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Listing April - 2022
‘Hope is not some kind of delusional optimism to be resorted to because we simply cannot face the hard facts that threaten to swamp our hearts. People do die and leave us. Friends do desert us. Businesses do crumble and destroy us financially. Love does dry up and disappear. Careers do come to ruin. Disease does debilitate us. Evil does exist. But through it all, hope remains.’ ~Niall Ahern

Life can be so unpredictable and uncertain. Like a gentle tide that lifts our boat it can also turn into a raging storm threatening to swamp us. Yet in the middle of every uncertainty, storm and darkness, there remains a sense of hope and optimism. But what do we mean by hope and optimism? They are empty and shallow if left on their own but in the context of a loving God they are powerful and liberating. When all else seems to be gone, God will always be there and will never abandon or desert us. This is real hope and it is life giving. We pray to God today and across the weekend to help us through all the challenges of life. We pray that we will always remain hopeful, knowing that God will always be on our side even when all seems lost.
Carl Jung was a world famous psychologist who studied human behaviour at great length and shared many thoughts on why people do certain things. Many people made appointments to see him. One day a wealthy lady phoned him to request an urgent appointment the next day at 3 pm. He said it wouldn’t be possible because he was committed to an important appointment at that time. The following day the same lady happened to be in a boat sailing past his garden which led down to the shore of the Lake of Zurich. There she could see him, sitting on a low wall with his shoes and socks off, dangling his feet in the water. She was angry that he had lied to her and that he had no appointment at all. She arrived home and rang him straight away: “You said you couldn’t see me because you had a very important engagement. But I just saw you now doing nothing and sitting on the shore of the lake by yourself.” He replied: “I told you no lie. I had an appointment. It has been the most important appointment of the week, an appointment with myself.”
Have I made an appointment with myself today or indeed for the coming May Bank holiday weekend?
An April prayer………

Lord of the wind and the waves, calm the storms of our life when we are afraid.
Lord of the loaves and fishes, be our food when we are hungry.
Lord of spring, growth and new life, be our source of new beginnings.
Lord of the lambs and the flocks, seek us out when we are lost.
Lord of signs and wonders, show yourself when we have doubts.
Lord of the blind and lame, take our hand when we falter.
Lord of the fields and flowers, care for us when others seem far away.
Lord of all that lives, be a source of life when we’re struggling to be alive and active in our daily activities.
Lord of simplicity, help us to recognise your gentle presence in everything we do each day. Amen
A newspaper once interviewed couples who had celebrated 50 years of married life and asked them, “To what do you owe the success of your marriage?” There were all sorts of answer, but one man replied: “It is quite simple, my wife and I agreed when we got married that if she was bothered or upset about anything, she would get it off her chest and out in the open immediately. And if I was angry about something, then I would go for a walk. So I reckon the success of our marriage is because I’ve led a fairly outdoor life!!!

How we deal with anger or what upsets us is significant. Do we bottle it up? Do we explode and let it all out in a very short time? Do we talk about why we are angry? Do we pretend it never happened? Everyone deals with it different and the experts tell us there’s a lot of anger out there. Even when it comes to God we can be so angry. We can genuinely feel angry and upset by many things but in particular our sense of God having let us down. Like all anger it is a normal human emotion. To name the anger is always a good starting point. What am I angry about today? Am I angry with God? If I am can I name this anger?
‘Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transition stage in the movement towards something higher. We must not linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder.’ ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn

If we believe and can accept that each day is God’s gift to us, the chances are high that we will not perch on just one rung of the ladder. It is good to keep our lives fresh and open. Taking a step each time allows us to do this. But maybe like the game ‘snakes and ladders’, we are afraid that we will come tumbling back down, quicker and further than we went up. The same game is an accurate reflection on life, lots of up and downs and many of them unexpected. The ladders symbolise possibility, growth and potential. They are symbolic of God trying to help us out of and through life’s many obstacles. For some clinging to just one rung is all they can manage right now. We pray today for the strength to look up again. We pray for anyone today who needs direction and a sense of hope during difficult times. We ask God to help us in our quest for good healthy spiritual growth.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

Things change during recession. People buy less and bargain-hunt more. They count their change. Supposedly, they go to church more often. Hard times, it seems, remind us of a soft God. A new one for me, however, is an increase in gun sales. American gunmaker Smith & Wesson is aiming for doubled annual sales for the next few years. After a 13 per cent hike in 2009, triggering sales to a whopping $335 million, they were expected to jump 30 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year – an impressive, or depressive depending on your viewpoint, $102 million increase. Throughout the US demand for firearms is rising. The reason? Fear. Fear that recession-induced unemployment will lead to more crime. Fear that terrorism will again strike at the heartland. Fear that government will slap restrictions on gun ownership, and more taxes on firearms.

Today’s Gospel reading opens a fear-free zone. (John 10:27-30) It radiates confidence. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (v. 27-28) This is not an arrogant boast but a sober statement of fact. The Church knows she’s awash with saints and sinners. Even when lifestyles and attitudes within the Church betray the sorry fact of sin’s influence on its members, the community’s faith holds. The reason? Our God loves: in prosperity as well as in recession, and sinners as well as saints. Maybe sinners that little more, because they’re short on love! Rather disarming, isn’t it?
‘See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. You are continually before me.’ ~Isaiah 49:16

There are many holy wells to be found throughout Ireland. One that has frequent visitors is the well of St.Gobnait at Ballyvourney. It is a place of quiet reflection that bubbles with the gentle presence of God. Many do the rounds, by walking and praying. There are rocks everywhere with deep imprints of crosses as people rub the imprint with a sharp stone. It is a quiet ritual that touches something deep within. We are told that each of us is carved upon the hands of God. It means that everything we do matters to God. God has chosen us, we are loved, special and unique. God will never forget any of us. We will always be in God’s tender loving care. Even when life throws everything at us, God will never do so. We will be helped to find balance and calm through everything we have to face each day. Anne Costa puts it so well when she says that with a whisper, God can make us whole. We may be off balance this weekend for different reasons but we pray to God to help us to be open to those whispers of God’s gentle presence all around us.
For everything there is a season, a time for meeting, a time to say goodbye. For everything there is a season, a time for loving, a time for letting go. In all things God is near, always guiding your way.’ ~Celtic Blessing

At the heart of Celtic spirituality is that God is close and near. It embraces life and that everything works in cycles. There is a time and a place for all that needs to be done. Everything that lives and breathes is a reflection on the beauty of God. Such a spirituality is simple with a no nonsense approach. It is uplifting and to the point. It is close to people and nature. It is we who tend to over complicate matters when it comes to following God. An over emphasis on rules and regulations have often stifled areas of growth. No wonder Jesus attacked the Scribes and Pharisees for their negativity. Today I can be open to God’s gentle presence in my life, not distant or removed but instead close, near and guiding me through this day.
‘There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug out again.’ ~Etty Hillesum

We live in a world where we have access to almost an infinite amount of information at the touch of a button. But in the amount of general information that is available, it can be said that we are losing our capacity to be genuine and authentic. In having access to everything we have at times lost sight of what really matters. The image of the stones and grit is a good one. We all carry them around with us and they can clog up access to everything that’s really important including God. Maybe we are fed up hearing about volcanoes during the past week but one feature of a volcano is that it makes no apologies for firing up and out all the excess it doesn’t want. Nature has worked out its own ways of releasing great volumes of excess. What stones and grit are blocking the important things in my life? Can we begin to get rid of some of them?
'God does not die when we cease to believe in a personal deity. We die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.’ ~Dag Hammarskjöld

Life can best be described as challenging, on occasions cruel and rarely easy. From our own experience we know it is often unpredictable, exciting and also at times overwhelming. Who could have predicted that no planes would fly throughout Europe for more than a week because of volcanic ash? Nature throws up many surprises as does life itself. It would take a person of remarkable strength and zeal to journey through life on their own. We need support, love and encouragement on our journey. It’s a need that must be met every day and not on the odd occasion here and there. Some of us are lucky to have this need met, others not so. The one common link we all have is our need of God. God isn’t the magician who will solve our problems or make life easier. Having God on our side gives us deeper roots in life. These deeper roots give us that positive edge in everything we do each day.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

Jack has been the most popular name for baby boys in Britain for 13 years running. In Ireland for a number of years it was the second most popular name to … yes, Seán. No playmate leapfrogging from John to Jack. It was up front, plain and simple, in-your-face-from-the-start, Jack. So what, you may ask. Well, it might indicate that the poetry of life has gone out the door for many parents and that a pedestrian prose has replaced it. If so, what a pity! With due apologies to the Jacks of all shades, the name does have its yawn factor.

The equally soporific Charles, on the other hand, can be an intoxicant when followed by the name Dickens for collectors of curios. Proof? Well, a 150-year-old wine bottle of his sold for £1,500. Just the bottle, empty! But then, it did have part of a label on the outside and dried sediment on the inside. But it was the owner’s name that counted. Joe Blogg wouldn’t have got a look in.

Today’s First Reading refers to a name: As they left the council they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name. (Acts 5:27-32, 40-41) If a famous name can add so much value to an otherwise worthless object how much more so the name of Jesus when branded by baptism on a human heart! It’s important that the ‘brand’ name ‘Christian’ be recognised through its bearer becoming ‘all things to all men’, and not just a Jack-of-all-trades to the few.
‘How we are defined in life is such an important thing, every perception of how we live in a society is finely balanced on that simple understanding. It speaks to who we are and how others see us.’ ~John McCarthy

A constant theme throughout scripture readings is to ‘just be’. This simply means being the person God created you to be. It doesn’t mean we have to try and be somebody else. It doesn’t mean we have to copy someone else. It means just be yourself. It sounds so right, even sounds easy but it is often a struggle to get even close to. The reason why it’s a struggle is because of outside pressures to be someone else. High expectations of society to conform, clever advertising and other subtle pressures push us into areas of our life where we are uncomfortable or those places where we are simply not ourselves. How about trying to allow some part of you to blossom and bubble today? Don’t be thinking negative about yourself or that you can’t do it. Easter is all about encouraging and nourishing every potential and every blossom. Yours no matter how tiny or small is where God wants you to start today!
‘Hassled families need to hear this message, that rising to attend to a child at 3 o’clock in the morning is holy and is a prayer, that breastfeeding is a prayer, that making time to listen and explain is a prayer, that teaching children to ride a bike is prayer, that training them to do chores at home is a prayer and that playing football in the garden is a prayer.’ ~Michael Quinn

Parents have initial difficulties in accepting that many of the things they do at home are deeply spiritual. How does one believe that ironing clothes, changing nappies, making lunches, playing cards or making love has anything to do with God? The answer is simple, when any act is done in love and out of love we can be certain that God is there too. This should be inspiring and liberating. Formal religious practice in the past often put blinkers on people’s eyes in their search for God. This has changed considerably today and the blinkers are down but maybe they need to come down more. God’s presence can be found where ever love is. These many miracles of love are often to be found at home. There is a lot of prayer going on quietly and without fuss each day. It would be a pity to take it for granted.
There are miracles to be found in everyday life. Every sunrise, every heartbeat, every smile, every person who forgives another, are all miracles if we only have eyes to see and the childlike disposition to be filled with awe and wonder.' ~Jude Winkler

With all our schools reopening today after the Easter holidays we might be thinking that Easter is well out of the way. It actually lasts 50 days or 7 weeks. The reason for such a lengthy time is to remind us that the promise of Eater with new life, new beginnings, growth and a sense of hope can't be contained into a few days. Everything about Easter takes time to evolve and make progress. You could call them little miracles and they are part and parcel of our everyday lives. But we miss many of them simply because we are too busy or couldn't be bothered. This is such a pity. As nature comes alive at this time of year, we also need to come alive and begin to notice these miracles all around us. You could call them God's gentle presence in our world. Easter gives us maximum opportunity to make the most of them.
‘The sun is shining for our two little fighters, who have won the battle of their lives. Words cannot express the relief and love we feel for our two boys. We are so proud of the courage and strength that Hassan and Hussein have shown and they both have made the world a much better place with them in it.’ Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf

They have been the talk of the country and beyond for the past week. It was the one item of news that had everyone united: united in prayer, united in good wishes and united in Easter hope. They have won the hearts of young and old and have been christened ‘The Little Fighters’. At birth they were conjoined and have spent the past four months joined at the chest. That all changed last Wednesday in a 14 hour operation that separated Hassan and Hussein. In the midst of so much bad news all around us, this has been such an uplifting story right from the beginning. What happened this week has been an example on the power of prayer. It was touching to hear the parents of Hassan and Hussein in their statement after the operation, thanking God, thanking the surgeons and thanking so many people for their support and prayers. We continue our prayers for Hassan and Hussein this weekend and that they will continue making good progress in hospital.
Beatitudes of the Elderly from the Capuchin Magazine……

Blessed are they who understand my faltering step and shaking hand.
Blessed are they who know my ears today must strain to catch the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know my eyes are dim and my mind slow.
Blessed are they who looked away when tea spilled on the cloth today.
Blessed are they with a cheery smile who stopped to chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who never say you’ve told that story twice today.
Blessed are they who make it known that I’m loved, respected and not alone.
And blessed are they who ease the days of my journey home, in loving ways.
A little story…

A young boy spent many hours building a little sailboat, crafting it down to the finest detail. He then took it to a nearby river to sail it. When he put it in the water it moved away from him very quickly. Though he chased it along the bank, he couldn’t keep up with it. The strong wind and current carried the boat away. The heartbroken boy knew how hard he would have to work to build another sailboat. Further down the river, a man found the little boat, took it to town and sold it to a shopkeeper. Later that day, as the boy was walking through town he noticed the boat in a store window. Entering the store, he told the owner that the boat belonged to him. It had his own little marks on it, but he couldn’t prove to the shopkeeper that the boat was his. The man told him the only way he could get the boat was to buy it. The boy wanted it back so badly that he did exactly that. As he took the boat from the hand of the shopkeeper, he looked at it and said, “Little boat, you’re twice mine. I made you and I bought you.” Easter is all about God’s love for us, not just once or even twice but every single day all year round.
Thought today Easter Monday is a repeat. Thought For Today back to normal again tomorrow, Tues April 6th. In the meantime Happy Easter!!!

'If Easter is about the cross why all the chocolate eggs? Because no matter how broken or hard boiled you are, once you taste the true meaning of the cross, life is a whole lot sweeter' ~Intercom magazine

Easter is indeed a special time of year. The Easter message is one that gives us all hope and gives us a timely lift. We all have our difficult moments. We carry burdens, darkness, hurts, pain and disappointments. We're not on our own, every single person carries these. But the Easter message reminds us, that right in the middle of them, there is a promise of new life, new beginnings and a sense of hope and promise. Without Easter we would have absolutely nothing but with Easter we have indeed everything. We ask God’s many blessings on each of us this Easter.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

According to The Times newspaper, millions of young people in Britain are lonely despite having hundreds of so-called ‘friends’ on social networking sites. Presumably Britain is not alone in this. Those who seek friends at arms-length are bound to be unhappy. Friendship is intended to be right up close and personal. Virtual reality can’t substitute for the real thing. Surfing the Net may seem cool, bright and breezy, even exciting; but it’s well to remember that it’s not called the ‘net’ for nothing. Being trapped by virtual friendships that may well be just illusionary, if not downright predatory, won’t fill the void within an individual. The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that loneliness was a major worry for 21 per cent of people aged 18-24, compared with only 8 per cent of those aged 55 and over.

Easter Sunday is the Church’s most important celebration. It may seem a bit of virtual reality to some, but not to those of faith. Jesus came right up close and personal to bring us resurrection. Today’s Second Reading (Col 3:1-4) tells us what we should be ‘surfing’ for: the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. The ‘catch’, if you want to call it that, is that resurrection can’t be found in virtual reality. You won’t find it outside daily living with those you like and dislike. Resurrection is rising through reality – even because of reality – to the glory God has in store for those who value real friends in real life.
‘For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.’ ~ From a Sanskrit poem

The sight of daffodils in full bloom and others still in bud is a remarkable sight at the start of April. They are behind schedule by at least five or six weeks. The beat of nature is constantly in tune with what’s going on around. When these flowers should have come up there was an icy chill and a bitterly cold wind blowing. The daffodils waited their time and stuck it out. There are times too in our lives when we need to wait our time. When we experience those icy cold moments in our lives we may also have to do the same. What is precious, important and lasting will always wait until the moment is right. There are some who will simply choose not to wait. Today may be Fool’s Day but the daffodil wasn’t fooling around when it chose to wait its moment. The daffodil reminds us that life may yield darkness, stunted growth, stagnation and missed opportunities. But importantly from all these comes life, growth, opportunity and new beginnings. Our daffodil will significantly add to the message of Easter this coming weekend.


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