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!

photo

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

 

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4th December.

This is Bishop Barron’s reflection on today’s gospel.CENTURION

Friends, today’s Gospel passage acclaims a centurion’s trust in the Lord Jesus. To trust is to have hope, to turn one’s heart to God. It means to root one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns in God. On the contrary, to trust and to turn one’s heart to human beings means to base the whole of one’s life in the things of this world, in wealth, fame, power, honor, or pleasure.

What is the center of gravity of your life? What is your “ultimate concern’”? The Bible consistently lays this out as an either/or. Think of the passage in the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?”

Jesus tells his followers, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that we each have to answer this question with great honesty and clarity.

 

3rd December – 1st Sunday of Advent (B)

This was my last weekend in the parish. I gave my parting homily and after the Leitir and Doochary Masses there was a reception and a presentation of gifts which was moving. Below are photos of some Doochary parishioners and an Irish Traditional music group who assembled for the occasion.

Doochary ParishionersIrish Trad

This was my homily – parting words.

Since I arrived some 3 years ago it has been my privilege to be your spiritual father. Upon reflection, my way of being a spiritual father is influenced in no small way by growing up with my own natural father who passed away this June.

He was keenly interested that all his children would TURN OUT RIGHT. This was a lot more important than winning the lottery or being a bigger farmer. Especially with my brother and me there was lots of advice: DO this… DON’T DO that. Guess what, I’m 55 years old and feel that I’m cut from the same mould!

In this my last weekend with you I want to make three points about what you should do and not do so that you too will turn out right – as Christians.

My first point is about understanding and valuing the great treasure of our faith, of believing in Jesus and his promises. Today’s gospel was all about staying spiritually awake and ready for our departure from this world (whenever it happens) and giving an account of our lives to Jesus.

If we have been faithful to Jesus we can all depart this world with the last words of St John Paul on our lips: I WILL GO TO MY FATHER’S HOUSE. Our lives are not meaningless and going nowhere. We came from God, journey through this world as his pilgrim children and then at the journey’s end, we return to the Father who made us for himself.

But if we are to believe in Jesus and his promises, we need to be able to ‘see’ him with the eyes of faith. We can’t stake our lives on Jesus if he is invisible to us. I’d like to illustrate what it is to see Jesus with the eyes of faith with the help of this visual aid.

Jesus Sign

[I showed a large version of this to the congregation. A few ‘saw’ Jesus initially and then as I talked them through, more and more where able to ‘tune-in’.]

Don’t worry if you don’t see Jesus as this is just a visual aid. The point I want to make however is that our capacity to ‘see’ Jesus through the eyes of faith depends on the inner light of the Holy Spirit in our minds. The Holy Spirit feels welcome within us when we live right with God or in the ‘state of grace’. When we commit grave sin we reject the Holy Spirit along with his sevenfold gifts.

So what is it to live right with God?

Most importantly we need to pray daily. If God is our Father, then like any other relationship we need to spend time with the person. I have said before that it would be difficult to come up with a valid excuse for not spending at least 20 minutes in daily prayer. Remember that our expectation is to spend all eternity with God.

We need to attend Holy Mass on Sundays/weekends except for a serious reason. Celebrating Mass was Jesus’ Last Will and Testament in the Last Supper: DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

Lastly we need to keep the Ten Commandments, God’s wise rules for loving him and our neighbour. As a pastor I feel compelled to highlight the challenge posed in today’s world by the Sixth Commandment: God’s gift of sexuality is strictly limited to a valid marriage between husband and wife and which is open to life.

The second main point I want to make is about what sacraments are and how we are to receive them worthily. The word ‘sacrament’ comes from the Roman Legion which supported the Roman Empire in the early Church. It was a sacred oath of fidelity that a new recruit would make to his commander.

Later the term ‘sacrament’ was borrowed by the Church to describe how a Christian gives his life to the Lord Jesus. At the same time, Jesus gives himself to us in what we call the New Covenant. This oath of fidelity is even more sacred than the oath taken in court when we put our hand on the Bible and promise to tell the truth in our testimony.

So to receive a sacrament – and particularly Holy Communion – truthfully, we need to be living right with God: namely, praying daily, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days and keeping the Ten Commandments. If we need to make a new start with Jesus in Confession, then we can receive a blessing instead at Holy Communion time.

My third and final point is about protecting the right to life of unborn children. The ONLY option in next year’s referendum that will block the legalisation of abortion is retaining the 8th Amendment. In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus said that whatever is done to the least of his brethren, he considers done to him. Most surely in today’s world, the unborn children deprived of their right to life are the least of these brethren.

In summary: The only thing that ultimately matter in life, the only thing that gives true meaning to our life is to believe in Jesus and his promises and to be faithful to him. If we do this, we can depart this world with the expectation of St John Paul’s Last Words: I WILL GO TO MY FATHER’S HOUSE.

 

2nd December. Memorial of Our Lady.

At the moment I’m doing the 33 day consecration to Our Lady. This is yesterday’s mediation from St John Paul II on what it is to have Mary as our spiritual mother. It is a bit long but worthwhile to appreciate the place that Jesus desires her to have in our lives.

immaculate-heart-of-mary

To begin, we need to go back to the foot of the Cross.

“Woman, behold, your son.” With these words, Jesus is

entrusting all of humanity to Mary’s motherly care. He’s making

her the spiritual mother of all. And as we learned yesterday, Mary

fully accepted this gift “with burning love.”

Next, Jesus speaks to John, the beloved disciple, who

represents all of us: “Behold, your mother.” Jesus is now giving

us a gift, the great gift of his mother as our spiritual mother. Do

we accept this gift? Yes. At least we’re trying to (otherwise, we

wouldn’t be making this retreat). But how do we accept it? This

is the crucial question.

According to Pope John Paul, the following Gospel text

tells us how we are to accept Mary as our spiritual mother,

“And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home”

(Jn 19:27). The Pope describes this action with one word:

“entrusting.” We see an example of this in the person of John,

who entrusted himself to Mary, who was herself entrusted to

John by Christ, “Behold, your mother.” John’s entrusting of

himself to Mary is his response to Christ’s command from the

Cross, but it’s not only that. It’s also a response to Mary’s

“burning love” for us: “entrusting is the response to a person’s

love, and in particular to the love of a mother.” John Paul goes

on to describe the nature of this entrusting of oneself to Mary:

Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the

Christian, like the Apostle John, “welcomes” the

Mother of Christ “into his own home” and brings her

into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to

say into his human and Christian “I”: he “took her to

his own home.” Thus the Christian seeks to be taken

into that “maternal charity” with which the Redeemer’s

Mother “cares for the brethren of her Son,” “in

whose birth and development she cooperates” in the

measure of the gift proper to each one through the

power of Christ’s Spirit. Thus also is exercised that

motherhood in the Spirit which became Mary’s role

at the foot of the Cross and in the Upper Room.98

This entrusting of oneself to Mary, which the Pope

beautifully describes as taking her “into one’s own home,” should

be understood as our following of Christ’s own example — he

first entrusted himself to Mary at the Annunciation and then

throughout the Hidden Life — and as his will for his disciples.

After all, he himself initiates such entrustment, “Behold, your

mother.” But why does Christ do this? Is it that he wants to

distance himself from us? No. He’s bringing us closer to himself

by giving us to the one who is closest to him, the same one who

directs everything to him, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Mary wants to act upon all those who entrust themselves

to her as children. “And it is well known,” says the Pope, “that

the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the

nearer Mary leads them to the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’”99

Again, this is so both because of the unique closeness of Mary

to Christ and because of her special role of bringing others into

the intimacy she shares with him.

Tomorrow, we’ll see how this closeness of Mary to Christ,

particularly in his consecration of himself for our sake, helps us

make our own consecration to Christ. This is the whole

purpose behind why we entrust ourselves to Mary: It’s so she

can bring us even closer to Christ through her powerful prayers

and motherly love.

1st December.

poorThe importance of last Sunday’s gospel of the Final Judgement – the parable of the Goats and the Sheep – is hard to over estimate. Basically whatever we do to the poor, especially the poorest of the poor, is what we do for Jesus. Thus the biggest error we can make in life is turn a blind eye to the plight of those who may need our help – our time, money and gifts. As Martin Luther King said “Our lives begin to end the day we decide to remain silent [or inactive] about something that matters.”

One practical measure we can take is to set up a monthly standing order with our bank to donate to a pro-life or poverty charity. In this way we can move towards the Gandhi principle of “Live simply so that others can simply live.”

In a recent article, Fr Ron Rolheiser says that we lose our decency when we ignore the plight of the poor. Strong words! Here is a relevant excerpt from the article. If you want to read it in full, click on this link. http://ronrolheiser.com/a-threat-to-our-decency/#.WiGf_tJl-t8

Jesus tells us that in the end we will be judged on how we dealt with the poor in our lives, but there are already dangers now, in this life, in not reaching out to the poor

Here’s how Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy, teases out that danger: “I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we condemn others.”

What needs to be highlighted here is what we do to ourselves when we don’t reach out in compassion to the poor.  We corrupt our own decency. As Stevenson puts it: An absence of compassion corrupts our decency – as a state, as a church, as family, and as individuals. How so?

St. Augustine teaches that we can never be morally neutral, either we are growing in virtue or falling into vice.  We never have the luxury of simply being in some neutral, holding state. There’s no moral neutrality.  Either we are growing in virtue or sliding into virtue’s opposite. That’s true for all of life. A thing is either growing or it’s regressing.

 

30th November – Feast of St Andrew, Apostle.

This is special feast for me as Andrew is my baptismal name and St Andrew is my advocate in living out my baptismal promises.

holy spirit 5How do we measure the quality of our Christian living? A good place to start is the fruits of the Holy Spirit which featured in the reading from today’s Midafternoon Prayer (Brievary). Ponder prayerfully the following passage whilst applying it to your life. It may lead you to make a new resolution and ask the Holy Spirit’s grace in some particular area of your daily living.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh [died to worldly living] with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Gal 5:22-25

 

29th November.

This is the gospel of the day and commentary from the Bishops’ website.

GOSPEL                                   

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke            21:12-19
You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost.

cross surrender

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

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Gospel Reflection     Wednesday           Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time             Luke 21:12-19

The gospel reading this morning reflects the reality of life for many Christians at the time that the gospels were written. Bearing witness to Jesus and to his values in that culture meant being put on trial by religious and political authorities, leading to imprisonment and, sometimes, to death. It often meant the experience of betrayal by family members and closest friends. It was bearing witness to one’s faith publicly which brought all this negativity upon oneself. It was possible to keep one’s faith private in those times, and to live a reasonably undisturbed life. Yet, authentic faith is always public. Our relationship with the Lord may be very personal to each of us, but it can never be relegated to a purely private sphere. Our relationship with the Lord is to be the most important relationship in our lives. If that is so, it will impact publicly on all our other relationships, on everything we say and do. We don’t just keep the faith in some kind of private space; we live the faith in a public way. That will never be easy, in any culture. Yet, the Lord assures us in today’s gospel reading that he will give us the resources we need to enable us to witness to our faith when it is difficult to do so. His enduring presence to us will make it possible for us to endure.
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The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONSTo know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
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