18th August.

prayerWhere do you find joy? Many find their joy in their car, career, house, social standing, bank account, holiday destinations, etc. Where do we find true joy that will never let us down or pass away, a joy that lasts forever? We only find that true joy in the Lord.

Today is a memorial for Our Lady. In Morning Prayer, Isaiah 61:10 is applied to her:  “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bride adorned in her jewels.”

Jesus promises us: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Ask today that you will find your true joy in him.

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I received this WHATSAPP message today:

Protected:

☑️ Pandas
☑️ Jaguars
☑️ Seals
☑️ Sharks
☑️ Polar bears
☑️ Rhinos
☑️ Cheetahs
☑️ Tigers
☑️ Blue whales
☑️ Sea otters
☑️ Snow leopards
☑️ Gorillas
☑️ Orangutans
☑️ Brown bears
☑️ Grizzly bears

Not protected:

❌ Preborn children

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Today is also the memorial of Our Lady of Knock. It’s message is beautifully summed up by the below YouTube hymn. Another less well know message is that Our Lady appeared after the parish priest had (secretly I think) completed a 100 day novena of Masses to the Holy Souls. I said at Mass that this underlines the importance of praying for the Holy Souls and our deceased loved ones – particularly in our presumptuous culture that assumes everybody goes straight to heaven regardless of what type of life they’ve lived.

 

16th August.

This is a SOLT reflection on last Sunday’s gospel. It is all about the Eucharist, Jesus – the Bread of Life – who is the true food for our souls.

15th August – Solemnity of Our Lady’s Assumption.

Mary-Icon-theotikusThis is the commentary for today’s solemnity from the Bishops’ website followed by the gospel itself.

The church is the community of the Lord’s disciples, the community of believers. Mary is the complete disciple; she is the woman of exemplary faith. Today’s gospel reading brings that home to us. There is a striking contrast between the glorious woman of the first reading, and the young woman of Nazareth heading south to the hill country of Judea to visit her older cousin Elizabeth. Yet, the woman in glory in the first reading is the woman of faith in the gospel reading. Just prior to this scene in Luke’s gospel, Mary had given her full consent to God’s purpose for her life to the angel Gabriel, ‘Let what you have said be done to me’. God’s purpose for Mary’s life was for her to become the mother of his Son. This was such an extra-ordinary purpose that Mary could not possibly have fully understood all its implications at the time. Yet, she generously said ‘yes’ to all that God was asking of her. In her ‘yes’ she anticipated the opening petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Father, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as in heaven’. It was above all in Mary that God’s will was done on earth as it is in heaven. She was the first and greatest believer. In the words of Elizabeth in the gospel reading, ‘blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled’.

Mary’s deep faith immediately expressed itself in love, as she set out on a journey to give support to her older cousin Elizabeth. Paul in his letter to the Galatians says, ‘the only thing that counts is faith, working through love’. All genuine faith in the Lord expresses itself in deeds of love for others. Mary’s ‘yes’ to God was at the same time a ‘yes’ to those in need. In visiting her cousin Elizabeth she brought the Lord whom she carried in her womb. She portrays our own calling as people of faith to bring the Lord to each other. Mary of the gospels reveals the path we are all called to take as we journey on our pilgrim way towards our sharing in the Lord’s risen life.

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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/
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GOSPEL 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke           1:39-56
The Almighty has done great things for me and he has exalted the lowly.

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah.
She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Mary& Eliz 2Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.She gave a loud cry and said,
‘Of all women you are the most blessed,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?
For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.
Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,

for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things,
the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
according to the promise he made to our ancestors-
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

The Gospel of the Lord.

14th August – St Maximilian Kolbe.

st maximilian k St Maximilian Kolbe (*1894 +1941) was born on 8 January 1894 in occupied Poland: he joined the Franciscans in Lwów in 1910, and was ordained eight years later, as his country became free and independent for the first time in over 120 years.

He believed that the world was passing through a time of intense spiritual crisis, and that Christians must fight for the world’s salvation with all the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality called the ‘Knights of Mary Immaculate’, which spread widely both in Poland and abroad.

In 1927 he founded a community, a “City of Mary,” at Teresin: centred round the Franciscan friary, it attracted many lay people, and became self-supporting, publishing many periodicals and running its own radio station.

In 1930 he went to Japan, studied Buddhism and Shintoism, and through the Japanese edition of his newspaper spread the Christian message in a way that was in harmony with Japanese culture. In Nagasaki, he set up a “Garden of the Immaculate” friary which because of its providential location survived the atomic bomb. He also travelled to Malabar and to Moscow, but was recalled to Poland in 1936 for reasons of health.

When the Germans invaded in 1939, the community at Teresin sheltered thousands of refugees, most of them Jews. In 1941 he was arrested because of his criticism of the Nazi regime and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where he helped and succoured the inmates. In August of that year a prisoner escaped, and in reprisal the authorities were randomly choose ten people to die by starvation. One of the men had a family, and Maximilian Kolbe offered to take his place. The offer was accepted, and he spent his last days comforting his fellow prisoners and led them in prayers and hymn singing. The man he saved was present at his canonization.

Maximilian Kolbe’s martyrdom is the least important thing about him. We are very unlikely to find ourselves in a position to emulate his sacrifice, and speculation as to the heroic way in which we would have behaved in his place is a pernicious waste of time. What is important is that he acted the way he did because of who he was – or, rather, because of who he had become in his following of Jesus and the Gospel. It is because of who he had become that we revere him as a saint: he would have been a saint (though perhaps not canonized) even if he had not been martyred.

And that process of becoming is something we can all emulate. We can all become people for whom doing the right thing is obvious, natural, and easy. It requires no special gifts: just perseverance in prayer and a heroic love of our brethren. St Maximilian once wrote: “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice there is no love. Sacrifice the senses, taste, hearing, and above all our will in holy obedience. I wish for you and myself the best appreciation of sacrifice which is the unconditional willingness to sacrifice.”

(Taken from Universalis)

13th August.

faith-in-God-e1441888290263Recently these two phrases from the Brievary struck a chord within me:

To savour your words is my delight, O Lord.
– Honey itself is not sweeter.

When we listen to your word, our minds are filled with light.
– It is the lowly heart that understands.

Similarly in the ‘Confessions’ of St Patrick there is a line: “How did I come by this wisdom which was not my own, I who did not know… what it was to relish God.”

It is a gift of the Holy Spirit when we can savour – rejoice in – the things of God, things such as his Word, his Real Presence in the Eucharist, spending time in prayer with him, etc. Back in around 2002 I did a ‘Life in the Spirit’ seminar in which people prayed over me for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Afterwards I found that I could read Scripture with a new inner light, that I could hold a verse or a phrase of Scripture in my mind and savour / relish it like one would do a piece of quality chocolate in one’s mouth.

Today, sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to give you a new appreciation of the things of God, especially his Word. Ask that the first quote above in particularly will come about in your spiritual life.

*************** IF YOU HAVE TIME ******************

Recently we had the 50th anniversary of HUMANAE VITAE, the encyclical letter of Blessed Pope Paul VI which reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality and particularly the wrongness of artificial birth control. This is probably one of the most disputed of all our Catholic teachings and it is important to make sense of its message and spirit. The following is an excellent article by theologian Fr Vincent Twomey from the IRISH CATHOLIC of August 2nd. (Hopefully it is not too difficult to figure out how the sections follow each other.)

hv vt a

 

hv vt b

hv vt 1hv vt 2hv vt 3hv vt 4

 

hv vt 5hv vt 6hv vt 7

12th August – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This is my homily for today followed by the gospel passage. We had a large congregation as it was CEMETERY SUNDAY and we had a blessing of graves after Mass.

photo 2 (3)

As I get older and see more of life, the more convinced I become of the importance of seeing and understanding the BIG PICTURE of life. If we don’t understand the BIG PICTURE, we won’t make sense of our life and are likely to live a meaningless and aimless existence.

One large dimension of the BIG PICTURE is to appreciate mortality and the shortness of our lives. Maybe by next year but certainly within the next 100 year all of us here will be in grave, in a cemetery someplace. Hopefully there will be Christians around to pray for us after our death.

When this happens, what will our expectation of the BIG PICTURE be? Will our lives have come to a BIG END, will we have completely fizzled out of existence? On the other hand do we have the gospel hope of eternal life and participating in Jesus’ resurrection of the dead? Are we bold enough to hope that we will be present with God and the Communion of Saints and be reunited with all our loved ones?

Your presence here this morning is a good indication of your Christian faith. However if we do have this gospel hope of eternal life, it is most important that we understand our need to be SAVED by Jesus. We can’t reach eternal life on our own regardless of how well-off we are. Stephen Job’s  billions of dollars were of no use to him after his death from pancreatic cancer.

So how are we saved from death by Jesus?

Well firstly, we need to be baptised, “born again of water and the Holy Spirit” to quote Jesus himself. Without this we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

Secondly we need the spiritual food of the Eucharist for this journey to eternal life. We saw in the first reading how Elijah was strengthened by heavenly food for his pilgrimage to God’s mountain. Speaking of the spiritual food held out to us in Holy Communion, Jesus in today’s gospel said: “I am the Bread of Life… Anybody who eats this bread will live forever.” What a promise!

Thirdly we need Confession for the forgiveness of sins, especially grave or mortal sins that separate us from God. This comes through the power given by Jesus to the Apostles and their successors on Easter Sunday evening: “Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Fourthly – and this is of a lesser importance – we need the help of the Sacrament of the Sick or the Last Rites. This strengthens our faith as we die and as we enter into the Final Judgement afterwards. We pray likewise with each Hail Mary: “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

Fifthly we need to know God’s truth for right living, the moral teaching of the Bible and the Church. This will allow us to choose what is good and reject what is wrong in our everyday decision making. Jesus said in today’s gospel: “to hear the teaching of the Father and learn from it is to come to me.”

So, where can we get all these wonderful aids to salvation? Well we can’t get them at the local supermarket, from the government, health service, mass media, bank or on the internet. We can only get them through our membership in the Church. And I’m not talking about some sort of ala carte membership but a committed one. I’m talking about a membership where we pray daily and nurture our friendship with the heavenly Father, where we worship Almighty God by coming to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days and by living right with God through faithfulness to the Ten Commandments and the other teachings of the gospel.

Down through the years and centuries, the Church has done an enormous amount of good for its members and the world at large. It is hardly necessary to elaborate on this: what it has done in the fields of education, health care, feeding the poor, etc. In latter times however we are all too painfully aware of the bad things that have happened in the Church, things that are a fundamental betrayal of its divine mission.

In today’s media – like coverage of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit – there is an almost exclusive focus on the bad things that have happened with little or no recognition of the good things that have happened. This can generate an unfair and inaccurate impression of the Church in our minds. Yet in spite of all the problems, the Church remains the means by which we are saved by Jesus. There is no PLAN B to what Jesus set up 2000 years ago when he entrusted his mission to the Apostles and their successors.

So in summary: On this Cemetery Sunday when we pause to reflect on the BIG PICTURE, we realise our absolute need to be saved from sin & death by Jesus. We should not allow the bad things that have happened in the Church to separate us from the sacraments and means of salvation. We should not throw out the baby with the bathwater!

In the intercessions / bidding prayers, as well as praying for all the dead, I prayed especially for the 200,000 aborted babies who never got the benefit of a burial and headstone. In the announcements after Mass I invited anybody who had lapsed and no longer walked with Jesus to contact me if they wished to recommit their lives to him.

GOSPEL  

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John          6:41-51
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.

The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven” ?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.

‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:I am the bread of life3
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
am the bread oflife.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead; .
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
am the bread oflife.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead; .
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.’

The Gospel of the Lord