18th March – Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)

This is a photo of a parish group who today prayed the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for the protection of the unborn. We gathered at the site where the local patron St Naul is said to have first met St Colmcille, one of Ireland’s most renown missionaries in the mid 6th century. What you can see are the ruins of a 15th century Franciscan abbey.

St Naul abbey pro life

Here is my homily for today.

Earlier on in Lent I said that this special season isn’t primarily about giving up chocolate biscuits and getting ashes on our foreheads. Rather it is a time of conversion, a renewal of our faith, a re-focusing of lives on Jesus and his gospel. I also said that to help us in this regard we commit ourselves to the 3 practices mentioned in the gospel of Ash Wednesday: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

As good as prayer, fasting and alms-giving are, they are only a means to an end, they are not ends in themselves. So when our faith is renewed, what will it be, what type of relationship will we have with God?

jesus-sacrifice-covenantThe principal word from the Bible that describes our intended relationship with God is COVENANT. Salvation history is a long series of covenants that God made with his people. What is a covenant? We get a good sense of what COVENANT is about from marriage where two parties – husband and wife – belong to each other, live a common life of intimacy and friendship. In the first reading today we heard a prophecy of a NEW covenant that God would establish with his people:  “the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah… Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people… I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind.”

This promise of a new covenant which occurred about 600BC in the time of the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is mentioned specifically by Jesus in the Last Supper and we hear the words each time we attend Mass: “This is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, that will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.” Our entry point into this covenant was baptism when we were received into the family of God and were grafted onto the Body of Christ.

When we consider this very special type of relationship, one of the first qualities that comes to mind is faithfulness. The response to today’s psalm was “A PURE HEART create for me O Lord.” We all know too well that because of our frail human nature, that we are never 100% faithful to anything in our lives. So what do we do when we are unfaithful to this covenant? This was predicted and answered in what was said as we received our ashes: REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL. We refocus our lives on Christ and his gospel by going to confession.

The main point I want to make today is that this repenting and confession should be a really big part of our Lent and preparation for Easter and thus restore the purity of our heart. To this end, please consider this beautiful quote of Pope Francis: “In Confession, Jesus welcomes us with all our sinfulness, to give us a new heart, capable of loving as he does.”

Of course, this type of transforming confession doesn’t happen by accident. It calls for a sincere and thorough preparation: we need to invoke the Holy Spirit to shine his light within us, pointing out any blocks there may be to a true love of God and neighbour. As one modern Act of Contrition puts it: Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again.

Here in Ardaghey, confession is available after all weekend Masses. Furthermore next Sunday I will be present in the Confessional from 4-5pm if anybody would like to come in more anonymously. If there is anything else I can do to help you with this beautiful and important sacrament, please let me know. Don’t worry if it has been a long time since your last confession. Just say when you start: “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been –  2,5,10 or whatever years – since my last confession.” If you don’t know where to go from there, just ask for help. Making a general confession is to be commended at least a few times in our lives. In this instance, one does a detailed examination of one’s life with respect to the Ten Commandments and brings to the Lord whatever failures there may have been. Any priest is also happy to help with this. There are many helps to this on the internet. Just Google CATHOLIC EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE.

In Summary: To renew our faith this Lent is to renew our covenant friendship with God. Making a good confession – preceded by a sincere examination of our lives – is key to this.


17th March – St Patrick’s Day.

Today is of course the feast day of St Patrick. I present below part of an address of Archbishop Eamon Martin (Archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland) for the occasion. You may also like to listen to Rita Connolly sing St Patrick’s Breastplate (aka The Deer’s Cry) which tells us much about St Patrick’s personal spirituality.

As we reflect on Saint Patrick’s life and mission in the Year of Mercy, we remember Patrick’s deep personal sense of God’s mercy and his desire to spread that mercy to others.  In bringing the message of Christianity he was sustained by his friendship with God the Father and a profound sense of Christ’s presence surrounding him – so eloquently expressed in the beautiful prayer: Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.  Following the example of Patrick, I call on Irish people, at home and abroad: open yourselves up to a personal friendship with Christ and to an experience of God’s mercy in your lives.  This experience will change your life, as it did for Saint Patrick, and it will  inspire you, in turn, to reach out in mercy and charity to those who are suffering and in need.

Rita Connolly singing St Patrick’s Breastplate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIECtoNQ4M

16th March.

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


A reading from the holy Gospel according to John       7:1-2. 10. 25-30
They would have arrested him then, but his time had not yet come.

Jesus stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea because the Jews were out to kill him.

As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, Jesus went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself.

Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’
Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:

‘Yes, you know me and you know where I came from.
Yet I have not come of myself:
no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him,
and you do not know him,
but I know him
because I have come from him
and it was he who sent me.’

They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.

The Gospel of the Lord

Gospel Reflection            Friday                Fourth Week of Lent         John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

In the gospel reading, Jesus speaks of himself as the one whom God has sent. ‘There is one who sent me and I really came from him’. He goes on to claim that because he came from God, he knows God. ‘I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me’. It is only Jesus who can make the claim to know God, because it is only Jesus who, according to this fourth gospel, was with God in the beginning, who came from God to earth and who remains close to the Father’s heart while on earth. It is Jesus who is uniquely placed to make God known. ‘No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known’ (Jn. 1:18). It is because Jesus is the only one who can make God fully known that he is at the centre of our faith. We all have a deep desire to see and know God. In this fourth gospel, Philip speaks for us all when he says to Jesus, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied’ (Jn. 14:8). On that occasion, Jesus had to remind Philip, ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’. Jesus shows us the face of God because he is God in human form. If Jesus shows us the face of God, it is above all the gospels that show us the face of Jesus. The gospels are our bread of life because there we meet Jesus who reveals the God who alone can satisfy our deepest hungers.


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 http://www.messenger.ie/bookshop/



15th March.

Fr. Brady Williams, SOLT shares a reflection on the gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent. He reminds us that the truth is that we are the dear children of God, and we are called to live in the light of that truth daily.


fr brady


14th March.

judgementThis is today’s gospel followed by commentary by Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries.

Gospel JN 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”


Friends, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus as the judge who shows mercy and love. It is hard to read any two pages of the Bible—Old Testament or New—and not find the language of divine judgment.

Think of judgment as a sort of light, which reveals both the positive and the negative. Beautiful things look even more beautiful when the light shines on them; ugly things look even uglier when they come into the light. When the divine light shines, when judgment takes place, something like real love is unleashed.

Someone might avoid seeing the doctor for years, fearful that he will uncover something diseased or deadly. But how much better it is to open your life to him, even when he pronounces a harsh “judgment” on your physical condition!

And this is why judgment is the proper activity of a king. It is not the exercise of arbitrary power, but rather an exercise of real love, helping us towards goodness in this life and in the life to come.



13th March.

Today I conducted the funeral Mass of parishioner Pat Lynch. For the opening of my homily I referred to the headstone of Fr John McLoone, former priest of a neighbouring parish. It contains a wonderful expression of our Christian hope in the face of mortality.


photo (4)As Christians we need not fear death as the final end of our existence. We have been rescued from the clutches of eternal oblivion by the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As we heard in last Sunday’s gospel  “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.”

Spend a few minutes reflecting on Fr John’s epitaph.



12th March.

st.-joseph-300x209I am remiss in not mentioning the nine day novena prayer to St Joseph. Ideally it should have started on Saturday but if one starts today, then it will finish on March 20th. Better late than never! More than that, the timing of such prayers – when we start and when we finish – is not that important. What is important is that we pray and that we do so with faith. St. Joseph is a powerful patron. He is, as John Paul II called him, the Guardian of the Redeemer. He humbly accepted his role as guardian, husband and father in the Holy Family. Therefore, St. Joseph’s intercession has been sought for centuries. St. Joseph was clearly very close to our Lord and so we come to him with this novena with a sense of humility because of his great humility.

If you decide to do this novena, you can refer back to this blog for the 9 days.

St. Joseph Novena Prayers

Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I come to you as an example for holiness, for you are especially close with God. Therefore, I humbly commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, pray for me to have a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request)

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

Day 1 – St. Joseph Most Just, Pray for us!
Day 2 – St. Joseph Most Prudent, Pray for us!
Day 3 – St. Joseph Most Loving Husband, Pray for us!
Day 4 – St. Joseph Most Strong, Pray for us!
Day 5 – St. Joseph Most Obedient, Pray for us!
Day 6 – St. Joseph Most Faithful, Pray for us!
Day 7 – St. Joseph Pillar of Families, Pray for us!
Day 8 – St. Joseph Patron of the Dying, Pray for us!
Day 9 – St. Joseph Terror of Demons, Pray for us!


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.