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Listing April - 2009
The following are the thoughts of an older person. It is written from the heart, giving us much to reflect on one of the most precious stages of our journey through life…

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life or my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter tummy. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers? But broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. I like being old. It has set me free and most importantly I like the person I have become.
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‘Perhaps only a smile, a little visit or simply the fact of building a fire for someone, writing a letter for a blind person, bringing a few coals, finding a pair of shoes, reading for someone, this is only a little bit, yes, a very tiny bit, but it will be our love of God in action,’ ~Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa puts it so well by saying that it’s not just a little bit but even a very tiny bit that can make the difference. So often, people think that one has to do a lot, to make a difference. There is a feeling out there that God expects a lot from us. Many feel that they cannot meet this expectation and as a result won’t even bother to try. If they only knew what God really wants of us. What God expects of us is far less than we imagine. Why not start today? Not just a little but even a very tiny bit can be a great start.
The background to the Thought For Today is that the relics of St.Therese are on tour across Ireland at the moment visiting many churches right up to May 10th.

‘Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.’ ~Confucius

The relics of St.Therese of Lisieux will be in Macroom today from 4pm until 12 noon tomorrow. Huge crowds are expected to visit St.Colman’s Church in Macroom. The theme of the visit of these relics is from St.Therese herself: “Sowing peace and joy in every heart.” St.Therese is often called the ‘Little Flower’ and her short life has inspired millions of people making her one of the most popular saints. She died when she was 24 and in that time she didn’t do much. She never went on the missions and she never made headline news. Yet she lived her life so simply and encouraged others to do the same. She often said that God is to be found in the simple and ordinary moments of everyday life. It is for this very reason that so many people can connect with Therese. Her life and her message make sense. Even if we can’t get to Macroom to visit the relics we can pray to her, asking Therese to sow peace and joy in our hearts and in everyone whom we would like to include in our prayers today.
The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread. They were still talking about this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you!' In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, 'Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed ~Luke 24:35-36

The following reflection is written by John Byrne

When we are not expecting it to happen, even a good event can startle us. So it was with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He sought to calm them and helped them to see the good news behind what had initially alarmed them. Jesus helped the disciples to find new hope, but he did not give them easy answers. He asked them to see the facts before their eyes. He wanted them to learn from the experience they were having. The disciples had a resurrection experience. Unexpected possibilities for the future surfaced when it seemed that hope had gone. What have been your resurrection experiences: recovery of health when it did not seem possible, new opportunities after failure or disappointment, inner healing after a deep hurt, etc? It took the disciples some time to grasp the meaning of what was happening. It can take us time to learn the deeper lessons of life. Reflect on an example of some lesson about life that you have learned slowly over time?
‘People will try and tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.’ ~Ken Hakuta

Confusion is part and parcel of life. Clarity is great but not everything in life has such clear defined boundaries. Much of faith and spiritual matters try to bring clarity to the confusion of life and also to our own lives. But it will always be trying and is never a finished job. All confusion does present opportunities. We ask for God’s guidance and direction when we are confused and unsure. It should always be an opportunity and never a defeat.
‘If in these critical times we are living through - if the questions that are absolutely fundamental to the existence of life are not being asked, then we all suffocate on peripheral and trivial obsessions, abandoning and abdicating from the very purpose for which we exist.’ ~Mark Ballabon

It’s true we take a lot for granted. Our hearts beat an extraordinary 100,000 times a day. There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in our body. There are 100 million light sensitive cells on the retina of our eyes. Our brains can make thousands of calculations in a second while only using the same amount of power as a 10 watt bulb. We can distinguish over 4000 smells and we can see stars that are million of miles away. In the middle of all these interesting statistics we have our own unique finger print and DNA print. Our bodies are truly extraordinary and yet we often trivialise much of what we do because we simply take so much for granted. Everything around us just doesn’t happen. We are part of God’s tapestry, God’s unique masterpiece. What a shame if we take it all for granted.
'We just manage to hold on and often do not control our life. We allow it to carry us where it wants to take us.’ ~John Looby

‘Life is what we make it’ is a saying that is often used and repeated. Every day is made up of so many possibilities, options, moments and decisions. The frequency and intensity of them make the pace of life hectic. It seems we are not in control and at times drifting helplessly along. But why is it that some people seem in control and seem to be totally connected to life, picking and choosing what and when they want it? Is it a life skill that some have naturally and for others one to learn? In our Gospels Jesus showed his disciples and friends how to prioritise and choose life giving moments. Instead of drifting aimlessly along he encouraged them to celebrate every bit of good news in their lives. He encouraged them to be creative, to have courage to say no when required and to always set time aside for personal reflection, prayer and time out. Small adjustments mean we will always be much more in control.
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, 'Peace be with you,' and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, 'Peace be with you. ~John 20:19-20

The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Locked doors mean nothing to the resurrected Jesus. John doesn’t describe Jesus as walking through the doors. No Hollywood special effects here. He states simply that Jesus ‘came and stood among them’ (v. 19). Such simplicity conveys clearly just how insignificant locked doors are. So how about our ‘locked doors’? God’s word is telling us that God’s power can be with us even though we are locked into ourselves. We don’t have to open them first for God to enter!

Just think of that and what it implies! We can burden ourselves with all sorts of baggage on our journey through life. We can lock out people and events from our mind and heart to preserve our sanity or our comfort. We can circle the wagons and live in fear of life’s threats and dangers. We can run from life and its challenges. Our locked doors can be all sorts of things: prejudices, fears, neuroses, mé-féin-ism, anger, whatever. Now this is the important bit of the symbolism. We don’t have to unlock those doors for God to come and stand with us. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to. The disciples got their mission behind locked doors. So do we: to proclaim that God stands among us.
‘If someone lives a cautious, fearful and risk free life in order to ensure that they will get to heaven, it seems to me to be a negation of Christianity.’ ~Tony Flannery

The option of playing safe is an attractive one. Why bother if someone else can do it? Why take a risk if it’s going to end in disappointment? Why try something new and different if what’s old has worked before? Why be open to possibility when it demands time and effort? It’s also easier to play safe in relation to spiritual matters. Playing it safe equates to not upsetting God. But playing it safe is actually an insult to God. God wants us to be free and open. We’re encouraged to be positive and creative, to be open and honest and to love even if a risk is involved. It’s about living our lives to the full, seizing every opportunity to love and to do our best. Playing safe is certainly at the bottom of God’s list of priorities.
‘What’s the point of the Resurrection? Does Jesus risen from the dead make all the difference in the world or none whatsoever? ~Vincent Travers

There is a story told about a child hearing an approaching storm and muttering, “I’m afraid of storms”. Her parents reassure her, “You don’t have to worry. God will be there right with you.” She goes upstairs to her bedroom and again the thunder rolls. She calls downstairs, “I’m still scared.” And the answer came back, “You don’t have to worry. God will be there right with you.” At that moment the room lit up and this time she cried out: “I need a God with some skin on!” With that her parents rushed up, hugged her and became the God with some skin on. It’s a lovely story that gets across no end how each of us puts skin on God. We put the human face on God and especially by our love, the way we live, acts of kindness, a smile and often a mixture of many small little gestures. Easter is not just confined to a long weekend. It’s all about us putting some skin on God each and every day.
'Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have.' ~Doris Mortman

Much of the unhappiness in our world today has its roots in how we see ourselves. Too often we put ourselves down and fall into the tempting trap of comparing ourselves to others. God never makes comparisons or compares us to someone else. We can never live up to be someone else but we can live up to who God created us to be. We can begin this by believing in what we have to offer. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering but our little is all that God wants. Others may demand much but never God. God always wants to extend peace to us. Can we make peace with ourselves first and in particular as we journey through these weeks of Easter? Can we let the negative and cloudy parts of our past behind and move on. It is the only way forward.
'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.
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb' she said 'and we don't know where they have put him.' ~John 20:1-2

The following reflection has been written by John Byrne

The disciples are in a state of shock after their traumatic loss. Jesus, the one in whom they had placed so much hope, has been murdered and buried. Then, before they have time to recover they get another shock. The body of Jesus is missing. Have you had experiences in which one tragedy or crisis follows quickly after another? What was that like for you? How did you cope? Who, or what, sustained you?

Mary and Peter, and the other disciple, came and discovered that the tomb was empty. In this text no explanation is given. They are left in a state of bewilderment ‘for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead’. Have you been in situations, faced with events you cannot explain, possibly events that have dashed your hopes in another person, or in God? What has that been like for you?

Yet in spite of the lack of explanation, the beloved disciple ‘saw and believed’. Have there been times when others have done something that you could not understand, and which they could not explain at the time, and yet you believed that all was not as it seemed; times when you decided to trust in spite of the evidence?Have there been times when others have shown this kind of faith in you, when you were not able to offer satisfactory explanations, and all you could say was ‘trust me’? What have you learned about life, about love, from such experiences?
‘Days of absence, sad and dreary, clothed in sorrow’s dark array. Days of absence, I am weary, she I love is far away’ ~William Shakespeare

Today Holy Saturday can best be described as a day of absence. Where is God today? Isn’t that a question we ask ourselves so many times. Those affected by the earthquake in Italy are asking it. Those who have lost a job recently are asking it. Those who have lost a loved one through death are asking it. Those who carry heavy and sad news are asking it. Jesus asked it on the cross. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” God seems absent, not just the day after Good Friday, but on many occasions for us. We believe in a compassionate loving God. Compassion means to “suffer with”, which means that God also suffers with us in all our struggles. In our struggles there is a promise of light, hope and meaning in all of life’s fragility. That’s why we wait patiently for the promise of Easter to burst through later on this evening and tonight. Happy Easter!
‘Behind every face there is a unique world that no one else can see. This is the mystery of individuality. The shape of each soul is different. No one else feels your life the way you do. No one else sees or hears the world as you do. The creation of the individual is a divine masterpiece.’ ~John O’Donohue

It is nearly an impossible task to get across our own uniqueness, our individuality and what we have to give. God has given us a unique fingerprint, a unique DNA identity and has given us something special to do in this world. If someone else could do it they would be here and not us. But so often we run away, we hide and we say we’re not ready, we’re no good and let somebody else do what needs to be done. But only we can do it. Our contribution is hugely important. At the heart of our journey through Holy Week is the invitation to begin to believe and especially in ourselves. God always believes in our potential, our progress, our contribution and our longing to do our best. No one can ever take that from us.
‘I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, especially those things I had no words for.’ ~Georgia O’Keefe

We all have our own favourite colours. There is usually one colour that always catches our eye and others vary with the seasons. Last month the colour yellow was dominant with daffodils in nearly every garden. This month green dominates with trees and plants pushing forth forty shades of green. Holy Week which we are now beginning is a mixture of all sorts of colours. Some are vibrant, joyful and colourful, while some are dark, bleak and disturbing. The invitation is to face all the colours of Holy Week. It might be easy just to focus in only on the colours we like. Good Friday will challenge all of us to face those dark colours and especially the ones we tend to avoid. It’s all about finding the balance and that somehow in the middle of all the colours of Holy Week God is to be found.
Psalm Sunday: The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Cahill

Why fast-forward Jesus’ suffering and death to Palm Sunday? Why can’t we wait for Good Friday? Today’s celebration is joyous, even triumphal. Why spoil it by anticipating Jesus’ suffering and death? Strange that Christianity, a religion of joy, can’t celebrate today’s joyous event without insisting on a long reading of Jesus’ suffering and death (Mark 14:1-15:47) in its liturgy. Today’s First Reading (Isa 50:4-7) says, ‘the Lord has opened my ear’ (v. 5) – and I hear a question: Why not allow Jesus his moment of glory, and us our moment of joy?

For a moment only it is. The triumph doesn’t last long. We know that. Time enough to focus on suffering when Good Friday comes. Then it would have even greater impact as we moved from the exuberance of Palm Sunday and the cosiness of Holy Thursday to the horror of Good Friday, then soar to the elation of Easter Sunday. Too quickly focusing on suffering, perhaps thinking it God-willed, presents a false image of God. Anyone inclined to do so should recall God’s words to the prophet Ezekiel, ‘Say to them, “As I live,” says the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from their ways and live …”’ (Ezek 33:11) Neither, does God take pleasure in the sinner’s suffering. And most definitely, not in his Son’s. It’s important that we be people of joy, even when faced with suffering. Let us celebrate joy exclusively when the occasion merits it. Palm Sunday is one such occasion.
‘The Kingdom of heaven is like someone looking for fine pearls and when they find one that is unusually fine, they go and sell everything they have and buy that pearl.’ ~Matthew 13:45-46

Someone asked Ignace Paderewski a famous concert pianist why he made time to practice on his piano each day. He answered, “If I skip one day, I notice it. If I skip two days, critics notice it. If I skip three days, audiences notice it.” For all of us there are special people and important things to do in our lives that need time and attention. It may be our family, a friend, a relationship, an interest or hobby. It may be time for prayer or rest. It may be looking after our health. We may have let what’s important slip us by, through a lack of time or a lack of effort on our behalf to make it important. When we choose not to make it important there is always a loss. But today and this weekend I can choose to make someone or something a priority in my life again.
‘Don’t take your organs to heaven with you. Heaven knows we need them here.’ ~Author Unknown

This week in Ireland it is Organ Donor Awareness Week which is organised by the Irish Kidney Association. (Other countries across the world may be coinciding with something similar.) The week aims to increase awareness on the plight of people with organ failure and the ongoing need for organ donation for transplantation. There are currently over 600 people in Ireland awaiting life saving transplant operations. Kidney transplants alone last year came from 136 deceased donors, while 10 came from living donors. Every transplant is such a unique personal story of two people and mainly about love and courage. We might think it’s outside of our story and so it doesn’t make a difference. But one day we may be on that waiting list. Life and health are so fragile. We can take nothing for granted. At the heart of this awareness week is to encourage more people to make an informed decision to carry an organ donor card and to donate their organs in the event of their untimely death. Donor cards can be obtained through a free text. Just text DONOR to 50050
'Which is better to have – a clock that gains twenty seconds each day or the one that does not work at all?'

Answer: The clock that is broken will be the better of the two. Although it does not work, this clock will show the correct time twice each day. The clock that gains twenty seconds every day is right only once every 5 years and 328 days. Every single one of us has our weaker points, limitations, faults and mistakes. Some of these we are encouraged to let go of and some we have to live with. Like a broken clock that tells the correct time each day our weaker points can also be points of growth and strength. Even when we get it wrong God always wants to point us in the right direction. We are never condemned, judged or made feel guilty. Others may try but never God.


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