31 Dec 2016

1 January 2017 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

On this the first day of the New Year, the SS102fm team wishes you and yours every best wish and blessing for a New Year as we continue to celebrate Christmastide.

On today's programme we have a reflection on New Year from Sr Dympna Clancy. We have our regular reflection on this weeks gospel as well as some liturgical odds & ends including the selection of the blog patron saint for 2017.

You can listen to today's programme podcast available HERE.

A New Years reflection

January is personified by the two faced Roman god Janus which is a good metaphor which allows us to look back - to give thanks, and reflect on what might have been the burdens for 2016 - and also to look forward into 2017 and what we may wish and pray for.

Sr Dympna leads us through a reflection on the New Year, time and peace. 

You can listen to the thought provoking reflection from Sr Dympna here.

Gospel - LK 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,and the infant lying in the manger.When they saw this,they made known the message that had been told them about this child.All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.  
And Mary kept all these things,reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned,glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. 
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire

Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Pope Francis: Homily for First Vespers for Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God 

OSV - A contemplative heart - We celebrate the Blessed Mother because it is through her that Christ was born for our salvation


Pope Francis: homily for Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
No apple pie, but lots on mom from Pope Francis on Mary’s feast 
The Oldest hymn to Mary Mother of God - Greek hymn to the Theotokos dates back to third century

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 2

Saints of the Week

January 1st - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 2nd - St Basil and St Gregory Nazianzen 
January 3rd - St Munchin (Patron of the diocese of Limerick) also the Holy Name of Jesus
January 4th - St Elizabeth Ann Seton
January 5th - St Charles of St Andrew 
January 6th - Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 
January 7th - St Raymond of Penyafort
January 8th - Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (and the end of Christmastide)

Blog Patron Saints

Each year we follow a monastic tradition of picking a patron saint for the year and also a patron saint for the blog. You can pick one for yourself by heading over to the Saint Name Generator.

Blog Patron Saint - St Elizabeth of Portugal

SS102fm team patron saints for 2017

New Years Eve 2016

Sunset over the Shannon Estuary from South Cappa, Loughill, Co Limerick

The LORD bless you and keep you! 
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! 
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
The evening draws in on the last day of 2016 and we celebrate first vespers for the Solemnity of the Mother of God on January 1st. The civil year draws to a close as we reflect on the year just past with all "joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted" reminding ourselves that these "are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well". We look forward to 2017 and what may come.

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.
As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
John O’Donohue 
(To Bless The Space Between Us/Benedictus)

Tradition has the singing of the Te Deum to mark the closing of the civil year. The Te Deum is a hymn of praise that dates from early Christian times. In Latin, the hymn’s words: “Te Deum laudamus” can be translated "Thee, O God, we praise". The Te Deum (also known as Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church) is an early Christian hymn of praise. The title is taken from its opening Latin words, Te Deum laudamus, rendered literally as "Thee, O God, we praise".

A more traditional version in latin

We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

30 Dec 2016

December 30th 2016 - Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph

Today is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph, a day set aside in the Octave of Christmas to celebrate the holy family of Nazareth.
"Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity.

The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instil into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families" 
- CatholicCulture.org
"Think about it. The creator of the universe spent most of his human life as a craftsman, working with dad in the family business and ultimately taking it over. Mary, the holiest of all creatures, spent most of her time changing diapers, cooking, and cleaning. The secret to holiness is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love and gratitude...."
"Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel . . . How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truth. . . May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute."  
From an address given by Blessed Paul VI in Nazareth, January 5 1964


29 Dec 2016

December 28th - Feast of the Holy Innocents - Homily Fr Martin Brown OSB

Feast of the Holy Innocents
Fr Martin Browne OSB
Glenstal Abbey

During this fourth day of the Octave of Christmas, the Church commemorates the little children who were put to death on Herod’s instructions after the birth of Jesus – all the baby boys under the age of two. Herod hoped that in adopting this scattergun approach he would do away with this threatening child that the Magi had come to adore, and honour as a king. The term ‘collateral damage’ could have been invented for what Herod did.

The Holy Innocents are rightly honoured as martyrs. Martyrs in deed, if not in will, because they undoubtedly died for Christ. But we sometimes tend towards sanitising or romanticising this episode. Even though it is right and just to honour them and to acclaim them among the white-robed army who worship the Lamb, we should be careful of overdoing it and missing the unspeakable awfulness of it. The hymn we sang at the Morning Office this morning contained an image of these simple innocents playing with the palm branches that are the symbol of martyrs. It is a beautiful image in its way, but it can obscure the grim reality of the horror of the exterminating slaughter perpetrated by the enraged, paranoid despotic Herod.

For this moment in the story of the Incarnation presents a stark reminder, in the midst of the tinsel and cake of these days, of the cosmic battle between good and evil. At the very moment when God stooped down and pitched his tent among us, Evil was unleashed on a massive scale.

The infant who was the target of this slaughter escaped of course. A victory for good, for sure. But also, a foretaste of the massive displacement of peoples caused to this very day by greed and aggression by leaders against their own people.

In the midst of our Christmas festivities, if our faith is to be honest, it is good to be reminded - however briefly and uncomfortably - of Rachel’s voice, heard in Rama and in many places since - wailing and lamenting inconsolably for her children. Not to take away from our Christmas joy. But to give it context and to understand more deeply the saving work of our Redemption – God’s victory over death and sin, brought about through the Incarnation of his Eternal Word.

"The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne." (Malcolm Guite)

28 Dec 2016

Letter from Taize 2017 - "Together, Opening Paths of Hope"

Each year, the Taize community publishes a letter which acts as the guide and meditation for the many visitors to the ecumenical monastic community in France for the following year. The 2017 letter has just been published on the Taize community website ahead of the European meeting which this year is being held in Riga in Estonia.

The 2017 letter - Together, Opening Paths of Hope

Nothing is more practical

Christmastide 2016

After the harshness and glare of the neon pre-Christmas, it is nice to bask in the gentler glow of Christmastide, when things move to a gentler pace - like that of a new mother getting used to a new baby.

Glenstal Abbey - Midnight Mass Homily

Abbot Brendan Coffey OSB
Glenstal Abbey
Midnight Mass Homily
Christmas 2016

Seven hundred and ninety-three years ago, on the feast of Christmas 1223, Francis, the poor man of Assisi with the help of Giovanni Velita, Lord of Greccio and count of Celano, created the first crib outside the little town of Greccio, in Italy. Today, every church and many homes have a nativity scene. What is so fascinating about this nativity scene? Mary, Joseph and the infant are surrounded by the ox, the donkey, the sheep and the shepherds.

The figures in the crib were chosen carefully. The ox and the donkey come from the prophet Isaiah, “The ox knows its master, the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” The sheep and shepherds come from Ezekiel, “they were scattered because there was no shepherd.” Popular legend augmented the scene over the centuries; it is said that at midnight on Christmas Eve the animals have the gift of speech bestowed, because they gave the infant Jesus His first shelter. Cattle are said to bow to the East on this night, and bees it is said hum the 100th Psalm in their hives, “Praise the Lord all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness, come into his presence singing for joy.” You can check that out on your way home!

There is something very special about the atmosphere of this holy night. No matter how busy we have been over the last few days preparing for Christmas, Midnight Mass always manages to calm our attitude and open our hearts in a unique moment of wonder and simplicity. There is no other moment in the year like this one. On this holy night the beautiful liturgy we celebrate announces the Saviour’s birth in these words from the Gospel. “An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone around them.”

The shepherds were the first to see this Christmas mystery, because they were among the last, the outcast, the inconvenient. This is highly significant. These shepherds are part of the revelation of God in this mystery of the Nativity. They are not just there as a pretty background because a few sheep look good in the crib. Nothing is in the crib by accident. No, it was to them God first revealed his Christmas mystery, just as it was to Mary Magdalene that he first revealed his Resurrection. Why? Because God always sees to the heart. He sees things the way they really are and he sees us for who we really are. We cannot hide from God.

The nativity scene in St Luke and the legends which have grown up around it are deadly serious in their message to us this night. We live in a world where people drive trucks into Christmas markets, where an ambassador is gunned down in cold blood in front of his wife, where refugees and migrants are pulled out of the Mediterranean, sometimes living, sometimes not. How should we respond? By building walls and saying, not my problem? Well, the mystery we celebrate this night says very differently. In the words of Pope Francis, “In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we are called to cultivate a strong sense of justice. In a world of indifference which not infrequently turns cruel, we are called instead to be people filled with empathy, compassion and mercy.”

Long before Pope Francis, Pope Leo the great wrote on this night “O Christian be aware of your nobility, it is God’s own nature that you share.” Where has our nobility gone? What you have in the Christmas story is a terrible desire on God’s part to be with us. Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply another philosopher or guru; he is not just another holy man with another set of teachings. He is the meaning of life and history who has pitched his tent in our midst and his flesh is the hinge of salvation. He is God and nothing can ever be the same after that.

The shepherds were the first to see this mystery because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, as we are keeping watch this night. As fellow pilgrims here this night let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem in silence and ponder the meaning of this mystery, for whatever language we speak as we contemplate the Christ child lying in the manger, God speaks only one language and that language is the language of love. Anyone who understands this language can understand this mystery we celebrate

26 Dec 2016

Some web browsing.....

Watch the traditional Christmas Message from the Archbishops of Armagh

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reflects on the theme of hope in his Christmas night homily

Celebrating Christmas isnt't always easy - that is the point

The Christmas story turns on the Incarnation

Longing for Christmas peace in the Holy Land

Blood of St Januarius fails to liquefy (Dec 19th) and on Dec 23rd Massive volcano near Naples begins rumbling

Aleppo Christians celebrate holiday in hope peace has returned

Pope lays out 12-step programme to reform the Roman Curia

Pope rips ‘malicious’ resistance to Church reform

"A Sign of Life" – At Christmas "Greeting," Pope Talks Curia Reform... and "Resistance"

UK health watchdog issues damning report on Marie Stopes clinics

The Marie Stopes inquiry confirms it: our abortion laws are failing women

Looking back at 2016, the Year of Surprises: Pope Francis

Pope Francis didn't slow down in 2016

Public radio show draws third rebuke from Irish broadcasting authority for abortion bias

How to defeat terrorists? True extremism

Beneath the mystery of the Three Wise Men lies history

One Day: The midwife made me feel like my son's Down's syndrome was a tragedy - it's been anything but

Remembering North Korea's Christian martyrs

December 26th - Feast day of St Stephen - Protomartyr

Today is the second day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stoned outside Jerusalem, he died praying for his executioners. He was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles; he was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude." The Church draws a comparison between the disciple and his Master, emphasizing the imitation of Christ even unto the complete gift of self. His name is included in the Roman Canon.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday called for prayerful and concrete solidarity with Christians throughout the world suffering because of the faith. 
The Holy Father’s appeal came in remarks ahead of the Angelus prayer on Monday, the Feast of St. Stephen the Deacon, who was the first Christian to give his life in witness to Christ. 
“The protomartyr Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, was stoned because he confessed his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” said Pope Francis. “The only begotten Son who comes into the world invites every believer to choose the path of light and life,” he continued. “This is the profound meaning of his coming among us: loving the Lord and obeying his voice, the deacon Stephen chose Christ, [who is] Life and Light for every man.” 
Pope Francis went on to say, “By choosing the truth, he became at the same time the victim of the mystery of evil present in the world – but Christ has conquered.”
Pope Francis then spoke of the plight of Christians suffering all manner of adversity for the sake of the Gospel. 
“Today too the Church, to bear witness to the light and the truth, is experiencing severe persecution in different places, up to the supreme test of martyrdom,” he said. “How many of our brothers and sisters in faith suffer abuse, violence, and are hated because of Jesus,” he reflected. “Today we want to think about them and be close to them with our affection, our prayer, and also our tears.” 
“Despite trials and dangers,” he continued, “they bear witness with courage that they belong to Christ, and they live the Gospel, dedicated to the least, the forgotten, doing good to all without distinction; they bear witness to charity in truth.” 
The Holy Father concluded his remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, with a call for renewed commitment to living the faith we profess as Christians. 
“In making space within our heart to the Son of God who gives himself to us at Christmas,” he said, “let us renew the joyous and courageous willingness to follow him faithfully as our only guide, persevering in living according to the mind of the Gospel and refusing the mentality of the rulers of this world.” 
Pope Francis then asked the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Martyrs, to intercede for us and for all Christians everywhere, asking her to accompany and sustain us always in our pilgrim way, as we live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness to God the Father, and the one whom we contemplate in the crèche.
Catholic Culture - St Stephen
American Catholic - St Stephen
Fisheaters - St Stephen
Catholic Culture - Catholic Activity: Day Two ~ Activities for the Feast of St. Stephen
St. Stephen, first martyr, pray for us in this age of blood and martyrdom - 2016 saw new martyrs being created worldwide. Perhaps include petitions to the first Christian martyr throughout the new year.

Christmas 2016 - Pope Francis "Urbi et Orbi"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for peace on Sunday in a world broken by conflict, terrorism and injustice.

Speaking to an estimated 40,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the world during his traditional Christmas Day “Urbi et Orbi” address, the Pope wished Christmas peace for people scarred by wars and for those who have lost loved ones to terrorism.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni from Vatican Radio HERE.
[Rocc Palmo from Whispers in the Loggia makes the point that: In keeping with the recent addition of "new means of communication" alongside radio and television, watching the below footage of the Pope's blessing confers the plenary indulgence under the usual conditions – i.e. Communion and Confession within seven days, and prayers for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff. There's no gaming the system, however – however many times it's watched, the blessing only confers the indulgence once.]


Full text of the Urbi et Orbi including the actually blessing below:

Christmas Message of Pope Francis
Urbi et Orbi
St Peter's Square 
25th December 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!

Today the Church once more experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Saviour.

On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds:

“For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given.
And the government will be upon his shoulder;
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)

The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace.

For this reason, the birth of Jesus was accompanied by the angels’ song as they proclaimed:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).

Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace.

Peace to men and women in the war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled. Particularly in Aleppo, the site of horrendous fighting in recent weeks, it is most urgent that, in respect for humanitarian law, assistance and support be guaranteed to the sorely-tried civilian population, who continue to live in desperate straits and immense suffering and need. It is time for weapons to be still forever, and the international community to seek actively a negotiated solution, so that civil coexistence can be restored in the country.

Peace to the women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favoured by God. May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony. May Iraq, Libya and Yemen – whose peoples suffer war and the brutality of terrorism – be able once again to find unity and concord.

Peace to the men and women in various parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria, where fundamentalist terrorism exploits even children in order to perpetrate horror and death. Peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so that divisions may be healed and all people of good will may strive to undertake the path of development and sharing, preferring the culture of dialogue to the mindset of conflict.

Peace to women and men who to this day suffer the consequences of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where there is urgent need for a common desire to bring relief to the civil population and to put into practice the commitments which have been assumed.

We implore harmony for the dear people of Colombia, which seeks to embark on a new and courageous path of dialogue and reconciliation. May such courage also motivate the beloved country of Venezuela to undertake the necessary steps to put an end to current tensions, and build together a future of hope for the whole population.

Peace to all who, in different areas, are enduring sufferings due to constant dangers and persistent injustice. May Myanmar consolidate its efforts to promote peaceful coexistence and, with the assistance of the international community, provide necessary protection and humanitarian assistance to all those so gravely and urgently in need of it. May the Korean peninsula see the tensions it is experiencing overcome in a renewed spirit of collaboration.

Peace to all who have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the brutal acts of terrorism that have sown fear and death in the heart of many countries and cities. Peace – not merely the word, but real and concrete peace – to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of a few, because of sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace to those affected by social and economic unrest, and to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes.

And peace to the children, on this special day on which God became a child, above all those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults.

Peace on earth to men and women of goodwill, who work quietly and patiently each day, in their families and in society, to build a more humane and just world, sustained by the conviction that only with peace is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all.

Dear brothers and sisters,
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”: he is the “Prince of peace”. Let us welcome him!

May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we trust, intercede for us before the Lord.℟: Amen. 
Through the prayers and merits of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, may Almighty God have mercy on you and forgive all your sins, and may Jesus Christ bring you to everlasting life.℟: Amen. 
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution and the remission of all your sins, a season of true and fruitful penance, a well-disposed heart, amendment of life, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit and final perseverance in good works.℟: Amen. 
And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you forever.℟: Amen

To you, dear brothers and sisters, who have gathered in this Square from every part of the world, and to those in various countries who are linked to us by radio, television and other means of communication, I offer my greeting.

On this day of joy, we are all called to contemplate the Child Jesus, who gives hope once again to every person on the face of the earth. By his grace, let us with our voices and our actions give witness to solidarity and peace. Merry Christmas to all!

25 Dec 2016

He came down

25th December 2016 - Christmas Day

From all the Sacred Space 102fm team, wishing you and yours every best wish and blessing of this Holy & Festive Season and into the New Year 2017.
May the Peace of the Babe of Bethlehem be the gift you receive this Christmastide.

John, Lorraine, Ann, Shane, Martina & Michael


You can listen to the podcast of the full two hour special Christmas Day programme HERE.

Our Christmas Day programme goes out on WL102fm from 9am to 11 am and is repeated from 11pm to 1am Christmas night.


On this special two hour programme we celebrate this special day with reflections, favourite Christmas carols and hymns, readings, poetry and our regular reflection on the Gospel of the day. We are joined on the programme with a reflection by Bishop Brendan Leahy and other special guests.


Advent Summons

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

"In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

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

Reflections on the gospel of the day:

Word on Fire

English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy
Sunday Reflections

Christmas message from the Bishops of Limerick 2016

'Think of the many around us who feel marginalised'
Limerick Bishops unite for a powerful message of love and peace to all this Christmas
(Limerick Leader - 24th December 2016)

MOST of the news we hear every day revolves around politics and economics. We hear repeatedly of the big names, the important world powers, the billionaires. We listen to so much analysis and commentary. It’s easy to feel that history is determined by forces outside our control.

Christmas reminds us, however, of something we can easily forget. God too sees history. God has his take on history. After all, he entered right into our world in the form of an innocent child who came with a message of light, peace and truth that has gradually worked like a silent heart beat throughout the centuries.

As we listen to the Christmas carols or contemplate the nativity scene, sentiments of peace, joy and self-sacrificing love surface within us. The simple “Away in a Manger” carol, often the first we learn as children, gets us in touch with a nostalgia we all have – for a world where love will reign, children cared for, tenderness abound and a wonderful harmony with creation achieved.

At Christmas, we are invited to see history with God’s eyes. And there’s such a need to do so. Just think of the desperate situation in places like Syria, especially Aleppo, but also the plight of Christians throughout the Middle East. Think of the interminable wars in places like South Sudan. But then, nearer to home, think of the many around us who feel marginalised for one reason or another.

In our analysis and in the reports we read, we can feel helpless. But let’s remember the God of Christmas is the God who ‘shuffles the cards’ as Pope Francis put it last year. God likes doing that! As Mary sings in her Magnificat, the Lord puts down the powerful from their thrones and raises up the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty.

Let’s pray this Christmas that more and more people will begin to realise that politics and economics aren’t the only driving forces in our world. Love, in its many nuances that we contemplate at Christmas, is the great source of change because it unleashes a revolution of tenderness around us. If we live that revolution, our world changes because we let God do his reconciling work.

We both feel particularly impelled this year to communicate this message together because just a few weeks ago at a moving ceremony in Rome we were “sent out” together for mission by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby. We had spent a wonderful week together, some of it in Canterbury and some in Rome, with 18 other pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world focussing on how we can be more united in our mission.

In sending us out in mission, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby reminded us of Jesus’ message of peace: “Our Saviour commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give. May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.”

As Christmas approaches, we wish you the Season’s greetings, praying that the peace the Child Jesus wants to give our world will be received.