Saint of tooday
Tell a Friend
Feedback / Queries
Add to Favorites
Set as Homepage
Join Us On Facebook
Home About Site About Photographer Photo Archive Thought Archive  





Listing November - 2009
ĎAgain and again history has taught us that despair has been the womb in which hope is conceived and out of which hope is born. If we are going to have any hope, we must start with the reality of despair.í ~The Universe

We have just begun our journey through Advent. While it is a time set aside to help prepare us for Christmas, it is time set aside with a difference. It has a deep spiritual significance which could go unnoticed. Its starting point is always darkness and despair. This is a place where many people live today. From time to time all of us have been there as well. From darkness and despair there is a call to hope and light. This is not something trivial. Itís what makes Advent and these coming weeks before Christmas significant. We bring our darkness, hurts, despair and frustration to God and we simply ask for guidance, direction, light, hope and blessings. In these uncertain economic times the season of Advent will help all of us prioritise whatís really important. What is really important to me at this time? Do I need to prioritise it during the coming weeks?
The following reflection has been written by Fr.Tom Cahill

What a way to enter with a bang! Enter a new liturgical year, that is. Just look at our Second Reading today (1Thess 3:12-4.2): Ďmay the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for allí. What a way to start the year if love means, as it must, seeing butterflies in caterpillars! Not even Specsavers could do that for you.

Advent is a time for staring: at the Creator coddled in a cot, at heaven harboured in a home, at power naked in swaddling clothes, at divinity bubbling through a baby, at the darkness of a silent night illumined by a cosmic chorus of heavenly hosannas. Indeed it is; but donít forget the caterpillar. Why should we be stumped by a muddled Marian message ringed in a tree? Why have apparitions in strange places? Donít we have divinity at our fingertips each day? We need but reach out in friendship to another human being to touch the face of God. For if not there, where else?

Advent is a time for daring: to find the intimately elusive God nestling in our hearts, to find his sacred face imaged on the heart of those we love and, dare we admit it, those we donít; to trust our instincts for the promised paradise to come. Indeed it is, but donít forget the caterpillar. Next time you meet one stare and dare. Stare until its lowly form morphs before your eyes. Then dare to believe what your eyes tell you. Advent has arrived; can birth be far behind?
ĎThe bottom line is that the church finds itself a despised stranger in its own land, its massive contributions devalued, its voice largely missing, not just on the child abuse issue but on any of the significant issues of our time.í ~Terry Prone

The revelations from the Dublin Diocesan report have yet again churned up feelings of disgust, horror, nausea, anger and total dismay. The reports are truly damming and shameful. It is another sad and sorry chapter in the history of the church. Instead of being a bright positive light in a darkened world, the church has instead brought everyone into a deep dirty quagmire. All the good work down through the years and its massive contribution to life and society has been swept away. It will take many years for the wounds to heal. It will take even longer for trust and credibility to gain a foothold again. The institutional church as we know it is dying on its feet. There are few who will mourn its passing. We have all been let down but especially the victims of child sex abuse. As we begin our journey through Advent this weekend we pray for everyone affected by the sorry revelations from this damming report. We pray for green shoots, for a sense of hope and new beginnings.
ĎPriorities are not written in granite. They need to be flexible and change as we do. I find it helpful to think of priorities as the wooden frame upon which we stretch the canvas of our days.í ~Sarah Breathnach

A priority is something that is important to each of us. Our health is an important priority as is the welfare of our family, financial security, employment and so on. There are many other priorities that are unique to each of us. For some the main priority is simply to get through this day. We are indeed pulled in all directions and itís sometimes hard to know whatís important and what takes priority. The image of the wooden frame is helpful and particularly when we apply it to God. Each day is Godís precious gift to us and like a canvas it is blank waiting for us to add our colour. If we donít prioritise certain things we end up trying to do everything and in the end have little to show for it. What one thing is important to me today? Can I do something to make it happen?
The following relection by Fr.Flor McCarthy to mark feast of Christ The King

Of all the titles we could bestow on Jesus, that of 'King' would seem one of the most inappropriate. It smacks of the kind of things he rejected. When we think of a King we think of a crown, a palace, great wealth, power, prestige and of course an army. When we look at Jesus what do we see? There is no throne, no crown, no army. We see him walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a little band of disciples. He is surrounded by the poor and the sick, sinners and outcasts.

And yet the title 'King' is appropriate and it stands for something true and real in Jesus. He was the greatest source of goodness, light and hope in a dark world. His presence could change beyond recognition the lives of those around him. There is a great person who makes everybody feel small. But the really great person makes everybody feel great. In that sense Jesus really was a King.
Some rightsÖ

I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I do, say, think or feel. Itís ok for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways. I have the right to say I donít understand without feeling stupid or guilty. I have the right to say I donít know. I have the right to say no without feeling guilty. I do not have to apologise or give reasons when I say no. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, cunning or treating me unfairly. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty. I have the right to tell others when their behaviour annoys or upsets me. I have the right to make mistakes and to be responsible for them. I have the right to be wrong. I do not have to be liked, admired or respected by everyone for everything I do. I have the right to admit that Iím human with limitations and weaknesses and not pretend that everything is just right.
ĎThe way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.' ~B.Ruth

All eyes will be on Paris tonight to see if Ireland can qualify for the World Cup. France are red hot favourites with a one goal advantage but anything is possible if Ireland can get a combination of luck, a miracle and some quality team football. We often apply the word team to footballers and sport but it has many wider implications especially from a spiritual point of view. As we journey through life there are few who can do it entirely on our own. We need support, encouragement and direction. Every time we gather together for prayer there is a great sense of support and a common sense of purpose. If we look closely at our Gospels we find Jesus constantly promoting teamwork. Everything was done with people and for people, not in isolation but always together. As part of Godís team we are to feel loved and valued, not in isolation but very much of part of a wider team with no segregation, individualism or extremism.
One day, St.Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher and philosopher and his Dominican community were gathered for their hour of recreation. They were all talking, laughing and enjoying one anotherís company before going back to their work, prayer and study. Someone asked St.Thomas, ďIf the world were to end in fifteen minutes, what would you do?Ē He replied, ďI would continue doing exactly what I am doing right now.Ē

St.Thomas with such a response was either a remarkably cool character or a man whose life was intimately connected with God. We sometimes think that to have a strong connection with God we must pray for hours on end and live extraordinary holy lives. It is quite the opposite. Our connection with God becomes closer and significant when we feel God in the heart beat of our lives and in everything we do each day. This was the way with St.Thomas and he had no fears. We tend to separate our belief in God and what happens in our lives. Both are intertwined and it makes little sense to keep them separate.
At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people. There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, your own people will be spared, all those whose names are found written in the Book. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.' ~Daniel 12:1-13

The following reflection has been written by Fr.Tom Cahill

There are only two possibilities: human life has meaning or it hasnít. It has direction powered by purpose, or else itís like a fungus, free-floating on a speck of cosmic dust going nowhere fast. But if there is nothing beyond what we see, touch, taste, hear and smell from where comes the heartís deep yearning for things beyond the senses?

When weíre in touch with mystery, todayís First Reading (Dan 12:1-13) will not seem as bizarre as it might otherwise appear. Its style wonít take from its substance. Resurrection of the dead is clearly central to Godís plan for creation. We need to focus on resurrection else death will have the final say. And the spot for that focus is lifeís ordinary things.
ĎThere are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after the star is gone itself. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.í ~The Talmud

The Belgian town of Ypres is steeped in history. It was at the heart of the western front battlefield during World War 1 (1914-1918). It witnessed the destruction and loss of a generation of young men, as the allied forces fought against the Germans. In the centre of this town is a stone archway called the Menin Gate and through this gate most soldiers passed and marched to the front. At 8 oíclock each evening the traffic in this town grinds to a halt, silence falls and the Last Post is sounded in memory of those dead soldiers. It is a unique act of homage and this short but touching ceremony was started in 1928 and looks like continuing for many years to come. During November we also pause and remember our own loved ones who have died. We do it in our own unique way. In doing so their memory brings light and hope to our own lives.
The Simplicity Of A HugÖÖ

Thereís 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 youíre just you. A hug is an amazing thing to show the love we are feeling but canít find the words to say. Itís 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. Hugs donít need new equipment, special batteries or parts. Just open up your arms and open up your hearts. Forget about today being Friday 13th, just go and give someone a decent hug!
Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, 'I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on. ~Mark 12:40-44

The following reflection has been written by Fr.Tom Cahill

The Widowís Mite
The widowís mite symbolises generosity. A small gesture bursting with meaning grabs the imagination and immortalises itself. Todayís Gospel reading (Mark 12:38-44) notes that the widow has two coins. She could give one, keep the other, and still be considered generous. But no! Her generosity is not half measure. Her reverence for God and her respect for the Law and its requirements are total. The spotlight is on the quality of her giving. We donít know what happens to her afterwards. But somehow we just know sheís not going to die of starvation. We canít prove it, of course. But God doesnít respond to generosity with punishment. What kind of a god would that be!

Itís the same for us. When we respond generously to lifeís demands weíre not punished for doing so. Here are some more things we canít prove, but which are true nonetheless: the more we give the more we discover we have to give; and, not only are those who receive enriched, so too are those who give.

When I worked in Indonesia as a missionary occasionally I gave money to people in need, or spent it for medical treatment on their behalf. To my surprise, on several occasions I received money out of the blue from home in the form of Mass offerings within weeks of having given help to others. Like the jar of meal and the jug of oil in todayís First Reading (1 Kings 17:10-16) my small jar was never empty either. It really does work that way. Try it and see.
'While it is correct to be prudent with the use of our resources, we can never hold back from giving just in case we might not have enough for ourselves. God rewards generous self giving and not careful self preservation.í ~Intercom magazine

In the current recession everyone is watching their personal finances. We are extremely careful in how we spend our money. There is a huge fear of the unknown. Some are lucky to be in a position where they can watch with care how they now spend their money. This is in complete contrast to those who have little and are struggling to make ends meet. As a member of Godís family we are also asked to give without counting the cost and to trust that God will look after our needs so that we all have enough. It is a big ask but not a crazy one. We all have had to close our financial door in recent times but we donít have to close it completely, especially to those in need. In sharing what we have with those who have less, we discover an inner joy that canít be found anywhere else.
Our photo today was taken last Sunday as we turned a new month. It may be November but these lovely apples are still maturing and ripening, with the leaves all around them turning a lovely golden colour.
'The person who tries to push aside the reality of death is someone who'll make a poor job of life.' ~Brendan Hoban

During this month of November we cannot but think of death. Nature is in retreat and in transition. After giving and pushing forth life all year, it is time to stop but only for a short while. Even in the dark cold soil, the bulbs of the snowdrop, crocus and daffodil are already creaking with new life. November pushes us to think about death and its implications. We believe that there is something more beyond this world. There is a beautiful prayer for those who have died, it says: for those who have died life is changed not ended. The sceptic might suggest we say such things to create a comfort zone. But all the evidence passed from generation to generation, evidence that has its roots firmly in God; remind us that there is something more beyond this world. The soul or spirit of our loved ones who have died are close and near. Our remembrance prayers for them during this month works both ways. Just as we pray for them we can be sure that they are praying for us too.
'To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.í ~Mother Teresa

The same goes for many things in life. Whatever is special or sacred always needs nourishment and nurturing. Like the oil giving energy and life to the flame, we too need to watch what gives us life and energy. This is not an unlimited supply. At the moment there seems to be no limit to negative news and in particular all the negativity surrounding the upcoming budget. Negative news does drain us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It canít be avoided and it has to be faced. But it canít become our only focus each day. Weíve got to fight our corner and watch our space. Weíve got to make sure that we do things and mix with people who give us life and energy. Spiritually we can do it by connecting with God in some way. Like the wax in a candle or oil in a lamp, we believe that God is our source of inspiration, hope and energy. No one can take this source away from us. We can tap into it as little or as often as we want.
'Iíve got everything I wanted, so Iím just happy.í ~Usain Bolt after breaking world records for 100m and 200m a few months ago

There are few natural sprinters like Usain Bolt. He makes it look so easy. There are also few who can sprint through life at ease. The comparison of life to a marathon is real and tangible for most people. The recent Dublin and New York marathons show how popular this challenge is to many people. Even if we have never run a marathon they are a reminder to us that life has to be got through at our own pace. If we rush through it all at a sprint we will quickly burn out. Another feature of a marathon that most people can relate to is hitting the wall. It is when the journey becomes almost unbearable. Thankfully there is always a way around the wall allowing us to finish the journey. A prayer starter today might be:

Lord, there is no pain without gain. Life can present many challenges and obstacles. Many of these may seem impossible to get through. But doing it at our own pace and with your help, we can get through these obstacles, one at a time. Amen
November 1st All Saints Day

The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwinís book, The Origin of Species. Many scientists today accept that there is a huge body of evidence supporting the view that we have descended from an animal with chimpanzee-like capacities. If we have, then what we hear todayís First Reading (Apoc 7:2-4, 9-14) telling us is all the more amazing. For there we have attained near god-like capacities. Which is more difficult to believe: that a crude chimp is now a sophisticated human who composes sublime symphonies, produces fabulous works of art, explores cosmic vastness and penetrates atomic depths; or to believe that this human is destined for near divinity in a new ordering of creation? Science serves truth in dull and detailed prose.

Scripture sets it in a sweeping story and inspiring imagery that lifts us higher than science can ever do. Science examines and reports. Scripture reveals and inspires. Science fixes us firmly to matter; scripture frees us as spirit. Saints Ė all of them Ė are the poets among us. Not vice versa, though. They are, what the old pop song jingles out, Ďpoetry in motioní. As poetry opens pathways to understanding, refines human emotions and grants glimpses of transcendence we would not otherwise experience, so saints have done and continue to do through the generosity and sanctity of their lives. They show us what life can be like because of what it will be like. They bring the future to our doorstep. Whether we grant it entrance to our home is up to us.


Copyright © Today is My Gift to You