31 Jan 2018

Pope Francis: We need good readers at Mass—and we need to listen

During his catechesis at the weekly General Audience Pope Francis told those present that Christians need to be constantly open to and challenged by the Word of God.

Did you ever wonder about particular patron saints for particular things?

Each week on the programme we take a walk through the saints who will be commemorated in the liturgy in the week ahead. But have you ever wondered who was the patron saint of different things?

  • Did you know that John the Evangelist was patron saint of editors, authors, art dealers, tanners, and theologians? 
  • That St Damian and St Dunstan of Canturbury are patron saints of those with blindness?
  • For those suffering from diabetes or trying to not develop Type II diabetes St Paulina do Coração Agonizante de Jesus would be the woman whose intercession you would seek?
  • If you suffer from piles, St Fiacre is the man you want to be having a word with? 
  • If you are parent of a little one with teething pains, calpol and a prayer to St Blaise might be of some assistance!

If you would like SS102fm team to investigate and find the patron saint of a particular things, place, event or ailment please let us know and we can share it on our weekly programme!

Brigid, abbess, co-patron of Ireland

A saint is a follower of Christ whom we look to for inspiration and for support. Often we know little of the details of their daily lives, but that is unimportant. What we do know is that they trusted God. We know their trust was honoured and that they offer us in a story or an event – the inspiration to lead better Christian lives.

Brigid was born in Ireland in a time when it wasn’t easy to be an independent girl. Nevertheless she managed to be clear about her ideas and strong in her actions. She was able to step out of cultural expectations, to know and follow truth, and to make a difference to those around her. Brigid teaches young women that strength is a virtue.

She was known for her generosity. Interesting in our ‘winners only’ world, to consider that one can be both successful and generous – that it’s not a choice. Brigid reminds us that a charitable heart and a clear vision are a good thing in followers of Jesus Christ.

Brigid asked for what she needed, and said no to what was not right for her. She led her people, creating a home and monastery for many; equal to the men around her. Brigid reminds us that God created us all for a definite purpose, and to do some definite good.

Brigid’s story has become encased in myth, speculation and exaggeration. What remains are stories of how God worked in and through her life, images of rushes formed into crosses, of an abbey and a cow and a cloak that grew. Through it all, she disappears and the light of Christ is revealed. Brigid reminds us that what matters is not our biography, but our willingness to risk it all - to lose ourselves in Christ.

One of my favourite times of the year is February 1st, and as I await the turn of the year, two images inspire me. First, I often hum Luka Blooms song as the cold January days reach out in hope of spring:

Out of the cold, dark winter space
We come together, looking for Brigid’s grace
We dip our open hands deep into the well
Where our rivers run to
Who can tell, who can tell?
We warm our hearts and faces
In the heat of the burning flame
Something about our spirit
Never stays the same
Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you
Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you…
Let the light protect you ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you… Let the light direct you ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you… Don’t be afraid ~ Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you…The light that shines within you
© 2008 Luka Bloom (IMRO/MCPS Ireland)
And when the day arrives, I always laugh and think of the lake of beer! I think of Brigid, strong and brave, clear thinking and kind. Brigid, prayerful and powerful, leader and servant. Brigid, pouring out love and hope and healing at the start of the spring. She inspires me to be all I can be and more.

St. Brigid's Lake of Beer
Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS
Saint Brigid's Prayer - A lake of Beer

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God. 
I'd love the Heavenly 
Host to be tippling there 
For all eternity.

I'd love the men of Heaven to live with me, 
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I'd put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of love I’d give them, 
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I'd offer
To every man.

I'd make Heaven a cheerful spot, 
Because the happy heart is true.
I'd make the men contented for their own sake
I'd like Jesus to love me too.

I'd like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around,
I'd give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I'd sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We'd be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

St Brigid let the light shine from within her and it changed her world

May we be inspired to let the light of Christ too shine forth from our lives this spring.

That kindness and hope might flourish with the daffodils this spring

1st February 2018 - Feast of St Bridget

On the Irish calendar February 1st is the feast day of St Brigid of Kildare, patroness of Ireland along with St Patrick and St Colm Cille.

Known as Mhuire na nGael (Mary of the Irish), she is a popular saint in Ireland and her feast day is celebrated as the first day of Spring (even if meteorologically it is not for another few weeks for the official start of Spring).

Tradition holds she lived 452AD-524AD as is know in tradition and affection of the Irish as Mary of the Gael. She is said to be the patroness of babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milk maids; nuns; poets; poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen.

Previous blog posts about St Bridget HERE.

27 Jan 2018

28th January 2018 - Exploring the Trocaire Parish Volunteers

On this weeks programme, the SS102fm team is joined by Karen Casey, Volunteer Manager with Trocaire to introduces us to the idea of the Trocaire Parish Volunteers. We have our regular reflection on this weeks Sunday gospel as well as a run through liturgical odds and ends including the saints of the week as well as other notices.

If you would like to listen to the podcast of this weeks programme it is available HERE. Or you can download the podcast from Dropbox here.

Trocaire Parish Volunteers

Karen Casey from Trocaire joins John and the team on this weeks programme to discuss the roll out of an exciting new project in Limerick diocese which is the Trocaire Parish Volunteers. 

Building on the expressed desire in Synod 2016 for more involvement in social justice issues, Trocaire and the diocese have partnered up to promote the idea of the Trocaire Parish Volunteers.

Trocaire parish volunteers met in November 2017 and are delighted with this positive and simple way to make a difference in their parish

Next Tuesday January 30th 2018, they meet again, and are inviting along anyone who wants to hear about Trocaires Lenten programme, or anyone interested in becoming a Trocaire parish volunteer too.

This volunteer program is such a concrete and uncomplicated program - all Trocaire are asking for is a person in a parish who will share its material (make sure posters are up and flyers out), and in return you get to hear about some amazing projects and to meet volunteers who have travelled around the world making a difference. 

Come along on Tuesday evening (7pm) to the Woodlands House Hotel, Adare if you want to get Trocaires Lenten pack, or to find out more about being a parish volunteer - contact Karen (karen.casey@trociare.org) or Noirin (061400133) to book your place.     

You can listen to the interview with Karen excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE or it is available to download from Dropbox here.

Gospel - Mark 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.The people were astonished at his teaching,for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?Have you come to destroy us?I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"Jesus rebuked him and said,"Quiet! Come out of him!"The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.All were amazed and asked one another,"What is this?A new teaching with authority.He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Reflections on this weeks gospel

Word on Fire

Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Vatican Radio - There's More in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye for 28 January 2018
Deacon Greg Kandra - Hearing the voice that matters

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 4; 4th week in Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

January 29th - St Blath of Kildare
January 30th - Bl Margaret Ball and Bl Francis Taylor
January 31st - St John Bosco
February 1st - St Bridget, Patron of Ireland
February 2nd - Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas) (First Friday)
February 3rd - St Blaise (First Saturday)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018 - Ireland Remembers

The Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration is firmly established in the Irish national calendar and takes place in Dublin every year on the Sunday nearest to 27 January, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

The event cherishes the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and recalls the millions of innocent Jewish men, women and children and others, who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis because of their ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliations or their religious beliefs.

Holocaust Memorial Day honours the memory of all of the victims of the Holocaust. The inclusion of all the victim groups is integral to the commemoration, highlighting the consequences of intolerance. The commemoration demonstrates the Irish Government’s commitment to the Declaration of Stockholm 2000 when the signatory countries undertook to commemorate the Holocaust and to teach about it every year.

In Ireland Holocaust Memorial Day is organised under the auspices of HETI in association with the Department of Justice and Equality, The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration and Dublin City Council.   It is attended by people from all walks of Irish life and society, and from a broad spectrum of political, religious, community and cultural institutions.

The ceremony includes readings, survivors’ recollections, music and candle-lighting. Six candles are lit for the six million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust as well as candles for all of the other victim groups. More than 100 school students from all over Ireland attend the ceremony, some of them reading from the Scroll of Names an Irish memorial to cherished family members of people living in Ireland, who were murdered. Holocaust Memorial Day is always a very moving, dignified and impressive occasion.

From the 2016 Holocaust Memorial Day celebration in Dublin:

A Holocaust Memorial Day booklet is produced each year  by HETI for the commemoration and these are excellent resources for teaching and learning. All booklets record the programme and readers at the commemoration. The booklet focuses on different topics each year. All of these booklets are available to download on the links HERE.


Annual Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture 7 February 2017

2018 Annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture


Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental tells the story of his experience as a nine-year-old boy in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, in a lecture co-hosted by UCD Philosophy Society and UCD German Society (31 March 2015).

'In the last couple of years I realised that, as one of the last witnesses, I must speak out.'

"Tomi Reichental, who lost 35 members of his family in the Holocaust, gives his account of being imprisoned as a child at Belsen concentration camp.

He was nine-years old in October 1944 when he was rounded up by the Gestapo in a shop in Bratislava, Slovakia. Along with 12 other members of his family he was taken to a detention camp where the elusive Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner had the power of life and death.

His story is a story of the past. It is also a story for our times. The Holocaust reminds us of the dangers of racism and intolerance, providing lessons that are relevant today."

Tomi Reichental was born in 1935 in Slovakia. He was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944. Tomi has lived in Dublin since 1959 and regularly talks to Irish schools about his wartime experiences. A documentary about Tomi's attempts to meet one of his jailers, Close to Evil, has been shown on TV and in cinemas throughout the world, and helped again to raise the profile of the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem

"And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")... that shall not be cut off."

(Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5)
As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is today a dynamic and vital place of intergenerational and international encounter. For over half a century, Yad Vashem has been committed to four pillars of remembrance:

Trisagion Hymn

The Trisagion sometimes called by its opening line Agios O Theos, is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. The Latin name Tersanctus or Ter Sanctus is sometimes used to refer to this hymn, although this name is also sometimes used to refer to the Sanctus; it is the latter, a different formula, which is used in Western Christianity in the Mass.

In churches which use the Byzantine Rite, the Trisagion is chanted immediately before the Prokeimenon and the Epistle reading. It is also included in a set of prayers named for it, called the Trisagion Prayers, which forms part of numerous services (the Hours, Vespers, Matins, and as part of the opening prayers for most services).

In the Latin Church, the main regular use of the Trisagion is on Good Friday, when it is sung throughout the ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross.

21 Jan 2018

Bishop Brendan Leahy comments as Dolores O’Riordan lays in repose

Bishop Leahy thanks Dolores O’Riordan’s family for moving gesture

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy today thanked the family of Dolores O’Riordan for affording the people of Limerick and beyond the opportunity to pay their respects to her today at St. Joseph’s Church in the city.

Ahead of her funeral tomorrow and Tuesday, the family of the Ballybricken woman arranged for her remains to lay in repose today at the same church in Limerick city where she made her First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Bishop Leahy was on hand with administrator of St. Joseph’s Parish Oliver Plunkett to receive Dolores remains at the Church at midday and meet with her mother Eileen and other family members who attended.

Speaking afterwards he said: “It was a very moving to be here, to see the generosity of Dolores’ mother Eileen and other family members not alone in providing this opportunity ahead of the funeral for the public to pay their respects but for being there also.

“Dolores had great spirituality and having met her mother today, it’s easy see why. She is taking a lot of strength from her faith at this difficult time and is a remarkable woman.”

Thousands of people are filing past the Limerick woman’s coffin this afternoon to pay their respects. Addressing the large congregation at the outset, Bishop Leahy said: “In blessing the remains of Dolores O’Riordan here in St. Joseph’s Church in Limerick today, I am conscious that, while millions across the world have been shocked by the sad news of her death, today is Limerick’s public moment to bid farewell.

“We come to offer a heartfelt greeting to a deeply loved and cherished daughter of Limerick, a talented representative of the potential of Limerick people and a convinced advocate of living life in truth, love and peace.

“As we file pass her coffin, let’s remember God’s love and mercy and pray for her, her family and those she loved and helped in life.

Dolores appreciated the value of spirituality in our lives. She made her First Communion in this church and was confirmed here. She attended the nearby An Mhodh Scoil (Model School) and Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school. Her spiritual journey continued in many parts of our world, and yet Dolores remained anchored in Limerick. We can be grateful to Dolores’ family for choosing this beautiful church as a venue for her lying in repose.

“Today as the Limerick people she greatly loved come to pay their respects, let us pray for Dolores: ‘May the angels lead you into paradise; and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem, where there will be no more tears, no more death or pain, for the time of heavenly singing has come’.”

Saint Mary’s Cathedral Limerick to Launch 850th Anniversary Programme

On Tuesday 30th January 2018 the Bishop of Limerick, the Rt Rev’d Dr Kenneth Kearon, will launch its 850th anniversary programme. Saint Mary’s which was gifted to the Church by Donal Mor O’Brien, the last King of Thomond has been a site of Christian worship since 1168 and it is one of the oldest buildings in Limerick City.

The year’s festivities will celebrate and promote the Cathedral’s roles in city life including – community, civic, cultural, educational, ecumenical, musical, sporting and tourism. Highlights of the year include a visit from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and a special service of thanksgiving. Each month the Cathedral will highlight a figure associated with Saint Mary’s and there will also be a tangible dimension to the celebrations as each month will focus on a charity or cause based in or around Limerick.

Speaking of the year, the Dean, the Very Rev’d Niall J. Sloane says ‘Saint Mary’s holds a very special place in the city of Limerick and its citizens. It has been a royal palace – no doubt, a place of story-telling, feasting and celebrations. Over the succeeding centuries it has witnessed unique events, welcomed countless people through its doors and marked key moments in the lives of Limerick people. Today, as it continues to be a place of pilgrimage and prayer, it has a unique role to play within all aspects of city and diocesan life. The central theme of our celebrations in 2018 will be opening our doors to all and forging links with Limerick and beyond so that we may echo the Christian message of faith, love and witness. I invite you to join us as we celebrate this historic occasion and give thanks for Saint Mary’s Cathedral’.

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

Who am I to deny unborn children of future the right to life?

What Eminem has to say about post-abortion regret
Beware of Orwellian doublespeak as referendum campaign kicks off
Each one of us need to play our part in fighting for unborn

Legalised abortion is horrifying says Peter Fitzpatrick TD

Peter Fitzpatrick of Fine Gael gave an excellent speech to retain the 8th in the Dáil January 18th where he said that the Abortion Committee solely focused on attacking the 8th.

In wake of Trump furor, Vatican delivers show of solidarity for Africa

A Reflection for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

CNEWA Connections:  Praying for Christian Unity

Beautiful, simple … and sustainable: Trappist Caskets offer a prayerful alternative

Profession at Silverstream Priory - “Why did you leave the sunshine and sparkling waves of the beaches of Sydney for this darkling east coast of Ireland? .......You did it because, like John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, you saw Jesus coming towards you."

My year of living ignorantly: I entered a news blackout the day Trump was elected

A look at world's 50 most anti-Christian countries

Worshippers injured after police fire tear gas at cathedral in Congo

Attack on the Dominican Church in Kinshasa, DR Congo

Holy Land Christians ‘not forgotten’ – bishop 

“You are not forgotten” – Bishop McKeown to meet young Palestinians and Israelis in Holy Land group pilgrimage

CNEWA - Listening to young Palestinians, Israelis, bishops hear range of feelings

Do you want me to marry you?  Pope asks flight attendants

Call for dioceses to publish their audited accounts online

Demand for exorcisms rising ‘exponentially’ in Ireland, priest warns

Is it possible to lose your vocation?

The extraordinary power of a 500-year-old arm

Ireland’s Newest Stained Glass Window

TED Talks - In 1998, says Monica Lewinsky, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become a constant. In a brave talk, she takes a look at our “culture of humiliation,” in which online shame equals dollar signs — and demands a different way.

20 Jan 2018

21 January 2018 - Year in Review 2017

On this weeks programme the full SS102fm team John, Shane, Anne and Lorraine return as we take a stroll down memory lane with our annual review of the year 2017 from a faith perspective. 

We have our regular reflection on this Sunday's gospel, select our 2018 patron saints, the blog patron saint for 2018 as well as our weekly celestial guides and other liturgical odds and ends.

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

If you would like to download this weeks podcast it is available on Dropbox here.

2017 Year in Review

SS102fm over the last few years about mid-January has had the custom of taking a look back at the year just gone from a faith perspective looking at things globally, papal related, nationally in Ireland and locally to Limerick diocese. We also do a bit of crystal ball gazing to see what might be the things to watch out for in 2018.

You can listen to the year in review discussion excerpted from the main programme podcast HERE.

If you would like to download it from Dropbox it is available here.

Patron Saints 2018

Some  people like to seek a patron saint as part of their New Year resolutions and on the programme over the last few years we have each had a patron saint for the year and also a Blog Patron Saint. If you want to pick a patron saint for 2018 for your self head on over to the Saint's Name Generator HERE.

So for 2018 our blog patron saint is St Justin Martyr

Pagan philosopher who converted at age 30 by reading the Scriptures and witnessing the heroism and faith of martyrs. Used his philosophical and oratorical skills to dispute with pagans and explain the faith, becoming one of the first great Christian apologists. He opened a school of public debate in Rome, Italy. All this naturally brought him to the attention of the authorities, and he died a martyr.

  • Shane - St Lucy
  • John - St Pope John  Paul II
  • Lorraine - St Catherine of Siena
  • Anne - St Thomas a Beckett
Gospel - Mark 1: 14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’  
 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans
Sunday Reflections

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter 3, 3rd week in Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

January 22nd - St Vincent of Saragossa
January 23rd - St Abel the Patriarch
January 24th - St Francis de Sales
January 25th - Conversion of St Paul
January 26th - St Titus & St Timothy
January 27th - St Angela Merici

17 Jan 2018

Dolores O'Riordan RIP

Statement of Bishop Brendan Leahy on the death of Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries:
“The death of Dolores O’Riordan is such a sad loss of a young and precious life.  Millions across the world have been shocked by this sad news but first and foremost I think of her family.   Way beyond anything else, this is the passing of a loving mother, daughter and sister. This is a family that will grieve deeply for Dolores in the same as others who lose loved ones. It starts and ends with them.
“Of course she was a superstar and an inspiration to so many people, not least from Limerick.  She grew up in Ballybricken, which is actually in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, but Limerick city, all of Limerick, held her very dear in its heart.  Her rise to stardom gave a huge amount of belief to young people locally at the time.  She was a true child of Limerick; talented, honest, full of soul and courageous.  And she never lost sight of who she was and where she was from.
“She also often spoke about her spirituality and how important that was too her and, of course, she met Pope John Paull II.  She spoke of taking a lot of influence for her music from her spirituality. Limerick and the world has lost a kind, soft-hearted, talented soul. May she rest in peace.”

Limerick Leader - Shock and sadness greet sudden death of Limerick's Dolores O'Riordan
The Guardian - Dolores O’Riordan obituary
Crux (CNS) - Irish bishop recalls Cranberries’ musician for her faith, inspiration
Dolores O’Riordan ‘took a lot of influence from her spirituality’, bishop says

15 Jan 2018

Ordinary in an extraordinary way!

Cross post from Pilgrim Progress:

Christmas has officially finished! Until next year that is.  With the second Vespers of the Baptism of the Lord, tomorrow we return to Ordinary Time. We get back into the ordinary course of events. Through the period of Ordinary Time following Christmas, we become increasingly aware that this marvel of birth and growth will mature into something challenging.  However we need time to focus on this and we are gifted with the time of Lent which culminates in the great event of the Resurrection, the battle of life over death, light over darkness. Lent greets us somewhat earlier this year and believe it or not, but Ash Wednesday is on the 14th of February, Valentine's Day! Just 5 weeks away.

With the way the calendar fell this year, it seemed that the time after New Year's and normal time just flew. Jokingly, I said that the shops will already have the Easter eggs in soon. I wasn't too far wrong, in fact, they are already in the shops since New Year's Eve (not impressed  Tesco!). What is it with the commercial world continually projecting us into the future. Have we lost the capacity to live the present moment? Are we afraid to live the present? Are we afraid that the present is too 'ordinary.'

However, ordinary time can be misleading. It seems to suggest that life and faith carry on as usual and they do to an extent. The truth however is quite the contrary when the readings of the season are taken into account. In the Gospel which accompanies us into Ordinary Time, Jesus issues the invitation: " Follow me".  Follow him a world which is both ordinarily extraordinary and extraordinarily ordinary.

A quote reads: “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” What is the little ‘extra’ which makes the difference in your life? For me, beauty continues to speak a language of its own which does not necessarily need words or vocabulary, precisely because it belongs to the sphere of the simple. My quest for ‘extra’ continues, or translated into biblical terms, the journey towards embracing Jesus’ invitation in John 10:10 ‘I have come that you may life in abundance.'

That said, extraordinary things happen in Ordinary time too. People are born and people die. Wars begin and wars end, and wars go on and on. Tornados and earthquakes happen and end. Miracles come in silently, softly, transforming the lives of unsuspecting people. People shed the extraordinary because they have been wearied by life and settle for the ordinary. Ironically, when travel and the media have blown all horizons wide open, our own inner horizons seem to have become narrower and our vision contracted. How can we find again the seeing eye and the feeling touch? The reality of “time and eternity” is one that few people these days choose to contemplate, because we are so distracted. Technology and entertainment have become the things people chase when they are not fulfilling their obligations and taking up their responsibilities.

To follow Jesus, means to take up the Cross. Life is not easy as we all know. Taking up the cross means living at least in part in an alternative reality, one in which the freedom of love, forgiveness and grace  prevails in place of the normal arrangements of domination, retribution and exchange. With the commercial hype of Christmas having passed, it is easy to get dragged into a sense of a mundane life, void of fairy lights, candy canes and gifts under the tree. January can be somewhat of an anti-climatic month. Yes, we are all human; we don't have absolute power over everything; there will be difficult times, there will depressing times; and nothing good comes easy. We may get tossed around by the storms of life like ordinary people except for the fact that we serve God, who is able to speak to our storms and say ‘Peace, be still!’ We think of Celtic spirituality where "Celtic spirituality was a practice in which ordinary people in their daily lives took the tasks that lay to hand but treated them sacramentally, as pointing to a greater reality which lay beyond them." (Esther de Waal).  The Good News that God’s extraordinary life comes to us in seemingly ordinary ways is the ongoing lesson of Ordinary Time.

This said, no-one wants to be ‘ordinary’, we all want to feel special. We want to live exciting lives which give us interesting photos and bizarre statuses to post on Facebook or Twitter. We want people to think our lives are extraordinary.  Easily we forget that every single person on earth is completely unique and not exactly like anyone else. Every single life is special and extraordinary. We don’t have to prove ourselves to God or to anyone for that matter. It can seem that even in church circles, we have to do ‘big’ things. There is so much importance placed on having a big ministry or having that “special calling” to bigger things yet we often fail to recognize that God can do extraordinary things when we’re doing the ordinary.

Holly Gerth writes: “Ordinary is the lie we tell ourselves when we look in the mirror and say the girl looking back is no one special. It’s the false feeling that tries to overwhelm us when we’re standing in the corner at a conference and everyone else seems cooler. It’s the whisper of the enemy of our hearts when we get ready to offer what we’ve tucked away inside for so long. You are not ordinary. You are extraordinary. The God who spoke the stars into being knit together your soul. Chose the color of your eyes. Numbered the hairs on your head. Placed gifts within you like presents for the world to open with joy.”

Yes, God does call some people to go out and do new and extraordinary things but that doesn’t mean that what we do is insignificant. For the vast majority of us, He’s called us to live an ordinary life but He desires that we live it in an extraordinary way.  He wants us to give unconditionally without expecting return, to love in a way which the world doesn’t acknowledge, loving the poor, the weak, those whom the world deems ‘unlovable’. He wants us to be faithful in the little things, making the little sacrifices which no-one might even see. By giving time to someone in need of a kind word or gesture when you feel just like having your personal space. We don’t need a big “calling” to have an impact in this world.  Maybe that is why I love the lives of the saints so much, they teach us that God does miracles in the lives of ordinary people. He changes sinners into saints. All we need to do is live our ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. So don’t be afraid to be ordinary!

14 Jan 2018

Who is your patron saint for 2018?

Some  people like to seek a patron saint as part of their New Year resolutions and on the programme over the last few years we have each had a patron saint for the year and also a Blog Patron Saint.

Join us on next weeks programme to find out who our 2018 patron saints are going to be and the unveiling of the 2018 Blog Patron Saint.

In the meantime if you want to pick a patron saint for 2018 for your self head on over to the Saint's Name Generator HERE.

World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018

On January 15, the Church observes the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a commemoration instituted by St. Pius X. Pope Francis’s message for the day, written on August 15, is entitled “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”

Vatican NewsPope at Mass for Migrants and Refugees: 'Overcome fear and welcome the other' - Pope Francis celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica and reminds us that in order to encounter others we must first overcome our fears.

Official English-language translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Holy Mass on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.