Thought for the Day 06/05/2020

Muslims are currently participating in the Holy month of Ramadan. For Muslims living in the northern hemisphere it is must be particularly challenging, as the early sunrise and late sunset mean a long day of fasting from either food or drink before they can break the fast in the evening. One of the great biblical insights is that fasting and prayer belong together and nurture each other. Before beginning his public ministry of proclaiming the Gospel, Jesus withdraws to the dessert to fast and pray. The fledgling Christian community at Antioch through fasting and prayer discern the call of the Holy Spirit to send Paul and Barnabas on what will turn out to be the first of their great missionary journeys around the Mediterranean. Most of are currently participating in an unexpected and enforced fast: from work, meeting with friends and loved ones, embracing people, participating in sport, going to the theatre, cinema or concerts, all those activities which and bring joy and stimulation to our lives. On the other hand, the slower pace of life is inviting us to rethink our priorities, engage in activities we have neglected (reading, reflecting, gardening), spend more quality time with those in our household, connect with people we have not been in touch with for a while, appreciate the gift of nature, find ourselves led to a deeper place within ourselves, even to prayer. May this fasting not be a temporary blip but lead to some new directions in our lives.
‘One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, « I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them. »
So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.’
(Acts 13:2-3, from the First Reading at Mass for the Fourth Wednesday of Easter).

Thought for the Day 05/05/2020

I remember sitting some years ago in the British National Archives at Kew reading some dispatches from the trenches in World War 1. The dispatches were a brief report of the day sent by an officer to his superior. The title of the famous novel All Quiet on the Western Front is taken from such a (in this case, fictitious) dispatch. Today’s first reading reads like a dispatch. Behind each of Luke’s short sentences you sense a whole story lurks. The central focus, unusually, is on Barnabas, the lesser known apostle with Paul. Barnabas’s gift is in recognising and encouraging the mystery of God’s grace at work in the lives of other people. As Luke tells us elsewhere, the name Barnabas means ‘son of encouragement’ (Acts 4:36). It is Barnabas who ensures Paul’s acceptance by the sceptical apostles in Jerusalem, after the latter’s sudden conversion on the way to Damascus, and who recognises Paul’s preaching abilities and seeks him out in Tarsus. When the Church in Jerusalem hear the disturbing news that the Good News is being proclaimed to gentile (non- Jewish) people in Antioch, it is Barnabas whom they entrust with the task of investigating this. Barnabas’ openness to the workings of God’s grace overcomes any preconceived ideas he may have harboured. Sometimes we can be so focussed on trying to perfect our own gift or talent that we are blind to the unique charism of other people. Barnabas has much to teach us in wisdom and humility.
‘The Church in Jerusalem...sent Barnabas to Antioch. There he could see for himself that God had given grace...for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. And a large number of people were won over to the Lord.’                                            (Acts 11: 22-24, from the First Reading for the Fourth Tuesday of Easter

Thought for the Day 04/05/2020

At the heart of the story in today’s First Reading at Mass is the tension between the demands of the (Jewish) law and the promptings of the Spirit. Simon Peter wisely follows his intuition and accompanies the messengers to Caesarea where he baptises a pagan (non-Jewish) man and his household, an event which symbolises the evolution of the nascent Christian movement beyond the confines of the Jewish religion.
One of the disconcerting aspects of life since the occurrence of Covid 19 is how much of what we now call the ‘new normal’ appears counter intuitive (ie: staying at home, maintaining social distancing, refraining from shaking hands with, never mind hugging, close family or friends, not being able to visit one another's homes, going out of our way to avoid other people when out walking, not being able to visit sick relatives in hospital or nursing homes, having fewer than ten people attending the funeral of a loved one).
We accept this ’new normal’ because something else has kicked in: an intuitive sense of needing to protect our loved ones, and especially the vulnerable, from this awful and potentially fatal virus, and a consideration for all frontline workers. We pray that our intuition may always be guided by the promoting of the Holy Spirit.
‘Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them’
                        (Acts 11: 11-12, from the First Reading at Mass, Fourth Monday of Easter)

Thought for the Day 03/05/2020

For over two decades, following a score in a senior game at Croke Park, an individual standing behind the goal used to hold up a billboard simply saying John 3:7, a reference to a verse from St. John’s Gospel. Billboards are not my style, but if I were to hold up a sign with a Scripture verse, it would be the one which concludes this Sunday’s Gospel:  ‘I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). Many of us lament all the normal activities we are deprived of doing during this current pandemic. Others, despite concerns over the economy and their own financial circumstances, manage to recognise all the things that they are now able to do, perhaps for the first time: spend time with loved ones at home, go on a family walk or cycle, have conversations with neighbours over the wall or hedge, notice the beauty of the dawn chorus or of the unfolding spring, FaceTime with grandparents or with loved ones in a hospital or nursing home setting.
Etty Hillesum was deported with her family from Amsterdam to Auschwitz via Westerbork in 1943. Despite the horrors of the holocaust which she witnessed and also endured, she never lost her deeply held belief in the beauty of life. In one of her last letters she writes: ‘And yet life in its unfathomable depths is so wonderfully good. And if we just care enough, God is in safe hands with us despite everything’. On the postcard she threw out the window of the train that deported her family from Westerbork transit camp, she scribbled: ‘we left the camp singing’.
Fullness of life has less to do with our circumstances and more to do with our attitude.
‘I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full ‘. (John 10:10)
 

Thought for the Day 02/05/2020

 
The language of faith is intolerable to many in today’s society, who see it ironically as the language of ‘intolerance’. Some people have asked me in recent days whether the Corona pandemic is going to bring people back to faith, but that, I believe, is to ask the wrong question. The real question is the one Jesus asks in today’s Gospel of his disciples, and consequently of us: ‘Will you also walk away?’ For once Simon Peter comes up with an appropriate response: ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe’. In the absence of being able to receive our weekly Eucharist, it is our daily Communion with Christ in prayer, the depth of our compassion for all those who are suffering during this time, and our practical acts of solidarity and concern, that will give the greatest witness to whom or what we believe in, and show that, although the doors of the building are shut, the Church is very much alive.
‘Peter helped her to her feet, then he called in the saints and widows and showed them she was alive. The whole of Jaffa heard about it, and many believed in the Lord.’
                              (Acts 9:42, from the First Reading at Mass, Third Saturday of Easter)

Thought for the Day 01/05/2020

 
The dignity of human work finds its biblical origins in the command in Genesis 2:15 to cultivate and to care for the earth. As Catholic social teaching has for several decades pointed out, the dignity of human work involves employees being paid a just wage, and working under humane conditions. Forcing people to work long hours in poor conditions and for very low wages contravenes such teaching, as does any form of human trafficking. After so many weeks of being asked to stay at home, and seeing business come to a halt, people are understandably anxious to return to their place of work and to get economic and social life going again. Increasingly, however, there seems to be an inherent conflict between the demands of production and the need to care for our fragile planet. This is central to the negotiations currently taking place between the two major political parties and the Green Party with a view to forming a stable government. At its core is the question of which has the greater priority, the needs of people today to maintain a reasonable standard of living, or the condition of the planet which we bequeath to future generations?
St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us and for our political leaders
 
Thought for the Day 30/04/2020
Even in these challenging days, there is much to catch our attention, to draw our eyes and ears: the colour of the trees coming into blossom, the exquisite beauty of birdsong; the sound of the flow of an urban river heard for the first time above the reduced traffic noise; the unexpected kindness and thoughtfulness of other people. All that is required is for us to stop and notice, and one of the upsides of the current lockdown is that it is giving us time to do just that. All these speak to us of a creator of great imagination, goodness and love. Faith is not about climbing an impossible mountain or battling against reason. It is simply a response of openness to the God who addresses a word of love to us through the opportunities and challenges, joys and disappointments of each day.
‘No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me.’ (John 6:44, from the Gospel for Thursday of the Third Week of Easter)

Thought for the Day 29/4/2020

One of the things I have noticed since the pandemic took hold and social and commercial life has come to an abrupt halt is how few my outgoings have become. I am using the car less, having coffees or lunches out less frequently, so am really only spending money at the supermarket. It brings home to me how simply and yet contentedly I can live. But, as Lorna Gold, in her book Climate Generation, Awakening to Our Children’s Future, points out, our present economic system driven by continued growth likes to give us a very different message. She writes: ‘All states rely on economic growth to generate tax returns to enable them to pay for public services...This economic system is built around generating more and more unnecessary wants,’ with, as she warns, considerable damage to our environment. ‘Dealing with this systemic issue involves asking ourselves some pretty fundamental questions about our economies and our lifestyles, especially in Western societies...we need to rapidly relearn the idea of enough.’ Perhaps the current situation is inviting us to do just that.

Thought for the Day 28/4/2020

Since the Coronavirus pandemic forced a shut down of most civil society, including churches, many of us are experiencing a real sense of deprivation. We miss gathering with one another to celebrate Sunday Mass. Most of all we miss receiving the Eucharist. But perhaps this very deprivation can serve to draw us deeper into reliance on God. As Michael Bayer suggests in an article in this week’s America, perhaps we might consider ourselves as entering into solidarity with the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC. Exiled from Jerusalem and Temple sacrifice no longer available to them, they drew spiritual nourishment from reflecting together on God’s word to them in Scripture. In fact, biblical scholars tell us that it was while in exile that sabbath observance developed and Jewish identity was formed. Or we might think of the hidden Christians in Japan, who went underground following imperial persecution of Christianity from the 16th century and emerged some 250 years later, when religious freedom was reintroduced.
Going without physical reception of the Eucharist during these days is perhaps a greater act of solidarity with the Body of Christ than running the risk of transmitting a deadly disease. So how can we live our faith when we cannot physically receive the Eucharist?
We can pray, alone or with others at home. Now is an ideal time to teach our children some basic prayers, the sign of the cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, a simple grace before meals, or to let them remind us...to pray with them. We can attend Mass online from Ballygall church during the week or Iona Road on Sundays, or watch it on television. We can read the Word of God (the readings for the day are available through a link on our website) alone or reflect together with a few friends or parishioners via a zoom meeting. The Easter readings, with their themes of absence and presence, speak very powerfully to our present experience. Lastly we can offer our experience of deprivation in solidarity with many Christians around the world who celebrate Eucharist only on the occasional visit of a priest, and as an expression of our hope that Christ will gather us around his Eucharistic table again.
‘Sir,’ they said, ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered: ‘I am the bread of life. Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry; anyone who believes in me will never thirst.’ (John 6:35 from the Gospel for Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter).

Thought for the Day 27/04/2020

The biggest challenge at the moment is that we cannot make any definite plans for the future. Hence life seems to be on hold. We can spend our time waiting for the day when the government lift restrictions, and we can return to work, school, daily Mass or whatever ‘normal life’ means for us, or we can welcome the possibilities that the new situation opens up for us. Yesterday morning people in Australia, Singapore, USA, Slovakia, Italy, and the UK participated in our Sunday Mass streamed from Iona Road, while last night my family met up online for a zoom quiz. We had not been together since my brother and family visited from Seattle three years ago! It’s hard to believe that the Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade coined over 300 years ago the phrase: ‘the sacrament of the present moment’.

‘They are happy, who dwell in your house,
forever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Sion.’
                   (From Psalm 84, Morning Prayer for Monday 27th April, Psalter Week 3.

 

Thought for the Day 24/4/2020

Faced with the threat to global public health and economic activity caused by the outbreak of the corona virus, we have witnessed a remarkable spirit of cooperation with government imposed restrictions over the past six weeks, with people staying at home, observing social distancing and organising food deliveries for their neighbours. I believe this cooperation is the fruit of a sense of solidarity with those who are ill with Covid-19 and those who are looking after them, often at risk to themselves and to their families.  On this UN World Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, it would be good to see this spirit of solidarity replicated among the EU member states in sharing the burden of the cost in the fight against Covid 19, and similarly from the rich developed countries towards the countries of Africa and other underdeveloped nations.

‘Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready.....giving out as much as was wanted’. (John 6:11, from the Gospel at Mass for Second Friday of Easter)

 

Thought for the Day 23/4/2020

No matter what the external circumstances of our lives: whether we are anxious about the health of someone we love, or about when we will be able to return to work or school will reopen; whether we are restless and frustrated from cocooning at home; or whether we are stretched from trying to balance the demands of work with trying to provide care for loved ones at home; there is nevertheless always reason to give thanks each day for the many blessings in our lives. It helps to name them.

‘I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips.’
(Psalm 34:2 from Mass Readings for Thursday of the Second Week of Easter)

 

Thought for the Day 22/04/2020

In this Easter season, Luke’s Acts of the Apostles presents striking images of the unity of purpose and sense of solidarity which characterises the early Christian community. One of the striking responses to the current pandemic has been an increased sense of awareness of the sacrifices being made by those working on the frontline and a spontaneous consideration for others, especially older people living alone. If this sense of solidarity with the vulnerable could be replicated at national and international level, it would transform the world.

‘The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul.... The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power....None of them was ever in want, as all this who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.’      Acts 4: 32-35.(From the Second Reading at Mass for Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter)

 

Thought for the Day 21/04/2020

Particularly in these difficult days, we get a lift from receiving an unexpected word of encouragement, where we discover something we have said or done has brought joy, hope, comfort or meaning to someone. How often have we intended to validate or acknowledge something of value someone else did but never quite got round to it?Perhaps today we might make a particular effort by way of text, email, card or phone call to show our appreciation for something which someone else has done or said.

‘There was a Levite of Cypriot origin called Joseph, whom the apostles surnamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’)’
       From the First Reading at Mass for Tuesday, Second Week of Easter, (Acts 4:36.)

 

Thought for the Day 20/04/2020

Pope Francis says our experience today mirrors in many ways that of the disciples of Jesus after his death and burial in the tomb. Like them, “we live surrounded by an atmosphere of pain and uncertainty,” and we ask, “Who will roll away the stone (from the tomb?)”. He likens the stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus to the tombstones of the pandemic that “threatens to bury all hope”: for the elderly living in total isolation, for families who lack food and for those on the front lines who are “exhausted and overwhelmed.”

He recalls, however, that the women who followed Jesus did not allow themselves to be paralyzed by anxiety and suffering. “They found ways to overcome every obstacle, simply by being and accompanying….We are not alone, the Lord goes before us on our journey, and removes the stones that paralyze us… This is the hope that no one can take from us.’’

Pope Francis describes the present moment as a “propitious time” to be open to the Spirit, who can inspire us with a new imagination of what is possible. “Easter calls us and invites us to remember this other discreet and respectful, generous and reconciling presence, so as to start that new life which is given to us. This presence is the breath of the Spirit that opens horizons, sparks creativity and renews brotherhood and makes us say, ‘I’m present’ in the face of the enormous and urgent task that awaits us.” from Un Plan Para Resucitar (A Plan for Rising Up Again).

 

Easter Sunday   Homily  12/4/2020

‘It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark……when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.’

At the centre of today’s Easter Gospel is the silence of an empty tomb. We are gathered in an empty church this morning. Indeed, right around the world Mass is being celebrated in vast empty churches and cathedrals – not least in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where Pope Francis has cut a lonely yet powerful figure leading the world’s faithful in the Holy Week liturgies.

This is an Easter like no other: not only the churches but the streets, shops, restaurants, businesses and places of leisure are all empty. It is as if the world has come to a complete standstill. We find ourselves this Easter morning in a state of suspended animation – which our government has just extended for another three weeks – wondering if we will ever get back to normal life again.

What we miss most is the normal social interaction that gives life its joy: seeing people we love, being able to embrace grandchildren. A teacher wrote to me this week: ‘I never wanted to be back in school so much before’!

This experience of social and emotional deprivation perhaps helps us identify a little more with the sense of loss of the disciples after the death of Jesus.

‘It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark……’

The disciples are still in the darkness of desolation, fear, self-recrimination and above all sense of abandonment. Mary runs to the other disciples when she discovers the stone guarding the tomb rolled back – not in excitement, but in panic and distress – thinking that somebody has robbed the body of Jesus.

The seemingly trivial detail about one disciple outrunning the other is a hint that people come to resurrection faith in their own time. It cannot be forced.

When they arrive at the tomb, what do they find? Nothing, on the face of things. Unlike other Gospel accounts of the resurrection, there is no appearance of the risen Jesus, no voices from heaven, no angels, no earthquakes….only silence, and a few discarded cloths. Somehow the empty tomb is an image of life pared back to the essentials.

When Peter and the other disciple go into the tomb, it’s not what is there that is important but what they see. The central question for us is how a frightened and disillusioned bunch of disciples come to proclaim faith in the resurrection? Somehow the answer is here, at the empty tomb. Resurrection faith, it seems, dawns gradually. It begins with a flicker of recognition: a memory of something said, a sacred moment shared…

Standing there in the empty tomb, the two disciples experience something of the mystery of a life given in love, which leads to a new sense of peace and joy. Their transformation begins from this moment. They went to the tomb looking for a dead body. They come away knowing he is alive within.

Easter invites us to confront our own empty tomb: the empty tomb of our disappointments, our losses; the pain of not being able to be with a loved one sick in hospital, perhaps close to death; but also the empty tomb of our own fears, anxieties, guilt, of our betrayals and weakness, our willingness to forgive someone, our failure to forgive ourselves for not doing more for another; the empty tomb of our shallowness or self-centred focus. Somehow facing the empty tomb – not running away from it – calls us to move forward in faith, trust, compassion and hope.

This strange moment in the world may feel unnatural to us, but we have to ask ourselves: what is its gift? And what is the shape of the ‘new normal’ we would like to take up when the virus has finally moved away?

I saw Christ risen this week: in the beauty of trees coming to life and the accompanying chorus of birdsong; in the joy and relief in the mother who told me that her adult son has turned his life around; in the nurse who asked me to email her prayers she could say with a patient who was seriously ill and couldn’t access a chaplain; in the NGO volunteer I saw on TV distributing food to refugees at a makeshift camp in Calais and who was appalled at the way his fellow human beings were being treated; in the simple beauty of pictures representing Easter which children in the parish posted to us online; in people reaching out to their neighbour.

Christ isn’t risen out there. He is risen in us! Our task today as people of faith is not simply to come looking for signs of resurrection and a message of hope. It is to proclaim with our lives that Christ is risen, so that we can offer the people of this generation hope in a God who is faithful, true and caring. As St. Teresa of Avila once said: ‘Christ has no body now but yours’.

Jesus Christ is risen. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Fr. Richard Sheehy

 

Thought for the Day 17/04/2020

The Mass readings for this Easter week are full of life and hope. The Gospel each day presents a different resurrection account, while the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles reveals the disciples transformed by their Easter faith and proclaiming it with courage and joy in the face of scepticism and hardship. A common thread running through the different resurrection stories is the slowness of the disciples to realise that Jesus is risen. It is through familiar signs, such as the unexpected catch of fish or the sharing of bread and fish around a charcoal fire, that the disciples come to recognise the presence in their midst of the risen Christ. In this time, where normal life is on hold and we know people are very sick or dying and health care workers are stretched to their limit, we too are called to recognise the signs of Christ’s risen life in our daily experience, whether in the unfolding beauty of nature, the thoughtfulness and dedication of other people or simply in the gratefulness in our hearts for what we have.
And although the nearest we can get to receiving Communion is attending Mass online or on TV, we can still break daily the bread of compassion, forgiveness, and care for one another.

‘None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, « Who are you? »...Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish.’
                                 (From the Gospel for Easter Friday, 17th April, John 21: 12-13)

 

Thought for the Day 16/04/2020
 
We live from day to day, doing what we can in this new reality to live the moment fruitfully, working from home, keeping up contact with family, neighbours and friends, while maintaining social distancing, keeping ourselves physically and mentally fit, adapting to the possibilities offered by technology, all the time wondering when we can return to some kind of normal life and interaction with others. In our impatience to get there, to hear of restrictions being lifted, to return to school... we can miss the gift of the moment: the gentler pace of the new daily rhythm, the quieter external environment, the chance to read or focus on a particular project, the reduction of work-related meetings, the opportunity to engage more with children at home, shared family meals....... A daily delight is my evening walk along Griffith Avenue, the trees about to burst into leaf, nature inviting me to be in harmony with its hymn of praise to the Creator.
 
'The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.' (Revelation 22:2)
 

'Peace be with you! Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?' (Luke: 24:36 from the Gospel for Easter Thursday, 16th April)

Thought for the Day 15/04/2020

Our conversation, whether with loved ones or on the national media is dominated by Covid-19 and the way it has impacted totally on our way of living. For many of us, it’s mostly about inconvenience, not being able to do everyday things we previously took for granted. For those who are sick, in hospital or in nursing homes, particularly if they have compromised immune systems, it is much more serious. Health care workers, while totally dedicated to the care of their patients, are scared for themselves and their families. Some families in our community have already experienced the trauma and distress of losing a loved one, whom they were unable to visit for several weeks before they died. Last week, as a Christian community, we journeyed through Holy Week, and the Passion of Christ felt more real. This week, the Church proclaims Christ risen, walking with us in our trials and leading us towards hope and new beginnings. We all witness or hear daily stories of courage, recovery, resilience, generosity, compassion or thoughtfulness. Our churches may be temporarily closed, but Christ continues to break bread among us. In this extraordinary moment it is important that we share our stories of resurrection.

‘Two of the disciples....and they were talking together about all that had happened.....
Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.’
                                               (From the Gospel for Easter Wednesday, Luke 24: 13-35)

 

Thought for the Day 14/04/2020

 

The Church honours the apostles as the companions of Jesus and witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. However, as we hear in today’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala receives particular honour as the ‘apostle of the apostles’, since as St. John Paul points out, she is the first witness to the Risen Christ and the first messenger who announces to the apostles the resurrection of the Lord. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recognises St.Mary Magdalene as ‘an example of authentic evangelisation in proclaiming the joyful central message of Easter’.

‘Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her. ‘ (from the Gospel of Tuesday of Easter Week, John 20:18)

 

Thought for the Day 13/04/2020

At the heart of the story on Easter Sunday is the empty tomb. Somewhere in the pale dawn of Easter Sunday, each of us must confront the empty tomb and discover for ourselves the Risen Christ. Pope Francis reminds us that our joy in the Risen Christ calls us to quiet love and service. We have a peace in our hearts that is stronger than death itself. All our hope lies in that promise.

—from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

 

EASTER 2020 REFLECTION

Almost as never before, nature seems in perfect harmony with Easter this year. The sun is shining, the weather is unexpectedly warm after the cold of the past few weeks, the birds are singing gaily and have rarely been so audible, the daffodils and tulips are showing their magnificence, and the trees are about to burst into an explosion of colour and life. The timing couldn’t be better. Surrounded by such glory, it is hard to imagine that the country, indeed the world, is in turmoil, brought to its knees by a virus, against which the best of medical treatment seems powerless. And since we humans are the only means by which the virus is transmitted to others, the most loving thing we can do for one another is to avoid physical contact, to practise social distancing, to stay at home. It is so counter intuitive.

In these days Christians would normally be celebrating the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the solemn Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. Because of the current restrictions these ceremonies can only be celebrated behind closed doors and accessible via webcam or on TV. The purpose of these liturgies is to connect us with God’s great love for all humanity, and for the whole of creation, revealed in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year in a particular way the passion and death of Our Lord are being lived out in our midst. Most of us can only imagine the situation in most of our hospitals: people very sick, many of them in intensive care, unable to see their loved ones; health care staff doing their utmost in extraordinary conditions to care for their patients, conscious of the risk to themselves and to their families. It is particularly difficult for families who lose a loved one in a hospital or nursing home setting at this time: unable to be with their loved one in their last moments, and with only the immediate family being allowed to attend the funeral. Nor can we forget the economic hardship and accompanying insecurity for so many people.

If Easter is about anything, it is about the presence of death in the midst of life, but it is also about witnessing to new life in the sadness and tragedy of death. The suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday was real, and his followers were left desolated and abandoned. Somehow out of that experience of utter darkness they came to experience and proclaim resurrection faith. Generations of Christians, saints and sinners, have witnessed to Easter faith through times of war, persecution, hunger and sickness. This is our moment.

Christian faith above all proclaims that we are not alone, whatever we might be facing. God in Jesus Christ is with us, always giving us courage and hope and leading us towards new life. We live that hope by showing solidarity with one another, whatever sacrifice that might ask of ourselves. So many people are doing that right now, accepting in good spirit the restrictions on our movements and normal way of life, and reaching out in creative ways to those who are isolated, anxious or suffering. In doing this we are proclaiming our faith in and helping to create a better future for everyone. Jesus Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia!

Fr. Richard Sheehy 

 

 

Prayer for Newsletter

 

 

Thought for the Day 09/04/2020

'This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you:
that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread,
and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, 'This is my body, which is for you;
do this as a memorial of me.' in the same way he took the cup after supper, and said,
'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me'.
Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.'
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 from the Mass for Holy Thursday

'O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord's name.'
Psalm 116 from the Mass for Holy Thursday

 

Thought for the Day 08/04/2020

 ‘That is the ultimate goal: to become love....to be love in the world. Love is who you truly are, and who I am too. It is our deepest truth. The only sin is the absence of love in us.
Our personal love of God is the same as our love and forgiveness for the least of those in our lives.’             (Daniel O’ Leary)

‘Each morning the Lord wakes me to hear ,
To listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.’ 
                        (Isaiah 50:5; from the First Reading at Mass for Wednesday of Holy Week)

 

Thought for the Day - 07/04/2020

‘It seems that God’s love does not protect me from anything, but somehow enables me, strengthens and supports me in the midst of the dying I’m enduring....It somehow manages to touch with courage, patience, even tenderness those hurting places, cauterising everything that is not love. Until only love is left.’    (Daniel O’ Leary)

‘It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help.’ 

Psalm 70 (from Mass of Tuesday of Holy Week 2020)

 

A Message from Pope Francis

“Tonight before falling asleep think about when we will return to the street. When we hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party. Let's think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other. We think about when it will be all a memory but normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift. We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us. Every second will be precious. Swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter. We will go back to laughing together. Strength and courage.”

 

Prayer for a Pandemic by Cameron Bellm

May we who are merely inconvenienced

Remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors

Remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home

Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close

Remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips

Remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market

Remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home

Remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country,

let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,

Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.

 

And People Stayed Home

And people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and stopped
and listened deeper
someone meditated
someone prayed
someone danced
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.

(Kathleen O'Meara's poem, 'And People Stayed Home,' written in 1869, after the famine)

 

From Psalm 42
 
‘With cries that pierce me to the heart,
my enemies revile me,
saying to me all day long:
‘’Where is your God?’’

Why are you cast down, my soul,
why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise him still,
my saviour and my God.’
 

‘Suffering itself is a fact; how I see it is a choice.
I can change my destiny and how I prepare for it by changing my attitude to it.‘
(Daniel O’ Leary)

 

 

 

 

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