Gardener of life, form us …
Vine of life,
in Your branches we are nestled taking shelter and sustenance in the shade of Your strength.
With thanksgiving we celebrate the growth and hope we have found in placing our roots in You,
for in life You nourish us and Your Holy Spirit encourages us
to reach our full potential in the gifts we have been given
that others may know of Your love.
Lord, make us more than sour grapes and unripe olives.
In the hardships of the world
may we look beyond the bitter politics and divisions to find Your love
at the core of our relationships.
There may all people work with what we have in common
that we might grow to be a people of respect and trust.
May our branches bow with the weight of the fruit you have bestowed.
Help us to look beyond our own needs, to recognise those
who are hungry for food, love and justice.
May we offer others the shelter needed under the weight of Your branches
so they find a rest from the cold and darkness,
the hatred and loneliness of this world.
Instead may Your Spirit enable us to value the gifts and talents of all.
May our leaves soak up Your light.
When we meet those who are worn down with illness, loneliness, grief and abandonment,
may the light of Your presence shine in the encounters they have with others
that all might know Your compassion.
Gardener of all life, as You trim and shape us for Your purpose
may we place our prayers into Your hands and trust that new seeds may grow
from tired and empty thoughts.
HEALING THE WOUNDS OF THE HEART
All of us are wounded by sin.
The part of us which is most deeply damaged by sin is the heart.
The heart is so beautiful, so innocent,
but it can be betrayed, scorned and broken.
Darkness of the heart is the blackest night of all.
Emptiness of the heart is the greatest poverty of all.
A heavy heart is the most wearisome burden of all.
A broken heart is the most painful wound of all.
Only love can heal the wounds of the heart.
Lord, send your Holy Spirit to us,
to heal the wounds of our hearts,
so that we may produce the fruits of love.
A thanksgiving prayer; Prayer of Saint Boniface
Eternal God, the refuge and help of all your children,
we praise you for all you have given us,
for all you have done for us,
for all that you are to us.
In our weakness, you are strength,
in our darkness, you are light,
in our sorrow, you are comfort and peace.
We cannot number your blessings,
we cannot declare your love:
For all your blessings we bless you.
May we live as in your presence,
and love the things that you love,
and serve you in our daily lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
written by St. Boniface (ca. 672-754)
The Miracle of Fatima
On October 13, 1917, tens of thousands of people gathered near a small Portuguese village to witness the fulfilment of Our Lady's promise.
"More than fifty thousand devout, sceptical, and curious people gathered at the Cova, and those watching from afar, experienced something overwhelmingly miraculous. …
First, the rain stopped abruptly, and the sun grew luminously brighter. The sun started to spin and shoot beams of light, causing everything to turn different colours. But it was not a rainbow that people were seeing. The sun increased in size as if it were being hurled towards the earth. People felt sure that there was no escaping death at this point and dropped to their knees praying fervently and crying out to God for forgiveness. Even the sceptical and cynical suddenly found reason to pray."
How the Miracle of the Sun dazzled the sceptics
THOUGHT: There is no man that lives who does not need to be drilled, disciplined, and developed into something higher and nobler and better than he is by nature. Life is one prolonged birth.
Henry Ward Beecher
“You duped me, Lord. You tricked me, coerced me, seized and overpowered me. You were too strong for me. You won and I lost. Now I’m a laughingstock. Everyone mocks me, makes fun of me all day long.”
THOUGHT: The Kingdom of Heaven the way God wants the world, a world of peace, justice, and love is the good seed.
The darnel is the sin of the world, selfishness, insincerity, arrogance, judging and criticising. Each of us has sin and grace, darnel and wheat in our lives, Lord you said "let them both grow till harvest". We thank you for the patience, love and mercy you have given to us so that we can grow in your goodness. Lord help us to wait patiently for each other trusting only in Your judgement.
Jul 12 2017 ; Bloom Where You’re Planted
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), archbishop of Geneva, was known for his wirings on spiritual direction and his gentle approach in dealing with conflicts resulting from the protestant reformation. He encouraged Christians to “Bloom where you are planted.” There’s a Gaelic proverb that says “Faraway hills are greener.” So often we don’t bloom where we’re planted because we think the grass is greener somewhere else and therefore feel we’d be much more effective if we were there. More often than not the reality is that when we go the where we think the grass is greener we find that it’s not as green as we imagined it would be. The reason the grass is greener on the other side is because someone keeps it watered and manured. Perhaps the grass where we are isn’t green because we’re not watering or nourishing it!
To bloom where we’re planted requires the proper nutrients to keep us healthy and working together so that we can be productive human beings wherever we’re located, despite the obstacles. Human productivity requires not just a body but also a soul that’s well nourished. That nourishment comes through letting God’s Word take root in our heart. God’s Word enlightens, inspires, purifies, and enlivens us to be continuously fruitful. He reveals, “For just as from the heavens the rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Is 55:10-11) This revelation was fulfilled in the Person of Jesus – the Word-made-flesh. Jesus was reinforced the necessity of God’s word when He instructed His followers to, “Live on in me, as I do in you. No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:4-5)
God plants His Word in us so that it can bloom in our soul and make us bearers and witnesses to His truth that sets us free to be productive men and women. An American writer, Herbert Agar, noted that “The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” Without embracing God’s Word in our heart through union with Jesus, as a branch is attached to the vine, Christians won’t be able to persevere in witnessing to God’s truth where they are. The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, wrote in the 19th century that truth passes through three stages, first, it’s ridiculed; second, it’s violently opposed; and third, it’s accepted as being self-evident. To reach the third stage the truth needs bearers and witnesses who persevere in promoting it. That’s made possibly only by letting God’s Word take root in our heart.
Jesus identifies four basic attitudes toward God’s word and describes them in the Parable of the Sower. (My 13:1-23) God sows His word through Jesus’ Church and calls each of us to receive it. When the Holy Spirit invites our spirit to receive God’s Word what kind of reception will He get? Will we be like a footpath hostile to the Word? Will we act like stony ground giving the Word little chance to grow and therefore quickly abandoned? Will we be like a briar patch occupied with worldly worry, busyness, and the lure of money that chokes God’s Word? Or will our spirit be receptive to God’s Word with openness, gratitude, and humility letting it possess our heart where it takes root and enables us to bloom where we’re planted so that we can beautify, purify, magnify, and deify our neighbourhood and our world?
God is the Planter and we’re the recipients of His seed – His Word. We determine the kind of recipients we are. It’s our choice to respond to the seed of God’s word like footpaths, stony ground, briar patches, or rich soil. God has given us ears, eyes, and a heart to receive His Word. But we must accept that letting God’s Word root itself deeply in our heart is necessary for our productivity as human beings. If we don’t, we’ll listen to other voices and rely on other means to bloom in our surroundings. However, those other voices and means won’t only prevent us from blooming but they’ll cause us to wither and die. Therefore, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near.” (Is 55:6) When you seek the Lord in His Church that proclaims His Word and His presence in her Sacraments, where He’s near to you and wants to be in your heart, then you’ll definitely bloom where you’re planted and won’t waste your time wishing you were somewhere else. “God has placed you here for a purpose/ Whatever it might be;/ Know He has chosen you for it/ And labour faithfully” (Anon) There’s no one in the wrong place to serve God if he or she chooses. (frsos)
Jul 19 2017
Mercy + Justice: Essential for Humanity
St. Thomas Aquinas noted that “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; justice without mercy is cruelty.” Mercy reflects compassion, kindness, or pity for an offender. By itself, mercy is the “mother of dissolution” because it lets the offender avoid having to make restitution for the crime. It stamps the wrong with a perceived seal of approval that causes the victim to seek revenge thereby causing more wrongs which results in the dissolution of order in society. Justice is about conforming to truth, fact, law, or reason. It’s about what a person or community deserves. By itself, justice tends to be cruel, like Shakespeare’s Shylock demanding his pound of flesh. Mercy and justice must partner each other to preserve the dignity of the person, whether offender or victim. Justice and mercy aren’t opposed because their goal is the same, namely and expression of love for the preservation of the dignity of the human person.
God is both just and merciful toward us. The inspired author of Wisdom proclaims, “There is no God but You who have the care of all … for Your might is the source of justice … Your mastery over all things makes You lenient to all …You rebuke temerity ... judge with clemency … You gave your children ground for hope that you would permit forgiveness of their sins.” (Wis 12:13, 16-19) He revealed that “those who are just must be kind to their fellowman.” (Wis:12:19) God combines justice with mercy and commands you and me to do likewise if we’re to be His children. God reveals what He is like and what it means to be like Him through the Psalmist: “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon You … You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity. Turn toward me and have pity on me; give Your strength to Your servant.” (Ps 86:5, 15-16) We focus more on God’s mercy than His justice. But mercy calls for justice because to be merciful is to give the offender another chance to change and act justly. We must know what’s just before mercy can have any meaning. That’s why God gave us His Commandments first and then sent Jesus with His gift of forgiveness.
Some of us tend more toward justice while others lean towards mercy. Why is it so difficult for us to be both just and merciful simultaneously? We tend to be more judgmental than merciful because we focus more on “the splinter in the other’s eye rather than on the plank in our own.” (Mt 7:5). We emphasize punishment over rehabilitation. Our fallen nature seeks to avenge offenses rather than redeem the offender. I’ve often heard people wish that offenders would “fry” in the electric chair or “rot” in jail? Without mercy our cry for justice is a cover-up for revenge or anger ventilation. Feelings of self-righteousness – a “better than thou” mentality dismisses mercy. Hence justice needs mercy and mercy needs justice to keep each other balanced.
Jesus told the parable of the Sower (Mt 13:24ff) to teach His Apostles that the solution to ridding the wheat crop of weeds is to let both reach full maturity and then gather the weeds in separate bundles for burning. Their immediate plan to get rid of the weeds before maturity risked pulling up the wheat as well. Upright people in the name of justice want to get rid of those whom they judge to be “bad”. But Jesus warned that when you set out to destroy “bad” people you risk destroying the “good” as well. You can only get rid of evil by developing and promoting the good – what is of God. Justice condemns evil actions but mercy reaches out to offenders calling them to repentance and make restitution by giving them opportunities to make up for the damage they caused and live upright lives. As someone said, “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill becomes the rest of us to be judge and jury on any of us.”
Jesus is “the Judge of the living and the dead.” (2 Tim 4:1) Each of us will be judged by Him “according to his deeds.” (Rom 6:2:6-11) Jesus is the only one who can judge us because He is the only one who knows what’s in our heart. “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) While we can’t judge a person we must judge his or her actions as good or bad according to Jesus’ commandments. Mercy keeps us conscious that no one is the sum total of any action. Every person is capable of good, and it’s our job to bring out that good in him or her. In all our judgments we must remember that to be just we must be merciful and to be merciful we must be just. “Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him … Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” (Ps 85:10-11) In calling people to the truth we must be merciful, and true justice always leads to peace. (frsos)
TEN SECOND SERMONS
A person’s character is like a fence –it cannot be strengthened by whitewash. The best time for you to hold your tongue is when you feel you must speak or burst. Remember the tortoise only makes headway when he sticks his neck out. The man who waits for something to turn up finds his toes do it first. Common sense is instinct; enough of it is genius.
Credit makes cheap things dear. The Saints are the sinners who keep on trying. A good memory is needed once we have lied.
If people look up to you it does not mean you should look down on them.
PRACTISING OUR CHRISTAN FAITH
What is Christ asking of us in this weekend’s Gospel? That we leave our jobs, rush out and get involved in a whirlwind of good works? I don’t think so. Rather I believe He wants us simply to practise our Christianity not just in Church but out there in the real world in whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in. All the more so if by reason of our position we happen to be situated on some ‘hilltop’ where all can see us and where people look to us for light and not for darkness. Allow me to explain with some examples:
IF I’M A POLITICIAN, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I work for the good of the country and not just for my own good. A corrupt politician has a lot to answer for, but then a good politician can bring a lot of light into the lives of ordinary people.
IF I’M A GARDA, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I would uphold the law and enforce it fairly and that I would not try to bend it or break it myself.
IF I’M AN EMPLOYER, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I would pay a fair wage and create decent working conditions for my employees. People who are doing this are shedding a lot of light around them.
IF I’M A WORKER, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I know my job and try to do it to the best of my ability.
IF I’M A REPORTER, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I deal in facts not in half-truths, gossip and lies.
IF I’M A SHOPKEEPER OR BUSINESS PERSON, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I do not overcharge and that I give value for money.
IF I’M A TEACHER WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I teach well, and that I refrain from showing favouritism. If I show favouritism, then I bring light to some and darkness to others. If a Christian teacher should show any kind of favouritism, it should be towards the children who need learning support.
IF I’M A PARENT, WHAT DO MY CHILDREN EXPECT OF ME?
That I am at home and that I take more interest in them than in my career or overdoing the socialising.
IF I’M A PRIEST, WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
That I would practise what I preach and I am guided by Church teaching. And so the list can go on and on as how best to practise our Christianity. How we can be ‘salt’ and how we can be ‘light’ among those we come in contact with daily. The Gospel is about quality of life or goodness. But my goodness must not be a put-on thing in which I seek to bring glory to myself. Every Parish in Ireland needs Christians who remain Christians. I am blessed and delighted to live and work in a Parish that has many good Christians.
Drug trade is a “callous trade in death”
The drug trade is a ruthless trade in ruining lives, a callous trade in death, the Archbishop of Dublin said at a service held annually to remember those who have died from substance misuse and related causes.
“It is a ruthless and cynical and diabolic trade which has no respect for any life. It thrives on destroying the lives of the weakest, whether of those who fall into abuse or those who they trap into becoming agents of their despicable trade.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was speaking at the 18th Service of Commemoration and Hope in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Sean McDermott Street on Wednesday 1 February.
While remembering those who have died from substance abuse, the multidenominational annual service also offers hope to families still struggling with addiction or in recovery.
Addressing these families, the Archbishop of Dublin spoke of his great enjoyment each year when he celebrates the Sacrament of Confirmation in Sean McDermott Street Church. “At Confirmation you see young boys and girls at their best,” he said. “Their smiles portray how proud they are of themselves and of their families and of their school. It is wonderful to see real hope in their faces.”
Nothing made Archbishop Martin so sad and angry as “to see the hope of a young boy and girl robbed and be slowly destroyed through them falling victim to substance abuse. Their youthful smile becomes replaced by a despairing stare. Their hope is replaced by a tragic trap which despite all their efforts they find it harder and harder to break out of without a helping community.”
But he added, nothing touched his heart as much as “trying to imagine what it means to a young person to experience the freedom that comes with recovery, to be their true selves once again”.
He said “We are here to show any young person who becomes trapped in addiction that there still is hope as we let them know that there is a helping hand willing to pick them up – no matter how many times they fall – and help them along the difficult path to recovery.”
But the Archbishop of Dublin had a warning, from the words of Jesus, for those who ruin the lives of the young: “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
He told those present at the service that “Those who trade in death bring that condemnation on themselves rendering themselves despicable.”
He continued: “We gather to speak words of hope. We remember those who have died. They went through hard times but their loved ones remember them for the goodness that always remained there hidden within their troubled lives.
“We speak words of hope and support to the young people of this community who are our hope and we commit ourselves to carry them in our hearts and our helping hands that they can realise their hopes and go through life with those smiles of hope.”
The Annual Service of Commemoration of Hope was organised by the National Family Support Network in Dublin’s North Inner City. This self-help organisation supports family support groups and and raises awareness of the difficulties faced by families in coping with drug use while recognising their important role in supporting the recovery of the drug-using family member. It was established in 2000 following the first Service of Commemoration and Hope.
Its membership consists of representatives of family support groups, individual family members and those working directly with families of drug users across the island of Ireland.
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INTERESTING STATISTICS FROM LISTOWEL PARISH. FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Baptisms 84 69 72 70 69
Confirmation 83 88 64 81 75
Marriages 19 14 10 17 16
Funerals 52 71 64 71 48
DEFOMATION ACT 2009:
Publication or utterance of Blasphemous matter. Section 36 of the Act is a criminal offence and states:
36 (1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.
THOUGHT: You save an old man and you save a unit; but save a boy, and you save a multiplication table. Gypsy Smith.
A team of astronomers have used the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope to image the first planet ever found in a wide orbit inside a triple-star system. The orbit of such a planet had been expected to be unstable, probably resulting in the planet being quickly ejected from the system. But somehow this one survives. This unexpected observation suggests that such systems may actually be more common than previously thought. The results will be published online in the journal Science on 7 July 2016.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – NO TIME FOR CRITICISM OF OTHERS
To forget past mistakes and press on to greater achievements.
To make our work a real joy.
To spent so much time improving yourself that you haven’t time for criticism for others.
To be kind to all.
To take every disappointment as a stimulant.
To talk and walk with God.
THOUGHT: Many times in life we are faced with the reality of our vulnerability and brokenness. For various different reasons we carry a cross upon our shoulder. We get weighed down by the drudgery and the endless struggle and we can see no light at the end of the tunnel. But even in these times of trouble and worry we are being consoled and carried by the God who knows each and every one of us by name. We are not alone....Margaret Theresa Naughton.
THOUGHT: The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured. Rick Warren
Pray devoutly, but hammer stoutly. W. G. Benham
When we lift our voice in worship and the devil loses his! Seth Dahl
If somebody writes a great poem, people don't run around applauding the pencil, saying 'Oh, what a great pencil," I'm a pencil in God's hands. Keith Green
Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy desire,--that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.
Thomas a Kempis
"Where is God? Where can I find him?" we ask. We don't realize that's like a fish swimming frantically through the ocean in search of the ocean. Ted Dekker
Unholy tempers are always unhappy tempers. John Wesley
Life is a story in volumes three,
The Past - - the Present - - - and yet to be
The first is finished and laid away,
The second we are living day by day,
The third and last of the volumes three,
Is locked from sight, God keep the keys.
CHRIST IS THE HEAD.
Christ is the head of this house,
The unseen guest at every meal
And the silent listener to every conversation.
RECIPE FOR CONTENTMENT
“Those who don’t have what they like.
Must learn to like what they have”.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
Chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
A house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, Brings peace for today,
And creates a vision for tomorrow. (Melody Beattie )
Fr. Henri Nouwen has a delightful book entitled “MAKING ALL THINGS NEW”, he points out that worrying is a major hindrance of Spiritual Growth. I quote; “One of the most notable characteristics of worrying is that it fragments our lives. With many things to do, to think about, to plan for, the many people to remember to visit, or to talk with, the many causes to attack or defend, all these pull us apart and make us loose our centre. Worrying causes us to be “all over the place”, but seldom at home. One way to express the Spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address, but cannot be found there. We know where we belong but we keep being pulled away in many directions, as it we were still homeless”.
The English Catholic historian, Lord Acton, stated that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The word ‘power’ comes from the Latin and means having the ability to act. The Greek ‘dynamis’ gives us the English word ‘dynamic.’ No person wants to be powerless or helpless. Power and authority usually go hand-in-hand. Authority is the right to say or do something. One without the other is either ineffective or destructive. Power is abused when exercised without authority. Some people seem to think that the Golden Rule means “Them that has the gold makes the rules.” As human beings, inheriting a fallen nature, our use of power to do what we want can easily tend to corrupt our thinking and our choices because of our tendency to selfishness, sin. This is why we need to understand where power comes from and who authorizes us to use it.
In His exchange with Pilate, Jesus identified God as the source of all power. Using his power and authority as a Roman Governor, Pilate, threatened Jesus, “Do you not know I have the power to release you and the power to crucify you?” Jesus replied: “You would have no power over me whatever unless it were given you from above.” (Jn 19:10) As the Creator, all power comes from God. Christians acknowledge this in the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer: “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and for ever. Amen.” It’s God who gives us the ability to change. But it’s not change for the sake of change, but the power to make life more liveable, loving and hopeful for everyone. No one wants to change things for the worse. Even when people make changes that are bad, they see them as good for themselves. That’s why we need a vision of what is truly good so we can use our power for everyone’s good.
Jesus brought us this vision that was lost through Adam and Eve’s sin. He came to show us that since only God is good, He alone decides what is real, true, good, and beautiful. Jesus taught His disciples that true power is exercised in serving others, not in making others our servants. “Let the greater among you be as the junior, the leader as the servant.” (Lk 22:26) Power must be used to make things better especially for the weakest, poorest, and most dependent among us. “You know how those who exercise authority among the pagans lord it over them. Their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest, and whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all.” (Mt 20:25-26)
Since all power comes from God, we depend on Him for power. Jesus invited Peter to participate in His power and authority when He asked him three times, “Do you love me more than these?” Each time Peter declared his love, Jesus authorized and empowered him to, “Feed my lambs; Tend my sheep; and Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:15-17) What Jesus asks of us He empowers us to accomplish. After His resurrection Jesus appeared to seven disciples on the lake shore. They were fishing but caught nothing. Jesus said to them, “Cast your net off to the right side of the boat and you will find something.” (Jn 21:6) They did and the nets were filled with fish. God’s power always accompanies God’s will. After Jesus’ Ascension Peter and his fellow Apostles exercised their power and authority from Jesus in the signs and wonders they performed in service to the sick and those searching for the truth. Their authority was challenged by the Jewish leaders who forbade them to teach in Jesus’ name. Peter responded, “Better for us to obey God than men.” (Acts 5:29) They knew that Jesus’ authority and power superseded human power since humans are dependent on God for their authority and power.
We all want power because we need to be able to change things for the better. The song, “Let there be Peace on Earth” has the line, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” If we want to change the world we must begin with our self. If I change myself, my world will automatically change. The world is made up of the worlds of each of us. But in order for change to be effective we need the kind of power that effects change that is good for all of us. That power comes from God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Every day we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the ability to change our thinking, choosing and acting in order to focus on serving rather than on being served. This is how we participate in Jesus power to bring the world back to His Heavenly Father. Thus we make sure our use of power perfects us rather than corrupts us. (frsos)
Just a Thought
Having begun a New Year, for many it is a time to make new year resolutions and reflect a little on our lives. Give time to the lonely and elderly … Seek out a forgotten friend … Share some treasure .. Give a soft answer .. Encourage youth … Apologise if you were wrong .. Try to understand .. Be kind .. Be gentle … Laugh a little .. Laugh a little more … Express gratitude… Pray .. Go to Mass .. Mend a quarrel.. Welcome the stranger .. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth .. Thus may our celebration of our Mass be a real expression of Christian community living. Speak your love .. speak it again And allow the Child King to fill your heart with Christmas joy throughout 2016.
THOUGHT: I may never see tomorrow, there’s no written guarantee.
And things that happened yesterday belong to history.
I cannot predict the future, I cannot change the past
I have just the present moment, I must treat it as my last.
I must use this moment wisely for it soon will pass away,
And be lost to me forever as a part of yesterday.
I must exercise compassion, help the fallen to their feet.
Be a friend unto the friendless, make an empty life complete
The unkind things I do today may never be undone
And friendships that I failed to win may never more be won
I may not have another chance, on bended knee to pray
and thank God with humble heart for giving me this day
LINCOLN DIDN’T QUIT
THE SENSE OF OBLIGATION TO CONTINUE IS PRESENT IN ALL OF US. A DUTY TO STRIVE IS THE DUTY OF US ALL. I FELT A CALL TO THAT DUTY”, ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Probably the great example of persistence is the late Abraham Lincoln. If you want to learn about somebody who didn’t quit, look no further. He was born into poverty, and was faced with defeat throughout his life. He lost 18 elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown. He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the U.S.A.
Lincoln was a champion and he never gave up. This is a sketch of Lincoln’s road to the White House.
1816 His family were forced out of their home and Abraham Lincoln to had to work to support them
1831 His Mum died
1831 Failed in business
1832 Ran for state legislature – Lost also lost his job, wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in
1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year was bankrupted. He spent the next 17 years paying off this debt.
1834 Ran for state legislative again - Won
1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died suddenly and his heart was broken
1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for nine months
1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – Defeated
1840 Sought to before elector – Defeated
1843 Ran for Congress – Lost
1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won, went to Washington and did an excellent job
1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – Lost
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state - Rejected
1854 Ran for the Senate – Lost
1856 Sought the Vice – Presidential nomination at convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858 Ran for Senate again – and once again he lost
1860 Elected President of the United States
After his very many defeats and all the elections Abraham lost, he had a special few lines that kept him focused and ready to re-start. These are his own words, and maybe they might just help all of us too not to quit. “The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other one out of my way, but I recovered and said to myself “it’s a slip and not a fall”.
THOUGHT: Helping people takes time, and free time is a commodity most of us have in scant supply. It is probably, at least partly true, for that reason that the time we give to others is such a treasure to God.
MEMO FROM YOUR CHILD
1. Don't spoil me; I know quite well that I ought not to have all that I ask for.
2. Don't be afraid to be firm with me; I prefer it. It makes me feel more secure.
3. Don't let me form bad habits; I have to rely on you to detect them in the early
4. Don't make promises you can't keep; remember I feel let down when promises
5. Don't protect me from consequences; I need to learn that way sometimes.
6. Don't be inconsistent; that completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you
7. Don't correct me in front of people if you can help it.
8. Don't nag; if you do I will need to protect myself by appearing deaf.
9. Don't make me feel that my mistakes are sins.
10. Don't forget that I can't thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I
don't need to tell you that, DO I?
Tipperary Priest in Siberia
Fr Robert Bradshaw born Tipperary 1929, his father was a butcher in the Town and his mother Josephine Ryan was from Hollyford, he was of a family of ten. He wrote a letter from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in September 1993, the letter arrived the day of his death 23 September 1993. He mentioned it was a long time since he wrote and as others were receiving this bulletin for the first time, he was going to give extra details of his Parish. Which was 2,000 miles long and 700 miles wide it has only three priests in the heart of Siberia. Many towns and villages the most distant town is three hours by plane . In 1935 the communists shot the priest and converted the church into a theatre. No priest there for 57 years, 25 old Catholics heard mass for the first time in 57 years one old lady of 93 travelled four hours by train to receive the sacraments before she died. First Mass was said in classroom, later Polish priests and nuns arrived. St Vincent de Paul Society was established and the Legion of Mary was a great help. Weather in winter maybe 40 degrees below. Women pull their children behind them in a sleigh during winter. The summer, dry hot weather June, July and part of August. When the priest was taken away one lady baptised local children who in their old age are receiving their first communion now. Building new church 200 kilometres away in town of 30,000. Because of distances a newsletter is produced, the Legion are a great help in distributing it, a correspondence course is also available. Russian Academy of Science held a conference and invited Fr Bradshaw to speak. A container of clothes was donated from Iceland to his parish and distributed to the needy. He also bought a cottage and garden on the edge of the forest to grow food and have a place to rest, besides potatoes, several fruit varieties also can be grown. He was blessed with helpers Debbie Cummins and Rachel Geraghty from Dublin. He thanks all who have given help and prayers. Fr James Costelloe was with him at the time of his death. Fr. Robert Bradshaw was buried at St Michael’s Church Tipperary on 30th September 1993.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.
Only when we have enough mental stress to force us to see our own bankruptcy of power, do we trust in God, and only when we trust in God can we make a contribution which will not collapse.
Kenneth L. Pike
THOUGHT: Have you ever noticed that Jesus is never recorded as taking a holiday? He retired for the purposes of his mission, not from it. He was never destroyed by his work; he was always on top of it. He moved among people as the Master of every situation. He was busier than anyone; the multitudes were always at him, yet he had time, for everything and everyone. He was never hurried, or harassed, or too busy. He had complete supremacy over time; he never let it dictate to him. He talked of "my time;" "my hour." He knew exactly when the moment had come for doing something and when it had not... a life lived in God is a life that masters time. One can see the distractions for what they are and centre down on the things that really matter. But of course this doesn't mean that Christians do less than other people. (Look at Jesus again, and think of those people - many of the busiest you have known - who have something of this quality.)
We retain excuses for our past failures. So
in the first place, it is important to remove
all the negatives from your life.
Face your prejudices, depressions, glooms
and fears. We build up such an arsenal of
alibis and excuses so that when we try to
take a new way, the selfish ego holds on to
these defences & rebels. For example, if
you feel a bit depressed, tell yourself in
some detail how much there is to be cheer-
ful about and thankful for. If you feel
lonely, choose an interesting task and think
how valuable it is to be able to work with-
Always try to substitute a strong, positive picture
for the negative one in your mind.
At the end of each day, list all the happy things
that have happened. Even remember that it has
been a fine day, if it has. Most people remember
only when it has not been so. Get rid of the use-
less waste which can be poisonous if you let it
TALK THE WAY YOU’D LIKE TO BE, AND
YOU’LL BE THE WAY YOU TALK.
Talk courageously and you’ll be brave. If you
want to be a leader, speak with confidence. If you
want friends be sure all you words are friendly.
You talk the way you are. If you want to be a
different, alter your speech. Watch for revealing
negative words and change them to positive ones
at once. There is a positive side to everything. A
new word means a new picture: an new picture
means a new life.
In your efforts to improve, go slowly, don’t try to
bite off too much at once. Mental food takes the
same processing as any other. It must be chewed
well and digested before we try to take in any
more. Take it unit by unit.
A statement like: “Today I am going to learn and
grow” is good. Affirm it and hold it for a day.
Keep coming back to it. Try it just for a day.
When tomorrow comes take it again as new day.
When you get tired, try a new affirmation, but
don’t hurry y to change.
From this springs creativity in work and play,. So
that life is full of happiness, helpfulness, and hope
can develop. It is a simple practical programme
for positive living.
The Sacred Heart Review > 29 January 1916
Father Dc Smet interested in his " dear Indians " would fill pages. Daniel O'Connell was one of the leaders he met. Bishop Hughes who accompanied the missionary on his second European trip introduced " the Apostle of the Indians " to the great Irishman. With the Father's own reminiscence of the incident we shall bring this review to a close. His letters form a very interesting part of the story:— " I have been present," writes Father Dc Smet, "at a gathering of two hundred thousand people, and had the honor of sitting in the same carriage with the great liberator, Daniel O'Connell. The people's enthusiasm knew no bounds; we were literally carried in triumph to the meeting-place. . . . Not a word of the stirring discourse escaped me. That day Irish eloquence resounded in all its glory. " What a spectacle it was for me, a missionary who, after being buried for five years in the heart of the American desert, and now thrown by chance on Irish soil, found myself beside one of the greatest men of the day—the only agitator who has ever instigated a revolution without spilling one drop of blood. '' What a man ! I can not express my sensations and feelings on that occasion. Never did I behold a brighter eye, a more benevolent face, a more imposing and commanding person. His words flow like honey from his lips; he enraptures and captivates and places you at your ease in a moment, just like an old friend and acquaintance."
: Do not hurry as you walk with grief.
It does not help the journey
Do not hurry as you walk with grief
Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive and let Christ speak for you
Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him.
Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.
If it is you, be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive, walk slowly, pausing often.
A flea is tiny beside an elephant but as soon as the flea enters the ear of an elephant it goes crazy.
The elephant’s ears are so big, the elephant itself is so big and yet a tiny ant makes it go wild. In the same way, if I allow the slightest defamation of anyone go through my ears, I lose all my spirituality. I lose all my value because I start interacting with others on the basis of what I have heard about them. Pay attention to this! We have to be very, very selective in what we allow to enter our ears.
Let me learn to see only virtues and specialities. Let me not concentrate on any-one’s weaknesses.
Some ways to celebrate the year of faith as individuals
Make a pilgrimage
Take a retreat, go on a day of recollection
Consider how you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Spend more time in prayer and Eucharistic Adoration
Explore ways of deepening your understanding of the Mass
Grow in devotion to Our Lady, especially through the Rosary
Consider ways of putting your faith into action by serving others
Build a small shrine or prayer focus in your home for the Year of Faith
Join a prayer group or study group
Take up regular spiritual reading
”If thou thinkest twice before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it.”William Penn
Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by his Spirit to move ourselves his way.
The heart is rich when it is content, and it is always content when its desires are fixed on God.
If you're going to worry, there's no need to pray and if you're going to pray, there's no need to worry.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013.
It marks the 40th anniversary of Roe Versus Wade, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court that effectually makes abortion legal in the USA.
Since the case’s decision in 1973, roughly 50 million abortions have taken place legally in America. That’s about 1.2 million abortions last year alone.
SOUTH America; In Paraguay is a town called Cateura, built on top of a landfill. Garbage collectors browse the trash for sellable goods, and children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs. When orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Fabio set up a music program for the kids of Cateura, they soon have more students than they have instruments.
That changed when Szaran and Fabio were brought something they had never seen before: a violin made out of garbage. Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments, now called The Recycled Orchestra.
Our film shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.
Watch the trailer below.
December 11, 2012
Does Belief in the Afterlife Diminish Man?
by Donald DeMarco
It is commonly asserted, especially among atheists, that belief in an afterlife cools one’s enthusiasms for this life on earth. This God-centered or theocentric view allegedly prevents human beings from truly being themselves and living up to their full potential. As a consequence, they fail to appreciate fully the richness and rewards of this world.
Two most influential champions of this man-centered or anthropocentric (or secular) view are Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and Karl Marx (1818-1883). For Comte, the Father of Sociology (which he initially termed “social physics”), belief in an afterlife produced “slaves of God.” In order to develop “servants of Humanity,” according to Comte, men had to turn away from the fictitious notion of a life after death and concentrate on the life they are living. His grand objective was to bring about “the triumph of sociability over personality.”
Karl Marx held that belief in an afterlife robbed man of his only opportunity to be fully himself. The practice of worshipping an unreal Supreme Being, he claimed, alienated man from his better self. Therefore, Marx could say that “It is easy to become a saint if one does not want to be a man.” “Atheism,” he wrote, “is a negation of God and seeks to assert by negation the existence of man.”
Historically, anthropocentric humanism has not fared very well. Evaluating the devastating influence that it has had on the modern world, Jacques Maritain observed that it brought about a tidal wave of irrationalism that swept Western culture in the form of racism and materialism. Albert Camus asked the piercing question, “Why did the enlightenment lead to the blackout?”
There is no basis, however, for the contention that belief in an afterlife causes a dulling or loss of interest in this life. No one argues, for example, that students lose interest in high school because there is higher education ahead, or that minor leaguers do not apply themselves too hard because the Major Leagues beckons to them. No one believes that we must get rid of higher education and the Major Leagues so that high school students and minor league athletes can perform un-distractedly and at their best.
Orthodox Christianity teaches that there is continuity between this life and the next. A true Christian does not think of himself as someone standing at a bus stop and doing nothing more than waiting for the bus (that will take him to heaven). He understands that what he does in this life determines his reward in the next. If we are faithful to the commandment to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors, that love will secure our place in heaven. The existence of the afterlife should supply people with a strong motivation to live well in this life. On the other hand, if there is no afterlife and we are all headed for oblivion, what is the point in being loving and decent human beings in this life? Under such circumstances, life would be comparable to the uneventful tenure of a lame-duck politician.
The real problem is scarcely ever stated. And it is this: by clinging to the present world, believing it to be the only world that is real, we can become highly reluctant to recognize its faults, no matter how glaring they might be. It is like a doting parent who cannot abide any criticism of his only child, or the youngster who cannot tolerate anyone disparaging his baseball card collection. Human beings have an inveterate propensity to overvalue what they have and turn a blind eye to their imperfections they contain.
The Christian regards his life as a gift from God and holds it sacred. He also valuates it in terms of an ideal, which is to say, something more perfect. Heaven is the reward for a life well lived. But if a person identifies his life with the ideal, it may not occur to him that it stands in need of considerable improvement. As a result, he loses an important incentive to work hard to improve himself. Would a factory worker expend himself if he knew that at the end of the month, there would be no pay check?
The theocentric view is inclusive inasmuch as it includes man, whom God embraces with his Love. The anthropocentric view, by definition, excludes God. But it also excludes, by implication, man, since it closes him off from the Infinite to which he is naturally inclined. In other words, the anthropocentric view, in addition to denying God, diminishes man.
It is only in the light of what should be that we can properly evaluate our present state. Can America, in her present moment in history, he sufficiently critical of her faults to take the necessary steps to overcome them? Or will she remain morally complacent at an hour when pornography sweeps over the country, when traditional marriage is routinely defiled, when the out-of-wedlock birth rate is over 40%, when education sacrifices itself on the altar of political correctness, when illegal drugs are a national plague, when sexuality is reduced to a banality, when the Bible is scorned, and Christianity mocked? Secularism is not self-sufficient even though it is self-congratulatory. The real problem is that when God and the afterlife are denied, society loses all sense of higher standards and lapses into egoism. And egoism is the catalyst for mayhem and brutality.
The individual person is an evolutionary being. He must pass through many changes and moral renovations. But his evolution does not lead to or terminate in death. There must be something beyond death that offers him the crown of his evolutionary journey. To be with God is both man’s end and the reason for embracing the challenges presented to him in this world.
The Irish seminary at Douai (then part of the Spanish Netherlands) was founded around 1577 by Fr Ralph Cusack. King Philip endowed the Irish seminary in 1604 with 5,000 florins. (Incidentally it is little understood today just how crucial the support and generosity of the Kings of Spain was to the survival of Catholicism in Ireland.) After the Flight of the Earls, Hugh O’Neill would stay at the seminary in 1607 on his way to Rome (where Paul V welcomed him lavishly and the same King Philip awarded him with a substantial pension).
31 December, 1599.
Since nothing can be more beneficial to a Christian commonwealth than to have men, eminent in learning and virtue, to sow the word of God, instruct the people, and eradicate vice from the minds of men; of which men, alas, this realm is destitute, owing to a lengthened war and the activity of heresy; wherefore, most powerful King, nothing could be more desirable for our commonwealth than to have such men, whom we cannot possess, unless Your Majesty, in your wonted kindness for the welfare of the whole commonwealth, the exaltation of the Catholic faith, and the extirpation of heresy, assign some allowance to our college at Douai, containing nearly one hundred students, living solely on the liberality and alms of others.
Almighty God long preserve Your Majesty to the universal Christian commonwealth and to us Irishmen.
Your Majesty’s most faithful subject,
by Matthew Warner Monday, August 15, 2011 1:30 AM Comments (10)
Kids are not getting taught a very important lesson in life. At least not many of the kids here in the United States. Their school teachers, youth ministers, pastors, coaches and, most especially, their parents are dropping the ball on this one. And the dropped ball has caused two massive problems:
1) We have a lot of bad marriages (that aren’t really marriages) that end in divorce.
2) We have too few priests.
So what do kids need to be taught to fix these things? They need to be taught that their vocation needs to be discerned. And along with that, they also need to know:
1) What a vocation is.
2) What their options are.
3) How to discern it.
Most children grow up just assuming they will get married one day. And they never even consider (especially not seriously) the option of becoming a priest or entering the religious life (or even remaining an unmarried layperson). And truly, they never even consider if they’re called to marriage, either. They simply assume it. And while most people are clearly called to marriage, to assume as much does a great disservice to both marriage and the religious life - to both families and to the greater Church. And at the most basic level it does a great disservice to the child.
Our vocation is the practical call in our life that brings about our sanctification and gets us to heaven. It’s kind of a big deal.
And it seems that many parents haven’t really encouraged their kids to even consider the priesthood or religious life (you know, so the next generation can receive the sacraments?). And in the process they’ve presented a kind of “default” option: marriage. Meaning that by default when the time is right you just get married…requiring no real discernment at all. Not only does this approach lead to terrible marriages, broken families and a lot of heartache for people and society, but it also leads to a lack of priests and religious. So why are parents failing to teach this important lesson to children?
Well maybe they only have one or two kids and vows of celibacy would lessen the chances of grandkids. Well, that’s understandable, but ultimately selfish.
Maybe they think the life of a priest is hard, and they don’t want that burden on their kids. But guess what’s a much heavier burden on your kid? Choosing the wrong vocation. Not following God’s call. I think we should worry much more about that. Oh, and - news flash - marriage is pretty hard, too (especially when it’s not properly discerned and set up for failure from the beginning).
Maybe they don’t have faith that what God wants for their child is truly what’s best for them. And that God will always provide enough grace to persevere no matter what challenges our children face in life. We need to teach them to accept that grace, not to run from their vocation.
Or maybe they just think that priests and religious are weird. And that it’s unnatural and a waste of life to deny one’s self a spouse or to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. But I think anyone who really thinks that just hasn’t hung out with enough amazing priests.
A few recommendations for such parents:
1) Share your own story of discernment with your kids. Develop such relationships with them that they’re willing to open up to you about their own discernment.
2) Teach them what a vocation is and that it is something you are actively called to by the Creator of the universe Himself, not something you fall into by default or convenience.
3) Teach them how to pray and to discern God’s will in their lives. And you can start by practicing with them on smaller matters when they are small.
4) Hang out with other families who have great marriages. Oh, and make sure you have an amazing marriage yourself.
5) Hang out with some great priests and religious. Make them a part of your life.
6) Don’t be scared of your kids choosing a vocation. Be scared of them choosing the wrong one.
7) Don’t worry, trust God and pray for your children every day. It’s your job to get them to heaven.
In the end, living the vocation one is called to is what leads to the most peace and joy in life. If you want that for your kids, then also have the courage and care to teach them how to do it.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-warner/teach-your-kids-this-and-help-save-the-world?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register&utm_content=Google+Reader#When:2011-08-15#ixzz1VDxpPQP1
By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor
Fatherly love is critical to a child's development. In fact, it’s one of the single greatest influences. What’s more, a father's love sometimes outweighs a mother's in terms of child development. These are just a few of the findings from a September 2011 study published last month in Personality and Social Psychology Review.
“It’s not that mothers aren’t important – they are – no one would ever argue that they aren’t,” study co-author Professor Ronald P. Rohner is quick to point out, but in his long-term research on acceptance-rejection theory across 13 nations, he’s uncovered some interesting news about a father's parenting role.
For one, when fathers act as nurturing (primary or secondary) caregivers, their kids benefit in terms of social-emotional and cognitive development, according to Rohner. Does this seem obvious? It’s not, he insists.
For about 300 years now in the U.S. and the western world, we’ve collectively assumed that kids mainly need a loving mom for positive child development. In just the past 10 years, though, we’ve learned that mindset is fundamentally wrong, Rohner says. “Dads have as great or greater influence in a variety of contexts,” he says, “so we need to encourage dads to get involved in caring for their kids in a loving way. … And we need to encourage moms to let dads play that role.”
What’s more, young adults who remember feeling accepted by their dads show a greater sense of well-being, and a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness than those who remember acceptance by their mothers, Rohner says.
Rohner’s research centers mainly on parental acceptance-rejection theory – and hinges on a child’s perception of each parent’s actions in four areas: warmth and affection, hostility and aggression, indifference and neglect, and the child’s general sense of being loved.
Across cultures, national boundaries, and families, these four areas have proven important in children’s perception of their parents’ affection, he says, and translates to a cluster of seven personality and behavior traits – either positive or negative – in the kids. If a child rates his parent positively, then he’s likely to show low hostility and aggression; independence; positive self-esteem; positive self-adequacy; emotional stability; emotional responsiveness; and a positive worldview. If that child rates his parent as cold, aggressive, indifferent, and generally unloving, though, then the opposite of those seven traits tend to surface, with the child exhibiting increased anxiety, insecurity, hostility, and anger; less emotional stability; poor self-esteem; and dependence issues.
“Everywhere in the world, kids who feel rejected by their parents tend to have mental health problems,” Rohner says. “Fathers show up more than mothers in these situations: if kids feel rejected by dad, they’re more likely to have behavior problems, delinquencies, depression and depressed affect, and substance abuse [problems].”
Results from more than 500 studies have established that, in many cases, a father’s perceived love (or lack thereof) can have greater impact than a mother's. The enduring question for Rohner has been: why? Rohner’s work with the International Father Acceptance Rejection Project, which has conducted research in 13 nations, has allowed Rohner and his colleagues to proffer an explanation. It has to do with the child’s perceived interpersonal power and prestige of each parent. Basically, if a child perceives Dad to have more interpersonal power and prestige than Mom, then Dad’s level of acceptance (or rejection) will have more sway over the child’s development. And vice-versa – Mom may be the one with higher perceived interpersonal power and prestige, and then the child’s perceived acceptance (or rejection) from Mom will have more influence. Could other factors play a part as well? Absolutely, says Rohner. His research continues.
But armed with this info, Rohner says there are a few important takeaways for parents. First, a child’s misbehavior shouldn't automatically be attributed to the mother's parenting, he says, warning that there’s way too much “mother bashing” in the world today. In many cases, a second look at the father's parenting may be in order.
Second, if parents notice the cluster of seven negative traits in their child, it’s worth investigating. “If parents see that in their kids,” he says, “the odds are that their kids are experiencing some significant rejection in some context. … And kids can very often tell you about it if you ask in the right way.”
But most important is the good news: that dad’s love matters. “Bottom line,” he says: “Dads, get involved. Get involved in a loving way in caregiving for your kids if you want to maximize the likelihood of healthy social-emotional and cognitive development of your children.”