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Listing September - 2009
‘What can I do? Repeat that question. Trust that you, one person can do for God what otherwise would not be done. You choose because you are chosen. You choose because in the heart of your desire to love, you have found the heart of God searching for you.’ ~from Come Follow Me

It is comforting and reassuring to know that God is always searching for us, looking out for us and importantly always on our side. For many people the presumption is often that God has given up on them. Perhaps it is the direction their life has taken, mistakes made, life struggles and disappointments or a combination of all together. But God is always on our side. Even if we choose a 100, 1000 or even a million wrong options God will not abandon us. A normal human response will be, “Sure that’s crazy. Why would God want to bother with me?” But God does. God’s love for us goes way beyond our limited horizons. God always want to make us number one.
The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Cahill

I came across a prayer some time ago that caught my attention. Can’t remember where, but here’s the prayer: Dear God, we rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens; for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals, cleaning their homes and singing to themselves; for the rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth, the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot, we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks. Amen. That prayer makes me ask how often I give thanks to God for the fine things that others do – especially if they seem to be muscling in on my turf. Jealousy is often quicker off the mark than generosity. But not always.
"We do what we have to do because God has called us" ~from "A Breath Of Fresh Air" by Vincent Travers

He was well known in the village where he lived as "the veggie man". Each day he would push his cart, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, through the narrow streets that made up his rounds. On the cart, next to the cash box, he had a notebook. One day while serving a customer, the notebook fell to the ground, unnoticed by the veggie man. Later two children on their way home from school found the notebook. Thinking they had found something valuable, they opened it and started reading. It was not what they expected. Page after page contained memos: "Don"t forget the poor family on the hill." "Ask Mary Jo about her ailing mother." "Check the house for the homeless. Make sure it is well supplied." "Say hello to old Mike," and so on. But written on the front page in bold letters were the words: We do what we have to do, because God has called us.These words were the driving force behind everything he did and said. His vision was rooted in Gospel values. It can be our vision too.
‘Opportunity only knocks once’ ~Old Proverb

An artist watched children sailing a boat at the water’s edge, as the sun was setting at the end of a perfect day. There was something about the scene that touched the artist’s soul and he wanted to capture the moment on canvas to have for posterity. But the artist had promised to meet a friend and the last bus was about to leave the seaside resort and he didn’t want to be late for his appointment. He met his friend but the haunting beauty of the boat scene stayed with him. He returned the following evening but the sunset wasn’t so colourful and no children were playing with their boat. The tragedy of life is so often the tragedy of the missed opportunity. I can let them slip by or I can seize them and give thanks to God for these precious moments.
‘In our busy world there is almost no way of avoiding noise. It invades our lives. Radio, mobile phones, TV, the constant noise of traffic and so many other things are daily disruptive intrusions on our peace and quiet. In spite of the stress or perhaps unaware of the stress it causes in our lives there are many who seem unable to live without it. ~Diarmuid Clifford

A minutes silence for some person who is deceased, takes place frequently at different sporting occasions. A recent trend, particularly at Premiership games is for everyone to start clapping in place of the traditional minutes silence. I’m not sure why this is so. Is it because everyone’s afraid of silence? We are saturated with noise. It is everywhere and yet there is a part of every single one of us that craves for silence. All forms of spirituality encourage silence. We are often closer to God during those quiet and silent moments of our lives. They may be rare and hard to find but they are possible.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be first, he must make himselflast of all and servant of all.' He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.' ~Mark 9:35-37

The following reflection is written by Fr.Tom Cahill

Today’s Gospel reading (Mark 9:35-37) makes you wonder what on earth possessed Jesus to choose the ones he did to become his disciples. Self-seeking calculation has them bickering about which of them is top dog. Not only are they a bit dense they’re also small-time glory seekers. Could any group of people be less likely candidates to become Jesus’ disciples!

Yet, he chose them knowing their calibre, and knowing what he was doing. Amazing! Even more amazing is the change in them after Jesus’ death and resurrection, a change that sees them proclaiming a most profound message and establishing a faith-community that has spread throughout the world down to this present day. It was also a change that produced in them total commitment to God even to the point of death.

Bringing it closer to home is it not equally amazing the type of people God still calls today to do his work? I don’t mean priests and religious primarily but parents. What more precious task could be entrusted to a human being than to bring another into this world and introduce them to God? We too can be dense and self-seeking, yet God has chosen us. How has the gift of life changed us?
'Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?’ ~Leo Buscaglia

I had the privilege yesterday of journeying with a group of students from Coláiste Choilm on a pilgrimage/retreat day to Gougane Barra in West Cork. Part of the many gentle invitations extended to these young people and indeed anyone who visits Gougane Barra is to pick up a stone. The stone represents all that is difficult in our lives and those burdens that we all carry around with us. The invitation is let some of them go and instead to invite God’s healing, hope and love into our lives in place of all the negative stuff. During the day everyone is given the chance to get rid of these stones by throwing them into one of the many streams around Gougane Barra. To ‘let go’ is a positive spiritual exercise. Letting go is not to regret the past but to grow and live for the future. Letting go is to fear less and love more. It is something we all could do every now and again.
A bit of light humour as we head into the weekend………

Why did the farmer bury all his money in his fields? He wanted rich soil! How do you make seven even? Take away the s! Have you heard about the restaurant on the moon? Great food but no atmosphere! Why did the woman wear a helmet at the dinner table? She was on a crash diet! What’s an eight letter word that has only one letter in it? An envelope. What is the longest word in the dictionary? Smiles because it has a mile between the s’s! What’s the hardest thing about falling out of the bed? The floor! What kind of pet can you stand on? A carpet! Why didn’t the musical instruments email each other? They preferred to write notes! How can you find a really cool website? Put your computer in the fridge! How does an elephant climb an oak tree? It sits on an acorn and waits until it grows!
‘Believe while others are doubting.’ ~William Ward

Sport penetrates every county, parish and community. Each week so many different games are taking place and the highlight this weekend is of course the All Ireland Football Final. There is great excitement and a lovely build up to the vital clash with our old rivals Kerry next Sunday. For Cork it has been their huge self belief that makes them stand out this year and knowing that they can and will win. If only some of that self belief could rub off on us. If we could just believe, even a little more, in our own unique abilities. We may be impatient but God is so patient with us. Even when we put in seemingly poor performances God always trusts and knows that we have it in us to do better. The biggest obstacle is our lack of self belief. We may doubt, but never God!
‘Of what use is it to search for God in holy places if I have lost God in my heart?’ ~Kenneth Payne

There is a story told about a neighbour who found his next door neighbour on his knees searching for something. “What are you searching for?” he asked. “I’ve lost my keys”, said the neighbour. Both got on their knees to search for the lost key. After a while the neighbour says, “Where did you loose it?” “At home”, said the neighbour. “Good Lord, then why are you searching for it here?” “Because there is more light here”, came the answer. So often when it comes to the really important and essential things in life, we are simply searching in the wrong places. The same goes for everything connected with God. Our search for God has to begin from within. If we are open to beginning or exploring a link with God, we will begin a journey with great potential. But this journey can only begin at home with myself, before it can happen anywhere else. Am I searching for God in the wrong place? Every journey has to have a beginning and the beginning of a spiritual journey must begin from the heart.
The following prayer is called ‘God is Love’ and the author is unknown:

God is love. God is absolute love. God is pure love. God is everywhere. (This means that God is even present in cancer cells.) God is our life. God is our health. God is our peace. God is our happiness. God is the reason for our living. God is our light. God is in our sickness when we are sick. God is our cure too. God is here, there and everywhere. All we need to know is that God is with us every moment of every single day. In God we put our hope and trust. Amen.
'Veneration is not and should not be escapism. To venerate the cross of Jesus we see our own cross. By looking upon it we do not run away. God moves out towards humanity in an act of love and humility. To venerate the cross links our suffering to that of Jesus and so to get caught up in that moment of salvation.’ ~Michael Shorthall

Today (Sep 14th) is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The cross is something so many people can identify with in their own lives. It shatters the notion of a comfortable God, having all the perks, taking it nice and easy and somehow outside our world and lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cross pulls God right into the middle of our struggles and into the sometimes mess of our own lives. We all have our struggles, setbacks, pain and suffering. Life doesn't or can't protect us from them. Today is a day to acknowledge our own cross whatever it might be or perhaps the difficult cross some person or family may be carrying right now. We ask God’s help to give us strength, courage and hope to carry whatever cross we may be carrying right now.
Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?' And they told him. 'John the Baptist,' they said 'others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.' 'But you,’ he asked 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.'~Mark 8:27-30

The following reflection is written by Fr.Joe Slattery

I'm sure many of us have had the experience of being "put on the spot", as they say. Maybe someone has asked us a surprise question and we're not sure exactly what we should say, so we opt for safety and reply with a safe, uncontroversial answer, that doesn't have much thought behind it. That it would seem to me is what happened in the story recounted in the above piece from Mark's Gospel. Jesus asks a pointed question of his disciples. Peter gives the correct answer,"You are the Messiah" and who could find fault with that? But what happens afterwards reveals that there was very little insight or depth of reflection behind his answer.

Suppose Jesus were to ask us that question, "Who do you say I am?" how would we answer? What would we have to say about him? It would require personal knowledge of Jesus to answer it. Some of us might settle for a quick title like Peter did. That would be the easiest reply. But some of us might wish to answer it in a more personal way. Just for yourself what might this personal answer be?
An elderly gentleman passed his granddaughter's room one night and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent way. 'What on earth are you up to?' he asked. 'I'm saying my prayers,' explained the little girl. 'But I can't think of exactly the right words tonight, so I'm just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me, because God always knows what I'm thinking.

When it comes to prayer we sometimes think that we have to have the right words, the right formula and the right way of praying. Since we can’t come up with all three, we simply give up. But there is no perfect combination. It’s all about willingness and an openness to connect with God in some way. It’s not about having the right words. It is much more about a willingness to hand everything over to God, knowing that God is in a much better position to help us.
Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast'. ~John 21:10-12

We are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet for many of us it may not even happen and at best it’s rushed. There is something so natural about Jesus having breakfast with his closest friends. It was on the edge of the sea, relaxed, meaningful and without fuss. Jesus met the disciples as he had always done, in a simple down to earth way. They caught no fish that night, yet at the words of Jesus they caught in abundance. The disciples must have been filled with renewed hope and energy after that encounter with Jesus. We may label it as extra ordinary, exceptional and unlikely to ever happen to us. But at the heart of this gospel story is that God makes the extra ordinary possible in our lives. What event or what person fills you with renewed hope and energy? Whoever that may be; know that God is really close by.
‘Prayer gives us the words when there are no words. Prayer is not magic. It does not bend the world to our will, if anything it does the opposite. It helps us notice things we otherwise take for granted.’ ~Jonathon Sacks

It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the pace of life and its expectations. For all of us there is much to be done each day. We end up only getting through some of what we hoped to do in any day. The thought of trying to fit prayer somewhere into our daily routine seems almost a hopeless request. It’s not that we don’t want to, it just seems impossible to create the space for it. Yet we are reminded that prayer no matter how simple actually enhances our lives. It helps us to notice things that we otherwise take for granted, it helps us to prioritise what’s important and gives us renewed spiritual energy that always works to our advantage.
‘People will let us down, people are flawed and selfish and so are we. Welcome to humanity, now get over yourself and try and make it a better humanity by being a better human being yourself.’ ~Garry O’Sullivan

We waste much time and energy complaining and giving out about people who don’t live up to our expectations. We expect so much more and they leave us down badly. For some this experience may be really personal and hurtful. For others it may be quite general but there is still that feeling of being let down. But if we were to opt out of every formal and informal relationship that let us down we’d be permanently on our own. We can’t lose hope just because others let us down. They will do so again and we will also do it to others. We have to live with the roses and the warts. Our Gospels are a collection of stories about many people who had been let down, some over a long period of time. Jesus encouraged each to get up and get going again. He also encourages each of us to do the same and gives us a new sense of life, purpose and beginning.
‘Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time.’ ~Jean Richter

The birthday of Mary (Sep 8th) is celebrated today. We don’t know for certain when she was born but for nearly 1,500 years her birthday has been celebrated on September 8th. Every birthday is worthy of celebration and even more so when it comes to Mary. As the mother of God she is hugely popular. It is estimated that her prayer, “Hail Mary” is said two billion times every day across the world. For many years there has been a shocking denial in the role of women in all things spiritual. As a result many have walked away, unhappy, disheartened and fed up with the way they have been ignored and pushed to one side. This situation is very slowly changing, thanks no end to a fresh and deeper appreciation of Mary. Every birthday is our way of saying, “You are special, there’s only one of you, we are happy that you exist.” Today is our way of saying to Mary that we are happy that she has an important part to play in our lives. We invite her nurturing presence and compassionate love into all we do each day.
‘What would the world be like if you really knew the future? What if you knew it as you know the past? It would be the greatest horror. Imagine a life without surprises, it would be unlivable.’ ~Donagh O’Shea

We have a fascination with the future. Fortune tellers, psychic readers and futurologists have never been busier. But even they can’t tell everything and snippets of what might happen, can either console or terrify us. We plan for the future as best we can but it can never become our only focus. Every day brings its share of joys and setbacks, surprises and disappointments, blessings and moments to forget. We work through each day to the best of our abilities. We need support and encouragement each day. Some days are tough and difficult. Many are ordinary and good in their own way. It is in the ordinariness of each day that God meets us best. God’s message throughout scripture is: “I will be with you next week, next month, next year but I am especially with you right now, in the beauty or darkness of this present moment. It is the only moment that matters.”
'They brought Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man's ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened.' And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly.' ~Mark 7:32-34

The following reflection has been written by Fr.John Byrne

(1)The healing of the deaf-mute provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of communication in our lives. The healing touch of Jesus brought the man from isolation into community. Who have been the people who touched you when you felt isolated and alone and helped you to come out of painful aloneness?
(2)Deafness is symbolic of being unable to hear what is being said to us. What a difference when our ears are opened! Perhaps you can recall a time when your ears were opened and you heard in a new way that you were loved – by God or by another person.
(3)Words are not the only form of communication. Actions can speak louder than words. Being able to say what is in you is the other side of communication. Perhaps there have been occasions when you have struggled to find words to express what is deepest in you – your faith, your values, your love. Then something changed and you found the words. What was it like to be able to express your deepest self?
‘A baby's chuckle, a child's laugh, a parent's love, birds in flight, fish in shoals, atoms spinning, stars sparkling, brains working, spirits soaring, a blade of grass, a luscious flower, a weed? Let these miracles do their work. Let these dime-a-dozen miracles free us from our prisons of incredulity’ ~Tom Cahill

We often confine miracles to holy places, like Lourdes, Knock and Fatima. Even in these places miracles seem to be infrequent and rare. But are they? It all depends on what a miracle might mean to us. If we’re expecting something spectacular and almost impossible then we are going to be disappointed. But if we understand a miracle as God’s intervention, no matter how small, then miracles are plentiful and are to be found everywhere. Despite an onslaught of negative news all around us, there are miracles bubbling everywhere. God’s creation and evolution is endless. We are a part of it. It’s all around us. But we can miss it all through apathy, worry, stress, busy lifestyles and other distractions. But these miracles remind us that God is so close to us. These miracles are all around us, plentiful, endless and there to be enjoyed and celebrated.
‘I need all my energy for living towards your fullness. The energy I expend in anger and resentment is diverted and lost. The energy I use for loving and praying is multiplied.’ ~Margaret Silf

Some people seem to be naturally bubbly and full of energy, more have much less and for many we fluctuate somewhere in between. It makes sense to conserve and use wisely what we have. It’s been well documented how anger, resentment, jealousy and hatred simply eat up much of our energy reserves. Over a long period of time it can leave us feeling totally exhausted. Any time we love, pray and reach out in God’s name not only saves our energy levels but multiplies them many times over. Throughout this day I can make an effort to use my energy for living life to the full. We know what doesn’t work, we know what does, and the choice will always be mine.
‘We live in a culture of suspicion. The opposite of suspicion is trust. Trust is at the heart of things. There is no lasting relationship without it. Where it is weakened, relationships suffer. Where it is lost, relationships are broken, often beyond repair.’ ~Michael Duffy

Trust is at the heart of everything in life. At the moment though, we are suspicious of all institutions including the banks, political parties, church leadership, property developers and so on. For many people they have been hurt and let down. It will take a while to build up such trust again. But it is the only way forward. Without trust we flounder and struggle. In our Gospels everything Jesus did was building up peoples trust. He encouraged them to let go of unhelpful and negative outlooks on life. He helped each person believe that there is always a new way and a better way. But for that to happen, each person must take a step forward and believe that it can happen. It comes down to trust. You must trust yourself first of all before anything can happen.
The following has been written by a 5th year student and it’s called ‘Prayer in my life’

When I was a child my parents taught me how to pray. At first I learned the ‘Our Father’. At that time I did not realise the great effect that this prayer would have on my life. I particularly remember my confirmation. Although it was a long time ago I know it was a turning point in my life. I realised that God was not a myth or a man in the sky but rather a very real energy in the world. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I pray best when I am being artistic in drama or through craft work. God speaks to me in the enjoyment I get from this creativity. I truly believe that I would not survive without God. God is the love and beauty that I find in my life. Sometimes I don’t pray as much as I should and I feel empty inside. I feel sad that some people cannot find God. God is a feeling that can never be taken from us, a feeling called love. I pray because I need the warmth that God gives to me each day.


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