16th November – St Gertrude.

the-love-of-god1We have often heard about people ‘possessed’ by an evil spirit, receiving an exorcism or prayers of deliverance. The exact opposite of this is to be ‘possessed’ by God. This is expressed by St Paul in the reading from today’s Morning Prayer: “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in this body I live in faith: faith in the Son of God who loved me and who sacrificed himself for my sake.” Gal 2:19-20

A similar sentiment is expressed by St Gertrude in today’s Office of Readings: “May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. I praise and glorify your great patience which bore with me even though, from my infancy and childhood, youth and early womanhood, until I was nearly twenty-six, I was always so blindly irresponsible.”

Please read these two excerpts again slowly and prayerfully…

How do we become ‘possessed’ by God? It is as simple as giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the two great commandments: Love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.


To this end and if you would like to begin the 9 novena prayer in preparation for the feast of Christ the King on Sunday week, this is the daily prayer.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ, our Saviour and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship. I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things. O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will… [Mention your intentions here] As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgement of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory. Christ the King, Your Kingdom come! Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


15th November – St Albert the Great.

This is the SOLT community commentary on last Sunday’s readings given by Fr Beau. He reminds us that we are encouraged to give God everything.

14th November.

Today I shared these few words after the gospel.

Thankful Leper healing JesusOnce I spoke to a primary school teacher who’d covered this healing miracle of Jesus with her class. For their homework they had to draw a picture. One child came in with Jesus surrounded by 10 big cats. She asked how cats had come into the story. The child heard that Jesus healed 10 leopards rather than lepers!

Seriously, why did only one of the ten come back to thank Jesus for their healing – and that one was a foreigner? Was is that the 9 lepers from the chosen race had taken it all for granted? Perhaps familiarity can breed contempt? Could this even affect us?

The primary way that we thank God for all our blessings is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. The word EUCHARIST means THANKSGIVING in Greek. Furthermore it is the thanksgiving service that God himself has crafted for us and asked of us: DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

But it is also good to thank God in our own words for all the blessings that come to us throughout the day. Today I thanked God in my own words after my chemo clinic as I learned that my blood tests show that the cancer remains in full remission. Later in the shop as I was checking out I thanked God that I could pay for my purchases without having to worry about my budget – thanks to the goodness of my parishioners who support me here in Ardaghey.

13th November.

This is today’s gospel followed by commentary from the Bishops’ website.

Jesus - divisionGOSPEL  

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke         17:7-10
“We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty”

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty”.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Gospel Reflection        Tuesday            Thirty Second Week in Ordinary Time       Luke 17:7-10

In the gospel reading Jesus draws on an aspect of human interaction that we are not as familiar with today, at least in this part of the world, the master-slave relationship. Jesus recognized all of human life as having the potential to speak to us about our relationship with God. When a slave had done all that was expected of him, he would not expect thanks from his master, because he was only doing his duty. People were thanked for acting over and beyond what was expected of them. We have to reflect on the image ourselves and listen to what it might be saying to us about our relationship with God. Jesus seems to be saying that when we live the life that he calls us to live, and empowers us to live through his Spirit, we should not expect God to thank us for it as if we were doing God a favour. To serve others in response to the call of Jesus is a privilege. It requires no further reward. Our service of others is a response to the more wonderful service that God has given to us through his Son. At the end of the day, it is we who need to thank God and not God who needs to thank us.

The Gospel reflection comes from: Weekday Reflections for the Liturgical Year 2017/2018; ‘LET THE WORD OF GOD DWELL IN YOU’ by Martin Hogan, published by The Messenger c/f   www.messenger.ie/bookshop/


12th November – St Josaphat.

Pride is classified as the greatest of the capital/deadly sins and that which led to the angelic revolt, the nature of Satan, etc. On the contrary humility is seen as the greatest virtue. My favourite understanding of humility is to see God’s greatness and our littleness and our corresponding need for Him.

A line from the psalms of Morning Prayer brought this home to me earlier today:  “Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.”

A humble person will also be a forgiving person because they are aware of their dependence on God’s mercy. As we heard in today’s gospel: “If your brother does something wrong, reprove him and, if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, “I am sorry”, you must forgive him.”

This headstone epitaph that I received recently in a WhatsApp message also points us towards humility.

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11th November – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This was my homily for today followed by the gospel passage. Given that this is Armistice Day marking the end of World War I, I led prayers for all the war dead (not just those of a particular nationality) and prayed that the gospel message of peace and non-violence would be heard again in the hearts of all mankind.

baptismI thought it was very appropriate for Bishop Alan at Fr Seamus’ funeral Mass to speak about the universal call to holiness. Holiness isn’t referred to as often as it should. It is what the Christian life is all about. When we were baptised we became children of our heavenly Father. Given that he is holy, we should be holy too. When we were baptised God came to dwell within us – just like Jesus dwells in the tabernacle here on the sanctuary. We continue to carry God within us as long as we live in the state of grace – free from grave sin. If we are vessels of the divine presence, this is another reason to be holy. This is an awesome mystery!

So, how do we live a holy life? It is as simple as the two great commandments that we heard last Sunday: (1) Love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength; (2) Love your neighbour as yourself. God has every right to ask for our whole-hearted love because he loved us first with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength. What goes around, should come around!

Today’s readings speak to us about this love. In the Psalm we heard “It is the Lord who keeps faith forever.” We have all had the experience of being let down by close friends and family. We will never have a more loyal friend than Jesus. What’s more Jesus will always be there for us. When we were young we depended completely on our parents. In the natural course of events, a time comes when our parents will no longer be around. But as we heard in the Psalm: “The Lord will reign forever… from age to age.” He is indeed a saving presence that is eternal, who will provide for us long after we depart this world.

We need always remember that the greatest proof of God’s love for us is that Jesus died for our sins. In today’s second reading we heard about Jesus sacrificing himself for us: “Since men die only once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself.”

Last Sunday I said that the Holy Souls in Purgatory are those who died in God’s friendship. However they lacked the necessary degree of holiness to go directly to heaven without being first purified. What kind of imperfections could cause us to require a purification too?  In the gospel Jesus spoke about the religious people of his time who did things for show and external appearance but who lacked genuine charity. We too can be caught up in a similar pride and vanity. We should pray daily to the Holy Spirit so that his inner light will shine in our minds and reveal to us our hidden faults and blind spots. So much better to work on our personal weaknesses here in this life rather than after in Purgatory.

In today’s gospel we also heard about the perfection of the poor widow. She showed her love for God by giving him everything she had to live on – not just a donation like the well-off people. When we give to God, he will never be outdone in generosity to us. In the first reading we heard about the widow caught up in a famine. In a great act of faith she gave her last bread to the prophet Elijah. In turn God miraculously sustained her flour supply till the end of the famine period.

In summary: Wholehearted love is the foundation of holiness and the Christian life. When we give to God he is never outdone in generosity to us.

Gospel Mark 12:38-44


This poor widow has put in more than all

In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’




10th November – Pope St Leo the Great.

leo-great.jpgLiving in the world that we do, we can often forget about our God-given dignity. It doesn’t matter who we are or how many “friends” we have on Facebook; God love us regardless and continually calls us up from our miry mess.

One saint who often wrote about our dignity was St. Leo the Great (+461). He was a masterful leader of the Church and a wise pastor. Pope Benedict XVI said that he was, “truly one of the greatest Pontiffs to have honoured the Roman See.”

Here is a quote from his writings that highlight the beauty we all have as children of God and how that dignity should be preserved by a life united to Christ.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member [Christ]. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom. 

Closely related to this theme is the SOLT reflection on last Sunday’s gospel.