Archive for the category “LITURGY”



This week in our parish we remembered all those who had passed on during in our annual Mass for  those who died during the year and we prayed with and for their families and friends. We pray for all the dead during November and we remember in a special way all those who have no one to pray for or remember them. We also remember all the members of our own families who have died that all of them our friends relatives and all  those we don’t know at all will rest in the peace of the love of god.

Our reading from the Gospel for this weekend  is about the servant and his one talent. The parable speaks first of the Master’s trust in his servants. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master’s workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. The master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit idly by and who do nothing with his money. The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants’ conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master’s money was faithful up to a certain point.

The servant who buried the master’s money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money. If we stop and substitute the money aspect of the parable with the word faith then we get to what the parable is really about and it tells us that faith is a real and wonderful gift from God that should be treasured. Faith is also given to us according to our ability to deal with it; each in proportion to his ability, as it says in the parable. But the most important aspect of the Parable is that the Master will eventually return and the big question is will we be ready for his return? Paul assures us, ” The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.” This is a wake-up call to alert us to stop relying on false security, while missing the ways that Jesus comes into our lives and they are many.  Sometimes we feel God’s blessing. Sometimes we feel he is away out there in the distance. There are even times God may feel like the enemy. We enjoy times of intimacy as graced moments. But in all the moments of our lives  we should try to realize that in times of distance and estrangement God offers us his life.

The Gospel parable about the talents, and Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians both tell us to be at peace with ourselves in heart and mind, for if we are doing the Lord’s work there is nothing to fear. So let us be fearless in our living out the gospel in our lives where we are and remember that even in our darkest times God is near to those who love him.





At the beginning of this week there was  a programme on the Irish TV channel RTE which paid tribute to a number of people who have been married for 50 years. my own mother and fathers would have been married 58 years had my dad survived. The theme of our readings this weekend is not marriage though the Gospel story is about the bridegroom and his attendants. Instead the readings point us towards something very different that is the gift of Wisdom. The first reading  taken from the Book of Wisdom cites watchfulness as the key to a faithful understanding of wisdom according to St. Bernard wisdom lights up the mind and instils an attraction to the divine.  The author of the Book of Wisdom reminds us that we have one unfailing presence to guide us through our lives that is Wisdom. We are told Watch for her early and you will have no trouble; you will find her sitting at your gates. She is “resplendent and unfading;” always there for those who seek her out.

The Gospel story for this Sunday is about an oil crisis in the Middle East it tells us about the five bridesmaids who didn’t buy extra lamp oil they were foolish because they weren’t prepared for the late arrival of the bridegroom. On the other hand the story flags up the wisdom of the five wise bridesmaids who were prepared for the late arrival of the bridegroom as they went out and bought more oil for their lamps. Their wisdom wasn’t extraordinary, but eminently practical. It is true that it is difficult, or impossible, to estimate the quantity of oil necessary to keep a lamp lit as we await the bridegroom for an unknown length of time! In this story the Lamp is our faith and how we live our faith is the oil. This Gospel calls us to seize the moment and direct our lives guided by the wisdom that God gives us through the life and teachings of Jesus. What we experience is the routine of work, school, and various activities, rushed family meals, television, the news on the car radio, shopping, visiting elderly parents, friends and family, church services, etc. It can feel so predictable. But the routine of our daily lives  can also be shattered by the unexpected and sudden demands life puts on us and our loved ones. Will we be ready to respond? It depends on how well we have tended to our “oil” supply.

If we have squandered it by neglect, or missed opportunities to get more oil for our lamps then when we look for backup in a moment of crisis, like the bridesmaids we may be left with the sound of the slamming door being locked as the bridegroom tells us I don’t know who you are you are too late. Only those who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding. When God calls us, will we be ready?


Lent Devotional


In our world these days we hear a lot about FAKE NEWS indeed this week the Collins English Dictionary editors have included the definition of Fake news immortalised by President Trump in their updated dictionary. Having said all of that our Readings this weekend  are all about fake leadership in the gospel for this Sunday Jesus warns against this kind of leadership. The atmosphere of hostility towards the religious leaders of Judaism is evident in this Gospel reading. The scribes and Pharisees are presented as bad examples of religious leadership, not to be followed by leaders of the Christian community. Jesus is presented as engaging in violent caricature, arousing the crowds to condemn the scribes and Pharisees. It is a tense and angry scene in which Jesus makes sweeping generalisations: “Everything they do is done to attract attention…”. Obviously, there were many scribes and Pharisees who were upright and extremely holy men. Matthew is warning against attitudes and practices which are not peculiar to any religious group. The scribes and Pharisees happen to serve as useful examples – especially since at the time of writing they represent the religious leadership opposed to Matthew’s church and the style of leadership Matthew is opposed to within his church.

Authority in any organisation, the Church included, is meant to be a gift. It is meant to be shown in loving service in  support of others, not in domination and control. It’s just not good enough to make people simply comply and obey. People may do that on the outside, while on the inside they are seething with rage and resentment which always boils over. The challenge for all church people is to get others onside, to win their hearts and minds, to persuade and convince them that this or that is the right thing to do in the various situations of life. Again and again in his teaching Jesus insists that we must not dominate, lord it over, or oppress others! He teaches over and over that God invites, calls, attracts and charms, rather than controls, directs, and regulates! He teaches too that the greatest in any group are those who love and serve the others! Jesus challenges us along the way of humility because, whether we are mindful of it or not, as baptised Christians we represent Christ in the world of today. How we present ourselves is how we represent him. Jesus challenges those who believe in him because he has high expectations of us.  Even though the Gospel for this Sunday is addressed to the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, it is also addressed to all of us who call ourselves disciples of the Lord.  

We must be willing to put everything behind us that prevents us from living in the humble way that Jesus modelled for us. The true style of any Christian must reflect the style and life of Christ, the servant of God. Matthew is unambiguous about Christian leadership: if it is not humble service, it is fake. So today as we reflect on the various things that are so called Fake News let us remember that we are called to be the agents of the Good News of Jesus Christ where we are and not be afraid to pass the good news on.




This weekend  throughout the world  we celebrate the great missionary spirit that has brought the joy of  faith to all the corners of the world.  All of us know someone who has joined a missionary order or we may have come across a missionary such as Columbans, Mill Hill Fathers, St. Patricks Fathers the Medical Missionaries of Mary or whatever of course there are many  other missionary religious orders who along with the Lay Missionary movements have brought the joy of the gospel and the love of God to the far flung corners of the world. God is always calling people to come and follow him  and share his mission. Mission is very much part of Christian tradition. Each of us are baptized into Christ’s mission to bring his  light and joy into the world where we are as well as other places. On World Mission Sunday, we renew and celebrate our calling to be missionary disciples.

We join with many people around the world to support the missionary church wherever it is being planted and taking root. We are especially mindful of  the new churches or the little flocks of Jesus letting their light shine in remote and distant lands. As a little flock, the people of god are challenged to witness to Christ in those places by their life of faith, hope and love and we in our turn are challenged to support them by our prayers and other forms of practical support financial and otherwise.

God wants all people to  experience his saving presence in their lives. it is through God’s grace that we have received the joy of the Gospel and then we are sent by the Holy Spirit to be ambassadors of God’s wondrous deeds in all we do and say. Will we accept the invitation to join in God’s mission by our prayers and material support of those who are out there on the missions? The great Irish missionary tradition was the fruit not just of great missionaries, but of humble men and women at home who gave and are giving generously to support the missions through the missionary Orders and other organisations such as the Apostolic Work.

Christian discipleship and missionary endeavour which we celebrate today are alive and active spiritual apostolate and there is much work out there for everyone to do. This type of service should continue in the Church when that happens we will be a truly missionary people. To be servant in the way that Jesus was means that we should live in complete trust that God loves us and this will help us to pass his love on to others in an ever changing world. Let us pass on the Joy of the Gospel and the love of the father to those we meet wherever we are as we live out our vocation to be missionary people.

Our annual celebration of Mission Sunday  gives us the opportunity to acknowledge all those faithful missionary men and women religious and lay from all over the world who left everything behind in order to bring the light of faith to the far corners of the world. We pray that the Lord of the harvest will continue to inspire many people to join the missionary orders as well as the  lay missionary associations so that the  love of God and the joy of the Gospel may be passed on to each generation in its turn.



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In the Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear about the king sending his servants out to call all those who were invited to come to his son’s wedding but none of the invited guests would come. So the king told his servants to go out and invite everyone on the road to come to the wedding feast. Jesus tells the parable because his ways have been criticized by the “chief priests and elders of the people.” They have rejected him so now he turns to  everyone on the road and he welcomes the poor, sinners, and outsiders. Matthew emphasizes, not only the importance of the meal, but the urgent need we have to respond to God’s invitation to his feast. In the parable those who did respond to the invitation, “bad and good alike,” did so with enthusiasm. They knew a good thing when they heard it and so grasped it immediately, filling the banquet hall just as the king had wanted for his son. Today all of us who say we are Christians are also invited to the wedding feast and this is a pointer towards our participation in the life of the Church especially going to Mass and taking part in the sacramental life of the Church. We hold precious the image of God who calls the good and the bad to the banquet of life that leads to eternal life.

The expectation is that we will prepare ourselves now by being dressed appropriately for the occasion. Perhaps the best description of the proper wardrobe for a Christian is given to us by the apostle Paul. If we wear the clothes he describes the clothes of compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience we will never be thrown out of any banquet. In Colossians he tells us You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience… Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. (Colossians 3:12-15)

This weekend’s parable reminds us that God’s invitation is his gift to us, and it is given to us so that we can freely accept or ignore it. Those who were gathered in from the highways and byways had no claim on the king (God). We, too, have no claim on God, We do not merit God’s invitation on our own. It is a grace God lovingly offers to each and every one of us. Hopefully all of us will be able to accept the invitation to come to the feast.



As we gather this weekend we pray for those who lost their lives or were injured in the atrocity that took place in Las Vegas last week. We also pray that their families and friends  will get the strength to continue their lives knowing that the world and its people are with them in thought and prayer.

This week our parish hosted the  World Meeting of Families Holy Family Icon on Monday – Wednesday. It was particularly significant that Holy Family Parish was chosen to be one of the host parishes as the icon came to Down and Connor. Over the 2 days people came from various parishes as well as the local schools to pray at the icon. The emphasis was on the family there were petitions for our families and they were written and placed in the petition box and will be forwarded to the contemplative communities throughout Ireland by the WMOF so that they can pray for our families in the days ahead. There was also time for prayer both in the quietness and as a community gathered  to hear the word of God and pray the rosary in the presence the Icon.

In our Gospel for this Sunday we hear the parable about the vineyard, it is the tenants who refuse to bring forth the fruits of the vineyard to the owner. They even kill the owner’s son in arrogant defiance. The owner is poised for understandable retribution against such violence. A vineyard was and is often associated with the people of Israel. That image of “vineyard” is tied in with one of the final sentences in this story. “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to those who will bear its’ fruit.” When we reflect on this parable of the vineyard, a question naturally arises. How could those tenants be so ungrateful? How could they react in such a selfish, unjust, and, eventually, murderous way? We tend to interpret the parable as primarily reflecting the refusal of Jewish leaders of that time to accept Jesus as the Messiah. But we need to look beyond that historical event. We need to ask ourselves what the parable means for us here and now as we reflect on the refusal of our own people to accept the things of God. The world we live in can also be seen as a vineyard entrusted to our care. How do we care for the faith we profess and how we show our faith as an example for others to see? What do we return to the vineyard owner who is god our father.

What are some of the obstacles that keep us from responding as we should? So today we are asked to reflect on our own faith and we are called to go out into the vineyard that is the world where we live and work  and have our being. Called  to be the humble workers rather than the land owners to nourish the vines of other people’s faith by what we do and say so that as a result of our efforts they may give glory to our father in heaven.



This weekend in our local parish we begin our preparation for the world meeting of Families being held in Dublin in August 2018. We are unique in that we are the parish of the Holy Family and over the next 10 months or so we will have a short time of prayer and reflection for families on the first Sunday of the month at 5pm. As part of the preparation for the world meeting each diocese in Ireland will be hosting the icon of the Holy Family that was anointed in Knock recently. The Icon will be coming to Down and Connor Diocese on the 30th September for the annual diocesan convention. We will have the icon in our parish from the afternoon of the 2nd October to Wednesday 4th October.

In our Gospel reading for this weekend we hear the story of the two sons. The first son, who said no to his father but who went and did what his father wanted. And then the second  son, who says yes to the father but does not deliver . The first son “thought the better of it.” He was open to change. The second son was set in his ways and closed to the idea of change. The ability to change one’s mind is essential to all healthy relationships. A mind that is closed, whether from pride, stubbornness or stupidity, tends to destroy all relationships, e.g., when we refuse to admit a mistake, when we are unwilling to apologise and change our ways, when we persist in prejudice against a person or group, when we think we know it all when we don’t.

 Jesus surprises the people around him by responding favorably to the actions of the tax collectors and prostitutes who may have gotten it wrong at first but have since repented and come back.   Too many of us are down on ourselves for our past lives. Many of us can truthfully say, “I have made mistakes.” But we are here now. We are doing our best to follow the Lord. We try our best to receive the strength of Christ, the power of the Gospel, and integrate this into our daily lives. This Gospel passage points out something very important about faith and religion. Sometimes the terms faith and religion are taken to be the same. But they are not at all the same. The difference between them be seen more clearly if we speak of religious practices rather than religion. There is of a close relationship between religious practice and faith. Religious practices have to be based on and animated by faith.  The Lord calls us to a living faith whereby we enter into a living relationship with God. That involves something more than adherence to a system of ideas or obedience to a collection of rules or the practice of certain rites. It requires an authentic desire to follow Christ, whatever the costs to us material or otherwise.



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This weekend life just seems to continue as normal with the usual rhetoric coming from the usual people we need to redouble our efforts in prayer for peace in the world. We also remember all those people out there who were affected by the recent hurricanes and the efforts to help them get back to normal.

In our Gospel reading this weekend Matthew recounts the parable of the laborer’s in the vineyard who don’t see the generosity of their Master  because they are blinded by their own envy and selfishness.  Those who first heard this parable would have voiced their bewilderment. How could God not treat the hard, long-suffering workers in the vineyard better than those who had just arrived and didn’t seem to have done as much to gain their reward? The Day laborers in the vineyard objected to the amount of pay the owner gave them as the first was paid exactly the same as the last one denarius.

This tense image rode against the popular view of the Kingdom as a peaceful plentiful feast for the faithful in paradise. Jesus told this story to emphasize how the Kingdom differed from what people expected. What kind of God do we have? The parable tells us that our God is a generous and a just Father who doesn’t have any favourites, but continually invites us into the vineyard of faith and treats us  all equally.  God rewards us all “the same daily wage.” this is really a pointer  towards the “daily bread” God is constantly giving us to feed and strengthen us every day, as we strive to be God’s faithful people. In the pages of the gospels we meet many people who start out as losers but end up as winners. The parable of the  workers in the vineyard is the Lord’s call to all of us   to share generously with all people  what we  have received and that means sharing our resources and our time. Sharing with those who are physically emotionally, spiritually or economically crippled.

It means sharing with the prodigal sons and daughters, the outcasts, the overlooked, and the ones whom the powerful and respectable simply ignore or shun. The losers end up winners because Jesus makes a clear choice in their favour. Why does he do so? Simply because Jesus knows and teaches that God’s ways are not our ways, that God does not work from the mathematics of a calculator but from the fullness of a full and loving heart the heart of the Father. All of us share equally in the task, whether called early in the morning or late in the day, we are called  to build up the kingdom of God in this  unjust and often times hard world. When we focus upon the needs of others, even if they encroach upon our rights, we give  ourselves for the Kingdom. Our work  becomes more honest and our leadership when we are called to lead will bring others to Christ for they see Christ working through us for everyone’s good. Ultimately, service means sacrifice. What are we willing to give up for the Kingdom of God as we proclaim the good news in word and deed




On Friday we saw terrorism rearing its ugly head again with another incident in London. Thankfully no one was killed and we pray for all those who were affected. We also continue to pray for all those who have been affected by the Hurricane in the Caribbean that they will be able to get their lives back to normal as soon as possible in some places its reported that this could take up to two years.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is all about forgiveness. The parable of the unforgiving official is told in order to underline our need for forgiveness. When the king calls his court officials to audit the accounts, one shows a deficiency of ten thousand talents, a colossal sum of money. The sum is deliberately extravagant, running into millions of pounds, to heighten the contrast with the few pounds owed to the official.  When the king orders the sale of the debtor and his family into slavery, the official pleads for time.

The king feels sorry for him and decides to remit the whole of the vast debt.  The official, however, learns nothing from his experience, for he refuses to give a colleague time to pay a trifling debt; instead, he has him thrown into prison. When this heartless behaviour is reported to the king, the grant of full forgiveness is withdrawn and the unforgiving official is thrown to the torturers. What do we learn from this parable about showing mercy the saying goes that the mercy we show to others will also be the mercy that  will be shown to us in our turn. We often forget that God showed us mercy In the same way that the king showed mercy to  the official!  If we think we do not need the mercy of God we need to stop and think about it  for all of  us need gods mercy in one way or another. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it was difficult to forgive someone who offended you all of us have been in that situation at some time in our lives. Forgiveness can be very hard in many situations, and for this reason it takes a long time before we bring ourselves to forgive those who sin against us  especially when they might be  people we trusted a lot.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus seems to tell us that God’s forgiveness has necessary limits, but perhaps these are just the limits we set. The unforgiving slave brings judgement on himself by treating his own forgiveness as a license to bring judgement on others. He thus transforms a merciful king into a vengeful judge. The problem lies not with the king, or even by analogy with God, but with the world the slave insists on constructing for himself, under which terms his fate is now set. With whom, and to what systems, do we bind ourselves each day? Each day let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for all our sins Let us forgive all those who have sinned against us because that is what our father in heaven asks us to do. Remember our Father in heaven sent us Jesus his son to point the way and he encourages us to follow him.



This weekend we remember in a special way all those who are affected by Harvey and Irma the Hurricanes in the Caribbean. I have a nephew who is presently in Cuba wondering what he is going to do and he tells me though they are well prepared they are still expecting the worst!

In our Gospel passage for this Sunday St Matthew recounts Jesus’ instructions to the disciples about how they should deal with a brother who does something wrong. This same instruction applies to us and our dealings with other people in the here and now of today. This passage is very different from those of the two previous Sundays. They were dramatic stories, marked by deep emotions and with deep implications for the characters involved. This is a little gem of a passage but with little drama, a very practical, common-sense teaching on that most common and most prosaic of community problems conflict. It is a great wisdom teaching which continues to be valid for us in our own time.

Today management of time and people  has become a science, and Jesus’ teaching stands up well as a model of how to “manage” conflict in any situation.  It is the duty of the disciple we are told  to point out the error and even if our correction might not be well received. St Matthew wants to let the Christians in his community know how to deal with those who drift away from the teaching of Christ or blatantly contravene the commandments. Matthew chooses those words of Jesus which most stress the authority and the competence of the Christian community, the Church, to deal with these cases: Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.  However, there are some safeguards built into this teaching on reproving those who go astray. Jesus says that first of all you must have it out with him alone. This might lead to a speedy solution and the person’s good name is preserved. Yet it seems  from the gospel reading that the only sanction is that the person be excluded from the community of the Church.

All the practical advice in the Gospel centers on Christians taking responsibility for each other and even now that is what we are asked to do take responsibility for each other. Belonging to a community implies that we are involved in the life of its members. This is not a charter for the legion of the curious, but a procedure for a caring community to follow. It is a way of handling wrongdoing and hurt. For many people have done wrong and many are hurting for so many reasons and this Gospel reading calls us to be there for all those who have done wrong and for all those who are hurting. It is a call for us to show the people who are around us that the way of Jesus is the right road to follow.

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