11th December

This is a pic of my new church here in Ardaghey.

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This is a Premier Christian Media Trust & Dr Micha Jazz reflection on Our Lady’s Fiat:  “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her” (Luke 1:38).

Trust is an amazing gift to present to anyone. When Katey and I got married it was enthusiastically but with little real knowledge of what marriage actually meant. I was marrying the girl of my dreams, while assuming I’d continue to live my life the way I always had. I failed to recognise that Katey was a fully formed personality in her own right. So it wasn’t long before the fireworks began to fly. We needed the encouragement and help of good friends to help us adjust and lay foundations that might ensure a long, stable and enriching marriage.

It disappoints me when I hear some of the language used by people to describe their marriages. They speak of deals, as if relationship is transactional, or they keep secrets from each other. I am no judge; however to discover my spouse kept secrets from me would be a devastating experience. It is also a good discipline in times of prayer together to share the very worst of myself, knowing I can trust this to my wife and still be loved.

persistenceMary is confronted by an angel and invited to entrust her life entirely into the hands of God. She questions, naturally, yet chose to set those questions to one side and respond to God. As I ponder on this story, it highlights how slow I am to entrust myself to God beyond the questions I carry. The journey with MS and now Jayne’s chronic pain condition present some difficult questions that I haven’t any answers to. Do I continue to trust God with my own and my family’s welfare? Or do I establish a number of alternative strategies to compensate when God fails to show up? Trust triumphs through a personal choice to stay faithful, to persevere.

QUESTION: What choices have you delayed – or built alternative strategies for – just in case God fails to show?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, trusting can be hard, yet I want to trust you with all of my heart.

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10th December – 2nd Sunday of Advent (B).

This was my first weekend in Ardaghey parish. I got a great reception, particularly as it is the first time there has been a resident priest in the parish since the summer of 2013. The parochial house is currently been renovated and here are some pictures from my temporary accommodation – a cottage on the sea front.

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In today’s gospel and first reading we were commended to PREPARE A WAY FOR THE LORD. One of the essential elements of preparing a way for the Lord is to respect truth: to seek after it and then live according to it. To abandon truth is to live a false life. We even get to the point where we believe in our false reality.

Here is a recent article by Fr Ron Rolheiser on the matter. If you have limited time,read the following excerpt in bold text. If you have time, skip down to the full article.

Among all of this, perhaps the most distressing thing of all is the erosion of our capacity to recognize and acknowledge the truth. From the highest government offices, to the major media outlets, to our local newspapers, to the thousands of bloggers, down to our dinner tables, we are becoming irresponsible, manipulative, and outright dishonest with the truth, denying it where it’s inconvenient, bending it to suit our own purposes, or labeling it as “fake news”, “an alternative fact”, “misinformation”, “a truth that’s no longer operative”, or as “political correctness” with no truth value. Studies from major scientific institutes are dismissed as just another opinion with the result that we are creating an entire society within which it’s becoming more and more difficult for any of us to trust what’s a fact and what isn’t. That’s dangerous territory, not just politically but especially spiritually.

Scripture tells us that Satan is the Prince of Lies and Jesus makes it clear that, among all sins, failure to acknowledge the truth is far and away the most dangerous. We see this motif particularly in the text that warns us that we can commit a sin that’s unforgiveable because it’s a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

++++++++++++++++ FULL ARTICLE +++++++++++++++++

It can be quite disheartening to watch the news these days. Our world is full of hatred, bigotry, racism, and over-stimulated greed and ego. The gap between the rich and poor is widening and random, senseless violence is an everyday occurrence. One lives with hope, but without much optimism.

Among all of this, perhaps the most distressing thing of all is the erosion of our capacity to recognize and acknowledge the truth. From the highest government offices, to the major media outlets, to our local newspapers, to the thousands of bloggers, down to our dinner tables, we are becoming irresponsible, manipulative, and outright dishonest with the truth, denying it where it’s inconvenient, bending it to suit our own purposes, or labeling it as “fake news”, “an alternative fact”, “misinformation”, “a truth that’s no longer operative”, or as “political correctness” with no truth value. Studies from major scientific institutes are dismissed as just another opinion with the result that we are creating an entire society within which it’s becoming more and more difficult for any of us to trust what’s a fact and what isn’t. That’s dangerous territory, not just politically but especially spiritually.

Scripture tells us that Satan is the Prince of Lies and Jesus makes it clear that, among all sins, failure to acknowledge the truth is far and away the most dangerous. We see this motif particularly in the text that warns us that we can commit a sin that’s unforgiveable because it’s a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. .

What’s this sin? Why is it unforgiveable? And what has it got to do with telling lies?

The unforgiveable sin is precisely the sin of lying which can become unforgiveable because of what lying can do to us. Here’s how the biblical text unfolds: Jesus has just cast out a demon. Part of the Jewish faith at that time was the belief that only someone who came from God had power to cast out a demon. Jesus had done that, but the Scribes and Pharisees who have just witnessed this found it to be an inconvenient truth since they denied Jesus’ goodness. So in the face of truth they had to either acknowledge something that they did not want to or they had to manipulate the truth to give it a different meaning. They chose the latter and, clearly aware that they were manipulating the truth, accused Jesus of performing the miracle through the power of Satan. They knew better, knew they were lying, but the actual truth was too difficult to accept.

Jesus initially tries to argue with them, pointing out that there’s no logic in suggesting that Satan is casting out demons. They persist, and it’s then Jesus utters his warning: In truth I tell you, all human sins will be forgiven, and all the blasphemies ever uttered, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3,28-29 parallel text in Matthew 12, 31-32). What exactly is this warning?

Jesus is saying this: Be careful about what you are doing just now, putting a false spin on something because it is too awkward to accept as true. The danger is that if you continue doing this you may eventually come to believe your own lie. That will be unforgiveable, given that you will no longer want to be forgiven because you will see truth as a lie and a lie as the truth. The sin cannot be forgiven, not because God doesn’t want to forgive it but because we no longer want to be forgiven.

Dictionaries tell us that blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. We don’t blaspheme when we use foul language when we’re frustrated; nor do we blaspheme when we shake our fists at God in anger or turn away from him in bitterness. God can handle that. The one thing God cannot handle is lying, where we lie to the point of believing our own lies (the real danger in lying) because that eventually warps our consciences so that we can no longer tell truth from falsehood or falsehood from truth.

Theology teaches us that God is One, this means that God’s inner integrity assures that all of reality also has an inner integrity, an intelligibility, meaning that something cannot be and not be at the same time; meaning that two plus two cannot equal anything but four; meaning that a tree is always a tree no matter what you say it is; and meaning that black can never be white. God’s Oneness allows us to both trust reality and trust our normal perception of it.

That’s what’s under attack today, most everywhere. It’s the ultimate moral danger: God is One and so two plus two can never be five – and if it is then we are no longer in touch with God or with reality, are warped in conscience, and are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

 

9th December.

Yesterday I celebrated my last Mass in Lettermacaward – Doochary at 10am. Later in the evening I was in my new parish of Ardaghey for another Mass at 7.30pm. I won’t be moving into the parochial house for a few months as it is been renovated because of dry rot. In the meantime my colleague Fr Mark and I will be in rented accommodation.

Why was Christ born for us 2000 years ago? As the carol says: “Man will live forever more because of Christmas Day.” Recently a visitor to the parochial house showed me this card which is entitled  TICKET TO HEAVEN. Reflect on its message.

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ticket to heaven 1

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ticket to heaven 2

 

8th December – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

our lady queen of peaceToday we celebrate Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception – that she was conceived without Original Sin in the womb of her mother St Anne.

The supreme act of Divine Mercy toward sinful and wayward humanity was the “day” or event of redemption, made possible by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. “God so loved the world that he gave [sacrificed] his only Son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

The “dawn” of this “day” of salvation was the conception and arrival of Mary. Her “yes” to God’s plan announced through the Archangel Gabriel brought forth the world’s redeemer: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.

God’s limitless mercy means that whatever our past, we can turn back to him in repentance and renew our friendship with him. Gospel accounts of this repentance and mercy in action are: the parable of the Prodigal Son; the calling of Zacchaeus; Jesus’ declaration to the adulterous woman: “Neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin”; the ‘Good Thief’ being told on Calvary “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

God’s limitless mercy however does not mean we can continue sinning, doing our own thing, without consequence. God respects our freedom to choose friendship with him and obey his word of Truth. Repentance is thus the way we accept his gift of mercy and reconciliation. The elements of sincere repentance are: (a) Sorrow for sin; (b) Good faith purpose of amendment; (c) Restitution – a good faith effort to put right whatever wrong we have committed. For this reason, Confession is often called the Sacrament of Mercy as well as the sacrament of Reconciliation.

As we have benefited from God’s mercy towards us, we too are called to practice this mercy in our dealings with others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

7th December

Our Christian attitude to Advent is one of EXPECTANT WAITING for the 3 fold coming of Christ: his incarnation of 2000 years ago; his coming at the end of our lives and history; and his coming in grace this Christmas. This attitude of EXPECTANT WAITING is not easily maintained because of the commercial world we live in. As soon as Halloween is over we are straight into Christmas and the shopping season it engenders. In our anticipation of Christ’s birthday we have all sorts of parties going on, sing Christmas songs (imagine singing Easter songs in Holy Week!), etc. By the time Christmas actually comes we are tired of everything and want it to end rather than BEGIN our true celebration of Christ’s birthday.

We have to work at keeping our Advent vigilance in check before Christ is actually born. In all things we keep our focus on Jesus himself.

The following reflection MARY’S CHRISTMAS DREAM highlights the way in which Christ can be left out of Christmas.

Marys Christmas Dream

6th December.

This is the gospel of the day followed by the Bishops’ website commentary.

GOSPEL   

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew        15:29-37Jesus-feeding-the-5000-300x225
Jesus cures many and multiplies the loaves.

Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.
The Gospel of the Lord.

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Gospel Reflection           Wednesday, First Week of Advent          Matthew 15:29-37

There are two questions asked in today’s gospel reading. One is asked by the disciples and the other is asked by Jesus. The question that the disciples ask – ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ – is a somewhat despairing question, or, at least, a defeatist question. It is a question that does not really have any hopes of an answer. The question that Jesus asks – ‘How many loaves have you?’ – is a much more focused question. It is a question that already points people in the direction of a solution to the problem they were facing, the problem of how to feed a large crowd in a deserted place. Jesus’ question called forth those seemingly insignificant human resources among the crowd, seven loaves and a few fish, that he could nevertheless work with in a very powerful way. Today’s gospel assures us that Jesus can work powerfully through the little that we possess. If he is to do that, however, we may need to ask the right kinds of questions, not the kinds of questions that leave people feeling that nothing can be done, which was the kind of question the disciples asked. We need to ask hopeful questions, the kind of question Jesus asked, questions that encourage us to look at what we actually have been given, and to trust that the Lord can accomplish far more with those resources that we might imagine.
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The Gospel reflection comes from Weekday Reflections for the Liturgical Year 2017/2018;  ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you.’ by Martin Hogan, published by The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie_________________

 

5th December.

Yesterday I visited the home of a VIP parishioner – Declan Bonner, the manager of the Donegal Senior Football team. Here is a picture of us!

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My SOLT colleague Fr. Anthony Blount and I did novitiate together in Belen, New Mexico back in 1991-92. I was also privileged to have him at my ordination in 1997. In the following video he shares his reflection for the readings of the first Sunday of Advent. He reminds what Advent is truly about, as we prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqwL_e4rWDw