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Listing March - 2009
‘Anyone who does not know God, even if he/she entertains all kinds of hope is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life.’ ~Pope Benedict

This piece of wisdom offers plenty food for thought. It’s not something that was made up in the heat of the moment but was given great reflection and thought. We often search for hope in so many places and often perhaps in the wrong place. Many think that hope can be bought but money also has its limits. Can money buy real and lasting friendships? Can it buy love? Can it buy the freedom that simplicity brings? Can it buy laughter, honesty, genuineness and the freedom to be the best that God has created us to be? God is indeed the one who can bring us all these and much more besides. If God is not the cause and origin of all these blessings, then who is?
‘There comes a time in the life of every man and woman, whether a TV presenter, accountant, bank manager, cabinet maker or sportsman (in whose case the time comes a little sooner) when they have to wonder how long more they’ve got. Not in terms of the job but in terms of life.’ ~Gay Byrne

We all at times have to pause and reflect on where we are going in life. The currents of life are fast moving with little time to stop, pause and reflect. Unless we stop for reflection, we can drift along taking life, family and friends completely for granted. We can’t do the same thing each day over a long period of time without making adjustments and sometimes changing directions in life. As Lent moves into the last lap we can also do the same with our spiritual lives. We are encouraged to have a look at what’s going well and what is not happening. As we approach Easter we can also make adjustments. It’s often the small adjustments that can have the biggest effect.
The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Clancy

'Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.' ~John 12: 22-24

As spring slips by it is fascinating to watch where daffodils grow. Often it is in some unlikely corner which a few weeks ago looked barren and neglected. Yet in that spot, despite appearances, the daffodil bulbs lay hidden but alive in the damp cold soil covered, perhaps by last autumn's still decaying leaves. In such an unwelcoming seed bed, the bulbs germinated, sent out new shoots and grew into something beautiful for us and for God. If they were kept safely clean, warm and dry on a shelf they would eventually shrivel up and die without trace. Instead because they were entrusted to such an apparently hostile environment, they had the opportunity to bloom, multiply and enrich their surroundings. Such is the process of all seed sowing and harvesting.

It is to this imagery that Jesus in our Gospel lines for today teaches us that he had to suffer to bring new life to the world. He tells us that without a hidden germinating period, a period perhaps of pain and disappointment, there can never be an abundant harvest of goodness.

So it is in our lives. We must continue to sow seeds of goodness and generosity even where they seem to be unwanted and ignored, yet believing that one day they will bear fruit a hundred fold.
‘Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.’ ~Harvey MacKay

Our clocks go forward one hour tonight. While we will loose an hour’s sleep overnight it will mean much longer evenings and it’s always the last goodbye to winter. Time is something we have little control over except how we use it. Do we tend to use time well and creatively or do we tend to waste time and opportunities? With time going forward later we can also ask ourselves if we need to move on with certain areas in our lives? Is it time to symbolically move on? Do I see time as God’s precious gift to me to use in the best way I can? As we turn those clocks forward tonight we can say a little prayer asking God to help us use time creatively, positively and always doing our best with it each day.
‘Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond’ ~Robert Horry (Famous Basketball player)

There are two ways of looking at everything in life and it especially applies to pressure. It’s a word that comes up in conversation so much these days. Many people are under pressure and genuinely feel pushed and stretched. This often is the result of a hectic pace to life, the economic downturn, high expectations of others and sometimes just taking on too much. The image of a burst pipe or a diamond is a good one to explain pressure. It has to be said that there are few diamonds around and many burst pipes. The challenge is to let some of the pressure go before the pipe bursts. This can only come about when we honestly face up to the cause of pressures in our own lives. There are some we can’t change because they are outside our control but there are ones well within our sights that need tackling. We pray today asking God to help us deal with the pressures in our own life and to help us off load as many as we can.
‘We have probably overdone the stress on practice in our religion. In our gospels Jesus was constantly telling the Pharisees and Scribes that they worried too much about regulations and practices. Instead he stressed: Look into your hearts.’ ~Paul Andrews

The emphasis has always been on the need to go to Church or go to Mass. It was a case of clocking up points every time you went and if you didn’t go you fell down the list fast in terms of favour with God. Think of the guilt that built up around this way of thinking. It certainly was not the way Jesus would want it. Even today many grandparents and parents worry unnecessarily about their children not attending Church. If you ask young people do they pray, (different to asking do they go to church) and the answer is always positive. Of course we need religion, church liturgies and a sense of community but we also need to nurture the spiritual yearnings of many who are searching. The spirit of God is to be found in so many places. What a shame if we think there is only one road in that search.
‘I applaud the team’s courage and remarkable determination and will to win for Ireland. It was outstanding. The Irish team’s performance was nothing short of superb.’ ~Taoiseach Brian Cowen

Ireland’s victory against Wales to clinch the Grand Slam was indeed superb. It was an incredible game from an incredible team who have done us all so proud. There has been so much talk about the lift it has given everyone. It’s more than just talk, you can really feel it. The dark clouds have parted and a welcome chink of light has brightened up our outlook, at least for a while. This remarkable rugby team have shown us that hard work, commitment, bravery, courage and the will to keep going will always get us through the greatest of challenges. They have done us proud as has Bernard Dunne in the boxing. Sport has that unique ability to unite, energise and give direction when we badly need it. It is such a precious gift from God. May we always cherish the many blessings it brings to our lives.
Our Thought for Today has been written by Fr. Tom Cahill

On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world people have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear their actions should be exposed; but the one who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what they do is done in God. ~John 3:19-22

Today’s Gospel reading tells us that some people don’t just prefer the darkness they love it (v. 19). They are the ones fixated on the gore, not the glory. John makes no excuses for these people. There is no attempt to explain away their evil deeds or mitigate their guilt. It’s either or. Either you’re for the light, or for the dark. Faith has no twilight zones. Lent is a time for discovery; for facing fact not fiction, for honesty about twilight zones we may frequent, or long to: haunts of unreality, dead end traps that stunt our growth, imprison us in addiction, and alienate us from each other, and from God. Lent is a time for lingering in the light, for letting its rays do their healthy work. It’s a time for asking the subversive question: Where does my heart lie, in darkness or in light?
‘I can’t be happy only on the outside. I have to be happy on the inside too or else I am just presenting a false smile to the world.’ ~Michael Buckley

Everyone longs to be happy in some way. Too often we search for happiness in the wrong places and forget that happiness is often found within us. But unless we are happy with ourselves then we can never find it anywhere else. This becomes the big stumbling block because many find it hard to love themselves within. Why? The world we live in puts huge expectations on us in terms of what we own, what we wear, how we look, what we drive, where we live. There is a huge emphasis on the external. It can leave an empty feeling, even one of failure. In our gospels Jesus met every person by looking inward and seeing the real person within. Every person he met felt loved to bits. To nurture happiness in myself and others I must begin that search within.
‘Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.’ ~Maori Proverb

Today is Daffodil Day and is organised and run by the Irish Cancer Society. 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. Last year through the money raised from Daffodil Day 5,700 nights of care to 1,600 families was provided. 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 heartaching stories but also many stories that are filled with hope and inspiration. There are different ways of wasting €3 today but if you buy a daffodil for the Irish Cancer Society you will be making a real and lasting difference in many peoples 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.
‘We have got accustomed to getting results and to getting them fast. But not everything can be hurried. In fact all the really worthwhile things in life require a lot of patient effort and are all the more appreciated for that very reason.’ ~Diarmuid Clifford

Lent is stretched over six weeks to give us a chance to put the focus on those really worthwhile things. Ash Wednesday is probably a distant memory now. Perhaps our great plans that we had at the beginning of Lent have gone up in shreds at this stage. It is often hard to keep the momentum going over many weeks. But there are still three weeks to go this Lent, giving us plenty of time to do something. It’s much more about doing one thing instead of trying many things. Commitment, effort and perseverance are always a struggle. If you are struggling this Lent, don’t see it as a failure. If there is no struggle there can never be progress. As the classic hit song from Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush puts it so well, “Don’t give up”.
‘When you don’t listen to the voice of the Spirit in the breeze, God will allow the roof of your house to be blown off to get your attention.’ ~Garry O’Sullivan

It has often been said how God gently guides and directs us through life. We sometimes say, “Someone was praying for me”, “God was on my side” or “Someone was watching over me”. The Spirit of God is alive and active. It prompts us in certain directions, to try new paths, to be brave and courageous, to forgive and start anew. But we so often play the safe game and simply do what we think is right. Hindsight is great and it’s easy to know after that we should have made better choices and better decisions. But let’s not beat ourselves with blame and guilt. We need to forgive ourselves, move on and take a positive step forward. No matter what we do or don’t do, God will never abandon us. God’s gentle promptings will always continue. Am I willing to listen to the quiet voice of God?
The following reflection was written by Flor McCarthy

In general we reap what we sow.
We can't expect to reap good if what we have sown is evil.
We must sow peace if we do not want to reap conflict.
We must sow loyalty if we do not want to reap betrayal.
We must sow honesty if we do not want to reap deceit.
Even though we have no absolute guarantee that what we sow will always fall on good ground or that someone else may not come along and sow contrary seed,
nevertheless, if we are careful to sow good seeds we can within reason, turst our expectations
because nature has shown that if what is planted bears fruit at all, it will yield more of itself.
So, let us sow good seed.
‘I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, let me not refuse to do the something that I can do. ~Edward Hale

This quote is a little gem and worth remembering. It takes a bit of courage to say ‘I cannot do everything’. The pace of life today is so frantic and at times chaotic. We are almost pushed to try and do everything, accomplish deadlines and deliver on so much. We may be only a drop in the ocean in the cycle of everyday life but yet what an important drop we are. God never expects us to do everything and God never asks us to be perfect. But we can do many things well and these are what bring life and energy to our lives. Is there anything that I can do well during this day and this weekend?
‘Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.’ ~St. John Of The Cross

This lovely quote can be inverted by saying: ‘Where there is no hope, put hope and you will find hope.’ A religion teacher in a secondary school wrote the words ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Love’ on a blackboard and asked his students which one they felt was most important. Perhaps not surprisingly, faith came in a weak third. What was surprising was that love didn’t fare much better and hope won by a landslide. In the world we live in today there is an air of hopelessness that doesn’t seem to go away. Society today is very much problem focussed. Good news gets squeezed out. Bad news is attractive and can at times be more interesting. No wonder hope can also get squeezed out. We need it, we must nurture it, encourage it and most importantly live it.
‘We are sometimes vaccinated against faith. We don’t get to the essence of it. We get distracted by our acquaintance with it. ~Ronan Mullen

We vaccinate to prevent something and we only give a little to make sure something much bigger doesn’t happen. In terms of what we believe in, we often seem to be happy with a vaccination of faith. We just take the bare minimum but in doing so we miss out on so much. Vaccinations prevent but when it comes to matters of faith its all about being open and being exposed to it. It is God’s precious gift to us, its free, never forced and always an open invitation. We have nothing to fear when it comes to the heart of our faith that God loves us uniquely. Nothing we may have done, are doing or will do can ever change this truth. Am I happy only with a little vaccination of faith this Lent? or am I willing to be exposed to some more?
Hello God

Hello God, I called today to talk a little while.
I need a friend who’ll listen to my anxiety and trial.
You see, I can’t quite make it through a day just on my own.
I need your love to guide me, so I’ll never feel alone.
I want to ask you please to keep my family safe and sound.
Come and fill their lives with confidence in all they do.
Give me faith, dear God, to face each hour throughout the day and not to worry over things I can’t change in any way.
I thank you God for being home and listening to my call.
Thanks for giving me such good advice when I stumble and fall.
Your number God is the only one that answers every time.
I never get a busy signal and never have to pay a cent.
So thank you God for listening to my troubles and sorrow.
Bye for now and I’ll call again tomorrow!
'Some people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of rubbish, full of frustration, full of anger and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally.' ~The Law of the Rubbish Truck

If someone has taken it out on you recently there may have been a reason. But no matter how valid the reason may be, it can never justify anyone taking it out on someone else. The current recession has led to a lot of frustration, anxiety and worry. It's important that each person off loads this in a meaningful way rather than a sudden outburst of anger. It is good to share our worries and problems with someone who is willing to listen. Part of the invitation is to also share with God whatever is going on in our lives. This includes worries, problems and all the unnecessary garbage we tend to carry around with us each day. It is good and important to offload some of these.
The following reflection is complements of Intercom magazine and written by Fr.Tom Cahill.

God put Abraham to the test. 'Abraham, Abraham' he called. 'Here I am' he replied. 'Take your son,' God said 'your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.' ~Genesis 22:1-2

If there's one thing you should do with the above extract from a story it's to ask "How could God possibly want Abraham to murder his son?" He didn't

It's a story. It carries the word of God. What more effective way to convey a message than by story telling. Journalists didn't write scripture. Those who did were both inspired and creative. We'll miss that if we allow sizzle to steal the steak. The sizzle is Abraham's knife poised to plunge into his son's young heart at God's command. The steak is the message that God knows what he's doing. God's not whimsical and is totally in command whose commands are always for the good.

We moderns, need such ancient stories to capture our imagination and inspire our spirit. God's word is creative in its approach to us. Let our response to it be creative too. Let us turn the prose of our daily plodding into poetry of faith filled light.
'I'd rather something be said in my face than thrown in my face' ~Peter Mandelson

The arrival yesterday of Business Secretary Peter Mandelson to an economy summit in London didn't quite go to plan. After getting out of his car he went to greet someone who turned on him and threw green soup into his face. His reply was honest and fair with an important meaning. If we have an issue with someone it is always important to say it directly to them rather than swiping at them behind their back through juicy gossip. Throwing a tantrum or at an extreme level throwing something at someone never achieves much except publicity. Gossip often leads to hurt, mistrust and alienation. Many friendships have been lost. Saying something upfront and with honesty requires courage and convivtion. There is too much to loose doing it any other way.
‘Celtic spirituality is rooted in the simple belief that in all the unspectacular immediacy of daily living, both in the natural world and in daily work, God is close at hand.’ ~Esther de Waal

Belief in God can never be taken for granted. It’s a journey of many proportions. We may be really solid, we may be struggling, we may have given up or we may be willing to give it another go. Every one who believes in God will be able to talk of at least something positive and beneficial about that journey. It’s a place that is both comforting and challenging. It’s challenging because we sometimes have to stretch our boundaries to make sense of all that is happening in our lives. It is comforting to know that there is something more to life than just simply wandering aimlessly through it. The best progress on our own faith journey is to know that God is always close at hand and a source of renewal and life, no matter what is going on for each of us.
‘Books are the quietest and most constant of friends. They are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors and the most patient of teachers.’ ~Charles W.Eliot

Today is world book day and in many countries the value of books and reading will be celebrated. With the advance of television, computers, and technology we have pushed to one side the art of reading and the value it brings. Yet there is a growing awareness on the importance of books. The purpose of world book day is to highlight the many benefits a book can bring. We can journey through a book as fast or as slow as we want but each visit brings many benefits. The Bible has the privilege of being the most read book in the world. Today is a day to thank God for the gift of books and reading. We are encouraged today to simply pick up a book and start reading again. Even better again is to share the joys of reading by giving a book as a gift to someone else.
The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Clancy

'Lent is an opportunity to ask God to open our eyes to our smugness and to fill our hearts with courageous generosity towards our brothers and sisters everywhere.

Lent is a lived out reminder that the cross of Calvary is the advertisement of God's love for us. There are no percentage discounts. God's gift of love is total, unconditional and forever.

Lent is an ongoing advertisement of God's offer of himself. We are invited to absorb this love and to make it present daily in our world through justice, generosity and forgiveness.


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