Archive for the tag “spirituality”


download (1)

We pray today for all those who perished in Paris on Friday night this atrocity serves no one. This Sunday in our Gospel story we hear about the End times and I am sure that the people who died didn’t  think that they were approaching their end times may all of them through the mercy of God rest in peace.

For the past two millennia, Christians have looked to the future and asked, “When, Lord, when is all this going to kick off?” Jesus saw the end of time event as the visit of the divine King. God would prepare the visit with cosmic signs and events as a means of announcement. The King would arrive in a way that reflected his power and reputation (on the clouds); his messengers (“angels”) would go throughout the known world to gather all the faithful. Remember that the Jewish people had been displaced throughout the known world because of economic opportunity or oppression. Jesus implied that the injustice of Jews living on foreign soil would be corrected during his lifetime  How did his disciples know Jesus spoke the truth? Jesus gave a farming analogy of the fig tree to support his belief in God’s immanent judgement.

Every spring we observe the twigs on a bare tree start to grow and go green then Leaves appear and we know that summer is on the horizon. As Spring is a prelude to Summer, and Autumn warns of Winter so we must not be complacent, imagining that life can be held in suspension because life keeps marching on.

After the cosmic fireworks, Jesus imagines a peace beyond suffering. This vision of peace is important for Mark’s persecuted community: they need more than a firework display to see them through their own historical apocalypse. If their hope is not to be exhausted by force of circumstances, they need help to imagine a far side to pain and suffering. Mark gives their hope help in sharing Jesus’ vision. For that is the purpose of all apocalyptic writing: to fund the hope of those who suffer in the present. We live in an age of uncertainty: the future never looks wholly secure. But Jesus holds out a vision that takes us beyond our worst imaginings. There is a place beyond the mountains of arms and weapons, beyond environmental damage and terrorism. This vision doesn’t free us from the duty to strive for peace and right living, but it does free us from the blasphemy of believing that a nuclear holocaust will be the last word in the human story. In the meantime, we have to depend on the promise of Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” No one, not even the Son, knows when all this will take place. The only sure thing we can hold on to is the word of Jesus and all we are asked to do is hold fast to what we know to be good and in these times when we look at all that is happening around us this is good advice.


images (3)

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, the Church’s “Hall of Fame.” They are the men and women who “hung in there” despite all sorts of obstacles, to faithfully believing in God and His Son, Jesus. They are the ones who were truly lovers and followers despite their own sinfulness and weaknesses. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later the  1st  November was set  as the day for commemorating all the Saints.  All of us have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in Jesus footsteps and try to conform ourselves to his image as we seek  to do  the will of the Father in all things In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium)

In today’s Gospel  which is the beatitudes we have Jesus’ charter for his kingdom,. When we listen to the beatitudes we can all put faces to the virtues. We remember these people and we know them. The people whose simplicity and littleness shine like a light in a world of darkness. The gentle folk whose energetic non-violence will never win medals. Those who cry and mourn their loss because they have tasted the presence of love.  The ones who hunger for what is right and who stay hungry until what is right becomes a reality. Those who scandalise us with their mercy because they exclude no one from its embrace. The people who have an undivided heart, whose loyalty to God is never in question. Those who not only look for peace but do everything in their power to make peace and build a kingdom among the ruins.This summary of Jesus’ teaching gives expression to the heart and spirit of the life to which Jesus calls us. True happiness, Jesus declares, will be found by those for whom their relationship with God means more to them than earthly goods – a “poverty of spirit, ” a “meekness” and “gentleness” after the example of Jesus, a “hunger for justice” that shapes what we do according to the values of the Kingdom, in sum “a pure (i.e. undivided) heart.” These are the ideals that have inspired the saints honoured by the Church, and those countless others known only to God.  

The Beatitudes are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy.  How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution?  Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible.  Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit.  Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression.  God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness.  Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.  Thomas Aquinas said: No one can live without joy.  That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.  Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone? So the question to ask ourselves today is are we prepared to take up the attitudes of the Beatitudes and make them our way of life?



In our Gospel for this Sunday Christ walks along the streets of the ancient city of Jericho even in Jesus time the city of Jericho was already thousands of years old. With his disciples and a great crowd following him, our Lord is leaving the city and Bartimaeus the blind beggar calls out to him in dire need: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” Bartimaeus, though blind, could see. His instincts were sharper than a fresh razor blade. The divinity of Jesus had come across to him in waves. But those  around and about him, who enjoyed good vision, were blind to the Son of Man. The blind and deaf Helen Keller said, “The most beautiful things in the world can’t be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” It is possible for good people to spend their days searching but never finding their spiritual hearts.

I often feel that I am going around in circles looking for this or that way of curing my own spiritual blindness. But I always come to the same conclusion that faith in God is what it is all about. Spiritual blindness often prevents people from perceiving the correct way a follower of Jesus should live. Our following of Jesus is not compulsory.

We cannot be compelled to love or to accept the mission of God to transform the world after the pattern that Jesus gave us that is our own free choice. We must not accept the voices that would have us silenced and there are so many in our modern world and many of those voices are blind to the Spiritual heart of faith. The gift we seek is sight, that is the ability to capture the vision of a new creation brought about by a faith filled community of people. Of course we will be afraid. Our reflection on the lives of those who have gone before us tell us that the way of discipleship can lead us into paths we may find difficult  The Gospel stories we have heard over these past weeks reveal how blind the disciples and the people around them really were. The bewildered confusion of the twelve; the cruel reaction of the crowd, who “scolded Bartimaeus and told him to keep quiet’”; the blindness of those in Jerusalem determined to destroy him. Through this miracle, Jesus makes Bartimaeus a living sign of what he is doing in the name of his Father – healing the world’s blindness, leading the human family to see in him the truth of God’s ways and not the way of the world. Discipleship is not about having possessions. Bartimaeus had no possessions except his cloak. But he even casts that aside to get up and come to Jesus.

He is a powerful symbol for us: what little he has he puts aside to get closer to Jesus. The last line of the story captures the gospel message. Jesus immediately gives the man his sight to his eyes and his heart. With the gift Jesus has given him he can see where he is to go he gets up and follows Jesus. The gift was swift in coming and Bartimaeus responds just as quickly. “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” “The way” is symbolic language for those who follow Jesus. The disciples, on the road with Jesus, must have thought of themselves as part of the “in crowd,” the way James and John did when they asked Jesus to give them seats of power in his kingdom  in last Sundays Gospel (Mark 10:35-45). While they were physically close to Jesus, they were a long way from understanding and taking his message on board. The blind beggar, with nothing but a cloak, was exactly the kind of person Jesus noticed and invited to come close while those with Jesus still didn’t get it  and as a result they were not his true followers on “the way.” God wants us to say truthfully in the silence of our hearts, “Lord that I may see.” Jesus wants our prayer like that of Bartimaeus to come from a sincere heart that asks not only for the gift of sight so that we can see the world around us, but also for the gift of seeing – of seeing the truth, or the lack of it in the depths of our being, and then taking the action necessary to reverse our blindness.

Bartimaeus the clever man that he was saw Christ with the eyes of faith and  a faith filled heart. So you and I must also look and see Jesus with the eyes of faith so that we may be able to see more clearly what we have to do as people of faith to lead others to Christ.



 We are now at the midpoint of August and summer has flown by and the thoughts of the children and their parents turn towards going back to school at the start of September. Over the next few weeks the preparations will get going and hit fever pitch with the buying of school uniforms and all the other things required for the school going population. This indicates an unending circle from one September to the next, each year being the same with the people involved getting a bit older as time goes by. Also this week the exam results are is for those doing the A levels and next week we have the results for those doing the GCSE exams. 

 Our Gospel Reading for this Sunday suggests when we take Communion we really are taking real Food and real Drink.   The receiving of this gift becomes the acceptance and acknowledgment of the Lord’s care for us and thus, ultimately, the nourishment we need to continue the journey. Sometimes it is not easy to put one foot in front of the other, let alone continue on the journey of faith.

In His book To Live Is to Love, Ernesto Cardenal says, “If in everything you fulfil God’s will rather than your own, every encounter in the street, every telephone call, every letter you receive, will be full of meaning, and you will find that everything has its good reason and obeys a providential design. To “live in love” requires us to be connected to the Love of God.     There is one concrete way that the Lord helps us to make this connection that is by providing the Eucharist the bread of Life.   In the bread and wine offered at the Eucharist, the risen Lord makes himself present.

While the priest invokes the words of blessing (thus acting as the instrument of Christ or “in persona Christi”), the conversion of the bread and wine into the blood into the Body and Blood of Christ remains the initiative of God (specifically, the Holy Spirit). The offer to partake in the “living bread” is God’s offer of unity with Christ and his followers (his “body,” the Church). The attraction of the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament is dynamic. Jesus is dynamic.

When we receive communion or when we come to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, we don’t receive an inanimate object.  We don’t kneel before a static entity. This is not a crucifix or a statue that reminds us of something. This is Jesus. The One Who Is who was and will be in the future. When we receive communion or come to adoration, we take within ourselves or we come before the dynamic, powerful Presence who speaks to us through the life He has given us. How great is our God. He has found a way for each of us to have continual, intimate encounters with Him. Let us pray, for those whose access to the Gift of the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament is not so easy whether they have left the faith or perhaps they might be struggling with it or for many they may not yet found it as we remember that Jesus has said ‘I am the Bread of life he who comes to me will never be hungry.’



This Sunday our Gospel reading is all about Mission. Jesus summons the twelve apostles and sends them out on a missionary tour.  The chosen followers of Jesus have to carry the word of God as a challenge to others. In that mission the apostles have the authority and the power of Jesus. They have to travel on that. They are not to rely on their own resources but on the authority that has been given to them and the hospitality that will be offered them. With no bread and no money, they have to depend on the kindness of others: that vulnerability makes their message their real resource. If they have bread to eat, it means that people are not only hospitable to them but to the word they preach. If they are not accepted, they have no option but to move on. And when a town rejects their message, the apostles are to shake the dust from their feet – a symbolic act performed by strict Jews returning to Palestine after journeying abroad. The Twelve went out and preached. Jesus and his Twelve preached that God would adopt humanity, making its members which include you and me “sons” and “daughters” of the Father This was Good News then just as it is now!  In recent times we have seen the decline in people attending Church in our parishes for many reasons and I think we need to be like the twelve who were sent out with the message of Jesus but with one difference we need to seek out those who do not want to hear the message instead of shaking the dust off our feet we really need to let our feet get dirty. We have to have carry the word of God as a challenge to others and it should also be a challenge to ourselves in our time and place. There is much within the Church that needs to be challenged but there is so much more that is of value even now. In telling us about the beginning of the church in so dramatic a fashion, Mark, wants to be certain that disciples in his church and in the church  of our time will be mindful of some important implications. We, like the first disciples, are inadequate for the task; yet Christ’s mission for God’s kingdom is given to us. If we labor under the illusion that we can bring about God’s reign on our own, we will be advancing something other than God’s kingdom on earth. Paul refers to his experience of preaching the gospel as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1: 1831). He relishes saying “we are fools for Christ’s sake? Because he understands that it is because of his weakness that the power of Christ can dwell in him (1 Corinthians 4: 10 and 2 Corinthians 12: 9). Of course, we know that is a task not confined to the clergy or to religious sisters and brothers. It is the job of every single member of the Church. The message of hope from today’s Gospel is that we don’t have to communicate the Gospel in highfaluting or overly technical language. We will be far more effective if we just use ordinary words and simple concepts. We don’t have to have spent years of study before we can explain what Christ means; we can do it quite easily using concepts we already understand as well as examples from our own lives.

The crucial point in the Gospel  is that by doing things Jesus’ way the Apostles get close to the people, they understand their concerns and they share their life. There is no better way of communicating the love of God to the people around us than sharing the concerns of others and getting close to the people of God. Let us be fools for Christ like St. Paul as we remember that it is through our weakness that the power of Christ can dwell in us and work through us for other people.



 Over the next few weeks a number of friends of mine will be travelling to Lourdes here are a few thoughts on what the place and the people mean to me 34 years on from my 1st pilgrimage as a 14 year old in 1981.

When I think about Lourdes so many things like the cold water of the baths and people such as Fr. Leahy and Mrs. Smye and CLM all come to mind. After all the  years of coming and going so much has changed and so many people have gone to God both young and old and all the ages in between. There have been So many happy and sad times together with those who began to mean a lot to me way back at the start in August 1981 and many of those people mean so much more to me now they all know who they are and hopefully they might even be reading this !!!. Lourdes is the one thing that I have in common with all of my friends. The experiences that I have had over the years have changed me So much for the better I hope that I am more thoughtful and a less annoying person than before other people will have to tell me whether that is true or not. Lourdes has many meanings for everyone who visits the place but for me it means love, joy happiness and yes even sadness but above all else it is about the presence of Mary our mother in my life.

It is about Mary bringing all of us to Jesus who in turn brings us to the Father and the father’s house. Lourdes is not about me as an individual instead Lourdes is about giving yourself away in service for others the pilgrims of all nationalities who need your help physical, medical, spiritual or for many including myself it is simply about just sitting listening to what is important to someone which often times is a load of rubbish or at least it seems that way to you but to them it is the most important thing in their lives at that moment. One friend recently stated that Lourdes was the annual dose of steroids for her faith she said this in an interview on the radio and that is a great description of the Lourdes experience it certainly is a boost for those whose faith is strong to keep on going and a kick up the 90’s for those whose faith is not so strong to a start walking along on the road of faith.

In our pilgrimage to Lourdes all of us come with the sick, the fragile, those who long for many different kinds of healing perhaps body, mind or spirit. We place them at the heart of our pilgrimage week as a visible sign of our faith in God’s love for the weak and those in our modern world who count for little or nothing at all when in truth they are of great value more valuable than Gold and Silver.  Those of us, who are sick or weak or powerless, like Bernadette, teach the rest of the able bodied world something of great and vital importance. They teach us that God is with the weak and the powerless and through them he points us along the right road.  We may, at least for part of our lives, enjoy comfort, good health, various kinds of success; they are not what life is about. Life is about the journey we make to God, not about what we think of as our achievements or our plans. Remember the old saying that man proposes and god disposes, this means god does what he sees is good for all of us both as individuals and community. 

When I went overland to Lourdes for the 1st time August in 1981 I didn’t think that I would go back and yet here I am talking about the one thing that is so much of what I have become over the intervening years. There is a line of Patrick Kavanagh that says “Only they who fly home to God have flown at all” I certainly have flown high above the clouds and so many others have been in the flight with me and given me so much in relation to Lourdes and the life I have back as a result back home. I only hope that I have been able to give them something back.  So much good has come into my life as a result of Lourdes and all the experiences that I have had there and I will always be grateful for the people and the place that mean so much to me.


John  The Baptist

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Birthday of St, John the Baptist. For the members of the Order of Malta it is the day when we celebrate our patron saint. John was the herald who went before Jesus to prepare the way for the Lord to make his paths straight. A desert prophet, he was outstanding for vigour, discipline and humility. In the Gospels the Baptist plays a unique roll he is the first witness who leads other people to Jesus who he identifies as the messiah, the Son of God.

As wondrous as the events of John’s birth may be, his greatness comes not from how he was born but from who he becomes a “light to the nations,” a herald of repentance His identity as light and herald is revealed and confirmed in his mission. Thus, his greatness derives from his fidelity to his mission: “I am not he.  Behold, one is coming after me and I am not worthy to undo the strap of his sandals.”

It is impossible to speak of John’s birth without noting his fidelity to his mission and his relationship to the Messiah. John the Baptist’s birth and mission remind us that God is always working in the world John is the manifestation of God’s working on behalf of all the world and its people.As the Apostles were witnesses to Jesus we to are called to be witnesses to Jesus, as members of the Church and members of the Order of Malta.  We need to be pointing away from ourselves to Jesus.

We are challenged to live lives of selfless service in defence of the faith and service of the sick and poor. In saying that many people have lost the courage to share their faith, their time and their talents. Being a caring and sharing individual within society means that we should give ourselves selflessly and without hesitation to people who need us without counting the cost this is what true service means. Service to those who are our Lord’s the sick and poor, is a great privilege and that is exactly what our service as members of the Order of Malta should be willingly and freely given to others.

May we as members of the Order of Malta be courageous in our defence of the faith and our service of the poor and the sick as we reflect on our mission on the feast of our patron John the Baptist.


images (6)

Without strong preparation of prayer, fasting, and openness to the Holy Spirit, no sacred space of faith will be created, and there will be no genuine dialogue to enable the Spirit of God to renew the faith community by creating new perspectives, new perceptions, new understandings, and new enthusiasms that bring about new decisions, leading to renewed life. I believe very strongly that the seeds of faith are there in each and every person whether they are attending Church or not each Sunday. I also believe that we need to get out there and promote the message of the Joy of the Gospel and its great mercy.

The time for inaction is over and the time for constructive action with lasting results has arrived. Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel tells us: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. At our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). (49).

We in Ireland at this time are that bruised and hurting Church for many reasons and as such we need to begin moving away from being confined to ourselves looking inwards staying in our own circles. We need to move away from clinging to our own security to  looking outwards in order to bring the joy of the Gospel to all those we meet. The question to be asked here is this are we the members of the church at the present time lay religious and clergy  giving the countless others whose faith is wavering or non-existent  food for the journey, the journey of faith?

 We need to speak frankly and openly with each other Seeking God’s will in our strengths and weaknesses and not be afraid of the message we have to share. I firmly believe that faith is really all about people and their personal journeys of faith and that includes you and me.  We need to renew the faith community by creating new perspectives, new perceptions, new understandings, and new enthusiasms relating to faith and all of these will lead to renewed life.  We need to reaffirm what we ourselves believe in so that we will inspire others to begin or continue their faith journeys. With a strong preparation of prayer, fasting, and openness to the Holy Spirit, a great sacred space of faith will be created it is a long journey that we need to embark on but a worthwhile journey none the less.

Pope Francis puts it well in the Joy of the Gospel when he says to us:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.  No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (Pope Paul VI). The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18,2) has given us his example… Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders (Lk 15,5). No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.

As a matter of fact we have to constantly renew ourselves and in the same way the Church should be always renewing herself on an ongoing basis at personal, local, national and international levels. Renewal should not come as a result of scandal renewal should be engrained in the culture of faith and religion. So that we may tackle any of the problems of the day head on and not be afraid of what might happen. We need to begin to be a praying people both as community and individuals praying that the will of God will come, thy kingdom come thy will be done at the our Father puts it.

In his 2014 message for Lent Pope Francis says that The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion. As we look at the implications of the marriage referendum as a Church let us commit ourselves anew to the cause of renewal. The renewal of the church that GOD WANTS not the renewal that some within the Church want. If we are truly open to god we will pray and then act.

We cannot discount the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to make the right thing happen in the right time and place. As I said above some within the Church want their version of renewal which may well be a going back to the future, if we do go back let us remember that the Church did not begin with the Gold, Silver or Magnificent Vestments. We cannot forget that Jesus was born in the stable in Bethlehem. The Last Supper was in the upper room, Jesus washed his disciples feet there was no Gold on the Cross of Good Friday only the nails and the wood of the Cross.



I think that we should pause for a moment and reflect on the result of the referendum that took place last Friday in the Irish Republic. As we reflect on the result let us remember that 40% voted no whilst the majority 60% voted yes whether you agree or disagree let us turn to God as we pray for Ireland and its people.

Glory to you, O Lord our God.Your love calls us to be your people.

By sharing our many and diverse gifts we share in your mission. We ask you, Lord, to shape us into a community of faith. Nourish us by your word and sacraments that we may grow into the image of Jesus.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, heal us that we,in turn, may heal the wounded. Form us to be instruments of love, justice, and peace in our land , and send us to proclaim your saving work. renew us, Lord, that we may renew the face of the earth.




This Sunday in Ireland we celebrate the feast of the Ascension. In those places where the ascension was celebrated last Thursday the 7th Sunday of Easter is being celebrated instead.

The words of the Gospel for this Ascension day strike me in a particular way as we have our parish mission going on at the moment. Jesus tells us ‘go therefore make disciples of all the nations and know that I am with you yes to the end of time. This Gospel reading is all about the past and the future but it is also about ourselves in the here and now of today, and what are we doing to make disciples of all the nations in 2015 or at the least make disciples of those around us perhaps our families and friends. In today’s gospel, Jesus has little to say, but he is definite about what he has to say when he speaks.

This is in sharp contrast to the fact that, even at this last minute, some of his disciples still doubted. The disciples did what he told them to do. He asked them to meet him on the mountain, and they did that. Like any gathering of people, their feelings were varied. Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted. Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all of those doubts would be ended. It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the second part of his plan of salvation could get underway. The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that Jesus had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to follow him, they were to ask that others should obey his directions and instructions which was so hard then and especially hard in the world of today.

The programme of redemption and salvation was to begin at Pentecost and continue from generation to generation, until the end of time.

So many things have changed in the Church and society. However the two things that have not changed are Jesus himself and every word of his message as they are ever old and always new for each generation. The message of Jesus is ignored by many people inside and outside the Church for their own reasons. The essential message of God and his messenger Jesus his Son have never changed up to now and I don’t think that they will ever change. Again and again we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations realizing that Jesus and his message are always new for each generation. May we be heralds of the Ascension as we place the message of Jesus before others by the way we live our lives in the Joy of the Gospel.

While Christ now reigns with his Father, he still dwells in his Body, the Church. Through the Church, Christ acts in the world. Through the Church he announces the Kingdom of God. Let us remember that you and I each and every one of us are members of the Body of Christ the Church and as such are called to be heralds of Gospel Joy. The Church, imperfect as it is as the assembly of sinners, still dares to declare the Kingdom to the world at large. For the Church is made whole through the work of Christ’s Spirit as the Body of Christ  which enables us  to Go out to the whole world to proclaim the Good News.

Post Navigation