‘I learned that there were two ways I could live my life: following my dreams or doing something else. Dreams aren’t a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. When I dream, I believe I am rehearsing my future.’ ~David Copperfield
If we leave everything in life to chance and luck we are going to be sorely disappointed. Hoping for the best and hoping things will work out is inbuilt in all of us, but we need to have deeper roots. It’s all about making good positive choices each day. It’s all about making a determined effort to choose what I can do well and to avoid tasks that are impossible. It’s also about putting our trust in God who has dreams and plans for us too. They are never a matter of chance but always built on the strongest of foundations, Gods deep love for each of us.
The reflection below is written by Fr.Tom Clancy:
Jesus said to them, 'I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. ~Mt 21:31
Lip service is a common disease. It afflicts most of us even subconsciously, a lot of the time. We say that each person is uniquely precious but so often we value the talented and successful more highly than those who do not quite make it. We express sympathy for the homeless, but resent when housing them would interfere with our own life style and pockets.
Things were a little different in the time of Jesus. He lost patience with the establishment of his time who learnedly quibbled about his teaching and then ignored it, whereas the rejects of society were open to conversion. Conversion means admitting that one has not lived up to God's call but that now one is prepared to try again to do so. Such sincerity far out weighs weakness. The kingdom of heaven is for those who are prepared to answer God's call today no matter what happened yesterday.
‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you could miss it. ~From the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ireland is basking in beautiful sunshine for the past week. It is a welcome break from all the rain this summer and a chance for the farming community to get the harvest cut. There are many places that one could go to enjoy our weather but one place that always stands out is Gougane Barra. 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. The feast of St.Finbarr today reminds us all of the importance of appreciating so many important things around us. Life moves so fast we can miss them all. Today is a day of blessing and we ask the blessings of St.Finbarr on ourselves, our families, our schools, our communities, and those who need a special prayer today. May St.Finbarr continue to guide and direct us each day.
Thought not available
The following reflection has been written by Anthony Kelly
Let us turn back to the Lord who will take pity on us,
to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways - it is the Lord who speaks.' ~Isaiah 55:7
God is always more than us and always overbrimming our limited mundane calculations. God is always full of surprises. God leads those who trust in him, step by step to what exceeds all expectations. There are seasons of success and failure. Sometimes the Church seems to flourish and be blessed at every step. At other times, we seem to loose the plot and disillusionment and depression cloud the atmoshhere of our Christian lives.
Whatever the situation, God's loving mercy does not change into something else. The gifts of God no limit. The scope of God's saving power is not restricted to our precarious human resources. The Christian must not only lose hope but must also grow in a hope that places no limit on what God can do and on what God can be.
‘Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God.’ ~Ignatius Of Loyola
There is a story told about a hospital chaplain who heard that a patient from his home town was in Room 164. But when the chaplain got to the room the expected patient was not there. The chaplain apologised, saying, “Sorry I’m in the wrong room.” But the patient in the room replied, “It’s no mistake, you being here. I’ve been praying for the courage to talk to you. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And now you wander in here by mistake.” Sometimes the least unexpected moment can turn out to be such a blessing in disguise. What we consider as a mistake or a waste of time can be life saving for someone else. Somewhere in the middle of all of it is the gentle presence of God.
‘People cultivate five thousand roses in one garden and still they do not find what they seek. Yet what they are seeking may be found in a single rose or a drop of water.’ ~Antoine de Sainte-Exupery
Down through the years we’ve been led to believe in the numbers game. A consumerist society feeds into more and plenty of everything. The more you have the happier you’ll be is the motto. But this is not always the case. Recent surveys have shown that people are not happier and that they seek and search lasting happiness. It is easy to believe that lots of everything will bring happiness when there is little else seemingly on offer. A close look at our Gospels indicates that happiness and contentment are actually within our grasp. The words used are ‘finding the kingdom of God.’ It is among us, around us and within our reach. One person, one gesture of love and kindness, one smile, one text, one word of encouragement can be enough to make it begin to happen. The power of one cannot be measured.
Tomorrow is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. It began back in the year 325 when St.Helena found the real cross during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The story goes that she found three crosses but was unsure which belonged to Jesus. To find out, the three crosses were held over a sick woman. When the true cross was held near her, accompanied by deep prayer, the disease left her.
How true that story may be open to debate but there is no denying the impact of that cross on millions of people down through the years. The cross is symbolic of all our pain, struggles, setbacks, disappointments, suffering and so on. Sometimes though there is an over emphasis on the pain and darkness of the cross and we forget the love that overcomes the pain. This is at the heart of the meaning of the cross. God doesn’t send us a cross in life just for the sake of it. That would be a cruel God. But God does give us hope, courage and strength through all our crosses and struggles.
‘Accept that there will always be those who will hold different beliefs and follow different paths to our own. Learn to respect people as they are and put differences aside.’ ~Ronan Scully
Diversity has always been a part of our universe story. Nature programmes are hugely successful because they explore such diversity among animals, birds and insects. When it comes to people we tend to be slow to embrace difference and diversity. It is part of being human to want others agree with our own view point. Problems begin when we begin to impose our view points onto somebody. We feel we’re absolutely right, we know it’s the only way and so should they! The challenge is to embrace different viewpoints and to accept that others even those closest to us, will see things different from us. A prayer today is to ask God to help me understand that my story is important but that there are other stories out there just as important and valuable.
‘It is perfectly true as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.’ ~Soren Kierkegaard
The Junior Cert results came out yesterday. Overall everyone seems happy with their results. It might be hard to justify the fruits of so much work on one piece of paper. But for all these young people it’s now a case of looking forward. It’s about being open and willing to broaden their horizons not just academically but also growing into a mature adult with confidence and enthusiasm. They will continue to sharpen their skills for dealing with today, will be open to new surprises and will continue to know that they are supported and treasured by so many including a loving God. Such a path going forward is not just for young people but is one we can all choose. We pray to God today for help in living life as it happens and forwards as best we can.
‘One by one they disappear, day by day, week by week, a steady loss of the most talented and wonderful people in our community. They become names on gravestones and to our shame, just more statistics. ~Harry Barry
Today (Sep 10th) is world suicide awareness day. Every country will have its own set of figures but in Ireland 460 people died from suicide last year. The unofficial accepted figure is 600, including deaths disguised under other headings. Communities and families have been ripped apart because of suicide. No words can describe the heartache and pain of families coping with the pain of loosing a loved one through suicide. Equally no words can describe the darkness, the loneliness and pain of someone who is feeling depressed and suicidal. The need to share our pain and distress with someone is vital. If you are feeling suicidal the message is simple today: You are not alone. Please do talk to someone. The Samaritans can be contacted on 1850 609090. Alternatively you can text HeadsUp to 50424 and you will get a text immediately back with helpful options. If you don’t need help just now why not save these numbers onto your phone.
‘God can’t be bothered with things we can do ourselves. They told a man whose beard was on fire, “Your beard is in flames!” And he said, “Can’t you see I’m praying for rain!” ~Anthony DeMello
Somehow we expect God to do so many things. Our expectations are often unrealistically high. We say a prayer for something and then assume it will automatically happen. Sometimes we forget that we have to get things started, make some move or do something that we know is the right thing to do. Even if we went half way with this, then at least we are going in the right direction. Once we begin to do this then we can begin to pray for a positive outcome. Doing things this way is so much better than just sitting back and hoping for things to happen.
‘Every time we celebrate the birth of Mary we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.’ ~Leonard Foley
A birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of you to the world. Today (Sep 8th) is the feast day of the birthday of Mary. It is a day to celebrate Mary and all the contributions she made as the cornerstone of God’s story. Her parents Anna and Joachim were infertile and they prayed for a child. When their daughter Mary was born there was much to celebrate but little did they know the impact she would make. Mary was a woman who was brave, courageous and strong. Her life was far from straightforward but she kept going despite not understanding everything that was happening around her. Mary’s birthday gives us a chance to celebrate her life but importantly it gives us the chance to pray to her today. It is a day of blessing and hope. Mary brings us these and so much more besides.
The following reflection is written by Michael Shorthall
Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother or sister does something wrong, go and have it out with them alone, between your two selves. If they listen to you, you have won back your brother or sister. ~Matthew 18:15-16
The first thing to do is have it out alone. By implication, Jesus is saying that if someone wrongs you the first thing you should not do is involve others. Yet too often, in the small or big things in which we feel slighted or hurt or wronged, this is exactly what happens. We race off to others to moan, gossip, denigrate or openly back stab. By doing so, we implicate others into being on our side and consequently not on theirs. As a result the division originally caused by the wrong continues to grow. So in this very real human issue of how to confront others. Jesus declines to give a list of don'ts but rather a list of do's.
‘The people I admire the most, are the ones who make me feel as though I’m the most important person in the world. They seem to have all the time in the world to be with me. As a result, I feel uplifted, more confident and more loved.’ ~Alexandra Stoddard
Rushing is a sign of insecurity. With all our schools reopened, with everyone getting back to a normal routine after the summer, the month of September sees an increase in different things to be done. As a result we tend to rush more. But there is always a price to be paid when we hurry. When we rush we tend to grab, forget things and it disconnects us from ourselves and others. Rushing robs us of the thing we most value, the joyful appreciation of each moment. The great thing to know is that no one can rush you without your consent. Everything that is great in life is the result of slow, steady growth. Do I need to slow down today? Do I need to slow down in my life?
‘We can’t always trust what we hear with our ears but we can always trust what we hear with our heart.’ ~Author Unknown
The Songhai are an ethnic group from western Africa. A missionary was translating the bible into Songhai. Unable to find a word for ‘to believe’, he asked a native how to translate it. The native thought for a second and said, “It means to hear with the heart.” What a lovely translation. It’s another way of saying that God speaks in a gentle voice. We live in a noisy world so much so that we are uncomfortable when we have silence. In such a noisy world it can sometimes be difficult to hear each other speak, not to mind hearing God! The invitation each day is to trust our inner voice and to trust that inner quiet voice of God who always wants to lead us in the right direction.
‘Most of life is routine, dull and grubby but routine is the momentum that keeps each of us going.’ ~Ben Nicholas
Today is back to school after the summer holidays. For some children it is a very exciting day and their parents as they begin school for the first time. For others they have made the transition to secondary school and begin a whole new journey there. Traffic though gets back to its normal crazy levels again particularly in the morning. For nearly everyone it is good to be back to a routine again. Routine allows us to be comfortable with what we have to do and what we like to do. Stress levels rise when the list of things we have to do becomes unmanageable. As we begin our journey through this month of September we ask God’s blessings on all of us. We ask God to help us with our daily routine. We pray that we will get through all those necessary things we have to do and also to help us find the time for those things that we enjoy as well.