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Listing June - 2013
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty called 'No Time Like The Present'

It sounds harsh - no stability or security, no time to bury your loved ones, no time to say goodbye to your family. Surely Jesus could have offered a bit of leeway to those who were willing to follow him? Three people offer themselves as disciples, and in each case Jesus lets them know what a radical decision it is to follow him. They must cast aside their worldly worries and concerns and be single-minded in their discipleship. Following Jesus requires great sacrifice, and there are no excuses!

Take a look back over the Gospel readings from the last few Sundays. We have heard a lot about discipleship and what it involves. It is not easy. Last week Jesus spoke of discipleship as the way of the cross; this week he warns that we must leave our old lives behind and not look back. What does this mean for us - are we to literally hit the road and abandon our lives and families? I think Jesus is trying to convey the enormity of the decision we make in following him. It may not lead to a comfortable life. We must try to live by God's standards rather than our own or those of the world.

'The disciple simply burns his boat and goes ahead. He is called out.. The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity - out of the realm of the finite - into the realm of infinite possibilities' ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'. ~Dan Rather

All primary schools across Ireland got their summer holidays during the week. Secondary schools are alrady there. We sometimes categorise teachers with words such as: "haven't they great holidays" or "It's a handy job". Such phrases do no justice to the great work our teachers do each day in our schools. There are many challenges our teachers face on an ongoing basis. It is far from an easy job and while rewarding can be very tough at times. It's fair to say we take for granted their influence, the example they give and the depth of their enthusiasm and energy. No words can sum up the vocation of being a teacher. It is more than just a job and much more about doing something in life that touches not just this generation but future generations as well. We ask God's many blessings on all our teachers and God's many blessings on the great work they do in educating our young. May everyone have a lovely summer break and most importantly may the sun shine!
'I believe that the measure of my soul is my capacity to love imperfect people.' ~Joseph Grenny

There are many tourist spots that are busy during these summer months and Rome is probably top of the list. Many of the tourists who visit Rome will of course visit the Vatican. St.Peter's Basilica is one of the busiest spots which holds The Pieta by Michelangelo and is one of the world's most famous sculptures. It is of Mary holding the body of Jesus at the foot of the cross and is so lifelike that one can almost feel the heartbreak of a mother holding her lifeless son. Back in 1972 a man with a hammer jumped the railing and smashed the statue fifteen times with a hammer. It broke into over fifty big pieces and countless more tiny pieces. Sympathy, advice and money poured into the Vatican from all over the world. Many doubted it could be repaired but for the next year a team worked on putting it all back piece by piece. A year later it was unveiled and looked as it was except for a scar that they left on the veil of Mary. This was to remind people of what happened and that nothing in this world is perfect, even the Pieta. Today it is protected by a bullet proof acrylic glass panel but the scar and what it stands for can still be seen.
A different angle on love.....(Author Unknown)

To love and be rejected.
To spend every effort to help and be turned down.
To be in a situation of having to compete to be heard and be silent.
To have the answers and not be able to convey them.
To lose, knowing you can win.
To go to the end of the line when you were there first.
To tell the truth and it be made a lie.
To try to be saintly and be made out to be the evil one.
To be on the inside and to be cast outside.
To be with many and to know you are really alone.
To give yourself unreservedly to others and be a victim of their envy.
To dedicate your life to a purpose and that purpose turn against you.
To be innocent and be accused.
To be stripped of all authority, earthly power and position and be nothing is to have one's heart lacerated with humility and still receive the greatest heights of God's blessings of walking the path of Jesus
'May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvellous love. May you have the power to understand as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep God's love really is.' ~Ephesians 3:17-18

There are many different types of root systems. The deepest roots are generally found in deserts and the deepest observed living root was found to be 60 metres! Some roots can grow as deep as a tree is high. The majority of roots on most plants are however found relatively close to the surface where nutrient availability and aeration are more favourable for growth. The main purpose of a root is that it anchors the plant to the earth and it also collects the water and nutrients necessary for plant growth.

It should come as no surprise that in spirituality the image of a root is often used. Everyone needs some anchor in life, something to hold us in place and something to keep us from falling over. People have tried lots of different things to keep us anchored. But there is nothing more effective or more important than a belief in a loving God, who is a constant anchor. Just as a plant needs water and nutrients, we also need spiritual sustenance on our daily journey. Again God is the one who can provide the spiritual energy and sustenance to keep us going through all the ups and downs on our daily journey through life. Most of the time we cannot see a root system. God's love can sometimes seem hidden but we are invited today to begin to understand how important, personal and deep God's love is for us. As part of this vital root system we are all included.
'If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. At the end of a life without adversity, it is hard to find a rainbow.' ~Dolly Parton

One cannot help but notice the beauty of a rainbow. It is something you just can't avoid. To appreciate its beauty you have to put up with the rain which causes the rainbow. A rainbow will never be found where there is sunshine and an endless blue sky. There is nobody who goes through a lifetime without some difficulty, setback, adversity, upset or crisis. A look at any of the Gospel stories will show that everything was not just sunshine and happy days. In the midst of the sunshine and the good times, Jesus met people in their difficulties, trials, setbacks and heartaches. He comforted them, helped them, showed them light in their darkest story and brought them to a better place. If a rainbow is an image of something beautiful and special then there are lots of rainbows in the Gospel stories. But equally there is cloud and rain there too. It is a reflection of our life too, rainbows but also clouds, rain and darkness. It is good to know that right in the middle of them all God is to be found too. We have nothing to be afraid of.
'John was a preacher, a prophet, a signpost pointing people in the right direction. We can pray today for all those people who acted as signposts in our lives and brought us closer to God' ~Jane Mellett

Today (June 24th) we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist. He was a celebrity in his own way. Thousands flocked to hear him and be baptised by him. But John was not interested in fame. He never wanted to draw attention to himself. John's mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He was a bit like a grounds man before an important game. He lined the pitch, mowed the grass just right and got everything ready as it should be. Then when the game started he stepped back knowing his job was done. There are many people who quietly work away in a similar way. The work they do is vitally important and often they do not get the praise or attention they deserve.

John wanted to draw attention only to Jesus. Sometimes we hang our heads and often we're not proud of what we believe in. It's almost as if it is unfashionable and a bit embarrassing to say we believe. John was the exact opposite. He had no reservations and no inhibitions in proclaiming that he was proud to be a follower of Jesus. We too are called to hold our heads up. We are called to be proud of what we believe and to be grateful that we have indeed something to build our lives on.
'The following reflection is by Triona Doherty called 'BUT YOU..'

'However strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God. God has landed on this enemy occupied world in human form' ~ CS Lewis

In his book Mere Christianity, CS Lewis grappled with the big question of who Jesus really was and is, attempting to address the very question asked of the disciples in today's Gospel: 'Who do you say I am?' It is the question upon which Christian writers and theologians continue to reflect. During his time as Pope, Benedict XVI wrote a three volume series, Jesus of Nazareth, dedicated to the question of who Jesus is.

The disciples in today's story hit the nail on the head. When Peter recognises 'You are the Christ', instead of praise there is a warning from Jesus: he himself is going to suffer and die, and his followers must be prepared for a similar fate, they must 'take up their cross' every day. It is a disturbing vision of discipleship; it seems Jesus did not come to put an end to all their troubles and in following him they might in fact encounter added hardship.

In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 'What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world.'
'When I called you answered me, you built up strength within me.' ~Psalm 138

It is always a question that is asked and will be repeatedly asked: are our prayers answered? Sometimes we get a strong sense that yes our prayers are answered and then there are other times when we felt it was a complete waste of time. We can all remember a prayer for someone that worked. The cynic and sceptic will say it was all pure coincidence and good luck. They will add that it was all going to happen without our intervention and prayers. But if you look at stories of people down through the years and the generations gone before us, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that prayer really does work. The psalms are filled with the experiences of people who prayed and who felt it worked for them. Even if our prayers are not answered exactly in the way we want, we are given the strength to face whatever we have to face in life. Everyone can tick this box and after that everyone's answer is going to be personal.

If prayer is not our thing at the moment, then it is good to know that there are others praying for us. At different times of the day, 'The Divine Office' which is the universal prayer of the church is read and said by people in every corner of the world. This prayer embraces the needs, concerns and intentions of everyone. So it is good to know that someone is praying for you right now and later on and at times you might not expect. The reason these prayers are said is from a heartfelt and core belief that prayer does work and is not a waste of time.
'Whoever wants to enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade.' ~Samuel Johnson

Today June 21st is the longest day of the year. If the weather conditions were right, we could actually get 17 hours, 1 minute and 26 seconds of sunshine today! Nature and the planet earth's time clock are accurate and reliable. For those living in the northern hemisphere, the earth has been tilting towards the sun for the past six months and for the next six months it will begin to tilt away. The biggest tilt towards the sun is today and hence such long hours of sunshine. From a spiritual point of view we are always invited to tilt towards everything that is good and life giving. We are equally invited to tilt away from negativity, bitterness and darkness. Nature has worked out that balance over millions of years. We are often unsure and unsteady about where to find balance in our lives. The invitation on the longest day of the year is to tilt even a little, to something good and worthwhile in our lives. The best time to start is not next month or next week or tomorrow but today!
'When are you too old? Only on the day when you truly have nothing left to give. And the good news is this, that day never has to arrive' ~Author Unknown

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year. Hopefully long days mean long days of sunshine! It is good to reflect too on people who have been around a long time. Old age has officially been described as nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings and thus the end of the human life cycle. It's something we're not too comfortable with. Yet it's something we all have to face. Older people are much more in touch with the cycles of life. They have been through life's many experiences, have seen much and are aware of how fragile life is from the cradle to the grave. They have much to teach us and we have much to learn from them. In particular we can learn from their ability to continue to give and to contribute to life in so many different ways. What they have given and continue to give is a gentle reminder to us to be open to one of God's precious gifts, the gift of today.
The significance of number8:

The only story in the news this week has been the G8 Conference in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. G8 is made up of the 8 richest countries in the world: The United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany, the United States, Japan, Italy and Canada. These countries are represented by their president and they gather for their meetings in reclusive retreat style locations in the nation of the current G8 presidency.

The number 8, more than any other number, puts the emphasis in the areas of career, business, finances and authority. However, as with many other single-digit numbers, the shape of the number reflects its most important attribute and in the case of the number 8, that is, first and foremost, balance. The number 8 is considered to be a lucky number in Chinese and other Asian cultures. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival holiday that lasts 8 days and 8 nights. All spiders have 8 legs. The eighth tooth is the so called wisdom tooth. A note played for one-eighth the duration of a whole note is called an eighth note, or quaver. "Eight Days a Week" was a hit single for the The Beatles.

In the 2008 Olympic Games, the official opening was on 08/08/08 at 8:08:08 p.m. local time in Beijing, China. Who doesn't like the chocolate peppermint-flavoured cream called "After Eight"! In cooking recipes, there are approximately 8 pinches to a teaspoon. A stop sign has 8 sides. In the bible the number 8 stands for completeness, a new beginning, a new birth and the resurrection to eternal life. In the Gospel story from Matthew there are 8 beatitudes. Most importantly if 8 is all about balance then a good prayer today is to pray for balance and harmony in our lives. With a lot of uncertainty, stress, anxiety and deadlines making up all our lives, the need for balance has never been greater. That's why 8 could become our new best friend!
'Now I am revealing new things to you, things hidden and unknown to you, created just now. This very moment you have heard nothing of these things until now, so that you cannot say, 'Oh yes, I knew all this'. ~Isaiah 48:6

We sometimes think of God, religion and spirituality as just static. Some see it as created in the past which has been passed onto us to preserve and in turn we pass it on to someone else. This is very limiting. Everything about God is fresh, moving and changing. Nothing stays still. We are approaching the longest day of the year and the height of summer. Everything in nature at the moment is bursting with life, change, colour and energy.

The same goes with God who is never static. We can never say we know God fully or that we know what God's plans are for us. Each day we can learn something new about ourselves, about God, about life, about the world we live in, about our family, our friends and so on. All of them are never in isolation but are connected in a mysterious web that make up today. If we believe that today is God's gift to us then we are open to possibility, freshness and a sense of freedom in our lives. That's why today is always precious and a day to make the most of, as best we can.
Yesterday was Father's Day and I came across the following reflection called 'What Makes A Dad'. The author is unknown

God took the strength of a mountain,
the majesty of a tree,
the warmth of a summer sun,
the calm of a quiet sea,
the generous soul of nature,
the comforting arm of night,
the wisdom of the ages,
the power of the eagle's flight,
the joy of a morning in spring,
the faith of a mustard seed,
the patience of eternity,
the depth of a family need.
Then God combined these qualities and when there was nothing more to add, God knew that the masterpiece was complete.
And so, God called it....Dad.
The following reflection is by Tríona Doherty called "Whose feet will you wash?"

It is hard to read a Gospel story about the woman who washes and kisses the feet of Jesus without thinking of another foot washing story - when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. The woman in this story has a jar of ointment, and that seems to be all. She uses her tears to wash the feet of Jesus, and her hair to wipe them away. She gives everything she has, and throws herself totally at the mercy of Jesus, who sees the openness and humility of the gesture and responds with love.

This story also brings to mind an image which captured the public imagination earlier this year, when Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile prison in Rome on Holy Thursday, in a powerful sign of the emphasis he wished to place on service. 'Among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign - washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other,' he told them.

Saint Basil once posed the question: 'If you live alone, whose feet will you wash?' We are called to live in relationship with others and to be at the service of others. The woman in the story has been shown such forgiveness and love, and is overwhelmed at her encounter with Jesus. Because he shows her such love, she is able to respond with love. We too are loved, and we have love to share. How can we show that love in the service of others?
'We must become sensitive enough to observe and ponder what is happening around us. Be alert. Be awake. Let life and all of its subtle messages touch us. Often, the most extraordinary opportunities are hidden among the seemingly insignificant events of life. If we do not pay attention to these events, we can easily miss the opportunities.' ~Jim Rohn

On Thursday the funeral Mass took place of 17 year old Christopher O'Sullivan in Rathmore. His short life ended tragically a week ago, after he got into difficulties while swimming in the River Blackwater, near Knocknagree, Co.Cork. His parish priest Fr Pat O'Donnell said they were "toiling with a multitude of questions and failing miserably to discover reasonable answers."

Such tragedies and other desperately sad stories happen in so many communities up and down the country. We just get on with life, until suddenly our community and sometimes our family, is engulfed in sadness and grief. We often say that life is cruel and it is but not all the time. Life can also be good, exciting, ordinary, uplifting, boring, unfair, harsh, gentle, peaceful, unusual, full of energy, troublesome, strange, uncertain, filled with hope and so much more. The Christian message is that whatever happens to us in life and whatever life is for us at the moment, that God is in there too in the mix of everything. Belief in a loving God does not shield or protect us from the knocks life may throw at us, but we are given an incredible strength and deep inner resolve to keep going and get through. That is why we need to let life and all of its subtle messages touch us. We need time to reflect on them, to allow them shape us, to learn from them and to know that whatever happens we are not on our own.
'It's good to be blessed. It's better to be a blessing. ~Author Unknown

So often we do not realize what a blessing we are to others. We might not think we make an impact, but often we do make a huge impact in someone else's life. The following story is just one example. In the faint light of the attic, an old man, tall and stooped, bent his great frame and made his way to a stack of boxes that sat near one of the little half-windows. Brushing aside a wisp of cobwebs, he tilted the top box toward the light and began to carefully lift out one old photograph album after another and his old journal. Opening the yellowed pages, he glanced over a short reading, and his lips curved in an unconscious smile. His eyes brightened as he read the words that spoke clear and sweet to his soul as he read the inscription for June 14th . It stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words: 'Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing.' With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took up Jimmy's journal and found the boy's entry for the same day. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read: 'Went fishing with my dad. Best day of my life.'
Sometimes we hit a low spot or bad patch and we think no one cares. But they do and right now....

Somebody is very proud of you.
Somebody is thinking of you.
Somebody is caring about you.
Somebody misses you.
Somebody wants to talk to you.
Somebody wants to be with you.
Somebody hopes you aren't in trouble.
Somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
Somebody wants to hold your hand.
Somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
Somebody wants you to be happy.
Somebody wants you to find him/her.
Somebody is celebrating your successes.
Somebody wants to give you a gift.
Somebody thinks that you ARE a gift.
Somebody wants to hug you.
Somebody is saying a prayer for you right now
Somebody loves you.
Somebody admires your strength.
Somebody is thinking of you and smiling.
Somebody wants to be your shoulder to cry on.
Somebody wants to go out with you and have a lot of fun.
Somebody thinks the world of you.
Somebody is praying for you right now.
Somebody wants to protect you.
Somebody would do anything for you.
Somebody wants to be forgiven.
Somebody is grateful for your forgiveness.
Somebody wants to laugh with you.
Somebody remembers you and wishes that you were there.
Somebody is praising God for you.
Somebody needs to know that your love is unconditional.
Somebody values your advice.
Somebody wants to tell you how much they care.
Somebody wants to share their dreams with you.
Somebody wants to hold you in their arms.
Somebody wants you to hold them in your arms.
Somebody treasures your spirit.
Somebody wishes they could stop time because of you.
Somebody praises God for your friendship and love.
Somebody can't wait to see you.
Somebody loves you for who you are.
Somebody loves the way you make them feel.
Somebody wants to be with you.
Somebody wants you to know they are there for you.
Somebody is glad that you're his/her friend.
Somebody wants to be your friend.
Somebody stayed up all night thinking about you.
Somebody is alive because of you.
Somebody is wishing that you noticed him/her.
Somebody wants to get to know you better.
Somebody wants to be near you.
Somebody misses your advice/guidance.
Somebody has faith in you.
Somebody trusts you.
A lot more could be said but somebody, especially God, cares about you.
'People, religious or not, know that reflection ought to be part of everyday life. There is also an on-going search for the transcendent. God has implanted eternity into the hearts of people. We long to know the Power beyond us and discover a reason for living beyond the boundaries of our mundane ordinariness.' ~Martin Tierney

Eternity is described as forever or endless time. We think in minutes and hours. Much of our time is spent trying to pack so much into the hours of the day given to us. We are constantly on the go, forced to be here and there at specific times. But the concept of time with God is so much different. It is not like a rollercoaster where everything hurls along at a crazy pace. It is much quieter, gentler, slower and ebbs and flows at its own softer pace. When we make time for reflection, prayer, quiet time, meditation, rest, time out or whatever, we are indeed close to God.

Each of us knows in our hearts that there is something more. If life is a series of mundane ordinariness then our search for God allows us to see beyond what might seem mundane or ordinary. Every glimpse beyond is a reminder that there is indeed something more. The world we live in today is fast and furious. It can be a very exciting place to be at times but the downside is that we have lost sight of our search for the something more. Where are you in the search? Are you searching? Given up the searching? Struggling to search? Or perhaps hoping to begin the search again?
'Don't let anyone rob you of hope' ~Pope Francis

Our new Pope Francis continues to go with his relaxed approach. While speaking to thousands of children from Jesuit schools across Italy and Albania, he pushed aside his prepared speech and surprised them by asking if thy would like to ask him some questions instead. "Yes!" they shouted to cheers and applause. Teachers fretted because they hadn't prepared anything while others dreaded someone asking an awkward question! They had nothing to worry about. He answered their questions one by one and told him his decision to become a priest had been a difficult one and said he went ahead because he loved Christ. One of the most touching moments came when Teresa, a bright-eyed redhead no more than six, asked Francis flat out if he had wanted to be pope. He then told everyone that he didn't want to be a pope! The style is very different to Pope Benedict. He would take questions from young people maybe twice a year, but the questions were always submitted in advance so he could prepare a response.

But our new pope likes the freedom of the present moment. He spent 30 minutes of banter with the schoolchildren, casually making the points he has made in his homilies and speeches: about the scandal of poverty and how the world frets when the stock market dips, but cares nothing when a homeless person dies, and how everyone should learn a lesson from the poor. His final message to them was 'Don't let anyone rob you of hope'.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

We sometimes use quite physical imagery to describe our reaction to a sad situation - our 'heart goes out' to someone, or we find an experience 'gut wrenching' or 'heart breaking'. In today's Gospel, Luke tells us that Jesus 'felt sorry' for the widow on her way to bury her only son. But the Greek term for this response describes a very physical reaction - literally a 'turning over of the insides' with compassion for someone who is suffering. This expression occurs only three times in Luke's Gospel - the other occurrences are in two well-known parables, when the Good Samaritan takes pity on the man lying on the road and in the story of the Prodigal Son when the father welcomes back his wayward son.

Jesus is moved by compassion. He feels, in a physical way, the widow's loss. He knows this woman does not have anyone else - she is a widow and this is her only son. Apart from the obvious anguish of losing a son, his death could also mean the loss of her source of income, care and a roof over her head. Her situation touches the very heart of the Son of God. Jesus is very human in his response, but he also shows us what God is like. I like to imagine the widow celebrating and praying in thanksgiving. The words of today's psalm would be apt: 'You have changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord my God, I will thank you forever.'
'Rest is not a matter of doing absolutely nothing. Rest is repair.' ~Daniel Josselyn

We sometimes underestimate rest in our daily lives. Rest is taking it easy for a while, giving ourselves and our bodies a chance to unwind and relax. It is during this time that our bodies repair, refresh and rejuvenate. Resting doesn't necessarily mean doing nothing. Rest is slowing our pace, becoming less active and less tense. If we look back on any given day it's easy to see how we are often racing around getting things done. It's as if there's some big handout or bonus points if I get everything or as much as possible done today. Rest is God's gift to each of us. It's a gift that helps us appreciate more of what's around us and helps us appreciate the gift of this present moment. With lots of sunshine guaranteed for
'The Jesus I know turns lives around and turns our world upside down. Faith in this Jesus gives us a depth and dimension that we cannot experience in any other way. He is our beacon and guide and we recognise the simplicity of God in him.' ~J John

There are many things said and written about the person of Jesus, where he lived, the lifestyle he lived, who he hung out with, what he said, what he stood for and the reason he came into this world. It is often hard to work out how someone looks, when we have never met or seen them. But somehow with Jesus we have our own image of what he looks like for us. Much more important is what he stands for and the difference he makes in our lives. For some people this is little, while for others it is a feeling of a constant presence and that he is very much with them in everything they do.

Jesus always stood for simplicity, straight talking and trying to avoid getting entangled up in the complexities and traps that we so often get sucked into. He knew better than anyone how fragile we are and how fragile life is. He comforted, encouraged and helped people along. He pointed out a better way and invited people to choose paths in life that were life giving, filled with hope and ones that freed us up. Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart and it's a day to remind us that this Jesus still walks with us today.
I came across this lovely prayer guide again recently. It's so simple, practical and easy to understand. It's called the The 5 Finger Prayer Guide:

(1) Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.
(2) The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, nurses, counsellors, priests, sisters and others in the caring profession. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
(3) Next is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for our president, leaders in government, business and industry. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.
(4)The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our prayers day and night.
(5) Lastly is our little finger, the smallest finger of all. Here we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your little finger should remind you to pray for yourself. You yourself know best your own needs and concerns.
'There are more than 10,000 ways for life to unfold when one takes that last step out the door of the school and into the great adventure of life. Exams provide one stepping stone on that journey, but they are a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.' ~Maria Byrne

Today the Junior and Leaving Cert exams begin. The long wait is over. Last year it rained right throughout the exams and this year it looks like lots of sunshine! It is an anxious time for so many starting the exams and also an anxious time for parents. Everyone agrees it is an unfair system, that everything seems to rest on the outcome of these exams. Everyone who has done exams knows that there is always life after exams but for those doing the exams this is hard to see sometimes. But there is always a bigger picture. Exams are stepping stones in life. Education is life long and many opportunities will unfold no matter what happens with the exams taking place over the next week or so. They say exams are not there to catch anyone out but to find out how much a student knows. So let's hope and pray that each exam will give every student an opportunity to show how much they know.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint for those doing exams. He struggled big time with study and exams. Somehow he always scraped through. Today he is a friend to everyone doing exams. We pray to him to gently calm, direct and help every student starting their exams today.
'A short prayer for those starting the Junior and Leaving Cert exams tomorrow'

Loving God, I turn to you today. As the exam approaches I am nervous and so I ask you to help me. You know how important these exams are to me. Set me free from worry, give me your peace and help me to think clearly. Help me to remember what I have learned, to use my time well, not to panic, to do my best and not to worry about the outcome. Help me to realise that the exams are not there to catch me out but to find out how much I know. Lord, keep me calm so that I can write down all I know. Keep my friends calm too, we're all in this together! Let me sleep each night so that I am refreshed and renewed for the next exam. Even if I struggle I must always remember that there is a bigger picture of which these exams are only a small part of. Most important of all calm me down, keep me focussed, guide me along, get me through the scary moments and make sure I attempt every question. Thank you for being my friend today and always. Amen
As today is a Bank Holiday in Ireland the Thought For Today resumes as normal tomorrow Tuesday.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty called This Is My Body'

The human body can be a fragile thing. I recently came across the TV series Great Ormond Street, which followed the stories of a number of very sick children and the doctors who treat them in London's children's hospital. It was harrowing to watch the things these children go through. Some of them have spent the majority of their young lives in hospital and have never known a life without pain and suffering. Many of us also know people who are sick or suffering and it can be hard to make sense of it all. In April this year, Kerry teenager Donal Walsh spoke out about his battle with terminal cancer, and made a powerful plea to those considering suicide to think differently about their lives. He believed that his life, while short, could be a sign of hope for others.
'Please, as a 16-year-old who has no say in his death sentence, who has no choice in the pain he is about to cause and who would take any chance at even a few more months on this planet: appreciate what you have, know that there are always other options,' was his plea.

On this feast of Corpus Christi, we recall how Jesus took bread and gave it to his disciples, saying 'This is my body'. He gave his own body over to suffering and death, for us. Our own bodies may be weak, but Jesus is with us in our frailty, united with us in our suffering. Let us bring our brokenness into the presence of Christ today
'The following reflection was read at the end of year Mass yesterday in Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig by Aoife O'Callaghan

I am thankful, Lord for the support of a friend's hand, for the hug of sympathy and friendly warmth for the embrace of love and care.
I am thankful for the people whose lives touch mine with friendship.
I recall, Lord the love that has helped me to grow from childhood to this day.
The care of parents and friends that meant security and love.
The presence of the friend who cheered me when I was sad.
The words of encouragement when I was afraid.
The offer of sympathy when I was unhappy.
I thank you, Lord, for this gift.
You have been there for me through the goodness of others.
I ask you to continue to journey with each of us today, across the summer and into Senior Cycle.
On our own we can do a certain amount but with each other and with you we can do so much more.


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