31 Oct 2016

1st November 2016 - "Lets us keep a festival in honour of all the Saints"

Solemnity of All the Saints; in Ireland November 1st marks the calendars beginning of Winter with the darkening evenings and the celebration of day (and also the month) of Samhin. As the clocks change and the evenings draw in, the earth herself heads into hibernation and rebirth. The ancient Celts saw this time as one of those during the year which was a "thin place" between this world and the next.

All Hallows Eve (Halloween) and the celebrations of All Saints and All Soul's are a reminder to us that our nearest and dearest who have died are not really that far away and that we honour and pray for and with each other in the Communion of Saints especially at this time of the year.

Whilst you remember your own loved ones at this time, also remember to pray for those that are mourning. While time may change the pain of loss, it can never be said to truly go away; remember those who mourn and feel that pain at this time too especially for those who have lost loved ones in the last twelve months.
"For centuries the church has confronted the human community with role models of greatness. We call them saints when what we really often mean to say is 'icon,' 'star,' 'hero,' ones so possessed by an internal vision of divine goodness that they give us a glimpse of the face of God in the centre of the human. They give us a taste of the possibilities of greatness in ourselves."
Joan D. Chittister in "A Passion for Life"
From the first centuries after Christ, Christians who died a martyr’s death were considered saints, who live in God’s presence forever. Every year, on the anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths, Christians would visit their tombs and celebrate the Eucharist. This practice grew throughout the centuries to include remembering other outstanding Christians on the days they died. Soon the entire calendar was filled with memorials of the saints. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV designated November 1 as the day to remember all the saints living in God’s presence.

"The glorious company of the apostles praises you, the noble fellowship of the prophets praises you, the white robed army of martyrs praises you, all the saints together sing your glory, O Holy Trinity, One God"
- Magnificat Antiphon I Vespers

Sleepers awake, Christ is now risen
Empty the tomb risen the son X2
Alleluia x4
Marked with the cross, sealed with the Spirit
Risen with Christ, sing out our joy x2
Alleluia x4
Death has been slain; life is victorious
Winter is past; Springtime returns x2
Alleluia x6
 From the second reading of the Office of Readings from St Bernard of Clairvaux:
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honoru from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. Wee long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Lectio divina reflections:

Sunday Reflections - Solemnity of All Saints 2016
English Dominicans - Where our true happiness lies 

Other resources and reflections:

30 Oct 2016

Sacred Space 102fm celebrates One million hits on their blog!

The Sacred Space 102fm takes great joy in acknowledging our 1,000,000th hit on the blog today!
We just want to thank all our listeners and readers for their support and following for what is a small, volunteer programme trying in a small way to contribute to the New Evangelisation and sharing the Good News! 
Every blessing and best wish
John, Anne, Lorraine, Martina, and Shane

In thanksgiving:

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
but to thy name give the glory.

29 Oct 2016

30th October 2016 - Mary's Meals: Interview with Milona Von Habsburg - 31st Sunday in Ordinary time Year C

On this weeks programme Milona Von Habsburg shares some of her life story with John. Milona describes a profound  conversion experience she had in Medjugorje when she was 25 and how it changed both her relationship with God and how she lives her life now.

Resources and reflections on this weeks gospel are included here on the blog post as well as our weekly listing of other liturgical odds and ends.

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

Interview with Milona Von Habsburg

On this weeks programme John has an interview with Milona Von Habsburg. Milona describes the fruits of living in the presence of God which grows from putting the Lord first in one's life and living the messages of Medjurgorje.

As the name would suggest Milona is a member of the former Imperial family of Habsburgs, to be precise Archduchess Monika-Ilona "Milona" Maria Carolina Stephanie Elisabeth Immacolata Benedicta Dominica is the eldest daughter of Archduke Joseph Arpád Benedikt Ferdinand Franz Maria Gabriel, a member of the Hungarian Palatine branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. Milona is the niece of Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of the last Emperor Charles I of Austria and IV of Hungary.

She shares her story of visiting Medjugorje in the 1980's and recalls that her father had taken their family to other apparition sites in Europe, like Fatima, but they had not made that big or deep an impression on her. But, when she and her relatives went to Medjugorje on a three-day pilgrimage when she was in her 20s, the effect of that brief visit on her was profound, even life-changing.
“I myself was privileged to have a personal encounter: After a long and tiring climb uphill, I looked down at the valley beneath me—and a presence came around me and covered me like a mantle. It felt like two eyes were looking deeply into me, into my very soul, and for the first time, I saw my entire life, and what it amounted to. There was no judgment at all, just total truth. Then, I was asked questions about how I lived my life thus far, and why I had fallen so short of what God wanted. At that point, I felt the great desire to give my whole life back to Him!’’ 
“After that unforgettable encounter, when I went back to the place where my family was staying, I felt so content—but, they were shocked at my appearance, because I looked completely transformed—not the same face and eyes at all. In fact, my mother was so moved at the sight of the ‘new me’ that she prayed, begging, ‘Yes, you can have her, but please give us some more time with her before you take her!’”

“And, right after that day, my faith became the most important aspect of my life. I couldn’t live without daily Mass! I ran to Confession, desperately needing to instantly get rid of what separated me from The One.”

In fact, it prompted her to eventually give up her high-flying and pampered life in Geneva to become a volunteer in Medjugorje, performing humble tasks like interpreting for Father Slavko and the six young Marian visionaries—Ivan, Ivanka, Jackov, Marija, Mirjana and Vicka—living there.  

In recent years Milona started working for Mary's Meals, an organisation whose vision it is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education and that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things.  Going to press 1,187,104 children receive Mary's meals every school day. €14.50 feeds a child for a whole school year because it is all local produce cooked by local volunteers. You can read more about this great organisation and donate to Mary's meals at their website HERE

For countess who gave it all up, Medjugorje is in the heart

Gospel - Luke 19:1-10

"He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’"

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
The Path of Life

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - psalter week 3; 31st week in Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

October 31st - Bl Dominic Collins
November 1st - Solemnity of All Saints
November 2nd - Commemoration of All Souls
November 3rd - St Malachy
November 4th - St Charles Borremeo (First Friday)
November 5th - St Martin de Porres (First Saturday)

28 Oct 2016

Millennial Women Share Their Thoughts on Being Pro-life

Millennial women from a wide range of backgrounds, including pro-life feminists, pro-life progressives, and those who favor a more whole life approach to life issues and comprehensive approach to defending unborn life and supporting women, share their thoughts on being pro-life in a new video from America Media:

Vigal of All Saints - St Saviours Church, Glentworth St Limerick 30 October 2016

Events in Knock this Winter

‘God, You’re Breaking My Heart’
Saturday 12th November   Time: 10.00am – 3.00pm
Venue: Knock House Hotel Presenter:Brian Grogan SJ
Cost: €30 including lunch
Living in Hope
Saturday 26th November       Time: 10.00am – 3.00pm
Venue: Taize Room, Prayer Guidance Centre
Presenter:Deirdre Ní Chinnéide Cost: €30 including lunch 
At some time in all our lives we experience darkness and even despair. Take some time out on a quiet day in God’s presence. Allowing the light of his presence shine light in the darkness and lead us into new hope.
Quiet Days for Busy People
Saturday 5th November       Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Venue: Taize Room, Prayer Guidance Centre Presenter: Prayer Guides  Cost: €30 including lunch
Join us at Knock for a day of quiet reflection. Take some time out for yourself to discover new life in the heart of the Gospels, and that prayer like love is learned by doing.
Digital Detox
Saturday 3rd December   Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm Venue: Taize Room, Prayer Guidance Centre Cost: €30 including lunch
Why not give yourself permission to disconnect from your technology for a day, nourish your soul with a quiet reflective space in order to gain a deep awareness of who you are in God’s presence.
Read more - brochure HERE

26 Oct 2016

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

A few odds and ends that caught our eye over the last while for you to peruse while having a cuppa.

The Jesuits have also started compiling a weekly series of articles as well - check it out here.

World Meeting of Families 2018

“Human life is the most fundamental right of all” - President of the World Meeting of Families 2018, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, told reporters that the right to life “is a fundamental issue for the Church everywhere” and the Church “is not going to change its position on that”.
Website of WMoF2018
Archbishop Diarmuid Martins address at St Patricks College Drumcondra 22nd October 2016

Pro-Life related articles

Get thee from the nunnery - The Reformation may have caused women's religious roles to be set back centuries

Pope Francis on refugee crisis: We have the duty of welcoming those who flee from war or hunger


25 Oct 2016

#8masses4no8 Facebook campaign

Tony Foley (11) and his family have been overwhelmed by the support they have received since his dad Anthony 'Axel' Foley passed away. Tony has been busy thinking about his own tribute to his Dad and has asked that a Facebook page be set up in his memory. He wants to use it to ask people, who want to show their support, to attend Mass on each of the next 8 Sundays to pray for people who have died and while there to offer a prayer for his Dad also.
The 8 Sundays start this Sunday, October 30th - his Dad's birthday. The Number 8 is, of course, a special number for Tony and his family but the 8 Sundays also bring us up to that special family time of year, Christmas. So, Tony has asked if you could, in his Dad's memory, Like the Facebook page, tag 8 Facebook friends you would like to go to Mass over the next 8 Sundays and at that Mass light a candle for a loved one or, indeed, for Anthony.
  • Facebook page - Axel Foley Memorial
  • Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick throws his support behind the initiative - here - describing it described as “moving and inspirational” the gesture by the 11 year-old son of Anthony Foley in asking people to go to Mass and light candles over the next eight Sunday’s for deceased loved ones.

To Rise with Christ - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publishes new guidelines on Cremation

Given the increasing popularity and/or economic necessity of families and individuals cremating the remains of their dearly beloved, the CDF on behalf of Pope Francis has issued a universally binding document today called Ad resurgendum cum Christo on the treatment of cremated remains from the Church's point of view.

The Congregation notes that in many regions cremation is markedly increasing, making a reiteration of the existing norms and their theological bases advisable. The Church permits cremation but not the scattering of ashes on land, sea or in the air; dividing them among family members, or preserving them in jewellery, the Vatican has stated in their new Instruction.

It is a re-statement of the existing position first set out in 1963 and then included in the 1983 Code of Canon Law where the Church prefers that "all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed”, adding however that cremation is not “opposed per se to the Christian religion” and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through “a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church”."

As we often say on SS102fm, sometimes it is best to read the original document rather than the spin and coverage given by the media. Full text of the document is available HERE.

Rocco over at Whispers in the Loggia has a very good report on it HERE.

PrayTell has an interesting commentary piece HERE.

Altelia has their coverage HERE

Iraq church bells toll once again after two years of ISIS occupation - Rome Reports

22 Oct 2016

23rd October 2016 - Mission Sunday - 30th Sunday in Ordinary time Year C

On this weeks programme John and Shane reflect on Mission Sunday and discuss the recent appointments to the College of Cardinals. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as other notices and liturgical odds and ends.
You can listen to the podcast of the full programme HERE.
Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday takes place on the second last Sunday of October each year. Since 1926, the Church has traditionally remembered its universal mission during the month of October.
This year Mission Sunday will be celebrated globally on the 23rd October 2016. The theme is ‘Every Christian is a missionary’.
Throughout the world the faithful will reflect on the universal call to Mission of all the baptized. They will be invited to contribute what they can to support the development and growth of young churches internationally and provides Catholics with the opportunity to unite with their missionary sisters and brothers overseas, and to recommit themselves to bringing the Joy of the Gospel to everyone they meet in their daily lives at home and at work.
In October 2015, Irish Catholics contributed more than €1.7 million on Mission Sunday. The Mission Sunday collection is made available to be distributed to as many as 1,100 young Churches who are supported by the generosity of Churches that have been blessed with a greater quantity of financial and material gifts. Contributions will be used to build simple mission churches, to educate seminarians as well as female religious novices. Your support also assists in the formation of catechists and lay leaders. The Mission Sunday gift may also be used for building health facilities for children and adults as well as for providing emergency aid in times of war or natural disaster or to assist missionaries in their efforts to care for refugees.
On Mission Sunday, in a special way, we celebrate the work of circa 1,300 Irish born missionaries and all missionaries throughout the world. We thank God for them, for all who support them in our own country and during mission month we unite ourselves in prayer with them and with the communities with whom they work.
Pope Francis message for Mission Sunday 2016 - Missionary Church, Witness of Mercy
You can learn about Mission Sunday and the work of the pontifical missionary societies on World Missions Ireland.
The section of the programme discussing Mission Sunday is excerpted from the main programme podcast here.
Gospel - Luke 18: 9 - 14
"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Reflections on this weeks gospel
Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy
Liturgical odds & ends
Liturgy of the Hours - psalter week 2; 30th week in ordinary time
Saints of the Week
October 24th - Saint Anthony Mary Claret
October 25th - Bl Thaddeus MacCarthy
October 26th - St Alfred the Great
October 27th - St Otteran
October 28th - Ss Simon & Jude
October 29th - St Colman

18 Oct 2016

Synod 2016 - Presentation of the draft Pastoral Plan - Address by Bishop Brendan Leahy

"No going back"
Speaking Notes
Bishop Brendan Leahy
Meeting with Synod Delegates
Strand Hotel
October 15th 2016 

I am very pleased that we are gathered here today, reliving the memory of our Synod experience, reviewing the work that has gone on over the past few months and writing together our Diocesan plan. I thank all involved in preparing this day.

I want to say straightaway that both at the Synod and since, I have been very grateful for what we experienced and what the Synod produced. I very much look forward to doing my part as we take the steps outlined in the Diocesan plan that we are working on today.

Now that some months have passed since our amazing gathering in April, I would like to share a little of how I view the Synod. There are four aspects that I would like briefly to highlight.

The Synod as Event of the Holy Spirit

The first thing that strikes me about the Synod is the Synod itself! It was an event of the Holy Spirit. The image I keep is one on our website – the hall in Mary Immaculate College full of circles of people, lay, priests, single and married, young and older, working hard but joyfully at discerning what God was calling us to as a diocese. We were learning together to be “synodal”. And it’s something we can’t take for granted. We are all in this together, learning a way of synodality. It’s a theme Pope Francis emphasises a lot.

We gathered in April in the company of the representatives of other churches and other religions along with representatives of the civic and social agencies of the City and County Council. I felt it was a glimpse of a church that we want to be – a community of communities with Jesus among us, serving the society of Limerick at all levels, offering it a soul, wanting to give our spiritual and social contribution that builds up the fabric of society.

I recall more than one person saying to me how moved they were to find themselves sitting side by side with priests, chatting about future directions of the Church. It was something new and they were delighted. Some young people said to be – I’m sure if other young people could see this, they would be hugely impressed and really begin to understand more about the Church.

So I thank God for the Synod. It has given us an experience, an image, a benchmark that remains in our hearts and minds for the future.

The Synod as an Event of Looking at Reality with New Eyes

A second point that struck is that the Synod provided us with an opportunity to look around us with new eyes. Pope Francis often invites us today to have what he calls a “contemplative gaze”, that is, we need to look around us in our home, our streets, our village, our town, our city and discover God dwelling among us, “fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice”. Perhaps those around us aren’t coming to Church but they are searching for meaning in their lives. And even in the negatives and apparent rejections that we find, something of God’s work can be uncovered.

Our Synod journey has been a time of looking at the reality around us with eyes of hope and, in this Year of Mercy, we could also say, with eyes of mercy and tenderness, one of the great themes of our times. We made a realistic assessment. The proposals we’ll be looking at today reflect our assessment. There are less priests and we need new models of leadership; young people find it hard to connect, we need to find new ways to be with the young church; families need support in handing on the faith and in facing difficulties as a family, liturgy today is being called to link more with life, and, above all, as a Church community we recognise our desire to reach out much more beyond the sacristy, beyond the church, beyond the usual structures that we are used to.

The Synod as an Event that calls us Forward to a Community of Communities with Jesus among Us

It seems to me the Synod has called us to a more Mission-shaped Church, less relying on the priest-on-his-own, and indeed not just a parish council and a priest. Let me offer some images to share what I mean.

Synod 2016 - Presentation of draft Pastoral Plan to Delegates

On Saturday 15th October, Synod delegates gathered together for one final time to complete the formal event that was Synod 2016. Limerick diocese's draft Pastoral Plan 2016 - 2025 was presented to delegates to ask for affirmation of the implementation plan based on the proposals discussed and voted on during the formal sessions of the synod in April 2016.

[Photos from the meeting on 15/10/2016 can be seen on Synod Facebook page]

The Synod vote has given an overall direction for the diocese and also a clear thrust for each of the six themes thus providing a Vision to guide the diocese in the years ahead. It has also enabled prioritisation of the proposals within the theme and devise a strategy for delivering the broad range of actions identified.

In each theme the aim is to begin by doing something at diocesan level to increase our ability to move on this theme – this is achieved by training, employing or appointing people to key positions. Then, in turn the aim is to similarly develop the ability on the ground to make progress on actions by providing training and resources and ensuring there are people at local level who can deliver actions in this theme.

There are many proposals and many actions named in the plan – the intention is that local communities approach many of these (the ones that are not core or essential) as they would a menu and choose those that are appropriate to their circumstances.

Finally, there are two other categories of proposals for which we have employed a different strategy.
Firstly, there are those proposals brought forward by groups or agencies who are already working in this area and who have experience and expertise, for example Compassionate Communities, Bedford Row, Children’s’ Grief project. Here the strategy is to work with and support these groups rather than working in parallel. Secondly some proposals have been brought forward by delegates themselves who have a passion and experience in the particular area, for example, Inter and Intra faith dialogue, Living with disability, Laudato Si and care for the Environment, or the JP II Awards. Again here the strategy is to go back to those delegates and work with them to act upon their proposals.

There was broad agreement on the thrust of the implementation plan with good discussion, and lots of ideas on how the diocese can progress the next steps. 

At the end Bishop Brendan reminded delegates, the event of Synod and the process which the diocese has undergone means there is no going back!

On Wednesday 19th October at the diocesan conference, clergy, PPC chairpersons and pastoral area delegates will hear the details of the new pastoral plan and consider how it will apply to their parishes over the next number of years.

You can read the draft pastoral plan HERE.

15 Oct 2016

16th October 2016 - Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre Update - 29th Sunday in Ordinary time Year C

On this weeks programme, John and Shane are joined by an old friend of the programme, Noirin Lynch from Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre who gives us an update on where things are following Synod2016 and other events in the diocese. We have our regular reflection on this weeks gospel as well as other liturgical odds and ends.

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

Diocesan Update - Autumn 2016

On this weeks programme we are joined by Noirin Lynch who gave us an update on various things around the diocese.

Dioceasn Update

For the notices which Noirin mentioned at the beginning of the section, you can check out the weekly diocesan newsletter here.

Synod Update
On 15th October the delegates gathered to review the pastoral plan coming out of the synod and the action plans arising from that.

Next Wednesday 19th 2016 chairpersons of Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Priests will be briefed on the upcoming two year goals. Each parish, pastoral area and the diocese will take on new goal every two years building towards 2025.  
It is a time of challenge and opportunity for us all in the diocese where each parish will work out how to enact the plans and actions as mandated by the Synod given the realities which are possible for each parish.

You can listen to the interview with Noirin excerpted from the main programme HERE.
Gospel - Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Liturgical Odds & Ends
Liturgy of the Hour - psalter week 1; 29th week in ordinary time
Saints of the Week
October 17th - St Ignatius of Antioch
October 18th - St Luke the Evangelist
October 20th - St Aidan of Mayo
October 22nd - St John Paul II