Space retreat day. Whether you are coming to Manresa in Dublin or would like to make the retreat online, I hope you can join us as a community searching for God’s voice in our lives.”

    If you would like to join our retreat in Dublin, email us at [email protected] . If you wish to join us online just watch out for a LINK to the retreat when you choose February 28 on “the day you want”. You will be united with those on retreat in Manresa as they enjoy their “dance with the Lord”.


    As many of our visitors to Sacred Space will have read on our FEEDBACK page, there have been many responses to a suggestion (following on our November “Chapel of Remembrance), that we might have a “chapel” for various other “intentions”. Most people favoured the idea, but some noted that, our sister site, already has such a page. And we already have a link to that site and to its prayer site for children. On Ash Wednesday, we plan to have a further direct link to their “Intentions Page” (

    On that page it is noted that “Your request for prayer will also be transferred electronically to a group of monks of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Mary of Monte-Oliveto, who have established a monastic presence in Rostrevor, Down, Northern Ireland. During their times of silent prayer and meditation and their main liturgical celebrations of morning and evening prayer, the Monks have generously offered to pray for the intentions of those who make requests through this website.”

    Those members of our Sacred Space community who wish to submit intentions, or pray for the intentions already submitted, are invited to conclude their time in Sacred Space with a visit to this “Chapel of Intentions” .


    SACRED SPACE – The Prayer Book 2005″ is well on its way to publication. The publishers – Michelle Anderson Publishing Company in Melbourne, Australia – plan to have it with the printers in March/April 2004 so that the finished copies will be in the bookshops in late July/early August. This means that Sacred Space in book form will be available for the new liturgical year (2004-5), which begins Advent 2004.

    We received a copy of the proposed cover. The front picture is shown left – a very peaceful space. The colours look brighter on the computer and will be softer and give a sense of peace and space. A soft matt finish will be used rather than a gloss laminated cover. The back cover has these words describing the content:

    The book, as with the website, guides the reader, simply and gently,

    through a few stages of preparation, each stage consisting of

    ‘Something to think and pray about each day this week’;

    then six small ‘Stages of Prayer’ leading into a short piece of Scripture

    with points which help us to think about the text,

    and make it relevant to our daily lives.

    This “sacred space in one’s day” can be anywhere at any time,

    on a park bench, at home, the office, the beach,

    a time to quietly connect with God;

    a time to be consoled, healed, challenged and transformed.


    From the Catalan Translators:

    Congratulations for the 5th anniversary of Sacred Space from Catalonia and the Espai Sagrat version!!!. We are absolutely delighted to be with you in your special edition of “Latest Space”. We started our work knowing our page was not going to be visited as often as the English or Spanish translations. Besides, many of our visitors could already use the on-line prayer of Espai Sagrat in the Spanish translation, which was already available.

    After some weeks of hard work and with the supportive help of the Jesuit Communication Centre in Dublin, the Catalan translation of Sacred Space was on-line on May 1, 2002 . We can say with pride that our visitors have confirmed the reasons which led us to begin our adventure. Elisenda wrote: “Many thanks for the offering of this chance of prayer in ‘català’. Certainly the language you use has its own importance and help. My relationship with Jesus is always in ‘català’ and to have to do it in another language takes away my spontaneity.” Another visitor’s testimony underlines the same feeling: “Praying in your own language helps a lot in assimilating and expressing all that you live and feel. Yours is a great service.”

    But language was not the ultimate argument that convinced us to translate Espai Sagrat into Catalan. There was as well the desire to contribute to this project which makes it possible for millions of people throughout the world to gather and pray the same prayer, in spite of the distance between them. That is why we have made a team who are in charge of the page, preparing the daily gospel commentaries, trying to offer our visitors an up-to-date and solid website.

    Most of the testimonies we have received come from people used to working with computers; some of them do not have the usual contact with the church, and sometimes they do not even have the habit of daily prayer. Jaume described his impressions and feelings on discovering Espai Sagrat: “Due to my work, I spend the day in front of a computer. Many times I have thought that this fabulous tool of work does nothing but spoil my life. Every time you press a key it seems that the computer works slowly and you want to go faster and faster in order to work more. Believe me, now that I have discovered this page my computer has become my place of prayer and I look at it with sympathy. The machine vitalizes me”.

    We have met, as well, visitors who belong to different groups from parish churches or prayer groups. They thank us for the resources we offer them. A priest said to us: “It is wonderful for me and my community. I beg you not to give up offering this service so useful for praying”. The welcome our page had from the very beginning stimulated us to offer other complementary services. We decided to publish a monthly booklet with news related to the world of Espai Sagrat and other proposals concerning the world of prayer and spirituality: books, activities, and some other internet pages. Our intention is to create a small virtual net around Espai Sagrat, which will be open to interested people and make it possible to raise questions, exchange information and resources, and make suggestions.

    – The Espai Sagrat Team: Montse Girbau (webmaster), Santi Torres SJ,
    Fr. Carles Portabella SJ, Óscar Fuentes SJ, Fr. Lluís Armengol SJ

    From the Chinese Translators:

    I am afraid that on our website at present we can only show the text in traditional Chinese characters (big-5 codes), without the simplified characters……In two or three months, our website will move to another address, and the appearance of the pages would also change. Very possibly, we would then be able to offer both the traditional Chinese characters and the simplified Chinese characters on our website.

    …..We don’t have a feedback page in the Chinese Sacred Space in our temporary web frame (I hope we can add it to our design in our new website), so there is only one visitor in Hong Kong who wrote to us to say that he was glad to see we offered a Chinese Sacred Space. I also heard from a few friends in Taiwan who said they like this prayer website and expressed similar feelings as the Hong Kong reader did to encourage our work.

    – Cynthia Chang, Ignatian Spirituality Center, Taipei, Taiwan

    From the German Translators:

    The start of the German version of Sacred Space was not without its hurdles. There had been intensive contact between the Jesuits in Dublin and in Munich since early 2002, but it took more than a year before the German version was finally launched. The main problem was the fact that, despite several appeals, no Jesuit was prepared to commit himself to the regular translating work.

    It was only after some interested lay people offered their help to Fr. Gerry Bourke in Dublin that things started moving. Eileen Opiolka, a Scot living in Dusseldorf, agreed to translate both the basic texts and the daily prayer prompts. Her work is edited and supported by Thomas Busch, the German Jesuits’ press officer in Munich.

    The first comments on the German version of Sacred Space, which has been online since August 2003, showed how impatiently, yet gratefully, the online prayer pages had been awaited. Here in Germany, Catholics and Protestants are almost equal in number, and we were especially delighted that the first reaction came from a Protestant. He wrote: “I discovered the Sacred Space site on the Internet over a year ago and I was immediately thrilled, thankful and moved – all at the same time. Since then, praying with the texts has become a fixed part of my regular day. God moves! We had to wait a long time for the translation into German. Now it is here. Hallelujah! I’m going to send off a mail to all my friends. God’s blessing on you and all the other international helpers on this site!”

    Since then, we have received many encouraging mails both online and at the Provincialate of the German Jesuits. These have included a number of constructive ideas for both content and form. A printed version of the prayers, for instance, was suggested. One visitor would have welcomed a more detailed comment on the bible passages while another was introduced to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises through Sacred Space. We were particularly moved by thanks received from a handicapped visitor who is no longer able to get out to Mass. Brickbats came too, though: “How on earth can one ever sit in front of a computer and pray?” But even this reaction, like many others, led to a genuine correspondence when we replied with the advice of St. Ignatius, that we can “seek and find God in all things”. In other words, why shouldn’t we be able to sit in front of a computer and pray? More than 10,000 visits to the German version of Sacred Space in the first six months would seem to be a clear answer.

    – Thomas Busch, German Jesuits’ Press Officer, and Eileen Opiolka, Translator

    From the Romanian Translators:

    The Romanian translation of Sacred Space was launched on October 15, 2002, and has now a printer friendly version like the English Sacred Space. I am assisted in the translation by three Jesuit scholastics, studying in Rome, London and Frankfurt.

    The Byzantine version of Sacred Space was launched on December 22nd of the same year. In the Byzantine version the visitor can read the Gospel of the day, the sinaxarion (a short account of the saint’s life and the history of the feast), the troparion (a short poetic hymn referring to the feast of the day) and kontakion (originally a long poem, but now reduced to a stanza) for the saint or feast of the day, with an icon, and a short fragment from the writings of the Church Fathers.

    I want to stress that this version is not referred to as Orthodox, but Byzantine. This is because it is not only for Orthodox people, but also for Greek Catholics. This version was worked out in collaboration with my friends of the Theological Department of the Trinitas Radio of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Moldavia and Bukovina (Iasi, Romania).

    – Claudiu Ciubotariu SJ, Genoa, Italy


    Early in February an invitation arrived from Salinas, California, USA, inviting “a priest from Sacred Space” to participate in a series of sermons with the theme, “Lord teach us to pray” – to be preached on Wednesday evenings during the season of Lent in the Edmund Rice Chapel of Palma High School, Salinas. Specifically, the “priest from Sacred Space” would celebrate Mass and preach on Sacred Space as a help to prayer in daily life on Wednesday, April 7, beginning 7 p.m.

    The writer of the letter, Dennis Donohue, Parent Moderator of the Edmund Rice Society, which is sponsoring the program, wrote, “The Sacred Space site does such an outstanding job I wanted to introduce it to our local community and hopefully the Monterey Diocese.” The editor of Latest Space decided to accept this generous invitation, and will take advantage of the nice climate there to make his own annual retreat. Anyone needing further information about the Lenten series can call Dennis on his voice mail at 831-758-6265 or his e-mail at [email protected].


    The Sacred Space team wishes to thank all of you who kindly responded to our “Support Sacred Space” appeal last November, and who also used the occasion to express your thanks for the help you have received on the site. We hope to use the funds received to update the site and the three year prayer cycle, and to promote Sacred Space further afield.

    Our campaign is ongoing, and those of you who have considered responding to our appeal and would still like to, we would be happy to hear from you. Cheques can be made out to Sacred Space, and sent to 36 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Or you can make your donation to Sacred Space on our new secure link at the end of the Sacred Space prayer page.


    As we commemorate five years of Sacred Space, here are five ways that you might spread the word to others about our website. Remember Sacred Space began with an invitation to pray at one’s computer during the Lenten season as “Something to do for Lent”.

    1. Check the website of your local diocese, parish, or other similar organization – Do they have a link to Sacred Space? If not, why not recommend a link?
    2. Do any friends have homepages? Ask them to include a link to Sacred Space.
    3. Has your local newspaper (diocesan or otherwise) featured an article on Sacred Space? Would they be interested? If so, do not hesitate to suggest one. You may even put them in touch with us, and we will cooperate with them as best we can.
    4. Download and print a poster or some cards from the endpage of Sacred Space, and spread them around.
    5. If you have an idea for a new Sacred Space poster, please send us a copy.


    – A poem/prayer submitted for the 5th anniversary of Sacred Space
    Father, we are indeed blest,

    doing what You called us to do.

    Sacred Space is five years old, and we

    couldn’t have done it without You.

    You gave us the vision and

    the people to put it all together.

    Nine million visits, with more to come,

    has indeed been a wonderful endeavour.

    We, Your humble servants, are amazed

    at what Sacred Space has become.

    We hear daily of the many

    blessings experienced by some.

    People from all walks of life go to

    Sacred Space, where people care.

    Two or more, gathered together in

    Your name, who find You there.

    Father, we will continue to put our

    trust in You, each and every day.

    And we look forward to another

    year, with You leading the way.

    – Frances Berumen 2/1/04 <><


    Easter is still some weeks away, but all the Sacred Space team – Garry, Geraldine, Gerry, Jae-Hong, and Leon – wish you, our readers, the fullness of life, with the peace and joy that comes from an awareness of the Risen Lord with us always.

    Sacred Space Daily online prayer Sacred Heart Novena Podcast feed for Novena