30 Nov 2014

30 November 2014 - Advent - 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B)

On this weeks programme we mark the beginning of the New Year (the new liturgical year!) with the first Sunday of Advent. As has almost become customary on the programme we are joined by SS102fm's home base parish priest Fr Frank Duhig from NCW who gives us a reflection on Advent. We have our regular gospel reflection as well as some liturgical odds and ends and notices.

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

You can listen to Fr Frank's reflection excerpted from the main programme HERE.

Advent - Season of hope, waiting and conversion

Fr Frank Duhig reflects on Advent - Adventus - and how it is a season to reflect on the comings of Christ and our need to recover space for Advent so we can truly appreciate Christmas. Quoting St Bernard he reminds us of the "three advents" of Christ. He named as first that advent which has already happened in historical time and space and which we now commemorate each Christmas, the one in which Christ entered the world through the womb of Mary to "seek and to save that which was lost". The third is the parousia, the advent in which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead, and to take us to himself. Then Bernard explained the second, or middle, advent as the "time of visitation" by which Christ is now present and active in each of our lives. Daily he is at work in us through grace to transform us into his image and likeness and to bring us salvation and healing from the sin, difficulties, sicknesses, and human frailties of our everyday lives."

It is a reminder that Advent of Jesus coming to meet up on the way, but are actually making space for us to go to meet him?

Advent is a time to reflect on the restlessness which is within us as we wait and prepare to allow the coming of Jesus into our hearts so we can begin to assuage the deep longing at our hearts core that longing which St Augustine described as “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
Grant, almighty Father,
that when Christ comes again we may go out to meet him
  bearing the harvest of good works achieved by your grace.
We pray that he will receive us into the company of the saints
  and call us into the kingdom of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Gospel - Mark 13:33-37

The world keeps insisting we live in the future these days ... have you your Christmas shopping done? are you ready? what are you wearing to that party? have you decorated the house yet?
... what about now?
...what about living in November and even December first? 
... what about Advent?

When Moses asked Gods name, the answer was 'I am'. Not 'I will be', or 'I was'. God lives in the present and is with us in this moment. If we live in the future perhaps we will miss God who is present.  If we live in the future, perhaps we will miss one anothers presence. 

Let us make Advent a moment to awareness.

Let us become awake to all that is here and now, instead of living in the future.  Let us notice where we have become too busy, stressed or preoccupied, and choose to slow down and return to the present. 

Let us tell those we love, that we love them and let us be loved

Perhaps this is how we can best
prepare for the One who is Love. 

Here’s a prayer based on Mark 13: 33-37.  It was written by A. Osdieck at The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University. 

Prayer for Advent
(based on Mark 13: 33-37)
“He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch….”
Passages steep, mountains craggy;
paths rugged, packed
with potholes,

or sometimes
cool trails with running streams.

Whether tough roads or easy streets,
let us never stop watching
for you, O Lord.

Call to us.
Come to us.
Show your face
in everyone we meet
along the

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Sunday Reflections

Word on Fire 
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds and ends

Saints of the Week

December 1 - Blessed Charles de Foucauld

December 2 - Blessed John van Ruysbroeck
December 3 - St Francis Xavier
December 4 - Blessed Mór of Pécs
December 5 - Saint Christina of Markyate (First Friday)
December 6 - St Nicholas (First Saturday)

Pope's Intentions for December

  • Christmas, hope for humanity. That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
  • Parents.  That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I

The successor of the Apostle Peter and the successor of the Apostle Andrew, together in prayer. Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I prayed for the unity of the Churches at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul.nPope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended a celebration of the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of St. Andrew at the Church of St. George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Sunday is the third and last day of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Turkey.

The most powerful moment came when Pope Francis made this request to the Patriarch - "I ask you a favor, to bless me and the Church of Rome."

After such a symbolic gesture, they prayed together the Lord's Prayer in Latin.

During the gathering both religious leaders addressed each other. The Patriarch said he welcomed Pope Francis with joy, honor and recognition. He added that he hopes his visit will help both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches come closer.

Pope Francis answered to the Patriarch's address explaining that they are "brothers in hope."

"Andrew and Peter heard this promise; they received this gift. They were blood brothers, yet their encounter with Christ transformed them into brothers in faith and charity. In this joyful evening, at this prayer vigil, I want to emphasize this; they became brothers in hope. What a grace, Your Holiness, to be brothers in the hope of the Risen Lord! What a grace, and what a responsibility, to walk together in this hope, sustained by the intercession of the holy Apostles and brothers, Andrew and Peter!”

After the prayer vigil, they had a brief meeting in private, that was followed by a gift exchange. Pope Francis also signed the book of honor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide .

Text of Address by Pope Francis HERE.

Text of Address by Patriarch Bartholomew I HERE.

Vatican Radio - Pope Francis’s gift to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, during their meeting in Istanbul, was a mosaic reproduction of the image of Christ depicted in the confession of St. Peter inside the Vatican basilica. The mosaic is taken from the image of Christ depicted in the Confession of St. Peter, that is of his tomb, where the Sacred Pallia are kept, under the papal altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The mosaic is originally attributed to the Ninth Century and some parts of it are retraceable to this period, for example the face, while other parts prove to have been successively altered. This image is certainly a representative element of the Constantinian Basilica, which has since remained in its original place. It is the Christ, blessing and Teacher, while holding out the Book of the Gospel open at the words: “EGO SUM VIA VERITAS ET VITA QUI CREDIT IN ME VIVET”

Year for Consecrated Life - Pope Francis issues letter

Pope Francis issued a letter for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will start throughout the universal Church on the first Sunday of Advent, 30 November. The observance will end on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 2 February 2016.
In his message, the Pope underlined the aims of the Year of Consecrated Life, namely to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion and to embrace the future with hope.
The Pope then expressed his expectations for the yearlong observance: that consecrated men and women would be witnesses of communion, of joy and the Gospel, and go evermore to the peripheries to proclaim the Good News.
“I am counting on you ‘to wake up the world’, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy,” he wrote.  “This is the priority that is needed right now.”
He urged religious communities to guard against gossip, jealousy and pettiness in community life, to live “in synergy” with other vocations in the Church, and to “step more courageously from the confines of our respective institutes and to work together.”
The Pope said he also expected consecrated men and women to examine their presence in Church life and to respond to the “ new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor.”
Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci HERE.

Full text of the Pope's letter:

Year B - The Gospel of Mark

From Thinking Faith:

The beginning of Advent marked the start of a new liturgical year for the Church. We are now in Year B and our guide for most of the Sunday readings will be Mark. Peter Edmonds SJ traces the path through Mark’s Gospel that we will follow over the coming year – what will we hear when we listen attentively to the voice of Saint Mark?

You can continue reading HERE and HERE.

Advent 2014 - The two fold coming of Christ - St Cyril of Jerusalem

St Cyril of Jerusalem
The twofold coming of Christ
We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.
In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future.
At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.
We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

  The Saviour will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged. At his own judgement he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them: You did these things, and I was silent.

  His first coming was to fulfil his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion. This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity.

  The prophet Malachi speaks of the two comings. And the Lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple: that is one coming.

  Again he says of another coming: Look, the Lord almighty will come, and who will endure the day of hi entry, or who will stand in his sight? Because he comes like a refiner’s fire, a fuller’s herb, and he will sit refining and cleansing.
These two comings are also referred to by Paul in writing to Titus: The grace of God the Saviour has appeared to all men, instructing us to put aside impiety and worldly desires and live temperately, uprightly, and religiously in this present age, waiting for the joyful hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Notice how he speaks of a first coming for which he gives thanks, and a second, the one we still await.
 That is why the faith we profess has been handed on to you in these words: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

  Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven. He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day. For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new.

- From the Divine Office, 1st Sunday of Advent, Office of Readings

Advent in 2 minutes - BustedHalo

29 Nov 2014

Celebrating the Year for Consecrated Life

In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, Religious from five different congregations in Ireland share how they discerned the call to their vocation.

With special thanks to:
Fr Alan Neville, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
Sr Monica Boggan, Redemptoristines
Br Conor McDonough, Dominicans
Br Kevin Crowley, Capuchin Franciscan Friars
Sr Louise O'Rourke, Disciples of the Divine Master

The Closing of the month of the Holy Souls

While the month of the Holy Soul's draws to a close this weekend, memory and remembrance of those who have gone is not turned off with the changing of the calendar - especially for this left behind. For so many who are grieving a recent loss, those aching and those remembering  John O'Donohue's words may be a reminder that those who have died and the bereaved are held in a special way in November.

On The Death Of The Beloved - John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

28 Nov 2014

Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre celebrates 20 years

You can follow the celebrations and take a trip down memory lane on the Limerick Diocesan Facebook page where the folks at the LDPC have been busy posting photos. Head on over and see if you can spot anyone you know!

Celebrations tonight (28th November) at St Michaels at 7.30pm

The 14 Papal phrases that triggered applause in the European Parliament

Pope Francis heads to Turkey

Haighia Sophia in Istanbul
(Vatican Radio) What is the main significance and chief highlights of Pope Francis’s three day pastoral visit to Turkey this week? And what message is he likely to bring to the Christian and Muslim communities during his time in Ankara and Istanbul? These were some of the questions Susy Hodges put to Vatican Radio’s correspondent Philippa Hitchen who is travelling with the Pope during his trip.

Listen to the full interview with Philippa Hitchen just before her departure for Turkey

Catholic-Orthodox relations and dialogue with the Muslim world are the two main issues under the spotlight as Pope Francis travels to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Friday for his 6th international journey. The Pope will then spend Saturday and Sunday in Istanbul where he was invited by the Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew 1st  to celebrate the feast of St Andrew on November 30th.

Just six months ago, the two leaders met in Jerusalem and signed a joint declaration marking half a century since the lifting of mutual excommunications and the beginning of a new era of improved relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. So what are the expectations ahead of this latest encounter in the Patriarch’s headquarters at the Phanar in Istanbul? And how can the tiny Christian minority in Turkey help to promote better relations with the wider Muslim world?

To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Dominican Father Claudio Monge, director of a Centre for Cultural and Interreligious Dialogue in Istanbul and you can listen to the interview HERE.


Crux - Orthodox leader to Turkey: Re-open our seminary
Al Jazeera coverage
The Irish Times
NPR - In A Land Of Few Christians, Pope Will Reach Out To Muslims In Turkey
Catholic Herald - Pope Francis’s visit to Turkey puts spotlight on besieged Christians

27 Nov 2014

Maynooth Seminarians interviewed on RTE's Sean O'Rourke programme

Interview with  Sean Jones, Vincent Stapleton, Leo Creelman on RTE's Sean O'Rourke radio programme this morning about life as a seminarian and studying for priesthood.
You can access the interview on the RTE podcast page HERE.

26 Nov 2014

Advent is here.......(well almost!)

Sunday is New Years Day! 

Well it is in the liturgical calendar as it is the first Sunday of Advent so from sundown on Saturday evening we enter into the new liturgical year and enter into the season of preparation for the Adventus of the Lord.

St Bernard often highlighted what he described as the "three advents" of Christ.  He named as first that advent which has already happened in historical time and space and which we now commemorate each Christmas, the one in which Christ entered the world through the womb of Mary to "seek and to save that which was lost".  The third is the parousia, the advent in which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead, and to take us to himself.  Then Bernard explained the second, or middle, advent as the "time of visitation" by which Christ is now present and active in each of our lives.  Daily he is at work in us through grace to transform us into his image and likeness and to bring us salvation and healing from the sin, difficulties, sicknesses, and human frailties of our everyday lives. 

Something light to get you thinking of the season we are about to celebrate; have you thought about how you are going to mark Advent this year? Are you going to give time to PREPARE for Christmas and not just in the secular, materialistic way?

25 Nov 2014

Pope urges a “lonely” “self-absorbed” Europe to recover its soul

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on a “haggard” and “lonely” Europe to recover its role as a world protagonist, its identity as a defender of the transcendent dignity of man, the poor, the migrant, the persecuted, the old and the young, to recover its soul: Christianity.
In a lengthy address– the first of two on his one day visit to the heart of Europe – he told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg that a two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity, “not free of conflicts or errors, but driven by the desire to work for the good of all”. This “is our present and our future. It is our identity”, he said

The Pope also urged Europe’s 500 million citizens to see the Union’s problems – economic stagnation, unemployment, immigration, rising poverty levels and a growing polarization - as a “force for unity” to overcome fears and mutual mistrust.

“Dignity” he said was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War and led to the European project. Today it remains central to the commitment of the European Union. But Pope Francis warned, often the concept of human rights is misunderstood and misused.

He pointed to tendency to uphold the rights of the individual, “without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself”.

Transcendent human dignity – the Pope continued - means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation. He spoke of a Europe rampant with the disease of loneliness a direct result of the trend towards individualism. He said the economic crisis has worsened this pervasive loneliness and nourished a growing mistrust in people towards institutions considered aloof and bureaucratic.

The Pope spoke of the unsustainable opulence of selfish lifestyles amid indifference to the poorest of the poor, where technical and economic questions dominate political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings.

This – the Pope noted –reduces human life to being a “cog in a machine” which, if no longer useful, can be “discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb”. This – Pope Francis said quoting Benedict XVI - is the great mistake made “when technology is allowed to take over”; the result is a confusion between ends and means”.

The future of Europe – added Pope Francis - depends on the recovery of the vital connection between openness to God and the practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems.

The Pope said Christianity is not a threat to secular Europe but rather an enrichment. He said religions can help Europe counter “many forms of extremism” spreading today that are often “a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West”.

Here he decried the “shameful and complicit silence” of many while religious minorities are being “evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive”.

Pope Francis went on to observe that the motto of the European Union is United in Diversity, but unity, does not mean uniformity. Keeping democracy alive in Europe means avoiding the many globalizing tendencies to dilute reality.

Keeping democracies alive is a challenge in the present historic moment, he continued, but it must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal. It means nurturing the gifts of each man and woman; investing in families, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society; in educational institutes; in young people today who are asking for a suitable and complete education to help them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment.

In areas such as the ecology Europe has always been in the vanguard, the Pope said, while noting that today “millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables”.

He also spoke of the need to promote policies that create employment, but above all “restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions” while avoiding the exploitation of workers and ensuring “their ability to create a family and educate their children”.

On the issue of migration Pope Francis called for a united response decrying the lack of a coordinated EU wide effort to adopt policies that assist migrants in their countries of origin and that promote a just and realistic integration: “We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!” he decried to lengthy applause.

Pope Francis concluded: “The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity!

 Full text of Pope Francis address to the European Parliament:

22 Nov 2014

23rd November 2014 - Year for Consecrated Life - Solemnity of Christ the Universal King

On this weeks programme John and Shane are joined by Friend of  the Blog, Sr Louise O'Rourke PDDM who shares with us her thoughts on reflections on consecrated life and the Year for Consecrated Life which Pope Francis has called. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as some notices and other liturgical odds and ends.

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

Year for Consecrated Life

On this weeks programme we are joined by Sr Louise O'Rourke PDDM to reflect on consecrated life and the Year for Consecrated Life. The special year dedicated to consecrated life was announced by Pope Francis and is similar to previous themed years announced by popes such as Year of the Priest (2009-2010) or Year of St. Paul. (2008-2009).

The year also marks the 50th anniversary of "Perfectae Caritatis," a decree on religious life, and "Lumen Gentium," the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The purpose of the yearlong celebration, according to a Vatican statement, is to "make a grateful remembrance of the recent past" while embracing "the future with hope."

On the programme we discuss what is consecrated life and what does it mean in modern Ireland especially given that there are fewer religious and so many people's knowledge is limited to stereotypes in film and media such as Sister Act and the Sound of Music.

We reflect on the way that the journey to religious life is a call and response between the individual and God - a different - not better - way to live out their baptismal call in a covenanted way. The person is set aside (not apart) by and for the Lord to be a hidden leaven in the world. Religious can serve in both apostolic works including health care, schools and campaigning for social justice or in contemplation where their work is praying for the needs of the world.

The Year for Consecrated Life is a chance for religious to tell their story, to share their joy and inviting people to discover whether serving as a religious is the way to finding the best person that they are called to be.

You can listen to Sr Louise's interview on YCL excerpted from the main programme HERE.


LORD of the Harvest,

BLESS young people with the gift of courage to respond to your call.
Open their hearts to great ideals, to great things.
INSPIRE all of your disciples to mutual love and giving—
for vocations blossom in the
good soil of faithful people.

INSTILL those in religious life, parish
ministries, and families with the confidence
and grace to invite others to embrace
the bold a
nd noble path of a life
consecrated to you.
UNITE us to Jesus through prayer and sacrament,
so that we may cooperate
with you in building your reign of mercy
and truth, of justice and peace. Amen.
— Pope Francis


Resources for Year for Consecrated Life:

VISION Vocation Network in the USA has a very comprehensive set of resources for use during the YCL available HERE including homily resources, notices for parish bulletins, posters, banners etc etc

Rejoice! - A letter to consecrated men and women

Sixteen Questions about Church Vocations

Vocations Ireland - website and Facebook page

Explore Away

Year of Consecrated Life Facebook page (administered by Image Sisters USA)


Rise of the Roses has blossomed from friendships formed through the Michaela Foundation. Through volunteering at the Michaela Girls Summer Camps we have discovered a tremendous thirst for God amongst the young girls of Ireland. There is an eagerness to know God and a huge amount of energy and joy that is palpable when young people embrace their faith. Our desire to spread the joy of our faith has led us to some very special ladies – the Poor Clares at Faughart, Co.Louth. They asked us to help them with a special project of their own. They were inspired by Pope Francis’ call for Religious Congregations to ‘wake up the world’ and they asked us to help them come up with a way to promote and celebrate the upcoming ‘Year for Consecrated Life ‘ (Nov 2014-Nov 2015). Together, through the intercession of St Brigid, St Clare, St Therese & St John Bosco, and the inspiration of the late Michaela McAreavey, the Holy Spirit has helped us devise. Check out their website and Facebook page to find out more.

Gospel - Matthew 25: 31- 46 - Solemnity of Christ the King

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was instituted by Pope Pius XI in the Encyclical Quas Primas in 1925.  This solemnity is always celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church's liturgical year.  It is fitting to reflect on the Kingship of Jesus at this time of the year.  Every time we pray the Our Father or the Creed, we are praying for the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.  If we truly believe that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, then we will reflect this in our lives. Perhaps during this coming week and as we move into the new season of Advent we can reflect on the following questions:

(1) Who is the king of my heart and mind and life?  Do submit every part of my day and life to Jesus Christ?  Do I live as if Jesus is the Universal King or do I prefer to keep some parts of my life under my own control and dominion? 

(2) Do I work for the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of man?  Do I pour my energies into working for peace, love, justice, unity and harmony or do I spend most of my energies in the pursuit of status, power, wealth?

This Sundays Gospel begins with Jesus saying to his disciples ... "‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. .."

Who is this glorious King?

What is Jesus Christ the King of?

What is this Kingdom of God that we proclaim we are co-creating with Jesus in the Holy Spirit?

Lets consider what such a Kingdom might look like:

- A kingdom where Jesus values rule

- A world where Jesus vision inspires and informs

- A community of communities who love Jesus and want to live their lives according to his teachings ....

Do you want to be a citizen of that Kingdom?

If so this is what is asked for ... that the hungry are fed, the thirsty given to drink, the stranger made welcome, the naked clothed, the imprisoned visited .... that Jesus Christ's vision is at the centre of all we say and all we do. In this way Jesus is King. King of our hearts - the servant King.

What can you do this week that will make the Kingdom a reality?

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

And as we say goodbye shortly to the Alleluia for the season of Advent, we take this opportunity to play one of the Sacred Space team's favourite hymns: the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, directed here by Andre Rieu:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
is become the Kingdom of the Lord,
and of His Christ, and of His Christ;
and He shall reign for ever and ever,
for ever and ever, for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
and Lord, of lords,
and He shall reign forever and ever!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Liturgical Odds and Ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 2; 34th week in ordinary time

Saints of the Week

November 24th - St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions (Vietnam martyrs)
November 25th - St Catherine of Alexandria also St Colman
November 26th - Blessed Hugh Taylor
November 27th - St Fergal
November 28th - Saint Catherine Laboure - Seer of the Miraculous Medal
November 29th - Blessed Denis of the Nativity

Synod 2016 - Bishop Brendan Leahy address to inaugural meeting of Synod Delegates

First Meeting of Synod Delegates

November 15th, 2014, Mary Immaculate College

Speaking Notes of Bishop Brendan Leahy
This is a great moment. Just a few weeks after convoking the Diocesan Synod, the first in the Diocese in around 70 years, here we are already, several hundred of us, Synod delegates ready to set out on the journey! My first word is “thanks” – thanks for the interest, the time, the commitment, above all, for the choice you’ve made to be part of this journey. Maybe there was a little cajoling involved in persuading you but you still made the choice and we are all grateful for your presence here. Each one of you here is a gift for each other.

As you may know, though I am from Dublin, my parents were from Kerry and we would often travel from Dublin to West Kerry – a more than six hour journey in those days. The preparation for the journey was always both exciting and hard work! Cases, bags, pots and pans had to be packed into the car. And it couldn’t be a question of just throwing everything in. My father would have to carefully arrange things so that everything did actually did fit in. We’d be in and out of our house, up and down stairs, carrying those bags and going back to fetch those items we’d forgotten. The preparation would take time!  There was a little drudgery attached. But it was all part of the excitement! And it was worth it to get us to Kerry!

Thankfully, there are no bags and cases to be dragged around here today. But in a sense, this day marks the beginning of our preparation for the collective journey called a Synod. I’m sure there will be many moments of joy as well as challenges ahead of us! But it’s wonderful to see over 300 present here from all corners of the Diocese, representing parishes and other groups, lining ourselves up, as it were, for action, looking forward to our Diocesan Synod in April 2016.

What we are about – a Diocesan Synod – is new to us all. We are going to have to learn by doing. If it depended all on ourselves, then we would rightly be worried! Can any of us really say that we feel fully competent for what lies ahead of us? If there is anyone here wondering if they are really up to it, I would say – relax, you’re in good company! We all feel a little like that! What matters is to remember that we must work as if it depended on us but knowing that it really depends on God. The Holy Spirit will come to our aid. Indeed, I like to think it will be the Holy Spirit who will be the pilot, the guide, for our journey.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going with a Limerick Diocesan pilgrimage group to Rome. Our pilgrimage was in honour of Saint John Paul II. It was a wonderful in so many ways. It was a chance to recall, as Bishop Donal Murray did for us during a Mass at the altar of the saint, some of the things Pope John Paul said to us in 1979 when he visited Limerick. For instance, in Greenpark Racecourse, the Polish Pope said, “lay people today are called to a strong Christian commitment, to permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, for Ireland is at a point of decision in her history”.  

The highpoint, however of our pilgrimage was the encounter with Pope Francis. St. Peter’s Square was full with 70.000 pilgrims but the Irish group was fortunate enough to be seated right in front of Pope Francis. The Pope singled out our group for mention in his greetings to the English-speaking pilgrims. I was particularly pleased to be able to greet him personally afterwards and present to him both the history book of the Diocese of Limerick and my pastoral letter convoking the Synod. He looked at both with great interest and asked us to pray for him. It wasn’t something planned but I was really happy that I was able to present him with the pastoral letter and so tell him about the Synod. It was an important symbolic moment, reminding me, and all of us here today, that we are a portion of the universal Church of Christ and that we are in communion with the successor of Peter.

In his catechesis that day, Francis spoke about the Church as the Body of Christ. He reminded us of the great gift of Baptism that makes us members of the Church. As he put it, “baptism constitutes a true rebirth, which regenerates us in Christ, renders us a part of Him, and unites us intimately among ourselves, as limbs of the same body, of which He is the Head” (cf. Rm 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12-13).

He also referred to chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel that he recommended we read. In that chapter the prophet describes a vision that is unusual but the prophet wants us to be encouraged by it. At the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the people of Israel were going through a devastating time. They had been exiled away from the Holy Land to Babylon and were losing hope. In the account of the vision, God shows the prophet a valley full of bones, separated from each other and dry. It is a desolate scene. In the vision God asks the prophet to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that point, the bones move, they begin to come together. First nerves and then flesh grew on them and in this way they form a complete body, full of life (cf. Ez 37:1-14). The Pope commented, “See, this is the Church! This is the Church, she is a masterpiece, the masterpiece of the Spirit who instills in each one the new life of the Risen Christ and places us, beside one another, each at the service and support of the other, thereby making of all of us one single body, edified in communion and in love.”

At this point I’d like to read the text itself of the prophet Ezekiel chapter 27. It’s what Pope Francis asked us to do:

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’

Yes, the Spirit breathes life into us. I’ve always liked a sentence the late Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras used to quote:

Without the Spirit, God is far away, Christ remains in the past, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is a simple organisation, authority a domination, mission a propaganda, worship mere evocation, and Christian action a slave morality.  But in the Spirit… the Risen Christ is present, the Gospel is the power of life, the Church signifies Trinitarian communion, authority is a liberating service, mission is a Pentecost, the liturgy is memorial and anticipation, human activity is deified”.[1]

We need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us. How can we have this wisdom? I would like to suggest four keys for opening the doors of our hearts and minds to the Spirit.

Firstly, we must ask for the gift. That might seem obvious but we can so easily take it for granted. I invite you to invoke the Spirit often along this journey: “Come, Holy Spirit, help me how to listen to this person or group”; “Come, Holy Spirit, give me wisdom in what I have to say”; “Come, Holy Spirit, help me understand what is the right thing to do”.

Secondly, to have wisdom, it is important to love. And to love with the art of loving that we find in the Gospel. In other words, take the initiative, be the first to love, don’t wait to be loved. St. Paul tells us that while we were still sinners God loved us and now we too are to go out of ourselves to love others. And to do so with the universal love that Jesus had – to love everyone – those from my parish but also from other parishes; those from my group but also from other groups. Why not take as a goal today to really get to know people here that you haven’t ever met before.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit will be particularly active among us if we have Jesus among us. In the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus we read that there hearts were “burning” within them as Jesus walked among them along the road. The Risen Jesus is always with us. He promised to be with us until the end of time. But how we sense his presence and let him be active among us with his liberating Spirit depends on how much we love one another. He promised us, “where two or three are gathered in my name – and that is, in love for one another – I am there among them” (Mt 18:20). The First Christians really took mutual love, love for one another, to heart. In the First Letter of St. Peter we read: “above all, maintain constant love for one another” (1 Peter 4:7). And that means listening and learning from one another, giving and sharing our views, helping and receiving help from one another. And this includes listening and learning from the wisdom in the teaching of the Church throughout the centuries.

Finally, there is an important way to have the Spirit alive in our hearts and in our mind – it is love of the Crucified Christ when we encounter difficulties, misunderstandings or discouragement. Those moments inevitably come in life, including during a Synod. When they do, it is important to go deep into our hearts and call him, the Crucified Christ, by name: “this difficulty is you”; “I want to love you in this disappointment or setback”; “I offer you this misunderstanding”. Let’s remember that as he was dying on the Cross, Jesus breathed forth his Spirit. United to him in any big or small challenge we might face, we too can breathe forth the Spirit around us.

With these few words, I wish you a good Synod day. A Synod is an event of the Church. I believe there is a grace attached to it. It is a work of God. Let’s do the work of God together and let’s do it well.

[1] Olivier Clément, Dialogues avec le Patriarche Athénagoras (Paris: Fayard, 1969), p. 496, quoting Metropolitan Ignatios of Latakia, the Greek Metropolitan Ignatois of Latakia, speaking at the WCC, Uppsala, 1968.