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Listing March - 2022
'A wise counsellor once said that the ability to close some doors and never to open them again is one of the principal signs of maturity.' ~Robert P.Maloney

Doors are something we take completely for granted. We open them, we close them, we lock them and sometimes we leave them swinging neither here nor there. We begin our journey through Holy week. On the spiritual calendar it is a week of great significance. During the week we recall significant moments of the final journey of Jesus to the cross. Maybe the story does little for us any more or maybe it stirs something within us that gets us thinking. We get in touch this week with many of our emotions, particularly struggles, being let down, failure, disappointments, darkness, evil and so on. These could be described as doors, some of them still open and swinging in our lives. The invitation is to close some of them and begin to open new doors. Easter is all about exploring these new doors but before that can ever happen we must first begin to close some doors in our lives. Holy week is an ideal opportunity to begin to close some of them.
‘A wise counsellor once said that the ability to close some doors and never to open them again is one of the principal signs of maturity.’ ~Robert P.Maloney

Doors are something we take completely for granted. We open them, we close them, we lock them and sometimes we leave them swinging neither here nor there. We begin our journey through Holy week. On the spiritual calendar it is a week of great significance. During the week we recall significant moments of the final journey of Jesus to the cross. Maybe the story does little for us any more or maybe it stirs something within us that gets us thinking. We get in touch this week with many of our emotions, particularly struggles, being let down, failure, disappointments, darkness, evil and so on. These could be described as doors, some of them still open and swinging in our lives. The invitation is to close some of them and begin to open new doors. Easter is all about exploring these new doors but before that can ever happen we must first begin to close some doors in our lives. Holy week is an ideal opportunity to begin to close some of them.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Who would think that the Internet is threatening the jury system! Well, it seems it is, according to England’s most senior judge. The more people use the Internet, and the more people who use it, the fewer there are who get their information by listening. You go down the tubes and YouTube takes your place. So, sitting down for a long listen, concentrating on what’s being said to evaluate its content may well become an art-form alien to a gadget-groping generation.

What, then, to make of today’s first reading (Isa 50:4-7)? The Lord has given me the tongue of a teacher … to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens my ear. Use the Internet to get that sustaining word across? Well, it would get it out for sure, but across is another matter entirely. Getting something across means getting it in. It means entering someone’s mind with a thought, a value, an understanding, perhaps even a vision and leaving it there. It means penetrating someone’s heart to lay a gift of life-giving inspiration, of uplifting hope, of reassurance of one’s worth before God, but above all to lay down his gift of shared love.

That’s what a teacher’s tongue can do, coming from the hand of God. That’s what an ear can hear and a mind can comprehend when open to the Teacher’s word. The question is: can that be done online? Should liturgy be in cyberspace, not sacred space? Would a virtual reality Palm Sunday skirt a real life Golgotha? The jury needn’t be out too long on that.
Hope grows. It rejoices and it struggles. Hope is challenged but it never dies. It stumbles but it never falls. Hope is life and life is hope. It is always on the move but it is always there.’ ~Shauna Mongwanga

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.” Throughout this weekend and the coming Holy week, we can be a sign of hope and inspiration to someone else. It often happens when we least expect and often we’re not even aware it’s happening.
‘Never deprive someone of hope, it may be all they have.’ ~H Jackson Brown

The Irish Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Day takes place today. Much money will be raised today for its direct patient care services including its night nursing service, counselling and outreach services. It is the most popular charity event in Ireland and is a chance for everyone to make a real difference to anyone affected by cancer. One in three people in Ireland will be affected by cancer at some point in their life. The Irish Cancer Society also provides one-to-one support to 15,000 people each year. We have all been touched by cancer in some way. There are so many heart aching stories but also many stories that are filled with hope and inspiration. There are different ways of spending €3 today but if you buy a daffodil for the Irish Cancer Society you will be making a real and lasting difference in many people’s lives. We pray today also for anyone who has cancer. When we turn to God all our problems may not go away but like shadows they can fall behind us. The National Cancer Helpline is Freefone 1800 200 700
‘Confirmation is a commitment for young people who pledge themselves to Jesus Christ and the Church. When people take on a commitment they dedicate themselves to something special. They put their hearts and their energy into something that is important to them. They know that the commitment they are undertaking will require discipline, generosity and perseverance.’ ~From yesterday’s Scoil Barra Confirmation booklet in Ballincollig

Confirmation ceremonies are taking place in many churches at the moment. Great effort is put in at school and parish to make this a memorable occasion. Anyone who attends such a ceremony is always touched by the energy, enthusiasm and vibrancy of the occasion. This doesn’t happen by chance and clearly the presence of God’s spirit is alive and vibrant. Maybe we take the spirit of God for granted in our lives. The Holy Spirit always invites us from a place of closed doors, darkness, fear, worries, obstacles, apathy and despair into a place of openness, vibrancy, colour, energy, healing, possibility, hope, teamwork, honesty, generosity and perseverance. It is always an invitation and never forced. As we pray for all those making their Confirmation at this time, we too are invited to be open to God’s spirit in our lives.
‘There’s a saying that even God can’t change the past. Whether God can or not, we know for certain that God doesn’t change the past and with good reason. There’s too much for us to learn from our personal experiences and pasts to change them.’ ~Anne Costa

We have all made mistakes in the past, some of them mild and harmless, while some of them deeply embarrassing and painful. Making peace with our past is an ongoing activity. Wiping away painful memories is not easy and it is sometimes tempting to push them to one side. But when we do they have a habit of hitting us back at some time and often when we least expect. It is good to acknowledge that we are different today compared to what we were in the past. Even though it may seem that we do not change, we do. We have learnt from where we went wrong in the past and we are much stronger today because of it. No one and especially God wants us to burdened today because of our past. We need to hold our heads high and to be open and honest about our shortcomings. But most importantly we need to believe that we have so much to give today. Nothing and certainly not our past can ever stop us from believing this.
We so often make prayer complex when in fact it isn’t. Children always pray with honesty. If we could do the same with our prayers then they would take on a new meaning. Here are some prayers written by children of different ages……

Dear God, I wish I could see a long way and see things that were very far away. Then I could see my granny in her house and she could see me and we could wave to each other. All the best Jo.
Dear God, I’d like to have a different name, I want everyone to call me Ariel. Can you change my name or do I have to tell them? Love Bernadette.
Dear God, Can you get my dad a new job? He hasn’t had one for six months and he is getting bored of trying to find one. I know he wants one and he will work very hard. Thank you, Colleen.
Dear God, Why don’t animals use toilets? Our cat uses a litter tray but some dogs just use the footpath. That’s disgusting. Yours Leona.
Dear God, How does the world stay up in the air? From Georgio.
Dear God, My mother says you are everywhere at once, but how do you watch everyone? It must get confusing for you. From Mark
Dear God who is your mummy and daddy? All the best Calvin.
Dear God, Every morning when I get out of bed I feel happy to know that you are there looking after us. I try to live my life well and to always do what Jesus would do. I don't always get things right, but it feels good to know that I am doing things for you. I will try to live a good life for you. All the best Georgie
Our Thought Today is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Somebody once said that just because he had 99 per cent of the DNA that Beethoven had that didn’t make him a musician. Luckily, there’s more to being human than DNA. Otherwise, we might be embarrassed by the fact that a worm, whose pet name is C. Elegans, shares up to 80 per cent of our genetic material. Next time you call someone a worm you might be more accurate than you think! Some 4,000 of these low-life wigglers left their usual haunts of rubbish dumps and compost heaps last November for higher things – 322 kilometres higher to be exact. They became wormonauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Not in the least interested in being upwardly mobile, they went nevertheless on a seven-million kilometre journey so that scientists could study the effects of space travel on muscle-wastage.

Being upwardly mobile is what Paul yearns for in today’s second reading (Phil 3:8-14) but in a special way: the resurrection way. Paul yearns for something above and beyond his lot in life. And so he should. Genesis tells us imaginatively that we have come from the dust of the earth, not that we’ve been created to live in it. Our calling is to rise. Paul describes this as knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection (3:10). When evil tries to put us, and keep us, in the dirt we must not forget that we are called to higher things – not just 322 kilometres out in space, but throughout the vastness of eternity once we’re transformed through dying. Want to worm your way out of that one?

‘I know religious faith doesn’t have clear answers to everything and that life remains a mystery to us all but it does give a different perspective and an alternative set of values on which a person can base his or her life.’ ~Tony Flannery

This weekend the Pope’s letter of apology to Irish people can be interpreted in different ways. Firstly the Church is at an incredibly low point in its history, particularly in Ireland. The crisis is so severe that a recovery if any is going to be slow and painful. Confidence among people of all ages of anything to do with Church is at an all time low. Will a letter from the Pope make much of a difference? Probably not such is the appalling sequence of events over many years. The hurt, the sense of let down, betrayal of trust, abandonment of gospel values and pain is just too deep for so many, particularly among victims of clerical abuse. But maybe and just maybe the letter will be a glimmer of light and hope in the middle of an incredibly dark story. Faith is still important to many people. But so many have been let down. So many deserve much better. This weekend could be a turning point. We hope and pray that it will.
A Lenten Reflection…Author Unknown

Give up complaining and focus on gratitude. Give up pessimism and become an optimist. Give up harsh judgments and think kind thoughts. Give up worry and try to trust in God. Give up discouragement and be full of hope. Give up bitterness and turn to forgiveness. Give up hatred and return good for evil. Give up negativity and be positive instead. Give up pettiness and become more mature. Give up gloom and enjoy the beauty that is all around you. Give up jealousy and pray for trust. Give up gossiping and try to control your tongue. Give up sin and turn to virtue. Give up giving up and instead hang in there!
'In this time of Lent, we have more time to reflect. Reflection is not only good for your soul, it's good for the souls and hearts of those around you. Reflection is a cleansing and Lent brings us to a slow motion time, when we begin to think about the goodness in our lives.' ~Maxi

Reflection is always a good thing to do each day. If we reflect back on yesterday it has to be said that St.Patrick's Day was a huge success, particularly with the weather allowing so many people to be out and about. Reflection at a deeper level will always take much more time. Lent gives us such an opportunity. There may only be two weeks left to go but there is still plenty of time to reflect on what's really important in our lives. It has been repeatedly said that our lives are so busy that we miss out on all the important moments in our lives. No one can change this but ourselves. It is easy when reflecting to zoom in only on the negative and bad news. It is essential that we always bring balance and also reflect on our own goodness of which there is an endless supply around. If reflection is about cleansing and Lent bringing us into slow motion time, then the next two weeks can be spiritually very productive.
God’s strength to direct me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak to me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect and save me.’ ~St.Patrick

Shamrock is scarce this year because of the harsh winter and hard frosts. But a lack of shamrock won't dampen the significance of today and the impact of the celebrations taking place all over the world today. St.Patrick had great devotion to God and was always sensitive to God’s presence in creation. In today’s world where many people drift aimlessly in life, Patrick is a voice of hope. He took great confidence from God’s presence in his life. In his own personal writings he explains how prayer helped him with his own struggles. He talks about how he overcame seemingly impossible difficulties through prayer. Today the feast of St.Patrick is a day to celebrate all that is good in our lives and all around us. It’s a day to acknowledge God’s gentle presence in our lives. It’s a day to pause for a moment in prayer and like Patrick not to be afraid to ask God for guidance, direction and an abundance of blessings.
‘Change. All is change. Change can terrify us. It can thrill us. Each day, yes today, we will be confronted with opportunities to grow or stay set in our ways, to change or to stay fixed, to explore or batten down the hatches.’ ~Joe Armstrong

Change is the heartbeat of life. If there wasn’t ongoing change we wouldn’t be here today. Our capacity to change and adapt is crucial to our ability to survive and thrive. But change can also be difficult because no one likes to move out of our comfort zone. At the heart of our Gospel stories is change. Jesus met so many who were stuck in a rut and afraid to move forward in their lives. He helped each one take that first step forward. Today we can explore the many opportunities and possibilities that make up this day or we can batten down the hatches. We ask God today to help us explore change, to be open to new beginnings and to be open to the God of surprise in each of our lives.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

The world’s fastest computer makes 1,759 trillion calculations per second. Though faster than any human brain for calculating, it can’t do the mundane problem-solving that Joe Soap does daily. Neither can it calculate what the important things in life are. Such things as meaning, purpose, destiny, friendship, service and love. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t have a mind of its own. But even humans with a mind of their own don’t always calculate correctly either.

Take the prodigal son in today’s Gospel. (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32) He has a mind of his own, but focused on himself. If ‘garbage in garbage out’ is the techno mantra for computers, then ‘selfish in, selfish out’ is the moral mantra for people. The father knows this, yet allows his son the freedom to act selfishly. Rather like God with us. If we don’t use our head we’ll suffer for it. Unfortunately, often so too will others. The father can object to his son’s demand, but doesn’t. He acknowledges that his son is a free agent. So he gets his way. Not surprisingly, it’s the way to disaster. Back he comes to his father the wiser for a lesson that only life can teach him.

Wisdom doesn’t come from machines, even from supercomputers that use 147,456 processors to simulate just 1 per cent of the human brain. The director of America’s National Science Foundation claims that supercomputers ‘let you get closer to the truth.’ Good to know! Yet even better is to know that when you accept God’s word without calculation you find real truth even more quickly.
‘With grief you have to leave all your doors and windows open; it comes and goes as it pleases. Those 10 years have been as kind as they can be, softening the edges of the pain, though leaving the centre largely untouched.’ ~Abie Philbin Bowman, (brother of Jonathan whose 10th anniversary occurs at this time

Many of us have experienced some significant loss in our lifetime. It is not just confined to the death of a loved one but it can also be any significant loss in our lives that throws us off balance. It has been said that time is a great healer and it is. But often with time the impact of the loss can really hit home. To describe time as softening the edges of the pain while leaving the centre largely untouched is an honest reflection. It is an indicator that for many people there is a lot of pain and issues unresolved. We try and move on but the pain of the loss will always be there in some way. It is good and healthy to name this pain and those significant losses in our lives. In the context of spirituality it is also good to ask God to bring healing to our pain and loss. We pray today for anyone who is grieving and coping with any significant loss in their lives.
‘In our fast living culture, there has grown a desire to find connectedness once again. Why are we reluctant to seek out the oasis that God loves us to experience?’ ~Jenny Hellyer

There is a growing desire to be connected to something worthwhile, meaningful and lasting. During the boom years we lost our sense of connectedness. We felt that everything and anything was within our reach. It seemed there were no limits but during the last few years we have had to painfully rediscover those limits. We have also had to rediscover our connectedness to things of lasting value. This includes family, friendships, community and anything of significant value including God. Connecting with God isn’t just for a chosen few or those with special skills. It is open to everyone and anyone. The benefits and blessings help us to make sense of a complex world of which we are all a part of.
Awareness is noticing the blessings that often get overlooked in our busy lives. Gratitude for a special blessing can inspire us to look further and discover even more good in our lives. As we are inspired, let us also be inspiring to others.’ ~Author Unknown

If we tend to see today as the same as any other day then we have lost our sense of awareness. Yes there is a lot of repetition from day to day in many of the things we do, but the blessings that today will bring will never be the same as the ones we had yesterday and tomorrow is an entirely different story. Busy lives and heavy working schedules can often put on the blinkers and our awareness of these blessings. Can we pause when a special moment happens? Can we hold it? Can we allow it to inspire us? Lent is an opportunity to recognise that every inspiring moment has its roots in God.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

A google a day keeps the doctor away, researchers have found. Surfing the Net, even more than reading, boosts the brain. And its effects last long after the surfing stops. One theory holds that surfing stretches the brain by making it perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Fine! But let’s not forget what drives the search in the first place. And I don’t mean the hard drive. I mean curiosity. Were this lacking there would be no activity. Curiosity stimulates the search.

It’s what puts Moses in touch with God in our First Reading today. (Exod 3:1-8, 13-15) He sees something that arouses his curiosity: a burning bush that’s not consumed. His curiosity gets the better of him and because it does we discover two very important things; about God: he cares for us; about human beings: we’re holy. God tells Moses to come no closer and to take off his sandals because he’s on holy ground – God’s turf. I used to think that he was letting Moses know how unworthy he was to approach him. How wrong I was!

God is saying the exact opposite. Not being gods we must maintain some distance from him, yet nothing should come between us, not even a pair of sandals. Only what comes directly from the hand of God is worthy to be near him – hence the naked sole. Moses is a murderer. Yet God calls him. It’s easy to see God through goodness. But can we see him when evil blocks the view? If not, then let’s remember a murderer and a burning bush.
‘Somebody hurt you, maybe yesterday, maybe a lifetime ago, and you cannot forget it. You did not deserve the hurt. It went deep, deep enough to lodge itself in your memory. And it keeps on hurting you now. Forgiveness is God’s invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply.’ ~Lewis B.Smedes

Forgiveness is a word that is often spoken about in our Gospels. Jesus says we are to forgive seventy times seven. This is another way of saying that forgiveness is to be part of our lives, woven into our relationships with each other. It has been said that forgiving is love's toughest work and love's biggest risk. It is hugely challenging. We live in a fragile and imperfect world. It affects us every day and sometimes extremely so. To forgive someone allows us to take a step forward, a step towards new beginnings. Not to forgive means we stay firmly rooted to the one spot, we never move on and any chance of a new beginning just never happens. If forgiveness is to be a part of our lives and woven into our everyday relationships, then we sometimes have to take the first step to make it happen.
‘Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in but with what is still possible for you to do.’ ~Pope John 23rd

It is a long time since daffodils have failed to flower early in March. They are weeks behind schedule because of the harsh winter, snow and bitter frosts. Even out in the countryside fields are brown and burnt from the harsh conditions. A rise in temperature will be much appreciated by gardeners and farmers. Lent can be translated as springtime. If we use the image of heat then it’s fair to say that spiritually there are parts of our lives that feel frozen. Lent is about a thaw, allowing God to penetrate what is frozen, allowing in God’s blessings, warmth and allowing God to nourish our spiritual side. We so often put the focus on our failures. Lent is recognising that failures need not be limiting, but instead, to allow them help us achieve all that is possible.
The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that and live that way, you are a really wise person.’ ~Euripides

There are always different ways of seeing things in life. We are either optimistic or pessimistic or somewhere in between. The constant message from our Gospels is that there is always a bigger picture. If we take one event in isolation it can give a distorted view. Our world has been around for millions of years and we are a tiny part of the whole story. If we can see the bigger picture, if we can see life from experience, if we can look at it from a faith point of view, if we can look at it from the foundation of good sound values, then life can be viewed with balance. Our prayer today can be a simple one asking God for more balance in every aspect of our lives.
‘Life is a succession of crises and moments when we have to rediscover who we are and what we really want.’ ~Jean Vanier

For a cyclist it is always easier to cycle with other riders who will take turns in breaking through a headwind and make it easier to keep the momentum up. A lone breakaway cyclist will always have to work harder on their own. They will have to do all the work breaking through any headwind. The same can be said of us too. Sometimes when we move out of the safety and protection of others or when we do a solo run we are open to feeling the elements more. It is at this time that we begin to understand more about ourselves, our limits and where we want to go. But it is always good to come back into the strength of team, family and community. God encourages us to maximise the support structures around us. Is there any person I know who needs my support at this time? Can I support them with some of my time, love and energy?
'When we accept the darkness then finally we can stop pretending. No longer do I need to conceal the cracks - impatience, sharp temper, a spirit of judgement, lust, lying, envy. I am all of these but more. I am also compassionate, sensitive, charitable. I never condemn the whole because a part of me is disordered. I work on that and with the grace of God I can make progress.' ~Martin Tierney

Isn't it so often that we allow the cracks to take over and dominate our lives. Much of low self esteem and lack of confidence is because we see only the cracks. The cracks will always be there and its a fool who thinks otherwise. But if we take all the positive and good in our lives the cracks begin to look insignificant. Cracks have the potential to get bigger and multiply if we don't deal with them in the context of God's love for us and also the great love and goodness we generate each day. Today is a good day to begin to accept the cracks but importantly not to allow them dominate.


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