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Listing February - 2022
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

If we regard all information gathered up to 1900 as one unit, since then that unit has doubled every ten years. We have shot dramatically from Stone Age to Information Age. But at heart we’re still hunter-gatherers. Nowadays we ‘hunt’ for knowledge by gathering information. We’ve replaced spears with technology. Take, for example, those wishing to establish paternity. A do-it-yourself DNA test-kit was due shortly in pharmacies across the UK, according to one newspaper’s report last August. Costing £29.99 with a £129 lab fee you would be able to establish paternity in less than five days.

If we read the Bible we can establish paternity in less than five minutes, and at no cost – financial, that is. But it’s faith not technology that recognises knowledge found in scripture as truth found in life. In today’s Second Reading (Phil 3:17-4:1) Paul speaks of our citizenship. He could just as easily speak of our paternity. He says: our citizenship is in heaven. We belong to another order of reality because that’s the origin of our paternity. This is what the Gospel reading (Luke 9:28-36) is telling us too. A voice from the cloud addresses the transfigured Jesus as my Son, my Chosen.

Being baptised in Jesus’ name we share in his paternity, but by adoption. Jesus tells us to call God Father when we pray. So, as we pray this Lent, let’s listen to our Father’s word in scripture so that we accept ever more maturely and humbly a paternity that no identi-kit can establish – unless the D in DNA stands for ‘divine’.
Learning.....taken from the School Chaplains Association Newsletter

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security. You learn that kisses are not contracts and presents aren't promises. You begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open. You learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for your plans. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. You will learn that you really can endure, that you really are special and that you really do have worth. So live to learn and know yourself. In doing so, you will learn to live.

'We bring a blessing to the sick when we we visit them but we also leave their presence blessed by having visited them. There is love in giving just as there is love in receiving.' ~Ronald Rolheiser

How often do we come across occasions when we don't have any words to say. It might be with a bereaved person who has just lost a loved one, someone with an illness, an elderly parent with dementia or someone who is going through a very difficult time. Words never come easy but our presence is worth thousands of words. Even when we feel awkward or unsure or even feel its a waste of time is when our presence makes a real and lasting difference. We sometimes associate blessings just with religious. But blessings can be given by anyone and the greatest blessing is your presence and how your presence can bless someone many times over in ways you might never expect. We ask God today to help us appreciate that our presence brings many blessings to many people each day.
'Healthy and wholesome relationships begin with respect for myself and others. Who am I? I am fully human, made in the image of God, full of potentiality for good and for making the world a better place to live in. My relationships will be built on respect.' ~Martin Tierney

Respect is perhaps a word we take for granted a lot of the time. It embraces every aspect of our lives. Respect is part of family life, of work, of sport and is at the heart of every relationship. A life built without respect rapidly disintegrates into something coarse, vulgar, dark and without meaning or direction. The Church at the moment has lost much respect due to its own bankrupt credibility. Other institutions such as banks and the political world have also lost respect. But it doesn't mean we have to loose sight of what's really important. Respect of much more real significance takes place with ourselves. I have to first respect myself, believe in myself and know that I have so much to offer. This is the most important first step and the one that God encourages and invites us to take each moment of every day.
My journey towards God, my experience of faith, has taken many twists and turns, with some apparently dead ends but God can use even dead ends to whisper to us. -Pat McKinley

Everyone's faith journey is uniquely different. It would be foolish to try and compare ours with others. The one common link are the difficulties we all experience and also the positive and joyful blessings we experience too. The idea that God can work quietly with the dead ends of our faith experience is also good news. Nothing goes to waste. Even our struggles and moments of doubt are in fact stepping stones. We have nothing to be afraid of. These weeks of Lent are opportunities to feel those quiet whispers of God. These whispers are often so quiet they can slip us by. God never abandons us. Those quiet whispers are a great incentive to keep going on our faith journey, even in the midst of struggles.
‘The greatest truths are the simplest and so are the greatest people.’ ~Julius Hare

Big is always impressive and appealing but small can be just as effective and more direct. In the bigger picture our small contribution to life may seem insignificant, yet it is the most important of all. Scripture refers to our contribution as being ‘the corner stone’ or ‘foundation’ of life. Do we really believe this? We live in a world where celebrities, sports personalities, pop stars and other famous people dominate the headlines. At times it seems as if nothing else matters. When we begin to compare our lot with theirs it seems they have it all. But have they? We need to take more ownership of the difference we make each day. God isn’t calling us to celebrity status but to simply just be ourselves. Why does it seem that everyone is doing their level best to make life more complicated? The more complex we make life, the more we struggle to find balance and inner peace. Sweeping changes never work successfully but is there one simple positive change I can make in my life this day? Can you make it your corner stone today and during these weeks of Lent?
‘If we think of God’s will as a force that directs us towards love, we are in good shape.’ ~Carolyn Humphreys

We often say ‘It’s God’s will’ but do we really understand what we are saying? We often use it as an automatic or simple explanation of some negative event that has happened to us or somewhere in the world. If we believe that God’s will is love then this has to be a good starting point. This means that we can never say that a Haiti earthquake or a Madeira mudslide is the will of God. The same goes for a whole series of events that tempt us to say it’s God’s will. It may be tempting but we can’t go there. It would put God into the category of a cruel, dark and horrible force. We need to look at it from a different angle. God wills and always wants to breathe life, love and energy into our lives. It would be handy if like a petrol station we could top up whenever we want. While we don’t have a direct connection with God, we do our best to be open to God’s gentle presence in our lives. These weeks of Lent allow us to explore the benefits of exploring this presence in our lives.
The following reflection is by Rev.Joseph Cassidy

The word 'lent' has different meanings in English. He leant against the wall. She lent me some money. If you're from Cork 'he ran the lent of de field!' The Lent we're talking about means 'springtime', so the emphasis is on growth, on renewal and on new life.

If Lent is to mean anything in our lives, it has to be a season of renewal. Lent is a stretching time, a challenging time, a seasonal reminder of the intrinsically challenging nature of the Christian life. As an exercise in penance - out of a desire to grow in self control perhaps - people give up things during Lent like sweets, cigarettes or drink. I wouldn't quarrel with that at all. All that is part of the Lenten spirit.

The one point that i would emphasise, however and that I'd like you to remember, is that Lent is not primarily about the extraordinary. It's about the ordinary. It's not primarily about extra things, like sweets or cigarettes, it's about those things that are part of our everyday lives. Lent is a time when we make a fresh start, when we try again, a little bit more earnestly, with sincerity and honesty, to live up to the responsibilities and challenges of our Christian lives.
‘Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you simply and directly that I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behaviour I engaged in. I have let you down personally and professionally. For all I have done, I am so sorry.’ ~Tiger Woods from his public apology yesterday

The apology of Tiger Woods has met with mixed reaction. Some say it was too well rehearsed and that he was merely reading a well prepared script as part of a professional PR exercise. Others say it was sincere, honest, contrite, how he admitted his failings and blames no one but himself. If there was a winner yesterday it had to be Tiger Woods himself. Everyone knows he is an immensely private person; whose multiple affairs ensured his character fall was spectacular. He has now openly admitted his mistakes, wants to build the pieces of his life back together with his family, wants to get his priorities and values back on track and just wants to make a new and fresh start with his life. Forgiveness is not a popular word today. It’s central to the Gospel message mainly because it frees us and allows healing to happen. What areas of my life need to be forgiven and allow healing to begin?
‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. The opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Only one enemy is worse than despair: indifference.’ ~Elie Wiesel

An indifferent person couldn’t care less about anything or anyone. It is self defeat at its best. Nothing is of priority or value. For anyone who is indifferent life is like a prison, it leads to isolation and feelings of emptiness are often expressed. Sadly indifference seems to have taken a firmer hold during these times of recession. A person who feels indifferent should not be made feel guilty or given out to. Our greatest gift to them is our love and support. Nothing else matters. A common link in our Gospel stories is how Jesus met much indifference. He often melted it away by making each person feel that no one else in the whole world mattered except to whom he was talking to. Each person began to feel their self worth and the difference that they could make by first believing in themselves. Indifference is smothered by self belief and hope. Lent is a good opportunity to give indifference in our lives a good push to the side.
‘It’s strange, significant, the way things come together – eventually even gentle curves create a circle.’ ~Mary Murphy

The spiritual life is best described as a collection of gentle curves. Every curve of life in some way touches God. This means that God is connected to everything that happens throughout our lives. Even in difficult times we are helped and supported. When it comes to spirituality we can also say that Lent is like a blank canvas. Each day we can pick up the paintbrush of our lives and add colours. Like gentle curves eventually creating a circle so too with the colours of our lives. Some days our colours are bright and easy to find, while on other days our colours are scarce, lacking energy and focus. Lent is all about invitations. Each day is an invitation to simply be ourselves and to add our colour to the daily canvas of life. Lent is spread out over many weeks to give us a fair chance and even the smallest efforts on our behalf are always worth the effort.
‘In a world that often expects us to be perfect, on Ash Wednesday we freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretences and be truly honest with each other about who we are.’ ~Mark Roberts

The most obvious question on Ash Wednesday is why do we put dirty ashes on our foreheads today? It’s not a good luck charm but an outward sign that we’re mortal, fragile and merely pilgrims passing through this world. The ashes are a reminder that we are willing to do something positive in our spiritual lives. Today is not about doom, gloom or negativity. It’s a day to celebrate the gift of now and the gift of today. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we don’t go on forever and the coming weeks of Lent are an opportunity to delight in the gifts of each and every day. It’s so easy to take everything and everyone for granted. Perhaps today and throughout Lent we can make sure we value what’s really important in our lives.
‘Live simply that others might simply live.’ ~Elizabeth Seaton

Today is Shrove Tuesday or better known as Pancake Tuesday. It is the day before Ash Wednesday and traditionally it was a day of making and eating rich foods before the fasting season of Lent began. Sugar, fat and eggs which would be restricted during Lent were used in plenty on Shrove Tuesday. Part of the fun in making pancakes is trying to toss them. The world record is 416 times in 2 minutes by Ralf Laue from Leipzig. Who knows you might beat this record later!!

Spiritually Shrove Tuesday was also a day to seek forgiveness. The process of confession and absolution was called shriving hence Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes are simple and easy to make using flour, eggs, sugar and lemon juice. They are a reminder of the simple and important things that really matter in life. It’s not always about the big fancy recipe with endless ingredients. Sometimes the simple recipe works best of all. God will always be found in those simple down to earth moments that make up our daily routine. Lent can be a time to rediscover the blessings that these simple moments can bring to each of us.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

The Hubble Space Telescope has shown the universe in such incredible detail that it has transformed the way scientists view it. For example, Hubble has honed down the estimate of the universe’s age to between 13 and 14 billion years. It was instrumental in discovering dark energy – that mysterious force that accelerates the expansion of the universe. And, it has revealed galaxies at all stages of their evolution: from wobbly toddlers to the end-time collapse of their massive stars. Among the world’s most important observatories ever, Hubble will degrade until it can’t function. Its life expectancy is perhaps five more years. However, the rejuvenation it got in May 2009 from the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis will enable it to go out in a blaze of glory. Hubble’s last years will be its best.

The same often holds true for people. Senior ones, when they’ve lived good lives, have so much to offer. We should never be tempted to think that we’re past it or have become useless. The doing may be less urgent, varied or demanding, but the being becomes more important than ever. The older we are privileged to get, when open to God’s Spirit, the more we give witness to the truth of what Paul writes about in today’s Second Reading. (1 Cor 15:12, 16-20) We are called to resurrection – a resurrection that begins today, or for the fortunate ones: yesterday. As Hubble has revolutionised scientists’ view of the universe, so too can every person whose resurrection has begun revolutionise the outlook and behaviour of those still awaiting theirs.
‘Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.’ ~Zora Neale Hurston

Tomorrow (Feb 14th) is St.Valentine’s Day. Some may say it’s a whole load of hype but if you take away all the trimmings, you are left with that precious gift called love. Valentine’s Day is not just limited to romantic love. It’s a day that celebrates every moment of love. If we say God is love then every moment of love brings with it an energy and uniqueness that can’t be found anywhere else. It is we ourselves who do our best to limit the effects of love. Life knocks us and hurts us from time to time and we retreat into our hiding places. But love invites us back out of our darkness and uncertainties. Like many gifts that are given to us each day we tend to take love for granted. But tomorrow at least is one day when we realize just how lucky we are to have love in our lives. It takes a while to build up love but only a second to loose it. You can’t buy it or even sell it. It is up to us to treasure this precious gift from God. Tomorrow St.Valentine’s Day could be a great day to start.
Thought not available for Feb 12th 2010
‘In a busy rushing world, where so much depends on passing exams, achieving a higher income, surrounding oneself with comforts and luxuries beyond the dreams of two thirds of the world, Bernadette lives poorly, asks for nothing but God’s love and achieves nothing but her response to that love.’ ~Msgr Kevin O’Callaghan

Today (Feb 11th) is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is a day set aside to celebrate the anniversary of the apparitions witnessed by 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous and it also marks world day for sick people. Five million pilgrims visit Lourdes each year. Anyone who has been there will know it’s a significant and special place. Love bubbles everywhere in Lourdes. Its effects are felt by everyone. It is contagious, life giving, refreshing and so alive. Anyone who has been to Lourdes will often say, “If only I could bottle what’s here and bring it home’. It is at home but it may not always be as evident as it is in Lourdes. Today is a day to make sure that God’s greatest medicine called love gets shared. All of us are instruments of God’s healing love. We pray today for all who are sick and we include doctors, nurses, carers and anyone who needs our prayers on this special day.
‘An instant of pure love is more precious to God and the soul, than all other good works together. Often it may seem as if nothing were done. ~St. John of the Cross

It is often the case that we underestimate the potential of the little and small. Our day is predominantly made up of what’s ordinary and routine. Any little moment where love is the starting point is precious and unique. Put a few of these moments together across any day and you have something special. Sometimes they may seem almost insignificant, common and hardly worth the effort. Yet such moments have the finger of God on them. These moments are the heartbeat of life and the heartbeat of God. Even in the midst of a crisis, darkness or difficult time in our lives, these moments are a lifeline. Everyone can create them and this day is probably the most important in generating one or more of them. When it may seem that you have done nothing at all, is in fact the moment when you have done something far more significant than you will probably ever realise.
‘The challenge of indifference is a challenge to every believer. Through prayer and pastoral action a revival of religion is still possible – beginning with renewal of prayer and worship.’ ~An t-Athair Michaél MacGréil

A recent national religious survey of adults eighteen years and over threw up some interesting findings. Almost half (47%) said they prayed daily or more often. Nearly three quarters (72%) prayed weekly or more often. One in ten (10%) said they had given up on prayer. The level of closeness to God came in at a high 86%. Just 4% said they did not believe in God. Weekly Mass attendance came in at 43% while going to confession once a month came in at just 9%. The survey also noted that there was a higher level of religious practice in rural areas compared to urban areas. When asked for the reasons for not attending Church more frequently the main reason given was ‘just don’t bother’ (indifference). Some of the most obvious conclusions from this survey are that people’s spirituality or connection with God is still strong. Seven out of 10 people pray once a week and many feel a close bond to God which is encouraging. With only 4 out of 10 people attending Mass on a Sunday, the challenge is to find new ways of connecting spiritually with these people.
‘When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master’, Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing but if you say so, I will pay out the nets’ ~Luke 5:4

I think we can all relate to Peter. At times it feels as if our nets are empty. Often like Peter, we have worked hard, we have done everything right, we have ticked all the boxes and yet the nets are empty. We may feel God has let us down because of something that has happened in our lives. Everyone’s story is different but because of something that has happened recently or in the past, our nets feel empty. Like Peter we might say what’s the point? If God cared they wouldn’t be empty. But that’s the moment God calls us to throw those nets out again. With Peter the nets came back so full of fish that the boats were about to sink. It’s a gentle reminder or maybe a dramatic reminder that when life feels empty and bare, God wants to and will fill us with many blessings. One of these is a sense that there is meaning and purpose to what we do each day. Let’s throw those empty nets out once again.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

When it comes to energy and matter we’re in the dark. Satellite images of leftover energy from the Big Bang show things as they were 400,000 years after the Bang. To put that into perspective: it means seeing something as it was 13 billion years ago. Analysing their findings, scientists have discovered that only 4.6 percent of the total universe is made of stuff we can see. The rest, in the form of dark matter and dark energy, is invisible and mystifying. Dark matter holds our galaxies together; dark energy drives them apart. Their interaction means that while there won’t be more matter in the universe there will be more space – lots more. So much more that neighbouring galaxies will disappear into the void. We’ll find ourselves even more cosmically isolated than we already are. Something to look forward to!

Better to look forward to what God’s word promises. God’s image in today’s First Reading (Isa 6:1-8) shows God as majestic and transcendent. Yet God cares for people by sending Isaiah on a mission to them. This mighty God, for whom our Big Bang was neither big nor a bang, cares for his creation. A cold and lonely universe is not part of God's plan for us. Couldn’t be since he sends his son to us later. As the seraphs cover their faces before the majesty of God in that First Reading so too does Peter as he falls before Jesus’ knees in awe in the Gospel reading. (Luke 5:1-11) Take your pick: dark matter, dark future; glorious God, glorious future.
‘A man once decided to be pleasant and complimentary to everyone he saw and this even included the bus driver. He explained it in this way: 'If I am nice to the bus driver, he's likely to be nice to most of the passengers, and they, in their turn, nicer to their employers or employees, to the shop attendants, their families, so that one gesture could influence thousands of people: it's a snowball.’ ~Kenneth Payne

It’s as easy to be nice as it is to be nasty. With a lot of negative news hitting us frequently, it is sometimes hard to be positive and upbeat. But it’s the difference one positive upbeat moment can make, that makes it all worthwhile. One can be cynical and say one moment can’t really make much of a difference. But the power of one small gesture goes way beyond our limited understanding on the difference it can make. We pray to God today and this weekend to help us understand the potential and power of a positive small gesture. Every day is full of these moments, many slip us by and yet even one alone used well, can make up for all the ones that slip by.
‘Some people are like a wheelbarrow. They go no further than they are pushed.’ ~Author Unknown

Only we can honestly answer whether we fall into this category or not. Do we just do the bare essentials or are we willing to do the extra bit. There are endless examples of people who really do the extra bit each day and often go unnoticed such as carers in our community. They look after the housebound, an older parent, someone with special needs or maybe look after someone who is sick. Noone can ever repay them for the effort, time, love and energy that they give each day. Many don’t even have time to care for themselves and this is such a pity and shame. The gospels encourage us to reach out each day and do what we can according to our ability. This does not mean that we should be pushed to levels that are uncomfortable or outside what we can do. But we are encouraged to push further than what’s needed. It’s the extra little bit which can make an extraordinary difference to somebody else. Is there anyone in my life who could do with a small break this weekend? Can I offer my help and time? It could make the world of a difference.
‘God heals sickness and grief by making the sickness and the grief, God’s own suffering and grief.’ ~Jurgen Moltmann

A question that has recently surfaced is how a loving God could allow the Haiti earthquake to happen. Why should over 250,000 people die, with thousands injured and hundreds of thousands homeless. It all doesn’t make sense. One thing we can say with certainty, God didn’t cause the earthquake to happen. What a horrible and cruel God that would be. In the midst of the suffering, grief, shock and devastation God was also there with and among the people, sharing their pain and devastation. God wasn’t watching comfortably from the sidelines. Instead God was in the middle of the darkness and devastation, picking up the pieces and bringing some healing and comfort to where it was most needed. It is always difficult to explain suffering and pain in the context of a loving God. Any explanation has to begin with the knowledge that God isn’t the direct cause and that God is always sharing and holding our pain and darkness. From there light, hope and other blessings begin to take a foothold.
Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished. ~Michael Strassfeld

Today (Feb 2nd) is Candlemas Day. Like many Christian celebrations its roots lie deep in pagan times. The date lies half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is a time of transition from winter into spring. On the Christian calendar it was renamed ‘Candlemas’ to mark the presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is a day that is rich in meaning and symbolism. We live in a world that is often darkened by evil and darker forces. We believe that the light of Christ is powerful and strong enough to wipe out all forms of darkness. This light knows no limits or boundaries. It can penetrate the deepest of darkness, it can shatter hopelessness and despair, it can uplift, guide and direct. Today we gently invite God’s light into our lives and into the lives of those who crave for light, hope and peace.
A Naomh Bríd, a Mhuire na nGael, scar orainn do bhrat. A Naomh Bríd, a chroí na féile, stiúir sinn ar an mbóthar ceart ~from an old Irish prayer to St.Brigid translating as St.Brigid, mother of the Irish, spread your cloak over us, St.Brigid, heart of the faithful, direct us on the right road

Today (Feb 1st ) is the feast of St.Brigid. In Ireland it is a significant feastday as we celebrate the achievements of a remarkable woman. Born in 454 she is famous for her hospitality, her generosity, her concern for the poor, her ability to stand up to those in authority and her unique ability to get what she wanted. She is most famous for her St.Brigid cross which she wove together using rushes. The many strands that make up a St.Brigid’s cross represent the different strands of our own lives. They pick up on our joys and blessings but also on our struggles, problems and difficulties. For Brigid the cross was not an end in itself but pointed to a firm and sure hope in a loving God. For Brigid this loving God helps us to make sense of everything that’s going on in our lives. Significantly St.Brigid’s day reminds us that the dark days of winter are nearly over and spring is just around the corner.


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