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Listing September - 2022
There's a story told about Mahatma Gandhi who had a visit from a woman who was at her wits end because of the bad behaviour of her young son. The final straw came when he started to smoke before his tenth birthday. "Please, Gandhi, tell him to stop his bad behaviour, be respectful to his mother and give up smoking." "Tell him to come back in two weeks and we'll see," said Gandhi. Disappointed the mother left with her son. Two weeks later they returned and Gandhi put his hand on the boy's head and gently said: "I want you to stop your bad behaviour, to be a good son to your mother and to stop smoking." "I will", said the boy, his eyes lighting up at being spoken to by his hero. The woman was delighted but couldn't resist taking Gandhi aside to ask, "Why did you not do that on our visit two weeks ago. Why did we have to wait?" "Because, two weeks ago, I myself was a smoker."
Are we over generous with advice and suggestions but do not practice what we preach?
The following reflection was read during a Mass to mark the new school year in Ballincollig Community School yesterday

If there was ever a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, it is now. Not for any grand cause but for something that tugs at your heart, something that is worth your aspiration, something that is your dream. You owe it to yourself, to make your days count. Have fun. Dig deep. Stretch. Dream big. Know though, that things worth doing seldom come easy. There will be times when you want to turn around, pack it up and call quits. Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself and that you are not afraid to learn by trying. Persist. With an idea, determination and the right tools, you can do great things. Let your instincts, your intellect and your heart guide you. Trust. Believe in the incredible power of the human mind of doing something that makes a difference. Next year, the start of something new brings the hope of something great. Anything is possible because there is only one you. You will pass this way but once so do it right.
'The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit' ~German Proverb

This week in Ireland marks 'Positive Ageing Week'. At its heart it highlights the positive aspects of ageing and celebrates the contribution older people have made and continue to make to their communities. Positive Ageing Week is all about dispelling the many negative perceptions that surround ageing. We need to celebrate the fact that we are living longer and that ageing is not a burden but an opportunity. For a long time there was a fear about growing old but this fear thankfully has been eroded with time. Communities and parishes have in place many services that support older people. Services such as meals on wheels, card playing, bingo, dancing, sing songs and so much more, all contribute to positive perceptions on growing older. Positive Ageing Week is a reminder about our personal attitudes to growing old. Am I in the negative or positive camp? If older trees bear the sweetest fruit, then we have much to learn from older people.
The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill

The Beano comic book for children used to sell in its early days for 2D. That's two pennies in old currency. Recently an edition of the first annual, from 1939, sold for $4,264. It was one of only 11 copies believed to be in existence. Just goes to show that what seems of little value today may be quite valuable tomorrow. It's good to prize things now, rather than regret later, perhaps.

That's certainly true of the rich man in today's Gospel (Luke 16:19-31). He didn't put much value on Lazarus at his doorstep begging each day. Later, when he sees how important Lazarus is, he comes to realise the error of his ways. But it's too late. This is not an easy parable to accept. It touches on things dark and deep: the condition of serious sinners after death. While he may not have harmed Lazarus during his lifetime, the rich man's heartless indifference to his plight was evil enough to land him in what we would call hell.

This is an unsettling parable. It's uncompromising in what it says. It poses too many problems to go into here, but it should stop me in my tracks. It's intended to. It forces me to ask questions I may not want to ask, questions that have little interest, immediacy, or value for me today, perhaps. But what about tomorrow? Certainly, one of those questions must be: do I take seriously the consequences of what I do, and don't do? Is the thought of eternal damnation in any way for me like The Beano? Comical.
'There is nothing more peaceful than to hold a sleeping baby in your arms. The baby's body totally relaxes into you. The baby gives you their total trust to hold and support them. Their breath pulls you in as they breathe with their whole body, rising and falling, it mesmerises you.' ~Niamh Bruce

A baby has that amazing ability to pull us into the present moment. Nothing else matters only their little world. They teach us about the importance of being present in the moment. Life so often can quickly pass us by. The moments race past us and yet we rarely allow ourselves appreciate their huge significance. Today (Sep 25th) is the feast of St.Finbarr. Gougane Barra is located a few miles west of Ballingeary, in West Cork, situated in a picturesque setting and it was here that Finbarr built his monastery in the 6th century. Clearly Finbarr knew that the presence of God was very much present here particularly in the beauty of nature that is evident all year round. Against a backdrop of rugged hills, lakes, rivers and streams, Finbarr found great peace. It was here that he cherished the richness and beauty of the present moment. His feast day today reminds us all of the importance of appreciating the special moments that make up each day especially the present moment. It is God's most precious gift to us.
'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 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'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.
Growth is the only evidence of life.' ~John Henry Newman The beatification of John Henry Newman took place last Sunday. It was the final day of Pope Benedict's papal visit to the United Kingdom. The visit has been described as positive, upbeat and the first occasion in a while when the Pope warmed himself to people right across the spectrum. The beatification was seen as the highlight of the visit and one that offers the church a candle in the dark. During his lifetime John Henry Newman was not afraid to speak his mind. He actively promoted lay education to offset clericalism. He embraced the whole theory of evolution and promoted a surrender of heart and mind to God on a daily basis whom he experienced as a God of love. He is probably most famous for a prayer he composed which is known worldwide: "May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last."
'Growth is the only evidence of life.' ~John Henry Newman

The beatification of John Henry Newman took place last Sunday. It was the final day of Pope Benedict's papal visit to the United Kingdom. The visit has been described as positive, upbeat and the first occasion in a while when the Pope warmed himself to people right across the spectrum. The beatification was seen as the highlight of the visit and one that offers the church a candle in the dark. During his lifetime John Henry Newman was not afraid to speak his mind. He actively promoted lay education to offset clericalism. He embraced the whole theory of evolution and promoted a surrender of heart and mind to God on a daily basis whom he experienced as a God of love. He is probably most famous for a prayer he composed which is known worldwide: "May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last."
'When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time.' ~Author Unknown

There are few who could argue against Cork wining the All Ireland Final yesterday against Down. They have been waiting for twenty years and have been so close on many occasions. But yesterday was a day to put all that behind, to seize the opportunity and to finally deliver on the biggest prize of them all. Down were quick, sharp, fast and hungry but could not match the great spirit of the Cork team that edged them on to win. The story of the Cork team resonates with all our lives. How often we have tasted defeat. We have worked hard, done our best, gave it our all, only to experience setbacks, disappointments and moments we'd like to forget. Maybe we have felt God has seriously let us down, even abandoned us. Our belief is that God journeys with us through every moment but particularly during difficult moments. We are given strength and hope to keep going even when all seems lost. The Cork football team kept their inner belief and resolve that their day would come. It finally came yesterday and our heartiest congratulations go to a great team.
The following reflection is by Tom Cahill

Somebody described a diamond as a lump of coal that did well under pressure. Not so for dandelion seeds. Under pressure, recently, they caused problems. A train travelling from Halifax, West Yorkshire to King's Cross, London, had its engines clogged by drifting dandelion seeds. These spindly, puffy parachutes blocked the air filters in four of its five engines. The mighty machine could only inch ignominiously into King's Cross station.

Even more troublesome were the grains of fine ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallaji volcano. Consisting of pulverised rock and glass, such ash can wreak havoc on planes. Sandblasting windscreens, they effectively 'blind' pilots. They pit fuselages, damage landing lights, and clog sensors making air speed indicators unreliable. Being charged particles, they disrupt radio communication and even cause power failure. None of these pitted pellets of rock and glass is more than 2 millimetres in diameter. As the song says: little things mean a lot.

Had the manager in today's Gospel (Luke 16:1-13) known that, he might have been more careful with his employer's property. Caught in the mire of cheating, he sinks deeper into scheming and theft. Anyone crooked enough to go along with his dishonest ruse could hardly be relied upon to come to his help at a later date. Why should they? Honour among thieves? I doubt it. When life's worries weigh us down, let's remember the lump of coal. Pressure transformed it. It can transform us too. We're already halfway there when we remember, if not the diamond then, the pearl of great price we carry within us: God's Holy Spirit.
'Team means Together Everyone Achieves More!' ~Author Unknown

There's a story told of a horse pull event at a county fair. In one event one horse pulled 3,500kgs and another 4,000 kgs. Together they would be expected to pull 7,500 kgs. However, when they were paired together, the two horses were able to pull a total weight of 15,000kgs. It is called the principle of synergy. More can be done through team effort than can be accomplished by each individual member. In order for the principle of synergy to work, there has to be teamwork. We depend so much on teamwork and without it we fail to make progress. The Junior Cert results came out yesterday. The results were impressive and positive. As the results were shared and given out there was a great sense of team and that they had achieved something significant and important. In every community be it school, parish, leisure place or work a sense of team is vitally important. Even when it comes to faith matters it's an impossible journey on our own but sharing our faith journey with others makes life meaningful, purposeful and gives it a definite sense of direction.
'Few things speak as wonderfully about life as does the smell of fresh bread. The fragrance of fresh bread is the smell of life itself.' ~Roland Rolheiser

To make bread many individual grains are crushed in their individuality to become flour. This in turn has to endure fire to become bread and the lovely smell it then gives off when it comes out of the oven. Wine is also similar. It stands for friendship, community and celebration yet many grapes are crushed to make a bottle of wine. Every time we celebrate Eucharist God is so in touch with what is going in our lives. The bread and wine represent everything in our world that is healthy, young and bursting with energy and life. But they also represent everything that is crushed and broken. God holds both. God touches everything in life, touches all the highs and lows, all our good days and bad days and importantly touches and holds everything that is happening in our own life. We are never on our own.
'It doesn't work to leap a twenty foot chasm in two ten foot jumps' ~American Proverb

Today (Sep 14th) is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The cross is something that so many people can relate to. Life is far from easy, straightforward or predictable. It often means we try to jump twenty feet in two ten foot jumps and we begin to free-fall. But the cross is the stepping stone or the bridge that saves us from that fall. The cross on its own is ugly and not a place we want to stop or stay at. The cross can never be an end in itself. Because of the Resurrection the cross becomes a stepping stone. The cross pulls God right into the middle of our struggles, setbacks, pain, suffering and sometimes into the mess of our lives. But God doesn't want us to remain in this place. Life can sometimes be a jump too far but the cross in a strange way allows us to get through and across. We ask and pray for God's help today to give us strength, courage and hope to get through all that is difficult in our lives at the moment.
Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.' ~Sean O'Casey

During this month of September we give thanks for the fruits of the harvest. Good weather has made a huge difference. The action of the sun has ensured that the crops have been good. Every action of ours also has an impact and influence that we often don't fully understand or appreciate. Those that are inspired out of love, kindness and goodness are the ones that will always make the biggest impact. They vibrate out to touch and inspire others. Who is my inspiration in life? Who is my biggest influence? Is God an inspiration or influence in my life? This is not always the easiest question to answer. We might need to hold it along with other important questions in our lives. Every action of ours that has even the tiniest spark of God's influence, will touch and inspire in ways we will never fully understand.
The reflection today is by Tom Cahill

You've heard of black tea, green tea, herbal tea, and high tea. Well now there's philosophical tea. A new fad is sweeping La France. There, children as young as eight are acquiring a taste for philosophical tea. Difficult though it may be to swallow at this remove, nevertheless, many parents in France want their children to cut their metaphysical "munchers" on heavy issues over light refreshments. Children, they believe, should be encouraged to debate life's mysteries from the time they discover the words 'what' and 'why' to give them an early handle on a complex world. The tea parties are held in cafés, public libraries and homes. Cakes and fruit juices feature prominently to sweeten debates drizzled with Descartes, sprinkled with Socrates, or piquant with Plato. No more than ten kiddies form a party. They vote on the topic of choice for the day and plunge into profundity with a vengeance.

Our brat in today's Gospel reading (Luke 15:1-32) aka the prodigal son also plunges into profundity but not by choice. He isn't interested in insight, or in grappling with life's mysteries. All he wants are life's pleasures. He gets them, such as they are, and surprise! surprise! ends up more miserable than he was before he had them. Had he developed a taste for philosophical tea he might have fared better. Had he used his head to wise up he would have fared better. We are blessed with the most complex organ in the universe. It's called a brain. Surprising how long it takes for some to find it.
If you had one shot or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment. Would you capture it? Or just let it slip by? ~the opening words of the song 'Lose Yourself' by Eminem

Eminem whose real name is Marshall Mathers has written much music and performed at many concerts. He may not be everyone's cup of tea but his music speaks a language of its own. Many can relate to it particularly young people. He touches beautifully on the whole idea of seizing or loosing a moment of opportunity. Every day presents us with many of these moments. We may say that so many of these come together, we cannot choose. This may be so but the ones of meaningful value usually tend to stand out. Choosing which programme to watch on television later this evening fades into total insignificance when compared to asking someone how they are or saying well done in recognition of work done or a simple thank you as way of appreciation. As Enimen says, we can capture these moments and make them happen or we can let them slip. Will you capture or let them slip today?
'In the quiet of prayer we learn how to keep God's love alive in the world.' ~Author Unknown

A prayer for Guidance: O God I ask you to be with me with this day. I don't know what lies ahead of me but I pray to you to help me discern the path of life you wish me to follow. Help me to see clearly the things that matter and the things that don't. Help me to use every gift I have, remembering that it is from you. May the Spirit of God give me a generous and open heart, making me an instrument of peace and love in whatever choice I make. Help me to use the coming days of this week to make good positive choices in everything I do. Amen
'What's Black and Amber and goes beep, beep, beep, beep? The Kilkenny five in a row open top bus reversing back into the garage!!' ~Text doing the rounds last evening

Judging by the number of texts having a poke at Kilkenny last evening, it seems that it was 31 counties shouting for Tipperary yesterday. Clearly Tipperary were outstanding and the real winner was the game of hurling in a cracking game. Kilkenny were gracious losers too and no doubt they will be back. The many neutrals watching wanted a new winner and were longing for something different and fresh. It's an in built desire in all of us and when it comes to spiritual matters the same desire is there too. We look and long for something fresh and new. Our faith and our belief in a loving God is what makes this all possible. Sometimes we take everything for granted, we drift and loose touch. It is up to us to change this and allow what we believe in make a difference in our lives. What is fresh and new is always within our reach, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.
The following reflection by Tom Cahill

You hear them in the street, on buses and on trains: mobile phone conversations. They can be annoying; for two reasons at least. First, some users of phones seem to think it necessary to shout into them presumably because of the distance between themselves and those at the other end. Second, you get only a 'halfalogue' one side of the conversation.

Scientists at Cornell University, New York, claim that hearing only one half of a conversation is more draining on one's attention than hearing all of it. They experimented with students who were given concentration exercises while hearing one or two speakers on mobile phones. Their conclusion: people are less able to divert their attention from a half-heard conversation than from a fully heard one.

Half of anything rarely satisfies. It can even be irksome. It's the whole hog or nothing. The same can be said for half-hearted effort. Take today's Gospel reading for example (Luke 14:25-33). It ends on a note that could be sombre, or joyful, depending on the generosity of one's response to it: "None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." What a prospect! You can't follow Jesus half-heartedly. It's total commitment, or no commitment. To put flesh on that, it means there can be no Jesus-free zones in my life; that nothing in life is more important than the values he holds out to me. Therefore, I don't sacrifice these, ever, for anything else. I wonder how many of us get that part of the conversation.
'What strikes a chord sometimes is that when Jesus spoke he had no amplification. Neither were there large plasma screens dotted through the crowds. Isn't it possible that everybody didn't hear everything but that as people walked away they talked about what he had said?' ~Vincent Sherlock

There was something about what they heard that made them talk. The little bits and pieces of the good news they heard was shared and they were all nourished in some way. They were excited and refreshed by it. Each day we can be the carrier of good or bad news. It is clear we are saturated with negative and sad news all around us. We feed into it and we want more. What a shame and pity that we are not more open to the little bits of good news all around us. Unless we share some of this it gets lost. Such news is refreshing and exciting but we have to be the ones to make sure it happens. We can't leave it to someone else. If we start, someone else will want to share it and so it spreads. We don't need any qualification or degrees or further studies only a willingness to nurture our good news and to be a little slower in embracing whats negative and not life giving.
'It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures' ~Andre Bessette

We all have our own favourite painting hanging up at home. We may have got it as a gift but the chances are high that you bought it and you did so because it caught your eye and imagination. Lots of brushes are used to create each painting but it's the smallest ones that bring out the finer details. The same goes with all we do in life. Big sweeping changes and happenings in life are rare. But God always calls us to work with the smallest of brushes. Even if we don't do it, God most certainly does. We are the canvas, God is the artist. But for the artist to work, the canvas must be open, welcome and receptive. It's with all the small bits and pieces put together that God creates something special. That something special is you.
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that God didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

There is a story told about a gardener who wanted to start a flower garden. The soil was prepared and the seeds of many beautiful flowers were sown. As the flowers grew, her garden was not just filled with the beautiful flowers but it was also overrun by dandelions. She sought advice from gardeners all over and tried every method known of getting rid of the weed but all to no avail. Finally she heard of an old gardener who was around for many years and seemed to know everything that was needed to be known. She met the master gardener and they sat together in silence. After a while the master gardener spoke: "I suggest you begin to learn to love the dandelions." We all yearn for beautiful flowers in our gardens but also in our lives. But it never works that way. There will always be weeds. They are flowers in the wrong place and sometimes we just have to live with them. We ask God to help us get through and handle anything that might be unexpected or not to our liking today.


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