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Listing November - 2022
'Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard but always near: still loved, still missed and very dear.' ~inscription on a candle last night as part of a Remembrance liturgy for deceased past pupils and staff of Mount Mercy College, Model Farm Road

Today is the last day of November. Traditionally during this month, we remember and pray for our loved ones who have died. These people were special and important to us. The following words of the late John O'Donoghue sum it up best:

"Though we wake to your loss, you dwell in that place of our hearts where no storm or night or pain can reach you. Though your days here were brief, your Spirit was alive, awake, completed. Though we cannot see you with our outward eyes, we know our souls gaze is upon your face, smiling back at us in everything. Let us not look for you only in memory, where we grow lonely without you. May you continue to inspire us, to enter each day with a generous heart, to serve the call of courage and love. Until we see your beautiful faces again in that land of where there is no separation, where all tears will be wiped from our minds and where we will never lose you again."
'Winter can be symbolic of the spaces in my heart that seem cold, dark, barren, empty, fallow, dormant, infertile, inactive - a hard place to be, a place that invites me, if I can, to wait for the thaw and the melting that leads to new life.' ~Finola Cunnane'

Ireland and much of Europe has been gripped by freezing Artic conditions. The icy grip of winter has never been as early before with temperatures plumetting to -9C and lower in places. The cold snap looks like continuing for another week at least. On a spiritual level, winter and the icy conditions can speak to us too. We have just begun our journey through the season of Advent. It's starting point is recognising that we all have cold, dark, barren, empty and bleak places within. We should not feel that it's just you or me. These places are within every person. It can indeed be a tough place to be, but one that we can also move out of too. The invitation of Advent is to allow God breathe new life, hope, energy and a sense of new beginnings into all those cold, dark and dreary places in our lives. This is something we all yearn and long for. Every big freeze up always has a turning point and a thaw sets in. These coming weeks of Advent could be that turning point.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

The 2007 film 'The Bucket List' starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two terminally ill men who put together a wishlist of things to do before they 'kick the bucket'. They do a skydive, get tattoos, visit the pyramids. Several of the items on the to-do list are more abstract - witness something truly majestic; help a complete stranger for the good; find the joy in your life.

We often hear the advice that we should live each day as if it's our last. Of course we would live very differently if we knew our own days are numbered, or if it was our last day on earth. Likewise we would treat a family member, friend, or colleague differently if we knew they were to be struck by illness or accident. Sometimes it is only when the fragility of life is laid bare that we manage to get our priorities in order. Yet living differently is exactly what today's readings demand of us.They set the tone for the period of preparation that is Advent. The Gospel of Matthew uses the metaphor of the thief in the night to highlight the unexpected nature of the second coming of Jesus. Naturally we would be well prepared if we knew when a burglar would strike our home! The flood took Noah's contemporaries by surprise as they went about day to day life - eating, drinking, and marrying. 'So too will be the coming of the Son of Man'. St Paul gives us a lovely image in today's Second Reading: 'Put on the armour of light. Live differently. Stay awake. Be prepared'.
Another Thought from the new book 'A Year To Remember'

November is the pause button of the year, if we could but open our hearts to it. It comes to us, not wrapped in the glowing colours of other seasons, but in sombre, dark tones.' ~Charlie Meagher

Not many would put November down as their favourite month. It is easy to see why. All around the landscape is bleak and bare, our gardens are empty of colour, we feel starved of light and long for those warm summer days. We try and distract ourselves away from the dreariness of November by simply being busy. But it is our loss if we try and run away from what November has to offer. It offers us the invitation to pause, to look at our own lives and to think about those parts of our lives that also feel bleak, cold and in darkness. Jesus was laid into a dark empty tomb on Good Friday and the stone was rolled into a sealed position. It was meant to be the end. But it wasn't. Whatever is bleak, barren, dark or cold in our lives comes with a promise of new life, change and most importantly hope. November may not be our favourite month but it does have a lot to offer.
The following light hearted reflection appears in the new book 'A Year To Remember'

A farmer was trying to get his donkey to move on but the donkey was having none of it and refused to move. The farmer was getting frustrated, roaring and shouting at the poor donkey. Then he picked up a stick to whip the donkey when a car skidded to a halt next to him and out steps a stunningly beautiful woman. She gave out to the farmer, "How dare you shout and roar at this poor animal and worse again that you should hit him with a stick. You need to be gentle and give it some words of encouragement." With that she went over to the donkey, stroked its ear, rubbed its nose, kissed its mane and talked ever so sweet to the donkey. Sure enough the donkey happily set off on its travels. The woman turned round to find your man stretched on the ground. "Oh my God" she shouted, "Are you ok?" "Oh I'm fine" he said, "but I think I need some encouragement too!!"
The following thought is included in the new book 'A Year To Remember' which will be in bookshops by the weekend.

Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transition stage in the movement towards something higher. We must not linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder.' ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn

If we believe and can accept that each day is God's gift to us, the chances are high that we will not perch on just one rung of the ladder. It is good to keep our lives fresh and open. Taking a step each time allows us to do this. But maybe like the game 'snakes and ladders', we are afraid that we will come tumbling back down, quicker and further than we went up. The same game is an accurate reflection on life, lots of up and downs and many of them unexpected. The ladders symbolise possibility, growth and potential. They are symbolic of God trying to help us out of and through life's many obstacles. For some clinging to just one rung is all they can manage right now. We pray today for the strength to look up again. We pray for anyone today who needs direction and a sense of hope during difficult times. We ask God to help us in our quest for good healthy spiritual growth.
The following reflection features on the back cover of the new book

'Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.' ~Oscar Wilde

There are so many things that can be taken from us in life. Even under lock and key nothing is absolutely safe. But there are many things within each of us that are just so precious. These are special and unique to you. They are in that sacred place called the soul of each person. Your faith may be barely hanging in there, lukewarm or deep rooted. But it can never take from what what's special to you. The problem is that so many completely ignore the vast treasures within each of us. Our world may not be the nicest of places at times but there is such a reserve of deep love in so many people that it can't be ignored. This deep reserve is God's most precious gift to each of us.
'Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.' ~Author Unknown

We know that experience can get us through many aspects of life, through what's certain but also through the unknown. Experience is often hard earned. It might be a difficult job interview that didn't go well, the game we should have won but threw away, the decision we should have made but didn't. We spend our lives gathering experiences but they all do stand to us. What is our experience of God? For many people it is wide and varied. All our experiences of God are valid and important. The great lesson of life is to feel loved and cherished. This should be the goal of all our experiences especially that of God.
'Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.' ~Author Unknown

We know that experience can get us through many aspects of life, through what's certain but also through the unknown. Experience is often hard earned. It might be a difficult job interview that didn't go well, the game we should have won but threw away, the decision we should have made but didn't. We spend our lives gathering experiences but they all do stand to us. What is our experience of God? For many people it is wide and varied. All our experiences of God are valid and important. The great lesson of life is to feel loved and cherished. This should be the goal of all our experiences especially that of God.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Bye, bye 'ordinary' time. Welcome cosmic. The Church's liturgical year ends this week and with a bang by celebrating Jesus Christ as King of the Universe. And what a universe it is! Its sheer size, astonishing age and confounding complexity are beyond anything our minds can grasp. The more we see of it through the Very Large Telescope in Chile, or the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, the more awesome it appears. From data obtained 22,000 light years distant, astronomers have lit upon a new class of star so colossal it shatters current theoretical limits as to how large a star can be. Then, last June in just one download of information the Kepler telescope doubled the number of known planets outside our solar system to 700. Just as scientists realise through their impressive discoveries how little they know compared to what can be known, so too should we as people of faith realise the same as far as our faith is concerned.

Dogmas don't close doors. They ensure that the right doors are opened. The door to the cosmic Christ is clearly marked in today's Second Reading (Col 1:12-20). There we have the risen Christ described as the one in whom all things in heaven and on earth were created, even these newly discovered colossal stars, and all things as yet undetected by human technology.There's more to faith than morals. There's the breathtaking, visionary, near cockeyed, mind-stretching promise of a fullness of life beyond death that no telescope could ever reveal. That's what faith is for. Happy New Year!
God lit a candle of hope for each of us. It's not waiting in a window somewhere or around a bend. God lit it right inside us so that we need not ever live one moment without it.'~Vickie Girard

Hope is a word we sometimes throw around a lot. We often say that we live in hope or that we hope for the best. When the word hope is used to mean everything and anything, it can loose some of its impact. It never looses impact when used in a faith context. Hope is the voice that God uses to speak to our hearts. Hope is God's parachute in life and it is always God's smile. It is not a product, you can't buy it and it is always a part of a journey. In many ways hope is prayer. Without it you have nothing and with it you have so many possibilities. During these very difficult economic times we must have hope. The eyes of the world are on Ireland at the moment, wondering how much financial help we will need to keep us afloat. But despite the many difficulties we must have hope. We put our trust and hope in God to guide us through the unknown, to help us learn from mistakes and to use wisely the wisdom of those who have been there before.
'As we continue during these days of November to pray for our loved ones who have died, here is a little story to a make us smile'

The wise old Mother Superior was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed, trying to make her comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink, but she refused it. Then one of the nuns took the glass back to the kitchen and added some whiskey into the warm milk. Back at the Mother Superiors bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more and before they knew it the glass was gone, down to the last drop. "Mother, Mother", the nuns whispered, "please give us some wisdom before you leave us." She raised herself up and with a pious look on her face, she looked out the window and said, "Don't sell that cow!"
'I learned that there were two ways I could live my life: following my dreams or doing something else. Dreams aren't a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. When I dream, I believe I am rehearsing my future.' ~David Copperfield'

If we leave everything in life to chance and luck we are going to be sorely disappointed. Hoping for the best and hoping things will work out is inbuilt in all of us, but we need to have deeper roots. It's all about making good positive choices each day. It's all about making a determined effort to choose what I can do well and to avoid tasks that are impossible. It's also about putting our trust in God who has dreams and plans for us too. They are never a matter of chance but always built on the strongest of foundations, Gods deep love for each of us.
'It is never too late to be what you might have been' ~George Eliot

One constant theme throughout scriptures is how God never closes the door on anyone. Even when people tested, ignored and abandoned God, the door was never closed. We've all experienced others closing doors on us: rejection, betrayal, ignored, left to our own devices, no support and so on. It's never a nice place to be and sadly it happens way too often. To say that God never closes the door on anyone may not be the experience of everyone. Many feel that genuine heartfelt prayers went unheeded. Other significant knocks in life meant that it felt as if the door was closed. But we are gently reminded how God always holds the door open. The invitation is to step forward. Just because things haven't worked out for us back along should not be a reason to throw the towel in. It is never too late to make a fresh start, to retry and to be open to new beginnings. Others may close the door on us but at least with God the door is always open. Have I thrown the towel in? Do I feel it's too late to restart? Can I begin to trust myself and believe that I can take a positive start forward?
'One of the greatest mysteries in life is the mystery of time. Everything that happens to us happens in and through time. Time is the force that brings every new experience to the door of your heart.' ~John O'Donoghue

We're all very much aware how time goes by so quickly. We're half way through November and the weeks seem to be flying by. Much of our time and what happens in our lives is outside our control. But much of it is very much within our sights too, particularly what is happening in the present moment. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago. Nothing is as close as right now. Our faith reminds us how God journeys with us in the right now. Nothing else matters. For all of us the right now is a massive collection of joys, sorrows, pain, happiness, struggles, hopes, fears, weakness, fun, relaxation, anger, freedom, disappointments and so on. It can be a scary place and it can also be so exciting. We're in there somewhere and so is God. It would be very limiting, if we thought that God only chose to be with us during the good days. It's in the middle of our darkest hour that God is also particularly near.
'Great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day.' ~Sally Koch

If we're waiting for that big moment or that big opportunity to make a difference, we will be waiting quite a while! These moments are rare and seldom will come our way. But thankfully we are surrounded by so many small moments that will have a far bigger impact. St.Thérese lived her life around this belief. She treasured each day that God gave her, but treasured even more the small moments that she made her own. It was such a down to earth approach in how to make the most of each day and at the same time an example of how to connect with God in such a simple way. No wonder she is hugely popular today.

We are just half way through this month of November. It's a month that many dislike and a month that feels long and dreary. We can brighten up someone's day by making the most of the smaller moments. Maybe something as simple as a phone call, a smile, calling to a friend or neighbour, a word of encouragement or a word of support is all that is needed. It won't make news headlines but for the recipient it could make their day.
'Planted in love and built on love we will come to know the love of Christ which is beyond all knowledge and we will be filled with the utter fullness of God.' ~Ephesians 3:18-19

The population of the world is 6.5 billion or 6,500 million people, which is staggering. There are 193 countries in the world and 6,800 known languages. The one common link through them all is the language of love. We often take this language for granted. Without it we shrivel and cease to be human. With it the possibilities are endless and the many challenges we face on our daily journey become manageable. As believers our starting point is the belief that God is love. Everything else is built on this. Scripture reminds us that we will be filled with the utter fullness of God. This might be hard to understand but in simpler language it most likely means that our lives will never quite be the same again! To be open to the language of God's love in our lives brings meaning, direction, fulfillment and a sense of purpose to everything we do. It's a bit like a map. With one there is no guarantee we will find our way and that we won't get lost. But with a map the chances of it happening are greatly reduced. To be open to God's love means we are in a much better position to get the most from life.
'Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.' ~Isaiah 26:4

Trust is something that is hugely important to us. It is not automatic. Earning trust takes time and loosing trust can happen quickly. As a child we placed total trust in our parents and whoever was looking after us. Then as we journeyed through life we experienced setbacks and broken promises. Different things and events eroded our trust in others. The level of trust in society at large is also very low. For anyone who has been let down it can be hard to build the levels of trust up again. We are reminded throughout our scripture readings that God is completely trustworthy. But why do we also find it hard to trust God? Perhaps we haven't given God enough time in our lives? Perhaps God is there for us like a fire brigade, only when there is an emergency. We are encouraged to begin to put our trust in God. God will always be on our side. To believe in that is a great start.
'Tamara is the light of my life. She is a lovely placid girl. Caring for Tamara is a day long duty, beginning at 7a.m but I have to get on with it.' ~Anne McGrath speaking yesterday after winning the Carer of the Year award.

There were many awards given out yesterday at the annual Carers Association Awards in Dublin. Anne McGrath lovingly looks after her daughter Tamara who has Canavans disease, a rare and fatal genetic condition that leaves children mentally and physically incapacitated. Anne has already lost two children to the disease but she lovingly keeps going, despite the many daily challenges she faces on an ongoing basis. Other recipients yesterday were Kelley Farrell aged 13, who won the young carer award and who looks after her mum Nuala. Kelley's mum suffers from a serious back problem. Her day begins at 7a.m when she makes breakfast and helps her mum before school, makes the lunch and helps out again after school. Kelley says 'I love doing it for somebody who I care about and love.' This is only a tiny part of the story of thousands of carers who do similar work each day. Their work and contribution each day is wonderful, it's done with love and sometimes without support or encouragement. The purpose of the Carers Awards is to highlight the great work being done each day. Every carer is a winner, they deserve our support and encouragement and we in particular ask God's abundant blessings on them and on those whom they are looking after.
The Simplicity Of A Hug

There's something in a simple hug that always warms the heart. A hug is a way to share the joy or the sad times we go through. Hugs are meant for anyone whom we really care. It is a way for friends to say they like you because you're just you. A hug is an amazing thing to show the love we are feeling but can't find the words to say. It's funny how a little hug makes everyone feel good. In every place and language it is always understood. Hugs are also a little reminder just how much God loves us. They are such a precious gift from God to us. Hugs don't need new equipment, special batteries or parts. Just open up your arms and open up your hearts. Forget today about the recession and everything connected with a negative news story. Instead just go and give someone a decent hug!
How rich are the depths of God - how deep is God's wisdom and knowledge and how impossible to penetrate God's motives or understand God's methods. Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? ~St Paul's letter to the Romans 11:33-34

These lines are one of the most beautiful that Paul wrote. The lines were'nt just written for the sake of putting a few lines together. They were written by Paul over much reflection on how he felt God was present in his life. Like all of us Paul grappled with the great issues of life only to end up in admiration of God's boundless wisdom. Paul had a great appreciatiion of the richness and depths of God's blessings in his life. Even in the depths of a crisis he felt that God was close and near. Sometimes we might not be as confident or as sure as Paul. But with careful reflection we know that we can point to God's influence and presence in our lives. Such an influence and presence has been a cornerstone of our lives. No event or person can ever take it away from us.
'Thank you Lord, for so many things that brighten up our lives and thank you too for the annoyances that come our way. Too much sunshine would make our lives a fruitless desert. Teach us that that the storms of life come, not to destroy, but to deepen and make strong the roots of our faith, hope and love.' ~Extract of a Prayer in the Macroom Parish Newsletter

The much anticipated storm that was predicted for Ireland didn't quite blow up yesterday. But it was good to have got the warning and to be prepared, particularly in relation to flooding. Often in life we don't get much warning when it comes to personal storms. They often hit us quite suddenly and when we least expect. But when we are faced with any sudden storm be it an illness, a bereavement, a broken relationship, the loss of a job, an unexpected crisis, we have to dig deep. Often the only things that will get us through, is the love of family and friends, the hope that their support and encouragement can bring and faith in a loving God to help us through. What is the personal storm in your life at the moment? What is the personal storm of someone close to you? Can you be the one to reach out and bring God's hope, comfort and love into their lives at this time?
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

One thing can be said about life: it never ceases to amaze. Take, for example, a decade-long ocean census completed early this year. It uncovered a whole new world of a billion marine microbes. That's an incredible 50,000 times more microbes than were known to exist before the census. How much more of life's largesse do we short-change, I wonder.

Do we short-change life's extravagance even in the case of human beings, particularly when a person's earthly life has come to an end? How many are tempted to think, 'Well that's that!' Finito! The Jewish sect in today's Gospel reading (Luke 20:27-38) holds such a view. The Sadducees don't believe in life after death. For them there is no such thing as bodily resurrection. Today, lots of people think that way too, or would claim they do. But that's such a bleak outlook to have!

Even were it true, I'd still crave some comfort, even that of delusion, to face the abyss of oblivion. Let delusion cushion the icy impact of eternal emptiness and the sickening thrust of a risible freedom that leads nowhere and to nothing. In such a case one might as well be a robot as a human being. So much of what we experience each day tells us that life is not a trickster. It tells us that we are players in a drama, not a farce. We can trust our intuitions, our insights and our feelings. There's more ways to truth than through scientific observation and logical reasoning. Let's never forget our gut.
The following was read at a remembrance Mass yesterday at Coláiste Choilm for the late Liz McEvoy a past pupil of the school who died on Oct 19th last.

Change is part and parcel of life. Significant changes are part of our lives too. Some are forced, some are necessary and some are welcome. By and large any change needs adjustment on our behalf. During this month of November we remember and pray for those who have died. For those who have lost a loved one, the changes can be overwhelming and traumatic. Adjusting to the change of a loved one not around anymore can be a slow, painful and lonely journey. Our prayers during this month of November are not just a token gesture of doing something for the sake of doing it. Our prayers are in some small way, an attempt to help us cope with these changes. We never get over some changes in life but we can go a long way in feeling less threatened by them. During these weeks of November we ask for God's help to come to terms with these changes and in particular those resulting from the death of a loved one. We pray in particular for all of Liz's family today and those who have lost a loved one recently. We pray that God will give them the strength to cope during these difficult times.
A short story

There once was a wealthy man who was devastated when his only son was killed in a war. A friend of the son came to the house one day and gave the father a special gift: a painting he had done of his friend, the wealthy man's son. It became the man's most prized possession, even though he possessed a dazzling collection of priceless artwork. Some years later when the man died, his art was auctioned off. Collectors flocked to the event. The first piece on the block was the portrait of the man's son. 'Bring on the good stuff!' one collector shouted when he saw the painting. 'Who wants a picture like that?' The auctioneer replied, 'The gentleman left orders that this piece must be auctioned first.' A friend of the deceased man finally made a bid of %u20AC10. In fact, his was the only bid and he got the painting. The auctioneer immediately announced, 'The auction is over.' A cry went up from the crowd. 'What do you mean?' the collectors shouted. The auctioneer explained, 'The will states that he who is willing to take the son will receive everything else.' God has said the same thing about his own son. Through his son God wants to give us everything.
'Léana was the beautiful light in all our lives. She was love personified, she radiated love in all directions. Every day was a happy day for Léana. When she smiled the room lit up. Her smile melted every heart and made you smile too. She touched so many people in so many different ways. She enriched us all. As a family we are heartbroken and we will miss this beautiful light in our lives. Her smile will always stay with us and Léana's spirit will always be with us. We thank you Léana for all you brought to us. We will always love you, our little Princess.' ~Leana's Dad Michéal speaking at her funeral Mass yesterday

The death of a child is indeed truly harrowing. The death of Léana Martin has touched so many near and far. Her Mass of the Angels was so moving yesterday. It was simple and down to earth but it bubbled with life and meaning. Léana taught us everything that's important in life. She taught us simplicity, how to smile and how to live in the present moment. She taught us everything we need to know about love. Léana wasn't interested in yesterday or tomorrow but lived in the present moment. For her those moments were built on and around love. The death of Léana reminds us all just how fragile life actually is. When we are heartbroken, lost, lonely and confused we have to dig deep. We sometimes can't make sense of God's ways or the complexities of life. Sometimes we just have to live the unanswered questions in all our lives. The opening lines from yesterday's liturgy probably sum it up best: "God gives life and God takes life away. And the taking away is so terribly painful, because what God gives is so very good."
'A saint is a person who gives of themself without asking for anything in return. That's how simple it is to be a saint. Try it! Try being a saint.' ~Edward James Olmos

Today is the feast of All Saints. It always follows the day after Halloween. The origins of Halloween go back to the days when it was a pagan Celtic feast. They believed that after sunset on Samhain, which we now called Halloween, the spirits of the dead and evil spirits roamed the skies seeking to harm humans, especially if the dead had been harmed by them. To protect themselves people disguised themselves by dressing up in costumes and carried lights inside in turnips. In order to turn a pagan feast into a Christian feast, the Church placed the feast of All Saints on November 1st, to coincide with the pagan celebration. It would be a mistake to think today is about famous or celebrity Saints. Today is all about our own loved ones gone on before us who lived decent, honest, simple and down to earth lives. They may not have been famous, they may not have made headlines but in God's eyes they are now celebrities. Today we call them saints and we thank them for all the love they have shown us down through the years.


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