10 Dec 2017

iBenedictines - The Glory of the Lord

The good nuns over at iBenedictines often have thought provoking daily posts on their blog and so far this Advent they have had some which you should go over to check out. Today's one is below:

Yesterday the snow fell thickly, turning the Black Mountains white and ushering in a wonderful silence that has lasted all night. Into the hushed darkness a voice cries, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord; make his paths straight.’ It is John the Baptist with his burning zeal, urging us to repent, to turn again to the Lord that he may heal us of sin and iniquity. We know that it is in the person of Jesus Christ that we are healed, and that it is his coming that will transform the world. That is the comforting promised by Isaiah, the glory of the Lord that will be revealed to us, but it is far from being the cosy business our common use of the word ‘comfort’ would suggest. 
Throughout Advent we are stretched in ways that at other seasons we barely notice or conveniently ignore. We await a Saviour who has already come, and who is to come again at the end of the ages. We thus live in a strange time out of time, difficult to describe but very real to us who are in it. It can be exhausting; it is always demanding. Just as snow makes a familiar landscape fresh and new, so Advent confounds all our old certainties and invites us to set out on a way that is both known and unknown. We know our goal; we know in theory how to achieve it; there is ‘just’ the problem of the journey. And what an arduous journey it often turns out to be! 
Today there are many false prophets in the world, with their seductive visions of how to attain personal fulfilment. For a Christian, personal fulfilment means something quite different from that usually presented as such. We are called to holiness, to a selflessness that makes no sense except sub specie aeternitatis. We may not yet have eyes to see it, but the glory of the Lord is all around. It shimmers and shines throughout creation. We must begin by allowing ourselves to be bathed in its light, then follow with joy:
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Christmas begins in Rome: Vatican lights tree and inaugurates Nativity scene

Virtual Family Advent Calendar promotes World Meeting of Families 2018

9 Dec 2017

10 December 2017 - 2nd Sunday of Advent - Festival of Families Limerick 11th -19th December 2017

This weeks programme is a little busy with John being joined in studio by Noirin Lynch from Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre to discuss the forthcoming Festival of Families being held in Limerick diocese during the hosting of the WMoF2018 icon. Fr Frank Duhig joins us for his annual visit to the programme to reflect on Advent. We have our regular liturgical odds and ends as well as some reflective music. 

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.

Limerick Diocese Festival of Families - 11th - 19th December 2017

Noirin Lynch visits the "Come & See" studio to tell us about the up coming Festival of Families which is being held in Limerick from 11th to 19th December 2017. The festival  is happening to mark the visit of the WMOF2018 Icon  to Limerick Diocese. 

The icon will be at the following venues for a Festival of Families

• Limerick: St. John’s Cathedral 11-13 December

• Kilmallock: St’s Peter and Paul Church 14-16 December
• Newcastle West: Church of the Immaculate Conception 17-19 December

This is a unique opportunity, in a unique journey of preparation. The Icon will not return to Limerick again, so please note the dates and make your plans to come along!! It presents us with an opportunity to gather as a family of families in this diocese so all are included and welcome at every single event, and also to come to pray in the church when it is open. A petition box for your prayers for families will be available at all times.

You can read more about the Festival at post we did earlier in the week HERE and you can find out more about the icon HERE.

World Meeting of Familes - Limerick diocese Facebook page

You can listen to the interview with Noirin excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE.

Gospel - Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;he will prepare your way.A voice of one crying out in the desert:"Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths."
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 
John was clothed in camel's hair,with a leather belt around his waist.He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed:"One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water;he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

You can listen to the reflection with Fr Frank excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire

Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 2; 2nd week of Advent

Saints of the Week

December 11th - Pope Saint Damasus I
December 12th - Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13th - St Lucy
December 14th - St John of the Cross
December 15th - Blessed Ramón Eirin Mayo
December 16th - Blessed Mary Fontanella

Handel Messiah - For unto us a child is born

8 Dec 2017

Dec 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Stephen B. Whatley, 2010.
You can view more of Whatley’s work here.
From PrayTell
If you knew the gift of God, Christ said one evening to the Samaritan woman.  Yet what is this gift of God but himself? He came to his own home, and his own people received him not, declared the beloved Disciple. To many a soul might Saint John the Baptist utter the reproach:  Among you stands one whom you do not know. 
There is one created being who did know that gift of God, who lost no particle of it; a creature so pure and luminous that she seemed to be the Light itself: Mirror of righteousness – a being whose life was so simple, so lost in God, that there is but little to say of it: the faithful Virgin, who kept all these words in her heart. She was so lowly, so hidden in God…that she drew upon herself the regard of the Holy Trinity: Because he has regarded the humility of his handmaid, for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
By St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906)

6 Dec 2017

John Paul II awards to go Diocese wide after success of Scoil Pól Kilfinane pilot

The success of the inaugural, pilot John Paul II Award in Co. Limerick is set to see the programme go Diocese wide this year, organisers stated at last weekend’s awards night in Kilfinane.

17 young people receive their JPII awards
Photo - Ita West.
Email itawest@eircom.net
The programme, which seeks to foster a sense of civic, community and Christian spirit in parishes, was piloted this year through Scoil Pól in Kilfinane where 17 students aged between 16 and 18 years, received awards at a special and buoyant ceremony on Friday night.

The pilot programme was run by Scoil Pól in conjunction with Limerick Diocese and were initiated by Sr. Patricia Coughlan in Kilfinane. The Knights of St Columbanus also sponsored the launch of the initiative. The awards are broken down into four categories – bronze, silver, gold and the Papal Cross – with the individual awards based on the level of activity that students can take on.

Bronze awards went to students who committed to two hours of activity in social and church based activity for eight weeks; silver required two hours per week for 14 weeks and gold required the same level of weekly activity for 20 weeks. The Papal Cross award is given to students who have completed an additional 26 weeks of activity having already received a gold award.
Started in the Diocese of Derry in 2006, they were created to encourage young people to take an active part in the life of their Church and community and to commemorate the late Pope John Paul II for his commitment to young people.

Running the award in Limerick emerged as one of the recommendations from the Limerick Diocesan Synod held last year to reinvigorate church and community across Limerick and face it positively to the future.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Kilfinane, Bishop Leahy said that such has been their success that the diocese now intends to expand the programme into other parts of the diocese. 

“This has been a magnificent start. The principal, teachers and, moreover, the students her in Scoil Pól really embraced them and such was the level of energy and enthusiasm for them that I’ve no doubt we will see the programme taken up in many, many other parishes and schools across the diocese.

“The beauty of these awards is that they really encourage that sense of community. The Church is community and we saw more young people becoming involved in the Church here through becoming Eucharistic Ministers, reading at Mass, etc. But they also got involved in projects such as Tidy Towns, which really espoused Christian values of working together and celebrating what God has given us.”

One of the students, Jack McCarthy, a recipient of the Papal Cross under the John Paul II Award said the award programme was an opportunity to get a greater sense of what community means. “Through the awards you get a sense of belonging to the community. People who participated became Eucharistic Ministers, got involved in the choir and started reading at Mass.”

Said Gold Medal recipient Aine Crowley: “The John Paul II award is a very good award. It’s great to be involved in community as through it you meet so many people. You are bringing generations, ideas and the community spirit together.”

Scoil Pól Kilfinane Principal Michael O’Hara said that the moment he was introduced to the concept, he was interested and paid tribute to Sr. Patricia for her initiative. “The awards came about following an intervention with Sr. Patricia Coughlan in Kilfinane. She intrigued me immediately with regard to the benefits our students could gain by participating in the awards. The intrigue was the simplicity of the awards themselves; involving people in the community, developing their personalities and sharing their experiences. So this very successful pilot was born out of that.”

Parish Priest of Kilfinane, Glenroe/Ballyorgan and Ardpatrick Fr Michael O'Shea commended the students for their commitment. “For me, I would say it’s a great thing to get young people get involved in Church. I have some of the students get involved in the pastoral council for, example, and they bring a different slant that is helpful to all of us involved in the parish,” he said.

December 7th - Feast day of St Ambrose of Milan (Repost)

Contemplating the wounds of Christ, by which we have been saved, St. Ambrose said, "I can revel in none of my deeds, I have nothing to boast about; therefore, I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I am just, but I will glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am exempt from sins, but I will glory because my sins have been forgiven. I will not glory because I have been a help nor because someone has helped me, but because Christ is my advocate with the Father, and Christ's blood was poured out on me. My sin has become for me the price of the Redemption through which Christ came to me. For my sake, Christ tasted death. Sin is more profitable than innocence. Innocence had made me arrogant, sin made me humble."

From CatholicCulture:

Around the year 333 Ambrose was born at Trier, the child of a noble Roman family. After his father's death he went to Rome, and was soon appointed consul with residence at Milan. While attempting to settle a dispute between the Arians and Catholics over the choice of a bishop, he himself was chosen, although only a catechumen at the time. He was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop on Dec. 7. Thereupon he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the study of theology, and gave his possessions to the poor. He was an illustrious preacher, and through his sermons brought Augustine to the faith and baptized him. He wrote much on the Scriptures and Fathers, preached a homily every Sunday, resisted the interference of the secular powers with the rights of the Church and opposed the heretics. He composed many hymns, promoted sacred chant, and took a great interest in the Liturgy.

Candid and fearless no matter how strong the opposition, Ambrose was directed to confront Maximus, the murderer of the Emperor Gratian. When Maximus refused to do penance, Ambrose excommunicated him. Later he denied Emperor Theodosius entrance into church for his massacre of the inhabitants of Thessalonica. It was on this occasion that allusion was made to [King] David as a murderer and adulterer, and Ambrose retorted: "You have followed him in sin, now follow him in repentance." Humbly, Theodosius accepted the penance imposed.

We often meet this saint in the Divine Office as a teacher and as an inspired composer of hyms (fourteen of the hymns attributed to him are definitely authentic, true pearls of religious poetry). His writings are vibrant with ancient Christian liturgical spirit, for his life was wholly rooted in mystery and sacrament. He is one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church and called the Pastoral Doctor. He placed the church first with each member as his highest priority. Service to each member and defending that honor was his daily and continual aim throughout his lifetime.
"The Divine Scripture is a sea, containing in it deep meanings, and an abyss of prophetic mysteries; and into this sea enter many rivers. There are Sweet and transparent streams, cool fountains too there are, springing up into life eternal, and pleasant words as an honey-comb. Agreeable sentences too there are, refreshing the minds of the hearers, if I may say so, with spiritual drink, and soothing them with, the sweetness of their moral precepts. Various then are the streams of the sacred Scriptures. There is in them a first draught for you, a second, and a last". (Letter 2.3: To Constantius, A Newly Appointed Bishop)
Ambrose is also called the "Patron of the Veneration of Mary". He firmly maintained that population increases in direct proportion to the esteem virginity is held. He laid the foundation for Marian thinking in the West. As the first Doctor of the Church, Saint Ambrose made it patently clear and claimed, from the very outset, that Mary had life-long virginity. The Council of Milan and the church made it official in the year 340 by the doctrine: Mary, Ever Virgin. Ambrose understood Mary as a symbol for the church and Augustine reiterated this idea. Both were instrumental in initiating Marian thinking in the Western Church. We find in the writings of Ambrose the first important Marian doctrine within Western Christianity. Ambrose is the first Christian author to call Mary the type and image of the church. She is the type of the church because she was a virgin, immaculate and married. He was one of the strongest opponents of Arianism in the West. His homilies and other writings on faith, the Holy Spirit, the Incarnation, the sacraments and other subjects were pastoral and practical.
"Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose’s life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world."

Relics of St Ambrose in Milan Cathedral
Patron: bee keepers; bees; candlemakers; chandlers; domestic animals; learning; Milan, Italy; schoolchildren; students; wax melters; wax refiners.

Symbols: Scourge; beehive; tower; dove; cope and mitre; human bones; scroll with staff of music; pen book and pen; cross; chalice; bull; knotted scourge; two scourges; goose; writing tablet and stylus; heart surmounted with flame; scroll with quotation from writings.

Often Portrayed As: Bishop holding a church in his hand; beehive; man arguing with a pagan; with Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Various quotes from St Ambrose HERE.

Read more about him HERE.

5 Dec 2017

Limerick Diocese Festival of Families - Dec 11th - 19th 2017

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has urged people across the diocese to take time during next week’s Festival of Families to redouble their appreciation and celebration of those who are dearest in their lives. The festival is built around the arrival in the diocese of a special icon developed for the World Meeting of Families in Ireland next year and, Bishop Leahy said, is perfectly timed given that we approach the most special time for the family – Christmas."

The WMOF Icon will visit Limerick Diocese 11-19 December at the following venues for a Festival of Families

• Limerick: St. John’s Cathedral 11-13 December
• Kilmallock: St’s Peter and Paul Church 14-16 December
• Newcastle West: Church of the Immaculate Conception 17-19 December

This is a unique opportunity, in a unique journey of preparation. The Icon will not return to Limerick again, so please note the dates and make your plans to come along!! It presents us with an opportunity to gather as a family of families in this diocese so all are included and welcome at every single event, and also to come to pray in the church when it is open. A petition box for your prayers for families will be available at all times.

Festival of Families 2017
The timetable for the Visit of the Icon of the Holy Family to the Diocese of Limerick.
St John’s Cathedral, Limerick
Monday, December 11th - 5:45pm Opening Mass
Tuesday, December 12th 
  • 9am Adoration
  • 9:45am Morning Prayer
  • 10am Mass with Bishop Leahy
  • 1pm Caring for the Sick
  • 5:45pm Mass & St. Anthony Novena
  • 6:15-7pm Reflections on the Icon
Wednesday, December 13th
  • 9am Adoration
  • 9:45am Morning Prayer
  • 10am Mass
  • 10:30am Icon Reflections for Schools
SS Peter & Paul church, Kilmallock
Thursday, December 14th - 7pm Mass with Bishop Leahy
Friday, December 15th 
  • 9:30am Primary Schools' Celebration of Family Life
  • 10:30-11:30am Adoration
  • 12-1:30pm Secondary Schools' Celebration of Family Life
  • 4-6pm Adoration
  • 7pm Advent Carol Service
Saturday, December 16th 
  • 11am Caring for the Sick
  • 6pm Closing Mass
Church of the Immaculate Conception, Newcastle West

Sunday, December 17th 
  • 12pm Mass with Bishop Leahy
  • 2-4pm Adoration
  • 7:15pm Mass with Children's Choir
Monday, December 18th 
  • 10:30am Schools Celebration
  • 3pm Caring for the Sick
  • 7:30pm Family Liturgy
Tuesday, December 19th 10am Closing Mass

WMoF2018 Icon

The icon of the Holy Family was specially commissioned by WMOF2018, written by iconographer Mihai Cucu, and assisted by the Redemptoristine Sisters of the Monastery of St Alphonsus, Iona Road, Dublin, as part of their ongoing prayer for families. The icon was unveiled and anointed on the 21st August 2017, during the launch of the one-year programme of preparation at the National Novena in Knock, Ireland. 

This icon takes the form of a triptych which looks, from the outside, somewhat like a house with front doors. On these outside doors, we are presented with the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who carry with them the desire of God to protect. Their heads are bowed in adoration and service of God, the Holy One. 

On the base is the inscription “Amoris Laetitia”, ‘The Joy of Love’, the title of Pope Francis’ post-Synodal exhortation on love in the family, the source of our reflections during the World Meeting of Families 2018.  

When the doors of this icon are opened we see in the centre the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph seated at table, sharing a meal and sharing their faith. Their faith was celebrated in their home. It is in our home that the reality of God-with-us is communicated and passed on to future generations. Their gathering around the table is reminiscent of the Three Angels in the famous 15th century Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev. Christian Marriage is sometimes compared with the Holy Trinity, as a communion of the giving and receiving of love that is life-giving. Indeed, the family is called to be the “living icon” of the Most Holy Trinity. 

The Icon has now started to travel to each diocese in Ireland to encourage reflection and prayer as part of the journey of preparations to WMOF2018. 

The icon is accompanied by petition boxes, where families can write their intentions and prayer. Contemplative communities around Ireland will pray for the intentions collected during the coming year. The petitions will also be brought to World Meeting of Families 2018.


You can listen to a discussion on the WMOF2018 Let's Talk Family podcast about the icon

Aleteia - The perfect playlist to help prepare you for Christmas

Thought for the Day

Some web browsing..........

“Here I Am, Lord”: The little-known story behind a Catholic hit

Yes, millennials like brunch. But that’s not why they’re skipping Mass.

"The Presence of God Is Called 'Rohingya'" – Meeting Refugees, Pope Pleads for "Forgiveness"

Will Pope Francis remove the Vatican’s ‘warning’ from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings?

Rehabilitation won’t do much for Teilhard, but symbolically it matters

The changing positions of Varadakar and Harris on Abortion - Simon Harris has had more positions on abortion than there are episodes of Big Bang Theory and he has proclaimed them all in public with the air of a man informing the electorate of a deeply held moral principle. The only person who has flopped this flip as almost as much is his current boss, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Dismembering living unborn babies is ‘very humane,’ Planned Parenthood backer tells Congress

Canada’s first in-utero surgery to repair spina bifida a success

Pro life agency slates SF abortion stance

4 Dec 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention - December 2017 - For the Elderly

This month the pope asks us to pray for the elderly. Those who have lived the longest have the most to give! Let us take care of them. They are our future.

“A people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well has no future! 

The elderly have wisdom. 

They are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people. 

Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.”

Advent dares us to dream - Prairie Messenger

Taken from the Prairie Messenger accessed here.
Fanore Beach, Co Clare
(c) Eoin Noonan
Advent is a time of longing, longing for the kingdom made present in Jesus Christ.
It is not a time to pretend that Jesus has not yet come. We do not long for someone whom we do not know. It is precisely because we have already come to know and cherish Jesus as our Lord and Saviour that we can truly long for his presence.
God with wisdom divine made us a mystery unto ourselves. Every time we come to a new level of self-awareness we also awaken to the fact that there is much more about ourselves that we do not know.
And so, even our self-acceptance becomes an act of faith in the God who created us. So it is not just Jesus whom we now know only in faith and hope. Advent tells us not to be afraid to hope for the kingdom, a kingdom of justice and peace, a kingdom of self-fulfilment, a kingdom in which the church itself is known not so much for its propensity to point out sin but, rather, for its marvellous ability to reveal to us that goodness made obvious in Jesus Christ.
Advent flies in the face of 11:00 news broadcasts. What is good in our world is not news. Almost by definition news has become “bad news.” By wallowing in the bad, we can justify that weakest of human responses — cynicism.
Cynicism is beguiling. Before we know it, our cynicism has not only involved the world — especially, these days, the world of politics — but also has come to include our views about ourselves, our church, our God.
There is a hollowness in our hearts, and any self-examination worth its salt invariably leads to the discovery of new “crud.” Thus it is easy to be cynical, to see only smallness of spirit if not outright self-serving sin in others. And, perhaps saddest of all, we choose the personal path of least resistance and become cynical about ourselves.
Rather than truly face that alarming emptiness in our hearts, that deadening hollowness, we proclaim it to be normal. We conveniently decide that we should not expect more of ourselves.
Advent dares us to dream. The eighth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans provides us with a wonderful Advent meditation. The apostle reminds us bluntly what the first fruits of the Spirit will mean for us. The Spirit, he says, will help us groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. “For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved; our salvation is not in sight — we should not have to be hoping for it if it were — but as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet; it is something we must await in patience.”
Paul uses some difficult concepts: groaning, not yet in sight, patience. We do not want to groan inwardly; we want instant gratification; patience comes hard for all of us.
Advent does not provide ready answers; it calls us to faith. A line often used in the Advent liturgy should become a mantra for us: “O, come, Lord Jesus; O you heavens, rain down your salvation. Lord, just let it pour upon me.”
Texts such as these are put not just on the lips of individual Christians. In the liturgy the whole church cries out longing for fullness. During Advent the church itself makes its own the words of the prophet Isaiah, words spoken during some of Israel’s most difficult years. How can it be, we ask, that the church makes its own the pathos in Isaiah’s heart as he cried out in the wilderness of his being for consolation, for a path of salvation in his personal desert?
Yes, the church cries out: “Come to us, Lord, with your peace that we may rejoice before you with our whole heart.” Freely, openly, the church admits that it is restless. But what else is to be expected since the church is not yet fully at home with its Lord?
And so we shun the temptation to cynicism, the temptation that makes our smallness of spirit the norm. Because we know Jesus, we hope for more. We should take consolation that the church in its Advent liturgy admits to its incompleteness, its smallness of spirit, its temptation to settle down and idolize its current structures as nigh-on perfect.
During Advent we as individuals and as church renew our pledge not to settle down, not to make our home in the present age. We promise not to attempt to fill our incompleteness with anything and everything that is handy.
Advent reminds us that we can change and move beyond what satisfies us today. Advent also assures us that our church can change, can change even those structures it has so carefully divinized. In this Advent process we come to notice that our very concept of God also changes.
With the new freedom that comes from facing our deepest fears, we can with St. Paul realize that our patient groaning has been changed into the new song of the kingdom: “For I am now certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

3 Dec 2017

The Beatitudes

Christian orthodox chant: "The Beatitudes", sang by the monks of the Valaam monastery (near Sankt Petersburg, Rusia)

Waiting in Joyful Hope! Advent begins - Pilgrim Progress

Cross post from Sr Louise at Pilgrims Progress:

Advent begins not with a cute baby scene but one which might even disturb us. We do not begin our Advent journey with the baby Jesus snuggled in the arms of his parents all aglow in a tranquil postpartum nativity scene.  Instead we begin right in the middle of the birth pains that accompany a difficult delivery. The prophet Isaiah lets out a gut wrenching cry: “O God that you would tear open the heavens and come down.”  The world around us is in turmoil, God.  We need your presence.  Come and occupy our world now! The world cries out for the Lord.

Nowadays people don’t like waiting. In the past I’ve thought of waiting as wasted time, such as when I wait for a bus or in a doctor’s surgery. This kind of waiting requires little action on our part; it’s mostly a matter of biding our time. Everything is so instantaneous that we no longer know how to wait. Yet, these are opportunities to pray. The Second Reading from St. Paul reminds us that as we wait, we do so with a grateful heart. We have received so many gifts which help us as we wait, gifts which keep us faithful. The Lord also asks us to pray as we wait. If we are too busy to pray then we really are too busy. The same amount of time will pass whether I am squandering it in impatience or using it to serve the Lord and His children. Choosing to “wait upon the Lord” or viewed another way, to serve Him, yields far more satisfying results.

A reflection I read on this Sunday’s Gospel invites us to give thanks to all those who keep watch and wait for us. Who are the doorkeepers in our lives who wait anxiously for us to welcome us, even when we have strayed from them, blocked them out? There are doorkeepers who encourage us and offer hospitality and words of advice to keep going along the pilgrim way. 

It is like during the Lough Derg pilgrimage when have to stay awake all night as part of the penitential element. You try to sneak a few secret minutes of zzzz’s before you get caught. You keep moving position to stop your legs hopping with restlessness. It requires effort to stay awake. How can we keep our soul awake for when the Lord comes?

I love Night vigils. There is something very special about keeping watch in the dark by the glow of candles or the moonlight. There is a stillness that the day cannot encapture. But it is so easy to fall asleep, especially when you want to stay awake! 

For this, the Church gives us Advent. It is four weeks of being alert, of preparation. Advent always begins with a word about wakefulness. The wakefulness that Jesus describes is a state of mind and body, a practice, a way of being. It does not bear resemblance to the ways we usually try to keep ourselves (or unwittingly find ourselves) awake, methods that usually leave us jangly-nerved and less than fully functional, usually caffeine-induced! Sometimes we exist more than live, or even worse we ‘survive’ and not live at all. Our Father wants us to thrive, not just survive. The prophet Isaiah wrote to the believers of his day: “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. Isn’t it amazing how exhausted we can get doing God’s work?

Too often, rather than waiting patiently, quietly, expectantly, and in his word, we are fretting and anxious and non-trusting and our strength is drained. Those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings as eagles! It is an interesting thing about eagles. They soar, they don’t fly. They wait for the correct wind, and then they ride that wind, soaring to the heights. Isn’t that a great picture for us as we wait on the Lord? When the wind of the Spirit moves and blows, we ride with wings as eagles to where he wants us to go.

Expectantly wait on Him. And when the Holy Spirit moves, when the wind blows, then soar on wings like an eagle, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. In the meantime, wait for Him. And while you are waiting – renew your strength.

2 Dec 2017

3rd December 2017 - Reflecting on the Immaculate Conception of Mary

On this weeks programme John is joined by Fr John Mockler for a reflection on the up coming celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel and other liturgical odds and ends.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.

First Sunday of Advent

Advent Poem

O Lord,
let Advent begin again
in us,
not merely in commercials;
for that first Christmas was not
simply for children,
but for the
wise and the strong.

It was
crowded around that cradle,
with kings kneeling.

Speak to us
who seek an adult seat this year.

Help us to realize,
as we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
for the old folks —
bent backs
and tired eyes
need relief and light
a little more.

No wonder
it was grown-ups
who were the first
to notice
such a star.

~ written by David A. Redding, 
in If I Could Pray Again (1965). Posted on Journey with Jesus.

Reflecting on the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with you. You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Alleluia.

December 8th is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is observed as a Solemnity and a holy day of obligation in Ireland. 

On this weeks programme Fr John Mockler gives a short reflection on the feast day which you can listen to excerpted from the main programme HERE

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is the doctrine that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin, that twist in our nature that makes our will tend not to follow what it knows to be right. It was this grace that enabled Mary to give a true and considered “Yes” to the request, conveyed by the Angel Gabriel, that she should consent to be the mother of the incarnate God.

The doctrine was almost universally believed over the centuries but was only formally defined as a doctrine of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Because it is so old, it is one of the Marian doctrines that Islam shares with the Catholic Church, though of course the theological details are very different.

The core of the definition was solemnly set out in 1854 and was expressed in this way in the papal Constitution Inneffabilis Deus:
“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous four years later and Bernadette asked her, "Would you kindly tell me who you are?", she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception".

Gospel - Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:"Be watchful! Be alert!You do not know when the time will come.It is like a man traveling abroad.He leaves home and places his servants in charge,each with his own work,and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.Watch, therefore;you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,whether in the evening, or at midnight,or at cockcrow, or in the morning.May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of Hours - Psalter week 1; First week of Advent

Saints of the Week

December 4th - St John Damascene 
December 5th - Bl Philip Rinaldi 
December 6th - St Nicholas
December 7th - St Ambrose of Milan
December 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin of Mary (First Friday)
December 9th - St Juan Diego Cuahtlatoatzin (the Seer of Guadalupe) (First Saturday)