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Listing October - 2022
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

Home Alone
If there are little green men out there, why haven't we seen any sign of them? They could be big instead of small and blue instead of green, like the Navi on Pandora in the sci-fi film Avatar. Size and colour don't matter. What does matter is that to date we seem to be the only intelligent life form in this or any neck of the universe. According to recent scientific investigations complex life is rare even in our own galaxy and probably even rarer in other parts of the universe. Like it or not, it seems we're home alone.

That's a scary scenario for some and would be for all did God not exist. His word in today's First Reading (Wis 11:22-12:2) expands our mind. It asks us to think big, to embrace the universe and allow the inevitable feeling of wonder to work its magic in our spirit. It tells us that God hates nothing that he has made. What exists is here because he wants it here. As we're still relatively new to the universe we're still finding these things out. Therefore, an open mind is essential both towards little green men and God alike. The crowd in today's Gospel (Luke 19:1-10) don't have an open mind towards Jesus eating with Zacchaeus, a tax collector and, in their eyes, a sinner. Because of that, they miss out on an important truth: Jesus comes to seek out and save the lost. What truths do we need to open our minds to so as not to lose out?
'Clothes make a statement. Halloween costumes tell a story.' ~Mason Cooley

Tomorrow night is Halloween and is a little different this year with back to school after the mid term break the following day. Halloween has its origins going right back to our Celtic ancestors who celebrated the feast of Samhain on Nov 1st. They celebrated the new year on this day because it was a time of transition from light to darkness. They also believed that the boundary between the living world and that of the dead was very thin, so much so that the spirits of the dead returned. Some say Halloween is silly nonsense, a commercial opportunity and a waste of money. But Halloween has a lot to offer. Children love it and always will. For adults it brings back childhood memories of snap apple and other simple games that still survive. It puts us in touch with the mystery of life and that some things in life are often clouded in darkness. It put us in touch with the struggle between light and darkness and the struggle between good and evil. Halloween may have pagan origins but the Christian message is wrapped around it. It's a simple Halloween message that God calms, encourages and reassures us especially when we struggle with darkness, evil, mystery and the unknown.
'Sometimes people describe their frustration and discouragement in terms of being trapped in closed circuits with no escape. We often speak of going round in circles.' ~Conor Cunningham

The experience of going round in circles is universal. Life can become predictable and routine for many people. We like routine. We have to make a deliberate effort to do something different outside of routine. Perhaps we're going around in circles because we feel there's nothing left. We may be feeling guilty, lonely, hurt, misled, misunderstood and upset by something we have done or by something done to us. God has a completely different viewpoint to ours. The invitation always is to step outside any closed circle and to begin to walk the journey of life again. God always wants to shower us with blessings, including peace, love, reassurance, guidance and enthusiasm. These blessings are extended to us within any closed circle but take much more effect when we are willing to step out of that circle and begin to live again.
'When hiking on any mountain it is always recommended that one hikes with at least one person in case of an emergency. There is also a second and more positive reason, someone with which to share the joy of the experience. ~Brendan McGuire

At the foot of Carrantuohill, Ireland's highest mountain, (1050 metres and 3414 feet high), there is a big notice warning people of the dangers up on the slopes. It warns about much cooler temperatures up higher, the need to take adequate warm clothing and the importance of hiking in groups of two or more. It is much the same with our spiritual journey. It is difficult to do it on our own and there is so much more to be gained when we journey together. Jesus gathered people together on the sides of hills, in the homes of neighbours/friends and along the seashore. Today we have different places of worship, churches, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, chapels, oratories and so on. All serve the same function, to give people a chance to come together to worship and pray. We are occasionally reminded about the many personal benefits we gain because of our particular faith journey. But it is one we cannot do exclusively on our own. Growing in faith together is a journey that is good, beneficial and supportive. Its advantages far outweigh trying to do it all on our own.
'Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.' ~Robert Kennedy

The new edition of RTE's 'Reeling In The Years' is great viewing. The new run of the series is taking a look at the years 2000-2009. The programme captures in a lovely way moments of history that stood out for different reasons. With much of history we don't have much influence but yet our impact on local events and small events is huge. When we put together all of these little moments we are indeed writing the history of this generation. Sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit for the impact and the difference we make to any given day. It's not about achieving lots, it's not about having lots of money and it's not about having it all worked out. From a spiritual point of view it's all about being who we are, doing our best, being open to opportunity and possibility, having an open mind and simply using all that's been given to us in the best way we can. We thank God for the gift of history. Help us to learn as much from it as we can and help us continue writing history of which we all play a vital role.
Don't give up on God......

Michael was the only survivor of the shipwreck. He was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day for two months he scanned the horizon for help, but to no avail. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames with smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened! Everything was lost! He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. "God, how could you do this to me?" he cried. Early the next day he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied. We may at times feel that God has abandoned us. It is during those moments that God is in fact nearer than we think.
Our reflection today is by Fr.Tom Cahill

The Race
The legendary Greek, Pheidippides, ran the first marathon in 490 bc. Running 40km from Marathon to Athens, he brought the good news of Persian defeat. Unfortunately he overdid it and dropped dead. Besides his good-news message, he brought another too, albeit unintended: if you run a marathon, prepare for it. You have to train a lot. You have to sacrifice time and comfort. And you must be able to cope with physical stress and endure pain. Yet each year more than 800 marathons are held worldwide. That means that several hundreds of thousands of people run 42.195 km in what is considered to be recreational running.

In today's Second Reading (2 Tim 4:6-8) Paul says that he has fought the good fight and finished the race. Neither is recreational. The distance he covers is not measured in kilometres, miles or any such units. It's measured in terms of spiritual maturity. The units used to measure this distance are: faith, witness and proclamation. His, as ours, is not a race that covers distance. It covers time, and life's experiences both good and bad. It covers advances and retreats, ups and downs, and the about turns we make in life. It covers the walls we face that block our progress to God. It has its highs too: the exhilaration of insight, the thrill of hope's promises, the calm of a clear conscience, the peace of mind from goodness shown and the security of God's love. This good news is worth dying for. Paul did so. This is not Greek legend.
This October, ask yourself 'where is my mission field?' What can I do to promote the mission of the Church, both on my own, and helping others, at home and abroad, to bring people to God. In this way we will be able to plant seeds that grow and water seeds that produce effects beyond our capabilities. We do this in the confidence that God does the work and we are merely the instruments. ~Francis Cousins

Tomorrow (Oct 23rd) is Mission Sunday. It is a day set aside each year to celebrate so many good and positive faith stories all over the world. God's presence is to be found in so many countries, cultures and different walks of life. Mission is not just about celebrating God's story in one particular area of the world but that somehow every country and person is connected in some way. We might say what's the point in trying to connect and pray for other countries? Sure haven't we enough troubles of our own! But Mission makes sure that we don't lose our sense of who we are and that we are part of a bigger picture. Our faith and belief in God is deepened, enhanced and made more meaningful when we embrace diversity and other viewpoints. Mission Sunday is recognising that God often works quietly through each of us. When you begin to connect all our stories something really special is taking place. Mission Sunday is a celebration of that something special.
'Once you begin to learn about yourself and begin to take yourself seriously, things begin to happen.' ~Gareth O'Callaghan

We are sometimes slow in believing in ourselves, slow in believing our potential and slow believing in the endless possibilities we can generate. Unless we first believe in ourselves we can never believe in anything else. Our world is complex, fragile and difficult at the best of times. In such a world we need to believe that there is something more. This something more can be different things but to many it simply is a belief in God, who loves us, cares for us and wants us to believe in the vast goodness and potential within. God always accepts us as we are but sadly many don't believe that God works this way. Today and this coming bank holiday weekend, we can begin to believe that we have something significant and positive to bring to any day. It's not about how much but much more about each of us realising that we have far more than we realise.
I wish.....

I wish I were big enough to honestly admit all my shortcomings. I wish I was tall enough to tower above all negativity. I wish I was strong enough to treasure love. I wish I could believe that I am making a difference. I wish I was brave enough to welcome criticism. I wish I was compassionate enough to understand people's limitations and human frailties. I wish I was wise enough to know how precious my blessings are. I wish I was humble enough to admit when I've made a mistake. I wish I was human enough to forgive someone who has hurt me. I wish I was enthusiastic enough to get the really important things done each day. I wish I could pray for those who need some help today. Many of these are not just wishful thinking and many of them are within our reach.
'A theology professor once recommended that we read poetry. Why poetry? Because it says what cannot be said. Preachers have to talk constantly about God, whom they have never seen. Poets do not try to box up and parcel God. They possess the great charism of humility before God's awesome mystery.' ~Michael McGrath

Poetry is alive and well and not something confined to the past. Many poems continue to be written each day. Many of these never get published but are written to express something personal and important. Many of them are hidden gems. Poems that in some way refer to God are often uplifting, open and honest because they simply do not attempt to box up and parcel God. A mistake of formal religion is to sometimes put God in a box or parcel and then add on the gift paper ready made. It can't be done and can often be out of touch with the experience of people at ground level. Everyone's experience of God is different which is why we always need an approach that is open, fresh and liberating. Poets do it naturally and there is a poet in all of us.
'Faith is the most important thing in my life. I wouldn't be here and achieved all this if I didn't have God in my life.' ~Katie Taylor (Irish World Champion Boxer)

Katie Taylor has become a sports celebrity with three World championship gold medals and four European gold medals. This down to earth young woman has become an inspiration to many, particularly young people. On a recent visit to her former school she said: "The most important thing is to enjoy what you do and always try your best. If you give it everything you have, you can't have any regrets after that." She is also a deeply spiritual young woman and has publicly acknowledged the difference her faith has made in her life. Her story has been a sparkling success but she also has had moments where she lost and struggled. But every time she has prayed, dug deep, found inner strength and persevered to where she is today. With her sights firmly on the London Olympics in 2012, there is much to look forward to. Her words can be an inspiration to us too: "Be the best that you can be."
'It seems to have become increasingly acceptable to state that religion has no part to play in public life and that those with religious faith should keep their views to themselves.' ~Nuala O'Loan

Our faith is like a little stream. On its own it may seem insignificant but every stream has its own unique energy. It will soon link up with other streams, gathering momentum and a sense of purpose. No one can stop the flow of a stream. You can build a dam to stop it but the stream will fill, back up and flow over it. Its ultimate destination is the sea and nothing can stop it on its journey. The same goes with the gift of faith and what we believe in. It is something precious and unique. It can't be hidden or swept into some corner. It has an energy that drives it forward. It helps us on the journey of life to find meaning and fulfilment. It never does a solo run but joins and links up with people who share the same vision and hope. This week marks Mission week which is always set aside during the third week of October, to celebrate many different faith stories across the world. Like streams and rivers the variety and number is breath taking. But they all flow into the one great ocean, that of an eternal loving God.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

'Spiritual Makeover'
It's one approach to getting people off the dole, but it's controversial. To ease unemployment in the Netherlands three local councils are offering unemployed single women a %u20AC1,400 fashion and beauty makeover. The better you look the better your chances, the idea seems to be, of finding a husband or a job. Those chosen for the scheme will also be schooled in the social graces. When the crash course in carrying oneself is completed a professional photograph of the new you will appear on the website of an exclusive dating agency that claims a 75 percent success rate. However, with over 600 unemployed singles eligible not everyone considers the expense involved as money well spent.

It just goes to show the importance some people attach to outward appearance. Today's Second Reading (2 Tim 3:14-4:2), however, doesn't. It presents us with a different set of values, ones concerned with the quality of what's inside a person rather than their skin-deep looks. For a thorough spiritual makeover Paul reminds us there's nothing better than immersion in what he calls the sacred writings. All scripture is inspired by God, he tells us. And it has many uses. It can teach, correct, reprove and train in righteousness. It motivates and equips people both to be good and to do good. While this type of spiritual makeover doesn't cost a penny, it doesn't come cheap either. Its cost isn't in euro, but in the currency of faith, hope, love, generosity, kindness, service and other equally attractive characteristics. Too bad not everybody wants to employ these.
From Macroom Parish Newsletter

The 95 year old woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow church members. "How are you feeling?" the visitor asked. "Oh" said the lady, "I'm just worried sick!" "What are you worried about dear?" her friend asked. "You look like you're in good health." They are taking great of you aren't they?" "Yes, they are taking very good care of me," came the answer. "Are you in any pain," she asked. "No, I have never had a pain in my life." "Well what are you worried about?" her friend asked again. The lady leaned back in her rocking chair and slowly explained her major worry. "Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone to heaven. I'm afraid they're all wondering where I went!"
'We don't know how to look at God. We don't know where to look. We don't know what to look for. All we can do is complete the circuit' ~Richard Rohr

Sometimes our search for God can be confusing and frustrating. We sometimes don't know where to begin, what to say, how to explain or what we want. It can sometimes be too much and we choose to opt out or leave it to someone else. No one has all the answers when it comes to God or no one ever will. But we do know that with God, we have some sense of direction, meaning and purpose to life. Any electric supply needs a circuit for the current to flow. Any stop or gap and it just can't move. As we journey through this month of October why not invite God into the gaps or holes in our lives and let God do the rest. It's not about knowing what to say or trying to find all the answers. Once we're open to God's blessings we have completed the circuit.
A light hearted story..

A young couple moved into a new neighbourhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbour hang the washing outside. "That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs to change her washing power." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbour would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. She must have changed her washing powder". The husband said, "No she didn't change anything. I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." The same can be said of us. Are our windows dirty? Do we unfairly pass judgements on other people? What needs a bit of cleaning in my life at the moment?
'We're all struggling in the dark, never knowing when the ground will vanish from beneath our feet. When the miners come through this, it will be a triumph for the human spirit, for co-operation, ingenuity and courage in the face of the most ominous odds.' ~Brenda Power

All eyes of the world will be on the Chilean miners today when they reach the surface having being stuck underneath half a mile (622 meters) of soil and rock. They have been called the 'miracle miners'. Since last August their story has captivated the world since their mine shaft caved in. The world's media will be there waiting to get a glimpse of the heroes. There is also particular interest in the miracle white butterfly which two of the miners claimed to have seen right before the ceiling collapsed. They slowed their truck to see the curious sight, stopping them from being submerged beneath the rock fall. One of the miners and his wife have decided to rename their baby girl, born on Sept 14, from Carolina to Esperanza. Esperanza is the Spanish word for hope. The story of the miners has given great hope to many people. Their story reminds us that in the depths of our darkness we need to keep going and that light, hope and new beginnings will always triumph. At the heart of our Resurrection story is that light will always triumph over evil and darkness.
God counts on us...

Only God can create but we are called upon to value that creation.
Only God can give life but we are called to transmit and respect it.
Only God can make growth happen but we are called to guide it and give it direction.
Only God can give faith but we are called to be signs of God for one another.
Only God can give love but we are called to grow in caring for each other.
Only God can give hope but we are called to enable people believe in themselves.
Only God can give power and energy but we are called upon to get things going.
Only God can give peace but we are called to build bonds that bring people together.
Only God can give happiness but we are invited to laugh.
Only God is the way but we are called to show it to others.
Only God is the light but we are called to let it shine forth in the world.
Only God can make miracles happen but we are invited to offer five loaves and two fish.
Only God can do the impossible but it is up to us to do what is possible.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

Faith or Prozac
There's something fishy going on in our waters. And it's all to do with drugs. Last year in England doctors prescribed 39 million courses of antidepressants. That's a third more than in 2005. After due process, these drugs filter into our waterways and the sea. Effluent concentrates in estuaries and costal regions, the habitat of shrimp and other marine life. Shrimp are ingesting the excreted drugs of whole towns, with depressing results. Instead of swimming away from light and scuttling under rocks, as normally they do, these souped-up specimens swim towards sunlit water and become prey for passing fish. By feeding on fluoxetine, the active chemical in Prozac, they are five times more likely to swim towards the light. This harms the ecosystem's delicate balance.

In light of that, today's Gospel (Luke 17:11-19) is of particular interest, especially Jesus' statement: "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well" (v. 19). It would be very interesting to have a breakdown on those 39 million prescriptions. One wonders how many were for people of no faith. While faith alone doesn't heal the lepers in today's Gospel, it does bring them to the source of health: Jesus. Clearly, one can't simply link the presence of illness with an absence of faith. But it's well to remember that faith doesn't serve pie-in-the-sky. It instils a healthy attitude of hope towards the future. But also it enables us to cope with things now. For some people that might be a more bitter pill to swallow than Prozac.
As Gandhi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. He was unable to retrieve it as the train was moving. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did so, Gandhi smiled. "The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track", he replied, "will now have a pair he can use".

It is easy to complain, grumble and give out about many things. It is much more difficult to turn something negative into positive. Even when things don't go our way, we can still most definitely turn something good in our direction. In one of the scripture readings marked out for tomorrow (Timothy 2:8-13), Paul talks about his own hardships and difficulties. He feels chained down, weighed down with no energy or enthusiasm for the day ahead. Yet he turns the negative into positive by saying that nothing he is going through can chain up or tie down God's good news. The challenge for all of us is keep turning our negatives into positive and knowing that God wants to shine light and hope into our darkest corners.
'The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.' ~Anne Lindberg

A story is told about St.Francis walking towards a town with a fellow friar. Just before they enter, Francis turns to his companion and tells him he plans on preaching the gospel there. As they walk through, Francis laughs and plays with the children, comforts someone ill on the side of the road and prays with an elderly man who had just lost his wife. As they are leaving, the companion of Francis looks at him and says, "I thought you were going to preach the gospel." Francis turned to him and said "I just did." So often we put our expectations of God on a pedestal. We can have lots of nice words, fancy prayers, scripture quotes off by heart, but all of that is in vain unless our motives are sincere and honest. Prayers are important but unless we are open to finding God in our day to day lives, we may as well not bother. Like St.Francis we can experience God closer to us than we can possibly imagine.
'People change when they are given hope, when someone believes in them and gives them a task to do. Above all they change when they are loved. They come out of their shells and hidden energies are released in them.' ~Flor McCarthy

If we could only realize the world of a difference our love can make in someone's life. I don't think we fully appreciate our goodness, how much our kindness matters and how our love transforms others. We do it and we simply move on. If we could just know the amount of hidden energies we release in others when we do our bit and our best, we'd be amazed. The hectic pace of life quickly moves us on. But God has actively been involved in these moments. They are sacred, good and so important. It would be a shame to take for granted the difference you will make in someone's life today.
The Principal was visiting first class and asked the students what they wanted to be when they would grow up. A hand shot up. "I want to be possible," the boy answered. "Possible?" the principal asked. "Of all things that you might want to be, why do you want that?" The boy replied, "Because at home my mum and dad are always saying that I'm impossible."

It is easy to label someone as impossible. It is just as easy for them to think that they are indeed impossible, loose self confidence and not believe in themselves. God never sees anyone or any situation as impossible. The constant message throughout scriptures is how God makes the impossible, possible. God always believes in us and always believes that we are indeed full of possibility. Today is a day when I can make something good and positive in my life possible.
'Often in the evening, I reflect on the people I have met that day. I remember them in prayer, aware of life moving, changing and growing. Time, though fragile and passing seems to have an eternal dimension. One evening I wrote: "time stands still here, a time beyond the daily chime or ticking of the clock, a rhythm in tune, with eternity". ~Patricia Byrne

Time for the most part seems to go by quickly. We plan lots of things in any given day and time allows us to do only so much. Sometimes when we plan better, we can push to one side activities that eat time and are not life giving. We can concentrate on those things that really matter, those things that need priority and importantly give us energy and life. Putting such a plan in place is easier said than done, but the benefits are impressive and noticeable. It is also so healthy and wise to recall at the end of each day those moments where time seemed to stand still. It was a moment that was special and one that we would have liked to stay in. Time pushed us on but in recalling the beauty of that moment later, we are in in some sense in touch with eternity. In recalling one or more of those moments at the end of any day, is in fact a beautiful prayer to God.
'While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.' ~St.Francis Of Assisi

Today (Oct 4th) is the feast of St.Francis and he is one of those rare saints who has managed to capture the attention and admiration of the entire world. His life has inspired people of all ages and the appeal of this saint, cuts across national boundaries and religious differences. He is most famous for his respect towards God, his simple life and his tender love and attention to all creation. Many animals and especially pets will get a special treat today in honour of St.Francis. The life of Francis still challenges all of us today. The invitation is to sort through our lives and discard the unnecessary and useless. Don't we all need to do it. Today could be the day to start.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

I wonder can a gene affect a soul, or spirit, that part of us that doesn't show up even under the most intense scans, or the most powerful of microscopes? It's strange then that in today's First Reading (Hab 1:2-3, 2:2-4), dating from about 600 bc, the prophet Habakkuk could shrewdly note 'the spirit of the proud is not right in them' (2:4). There's something wrong with them; something askew inside them. But I doubt if knowing their DNA sequence would right their spirit.

When it comes to having a right spirit inside us, I'd say right parents are needed. A survey by the Catholic Children's Society of the Westminster Diocese reported that on average people give one hour daily to primetime TV shows, but only 49 minutes daily to their children. Some 68 percent of parents said that their need for money was the reason for giving so little time to their children. The Catholic Children's Society said that from experience they know that children need relational stability, the self-esteem that comes from feeling valued for who they are and knowing they're loved by their parents. DNA is undoubtedly important: Deeply Needed Attention, that is.
A fitting prayer today and indeed every day might be: "O Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen"


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