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Listing October - 2013
'Halloween is an ancient druidic holiday, one the Celtic peoples have celebrated for millennia. It is the crack between the last golden rays of summer and the dark of winter; the delicately balanced tweak of the year before it is given over entirely to the dark; a time for the souls of the departed to squint, to peek and perhaps to travel through the gap.' ~Jenny Colgan

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. It puts us in touch with the passage of time and the cycles of nature which we so often take for granted. 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.
'Our culture typically frowns on showy displays of generosity and over the top prayer. But God already knows what goes on in our hearts. We cannot hide from God our deepest thoughts, our sincerity and our true level of commitment' ~Paul Pennick

At the heart of any relationship is honesty. When we keep stuff back or hide something from someone we love, then we are always catching up. The same can be said of God. We often try and connect at an artificial level with it comes to prayer and not enough comes from the heart. For that to happen more honesty is needed in our prayer. This means saying exactly what is going on for us, the good and the not so good, our fears, disappointments, anxieties, hopes, frustrations and so much other personal stuff. Why do we sometimes hold back? If we can get straight to the point of what is going on for us, our prayer is of great value and what spiritual writers call "organic". Honest prayer is often shorter and to the point. This is good and ok.
'Now is the acceptable time' ~2 Cor 6:2

It takes a bit of getting used to having the clocks turned back. As it gets dark so early now one has to adjust to getting outdoor activities and jobs done much earlier. But as winter sets in we simply have to readjust to the rhythm of the season. How often we hear about keeping our feet in the here and now. There are so many options and possibilities out there today that it's easy to think a lot about the future and what we could be doing. It is much more difficult concentrating on what is just before us. A quick glance at any section of our scripture readings will point to God being present in the here and now. Our lives do not exist in yesterday or in tomorrow. Now is the only time God gives us for doing anything. Now may not always be the right moment, it may not always be the easiest but it's all we can work with.
As its a Bank Holiday in Ireland today, Thought For Today returns as normal tomorrow
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle'.
Depending on who you ask, this well-known quote is attributed to Plato, Philo, Ian Maclaren, or a variety of other thinkers. Another writer, Peter Pan author JM Barrie expressed a similar sentiment thus: 'Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary'.

How easy it can be to judge. The Pharisee in the parable does not come across as a pleasant man, with his superiority complex and his judgemental attitude towards the tax collector. He knew nothing of the other man praying alongside him in the temple, of his joys or his struggles. Yet he was ready to dismiss him and others as 'grasping, unjust, adulterous'. The tax collector, on the other hand, was humble enough to admit to his shortcomings, and to simply ask God for his mercy and help.

Like the Pharisee, our attitude towards others can leave room for improvement. We can be all too ready to judge others and to feel ourselves somehow superior to them, without knowing anything about their situation. Today's Psalm tells us that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted. We are all broken-hearted in our own way, and we all need God's help. We all have our challenges and struggles. If we could remember this about each other, we would be a lot kinder to those we meet.
'God does not ask for our ability or our inability but our availability.' ~Author Unknown

We so often focus on our inabilities rather than our abilities. How often we have heard, "I'm no good at that." What a pity. If only we had more inner belief and the confidence to hear that inner voice within each of us saying, "I can and I will do it." For every one thing we are no good at, there are many things that we are good at.

The relics of St Anthony were in Cork at the weekend and there was a massive reaction and turnout to this much loved saint. St Anthony shared the Gospel message in a really simple and down to earth way. But one thing he instilled in so many people, was the inner belief that they were important, special and loved by God. It is a message that still connects with so many people today and one reason why so many were willing to stand in long queues before they could venerate the relics. So maybe a simple question to ask is: How can I give some of my time to doing even one thing I enjoy and one I know I'm good at? Can I believe that even one simple thing has the potential to make the world of a difference? It happens when we begin to believe that it can happen.
'Never deprive someone of hope, it might be all they have.' ~H. Jackson Brown

The core values of Christianity are faith, hope and love. All else evolves from these three together and either of them can't work on their own. We all know what hope is but where does it come from and how does it apply to our lives? The source of our hope is in God who simply loves us and who can do nothing else. It's about a God who never stops seeking us and who never gives up on us. St.Paul wrote a lot about this and described it in a lovely way by saying: "Hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts." In a world that is often dominated by negative news and where good news is often squeezed out, we need to be people of hope. To be a person of hope requires great determination, courage, conviction and inner belief. It is a lifelong task beginning today as best we can.
'Love is such an overused word. Pop songs sing about love. Everything revolves around love. Many people only connect love with the idea of fulfilled sexuality. But however much the word is misused, in the depths of our heart every one longs for love.' ~Anselm Gruen

We all know someone special who radiates love. It is not an act or something put on. They radiate it naturally and it simply flows from them. Everyone has the ability to do this but for different reasons the flow becomes blocked. It might be a hurt, a knock or setback in life. Someone may have betrayed our trust. We may have been taken advantage of or we may have grown afraid because others hurt us in the past. Scripture readings refer to God as love. This is 100% pure natural Divine love. It is total, complete and will never run out. Each day is an invitation to soak in some of this love. The invitation is to allow it melt away our hurts, fears, anxieties, disappointments or darkness in our lives. Every time we take up this invitation allows us to radiate our own love naturally. No matter what our age, our belief system or our background, this is what we are born to do.
"St Antony was a person who knew the difficulties people had economically. In Padua in the 13th century there was a lot of desperation. People were resorting to money lenders to survive. Anthony was on the side of the poor. He was tough. He battled and challenged those who took advantage of others, especially the old people and women." ~Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

The relics of St Martin are doing a tour of Ireland at the moment and come to Cork tomorrow Sunday. St Antony is known as the Saint of Miracles, who is a beloved and universal saint, venerated even by non-Christians. He is especially known to us as the patron saint of lost items, be that of money or any of the countless items we carry around and lose every day. More than that he restores many to health and to the faith people may have lost through difficulties in their life. He is a particular favourite of students when it comes to exams. We are also familiar with the promise to give money towards the poor in honour of St Antony if a favour has been granted. During his life he preached ceaselessly about Christian values. Today he helps us point the way to true peace and happiness. The relics arrive in Holy Trinity Capuchin Church, Fr Matthew Quay, at 11am tomorrow. Veneration of the relics begins after the 12.30 Mass and continues all afternoon up to 8pm.
'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 Celtic approach to God opens up a world in which nothing is too common to be exalted and nothing is so exalted that it cannot be made common. So God meets us where we are, at home, at work, in the daily, in the ordinary.' ~Esther de Waal

The generations who have gone before us built their lives around Celtic Spirituality. For them God was not some separate duty or event that happened occasionally. God was simply a part of their everyday lives, who they felt was with them through every experience of life. Every moment and opportunity was somehow connected to God. It was for example at this time of year that prayers of thanksgiving for the harvest would take place. The crops were harvested, stored and put away and the next most natural thing to do was to give thanks to God. Sadly as time went on religion became more formalised and structured. It didn't happen overnight, but our sense of God in everyday events and moments just got pulled away.

Today there is an acknowledgment and an awareness of just how important it is to get back to the basics of our faith. Why complicate something that doesn't need to be. Watch Jesus in the Gospels. He had no time for those who choked and killed the message by making it complicated and out of reach. It is time to begin reclaiming the beautiful simple message that it is.
'Awareness is noticing the blessings that often get overlooked in our busy lives. Gratitude for a special blessing can inspire us to look further and discover even more good in our lives. As we are inspired, let us also be inspiring to others.' ~Author Unknown

If we tend to see today as the same as any other day then we have lost our sense of awareness. Yes there is a lot of repetition from day to day in many of the things we do, but the blessings that today will bring, will never be the same as the ones you had yesterday. And tomorrow is an entirely different story. Busy lives and heavy working schedules often put on the blinkers and we become less aware of these blessings. Can we pause when a special moment happens? Can we hold it? Can we allow it to inspire us? Every inspiring moment has its roots in God.
A short prayer........

May there peace within you today.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you embrace endless possibilities that will always come your way.
May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
May you feel unburdened, free and energised by a sense of God in your life.
May you know that it's ok not to have it all worked out and that God will also help you work it out too!
May you treasure this day as a precious gift and be open to some surprise along the way.
May you finish today with a sense of gratitude, knowing you have done your best and that no more is asked of you.
'The act of praying together brings us into God's presence in a fuller dimension than when we pray alone. There's a reason why Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a banquet, rather than a table for two! Life's important experiences are meant to be shared.' ~Connie Lee

Next weekend marks Mission Sunday and in the build up to this day; there have been different events to mark the work of the church across the world. One of these events took place last Friday when a national day of prayer took place. Schools and parishes joined in prayer for children and young people all around the world. We are encouraged to pray on our own but there is also huge value when we pray together. It is particularly good in schools when young people get the chance to reach out and get a feel of a bigger picture out there. Praying for others gives a sense of belonging and that we are part of a greater purpose.

Praying for others also opens us to the needs of other people. We come to realize that for many across the world, each day can be a massive struggle. We realize the massive effects that poverty and hunger can have, particularly on children. Even though we don't have all the answers, it is good to know that even sometimes we can be the answer to someone's prayer. Praying together can be a very rich and positive experience. Even though last Friday was the official day, there are still lots of opportunities during the coming week when we can pray together for children and young people all around the world.
'Our reflection today is by Triona Doherty

Some of us will be familiar with the prayer to St Joseph of Cupertino for success in examinations. Many of us regularly turn to St Anthony for help in finding a lost item, while others enlist the help of St Jude for particularly 'hopeless' cases, or Padre Pio when a loved one is sick or in hospital. We are very good at prayer when we need something, and have no problem turning to God in times of strife. But what about after the storm has passed?

The leper in today's Gospel offers us a lesson in gratitude and faith. It is easy to ask for help, to call out 'Jesus! Master! Take pity on us!' It is not so easy to appreciate the implications of what God is doing in our lives.

Of course we would all like to think that we would be the one leper who came back to give thanks to Jesus when he saw he was healed. But in reality, are we more like the nine who forgot to give thanks? What Jesus wants to know is, 'The other nine, where are they?' I'd imagine they were so overjoyed to be healed, they simply got on with their lives! Perhaps over time the memory of this great thing God had done for them simply faded. Jesus told the leper who returned that his faith had saved him. All ten were healed, yet this man had a fuller experience of the healing hand of Jesus. And his life was surely changed because of it.
'To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.' ~Simone Weil

The trees are turning a lovely golden colour at the moment. It is part of the cycle of a tree to adapt to the winter months ahead. The leaves will fall but its roots remain active and alive underneath. Spiritually we also need to be rooted to help us withstand the challenges and storms of life. Such roots can be strong sound values, good support structures around us such as family and friends, belief in a loving God and belief in ourselves and what we have to offer. It's when we take all these for granted, that we become unstable and likely to become uprooted. What are the important spiritual roots in my life today and this weekend?
'We are called to be hopeful. We are called to be hopeful even when there are very few signs of hope around us. Nancy Griffith had it all wrong when she told us that God is watching from a distance. God is not doing this but instead is walking with you' ~Andrew O'Connell

There are some days when it's hard to be hopeful. When there are lots of clouds in our lives it is hard to see what direction and where the sun might break through. Our belief in a loving God assures us that the sun always shines but significantly breaks through the darkest of clouds. There are many who feel God is watching from a distance, not connected to our lives and not really important. But the great truth sometimes forgotten and sometimes overlooked, is that God is walking with us and nearer than we can possibly imagine. How do you see God in your life? Watching from a distance or walking with you? Our prayer today is asking God to help us feel that sense of closeness, that we are not on our own and that light will always break through the darkest of clouds.
'Without difficulties, life would be like a stream without rocks and curves, about as interesting as concrete. Without problems, there can be no personal growth.' ~ Benjamin Hoff

Even in this second week of October there seems to be wasps everywhere. They hang around rubbish bins, around the kitchen door and are so annoying as they fly around in circles. It would be a pity though to put the honeybee into the same category. The honeybee will not be found near rubbish bins or around our kitchen doors. Instead it will be busy gathering nectar from what flowers are still around at this time of year, which is mainly ivy. For every drop of honey they make they have to collect 80 drops of nectar. They have worked it out that to make a jar of honey the bees will have to visit two million flowers! There is an old saying that says 'There are no results without effort' and the honeybee knows this only too well.

Jesus in our Gospels also talks about no results without effort. He reminds us that even as a follower of his we will still be exposed to difficulties, setbacks, hurt and disappointments. We can't avoid these. They are part and parcel of life. Jesus calls them a cross but assures us that whatever our cross, he will be there to help us carry it, whatever it might be.
'Life is not random, it has a point and God provides us with guides through the wilderness. We are not aimless wanderers, we are pilgrims and our goal is ahead of us.' ~Mark Woods

Many feel that life is a series of random events, that hurl along at an incredibly fast pace. The pace and the speed is so fast that it leaves many feeling why bother or what's it all for? At the heart of spirituality is that life is not random. Instead there is meaning and purpose to life, that we are important, valuable and precious. Our story is one thread in the great tapestry of life that God is making. This thread always stands out and never gets lost.

But when we get caught up in the hectic pace of life, it is sometimes hard to see the threads of our life making a difference. But they do. The constant message in the Gospel stories is how Jesus gave people a purpose and a belief in themselves. They were reminded how their story was valued and important. They were helped to realise that life is not a collection of random events. There is something more. The same goes for us today. We pray for help in finding that something more. We pray for direction when we are wandering. Finally we pray for the strength to believe that our threads are always visible and a crucial part of God's great tapestry.
'I don't want to be treated any differently, I am the way I am and that's it.' ~Joanne O'Riordan

There are lots of film premieres. Some make headlines because of famous actors and actresses or because of a big budget behind the film. Not as many film premieres make headlines because of the story behind the film. Last Sunday the film 'No limbs No limits' had its premiere in Cork Opera House. The film is about the story of Joanne O'Riordan who was born without limbs 17 years ago. The film follows her story down through the years and how her remarkable story has inspired so many across the world.

Joanne's goal in life is simple, she has no limits! The film includes many significant moments in her life, where she has used obstacles and challenges as stepping stones. Her enthusiasm, bubbly personality and endless energy have endeared her to so many, including her hometown of Millstreet and indeed right across the world! Her speech to the United Nations is one example of how her life has inspired so many. She has embraced technology to be a friend and it's a key that has opened many doors in her life. The film is a wonderful good news story. Joanne is an ambassador for good news, optimism and hope. In a world that craves for hope and inspiration, Joanne has led the way and continues to lead. Our heartiest congratulations to Joanne and her family.
'Sometimes the darkest challenges, the most difficult lessons, hold the greatest gems of light.' ~ Barbara Marciniak

The sound of rally cars roaring along, dominated the countryside around Millstreet this weekend, with the Cork 20 car rally taking place. The many rally drivers taking part had to negotiate some difficult roads. Many of these roads were selected because of their twists and turns and their many bumps. These rally cars are rarely to be found on long smooth roads. Drivers rely on skill and navigational maps to get them through.

Most of us will never drive a rally car but we do have to cope with the twists and turns of life, with its many bumps and unexpected corners. Managing and coping with the challenges of life is not easy but we are greatly helped by our faith and our belief in a loving God who is with us every step of the way. Just as a navigational map is crucial to a rally driver, so our faith becomes our navigational map. Without it we journey blindfolded but with it every challenge in life can be dealt with so much better.
The following reflections is by Triona Doherty called 'Something Precious'

Are there any precious items in your family that have been handed down from one generation to the next? Whether jewellery, ornaments, silverware, books, or old photos or letters, most families have certain items that are guarded carefully and kept in a safe place to be passed on to future generations. Likewise, we have stories that are passed on from parents and grandparents, which form part of our history and our sense of who we are.

Today we think about another type of precious gift which must be guarded carefully - our faith, and the teachings of Jesus. In today's Second Reading, Paul reminds us that we have been 'trusted to look after something precious'. How often do we think of our faith as something 'precious'? What does our faith mean to us? The disciples in today's Gospel ask Jesus to increase their faith, but his roundabout answer reveals that this is not such a simple request - faith comes with certain responsibilities and duties. Like a treasured family heirloom, we are to look after the gift of faith we have been given, and to 'guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us'. Only then will we be able to pass this precious gift on.
"We are ambassadors for Christ" ~Theme for TY youth gathering in Knock yesterday

I was privileged to be part of the TY Gathering in Knock yesterday where over 4000 students gathered to be part of a day of prayer, reflection and quiet time. One of the speakers Sr. Anna from the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity spoke about her current work in Liverpool. Their home/convent is surrounded by 9 nightclubs! They are not short of dance music at nighttime! They could easily complain, grumble and be bitter about their noisy neighbours. Instead they have a presence in their chapel as the young people head to the clubs on weekend nights. They are gently invited to come in and light a candle. The result has been amazing. The floor of their chapel at weekend nights gets walked on by lots of high heels, by people of no belief, by those who are searching and by those who would not normally get such a chance. They light a candle and can stay for as short or as long as they want. The message is simple, God often meets us with love in the least unexpected of places!
'Carry this certainty ahead, the Lord is alive and walks beside you through life.' ~Pope Francis

There was some surprise when our new pope took the name Francis. St Francis whose feast day is today was the inspiration. The pope has lived his life close to this down to earth saint. 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. Francis had little time for excess, waste and greed. He always stood up for the poor and downtrodden.

His love of animals has been well documented. 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. There is great freedom in doing with less and using it to our advantage. Francis did it so well and has inspired so many more to do the same.
'A wise counsellor once said that the ability to close some doors and never to open them again is one of the principal signs of maturity.' ~Robert P.Maloney

We take doors very much for granted in our homes. We close them, open them, lock them and sometimes we leave them swinging neither here nor there. There comes a point in our lives when we need to close some doors and never to open them again. The most obvious example is a mistake made or perhaps something we said that should never have been said. We have all been there at some stage. Afterwards we wonder how it could have happened or why we said it and wish we could turn back the clock of time to undo what happened. We can't undo the past as we so well know and we can only move forward.

This is where the image of the door comes in. It is just so important to be able to close the door and move on with our lives. But the hard bit and the challenge is to leave the door closed. There are so many lovely stories in the Gospels where Jesus helped people close many doors that needed to be closed. Most important he helped them find new doors, new beginnings, new possibilities, second chances, freedom and peace of mind. We too are extended the same. Today might be a good day to begin closing some door or one door that needs to be closed. We pray for the strength and courage to do so.
'Angels have no philosophy but love.' ~Terri Guillemets

Today (Oct 2nd) is the feast day of our guardian angel. From an early age we have been taught that we have a guardian angel. But before we were even taught we just knew. Today people of all ages have a beautiful and touching belief in angels. We sense that there is someone special watching over us. This is not just a childhood fantasy, it is something real and something that gives us great comfort as we journey through life.

Like many things we take our Guardian Angel for granted. We often forget that they are there as our friend. The complexities of life can take over our lives but they are always there. Our scriptures have many references to angels. They are real, active and can best be described as God's protective love very near and close to us. Today is their feast day but especially of your guardian angel. 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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