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Listing January - 2022
Our Thought For Today is by Fr.Tom Cahill called 'Climate Change'

There’s something fishy about the North Sea. It’s getting hotter. Its temperature rose by 1°C over the last 40 years. Not earth shaking, but serious enough to cause waves. The plankton that cod larvae like have had it. Some 60 percent of them have scuttled off to a cooler clime 1,200 km further north. The result? A sea change. Cod stocks dwindled; crab stocks exploded and jellyfish proliferated as the adult cod that feed on these became fewer. This in turn put pressure on flatfish such as plaice and sole whose offspring crabs crave. Just one extra degree of heat and an ecosystem’s food chain snaps. Even the quiet, away-from-it-all sea urchins, mussels and scallops on the sea bed haven’t escaped the squeeze.

Now, let’s enter our fishbowl and look at our society, our North Sea. Even here, one little degree of change can produce unforeseen consequences. I still remember the shock nearly 30 years ago while home on holidays from the missions hearing a seven-year old girl shout at a five-year-old boy and call him an a**hole. I thought only foul-mouthed Hollywood hoodlums used that language. I figured she’d been exposed at home to so-called entertainment unsuited even to adults. I fume when I hear on the TV seemingly concerned warnings from a disembodied voice about a film containing what it arbitrarily calls ‘strong’ language. It’s never ‘foul’, or ‘bad’ always ‘strong’. What a fine positive and ‘adult’ term for something that’s debasing! Needless to say a lot more has entered the fishbowl from Hollywood and elsewhere that has raised the temperature.
There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.’ ~Kahlil Gibran

The most precious commodity during this past month of January was salt. Every road during the snow and ice was in need of a sprinkling and yet only a few were lucky to get it. Even though the cold snap is now well over, salt is something we can’t do without. It is involved in regulating the water content and balance of our body. Too little of it and we’re in trouble and too much also puts us in trouble. It’s all about finding the right balance. There are 35 references to salt in our scriptures. It’s no surprise that Jesus used it in his teaching. To use something that was so familiar to people was a great starting point. He said we are the salt of the earth. In other words we are crucially important, valued and loved. The main purpose of salt is not just to add taste to food but to bring balance to our bodies. So it is with us. Finding the right balance in all we do is a life long challenge. Many search and long for this balance. Putting our trust and faith in a loving God gives us a great foundation to find and build this balance.
‘I now feel enfolded in a marvellous plan of God which is slowly being unveiled to me’ ~Chiara Badanoan

Last month Pope Benedict approved the beatification of Chiara Badanoan who died on Oct 7th 1990 at the age of 18. We sometimes associate beatifications and saints with older people but Chiara’s story is a truly remarkable one. Her death from bone cancer looked like an empty tragedy but it was her attitude during her illness that made such a difference. As a teenager growing up in Turin, she was always active, loved sport and had many friends. Her diagnosis of cancer didn’t affect her outlook on life and she continued to be brave, courageous and a bright light throughout her terminal illness. When asked once by the medical team as to how she managed her positive attitude and warm affectionate smile she said: “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.” A miracle soon followed after her death. A young boy in Italy was dying from meningitis. His organs were shutting down. There was no way to save his life. His parents learned of Chiara’s story and sought her intersession. He was fully healed. Her beatification will take place in a few months time and a reminder how God still works in ways we least expect.
‘Everyone must learn to believe in someone or something so deeply that life is charged with meaning and a sense of mission. And the more one dedicates oneself to this meaning and mission, the more such a person will develop a sense of profound and personal belonging and discover the reality of community.’ ~John Powell

We were never made for isolation. Somehow we crave for companionship, meaning, a sense of purpose and direction in our lives. We all know how racing pigeons can find their way home. When left off they don't fly straight in the direction they're supposed to go. Instead they will circle many times as they find their bearings and then they set off. It's called the homing instinct. We too have that within us. It takes the form of an inner restlessness and discontent. It is to be seen as a blessing. Just as the homing instinct of a racing pigeon doesn't protect them in their struggle with wind and rain, so it is with us. Our belief in a loving God doesn’t protect us from the knocks of life but it does charge our life with meaning and purpose. Today is a good day to reconnect with whomever and whatever gives our life meaning and hope.
‘One of the qualities of successful people in all walks of life is keen observation. They notice things about people, human nature and the general world around them. Most of us, unfortunately, go through life with our eyes half closed.’ ~Author Unknown

One may disagree with this quotation. Perhaps it’s a bit unfair and wide of the mark. But if we’re honest there is some truth in it. As we come towards the end of January it’s quite possible we may have gone through some days this month with our eyes half closed. We sometimes miss key moments and we miss moments that may never pass our way again. God’s gentle presence is often to be found within these moments. Do we acknowledge something as simple as a smile? Have we time to stop and say hello? Do we notice when someone is not themselves? Do we take for granted a special friendship? Do we look and nurture goodness when we see it or do we always expect the worst? Life is what we make of it but only when we are willing to observe its many currents and movements.
Thought for Jan 26 is not available. (Sorry!!)
Thought For Today resumes tomorrow
Our Thought Today is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Gambling is one of our growing problems. You can bet your bottom dollar on that! It’s estimated that in 2008 punters risked losing about €3.6 billion in the nation’s 1,093 betting shops. That’s €300 million more than the previous year. No recession there! This, alarmingly, doesn’t include on-course betting, gambling on the National Lottery, or online. Many people relish risk, crave for chance and feed on fickle fate instead of solid faith. For some people there can be nothing odd with the odds when it comes to risk-taking for money. What, in sober moments, most of us would count as throwing money away gung-ho gamblers see as a prelude to a victory parade.

Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21) doesn’t deal with chance, though there may be some risk later down the road. It presents us with odds-on certainty: the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the person of Jesus. He was prophesied as the one who brings news of freedom to captives and those oppressed because the Spirit of God rests on him (4:18-19). In other words, because God is with Jesus he can enable us to live free of addictions, compulsions and false values. It’s a totally upbeat prophecy, and indeed Jesus is totally upbeat about it. Question is: are we?

Do we accept Jesus as he who brings us freedom? Or, do we see him as cramping our style? But there’s nothing that’s moral and legal that we can’t do as a Christian that we could do were we not. You can bet your bottom dollar on that too.
'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you came to birth I consecrated you. I for my part today will make you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron and a wall of bronze to confront everything. Nothing shall overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you.' ~Jeremiah (1:4-5. 17-18)

Everyone is talking about the state of our roads after the big freeze up. There are potholes everywhere making driving and cycling hazardous. In our own lives too we have to negotiate many potholes. Problems, worries, difficulties, ill health or an ongoing crisis all make up a collection of hazardous potholes. From a spiritual point of view we are reminded just how much we are loved and cherished by God. This didn't happen today or yesterday but happened long before we were even born. We were marked out as special, unique and important. We may fret, worry and fear about many things and yet God reminds us that we will be strengthened for any challenge, difficulty or pothole that that lies ahead.
A Franciscan blessing…

May God bless you with a relentless discomfort about easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deeply in your hearts. May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom and peace among all people. May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation or the loss of all that they cherish so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in the world, so that you are able with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done. And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, the blessing of Jesus our brother and saviour and the blessing of the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide be with you and remain with you this day and forevermore.
‘What is faith? What does it mean to a young person today? For young people, I think faith is not simply about knowing a set of religious beliefs. True faith involves love.’ ~Thomas Kelly

There has been much talk in recent times about a loss of faith particularly among young people. How do you measure a loss or even an increase in faith? You can’t exactly use a measuring tape! Neither can you measure it by whether you go to Mass or not. It is much deeper. For young people today, faith involves loving their friends, enjoying their company, sharing with them and having older adults who are genuinely willing to listen to them. This is where it’s happening for them. It would be a great shame if we are not willing to journey with them. Faith will never be a neat package that we can open and close occasionally. It is part of our daily lives. For young people, they find God easier among friends and family rather than anything the Church may have to offer them. Some may find that sad but the very fact that they are finding God is a great reason to celebrate.
‘Keep on believing. Your story is a masterpiece unfolding’ ~Donna Fago

The overall winner of the BT Young Scientist Richard O’Shea from Blarney is a fine example of someone who kept believing. A scout for many years, Richard had great knowledge of camp fires and in particular the amount of smoke they produce. Richard set to work on designing a stove which uses as little fuel as possible and which ideally produces no smoke. Over two billion people across the world depend on stoves to cook their meals each day. Richard’s design maximises the intake of air and can be built using simple materials such as tin cans and a simple tool like a Swiss army knife. Richard’s design can and has the potential to make a huge difference to millions of families in rural Africa and in many other parts of the world. He wants to give his idea and design to third world agencies, who can maximise its benefit to those who need it most. In the midst of a recession, with much gloom and doom, Richard is a shining light. Well done Richard and to all our young people who took part in the Young Scientist, thanks for reminding us that our future is bright.
Given the awfulness of the story unfolding in Haiti we continue our prayers today for all the victims of the earthquake, those left behind and for the different aid agencies trying to get food, medicine, water and essentials to the thousands who are in desperate need at this time.

Our reflection today is by Fr.Tom Cahill

I wonder if the UK-chart topping, 1986 hit Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh would have soared so high had she been in green. Wearing red not only gets you noticed, it can get you ahead even in the Olympic Games, according to one lecturer at Durham University, England. Wearing red marks you as aggressive and dominant. Today’s First Reading (1 Cor 12:4-11) lists distinguishing marks for members of the Christian community. The colour red doesn’t get a look in. Neither do designer labels, gym workouts, health-food diets or high-tech gizmos (even had they existed). But then they wouldn’t; all the qualities listed are for service not dominance or ego-gratification.

Also, everything on the list is internal to the individual not external. I don’t need to enhance my appearance for service, but I do need to enhance my self. And the gifts listed in this reading do just that: wise utterance, knowledgeable speech, faith witness, power to heal, working miracles, prophesying and the ability to discern spirits, talking in tongues and interpreting them. To put these gifts in more contemporary wrapping we might list them as: having cop on, being informed, practising what I preach, comforting those in difficulty, helping without counting the cost, being my brother’s keeper, being in touch with life’s basics, being open to God’s Spirit and open to those open to God’s Spirit. It’s surprising at times that if you should go public, so to speak, and say that these are the qualities that distinguish true Christians some of that public, even those not Christian, will probably see red!
‘You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion’ ~Meister Eckhart

Our names are special and important but the person behind each name is the most important of all. There is a story told about a college lecturer who gave his students a quiz. The students were flying through the quiz until they came to the last question: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the rooms of our department?” Surely this was a joke. Many students had seen the woman in question but didn’t quite know her name. So many students left the last question blank. At the end of the class, one student asked if the last question would count towards a grade. “Absolutely” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” These words hit home with those students who in turn found out that that the name of the woman in question was Dorothy.
‘Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.’ ~John Wooden

The earthquake in Haiti can only be described as devastating. In a country that is wrecked by hurricanes, political upheavals, violent transfers of power and now an earthquake with at least 50,000 people dead is another cruel blow. Nature is a powerful force in itself, outside all of our control and it always seems to affect the poorest people of the world like Haiti. Thankfully as we know a huge relief operation is being put in place. While there seems to be little we can do right now as we watch the clips coming through on news channels, we can pray for the people of Haiti in their utter devastation. We pray that the relief effort will have maximum effect and we also pray that those who need help most will get it.
‘Over time, I’ve come to a new awareness: I am not the only person who has gone through life watching as one certainty after another is dismantled and turns to dust. Nor am I alone in the realization that there is another kind of certainty that grows stronger in us every day as we begin to make a new spiritual vessel out of the shards of the old one.’ ~Joan Chittister

Even as we begin a new year there are few things certain. The weather is probably the best example. In recent weeks we have dealt with snow, ice and now rain and floods! But also in our own lives there is nothing certain. The unexpected can throw us completely off balance and just as quick as we’re thrown off balance, it can sometimes take much longer to get back on track again. From a spiritual point of view, our belief is that just as one door closes another one will always open. We may have to pick up many pieces from a certainty in our lives that crumbled away. But spiritually God is in there too helping us pick up those pieces and helping us rebuild our lives slowly. Such a new beginning will be vulnerable but we trust in God to help and guide us through.
Did you ever wonder about the abbreviation A.S.A.P?

We usually think of it in terms of hurry, stress and deadlines. A lot of people want things done a.s.a.p and the message often is, if you don’t do it quick, then I’ll get someone else who will. But it is possible to think of a.s.a.p in a different way. No matter how busy you are, no matter what the deadlines are or the list of things to do, (a.s.a.p) always say a prayer. In the midst of family chaos, with quality time rare, let God help some bit, (a.s.a.p) always say a prayer. It may seem like your worries are more than you can bear, slow down and take a breather, (a.s.a.p) always say a prayer. God understands the stresses, challenges and difficulties we all go through. God always wants to respond, (a.s.a.sp) always say a prayer. No matter what comes your way this day and others scream A.S.A.P, don’t forget to respond with you’re a.s.a.p always say a prayer!
There is a fable told about a robin watching snow fall in a forest. It watched as the flakes of snow tumbled down, landing on a branch before it. It counted each flake all the way up to 4500, 4501, 4502, 4503, 4504 and then on 4505 the little branch snapped with the weight of the snow. It marvelled at the strength, power and difference that one tiny flake could make. It thought about the 4504 flakes that fell before it, all making a difference but yet one had the biggest effect of all.

The snow that fell yesterday was greeted with joy by children and young people. It was their first experience of significant snow to fall in their lifetime. We are told each flake of snow is different in shape and size. Each one is a little miracle in itself. Snow has the ability to transform the landscape and turn even the bleakest and darkest spots into great beauty. Spiritually snow reminds us that we too are precious and unique. We may think we don’t make a difference. But like the tiny flake of snow breaking a branch, we too can leave a mark, imprint and bring a significant difference to every day that is God’s gift to us.
The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Cahill

According to one recycling agency Ireland’s consumption of alcohol over Christmas would fill ‘29 Olympic-sized swimming pools’. On average, adults drank 16 litres of alcohol or 2.5 times their own blood levels. If that’s hard to swallow try this: the nation gobbled 4 million boxes of chocolates; guzzled 54 million cans and 15 million bottles of beer, 20 million bottles of wine, 4 million plastic bottles and 28 million cans of soft drinks. Households disposed of 96,500 kg of packaging – equivalent to an adult’s weight in cardboard per household – and 4 million sheets of gift-wrap paper. And that was in 2005! Just image what it must have been like every Christmas since then.

As Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth, how could recycling our waste produce seem more pressing a problem than renewing our faith in God and our service of each other? Our feasts are always occasions for renewal. Today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord, shows this. It reminds us of our own baptism and of what we are committed to because of it. We need reminding from time to time that baptism, while it may have come easily, does not come cheaply. It does cost. Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22) makes that clear: He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (3:16)

So, as we begin this New Year let us not take our baptism for granted, or forget it. That can so easily happen. When the Spirit’s fire truly burns within us, we’ll know that it’s not for recycling used goods but for renewing God’s gifts.
A man drove through a car park for several minutes trying to find a parking space. Exasperated, he finally decided to ask God for help. “God”, he prayed, “I’m really late for an important meeting. If you’ll just help me find a parking space, I promise to attend Mass each day for a month.” Just then, a car began to back out of a nearby space. “Never mind, God” said the man, “I just found one!!”

We sometimes put God in impossible situations. We ask, we bargain, we beg, we demand and we ask sometimes for the impossible. We become experts at bargaining. If our request is answered we promise to pay back the favour. But such a relationship with God is false and shallow. All that God ever wants from any of us is a bit of honesty. Any prayer that is open, sincere and honest comes from the heart. Such honesty recognises that God is firmly on our side. It’s an honesty that recognises that we and life have limits. But even in our limitations God is still with us and near us.
'Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock’ ~Isaiah 26:4

Trust is not something that comes easy. As we journey through life we have been let down, knocked, hurt and rejected at times. Our trust in others has been eroded. An old saying encourages us to trust God and love people. This piece of wisdom recognises that we have the capacity to break trust and let others down but equally recognises that love goes a long way to bridge the gap. We are also encouraged to put our trust in God. Scripture repeatedly encourages us to do so. Perhaps we feel God has let us down in our own life story and feel that this is a step too far. But scripture reminds us that God is always on our side, loves us, accepts us as we are, journeys with us and never intentionally or deliberately sets out to hurt or punish anyone. We are also reminded that God has an eternal plan for our happiness. We will never fully understand God’s plans but it does seem that putting trust in God far outweighs any misgivings or doubts we may have.
'Open the door of your treasure today, for tomorrow the key will not be in your hands.’ ~Sa’di

While many went back to work last Monday, it is more or less back to normal routine today with schools reopening after the Christmas break. But some will remain closed because of the freezing weather. As we journey through the beginning of 2010 many of us are hoping and praying for a good year. Everyone without exception was glad to close the door on 2009. From a spiritual point of view the beginning of a new year is always a welcome opportunity. No one is praying for a perfect or a trouble free year. But we do pray for God’s blessings knowing that each day is a treasure of such blessings. We pray for guidance and direction in our plans, hopes and dreams for the future. We pray for strength and courage to get through the challenges of each day. We pray that we will be open to surprise, laughter and the joy that life can bring. We pray for balance in our lives throughout 2010 mindful that each day and especially today is God’s most unique and precious gift to us.


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