31 Dec 2011

World Day of Peace - Message of Pope Benedict XVI



1 JANUARY 2012


1. The beginning of a new year, God’s gift to humanity, prompts me to extend to all, with great confidence and affection, my heartfelt good wishes that this time now before us may be marked concretely by justice and peace.

With what attitude should we look to the New Year? We find a very beautiful image in Psalm 130. The Psalmist says that people of faith wait for the Lord “more than those who watch for the morning” (v. 6); they wait for him with firm hope because they know that he will bring light, mercy, salvation. This waiting was born of the experience of the Chosen People, who realized that God taught them to look at the world in its truth and not to be overwhelmed by tribulation. I invite you to look to 2012 with this attitude of confident trust. It is true that the year now ending has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological. It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day.

In this shadow, however, human hearts continue to wait for the dawn of which the Psalmist speaks. Because this expectation is particularly powerful and evident in young people, my thoughts turn to them and to the contribution which they can and must make to society. I would like therefore to devote this message for the XLV World Day of Peace to the theme of education: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”, in the conviction that the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world.

My Message is also addressed to parents, families and all those involved in the area of education and formation, as well as to leaders in the various spheres of religious, social, political, economic and cultural life and in the media. Attentiveness to young people and their concerns, the ability to listen to them and appreciate them, is not merely something expedient; it represents a primary duty for society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and peace.

It is a matter of communicating to young people an appreciation for the positive value of life and of awakening in them a desire to spend their lives in the service of the Good. This is a task which engages each of us personally.

The concerns expressed in recent times by many young people around the world demonstrate that they desire to look to the future with solid hope. At the present time, they are experiencing apprehension about many things: they want to receive an education which prepares them more fully to deal with the real world, they see how difficult it is to form a family and to find stable employment; they wonder if they can really contribute to political, cultural and economic life in order to build a society with a more human and fraternal face.

It is important that this unease and its underlying idealism receive due attention at every level of society. The Church looks to young people with hope and confidence; she encourages them to seek truth, to defend the common good, to be open to the world around them and willing to see “new things” (Is 42:9; 48:6).


New Years Eve - Te Deum

Shannon Estuary

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.....

The Te Deum (also known as Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church) is an early Christian hymn of praise. The title is taken from its opening Latin words, Te Deum laudamus, rendered literally as "Thee, O God, we praise".

We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
let me never be confounded.

29 Dec 2011

New Years Day Live Programme

On New Years Day, the Sacred Space 102fm team will once again be going live from West Limerick 102fm HQ for a two hour special for New Years Day or in liturgical parlance the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

The line up for the show will be a review of the year gone by including a replay of some of the highlights from our programme throughout the year, our Sunday gospel reflection/lectio, Saints of the Year, patron Saints and upcoming Saints of the Week, a quick look at up and coming things in 2012.

For readers of the blog we would suggest a visit through the Blog Archive on the left hand side to see what articles and posts cast your fancy. Or if you would like a reflective review of the year, take a trip through our web browsing posts for some thought provoking pieces from during the year.

27 Dec 2011

2012 Letter from Taize - Towards a New Solidarity


For a new solidarity among human beings to spring up at all levels.......courageous decisions are needed.....we do not want to give in to fear and resignation.

And yet a fine human hope is constantly threatened by disenchantment. Economic difficulties which are increasingly burdensome, the sometimes overwhelming complexity of societies, and helplessness in the fact of natural disasters all tend to stifle the fresh shoots of hope.

To create new forms of solidarity, could the time have come to make a greater effort to uncover the wellsprings of trust? No human being, no society can live without trust. When trust has been betrayed, the wound leaves marks that go deep.

....although communication is becoming easier and easier, our human societies remain compartmentalised and fragmented. Walls exist....even within the human heart.

World peace begins in our heart.

To initiate solidarity, we need to go towards others sometimes with empty hands, listening, trying to understand the man or woman who does not think like us........

In the face of poverty and injustice, some end up by revolting or are even tempted by aimless violence. Violence cannot be a way to change society. But we need to listen to the young people who express their indignation in order to grasp the basic reason for it.

In 1989 in East Germany, on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the organisers of street demonstrations asked everyone to carry a lighted candle. One hand was needed to hold the candle, the other to protect it from the wind and so there was no hands free for an act of violence.

There are many people unable to believe in a God who loves them personally. There are many too who with great honesty. ask this question: how can I know if I have faith? Today faith appears as a risk, the risk of trusting. Faith does not mean first and foremost adhering to truths; it is a relationship with God. It calls us to turn towards the light of God.

Far from leading to servility or stifling our personal fulfillment, faith in God makes us free - free from fear, free for a life of service to those whom God entrusts to us.

We are all pilgrims, seekers of truth. Believing in Christ does not mean possessing truth, but letting him, who is truth, take hold of us, and heading towards its full revelation.

"Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives liife a new horizon and decisive direction" - Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas est, Introduction, no. 1.

Many young people today are not content just to refer to Church traditios; to motivate the trusting of faith, personal participation and conviction are indespensable for them.

Martin Luther wrote: "The Christian is a free man, the master of all things; he is not subject to anyone. The Christian is a servant full of obedience; he is subject to all".

Christ does not only belong to the past; he is there for us in each new day.

When we look towards his light in prayer, it gradually begins to shine within us.

Prayer leads us at one and the sametime towards God and towards the world.

The Church is the sign that the Gospel speaks the truth; it is the Body of Christ, animated by the Holy Spirit. It makes the "Christ of Communion" present.

The Christ of Communion did not come to set Christians apart and form an isolated society out of them; he sends them out to serve humankind as a leaven of trust and peace.

Reconciliation with God entails reconciliation among human beings.

Christ destroyed the dividing wall between God's people and the others; all have access to God. Solidarity cannot be limited to one family or nations; it reaches beyond all local and particular interests.

Can we, without imposing anything, journey alongside those who do not share our faith but who are searching for the truth with all their heart?

Is not our response to personal trials, and to those which other people endure, to love still more?

2012 Taize European Meeting in Berlin - "Towards a New Solidarity"

On December 26th, the 2012 Letter from Taize was published in advance of the "Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth" when 30,000 young adults will gather in Berlin from 28 December to 1 January for the 34th stage of the "pilgrimage of trust" led by the Taizé Community. Welcomed by the churches and the people of Berlin, young people from all over Europe and other continents will also seek an impetus towards a new solidarity. Prayer together as well as reflection and discussion on various spiritual, social, artistic, political and economic topics will mark this meeting, held for the first time in the German capital.

Details of the Taize Meeting are available HERE.

If you wish to join the daily prayer live at 7pm CET time (6pm GMT) you can participate HERE.

Daily meditations from Br Alois will be posted daily and available HERE.

27th December 2011 - Feast of St John the Apostle

Today is the feast of St John the Apostle and evangelist.

From Catholicculture.org:

Born in Bethsaida, he was called while mending his nets to follow Jesus. He became the beloved disciple of Jesus. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world and the life of our souls, are among the finest of the New Testament. He is the evangelist of the divinity of Christ and His fraternal love. With James, his brother, and Simon Peter, he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, he leans on the Master's breast. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts His Mother to his care. John's pure life kept him very close to Jesus and Mary in years to come. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian.

From Saints.SQPN:

During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptizing converts in Samaria. Imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. Survived all his fellow apostles.

In art, John as the presumed author of the Gospel is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height he rose to in the first chapter of his gospel

Reflections on the feast day from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St John.

Patron: Against poison; art dealers; authors; bookbinders; booksellers; burns; compositors; editors; engravers; friendships; lithographers; painters; papermakers; poisoning; printers; publishers; tanners; theologians; typesetters; writers;

For all the John's, Sean's, Shane's, Eoin's, Jack's, Shaun's, Juan's, Ivan's, Ian's, Han's, Giovanni - Happy Feast Day!!

26 Dec 2011

25th December 2011 - Christmas Day

Sacred Space 102fm went live from SacredSpace 102fm HQ for a 2 hour special for Christmas Day. We had some reflections from Fr Tony Mullins (Limerick Diocesan Administrator), Noirin Lynch, Fr Michael Liston as well as our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel, some Christmas carols and of course our saints of the coming week.

This weeks podcast is available HERE. Please bear in mind it may take a while to open as the programme is two hours long and has a lot of music included. If you don't have the time to listen to the whole programme, we would suggest that you listen to the various reflections and contributions to the programme.

Blessings for those who work on Christmas Day.
Christmas is a sacred day, and yet it is also a day full of the ordinary stuff of life. Today people will cook and clean for each other, today people will bind and bless each other, today people will serve and be served – just like every other day. We ask God to bless all those who work this day. They remind us of the call of St John: ‘Little children, let us not love in words or talk but in deed and in truth’ (1 John 3:18).

Bless parents, guardians and carers this day. You remind us of Gods great love for each child: “We love because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19).
In the midst of a busy day today: may you find time for appreciation: time to give thanks for those you are privileged to parent / care for. May your thought words and actions be a blessing for all in your home this Christmas day.

Bless those who serve food this day: As you prepare food today; may God bless the food that you prepare and serve, so that those who receive are nourished in body, heart and soul. And may you know Gods love this day – for through your service, Gods will is being fulfilled: ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat (Mthw 25)

Bless those who serve the sick:At Christmas we recognise that God so loves the world that God trusts us to care for his only son, born as a helpless baby in a poor stable. We pray for all whom God entrusts to serve the sick, vulnerable or weak today. May your hands be as gentle as Marys, your support as strong as Josephs, and your words as kind and joyful as the angels this Christmas day. 

Bless those who protect and serve usThe angels on that Christmas night sang, ‘peace on earth to all of good will’.
May God bless those who put their lives on hold today, so that no one is alone in an emergency.
Bless our Guards, our Fire service, and all who keep basic facilities like electricity and water working today. May God give courage, peace and compassion to all who serve and protect us today, on land, sea or air.

Bless those whose work keeps them away from loved ones today. Mary and Joseph were far from their home village on the night Jesus was born. It was precisely where God wanted them to be. We pray for all who cannot be at home this Christmas due to their work. May God bless each worker today and send them signs of Gods love, and our appreciation, this day. May all who work this day, see and appreciate Gods invitation to incarnation – to be Christs hands and Christs feet in the world today – so that in every moment of this day, in every place we are: Jesus Christ is at work, love is alive and Christmas is really present in a powerful way.

Fr Tony Mulllins Reflection

Podcast of the reflection only available HERE

Fr Tony reminds us that Christmas should be a time of reflection, a time to spend with family and also to re-connect with people with may not have seen or been in contact with for a while. It is a season where we think often of the various relationships that we have. Especially at this time of year, thoughts often turn to those who are no longer in their seat at the Christmas table through death, emigration or separation of various types. It is also a time to reflect on our relationship with God, which was demonstrated his love through the Incarnation at the first Christmas. Christmas is a reminder of the love God shares with us and how we should share that love with one another.

Noirin Lynch Reflection

Podcast of the reflection only available HERE

Noirin joined us on the programme again and shared her thoughts about the Gift of Christmas. She asks have we lost our focus; are we more concerned with what we can get rather than responding to the trust and love of God in us demonstrated by the fact he gave us his Son. How amazing is that fact? That God trusted us by giving us his Son.

Love is more than doing things for other people. We need to be 'present' to each other, not just giving presents to each other. God looks to our ability to take care of His Love. God called love out of us in His Son. He trusts and believes in us and how capable love is of stretching us in how we live our lives.

Gospel - Luke 2:1-14

The story of Christmas is a very familiar story, one that we can be too familiar with which poses its own challange which we might miss due to our familarity. The gospel from the beginning of the second chapter of Luke is very much the story of the shepherds. It is a chapter that begins with important people and moves from the great Caesar Augustus right down to the birth of child to an unimportant couple in a rustic province of the Roman Empire. God intervenes in history and completly flips our understanding of the important things in life.

Pope Benedict XVI reflecting in his Christmas Eve homily reminds us of the need to discover anew the humility of God and the simplicity of God in his relationship with us behind the razzmatazz of the holiday season. We need to discover again the wonder of Christmas.

Christmas is an extreme manifestation of God's love by his entering into our existence. It is the reason of the  good news of the angels to the shepherds. Todays gospel is another Annunciation, this time announced to the shepherds. The gospel reminds us "Do not be afraid!" because of the message that the angels brought on thet first Christmas night. It was a message of joy and hope which is to be shared with all people.

The Shepherds are reminders of those who are on the margins, they were people who lived on the edges of Jewish society. But it was to these that the angels went to, to make an annunciation of great news. They remind us who are on the margins of our society - travellors, homeless, elderly on their own, single parents - but it is to these we need to bring the news of hope of Christmas. The Shepherds were not family to Mary and Joseph but they were welcomed in to see the new born child. A reminder to us that those on the margins of our society are still our family - our brothers and sisters in Christ - who need to be welcomed into our hearths and homes of faith. 

Christmas is a message for all people, not just for Christians but for the whole world.

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem is a harsh journey through desert until you ascend to Jerusalem which Joseph and Mary undertook. Then after completing that harsh journey, they could only find accomodation in a dirty stable where the God-Child was born. And it asks us, do we take a sanitised understanding of Christmas, a clean, sterile view of it all?

Jesus wasnt just born 2000 years ago, but he is also being born into each of our daily lives and the question is, are we making room for him?

But we close our reflection by looking to the great prophecy of Isaiah;

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."

May the Prince of Peace bless each of us this Christmas Season and that as a praying people we can join in the angels hymn saying:

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Fr Michael Liston Reflection

Podcast of the reflection only available HERE

Fr Michael reminds us of that great message of the angels "Do not be afraid"! The angels brought news of great joy to us all especially in these difficult days. We need to make a little room in our hearts for the hope given to us, to the Word from our heavenly Father given to us in his Son. The birth of an innocent child is a sign of what God wants for each of us, the joy and simplicity of children. We are reminded to be child-like not childish. We need to be able to sit down with the little Christ Child - an Íosagán - and gently open our hearts to the Babe of Bethlehem.

Saints of the Week

December 26th - St Stephen (Martyr)
December 27th - St John the Apostle
December 28th - Holy Innocents
December 29th - St Thomas á Becket (Martyr)
December 30th - Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph
December 31st - St Sylvester
January 1st - Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God

Music Selection from this weeks programme

The Priests - O Holy Night - The Priests
Marilla Ness - Angels we have heard on high - The Sweet Sounds of Christmas
James Kilbane - When a Child is born - The Christmas Collection
Carmel Horan - Silent Night - Silent Night
The 16 Harry Christophers - Good King Wenceslas - Classic FM Christmas Carols
David Parkes - Sing Hosanna - We stand for God
Priests of Limerick Diocese - O Come All Ye Faithful - Christmas: A Journey of Hope.

Christmas Messages 2011

Pope Benedict XVI

Patriarch Bartholemew I
(Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop of Constantinople)

Cardinal Sean Brady

Joint Christmas Messages from the CoI and RCC Dioceses of Limerick

Room for Christ - Dorothy Day

It s no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.

But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of the store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.

We can do now what those that knew him in the days of his flesh did. I am sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable , but somehow found them room, even thought what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. All that the friends of Christ did for him in his lifetime, we can do. Peter's mother-in-law hastened to cook a meal for him, and if anything in the Gospels can be inferred, it surely is that she gave the very best she had, with no thought of extravagance. Matthew made a feast for him, inviting the whole town, so that the house was in an uproar of enjoyment, and the straitlaced Pharisees - the good people - were scandalized.

The people of Samaria, despised and isolated, were overjoyed to give him hospitality, and for days he walked and ate and slept among them. And the loveliest of all relationships in Christ's life, after his relationship with his mother, is his friendship with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and the continual hospitality he found with them. It is a staggering thought that there were once two sisters and a brother whom Jesus looked on almost as his family and where he found a second home, where Martha got on with her work, bustling around in her house-proud way, and Mary simply sat in silence with him.

If we hadn't got Christ's own words for it, it would seem raving lunacy to believe that if I offer a bed and food and hospitality to some man or woman or child, I am replaying the part of Lazarus or Martha or Mary, and that my guest is Christ. There is nothing to show it, perhaps. There are no halos already glowing round their heads - at least none that human eyes can see....

In Christ's human life, there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd. The shepherds did it; their hurrying to the crib made up for the people who would flee from Christ. The wise men did it; their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand's breadth from the routine of their lives to go to Christ. Even the gifts the wise men brought have in themselves an obscure recompense and atonement for what would follow later in this Child's life. For they brought gold, the king's emblem, to make up for the crown of thorns that he would wear; they offered incense, the symbol of praise, to make up for the mockery and the spitting; they gave him myrrh, to heal and soothe, and he was wounded from head to foot and no one bathed his wounds. The women at the foot of the Cross did it too, making up for the crowd who stood by and sneered.

We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with.

All this can be proved, if proof is needed, by the doctrines of the church. We can talk about Christ's mystical body, about the vine and the branches, about the communion of saints. But Christ himself has proved it for us, and no one has to go further than that. For he said that a glass of water given to a beggar was given to him. He made heaven hinge on the way we act toward him in his disguise of commonplace, frail, ordinary humanity.

Did you give me food when I was hungry?
Did you give me to drink when I was thirsty?
Did you give me clothes when my own were rags?
Did you come to see me when I was sick, or in prison or in trouble?

And to those who say, aghast, that they never had a chance to do such a thing, that they lived two thousand years too late, he will say again what they had the chance of knowing all their lives, that if these things were done for the very least of his brethren they were done to him.

For a total Christian, the goad of duty is not needed - always prodding one to perform this or that good deed. It is not a duty to help Christ, it is a privilege. Is it likely that Martha and Mary sat back and considered that they had done all that was expected of them - is it likely that Peter's mother-in-law grudgingly served the chicken she had meant to keep till Sunday because she thought it was her "duty”? She did it gladly; she would have served ten chickens if she had had them.

If that is the way they gave hospitality to Christ, then certainly it is the way it should still be given. Not for the sake of humanity. Not because it might be Christ who stays with us, comes to see us, takes up our time. Not because these people remind us of Christ, but because they are Christ, asking us to find room for him, exactly as he did at the first Christmas.

"Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas" Orbis Books

25 Dec 2011

25th December 2011 - Christmas Day Live Show Podcast

For our regular listeners and readers, we are posting the link to our podcast from this mornings live programme in case you would like to listen and we will post a more detailed blog post a little later as we are participating in the Christmas celebrations!
Individual reflections from the show:
Wish you and yours the very best for the holy and festive Season of Christmas and into the New Year.

John, Lorraine, Shane and All the Sacred Space 102fm Team.

Ox and Ass - G Papini


It was not by chance that Christ was born in a stable. What is the world but an immense stable where men produce filth and wallow in it? Do they not daily change the most beautiful, the purest, the most divine things into excrement? Then, stretching themselves at full length on the piles of manure, they say they are “enjoying life.” Upon this earthly pig-sty, where no decorations or perfumes can hide the odor of filth, Jesus appeared one night, born of a stainless Virgin armed only with innocence…

First to worship Jesus were animals, not men. Among men he sought out the simple-hearted: among the simple-hearted he sought out children. Simpler than children, and milder, the beasts of burden welcomed him.

Though humble, though servants of beings weaker and fiercer than they, the ass and the ox had seen multitudes kneeling before them. Christ’s own people, the people of Jehovah, the chosen people whom Jehovah had freed from Egyptian slavery, when their leader left them alone in the desert to go up and talk with the Eternal, did they not force Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship? In Greece the ass was sacred to Ares, to Dionysius, to Hyperborean Apollo. Balaam’s ass, wiser than the prophet, saved him by speaking. Oxus, King of Persia, put an ass in the temple of Ptha, and had it worshiped. And Augustus, Christ’s temporal sovereign, had set up in the temple the brazen statue of an ass, to commemorate the good omen of his meeting on the eve of Actium an ass named “the Victorious.”

Up to that time the kings of the earth and the populace craving material things had bowed before oxen and asses. But Jesus did not come into the world to reign over the earth, nor to love material things. He was to bring to an end the bowing down before beasts, the weakness of Aaron, the superstition of Augustus. The beasts of Jerusalem will murder him, but in the meantime the beasts of Bethlehem warm him with their breath. In later years, when Jesus went up to the city of death for the Feast of the Passover, he was mounted on an ass. But he was a greater prophet than Balaam, coming not to save the Jews alone but all men: and he did not turn back from his path, no, not though all the mules of Jerusalem brayed against him.

A Nativity Play - with a difference!

The following is an account of a nativity play in a black township in South Africa which should make all of us sit up. 

The opening scenes were along the usual lines. The parish priest, Fr Gerard Fitzsimons, who after a hectic day had been reluctant to attend, takes up the story:

"Three Wise Men" based on the painting "The Vinegar Tasters" This piece was a made for a psychology teacher who wanted to portray the older art piece, "The Vinegar Tasters" with more of a "modern and colorful" flare to get her class more intrigued.

In Act 2 when I saw three figures approaching, I immediately thought that they were the Wise Men from the East, but no, these had come and gone for I saw their presents near the Crib.
These were three strange characters:

One was dressed in rags and hobbled along with the aid of a stick.
The second was naked except for a tattered pair of shorts and was bound in chains.
The third was the most weird. He had a whitened face, wore an unkempt grey wig and an Afro shirt. They were certainly no wise men or kings.

As they approached, the chorus of men and women cried out, “Close the door, Joseph, they are thieves and vagabonds coming to steal all we have”. But Joseph said, “Everybody has a right to this Child, the poor, the rich, the sad, the happy, the trustworthy, the untrustworthy. We cannot keep this Child for ourselves alone. Let them enter”.

The men entered and stood staring at the Child. Joseph picked up the presents the wise men had left.

To the first he said, “You are poor; take this gold and buy yourselves some food, clothes and a place to sleep. I have a trade. We will not go hungry. We do not need it.”
To the second he said, “You are in chains and I don’t know how to release you. Take this myrrh, it will help to heal your wounds and the chaffing on your wrists and ankles”.
To the third he said, “I don’t know the source of your mental anguish but take this frankincense. Perhaps the smell will sooth your troubled spirit”.
The chorus again cried out, “Look at him. He has given away everything that was meant for the child. He has no right to do that”.

Then the first man addressed Joseph, “Do not give me this gift. Look at me. Anyone who finds me with this gold will think I have stolen it.”
The second man said, “Do not give me this ointment, I am used to these chains. I am strong because of them. Keep it for this Child because one day he will wear our chains”.
The third man said, “I am lost. I have no faith at all. In the country of the mind I have lost contact with God. Will this incense cure my doubts? Incense will never bring back the God I have lost”.

The three men then addressed the Child.

“Little Child you are not from the country of Gold and frankincense. You belong to the country of want and disease and doubt. You belong to our world. We want to share these things with you”.

The first, taking off his ragged shirt said, “Take these rags. One day you will need them when they tear your garments and you walk naked.”
The second man said, “I put my chains at your side. One day you will be led out in chains, but on that day you will undo the chains of many people”.
The third man said, “I bow before you. Take all my doubts, my depression, my loss of faith in God and man. I am not able to carry them alone. They are unbearably heavy. Let us share them. When you grow up you will take them all and bring them before the throne of God.”

The three men then bowed and walked away with confident, upright gait.

The director came on and explained, “The three men now go away like people who have been relieved of a heavy burden. They know that they have found a place where poverty, slavery and the loss of God can be taken away by a little Child. They go away happy, free and full of hope. You and I can feel the same freedom and happiness here with the Babe of Bethlehem”.

The above first appeared in St Joseph’s Advocate, the magazine of the Mill Hill Missionaries, in December 2005.

24 Dec 2011

O Holy Night

Christmas Eve Homily of Pope Benedict XVI

24 DECEMBER 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus that we have just heard begins solemnly with the word “apparuit”, which then comes back again in the reading at the Dawn Mass: apparuit – “there has appeared”. This is a programmatic word, by which the Church seeks to express synthetically the essence of Christmas. Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways. God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind (cf. Heb 1:1 – Mass during the Day). But now something new has happened: he has appeared. He has revealed himself. He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells. He himself has come into our midst. This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared. No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words. He has “appeared”. But now we ask: how has he appeared? Who is he in reality? The reading at the Dawn Mass goes on to say: “the kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” (Tit 3:4). For the people of pre-Christian times, whose response to the terrors and contradictions of the world was to fear that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary, this was a real “epiphany”, the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness. Today too, people who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good and the beautiful which we encounter in radiant moments in our world. “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed”: this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas. In all three Christmas Masses, the liturgy quotes a passage from the Prophet Isaiah, which describes the epiphany that took place at Christmas in greater detail: “A child is born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end” (Is 9:5f.). Whether the prophet had a particular child in mind, born during his own period of history, we do not know. But it seems impossible.

This is the only text in the Old Testament in which it is said of a child, of a human being: his name will be Mighty-God, Eternal-Father. We are presented with a vision that extends far beyond the historical moment into the mysterious, into the future. A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God. A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father. And his peace “has no end”. The prophet had previously described the child as “a great light” and had said of the peace he would usher in that the rod of the oppressor, the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood would be burned (Is 9:1, 3-4). God has appeared – as a child. It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace. At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours. Christmas is an epiphany – the appearing of God and of his great light in a child that is born for us. Born in a stable in Bethlehem, not in the palaces of kings. In 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas in Greccio with an ox and an ass and a manger full of hay, a new dimension of the mystery of Christmas came to light. Saint Francis of Assisi called Christmas “the feast of feasts” – above all other feasts – and he celebrated it with “unutterable devotion” (2 Celano 199; Fonti Francescane, 787). He kissed images of the Christ-child with great devotion and he stammered tender words such as children say, so Thomas of Celano tells us (ibid.).

Merry Christmas!

To all our listeners, blog followers, readers and friends of Sacred Space West Limerick 102fm,

Wishing you every blessing of this Holy and Festive Season and into the New Year.

Merry Christmas!!!


John, Lorraine, Shane and all on SacredSpace 102fm

The Christmas Proclamation from the Roman Martyrology

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king; in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Silent Night

Christmas - Of Gods & Men

One more sleep till Xtmas..........

23 Dec 2011

25th December 2011 - Christmas Day - A Live Show

Just a quick reminder to all our listeners and readers that we are going out live from West Limerick 102fm HQ on the morning of Christmas Day from 10am to 12 noon if you would like to join us on Sacred Space 102fm.

John, Lorraine, Shane and all the Sacred Space 102fm team.

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

Ever wonder about St Joseph at Christmas - the Silent Man of Bethlehem

Weigel blames corrupt form of clericalism for Irish Church's woes
Benedict’s Christocentrism: Realities of a Primary Order - Elizabeth Scalia responds to the media focus on Pope Benedict XVI's health at 85 and reminds us of Christocentrism of Benedict's papacy.

December 23rd - A Liturgical hinge day?

The Continent with only one priest

The Trust that brings me joy - For a positive view on the life and role of a priest -"The other day, as I was standing in the back of church, a parishioner came up to me and handed me an envelope and she said, "Father, same thing as last year." And by this, she meant that she and her family have decided that instead of exchanging gifts this year, they would all make some donation to the needy. There are a few other individuals who do the same thing. They hand me some money and they say, "Father, please give this to somebody who needs it." Besides the joy that comes from witnessing the generosity of these individuals, this occurrence brings me joy for another reason. It sheds light on the life of a priest and how the Faithful look at the priest"

A Polish Catholic woman discovers her Jewish identity.

The Atheists' gift to Christmas - Pray for an atheist -- and thank him for making your holiday season more spiritually significant.

Ever wonder about that long geneology list in the gospel? Webster Bull reflects on how it shows the relentlessness of God.

Vocation isn't a Dirty Word.  

The Catholic Priest with 9 children.

Advent - O Antiphons - O Emmanuel

Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

23 December

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and Law-giver, desired of the nations and their salvation, come and save us, Lord our God.
Isaiah 7:14

Reflections on the O Antiphon:

Blue Eyed Ennis - O Emmanuel
An Advent Examen - Day 7
Wellspring - O Antiphon Reflections
A Nun's Life - O Emmanuel
Dating God - O Come Emmanuel

22 Dec 2011

Advent - O Antiphons - O Rex Gentium

22 December

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
O King of the Nations for whom they long, the corner-stone who makes of both one, come and deliver man whom you made from clay.

Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 28:16; Haggai 2:8; Ephesians 2:14; Genesis 2:7

Reflections on the O Antiphon:

Blue Eyed Ennis - O King of Nations
An Advent Examen - Day 6
Dating God - O King of Nations: The In-Breaking of God’s Reign
Godzdogz - O Rex Gentium
A Nun's Life - O Rex Gentium

21 Dec 2011

Advent - O Antiphons - O Oriens

Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ,
21 December
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Morning Star, splendour of eternal light and sun of justice, come and illumine those seated in darkness and the shadow of death.
Isaiah 9:2; Luke 1:9; Zech 6: 12-13; Heb 1:3; Malachi 4:2


Reflections on the Antiphon:

Advent Reflections (A Repost)

Advent is a time of waiting, but what kind of waiting? Not a distracted, impatient waiting but an attentive, hopeful and joyful one. While it is true that the Gospel reading (Mt 24:37-44) talks of deluge and destruction and other related images, it does so only to call us to “pay attention,” to be vigilant, in order to be ready when the Son of Man comes.

All the situations presented in the reading refer to the daily routine of life – eating, drinking, marrying, reproducing, working, etc. They are no different from the tasks, big and small, that we carry out here and now. The invitation though is not that we stop doing these things but to give our lives a quality of “presence,” of “conscious attention,” that amidst all these, we can try to sense the presence of Someone who is about to come (or more exactly, Someone special who is already here!) right within the trivialities of our daily lives.

Hence, in this first week of Advent, we can “spice up” our routinary lives by practicing “presence” which concretely means “listening, being attentive, waiting in prayer, silence.”

For me, this also means “being led” because the truth is, we are not only the one waiting or searching. It is the Lord who is actually waiting for us, knocking at the doors of our hearts all the time and asking us to pay attention to his presence. It is enough for us to say, "here I am, Lord; lead me..."

The prayer-poem-music that accompanies me in this practice of presence is Blessed John Henry Newman’s “Lead Kindly Light,” one of my favorite prayer-song since the time of my novitiate. Let me share with you the text here.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

My favorite musical arrangement of the poem is the one of John B. Dykes, entitled Lux Benigna. Let me sing it to you here, with the hope that this may become the song of your heart this Advent as you await our Lord’s coming.

Sr Gemma