31 Mar 2012

1st April 2012 - Palm (Passion) Sunday

On this weeks programme, we join with the universal church in marking the beginning of the highlight of the church's year - Holy Week with Palm Sunday. Fr Noel Kirwin joins us for a reflection on Holy Week and what happened 2000 years ago means for us today in 2012, we have the reading of the Passion Gospel and some local notices.

This weeks podcast is available HERE.

Reflections on Palm Sunday - Fr Noel Kirwin

Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel,
Hosanna in the highest

We are joined by Fr Noel Kirwin this week from Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre who gives us a reflection on Holy Week focusing on the Passion Gospel.

Holy Week is a story of the death of Jesus but it begins with a story of joy with the entry into Jerusalem with Jesus entering as a King on the back of a donkey, over turning the misconception of what the Messiah will be. The Jerusalem which welcomes him in joy is also the city which kills the prophets. It is the beginning of a season of joy as it brings us to the celebration of Resurrection which brings us into touch with our own lives.

We bring ourselves to mingle with the stories of the past then we find we are being changed by going through and being part of these liturgies which re-enact the great drama between good and evil, such a drama which goes on in every life, but Jesus reminds us to like him to trust in the Father to bring us through. We are reminded that Jesus stands in solidarity with us in our suffering because he has been there too, he is in solidarity with us even when it seems at its bleakest.

A podcast of Fr Noel's reflection is available here.

Additional reflections and commentary on Palm Sunday:

Gospel - Passion of Jesus Christ - Mark 14: 1-57

Normally on Sacred Space 102fm we usually read the gospel of the Sunday and then share our thoughts and reflections on the passage. This week however, we took a slightly different approach.

The focus of our prayer and reflection this week is on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as is recounted to us in scripture. But because it is a story we hear so often it can become too familiar and we can miss the starkness of the events of 2000 years ago. So this week, we suggest that we let Scripture speak for itself, let God's word speak directly to each of us as we enter into this Holy Week and we encourage you to slowly read through the Passion Gospel and reflect and pray with the text.

Read it, slowly, line by and line and let the Spirit speak to you heart to heart.

As soon as morning came,

the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
“Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of.”
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
Pilate answered,
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
“Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted again, “Crucify him.”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.
They brought him to the place of Golgotha
—which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
“The King of the Jews.”
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
“Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“Look, he is calling Elijah.”
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Crucem tuam adoramus Domine, resurrectionem tuam laudamus Domine. Laudamus et glorificamus. resurrectionem tuam laudamus Domine. (We adore your cross, Lord. We praise your resurrection.)

Salvador Dali, Crucifixion, 1954

Other reflections this week:
Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans - Fr Timothy Radcliffe
Renewal Ministries
Centre for Liturgy

Notes for the Week

As the days of Holy Week out rank all feasts and memoria of saints, we won't be posting any saints of the week this week.
Paslter - Week 2

Chrism Mass - as the Diocese of Limerick is still without a bishop this Holy Week, the holy oils are being blessed by Bishop Reilly of Killaloe and there will be a holy hour in St John's Cathedral on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm.
Holy Thursday - Mass of the Lord's Supper - Reminder to bring back your Trocaire boxes/donations to your parish.
Good Friday - Passion Cermony - Day of Fast & Abstinance (First Friday) - traditional to perform the Stations of the Cross.
Holy Saturday - Easter Vigil Cermony - reminder that in the diocese of Limerick all Easter Vigil Masses will be after sunset.
Easter Sunday - for those interested Sunrise Mass of the Resurrection on Knockpatrick in Shanagolden is at 5.30am.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Deus, Deus meus, quare me dereliquísti?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Another beautiful audio version of this beautiful psalm in English is available from Corpus Christi Watershed.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
"He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him."

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
"You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!"

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

From Ashes to Alleluia - Sr Louise O'Rourke PDDM

Talk for Ruah: 30th of March 2012
Divine Master Chapel of Adoration, Athlone
“From Ashes to Alleluia”

[From A Pilgrims Progress]

Dear God, we know that every journey begins with a first step. Be with us this evening as we take another step in our Lenten journey. We began this journey with the sign of ashes on our forehead, reminding us that this is no ordinary walk. We move one step forward in the promise of your light. We seek new meaning in the Easter that awaits us all. But first, we must walk with you to Jerusalem, to Calvary, to the Tomb and beyond.

Every religious experience begins with emptiness. We began the Lenten journey in the desert and we continue to walk, making the journey from Ashes to Alleluia. On Ash Wednesday we came forward to have ashes placed on our forehead and to hear the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return”.. The burnt palms, symbol of the joy and majesty which accompanied Jesus during his entrance into Jerusalem, become the dust and ashes placed on our forehead. Burned into our collective memory is the sight of the dust that chased people down the street as they fled in fear from the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Building in 2001. It was a dust that covered everything with a layer of doom. Dust which left us with a sober feeling of emptiness and futility. Dust which humbled us all, we were violated by it. The dust of Lent, the dust of the ashes in the sign of the cross is different. This dust leads to wholeness, and rather than run from it, we freely embrace it and are embraced by it.

I remember often raking out the fire at home and finding cinders among the dust and ashes which were still glowing, the fire could be re-lit from these burning cinders. We all know the story of Cinderella but maybe we never thought that it could give us a lesson in the theology of Lent. Cinderella is the young girl who literally sits in the ashes. As the fairytale continues, we see that before the glass slipper is placed on her foot, before the beautiful dress, the ball, the prince, the dance and marriage, there must first be a time of being humbled and sitting with herself. God can do the same with us, he can rake through the ashes of our life and find those burning cinders, that small spark which can be fanned into the Paschal fire which will herald Christ the Light, the Resurrected Lord, during the Easter Vigil. We will have our happy ever after ending, if we stay close to Him, we will receive the gift of his love and in return to be able to love Him and others with unconditional love.

When we fast or carry out Lenten penance we are encouraged, as the Gospel reminds us to “wash your face, put oil on your head so that your fasting may not be seen by others.” This is the paradox of Lent.

Yet, we are called to be expressive in our joy of knowing and following Christ. For some people, Lenten penance might actually mean being joyful as opposed to being moody or giving up chocolate or other such things. Jesus does not want us to go looking for suffering; he wants us to accept the suffering that confronts us as we live our lives according to Gospel values. Too often during Lent we pick our own suffering and our own crosses. You don’t have to raise your hands, but how many people have ‘given up’ chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes , swearing for Lent? We tailor the crosses to fit our lives. There is a little story which illustrates this point perfectly: A man who went to America from Ireland would go to the Irish pub every Friday night. He would order three pints, one for himself, one for his brother in Ireland and one for his brother in England. The bartender thought this was a wonderful custom. Then one Friday night, the man came in and ordered just two pints. The bartender was curious but did not question it. Finally after three weeks of just two drinks, the bartender asked which brother had passed on to His heavenly reward. The man said, “No, they’re both fine, sure it’s myself that’s off the drink for Lent”.

During the Lenten season, we are allowed a glimpse of what exactly the Resurrection will bring. The 4th Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday, that is, Rejoicing or Exulting Sunday. The purple vestments are changed for a rose coloured one, flowers return to our altars. For that day, we have the preview of Easter joy. Is it not strange though to be talking about joy during Lent, as we enter Passion Week, are we not meant to be going around with sad faces, punishing ourselves and doing penance, downcast and depressed?

The message of the Holy Father for the 27th World Youth Day which is celebrated on Palm Sunday every year has as its theme: “Joy is at the heart of Christian experience”. The theme comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Ph 4:4). In a world of sorrow and anxiety, joy is an important witness to the beauty and the reliability of Christian faith. As the hymn remind us “We are an Easter people, Alleluia is our song”.

The Pope writes and I paraphrase here: “Our hearts are made for joy. Though if we want to be filled with God, we have to first empty ourselves. Each day is filled with countless simple joys which are the Lord’s gift; the joy of living, the joy of nature, joy of a job well done, of helping others, of sincere and pure love. Yet any day we also face any number of difficulties. Deep down we also worry about the future, we begin to wonder if the full and lasting joy for which we long for might be an illusion and an escape from reality. The quest for joy can follow various paths, and some of these turn out to be mistaken, if not dangerous.” Too often, we dilute the gravity of sin because we fear that we will put people out of their comfort zones. Sin is serious precisely because it is the complete contrary of the Incarnation. The Incarnation of Jesus is the bridge between Heaven and earth, our link to the Father. Every time, ‘I’ become the centre of my life, I weaken that bridge, it becomes unsteady. When I sin, I remain on one side, Jesus on the other- God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation reconstructs the bridge! From God’s mercy, joy is born, true joy comes from the experience of knowing that we are infinitely and uniquely loved by God. The Pope reminds us: “God offers us an unconditional acceptance which enables us to say
: I am loved, I have a place in the world and in history, I am personally loved by God. If God accepts me and loves me and I am sure of this, then I know clearly and with certainty that it is a good thing that I am alive.

o seek the Lord and find him in our lives also means accepting his word, which is joy for our hearts. The liturgy is a special place where the Church expresses the joy which she receives from the Lord and transmits it to the world. Every Sunday we celebrate the central mystery of salvation, which is the death and resurrection of Christ. Sunday is the day where we meet the Risen Christ, listen to his Word . We hear in Psalm 118, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad”. At the Easter vigil, the Church sings the Exultet, a hymn of joy for the victory of Jesus over sin and death. And our response: we live a life of love for him. As St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a young Carmelite, wrote, “Jesus, my joy is loving you”. Another Theresa, Mother Theresa of Calcutta similarly spoke about joy saying: “ Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. Whoever gives with joy gives more.”

If we are to experience joy, we must also be generous. We cannot be content to give the minimum. Experiencing real joys means recognising the temptations which lead us away from it. Often our present society pressures us to seek immediate goals, achievements and pleasures. At times the path of Christian life is not easy and being faithful to the Lord’s love presents obstacles, occasionally we fall, we flirt with evil and panic only when it threatens to take over,. Sometimes in order to grow, we first need to fall apart. Yet God in his mercy never abandons us, he always offers us the possibility of returning to him. Sin has many names and even more faces, but in the end sin is always the same thing. It is our turning our back on God.

This Sunday we mark Palm Sunday or more correctly Passion Sunday, we will hear two Gospels, one of the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, accompanied by the rejoicing crowds. Not long after that same crowd will hand Jesus over and crucify him, as we will read in the second Gospel, the Passion and Death of Jesus according to the Gospel of St. Mark. We tend to misunderstand the ‘passion of Jesus’, identifying it with the pain of the physical sufferings which he endured on the road to his death. Jesus’ passion is more than this and can be understood as passio, that is, passivity, a certain submissive helplessness that Jesus had to undergo to fulfil the plan of the Father and bring eternal life for us. During Lent, we might have heard a lot about conversion. The Greek word for conversion, metanoia indicates a turn around, a change in direction. This Sunday, we too are called to turn around, to face towards Jerusalem and walk with Jesus. Are we prepared to face a completely new direction? The reality is, Jesus doesn’t want admirers, He wants followers.

After Palm Sunday, we continue in our Holy Week towards Holy Thursday where Jesus broke bread with his closest disciples and invites us to do ‘this in memory of him’. The Eucharist is not a private act of devotion meant to square our debts with God, but a call to and a grace for service. It is meant to send us out into the world ready to give expression to Christ’s hospitality, humility and love. He says to us: “Receive, give thanks, break and share”. Nourished by the bread of life, we as disciples, dare to walk the Way of Calvary with Him and live the Good Friday experience. There is a story told about St. Teresa of Avila. One day the devil appeared to her, disguised as Christ. However Teresa wasn’t fooled for a second. She immediately dismissed him. But before he left, the devil asked her, “How did you know? How were you so sure that I wasn’t Christ?” Her answer: “You didn’t have any wounds. Christ has wounds”. The proof of Jesus’ immense love for us was made visible on the Cross. The nails didn’t hold him there, his love did. When Jesus rises from the dead, the first thing he did was to show his disciples his wounds, glorified now, but extremely humiliating to him before he died. The wounds of the scars of love, scars that each one of us carries if we allow ourselves to love and be loved.

It is said that one day Michelangelo, strolling in a courtyard of Florence, saw a block of rough stone covered with dust and mud. He stopped suddenly to look at it and said: “An angel is hidden in this mass of stone. I want to bring him out!” And he began to work with his scalpel to give shape to the angel he had glimpsed. So it is with us. We are still masses of rough stone, with so much dirt and useless pieces. God the Father looks at us and says: “Hidden in this piece of stone is the image of my Son, I want to bring it out “.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, sculpture is the art of removing. Is it not true for our life? For us however it is not about the attaining an abstract beauty of building a beautiful statue, but about bringing to light and rendering ever more resplendent the image of God that sin tends continually to cover. We are God’s masterpiece, his work of art but he needs to chip away at us. Hidden in the ugliness of death and sin is the light of the Resurrection if we are willing to wait out Holy Saturday. Each of us must fight our own demons, struggle with our own sadness. The Resurrection gives to us the equally unbelievable possibility of the newness of live that forgiving and being forgiven brings. The Resurrection promises that things can always be new again .It’s never too late to start over, no betrayal is final, no sin is unforgivable. God never gives us on us, even if we give up on ourselves. Resurrection is not just a question of three days, after death, rising from the dead, but it is about the daily rising from the many mini-graves within which we so often find ourselves. The Resurrection teaches us how to live, again and again and again!

Conclusion:I leave you with the words of the Holy Father, this is my invitation to you as we enter into the holiest of weeks. “Dear friends, learn to see how God is working in your lives and discover him hidden within the events of daily life. Believe that he is always faithful to the covenant which he made with you on the day of your Baptism. Know God will n ever abandon you. Turn your eyes to him often. He gave his life on the cross because he loves you. Contemplation of this great love brings a hope and joy to our hearts that nothing can destroy. Christians can never be sad, for they have met Christ, who gave his life for them.”

30 Mar 2012

XIV Station: The Burial of Jesus

We adore You O Jesus and we praise You,
because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

XIV Station - the Burial of Jesus
"After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilot permitted it. So he came and took the body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds." (John 19:38-42)
St. John does not mention people anecdotally. Each individual, by name or not, conveys something of the mystery of Jesus. Nicodemus first came at night. John takes us back to that night three years earlier. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. He is seeking. "How can a person once grown old be born again? ... How can this happen?" Jesus gives a slight rebuke "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?" Jesus says some of the most beloved words of Sacred Scripture to Nicodemus that night, among them: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (3:16). And Jesus, knowing Nicodemus, rewards him that night in advance: "whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. St John will tells us in his first Letter "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands..." (1 John 1:1). Nicodemus is graced to touch with a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes the crucified body of Jesus before the Pascal night begins.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. St John takes us back this time to the Garden of Eden. A garden brings to life what is hidden under the surface. This "new tomb" in fact brings us to Eternal Life in the Triune God.

28 Mar 2012

XIII Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
The Sabbath was near and Jesus’ had to be buried quickly. Both His mother Mary and His friends were poor and could not give him a proper burial. But Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin, came forward to give a tomb, linen and spices.

This is a scene of tragedy and glory.

A scene of tragedy: because Joseph and Nicodemus were both members of the Sanhedrin that had examined and formulated the charge against Jesus, but they were also secret disciples of Jesus. What a difference it would have been to Jesus to hear a voice of support or to see loyalty on a face among the hostility that surrounded him. But both Joseph and Nicodemus were afraid. We so often leave our tributes until people are dead. One flower in life is worth more than all the wreaths at the funeral. One word of love, praise and thanks in life is worth all the tributes in the world when life is gone.

A scene of glory: because no sooner was it when Jesus had died on the cross that Joseph and Nicodemus forgot their fear of being exposed as a follower of Jesus, asked the Roman governor for the body and paid tribute for everyone to see. The cowardice and the hesitation was gone.

Jesus had not been dead an hour when his own prophecy came true:

‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself ‘   (Jn. 12: 32).


27 Mar 2012

XII Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

We adore you O Christ and we praise you
For by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”
Lk 23:28

After having been scourged, lacerated with wounds, crowned with thorns, insulted and nailed to the cross, Jesus could say “ Father forgive them for they know not what they do” The Roman soldiers were degrading themselves more than Jesus.

Surely their very humanity should have prevented them from inflicting upon another what they could not have faced themselves.

That man should be so cruel to man and we see it daily in man’s inhumanity to man, the Roman soldiers were no better, their training had made them ruthless and very cruel. Yet Jesus prays ‘ Father forgive them……………………..’

In all our lives there are actions, sins and wrong doings that needs forgiveness. If only we could hear clearly and within us that we have been forgiven by this loving Jesus. He knew those soldiers but they did not know Him or ask His forgiveness, He loved them and He forgave them. 

Our faith our trust and love for Him must lead us during this Lent to an even greater response of love towards ourselves and towards others.

Sisters of Nazareth, Johannesburg.

26 Mar 2012

XI Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

We adore you O Christ and we bless you,
For by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

'I cannot believe in a God who metes out hurt for hurt, pain for pain, torture for torture. Nor do I believe that God invests human representatives with such power to torture and kill. The paths of history are stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to "God's Avengers." Kings, popes, military generals, and heads of state have killed, claiming God's authority and God's blessing. I do not believe in such a God.'  (Sister Helen Prejeans' article 'Would Jesus pull the switch?'.) 

The topic of the death penalty or capital punishment always evokes very strong feelings.  The Bible has been used to support and oppose the death penalty.  Those who support the death penalty will argue an 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot' (Exodus 21:23) and those against the death penalty will say 'thou shall not kill' (Exodus 20:13).  Jesus himself spoke out against the death penalty when a woman who had been caught committing adultery was brought before him. (John 7:53-58)  Jesus asked those present if they had not sinned to throw the first stone, but no one did.  Jesus did not condemn her and told her to not to sin again.

Jesus was sentenced to death and was nailed to the cross for his crime, even though he was innocent.  What must it have been like for Jesus to carry his cross and then to be nailed to it.  The pain and suffering which he felt as each nail was driven in, must have been excruciating.  He must have felt was abandoned by the people who he loved as his apostles, his closest friends, had run away.

March 1st was International Death Penalty Abolition Day.  The death penalty or capital  punishment is against the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, article 3 states that  'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.'[1]   Amnesty International states that as of December 2010 more than two thirds in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. [2]  In 2010, 23 countries carried out executions and 67 imposed death sentences in 2010. Methods of execution in 2010 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.[3]

Sr. Helen Prejean passionately advocates the abolition of the death penalty.  Sr. Helen has watched as a prisoner was killed by the state and this has left a profound effect on her.  Below are her thoughts on the execution and not far from her thoughts was Jesus' crucifixion. 

'That night I walked with him, prayed with him through Isaiah 43, "I have called you by your name, you are mine." I played for him the tape "Be Not Afraid," which we had also played at the communion service we had before he died.
In his last words he expressed his sorrow to the victims' family. But then he said to the warden and to the unseen executioner behind the plywood panel, "but killing me is wrong, too."

At the end I was amazed at how ordinary the last moments were. He walked to the dark oak chair and sat in it. As guards were strapping his legs and arms and trunk he found my face and told me that he loved me. His last words of life were words of love and thankfulness. I took them in like a lightning rod.
I kept thinking of the execution of Jesus. I said to myself, "My God, how many times have I looked at that crucifix? How many times have we heard that story? How many times have we heard that Mary was there?"
I was watching a person being killed with an electrical current, in a few seconds. I couldn't imagine what it must have been for Jesus to be executed, hanging there on the cross, dying slowly. It gave me an entirely new awareness of what it means to have an executed criminal as a saviour. What a scandal that must have been!'[4]

24 Mar 2012

25th March 2012 - 5th Sunday of Lent (Year B) - Emmanuel Community

On this weeks show we are introduced to the Emmanuel Community with an interview with Geraldine Creaton. We also have a short interview about "Lourdes - the Musical" which is being produced and presented by youth of Limerick diocese who are involved with the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes.

This weeks podcast is available here.

Emmanuel Community

On this morning’s programme we are introduced to the Emmanuel Community by Geraldine Creaton. The Emmanuel Community is present in Ireland, and in fifty six countries around the world, and on every continent. The Emmanuel Community was founded in France in 1972 by the Servant of God Pierre Goursat and Martine Lafitte-Catta.

The mission of the Community is to reveal to every man and woman the presence of the God of Love in our lives, Jesus Christ, who is “Emmanuel”, ”God With Us”, and wants to be close to us.

The Community consists of members with different states of life (families, singles, priests and celibate brothers and sisters) having the most different professions and trying to live a fraternal life in the world. It sees its aim as to respond to God's call to holiness addressed to each person, mainly through intense personal prayer, Eucharistic adoration, compassion for the spiritually and materially poor and evangelization. Members are helped to grow spiritually in various ways: "household meetings" (small groups of members, meeting regularly for prayer and reflection on God's action in their lives), "spiritual companionship" (personal meeting with a more experienced member), monthly meetings of all the members in a country or region.

Geraldine talks to us about the work of the community and how people become involved and members of the community. Belonging to Emmanuel or wanting to become part of Emmanuel means responding to a call from Jesus to bring into being and live out a new form of holiness in the Catholic Church, and to do this as a community. This holiness is rooted in the graces of adoration, compassion and evangelisation.

Emmanuel Community on mission in Dublin

The Irish Emmanuel Community is spread throughout Ireland and is made up of people of different occupations and backgrounds. There is one diocesan priest in the Archdiocese of Dublin and one seminarian at the Seminary, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The Emmanuel Community is an International Catholic Public Association of the Faithful. Activities include mission and evangelisation with parishes and in cities. A special emphasis is placed on participation in World Youth Days and pilgrimages to Paray Le Monial, France, the Shrine of the Sacred Heart.

Lourdes the Musical

On this weeks show we hear about "Lourdes - the Musical"! A show with a difference!

At heart, every good story is about love, and "Lourdes the Musical" is no different. Ber has a crush on Joey, the boy next door. She travels to Lourdes with the youth pilgrimage in the hope that he'll notice her. Along the way she meets the workers and patients who travel with the pilgrimage each year and discovers that Lourdes isn't the freaky Jesus camp she expected but someplace where people can find peace, where they feel cared for, valued and loved. This story is told with a mix of humour, meaning and music and we hope that you'll join us as we follow Ber, Joey and the rest of the cast as they learn about the things that really matter ... and why sunscreen isn't something to be sniffed at!


- Thursday, March 29th 2012. Matinee (12 noon)
- Thursday, March 29th 2012. Evening (8:00pm)
- Friday, March 30th 2012. Evening (8.00pm)


Lime Tree Theatre, Mary Immaculate College, Lmk. The Lime Tree Theatre is located in the new Tara building. The main entrance to Mary I is now on Courtbrack Ave, and there is ample parking in front of the Tara building here. You can see a map of the college HERE


€10 per person for evening shows. €5 per person for the matinee. Tickets will be available from March 1st, and can be purchased at the following locations:
- Limerick Pastoral Centre, Denmark St. 061 400133
- Parish Office, Newcastlewest.
- Friars Gate Theatre, Kilmallock
Tickets can also be reserved, (to be collected and paid for on the night), by booking through the Limerick Pastoral Centre on 061 400133.


Our Cast:
  • Clíodhna McCoy plays Ber Murphy, a young girl whose mother convinces her to travel to Lourdes with the diocesan Youth Pilgrimage. Cliodhna us from Clonlara and is a student in Scoil Carmel.
  • Philip Desmond plays Joey McMahon, the boy-next-door and the other reason that Ber decides to go to Lourdes! Philip, from Adare, is a past pupil of Ard Scoil Ris, and is currently studying in Limerick Senior College.
  • Other cast members include Lorna Murphy, Nicole Timmons, Mai Burke-Hayes and Claire Treacy from Raheen; James McMahon and Joanne Tierney from Patrickswell; Aine Hogan and Brid Madigan from Ballyneety; Graham McNamara from Fedamore, Jade Dillon from the parish of Bruff - Grange - Meanus and Aoife O'Dwyer from Monaleen.
Our Crew
  • There is also a chorus of 20 young people from all over Limerick city and county as well as many Lourdes volunteers who will be helping backstage with sets, costumes, make ups and props!
  • The show is being directed by Sadhbh McCoy, who is also head of Mary Immaculate College Dramatic Arts Society. It is being choreographed by Rebecca Ward form Abbeyfeale and the musical director is Ríona Curtin, Abbeyfeale.
  • The show was written by Clare Bowman, Sadhb McCoy, Aoife Walsh & Fr Chris O’Donnell.
Gospel - John 12:20-33

We didn't get around to reflecting on this weeks gospel on this weeks show, but for our regular readers/listeners, some reflections on this weeks gospel are below:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Renewal Ministries
English Dominicans
Sunday Homilies with Fr John Coughlan
Centre for Liturgy - St Louis University

Saints of the Week

Psalter - Week 1

March 26th - Feast of the Annunciation (Solemnity)
March 27th - St John Damscene
March 28th - Blessed Donal O'Neylan (one of the Irish martyrs)
March 29th - St Jeanne Marie de Maille
March 30th - St Fergus of Downpatrick
March 31st - St Machabeo of Armagh
April 1st - Palm Sunday

Archbishop Oscar Romero - Santo subito!!!

"I have often been threatened with death," Archbishop Oscar Romero told a Guatemalan reporter two weeks before his assassination, 30 years ago on March 24, 1980. "If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. If the threats come to be fulfilled, from this moment I offer my blood to God for the redemption and resurrection of El Salvador. Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality."
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980)was a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. As the Archbishop of San Salvador during El Salvador's brutal civil war, Romero became the "bishop of the poor" for his work defending the Salvadoran people. After calling for international intervention to protect those being killed by government forces, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980.

"How easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalised violence, social sin! And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt, and everyone is responsible. We are all sinners, and we have all contributed to this massive crime and violence in our country. Salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin. And in this Lent this is God’s call: Be converted!"
The Archbishop Romero Trust website including links to all his homilies and talks.

US Catholic Magazine Romero resource page

Blue Eyed Ennis has a reflective post on the anniversary of his death.

Link to homily of Archbishop Nichos homily on the 30th anniversary of his death.

Remembering Archbishop Romero - Resource page from Creighton University

NCR - Romero's resurrection - March 16th 2010
NCR - Romero's message resonates with a new generation of catholics - March 22nd 2012

Film about Romero on Youtube - 1989 film about Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Stars Raul Julia and is directed by John Duigan

Articles from Thinking Faith:
Catholic Herald Articles:
Finally from La Stampa an article discussing Romero's cause for canonisation - Romero: The Lost Cause.

23 Mar 2012

X Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

From the Gospel according to Matthew. (27:33-36)
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
Jesus is stripped, abused, and his clothes given away as he is now considered a ‘dead man walking’. There is no need here for politeness, for respect – in the eyes of those who are charged with his care, he is no longer their equal, no longer human. He is judged, decided upon, dismissed and ignored.
Why do we stop before such a bare and painful image? Why is this stage in Jesus’ passion marked and noted and prayed before? Surely we are not honuring shame, noting disrespect, praying before dismissal?
All scripture teaches us, informs us and blesses us. Therefore, this is not simply a moment of remembrance, but a learning moment. Stop and notice what is happening and how God is teaching us in this moment.

This painting by the German priest Sieger Koder is hepful to our reflection. See here Jesus’ garment, woven as one piece, held by people who all consider it sacred and carry it with honour and pride. Jesus is nearby but they miss him in their rush to the relic. Notice how the eagernes to possess might lead to the ripping of the robe woven as one piece – and that is not how it was created to be.
How often have we Christians been more interested in the outer garments of Christianity, than in the Lord himself present in our midst? We are sorry for our pettiness Lord, teach us to look more for you.
How often has our in-fighting about who gets what, distracted us from Jesus Christ presence and love? We recommitt to being one, as you have called us to be one.
Have we judged, dismissed, or stripped Jesus bare in our thoughts, words & deeds? What we do to the least of these my brothers and sister, this we do to Jesus. Open our eyes Lord to where we have disrespected or ignored you, so that we might start again, in your love.
Jesus – Renew my eyes & my heart: that I may see you here and now, for you are what really matters