31 Dec 2013

A New Years Blessing

"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”
Number 6: 24-27

From all the Sacred Space 102fm team, we wish you and yours every blessing and best wish for 2014. May it be a year which brings you health, happiness and holiness! Thanking the Lord for your friendship and support.

John, Lorraine, Shane and all the SS102fm team

World Day of Peace - 1 Jan 2014

The World Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to peace, held on 1 January, on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It was introduced in 1967 by Paul VI, inspired by the encyclical Pacem in Terris of John XXIII and with reference to his own encyclical Populorum Progressio. The day was first observed on 1 January 1968.



1 JANUARY 2014


1. In this, my first Message for the World Day of Peace, I wish to offer to everyone, individuals and peoples, my best wishes for a life filled with joy and hope. In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.

Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace. We should remember that fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother. The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace, since, by its vocation, it is meant to spread its love to the world around it.

The ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in today’s world makes us powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the nations. In the dynamics of history, and in the diversity of ethnic groups, societies and cultures, we see the seeds of a vocation to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another. But this vocation is still frequently denied and ignored in a world marked by a “globalization of indifference” which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.

In many parts of the world, there seems to be no end to grave offences against fundamental human rights, especially the right to life and the right to religious freedom. The tragic phenomenon of human trafficking, in which the unscrupulous prey on the lives and the desperation of others, is but one unsettling example of this. Alongside overt armed conflicts are the less visible but no less cruel wars fought in the economic and financial sectors with means which are equally destructive of lives, families and businesses.

Globalization, as Benedict XVI pointed out, makes us neighbours, but does not make us brothers.[1] The many situations of inequality, poverty and injustice, are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity, but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity. New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”. In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish.

At the same time, it appears clear that contemporary ethical systems remain incapable of producing authentic bonds of fraternity, since a fraternity devoid of reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation is unable to endure.[2] True brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood. Based on the recognition of this fatherhood, human fraternity is consolidated: each person becomes a “neighbour” who cares for others.

Te Deum - In thanksgiving for the blessing received in 2013

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 evening draws in on the last day of the year and we celebrate vespers for the Solemnity of the Mother of God on January 1st. Tradition also has the singing of the Te Deum.  The Te Deum is a hymn of praise that dates from early Christian times. In Latin, the hymn’s words: “Te Deum laudamus” can be translated "Thee, O God, we praise".

A more traditional version in latin

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.
From Vatican Radio:
In Rome, Pope Francis will preside the traditional year-end Vespers and the singing of the Te Deum hymn later Tuesday in thanksgiving for gifts received over the past year. The solemn celebration is to take place in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning at 5:00 p.m. Rome time. The ceremony will be Pope Francis’ last official event of the year 2013 and his first celebration as Pontiff of Vespers for the Solemnity of the Mother of God, to whom the New Year is dedicated. The event will be webcast live on Vatican Radio. After the evening Vespers, the Pope will make a brief visit to the life-sized Nativity scene below the obelisk in the center of St. Peter’s Square. This year’s scene, entitled “Francis 1223- Francis 2013” recalls the very first Nativity scene created 790 years ago by St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis’ namesake. The scene in St. Peter’s square this year was crafted by artisans from the southern Italian city of Naples, famous for its traditional Christmas displays. On Wednesday January 1st in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father will preside a morning liturgy marking the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Following the mass, at noon, Pope Francis will greet the faithful in St. Peter’s Square and together with them pray the Angelus

CNS: Everything you need to ring out 2013, usher in 2014 with Pope Francis

You can watch the on-demand feed of vespers here (sadly no English commentary). (H/t to Blue Eyed Ennis)

30 Dec 2013

30,000 young Europeans make “a large community of friendship” visible

Taizé in Strasbourg: 30,000 young Europeans make “a large community of friendship” visible


From 28 December, 20,000 young adults from all over Europe and also from the other continents, will arrive in Strasbourg for the 36th stage on the “Pilgrimage of Trust” led by the Taizé Community. Among them will be more than 4,500 Poles, 2,600 Ukrainians, 1,400 Italians, 1,200 Croatians, 1,000 Belarussians.... Together with others from Alsace and the German region of Ortenau, in all they will be 30,000 “seeking visible communion among all who love Christ.” They are travelling on the next stage of the "pilgrimage of trust on earth" initiated by Br Roger and the Taize Community.

For over thirty years, the “pilgrimage of trust on earth” initiated by Brother Roger and the Taizé Community has given rise to an uninterrupted series of meetings, large and small, in many countries of the world.

In Berlin, at the end of December 2011, Brother Alois inaugurated a new stage in the pilgrimage of trust, by offering a reflection for the coming years around the theme of “a new solidarity”:

The 2014 “Four Proposals” of Brother Alois to young adults and pastoral leaders “seeking visible communion among all who love Christ” was published on the Taizé website on 26th December. and continues to develop the reflections on the theme of "a new solidarity". You can find out more HERE. T
hrough the “Four Proposals for 2014”, which they will receive on arriving, Brother Alois, prior of Taizé, asks them; “Those who love Christ all across the earth form a large community of friendship. They have a contribution to make in healing the wounds of humanity: without wanting to impose themselves, they can promote a globalization of solidarity which excludes no people and no single person.”

Each morning, these young adults will gather in more than two hundred host parishes on both sides of the Rhine, in France and in Germany, for a moment of prayer and sharing. On the afternoons of 29 and 30 December, the meeting programme offers a choice of twenty themes in different workshops, for example: 
- “Crisis, unemployment, job insecurity... do we need to invent a new economic model?”;
- “Justice and human rights: personal reflections on the challenge of being a Christian.”;
- “Ecumenical dialogue: to coexist peacefully or to let ourselves be transformed by encountering others?”;
- “Do we need the Church? Bible reflection on fellowship in Christ.”;
- “Europe, the land of migrations: how can we live together better?”.

During the meeting, the participants will meet at midday and in the evening for common prayers. These prayers will take place simultaneously in three halls at Wacken (the Strasbourg Exhibition Centre), at the Cathedral and at St Paul’s Protestant Church.

Brother Alois’ meditations for the young people during the times of prayer will be published on this page:

Meditations by Brother Alois.

The detailed programme of the meeting is now available.

Several messages of support to the Taizé Community and the participants have been received. Other messages are expected, in particular from the Orthodox Churches. These messages will soon be published on the Taizé website. Here already are some extracts:

From Pope Francis: Rome remembers with joy your European meeting last year and especially the beautiful prayer that brought together thousands of young people in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Benedict XVI. The Popes counts on you so that, by means of your faith and your witness, the spirit of peace and reconciliation of the Gospel may shine forth among your contemporaries.

The Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation, Pastor Martin Junge: What a joyful gathering: because by walking and talking, by praying and singing together in the coming days you journey together towards a new solidarity. We wish you, in the spirit of journeying together towards a more just and peaceful world, a blessed European meeting in Strasbourg.

The Secretary general of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon: Technology has globalized communications. Now we have to globalize compassion and citizenship. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united. With our fates ever more entwined, our future must be one of ever deeper and wider cooperation. That is the global logic of our times. I count on you to help advance our shared goals of peace, development and human rights.

The President of the European Council, Mr. Herman van Rompuy: Going beyond separations, reconciling all Christians in one Church is the theme of your meeting this year. A theme that, taken in its broader sense, is that of unity in diversity, I would even say unity by and through diversity. A theme which the European Union has made its motto because it is at the heart of the construction and development of the European project.

All the messages received can be seen HERE.

The meeting day by day.

The letters from Taize which are the focal point for the European meetings are:

2012 Letter from Taize - Towards a New Solidarity 2012 - 2015
2013 Letter from Taize - Four Proposals to Uncover the Wellsprings of Trust in God
2014 Letter from Taize - Four Proposals for “seeking visible communion among all who love Christ”

29 Dec 2013

The most absurd claim in history

29th December 2013 - Feast of the Holy Family - EWTN's Women of Grace: An interview with Sue Brinkmann

This weeks programme is a little different and  marks a small new beginnng for the SS102fm team. First off, it is our first show produced at our new "Come & See" studio in Ardagh, Co Limerick which is a new venture from the team which we hope to share more with you our listeners in 2014.

At the same time it is also a first as we partner with EWTN where we re-broadcast from EWTN Catholic Radio where Susan Brinkman tells her story of returning to the Church. She reflects on her book "We need to talk - God speaks to a modern Girl".

Her book recounts how when she decided to return to the Church, she did so kicking and screaming. She had so little faith that God had to open her eyes and heart to her true calling. When God entered Susan Brinkmann's world, he waded into knee-deep piles of sin and daily dealt with her stubborn refusal to like him. And he did something amazing. This is the story of that miracle--not just a little moment, but something huge. He didn't change her. He helped her become who she really was.

Susan is a staff writer for 'Women of Grace' which is a ministry founded by Johnette Benkovic. Sue is an author and journalist. Susan is a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites and previously worked with The Catholic Standard and Times, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where she served for six years as a correspondent. She has won numerous national awards for her work and has published several books, including two historical fiction novels and a book on Carmelite prayer entitled, “Lord Teach us to Pray”.

You can listen to this weeks programme podcast HERE which comes to us from EWTN Radio.
Gospel - Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
Rest on the Flight into Egypt - Source Wikipedia
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Today the Church marks the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is a liturgical celebration in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday following Christmas, unless that Sunday is January 1, in which case it is celebrated on December 30.
Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families - CatholicCulture.org

Fr James Martin SJ writes a reflection on the Holy Family in the St Anthony Messenger Catholic Update.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
A reading from St Bernard of Clairvaux on the feast of the Holy Family

Saints of the Week

December 30th - St Egwin
December 31st - St Sylvester (Pope)
January 1st - Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
January 2nd - St Basil & St Gregory of Nazianzen
January 3rd - St Munchin - patron of the diocese of Limerick
January 4th - St Benedicta of Rome

27 Dec 2013

December 27th - Feast of St John the Apostle & Evangelist - The Beloved Disciple

From Catholicculture.org:

Today is the third day in the octave of Christmas and the Church celebrates the Feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist. 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.

In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia. St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: "My dear children, love one another."St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan (as seems to be gathered from Eusebius' history of the Saint); that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, St. John then being about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanus.

Tradition holds that St John was the only one of the apostles not to suffer martyrdom.

Read more about St John here and here.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9he true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.  
John 1:1-18

Over at Word on Fire on today's Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Father Barron explores the magnificent prologue to his Gospel, which he describes as "John the Evangelist’s great Christmas sermon." Packed within these few opening verses is a sublime theology of the Incarnation explaining how and why God became man.

26 Dec 2013

Evangelii Gaudem - iCatholic Study Circle Videos on "the Joy of the Gospel"

iCatholic continues with their short videos on Evangelii Gaudem (the Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis apostolic exhortation.

This series of videos features Michael Sullivan (Editor - Irish Catholic), Breda O'Brien (Journalist and commentator) and Fr Donal Dorr SPS (Kiltegan Father and writer on Catholic Social Teaching).

25 Dec 2013

Pope Francis - Urbi et Orbi 2013

This morning (11am Irish time), Pope Francis gave his Christmas Urbi et Orbi. (For those not 100% sure what the Urbi et Orbi is check here).

In a break with the polyglot tradition of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis gave his address in Italian and the blessing in the customary latin.


Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours (Lk 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, buongiorno e Buon Natale!
I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.
I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.
Glory to God!
Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.
May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.
And peace to mankind
True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “façade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.
Looking at the Child in the manger [the Child of peace], our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick.... Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!
Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world!

[And to nonbelievers too, I invite you to desire peace – that kind of desire makes one's heart bigger – so all of us together, whether in prayer or in desire, but all of us together, might seek peace.]

Grant peace to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.
You, Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favourable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.
Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!
O Bambino of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.
Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this world, in this humanity, today is born the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be moved, [let's not be afraid of this – do not be afraid of letting your heart be moved! We need this! We need to let our hearts be moved.]  Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. [God's caress never wounds us; God's caress gives us peace and strength. We need his caress!]

God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.
After giving his blessing, the Pope added a final statement:
To you, dearest brothers and sisters come together from every part of the world in this Square, and to the many from so many countries linked to us through the media, I repeat my wish: Buon Natale!
On this day, enlightened by the Gospel hope that sprung from the humble manger in Bethlehem, I invoke the Christmas gifts of joy and peace for everyone: for children and the elderly, for the young and for families, for the poor and the marginalized. O Jesus born for us, comfort all those who are being tested by illness and suffering, and support all those who've dedicated themselves to the service of their neediest brothers and sisters.
Buon Natale a tutti!
H/t to Rocco over at Whispers who also has a link to the on-demand video. 

Pope Francis - Christmas Midnight Mass

From News.va:

In his homily during Christmas Midnight Mass, Pope Francis reflected on “the mystery of walking and seeing.” Walking, he said, brings to mind the whole of salvation history, beginning with Abraham, our father in faith. “From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord!” And yet, the Pope said, “on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.”

Pope Francis said that in our own lives, too, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”
But, he continued, “On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race.

“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God . . . He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light.”
The Gospel of the Mass tells how the shepherds were the first to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. “They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast,” the Pope said. “And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks.” The Holy Father called on us to join the shepherds, to pause before the Child in silence, thanking God and praising His fidelity.
Pope Francis concluded his homily with the plea: “On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.”

Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis’ homily:

24 Dec 2013

Christmas Day 2013

From all the SacredSpace 102fm team, wishing you and yours every best wish and blessing of this Holy & Festive Season and into the New Year 2014.
May the Peace of the Babe of Bethlehem be the gift you receive this Christmastide.
John, Lorraine, Ann, Shane

Christmas Day Programme

On this special two hour programme we celebrate this special day with reflections, favourite Christmas carols and hymns, readings, poetry and our regular reflection on the Gospel of the day.

You can listen to the podcast of the programme HERE.

Reflections for Christmas Day including some used in the Christmas Day programme special:

"In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.All went to their own towns to be registered.Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."  - (Luke 2: 1-20)

Reflections on the gospel:

Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

I wish you Christmas

I wish you Christmas
And in that I wish you everything
I do not wish you a Merry Christmas for that is too small a wish. Too limited, too fragile an expression to carry the magnificence of Christmas.
Too narrow a vision to catch the star, angel, song and shepherd awe.
I wish you Christmas.

I wish you Christmas.
And with that I wish you life's great Good News.
I do not wish you 'season's greetings' for that is too vague, too impersonal, too void of warmth and love.
Because I wish you far more than a few days of festivity or a few hours of gaiety which will vanish too quickly.
I wish you Christmas and in that I wish you Good News.

I wish you Christmas.
And in that I wish you Jesus Christ. An infant of Bethlehem ......but more. A teacher of truth....but more.
A saviour, I wish you the sin-forgiver, the life giver, the death conqueror.
I wish you Christmas. And in that I wish you Jesus Christ.

I wish you Christmas
For when I wish you Christmas I wish you God. So I wish you God.
Nothing less. For nothing less will do, and nothing less than that is given at Christmas.

I wish God
I wish you Good News
I wish you Jesus Christ
I wish you Christmas

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 1-3: PI, 54, 190-193)

Christian, remember your dignity
No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.

And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.

Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

A Childhood Christmas
by Patrick Kavanagh (1905-67)

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost-
How wonderful that was, how wonderful
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical
The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw-
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me
To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhoods. Again
The tracks of Cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch
Or any common sight the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon-the Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
'Can't he make it talk' -
The melodeon. I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade-
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

Celebrating Christmas after the loss of a loved one

God of compassion, there is such a hole in my heart today!
Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only the emptiness and loss of someone so beloved. While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one wih me.
I bring my sorrows to you Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet. In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness.
Yes, you can.
You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it at this minute, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness and loving me. Dearest Lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak. Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn't say.
Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet.