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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “October, 2016”

NOVEMBER

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During the month of November we remember those who have died. In the parish where I live we as a community celebrate a Mass for the bereaved remembering all those who have died during the year and their families are invited to attend. During the Mass the names of those who have passed on will be read out and a family member will come forward to light a candle in their memory. Also for the whole month of November the remembrance book in which the names of those who have died over the past year will be inscribed will be on a table in the Church and the candle will be lit near this book during every Mass. We also keep up the venerable tradition of the November Dead List in which we list the names of our dead friends and relations and the lists are placed in the church for the month of November and we remember all those people as well. Goodness is not limited to any age of history: neither the past nor the present has a monopoly on saints because all of us are called to be saints and we find that most if not all the saints were also sinners!!

We are related to those who went before us, those who linked their belief to those who went before them. We are part of that chain of holiness we are a small part of the marvellous company of heaven that is the believers who have gone before us. We are not abandoned to our own devices; we have our ancestors in faith the saints who are blessed in heaven. In John’s vision he sees “a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language”. Among them are counted people who know us and love us Who we are is what we have been given. Our faith also educates the hope we share that we will return to the source of life, the God of all beginnings. Death is not a door into the dark, it is a dark door which opens into the light. Those we have loved and all the faithful departed have passed through that door, and during the month of November we pray for their eternal peace and joy. During November we hold holy the memory of all the faithful who have been called to return to God. We bless God for the many ways they have enriched our families, our communities, our life of faith. We pray that as we remember their names before God, they will remember us. The faith and love that bound us together with them in life still binds us in their new life. We pray that their prayers will support our own hope as we continue our journey in faith. Our journey is the road that will take us to eternal joy of the heavenly kingdom.                                      

31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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This weekend our gospel story tells us about Zachaeus the Tax Collector. The tax collectors in Jesus time were despised because they were seen as enforcing the tax system of a foreign country. It seems that Zacchaeus was a small man who was anxious to see the person that all the fuss was about; personally I think he was looking for something more in the spiritual sense as he climbed up into the branches of the sycamore tree to get a look at Jesus as he passed by.  Zacchaeus put his dignity and the prestige of his position on the line when he scrambled up the tree Jesus saw him and he saw his willingness to accept the message of salvation. The story of Zacchaeus encourages us to seek and find Jesus in our daily lives.  Sometimes we need to let go and climb up the sycamore tree of faith to a different level to see the Lord as he passes by .  

All of us have a role to play in the ongoing work of building up the kingdom of God in our own place.  Our task is to bring love and care to all the people we encounter whoever they may be.  If we ignore people and bring them down to our own sometimes self-centered level we end up being the thorns and weeds that are removed from the harvest and cast into the fire as rubbish. We come to worship in our churches each week to get a better glimpse of Jesus as our Faith is the “tree” we climb. Our hope is that Jesus will  give us a clearer view of where he is in the midst of the issues and struggles we face day and daily. We’ll stay in this “tree” where we meet the Lord each Sunday but just for a short while, then we will climb down to return to our daily lives. The final verse in today’s Gospel can help us interpret many other stories about Jesus. His key mission was “to seek out and save what was lost.” Jesus wants to come to the lost and confused parts of our lives. The parts we cover up and want to forget and there are so many dark places in people’s lives these days for so many reasons.

Jesus wants to make a home with us in the very places we have closed up and locked away. He knocks on the door of our hearts and invites us to let him in to change what we have given up on and so many people have given up on Faith and all it entails in recent times. He knocks on the door to bring out into the light the broken and discarded parts of our lives that need healing and Love. In the days ahead may we be like Zacchaeus not afraid to go out into the world climbing the tree to look for Jesus and not be afraid to bring his message to the people of our time.

Mission Sunday 2016

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This Sunday we celebrate Mission Sunday. Since 1926, the Church has remembered its universal mission during the month of October. On Mission Sunday, we celebrate the work of all missionaries throughout the world. We thank God for them, for all who support them in our own countries and we unite ourselves in prayer with them and with the communities with whom they work. So many men and women  have gone to foreign lands to bring the faith of our fathers to those who might not have got the faith otherwise. We think of all the members of the religious orders such as the Columbans, Mill Hill Fathers, St. Patrick’s Fathers the Medical Missionaries of Mary and all the other religious orders who along with the Lay Missionary movements like Viatores Christi who have brought Christ and his message to the far flung corners of the world. This Sunday celebrates the great missionary spirit that has brought the faith to all corners of the world since the Apostles first missionary Journeys .

Mission Sunday gives us the opportunity to acknowledge all those missionary men and women who left everything in order to bring the faith to the ends of the earth with love of god and his people in their hearts. In his message for Mission Sunday Pope Francis says “As they travel through the streets of the world, the disciples of Jesus have a love without limits, the same measure of love that our Lord has for all people. We proclaim the most beautiful and greatest gifts that he has given us: his life and his love”. This year the mission Sunday theme is ‘Every Christian is a missionary’ all of us are called to pray that the Lord of the harvest will continue to inspire many people to join the missionary orders and bring the joy of the Gospel to those who haven’t heard the Good News of the Gospel.

29th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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In our Gospel for this Sunday Jesus tells us about our need to pray and not to lose heart when we don’t get what we pray for straight away. Over a long period of time many people have prayed for various things for example family concerns for healing of body mind or spirit or whatever. Some people ask me why god is not answering their prayers straight away in the here and now of the present moment and I tell them that their prayers will be answered when God in heaven sees that they really need whatever they have been praying for. My own experience is that we often pray for things and don’t get them straight away but we get the things we prayed for when we really need them. Remember that Rome was not built in a day: No great work can ever be achieved without long and patient effort and this is the same for us in our prayer lives work of patient persistent prayer will yield results as God helps us to get through all our problems large and small and gives us some surprises along the way.

Remember the saying that nothing is impossible for those who have faith and if our faith is the size of mustard seed it can move mountains.  The prayer in today’s gospel is the prayer of petition. If our prayers are always prayers of petition, we run the risk of being selfish and self-centered; except, of course, when the prayers of petition are for others. Like one of the ten lepers in last weeks gospel, we ask, and then when our prayers are answered, we return to give thanks to God. When we meet the judge and the widow in this Gospel passage we meet them at a crisis point. We have no case history for the widow but we do for the judge. He is a hard man who isn’t influenced by religious principle or by public opinion. Both justice and compassion are absent from his dealings with the widow. She has no influential friends to bring pressure on the judge and she has no money to bribe him: all she has is the justice of her cause and her own persistence.

Jesus encourages us to be persistent in our prayer and never lose heart. We live In an age where we have become accustomed to instant results we are impatient with what appear to be endless delays in god’s response to us. The danger is that we give up too quickly, that we rest our case too easily and move on. We have to be persistent; we have to invest time in our beliefs and persistent prayer will help us to do this. Through this parable, Jesus teaches us the need for perseverance in prayer. This perseverance develops our trust and confidence in God. It helps us to  to realize how weak we are when left to ourselves. It keeps us close to God, as we learn how dependent we are on His generous love. If we would realize that God is perhaps closer to us than we realise when we think He is forgetting us for he never forgets us!

28TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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This Sunday in our Gospel Reading we hear the story of the ten Lepers and their lack of gratitude. This is one of many such examples of ingratitude that occurred during Christ’s public ministry, most of those he cured forget to thank him. In today’s incident there was one who had the decency to return and thank his benefactor, and he was the one least expected to do so,. This pleased our Lord and led Him to remark on the ingratitude of the others. “Were not all ten made whole, where are the other nine?” This Gospel story is not only about the Lepers it’s also about our lack of gratitude for the many good  things that we have in our lives given to us by God. When we were youngsters growing up we were taught to say, “Thank you” by our parents when they gave us a sweet or whatever, when we didn’t we would be dutifully reminded, “What do you say?” and of course we said the magic words ‘Thank You.’

All the lepers showed great faith and confidence in Jesus’ power to heal but only one of them said thanks. They had not heard Him preach nor had they seen any of His miracles. They lived in isolation camps because of the leprosy, yet they believed the reports they had heard.  The nine lepers were appreciative of what Jesus had done; we don’t know, why they didn’t bother to show their gratitude to Jesus. We can only look to ourselves to ask why we are often reluctant to say thank you for all the things we have. There is seems to be great deal of awkwardness surrounding the attitude of gratitude and saying thank you. Personally I find that to be thanked means more to me than being given a gift for a task just done. Whatever the reason for our own ingratitude, we know that it diminishes us and those who help us. All of us have reasons to give thanks for so many things yet very few turn to the Lord with words and hearts expressing our thanks for all the wonders he has done for us in our lives.  We need to ask ourselves today, “Am I really grateful for God’s constant love? Or do I just take Him for granted?”

Do we have the attitude of gratitude which thanks god and those around and us for their goodness to us.  When we gather each Sunday we come to join God in the midst of the assembly with gratitude in our hearts. We give praise and thanks to God and we thank God for all those who have given us their help. May all of us have the attitude of gratitude for all the good things that we have in our lives which means that we are thankful for all that we are and all that we have.

27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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This Sunday here in Ireland we celebrate our annual Day for Life, it is the day when we give thanks to god for his gift of life. These days many people think that life is not worth a lot and many support abortion euthanasia and other forms of destruction of life. I on the other hand believe in life from the womb to the tomb with all the in between stages with all the ups and downs that life brings. So this weekend We pray in a special way for the gift of  life that god will give us the grace to cherish and defend it from conception to natural end.

This Sundays gospel is all about having faith, Jesus tells the apostles Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. So many people have little or no faith and many who have been brought up in the catholic faith have left for many reasons. Perhaps we think that having faith means believing certain things. If I want more faith is it so that I can hold more firmly to the “truths of the faith?” Thinking our faith lacks sufficient size can keep us from doing so many things that we are called to do by our faith in Jesus the Son of God and face of the Fathers Mercy. The disciples must have thought their faith was so small they couldn’t act on it. But Jesus wants his disciples and by association ourselves to trust and act on our god given faith. The alternative to acting out of faith would be saying things like: I can’t take on that responsibility, I don’t have enough faith. I can’t be kind to those people that will take more faith than I have. The disciples may have felt similar inhibitions after hearing what Jesus just taught about not leading others into sin and the necessity to forgive someone seven times a day (17 1-5). But Jesus teaches, “Act on the little faith you have. You’ll be surprised what you can do.” His example of the deep-rooted mulberry tree underlines his lesson about the power of the smallest seed of faith to work marvels. We may find ourselves doing something that surprises us and those who know us. Perhaps it’s a great act of charity; working away on another’s behalf; or, an act of forgiveness. Such deeds often win praise among those around us. But despite the remarkable things we might do, we must acknowledge the source of all our good deeds – the mustard seed that is faith planted in us by God. Realizing this we can say with those servants in the parable: “We are unprofitable servants, we have done what we were obliged to do.” We could also add: “We have only done what the mustard seed of  our faith has enabled us to do.

“God gives us the grace to do great things in his name. Today as we pray for our faith to be strengthened we thank god for all those people who helped us to have faith in the first place, our parents, families, teachers, friends and our clergy they all played their part in giving us the faith.  Although Christ was speaking to the Apostles, His words apply to all of us, in our own lives. Following the example of the Apostles, we must all pray for greater trust and faith in God and his merciful love for all of us.

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