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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

Moses and Elijahon the Mountain with Jesus

Moses and Elijah
on the Mountain with Jesus

On this second Sunday of Lent, the Church invites us to contemplate  the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. It is a privileged moment which prepares us to relive the Passion of Christ at the time of the Great Week: Holy Week, that  comes to a close on Easter Sunday. For at the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus appears in Glory. Now, if Jesus appears in Glory, and if his disciples see him in this sublime state, it is precisely so that these same disciples may be comforted by this celestial vision before passing through the tragic test of the Passion of the Savior.”Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.”What the disciples of Jesus saw and heard on that day was an anticipation of the Resurrection of Christ. In advance, and to comfort them before the moment of his Passion, Jesus allowed his disciples to enjoy a few instants of the divine glory that is his own. Also, it was not acceptable to speak of it as long as Christ had not yet returned to life. Saint Matthew relates the following words of Jesus to his disciples: “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” (Mt. 17:9) .We too shall see, with the eyes of faith, the glory of the Resurrection of the Saviour: today, during the celebration of the Eucharist, we are going to contemplate Jesus in his sacrament, seeing him, through faith, as he is now, in the glory of Heaven! So, already comforted by his Resurrection, we shall be able to participate joyously in his Sacrifice of Calvary: we are going to proclaim the Death of Christ in the expectation of our own Resurrection in the end times! May Mary, who was present at the foot of the Cross, while having within her, through faith, the fullness of the Spirit of God,  come to help us today and always!

On Friday past  22nd February we celebrated the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, it struck me that just one week down the road from there on Friday 1st March  the chair of St. Peter would be vacant after the resignation of Pope Benedict at 8pm   the previous evening. There are so many people saying this that and the other about where the Cardinal Electors will go to elect the new Pope. In reality  none of us really know where the new Pope will come from or who he will be, that is why we should pray that the Holy Spirit will be the  Cardinals guide  during the time of the Vacant See (Sede Vacante) and the election (Conclave) so that will  of God will happen in the Church through the successor of Saint Peter our new pope and shepherd of our souls.

And so as a Christian community we pray:

O God, eternal shepherd,
who govern your flock with unfailing care,
grant in your boundless fatherly love
a pastor for your Church
who will please you by his holiness
and to us show watchful care.

Through Christ our Lord

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THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT 2013

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Here we are at the first Sunday of Lent at the end of what can only be termed as an extraordinary week, or as one person put it to me that was the week that was and from my perspective this certainly was true. With the Pope’s Resignation on Monday I think most of the Catholic world was left a bit gob-smacked to say the least as this was the first time that a pope had resigned in 600 years. In less than two weeks time the Catholic Community throughout the world will be like sheep without a shepherd as the Pope resigns the See of Peter at 8pm on the 28th of February. We pray for the outgoing Pope Benedict 16th that he will have a good retirement and we also pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire the Cardinals in their choice when we come to  the conclave in March. Meantime the year of faith continues as we stop to think about the readings for this Sunday.

We are now as you know in the liturgical season of Lent, preparing for Easter, at this time three things are traditionally recommended to us: Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving. Lent is a time of sober reflection, reassessment and rededication of our lives to God and to the faith we profess. We review our lives, seek forgiveness, do penance and recommit ourselves to Christ. This is all done within the context of the Passion of the Lord, which we are constantly reminded of during Lent as we build up to the solemn re-enactment of the passion and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and   Easter. The forty days of Lent is the people of Gods annual retreat in imitation and remembrance of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. We are called to journey with the Lord in a particular way with prayer, fasting, almsgiving,  repentance, and renewal as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover. The Lord gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength to seek his face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual combat and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection.

As human beings, we will always be confronted with the temptation to do wrong.  We are going to be tempted to seek joy in places where the Lord is not found and there may well be no longterm joy or happiness. In our Gospel reading for today Jesus himself was tempted by the devil to accept the pleasures of the world rather than remain united to the Father. The temptations of Jesus in the dessert point back to the temptations of Israel in the past, and point forward to the trials that the Church and all its members will undergo in the future. It is now we who are in the wilderness, with no lasting city, on a long journey to the Promised Land.Even to our dying day  each trial that life brings is a crisis, but is also an opportunity to trust more completely that the Lord is with us, and that we do love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. All of us should be  confident that we will triumph in our trials of faith, not because of our own strength, but because Jesus has given us his holy Spirit to be with us. As we begin this holy season let’s ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love, and embrace his will more fully in our lives.  Then we can pray with confidence in the words our saviour has given us: Our Father, do not let us be defeated by temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

 

 

ASH WEDNESDAY 2013

REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS

REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL

I am just sitting here at my computer the day after hearing the news about the resignation of our Holy Father Pope Benedict.  As i’m sure you know this news came yesterday around midday Irish Time as a complete bolt out of the blue to use Cardinal Sodanos words and that is certainly what it was. In two weeks time the Catholic Community throughout the world will be like sheep without a shepherd as the Pope resigns the See of Peter at 8pm on the 28th of February. The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office explained that the Holy Father “will move to Castel Gandolfo on 28 February, and, once he has finished the tasks he has in progress, he will take up residence in the former cloistered monastery in the Vatican. The process for the election of a new Pope will begin on 1ST  March. We do not yet know the exact date of the conclave, but obviously there will be no need to wait the normal eight days of mourning (novendali) after the death of the Pope. Thus, in two weeks, during the month of March, in time for Easter, we will have a new Pope … Benedict XVI will have no role in next March’s conclave, nor in the running of the Church during the time between popes, the time of Sede Vacante. The Apostolic Constitution gives no role in this transition to a pope who resigns.” So after all of this we now face into Ash Wednesday and our time of Lenten Prayer, the Church never stops amazing its people as we have seen. So then, in this season of repentance let us rethink how we treat one another. With the certain aid of the Holy Spirit, let us focus not on sin, but on service — service to one another and therefore to God.

For if we are truly focused on serving, we will not readily sin, because our focus is truly on what God desires unconditional love of all His precious children.  We also need to pray during this first part of Lent for the Church local and world-wide and its leadership. We also need to pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire the Cardinal Electors when they come to elect the next pope to elect the man who will lead us Catholics along the roads that lead to Salvation.

 

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time C

5sunOT

Here we are fast approaching Lent. Believe it or not next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. We move forward as the Palm Branches left aside from last year are burned for the ashes and the Green vestments of Ordinary time give way to the Lenten purple. Here we go again comes to mind as it seems no time since we celebrated the start of the Lenten Fast in 2012. But whether we like it or not Lent starts on Wednesday and there will be much said about what we might do or not do   in the days ahead. That said back to today and our readings for this Sunday:

Why did Jesus perform the miracle of the great catch of fish? No doubt the great crowd of people who had pressed upon Jesus had something to do with this miracle. They were very hungry for God and were eager to hear his word are we that hungry when it comes to our weekly observance of our faith?

Jesus wanted to use this occasion to teach his disciples an important lesson.  Although Simon was wearied from a night of fruitless toil, he nonetheless pressed upon Jesus for his word of command: At your word I will let down the nets. When you meet disappointment and failure, do you press upon the Lord, like Simon, to hear his word and to receive his command? This incident tells us an important truth about how God works in and through us for his glory. God expects of us greater things than we can do by ourselves. When we cooperate in his works, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own for those who have faith all things are possible. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, as his ambassadors and he uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into his kingdom. Our lives in Christ depend upon an unlimited trust in the Lord, following his words with energy and hope even when his will for us leads into uncharted waters, when he commands that we “put out into the deep”,

even those well-plumbed depths which have in the past yielded up for us only empty nets will bear fruit in plenty. The readings today are all about vocation; the vocations of Isaiah, Paul and the Apostles. Each one of us has a vocation each one of us has been given the task of proclaiming the Good News in our daily lives, a calling from the Lord. Each one of us is commissioned through our baptism to be an Apostle of Christ in the world. Some are called to the very particular service of Priesthood or religious life but many others are called to the vocations of married or single life. There are so many other vocations I can’t think of them all but all of them have so much value in leading people to God. Whether we are helping in a food pantry in our local community, participating in mission trips across the world, or living amongst another culture for many years, it is the love for the other that is at the very heart and soul of the Christian notion of mission.

Having faith trusting in God, as Paul states in Corinthians, “We have such a hope, we act with great boldness.” We should have that boldness that comes from the realization that we are all Sons and Daughters of God and that God loves us all more than we can  imagine.  We are called, we are sent, to lead people to God.  Every action of our lives has purpose not just for ourselves but as beacons of hope for those who are seeking the Lord. The family Motto of my family is Light in the darkness we that is all of us are called to be the spiritual light that is meant to be set on hilltops so all can see.  We pray today for the courage to respond to the Lord’s summons to be his apostles with every action of our lives especially as we begin our observance of Lent during the Year of Faith.

4Th Sunday of Ordinary Time

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This Sunday’s gospel passage is a continuation of last week’s reading when Jesus entered the synagogue and declared Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled. In that declaration, Jesus referred to himself as God’s servant, the Chosen One upon whom God had given his Spirit. Jesus’ mission was proof of that claim; he preached, taught, and healed in the name of God’s Kingdom. His simple, straightforward declaration would cause controversy to those who thought they knew “Joseph’s son.”  They brought him to the brow of the hill and were about to throw him over the edge but as it wasn’t his time he escaped through them and went away.

When Jesus came to his home town of Nazareth and began to teach, the local Jewish community was quite proud of him. After all, they had heard of the things that he had done at Capernaum and were convinced that he was some sort of prophet from God. They believed that Jesus had just won the lottery, so to speak, and was about to shower them with God’s favour because, after all, he was one of them, so of course that is what he would do. Besides, they agreed with what he was saying – at least at first. But as long as they were pleased, they were proud and they wanted to seen in the light of special favour from God.

When Jesus speaks to his home town synagogue, he’s speaking to us in our home town church, too. Paul echoes Jesus’ message, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” What does God’s love look like in your idea of church? Open the ears of your heart to listen for it, and your eyes to see and walk in grace to find out.

Prophets in every age are holy people that is people with God at the heart of their lives. They are uncompromising in their faithfulness to the word of God. They always speak the truth, regardless of the consequences, offering encouragement and hope to people who have no sense of meaning or purpose in life. They challenge people to repent for their sins and to seek God’s mercy. That is true compassion.

There is still a need for prophets in our society, men, women and even children who are faithful to their baptismal commitment. We need to listen to them and learn from them. Also, we need to remember that every Christian and that means all of us including you and me has to exercise the prophetic vocation in the world of work, leisure and family life, praying for the grace to fulfil this important part of our Christian life.

Being a Christian isn’t easy. Jesus never said that it was going to be an easy road to go along and we remember Good Friday and the Cross of Calvary.  Our faith as Christians calls us to live, to die to ourselves and be resurrected with Jesus over and over and over again.

With each time, our hearts get a little wiser, we know grace that much more deeply, and we are able to follow Jesus a little bit more down the road of love. Being a Christian is always going to have a cost no matter what way you look at it.  That is because good is always going to be opposed by evil and good always triumphs over evil and the evil that is within the world will never win. May we not be afraid of being what we are and that is people who are called by Jesus to follow him in faith.

 

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