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Listing August - 2011
'Doing the best at this moment puts us in the best place for the next moment.' ~Oprah Winfrey

The strings of a guitar on their own are important. They are separate, different and unique. When they choose to come together they can make great sounds. It is the same with moments. Each day is made up of many moments and the vast majority of them are good and positive. God calls us to do our best with each moment that comes our way. This puts us in the best place for the next moment. As we look back on the past month of August, it has been a collection of many moments. It is always good to look back and reflect at the end of any month. How was August for you? What did not go well? More importantly what went well for you this month? We let go of those moments that were negative, unhelpful and best forgotten and we treasure those that were filled with love and blessings. We thank the Lord for the month just gone and we look forward to new beginnings tomorrow.
'God may send a cross but also sends the strength to bear it.' ~Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

At the moment there seems to be wasps everywhere. They hang around rubbish bins, around the kitchen door and are so annoying as they fly around you in circles. It looks like we will have to put up with them for another few weeks. It would be a pity though to put the honeybee into the same category. The honeybee will not be found near rubbish bins or around our kitchen doors. Instead it will be busy gathering nectar from the flowers and at this time of year they are busy working heather and fuschia flowers. For every drop of honey they make they have to collect 80 drops of nectar. They have worked it out that to make a jar of honey the bees will have to visit two million flowers! There is an old saying that says 'There are no results without effort' and the honeybee knows this only too well. Jesus in our Gospels also talks about no results without effort. He reminds us that to be a follower of his we will have to take up a cross. We will be exposed to difficulties, setbacks, hurt and disappointments. We can't avoid these. They are part and parcel of life. Jesus calls them a cross but assures us that whatever our cross, he will be there to help us carry it, whatever it might be.
'To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.' ~Simone Weil

The world has watched the progress of Hurricane Irene over the past few days as it tracked up the east coast of America. It is the first major hurricane of the 2011 season. Ironically the name Irene is a Greek word and the name translates as 'Peace'. It was far from peaceful yesterday as the hurricane swept up towards New York and Boston. Today we will see pictures of the devastation and particularly uprooted and fallen trees. Roots are meant to hold and stabilise but not to the force of a hurricane. Spiritually we also need to be rooted to help us withstand the storms of life. Such roots can be strong sound values, good support structures around us such as family and friends, belief in a loving God and belief in ourselves and what we have to offer. It's when we take all these for granted, that we become unstable and likely to become uprooted. What are the important spiritual roots in my life today?
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett

Poor Peter. He never seems to get it quite right. His journey throughout the Gospel is definitely one of ups and downs as one minute he is a ROCK, the next a failure. Peter wants the journey of discipleship to be a happy, rosy place where all is well because God is in his life. Unfortunately it is not that simple as having our minds set on 'divine things' means that we must be agents of change in this world where 'human things' are concerned. Peter is being moulded into the rock that he needs to be although at times he appears as a small stone.

To be an agent of change usually means being counter-cultural and that brings many challenges and 'crosses'. That is Jesus' message to his followers - if you are interested in my Kingdom, then that will involve hardship along the way. Why? Because the Kingdom that Jesus proclaims is one where everyone is included, where justice and peace reign and communities are built on the principles of solidarity, mutuality, respect and love. And not just any love, but AGAPE love, i.e. love of people we don't know and love of people we may not even like. Why is this so hard? Jesus' love changes things. It is a radical love, one with no boundaries. To achieve a world where this Kingdom is a reality will most definitely involve going against the grain and therein lie the crosses. Jesus is trying to explain to Peter the path that lies ahead.
A young girl said to her friend, "When I get older, I want to wear glasses just like Granny's because she can see so much more than most people. She can see the good in a person when everyone else sees a bad side. She can see what a person meant to do even if they didn't do it. I asked her one day how she could see the good and she said it was the way she learned to look at things as she got older. When I get older, I want to wear a pair of glasses just like Granny's so I can see the good too.' ~Walter Buchanan

What a different world we could live in if we all wore a pair of Granny's glasses! Why is there such emphasis on the negative? Why do we allow it to dominate our lives? There is such a vast reservoir of goodness out there. We don't have to wear special glasses but we do need a certain mindset. Our prayer this weekend might be to ask God to help us see some good around us even if it's hard to find.
'Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we allow it, God can use our flaws to advantage. In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste. Let's not be afraid of our flaws. Acknowledge them, and let them be used to advantage, so that they, and we, can be the cause of beauty along the way.' ~Maura Walsh

There is a story told about a gardener who had two large buckets. One was leaky while the other one was brand new. Determined to replace the old bucket one day the gardener kept using it. Each day the gardener would draw water in the hot sunshine, knowing that one bucket was losing water, while the other one remained full. As time went on the gardener noticed that on the side of the path with the leaky bucket there were fresh, beautiful and colourful flowers. But the side of the path with the new bucket, that didn't see a drop of water, was bare and barren. So despite its obvious flaw the old bucket was still doing a lot of good. The same goes for our own faults too. The invitation is to acknowledge them, work with them and use them to our advantage as best we can.
'Never deprive someone of hope, it might be all they have.' H. Jackson Brown

The core values of Christianity are faith, hope and love. All else evolves from these three together and either of them can't work on their own. We all know what hope is but where does it come from and how does it apply to our lives? The source of our hope is in God who simply loves us and who can do nothing else. It's about a God who never stops seeking us and who never gives up on us. St.Paul wrote a lot about this and described it in a lovely way by saying: "Hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts." In a world that is often dominated by negative news and where good news is often squeezed out, we need to be people of hope. To be a person of hope requires great determination, courage, conviction and inner belief. It is a lifelong task beginning today as best we can.
'If only we could teach ourselves to live in the moment. We are always thinking about what we have to do next or what we forgot to do or what we wished we had done. Our minds are so fixed on things on our "to do" list that we miss the opportunity to live in the present.' ~Anne Bryan Smollin

When the Rose of Tralee is on we know that school is just around the corner after the summer break. The pace is always relaxed and easy during the summer months. Even if the weather wasn't great this summer we certainly got the chance to allow ourselves to live in the moment. We have enjoyed summer walks, sunshine when it did shine!, beautiful sunsets, gardens full of colour and watching swallows and wildlife maximise the summer months. We have appreciated the freedom of being outdoors and how important it is to get a break from constant television. We have allowed ourselves to slow down, we have given ourselves time to unwind and we have done things we normally might not do. It is often during these times that we feel close and connected to God. But after any holiday or summer break we drift quickly back into what we must do next, what we forgot to do and what we wished we had done. We forget about living in the moment where life bubbles and where life really matters. In the meantime let's make the most of today and the eight days that are left in August!
'Letting God in is something that has to be done many times every day. Each time we muck things up we can try to let God in, always starting again - and again and again! - to step out of our own inadequacy and meet with love whatever comes along.' ~Angela Graham

Our Celtic ancestors had no problem letting God into their lives. For them God was already there and everything they did was an acknowledgment that God was with them every moment and every step of their daily journey. Their lives were a living prayer, almost as natural as breathing. We have since moved a long way in the other direction, choosing more structured and organised religion to make a connection with God. But today there is also a swing back to our roots in Celtic spirituality and how we can find God in many of the things we do each day. Rather than separating what we believe in, it is good to tie it in to the humdrum of our daily lives. We are human and God wants to be where we are, in the good and uplifting days but also the dark, frustrating and difficult days that we sometimes go through. Our story is unique, personal and constantly changing. By letting God in, we make sure we are always near and surrounded by love. This is always a good place to be.
The following reflection on World Youth Day has been writen by Jane Mellett

Today Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass with over one million young adults in Madrid as the jamboree of WYD11 comes to a close. This week many friendships will have been made, seeds of faith and hope sown, vocations (of all kinds) discerned and the concept of a Kingdom of justice and liberation explored.

At WYD 2008 BXVI asked all of us gathered there to thank God for the gift of faith passed down to us by our parents, grandparents and teachers. He said: 'The Spirit revealed in their lives is still at work in the good they left behind.' Then he asked this question: 'Dear young people, what will you leave to the next generation? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God? What legacy will you leave to the young people yet to come?'

When people say that our youth are the Church of tomorrow, they are wrong. Young people are the Church of today and unless we, as Church, reach out to them and their spiritual needs, then they will be gone tomorrow. The pilgrims returning from Madrid this week will be ready for anything, ready to work for God's Kingdom of peace. But what will they meet when they return to Ireland? Will this energy be harnessed and put into action? It is up to each of us in our various communities to tap into this great gift of Spirit-filled energy that our young pilgrims are returning with.
The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. ~Euripides

There was only one story in the news all week and that was the Rambler yacht which overturned off the Fastnet Rock. We heard about the rescue of 21 people in atrocious weather conditions and how the rescue teams made some crucial decisions in saving lives. The survivors are so lucky to be alive this weekend. Then we watched the yacht being towed to Baltimore and later how huge cranes eventually turned it the right way up again. Baltimore has since become a tourist attraction with hundreds coming along to see the action. The reason the huge yacht overturned, happened when its massive keel broke underneath. With huge winds hitting the sails overhead, a huge weight under the boat is needed to bring balance. A keel brings this balance but when it broke the yacht hadn't a chance of staying upright. There are also similarities in our spiritual lives too. We all need a keel as well in our lives to bring balance and stability. The winds that hit our sails are often high and unpredictable. If a keel brings balance in a yacht, then there are many things that bring balance in our lives too. First and foremost our belief in a loving God helps to bring balance. Who God is for us is often personal and will be different for all of us. But one common link is that like a keel in a yacht, God is there to bring stability and balance into all of our lives. We turn to God this weekend and ask God to continue to bring stability and balance into all of our lives.
'Much is sometimes made of the seeming lack of religious knowledge or adherence to Church teaching of the young. But you will often find them to be just as kind and thoughtful and if we're truthful, perhaps also a little more honest, than some of us from earlier generations.' ~Paul Clayton-Lea

It is sometimes easy to look at what is negative and forget the good and positive all around us. This is especially true of young people. Perhaps they don't always get 10/10 when it comes to faith matters but they most certainly get many 10/10's when it comes to openness, honesty, generosity, kindness and a willingness to embrace what's new and challenging. This weekend over a million young people are gathering in Madrid for World Youth Day and where Pope Benedict will speak to them on Sunday. Such a gathering is a great witness to their journey and their search for something deeper than what life has to offer. Their energy and enthusiasm is better than any power station. Their sense of fun and friendship is touching. We've a lot to learn from them and maybe we need to give them more credit than we actually do. Today is a good day to pray for all our young people. We ask God to gently guide and direct them in all they do.
There is a light hearted story told about a young hard working farmer who one day was looking over his gate into a field. He had just drained a bog and transformed it into a green beautiful field. The parish priest happened to be walking down the road and he walked over to the gate to speak to Paddy, the busy and enthusiastic farmer. The priest casting his eye across the field said,"Isn't it great Paddy, what God can do?" Paddy, was obviously a bit peeved that God should be getting all the credit, replied, "Maybe so, but he did a damn bad job of it before I helped him out!!"
'Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.' ~Art Linkletter

Today many Leaving Cert students will pick up their results from their local secondary school. There will be much excitement and inevitably some tears. It's a pity the focus is always on the high achievers. Their photo always seems to make the papers. There are many more heroic stories on students who have made huge efforts in difficult and challenging circumstances. Their photo will not make the papers but hopefully for many of them the results will present much promise, many opportunities and a great sense of hope in moving onto new beginnings. Not everyone will get what they want and what to do next may not be as clear. Exam results are important but life will go on and life will continue to bubble with options and things to do. We pray for all those who got their results today. We ask God to gently direct them as they move onto new things, new opportunities and new beginnings.
A story called 'Drawing Wrong Conclusions'

There was an old woman who crossed the Brazilian frontier every day on a motor scooter, with a bag of sand behind her. The customs officer eventually became suspicious and inquired, "What have you got in that sack?" "Only sand, sir" came the reply. The officer emptied the sack and indeed it contained nothing but sand. And so it went for a few weeks. One day, the officer said to the woman, "I won't arrest you or say anything to the police, but just tell me are you smuggling or not?" "Yes", she answered truthfully. "Well, what are you smuggling?" he pressed her. With a smile, she replied, "Scooters" and sped off into the distance!
From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems lost. Through Mary we come to her son more easily.' ~Pope John Paul II

Today is the feast of the Assumption of Mary. Coming right in the middle of August it is always a reminder that the summer is nearly over and back to school is just around the corner! Days are getting shorter, and the hint of autumn is gently creeping in. Mary's feast day gives us a little nudge to make the most of the remainder of this month. The greatest disservice we have done to Mary down through the years is to have put her on a pedestal as if she is far removed from our world and lives. It is our loss if we see her as distant or irrelevant. Mary is especially close to our every experience. She is a truly great friend to have as we journey through life. Mary is close not just to the good stuff in our lives but especially close to our own struggles, setbacks and disappointments. She experienced many in her life and even during the darkest of moments she still put her trust in God. Mary's feast day reminds us that we can learn to trust even when all hope seems lost. We ask for her guidance, direction and many blessings on each of us for the remainder of this month.
The following poem called 'I will Be Here' by Stephen Curtis was read at the wedding Mass yesterday of Lisa Cahill and Tony White in St.Patrick's Church, Whitechurch

If in the morning when you wake, if the sun does not appear, I will be here. If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand and have no fear, I will be here. I will be here when you feel like being quiet, when you need to speak your mind, I will listen. Through the winning, losing and trying we'll be together. And I will be here. If in the morning when you wake and the future is unclear, I will be here. As sure as the seasons were made for change, our lifetimes were made for years. I will be here. I will be here and you can cry on my shoulder. When the mirror tells us we're older, I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty and tell you all the things you are to me. I will be true to the promises I've made to you and to the one who gave you to me. I will be here.
'The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.' ~Anthony Robbins

If you get the chance to visit Valencia Island in Co.Kerry, there are many beautiful spots to see if the weather is right! One significant place to see is Foilhomurrum Bay, where the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid from Valencia, all the way across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland. The cable was unique in that it connected North America and Europe. Normally it would take at least 10 days to deliver a message by ship and now it took a matter of minutes. Considering it all happened back in 1858 and that it covered 3000 miles or 4800 kilometers is an incredible achievement. But we also know how communication has moved on and changed today. Electronic communication has made it all so easy today and maybe at times too easy. We take for granted just how easy it is to communicate with those near and far. Despite advances in technology, communication with God is something entirely different. It may not be as clear cut as sending a text message or receiving an email but we know that any effort to communicate with God is always important. Such communication is best described as prayer. There are as many ways of praying as the stars but what works best is simple, short and from the heart.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.' ~Psalm 118:24

A good day doesn't just happen. It requires first of all from us commitment, openness and good intention. If we sit back and hope that today will be good then we will surely be disappointed. Equally no matter how good our intentions may be the unexpected can often put our best plans to rest. But there is a world of experience and wisdom to suggest that we can have a strong influence on what happens in any given day. No matter what comes our way we have a choice in how we respond. We can be fearful, pessimistic and dismissive or we can be positive, courageous and hopeful. Some may say why bother trying to be positive and upbeat when there is so much negativity around? But negativity tends to attract all sorts of other negativity around us. That's why the Christian message is upbeat and positive. In the middle of darkness and negativity we need light, hope and a sense of positive. Today may be very ordinary, it is far from perfect but it's the only day we can really work with and make the most of.
'Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach.' ~Tom Robbins

When it comes to deciding whether or not to do something we have three choices: do it, delegate it or ditch it. But sometimes a healthy approach is to delay the decision as well. To delay a decision can be good and positive. In our scriptures Jesus warned about making rash decisions. In the parable of the wheat and weeds, he cautioned against pulling out all the weeds. In doing so the good wheat could be pulled out as well. He urged them to wait until the harvest and then do the dividing. On our daily journey we sometimes have to decide whether to do it, delegate or ditch it. But there are also times when we have to delay, reflect and take our time on some decisions. It is all about finding the right balance. We pray to God to help us when we make decisions, to help us make the right choice and sometimes to know that it's ok and good to take our time.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett

Jesus said: 'You asked to be out here. If you can't handle the wind and waves that's your problem!' And Peter drowned that night in the Sea of Galilee. No? Oh sorry, that's not how the story ends. Do the disciples not realise by now that if they leave the shore without Jesus in the boat, the waters become very choppy indeed? In fact, they had gone so far, that they didn't even recognise him when he did catch up to them.

It is important to remember one thing - at least he got out of the boat. The situation was very serious, the disciples as fishermen knew how quickly conditions could change and soon they'd be in, well... in over their heads! There was no great surfing culture in Galilee at the time so one has to appreciate Peter's courage as he steps out onto the stormy water in a real leap of faith and cries 'Lord, save me'. The reply is not the bureaucratic response above, but 'Jesus immediately reached out his hand....'
'Treat yourself the way you are and you will remain so. Treat yourself the way you can become and you will become so.' ~Author Unknown

We have heard the saying 'stuck in rut'. It is easy to slip into that place where it feels as if we're going nowhere. Sometimes we're happy with this. It can be a safe place to be without having to push ourselves further. But staying exactly the way we are, is not giving ourselves a fair chance. We can become so much more but this can only happen unless we think we can. For anything to happen we must believe in ourselves first. We must always think that if we are stuck in a rut we can move out of it and on. We are capable of doing many things that might seem beyond our reach right now. Straight away we could say: "If I had money I could do so much more and my dreams would become a reality." But there are also things that money can't buy and these are within our reach. We pray this weekend for the courage to begin to believe. It is so easy to keep our heads down and do nothing outside our comfort zone. We ask God to gently give us the confidence to believe in what we can do.
A Reflection called 'Love In The Home' ~Author Unknown

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper - not a homemaker.
If I have time for waxing, polishing and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn cleanliness - not godliness.
Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.
Love is present through the trials.
Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.
Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child and then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.
Love is the key that opens God's message to a child's heart.
Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God's perfection of my child. As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is Love.
'Things happen which baffle us, life has problems to which there seems no solution, many questions to which there seems no answer. It is inevitable that doubt, depression and failure of nerve will surface. While faith is a struggle it is also a powerful instrument in the generation of true joy, enabling us to cling to God so that we do not succumb to denial or cynicism' ~Michael Neary (Archbishop of Tuam speaking at Croagh Patrick last Sunday)

While Mayo went on to beat Cork in the All Ireland quarter final last Sunday, another 15,000 people were climbing its famous mountain Croagh Patrick. In the annual Reek Sunday Pilgrimage which always takes place on the last Sunday of July, pilgrims from all over Ireland climb this famous mountain. It's not done to keep fit but is done out of a genuine belief that it's good to do a pilgrimage, to connect with a deeper spirituality and a sense of sacred all around us. For the pilgrims on Sunday and indeed all of us, we are so aware of how fragile life can be. Often there are no answers and this can be so frustrating. Our faith allows us to rise above this frustration and enables us to cling to something. As believers we turn to God and sometimes we just cling and barely hold on there. But so long as we are clinging and maintaining some connection we are in a good and safe place.
'August with its clouds of scented blooms, August with corn plants standing like rows of soldiers, August with shimmering memories hanging like drops of dew, August a blessed harvest of memories' ~from a poem by Mary Naylor

August was originally named in honour of the Roman emperor Augustus. No other month starts on the same day of the week as August. The only exception to this is the month of February during a leap year. August also ends on the same day of the week as November and is one of seven months with a length of 31 days. August is a month when many take a holiday and is usually very relaxed ahead of schools reopening next month. Many festivals, community activities and sporting events happen during August. The only thing that's needed to bring a smile to everyone is some sunshine! We pray today that everyone will have a nice relaxed month, that the weather will be nice and that we will have plenty of chances to be out and about during the coming weeks. We pray for guidance and direction in all our plans for this month and from the poem above, may we be blessed with a harvest of memories.
'Time is free but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back.' ~Harvey Mackey

Time is something we take so much for granted. We often say we haven't enough of time or that time goes by so quickly. But time can be our best friend if we begin to treat it as a friend. One of the best and simplest prayers at the end of any day is to quickly recall the events of that day. What things went well? What went badly? What could have gone better? Did we use time to our advantage or were we all over the place? No one gets it right and finding the balance in using time well is a daily challenge. Time becomes our friend when we try and do our best with what we have each day. Time becomes our friend when we work with people and events that are life giving and give us energy. Time becomes our friend when we begin to appreciate that it is a precious gift from God to us. It's easy to lose and waste time but as our friend it helps us make the most of every day.


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