28 May 2016

May 29th 2016 - The Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

In this week's programme John and Ann Keily, Martina O'Sullivan and Fr. Patrick Cahill discuss the beautiful feast of The Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). You can listen to the full programme podcast HERE

The Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi

Fr. Patrick began by acknowledging there is so much involved in the contemplation of the Eucharist that it is not always easy to know where to start. As C.S. Lewis said: "The Eucharist isn't a mystery to be understood; it's a mystery to be beheld." This great mystery is reflected in our churches which are built so that everything points to the Eucharist by pointing to the tabernacle. We need the Eucharist for salvation. We are offering the Body of God the Son (the Lamb) to God the Father. It should fill us with a sense of wonder and awe and a sense of our own humility and unworthiness to participate in such a great offering. If we really knew Who God is we could not be anything but humble. 

You can listen to the discussion on Corpus Christi excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE.

 ... What you see is the bread and the chalice -
this is what your eyes tell you.

But what your faith needs to be informed of -

the bread is the body of Christ, the chalice is his blood.
This is why these things are called sacraments,

because in them one thing is seen, but another is understood.
If you wish to understand the body of Christ,

listen to what the apostle says to the believers,
'You are the body of Christ and his members.'
If, therefore, you are the body of Christ and his members,

it is your own mystery that has been placed on the table of the Lord. It is your own mystery that you receive.
To this which you are you respond 'Amen'
and in responding, you accept it.
What you hear is 'the Body of Christ'

and to this you respond 'Amen'.

So, be a member of Christ's body,
that your Amen may be true...."

St Augustine of Hippo Previous posts from the blog on the feast of Corpus Christi including the hymns written for the feast day by St Thomas Aquinas can be read HERE.

Gospel - Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

When it comes to the Eucharist, how can we possible believe God is contained in something so small and common, i.e. bread. The Lord shows us in this miracle that He can do what He wants in created things because He is God. He can do what He wants with His own Body, e.g. He can walk on water. If we bind those two arguments: if He wants to make Himself present in the Blessed Sacrament, He can because He is God. 

Twelve is always a biblical number for fullness. The twelve baskets show that even the leftovers were sufficient and more than enough. It tells us that the Eucharist we receive contains everything that we need and more. Why? Because the Eucharist is God.

Reflections on this week's gospel:
Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours: Psalter Week 1

Saints of the Week
May 31st - The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 1st - St. Justin
June 2nd - St. Marcellinus and St. Peter
June 3rd - The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 4th - The Immaculate Heart of Mary

26 May 2016

Some web browsing......

CNA - A young woman chose to be euthanized, and the reason why is awful

Into Great Silence with Saint Bruno the Carthusian

BBC - How the love of the Virgin Mary is bringing Lebanese Muslims together

Pope Francis and Top Sunni Leader Meet at the Vatican

Pope says of get-together with Imam, ‘The meeting is the message’

A 1500-Year-Old Underground Byzantine Church Is Found in Turkey Unearthed in the central Turkish region of Cappadocia, the unique church contains remarkable frescoes

Habited or Unhabited, Who Are the “Real” Nuns? A look at how some habits originated, and why they might or might not be necessary to a community

Liturgy as a True Force for Evangelization - When we think of “mission” and “evangelization” we don’t usually think of liturgy, but maybe we should

'Gospel of the family, joy for the world' is theme of Dublin WMF

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life. I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.

Don't love concepts – love people, Pope Francis tells aid workers

Is Catholicism about to break into three?

This is how fascism comes to America

June as the month of the Sacred Heart and the Novena to the Sacred Heart

Sometimes when it comes to posting a blog on SS102fm, the creative juices seem to be dry and barren or it can be a case of re-using what we have used before on the blog (which makes sense if you think about it as we follow the liturgical calendar which repeats itself again and again). The devotion to the Sacred Heart is a case in point, how do you look again at a devotion, a prayer cycle, a belief which is seen as "traditional" or "antiquated". Something associated with a culture seen as oppressive and burdensome in Ireland? How do we rediscover the essentials again of what is the point of this devotion to the Heart of Jesus? What does it teach and remind us of?

Mercy and Love!

The keys to finding a way into this little side chapel in the many devotions in the universal church are Marcy and Love! How appropriate that we reflect on the mercy and love of God expressed in the human heart of Jesus which was united to the Divine! But even using that language can be a block for people with so much of it wrapped up around the issue of the imagery used.
A couple of years back, a friend of mine commented on Facebook that he was going to post a funky, Facebook-friendly version of the Sacred Heart image in honour of the feast, but then he remembered that the old-fashioned painting was the image through which he came to know Jesus as a child.

It hung in the kitchen, and communicated at once Jesus' solemnity and his mercy. On the back, his mother had written the childhood sicknesses of her six children, entrusting fears, tears, and little agonies to the loving heart of Our Lord, like countless mothers all over the world. How blessed we are to know that we are loved, no matter how we suffer or fall. 'Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love has no end' (Psalm 135)

Many Irish homes had a triptych of the Sacred Heart, the Pope and John Fitzgerald Kennedy probably over hanging the statue of the Child of Prague or Our Lady of Lourdes. Probably as the feast generally falls in June and coincides with the national state examinations, there are few people who may not have had a candle lit for them in front of the image of the Sacred Heart.
One memorable quote which I came across was "Good luck to all my fellow 6th years.. I'll be grand, Nana's lightin a candle for me".

June is by tradition, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is falling on June 3rd 2016 (as it is dependent when Easter falls).

The Sacred Heart represents Christ's love for all humanity, and our devotion to it is an expression of our faith in His mercy and His love which seems particularly relevant in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity. Think about that for a minute.........think about what it means for You!

In June 2013 Pope Francis noted how closeness and tenderness are the pillars of God's relationship with us, because He knows us all by name. The Pope said God draws near out of love, He walks with His people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable turning point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word, present in the poor. This said Pope Francis is the closeness of a shepherd to his sheep, whom he knows, one by one. Pope Francis noted that it's harder to open our hearts and let God love us, than for us to love God.
[Full report from Vatican Radio including audio HERE.]

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is very much his human heart. It is not so much that we worship the flesh and blood of his physical heart in itself, but rather what it symbolizes. In general use, we refer to the heart as the centre of our feeling and emotion, our inmost core, the place where we encounter God, and from which springs what love we can show to Him and to others........Thus, in a sense, the devotion to the Sacred Heart is a bold and audacious one. In adoring Jesus’ Sacred Heart we are adoring his humanity. Or to put it less disturbingly, we are adoring his Incarnation
Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term "Sacred Heart of Jesus" denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being (a reminder to us of his humanity and his divinity), and his person considered in its most intimate essential: Son of God, uncreated wisdom; infinite charity, principal of the salvation and sanctification of mankind. The "Sacred Heart" is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Saviour, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers and sisters.
One of our favourite blogs on SS102fm is Blue Eyed Ennis and while it is no longer active, Phil has left the blog online and we take great delight in dipping into its archives from time to time. Two lovely and thoughtful reflections on the Sacred Heart from Phil are here and here.
Offering of my Heart: A prayer before the image of the Sacred Heart
The Novena to the Sacred Heart (May 26th - June 3rd 2016)
The origin of the idea of praying for a special intention for nine days is very attractive and worth thinking about - it comes from the alleged length of time that Mary and the eleven remaining disciples spent praying together in the upper room, waiting for the Spirit to come upon them at Pentecost. In our imitation of them in these nine days we'll surely be in good company, especially with Mary, the one who shows us what our attitude in prayer should be: she always trusted, despite confusion; she continued to hope, despite the seeming darkness. The disciples were a small community of fragile yet hopeful trust, of confusion yet deep desire within their hearts. In short, they were probably very much like ourselves at the beginning of this novena. On each day of the novena, try to have a few quiet moments with yourself or with others to reflect on the scripture passage. Then, in your own time, move on to the reflection and think about what it might say to you today. Then pass on to the short prayer and make it your own. Always end with the Novena Prayer and include in it any intention you would like to make. 
Brendan Comerford, SJ
The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a mystical experience. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism (read more here).

On June 1, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI
urged Catholics everywhere to renew their devotion to the Sacred Heart during the month of June.

Over at the Irish Jesuits website Sacredspace.ie they have daily meditations for the novena.

The UK Jesuits also have online
daily meditations and reflections
Some other links for the month of the Sacred Heart:

CatholicCulture.org provides a number of links and prayers associated with the devotion including a short scriptural support for the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Theology of Benedict XVI
Pope Pius IX encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart - Caritate Christi Compulsi

Pope Pius XII encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart - Haurietis Aquas

Homily of Pope John Paul II on his apostolic journey to Canada at Mass dedicated to the Heart of Christ (18th September 1984)

Salt + Light - Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has suffered cardiac arrest

Fisheaters - Reflections and prayers on the devotion to the Sacred Heart

There are a number of versions of the novena prayer of which we give two below:

Novena Prayer to the Sacred Heart (1)
Lord Jesus, the needs of your people open your heart in love to each of us. You care for us when we are lost, sympathise with us in loneliness and comfort us in mourning; you are closest to us when we are weakest. You love us most when we love ourselves least; you forgive us most when we forgive ourselves least; you call us to spread your love in whatever way we can. 
Lord Jesus, your heart is moved with compassion when we are suffering, when we need your help and when we pray for each other. I ask you to listen to my prayer during this novena, and grant what I ask (make your request silently). If what I ask is not for my own good and the good of others, grant me always what is best for me, that I may build up your kingdom of love in our world. Amen.
Novena Prayer to the Sacred Heart (2) 
(this  version of the novena prayer would be one of the best known as it was used by Padre Pio and was promoted during the promotion of the cause of St Pio)

I. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...... (here name your request)
Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of.......(here name your request) 
Our Father...Hail Mary....Glory Be To the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. 

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of.....(here name your request) 
Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father...Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. 

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us. 

-- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Limericks Novena's to the Sacred Heart

For those in the county, the annual St Senan's Parish (Shanagolden/Foynes/Robertstown) Novena to the Sacred Heart is being held nightly at 8pm in Robertstown Church (N69 Limerick side of Foynes).

Prayer is not a magic wand that fulfills your desires, but it is what helps you keep the faith when you don’t understand God’s will, Pope Francis said

Crux - Prayer is no magic wand to fulfill your desires, Pope Francis says
Vatican Radio - Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not "magic wand"

21 May 2016

May 22nd 2016 - The Most Holy Trinity

In the first part of this week's programme Canon Coggeshall of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest who tells us of their upcoming novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick which takes place from Thursday May 26th to Friday, June 3rd. There will be Mass and devotions to the Sacred Heart at 12 noon (except for Sunday, May 29th which will be at 10.30am) and 7.00pm each day. For more details check out their website HERE.

In the second and third part of the programme John and Ann are joined by Fr. John Mockler who gives us an insightful explanation of the Most Holy Trinity. You can listen to the full programme podcast HERE

The Most Holy Trinity

Fr. John began by explaining that first and foremost, the Trinity is true God. When we are baptised we receive Three Persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are equal in divinity, power, love, knowledge, peace, etc. This means that each Person of the Trinity is the source of all that is good. The communication between God the Father and God the Son is love. There are no limitations or obstacles to the flow of love between the Father and the Son and between the Son and the Father. This flow of love is infinite. 

Everything that the Father grants to the Son, the Son returns perfectly to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is also a Person with His own intellect and will (we often think of the Holy Spirit in terms of the form of fire which He assumed at Pentecost).

Each Person of the Trinity always existed. At the beginning of the Bible we read: 'Let us make man in our image...' not 'let me make man in my image.' The Trinity created the angels and humankind to share in what they have as a Trinity of Persons. God created us to share into eternal happiness in this life and the next. Those who will share in the eternal happiness of the Trinity are those who share in the happiness of the Trinity in this life. We pray to the God of love and mercy in us (which we received at Baptism), not the God of love and mercy outside of us. The Trinity we pray to has to be the Trinity in us. If the Trinity is in us that is the assurance or insurance policy of happiness in the next life.  With the Trinity we have the power to overcome anything life can throw at us.

What's the best way we can help our relationship to grow with the Trinity? The greatest means is what Jesus has provided, which is the Mass. A person who goes to Mass goes to heaven, because heaven and earth unite during the Mass. It is the most powerful, direct encounter with the Trinity. Jesus does not leave the happiness, joy, peace etc. of heaven when He comes to us in the Mass with all the angels and saints. That is what we are receiving into our soul in the Eucharist. We are increasing that life of heaven in us. Yes, we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but it is equally true to say that we also receive the life of heaven into our souls when we receive Holy Communion. The other good things we do, daily prayer, doing our work/duties every day, and all the good we do, also help to increase this life within us too, but nothing compares with the Mass.

Fr. John also reminded us that Mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Well Grotto in Dromin-Athlacca parish on Trinity Sunday at 7.00pm. Trinity Well is about a mile from Dromin Church.

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

Gospel - John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you will be taken from what is mine.’

Fr. John said the first thing that strikes us from this Gospel is that we have to be led. 'When the Spirit of Truth comes He will lead you...' We cannot lead ourselves - we have to be led. Jesus sends us the same Spirit who led Him. Jesus never did one thing which wasn't illuminated, inspired and directed by the Spirit. God's Spirit will lead us safely, because He leads us to 'the complete truth,' i.e. the Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus, who is 'The Way, the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6). What's the truth Jesus teaches us: the truth about where we came from, why we are here, where we are going, what is the purpose of human life. God created us in the hope that we would live as His children, containing the Holy Trinity within us. The Holy Spirit will lead us to enter into that life of the Trinity where we will have happiness and joy forever. In the meantime, we can overcome anything with the power of the Spirit in us who will lead us through anything. If people turn more and more to speak to the three Persons they have in them they would have much greater joy and happiness and their burdens would be lightened.

Reflections on this week's gospel:
Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours: Psalter Week 4

Saints of the Week
May 25th - St. Bede the Venerable
May 26th - St. Philip Neri
May 27th - St. Augustine of Canterbury


Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: - continues to take place in Ardagh Church each Monday from 11.00am to 1.00pm and 5.00pm to 9.00pm.

The Annual Sacred Heart Novena: - takes place in St. Senan's Parish (Shanagolden/Foynes/Robertstown) in Robertstown Church from May 26th to June 3rd with Mass at 8pm each evening.

20 May 2016

Pope Francis this week in Rome - To Ignore the poor is to despise God

Pope: ‘To Ignore the Poor Is to Despise God’ - ‘God’s mercy toward us is linked to our mercy toward others,’ Francis warns on May 18. ‘No messenger and no message can replace the poor we meet on the journey, because in them we meet Jesus himself.’


17 May 2016

Supporting Migrants in Limerick

Cross Post from the Diocese of Limerick:

"Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?" Pope Francis 2016

In September 2015 the Diocese of Limerick issued a number of resources for parishes who might like to:
  • support migrants, especially refugees in their community
  • build awareness of the Christian calling to welcome and hospitality among parishioners
    As Limerick prepares to WELCOME 100 Syrian refugeesBishop Brendan LEAHY has reminded us of our call to welcome all migrants: those who have been here for some time, those arriving new and those with particular classifications or status. "We need to support migrants in whatever way we can and by our solidarity. We need to remember our own history of emigration...This is the very period where we could start preparing ourselves. I’d love to see a bit more coordination going on bet ween us all at this stage. As a migrant to Limerick myself, I have been very welcomed"

    Here are some of those resources again with some updated material:
    General resources for a parish to welcome migrants
    The presence of migrants and refugees seriously challenges the various societies which accept them. Those societies are faced with new situations which could create serious hardship unless they are suitably motivated, managed and regulated. How can we ensure that integration will become mutual enrichment, open up positive perspectives to communities, and prevent the danger of discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism or xenophobia? Pope Francis 2016

    • Become aware of the make up of your parish. THESE 2011 figures are a good start.
    • Doras Luimni have a useful 'Welcome to Limerick' book for new immigrants, as well as a variety of leaflets HERE that you could offer to new migrants in you parish. Read it yourself to become aware of the challenges migrants face.
    • Doras Luimni also have done some great work in Portlaoise parish welcoming families. THIS leaflet offers some ideas of what they do,  and THIS leaflet shows some of the events in this years social inclusion week.
    • Some simple starter ideas for parises are HERE Many simple involve already established groups, thinking a little differently.
    • Community and Belonging is one of the themes of the Synod - some resources that may be relevant to this conversation are included in THIS booklet - a welcoming group, parish visitation and hositality after Mass for instance.
    Consider how you, as a parish, notice, welcome and include newcomers who come into your church and community 
    • General welcome poster in many languages HERE
    • Posters for Christmas in various languages HERE
    • 2015 Migrant resource pack for parishes HERE
    • 2014 Migrant resource pack with ideas for home and parish HERE
    Liturgy and prayer 
    • Greetings and dismissals at Mass in 10 languages HERE
    • Mass readings in several languages are available HERE
    • Candle lighting cards in various languages are available HERE
    • Prayer of unity in 5 languages HERE
    • See also the 2015 and 2014 migrant resource packs above for prayers of the faithful, homilies etc
    • Polish blessing of food at Easter - an explanation, prayers and some translations HERE
    What do we teach and live as Catholics?
    Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself. Many institutions, associations, movements and groups, diocesan, national and international organizations are experiencing the wonder and joy of the feast of encounter, sharing and solidarity. They have heard the voice of Jesus Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20). Yet there continue to be debates about the conditions and limits to be set for the reception of migrants, not only on the level of national policies, but also in some parish communities whose traditional tranquillity seems to be threatened. Faced with these issues, how can the Church fail to be inspired by the example and words of Jesus Christ? The answer of the Gospel is mercy. Pope Francis 2016
    • Limerick diocese - A Christian response to the refugee crisis - a short handout from Lorraine Buckley
    • Fr Alan Hilliand - a resource for parishes trying to include   and an article HERE in the Furrow wondering why words about words (liturgy) are easier for us to discuss than words that take flesh (migrants)
    • US Bishops - a library of information on Catholic teaching on immigraton HERE
    • Doras Luimni have a program to raise awareness and tackle misconceptions about asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland - perhaps your parish might run it for all those in ministry, and then for the whole community. You can view the program HERE
    These are simply a collection of possible resources for parishes. The main resource however is our own attitudes and hearts: our willingness to go out and be with people where they are at. As Christians, our hospitality does not begin at the door of our church or depend on the strangers request. We are called to recognise all children of God as beautiful, welcome and as sent by God to this time and place.
    "May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family" Pope Francis 2015
    "This is the mission of the Church: to heal the wounds of the heart,
    to open doors, to free people, to say that God is good,
    God forgives all, God is the Father, God is affectionate, God always waits for us...
    "It’s true, we have to help and create organizations that help in this:
    yes, because the Lord gives us the gifts for this.
    But when we forget this mission, forget poverty, forget the apostolic zeal
    and instead, place our hope in these human means, the Church
    slowly slips into becoming an NGO, it becomes a beautiful organization:
    Powerful, but not evangelical, because it lacks that spirit,
    that poverty, that power to heal". (Pope Francis, Feb 2015)

    17th May 2016 - Life is an Ocean: Following St Brendan the Navigator

    Cross post from Sr Louise over at Pilgrims Progress:
    St. Brendan heads on his voyage
    Today the Church in Ireland celebrates the memorial of St Brendan the Navigator. St. Brendan travelled tirelessly to evangelise and establish monasteries following his ordination to the priesthood at age 28. The sixth-century monk frequently sailed the high seas to spread the Gospel throughout Ireland as well as to Scotland, Wales and Brittany in the north of France. According to a 1,500-year-old Irish tale, however, St. Brendan embarked on one particularly epic journey in the winter of his 93-year-old life. Here, he is said to have set out onto the Atlantic Ocean with sixty pilgrims searching for the Garden of Eden! Regardless of what we think or believe about St. Brendan's voyages, they have a lot to teach us!

    As a symbol for life’s pilgrimage, I return to my roots. I think of those Celtic monks who sailed out to sea in coracles, little boats, without a rudder for steering. The coracle was not just a boat, it speaks of much more–of journey and pilgrimage, risk and wonder, fear and peace, prayer and praise, wild storms and quiet sunsets, the discovery of many things unknown. Over the past week I had the opportunity to spend time in Galway where my accommodation looked out over the sea, friend and foe of man. I was struck by the force and the peace of this immense body of water. I was mesmerized by how the sunlight fell gently on the waves making them glisten and reminding me that the same Creator God who knows how many drops are in the ocean, knows how many grains of sand are on the shore and how many times our heart beats each day. This was both awesome and humbling at the same time.
    The coracle also speaks of a way that people can travel together. But the coracle, the boat, is not the point, it’s merely the vessel, it only exists so that other things can happen. Though  the monks affirmed human freedom, they also trusted God to guide them to their place of resurrection, the place of wholeness and fulfillment, where they would experience God’s vision for their lives. They experienced divine guidance in the wind and waves that propelled their skiffs to surprising places. That's not to say that they weren't afraid. They assumed providence and synchronicity everywhere.

    I am that Celtic pilgrim. I allow the Lord (though not always without resistance) to steer my boat and guide it. We are all pilgrims on an uncertain, but holy adventure and the most important thing we can do is embrace the adventure and remember that by our choices we are creating new adventures for ourselves and others.
    While the world becomes more routine and predictable, or so we think, as we grow older, our lives are still an adventure in which we – like the Celtic peregrines – pilgrim from day to day.

    The Celtic Christians recognized that life involves change. God was not only our companion amid change, but the inspiration to growth and change. The God of Israel never stands still but is immersed in history, shaping and being shaped by the flow of human experience and decision-making. Jesus is always on the move, never settling down, but venturing to new places to fulfill his mission. Every turn of the road brought Jesus a surprising encounter and opportunity to share God’s hospitality, healing, mercy and love. He puts many people upon our path to journey with us and open our eyes to the wonders of each day, the beauty of loving and being loved, of family, of community, of friendship, of unconditional giving.

    We are all pilgrims. We can, in the spirit of the Celtic adventurers, join openness to each moment with the intentionality necessary for personal and professional excellence. Many of you reading this know me well...I'm a perfectionist and a micromanager, I make mistakes, I fall down but I get up often with your help and above all because the Lord raises me up.

    There is a Christy Moore song which has the following words and the chorus often returns to my heart:

    "With no maps to guide us we steered our own course
     Rode out the storms when the winds were gale force
     Sat out the doldrums in patience and hope
      Working together we learned how to cope.

    Life is an ocean and love is a boat
     In troubled water that keeps us afloat
     When we started the voyage,there was just me and you
     Now gathered round us we have our own crew

    The more I reflect the more I see that this is our life in our little coracle but we do not stay on our own. We start out with one or two companions along the way, working through the winds of change and the troubles which can accompany these. In the boat, just like in the Scriptures, Jesus is with us, albeit that he may be appear to be sleeping as the  waves slosh over the side. As our faith grows, often in the midst of those whispered prayers as the boat quakes from side to side: "Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief." As life goes on, we gather other pilgrims along the way and we develop a strong bond with the communion of saints too who form the 'crew' in our boat.
    As a pilgrim, this is my challenge...to welcome the God of surprises in the unexpected and the interruptions! We may, like the magi, go home by another way, traveling a pathway we had not expected. This is not the way I planned but the peace in my heart tells me it is the right way. So I  keep travelling!