Tired of all the bad news

While we can't deny the difficulites for so many people at home and overseas, it's important to take account of the positives, and to spread the Good News. I don't know who said this but; "No-one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side." Blessings..

Saturday, 7 December 2013

John the Baptist

I remember being at World Youth Day on Cologne, Germany, during the Summer of 2005. We Capuchins were involved with 'Cafe Cappuccino' a venture where the friars, all in habits, ran a downtown cafe for the week and served, coffee, tea, and soft drinks as well as biscuits and cake. It was a pastoral opportunity for people to encounter the friars in a novel way.

A short walk up the street took us to the square in front of the stunning Cathedral in Cologne. Thousands of young pilgrims gathered there all day and into the night, praying, singing, telling stories, exchanging e-mails and adding each other on Facebook. Across the square were two building-size banners; one saying 'Thank you John Paul II.' who had died earlier that year. The other was 'Welcome Benedict XVI.'

Then I heard a loud cry. I looked around but saw no one for a moment only throngs of people. I looked up a lamp - post. (a large out door light) and there on it was a crazy-looking man with a megaphone swinging on it shouting something in German. He was dressed in animal skins and wore long hair and a beard. As I looked and listened, it struck me that it must be street-theater.   As the scene went on, I said, this guy reminds me of John the Baptist. And as I stood there with hundreds of others near the banks of the Rhine, I imagined that this must have been what it was like on the banks of the Jordan river.

This weekend at our Masses we encounter John the Baptist. Here is a man full of the Holy Spirit, and we will see this as we draw closer to the liturgies around Christmas time. Even from his mother's womb he praises God in the presence of Jesus Christ. By his words and actions he calls on all of us to prepare the way of the Lord. His preaching is extremely high voltage and it filled people with enthusiasm, and as a result of this many went to him for baptism. Was he the one who was to come?  But he was not the light, only one who speaks for the light. "Someone is coming after me...." John the Baptist, through the power of the Holy Spirit knew the signs of the times and was ready.

I've said this before, but it is interesting in our northern hemisphere that the feast of John the Baptist falls around mid-summer and the light slowly begins to fade. "I must decrease..." And of course, Christmas falls on December 25th; mid-winter. "He must increase..." John the Baptist calls all of us to make the paths straight for the Lord when he comes so that all of humankind will see the saving power of God. The cry of the Baptist rings out in our time as we approach Christmas. We need to prepare the way of the Lord because God is coming to us - to all of us.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christ the King

The message of Jesus Christ turns the message of our world upside-down.  Jesus teaches that it is better to give our extra coat to the one who has none.  Jesus’ message of the lowest place is a counter-witness in a world which glorifies power and control.  Jesus calls for us to turn the other cheek which challenges violence and warfare of which we see so much of today. Jesus encourages us to see the beauty of the person on the inside when our world would prefer to highlight outward beauty and strength. Was it Archbishop Fulton Sheen who once said “Virtue preserves youthfulness better than all the pomades on Elizabeth Arden?”

The disciples found it hard to understand why Jesus kept preaching that the Christ would have to suffer grievously and die. The established Church and its leaders at the time were horrified that Jesus would call God, the One whose name couldn’t be mentioned, Abba – Father, therefore equating himself to God. The Romans, who didn’t believe in God, were the only ones to actually call him ‘King’ – albeit in mockery.

And now we see Jesus dying in agony on the cross and while they shouted at him to come down as a price for their belief, he stayed up there because he loves the Father, and loves us all. And one of the most consoling scenes in the Gospel takes place between one of the criminals and Jesus. We can only imagine what he must have done to merit Roman Crucifixion. As children in school I remember we called him ‘The good thief. ’Thief he was not, Romans didn’t crucify people for stealing bread. Romans used crucifixion as a horrifying, agonising act of public disgrace.  The criminal who was crucified was to be seen as a non-person. He defends Jesus who is being mocked by all and now by one of his ‘fellow criminals.’  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” While Jesus is dying to save the whole world, he is paying attention to this poor man’s confession. He doesn’t act like judge and jury as some of us remember confessions in the past. He asks no questions. He promises “This day, you will be with me in paradise.” He doesn’t just forgive him, he canonises him.

At the closing of the Year of Faith, we give thanks to God for the faith, passed on to us by our parents, our grandparents, teachers, priests and religious, those who support and at times challenge us along the way. We pray for the Holy Father, Pope Francis and the bishops as we go forward and we reaffirm as best we can, with the help of Mary our Mother, our belief in her Son, Jesus Christ, the Universal King. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Doing my bit for the Gathering - Final set

Trawler preparing for a night departure on the new pier...

The boat slip

Sherkin Island from the Beacon

The famous Beacon at Baltimore

Sunset over Sherkin Island
With the setting sun, a British Airways 777, bound for Heathrow over the West Cork coastline from the United States.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Let us pray...

Every time I read this gospel, I turn on RTE News or Sky News and see evidence of the prophesy of Jesus to all who listen to him in today’s gospel. When we turn the pages of the newspaper or click the mouse for the online news across the world, it seems that the words of Jesus Christ spoken two thousand years ago could apply as much today as then.

 “Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there: there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven…”
You could be forgiven for just wanting to go back to bed! (Especially when I look out the window as I write I see the wind blowing the summer leaves from the trees on Church St and the rain on the dark glass) This gospel paints a pretty depressing picture already and we’re only just into winter…

Jesus Christ reminds us that despite the bad weather forecast or the bad news coming through the media that he is always with us. He is within us to fortify us and help us to speak when we don’t know how to or feel the weakness of sin. Look a little deeper and the sun will shine again and he will calm the storms outside and in. He gives generous people all over the world the words and eloquence to halt wars and for diplomacy to prevail. He inspires so many people, many of them young people, to go to developing countries with the NGO’s to help make a difference. He shows the way to our defence forces who are a shining light in the whole are of peace-keeping. At home, locally and nationally, we see such good will to help people all year (but at this time of year especially) in the many charitable organisations.

Jesus is telling his disciples that while the road ahead will be tough, together, good will triumph over evil and to all of us today; he calls us to unity and says ‘Do not be afraid.’

(This evening, the Filipino Community in Dublin gather with the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin to celebrate Mass in St. Mary's Pro Cathedral to pray in solidarity for all who have suffered as a result of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. We pray for them and their families and fellow Filipinos through the intercession of Our Lady of Penafrancia)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The First Friday visits in the Parish

Working in a city centre parish, one of the nicer things I get to do is to make what we call the ‘First Friday’ visits. Here we visit elderly and house-bound parishioners to bring them the sacraments and to pray together with them. These people have lived in the parish all their lives and they have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and history which they love to share. Listening to them sometimes is like going back in time to a different Dublin and a different church. They have recollections of the joys and sorrows, the hardships and the laughter of their childhood and when they were rearing their families.

Calling to see them, all of them in their late 80’s or 90’s, they have great inner strength and great faith. They are not theologians in the formal sense, but they have a relationship with God that has stood the test of time. This is the faith that they first heard of at the fire-side and in the cradle. And they themselves often tell me of their mothers and grandmothers who taught them how to say their prayers.
I appreciate how they easily merge their relationship with God with their own lived lives. It’s as if their relationship with Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Lady, and the saints, seamlessly cross over into their day-to-day lives with their children who are now often grandparents themselves. And when the kids call to see nanny or granddad, often they are the great-grandchildren. The Ireland of the kitchen table has been portrayed in times gone by with the picture of the Sacred Heart, Pope John XXIII, and President John F. Kennedy on the walls. This may be a quaint image that can raise all sorts of lively opinions about where we want to be as a nation into the future. Sophisticated society may say that this is not the real Ireland anymore. When I call to see these people who have given the best years of their lives to the growth of our nation, one of the main ingredients of their endeavours was the old faith. And one still sees a picture of the Sacred Heart or a statue of their favourite saint over the fire-place

On the first Friday of each month, they are waiting for me to call. RTE’s Sean O’Rourke or News talk’s Pat Kenny might be on the radio or Jeremy Kyle might be on the television. We take a moment and turn the sound down. One woman holds her late husband’s rosary beads in her hand, her link to the relationship they had which spanned almost 60 years. Another elderly man prays with me as we look across at happy family photographs on the mantelpiece that tell many stories of times gone by. One couple in their eighties I call to see have some children’s toys around the living room waiting for the next high-energy visit to nana and granddad.

The reality of age and ill health is never far away and despite some of these people being dependent on medication, and while oftentimes a care-giver is present when I call, there is still a smile of their faces. “Father, there’s worse off than me.” They would say. Whenever I hear of another bad news story locally, or further afield, I think of the many people who are painfully able to look beyond their own troubles and think of another’s. This is true Christianity and true humanity and I will never fail to be evangelised by these people of simple, yet sterling faith.


Capuchin Franciscan Vocations Ireland: Following St Francis as a Capuchin Friar...renewin...

Capuchin Franciscan Vocations Ireland: Following St Francis as a Capuchin Friar...renewin...: Yesterday evening I renewed my vows. It has been three years since I made my first profession at the end of Novitiate. To be honest,...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Relics of St. Anthony of Padua come to the Capuchin Friary, Church St, Dublin.

Gathering to pray before the Relics
Venerating the Relics
Huge crowds queue all along central Dublin's Church St to venerate the Relics of St. Anthony of Padua, the Patron Saint of Lost Things, and miracle worker.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Giovanni Paolo II - Jesus Christ You are my life

October 22nd 2013. Feast of Blessed Pope John Paul II. It's the last time we will celebrate his feast as Blessed. Next Year he will be canonized 'Saint' John Paul II on April 27th along with Blessed Pope John XXIII. Here we have two magnificent saints of our time who, in their ministry and by their own lives, called us out of fear and to launch out into the deep. They also showed us how it is possible to be saints too. The saint is just the sinner who never stopped trying. Do not be afraid!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

St. Matthew the Tax Collector

Today is the Feast of St. Matthew. He was once Levi, the Tax Collector who Jesus saw collecting his taxes at the customs house. Zefferelli brilliantly portrayed the dynamic between Peter and Matthew in his film Jesus of Nazareth. Peter held Matthew in contempt for taking his hard-earned money and giving it to the Roman coffers. Things haven't changed that much between then and now because taxes have still to be paid in order for the machinery of the state to keep moving. And certainly people feel it in their pockets more and more when the exchequer seems to ask people to pay more.

All of us dislike when the official envelope comes through the mail box asking for taxes to be paid or when we see it deducted from the pay cheque. Here in Ireland there is a dislike for the 'clamper vans' and parking attendants who fine cars for being illegally parked or parked over the allotted time. I once parked in south county Dublin near the sea-side to go in to buy an ice cream. I pulled the car up onto the pathway and off the road so as not to cause an obstruction. There were about 15 or 20 cars all parked in the same way. I came back to the car and there was a parking fine on the windscreen. The parking fine attendants were making their way along the row of cars fining all of us. Now, I was parked illegally, I hold my hands up, no arguments there. But that ice cream cost me €80.00. In fairness these people are only doing their jobs and they have to pay taxes too.

With the contempt for the tax collector in the gospels, the one who got his more than his fair share of criticism had to have been Zacchaeus. He was described dishonest in his dealings and even more he was 'low sized' so that he had to climb the sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus as he passed by. Yet, Jesus comes into his life and calls him to a better way. We can see the results of an encounter with Jesus. Matthew too is called to be a disciple and goes on to write a beautiful gospel.

Today, we are called by Jesus as powerfully as he called Matthew. Even though Matthew was seen as a sinner and a tax collector he went on to bring the good news of Jesus to the world. To all who might ask the question 'Why would Jesus bother with the likes of me?' Look at the gospels read the accounts of Matthew or Zacchaeus. There are people who hardly ever pick up the bible or the gospels and read the words of life within, but we are called to be the bible others will read. We are called to reflect Jesus Christ by our example.

Padre Pio's Mitten today

Padre Pio is a saint for our time. He was been recorded on tape, filmed, and photographed by many people. I’ve known and spoken to people who have met him, talked to him, and been to confession to him. I lived with a friar who, while a theology student in Rome, spent the summer months during World War II sitting beside him at table in the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo. He has enormous appeal and while he was alive, over the years, people flocked in their droves to meet him, to be blessed by him, and to listen to what he had to say.

Part of his mystique was the supernatural dimension to his everyday life and these examples are well known. Among them was his ability to be in more than one place at once, his power to read souls, his gift of healing, and of course the stigmata.
The stigmata, the visible wounds of Christ crucified on his body caused him great physical pain and more than that, great emotional pain. It meant that he was an object of curiosity, and ridicule by some. He prayed for the physical marks to leave him but for the pain to remain. Each day friars used to bind the wounds with fresh bandages and cover them with a mitten, a fingerless brown or black glove which he removed for Mass.  The visible wounds appeared on his body in 1918 and for 50 years they were a daily source of pain and embarrassment for him. Medical experts were at a loss as to why the wounds continued to bleed over the years. They began to disappear in the months prior to his death in September 1968.

Today, people find great consolation in the mitten of Padre Pio. We get a lot of calls enquiring about the mitten or relics of Padre Pio and asking for them to be brought to hospitals or to those sick and in need. While the friars do their best despite their other work to help those who ask for the mitten, we need point out there are important protocols for visiting a patient in hospital. I say this from some years’ experience as a hospital chaplain.
Sometimes the only power the sick person has is the desire to be left alone. I remember a patient in hospital say to me; “Nice to see you visit me, but even nicer to see you go.” They were simply too ill for visitors.  Does the patient or their next-of-kin know or have they agreed to be blessed by a relic? Is the ward manager or nurse-in-charge aware that someone from outside is calling to see the patient? Is the visit within the visiting hours of the hospital? Are there other restrictions in the hospital which should prevent visitors like MRSA or norovirus etc.? It may be that the patient is in an isolation ward or restricted for visiting.

The main pastoral outreach in hospitals today is the Chaplains. These are appointed by the diocesan bishop/ church authority to the hospital authority, are trained and police vetted, and thus lawfully provide for the spiritual and the sacramental need of the patient.  Be aware that there will be further protocols in the care of sick children.  It is necessary and courteous for the hospital chaplain on call, day or night, to be asked if it’s okay for an outsider to come on to administer pastoral care to a patient, especially with relics of saints. 
There is no doubt that the power of prayer can add to the healing and recovery of patients at home or in hospital. Though there are many stories of help through the intercession of saints by praying with their relics, it is the Lord alone who heals. God heals the sick through the great skills of the medical doctors, surgeons, nursing, and other care staff.

When he was alive, St. Padre Pio spearheaded the building of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of Suffering) in San Giovanni Rotondo. Today, it is one of the finest hospitals in South Eastern Italy. He knew the hardships of the sick and also what their families go through. Padre Pio would say that while he will always pray for the sick, he would offer every support to the great work of those whose skills are put at the service of patients.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Television Mass with the 'Teen SpiriT' Dublin Diocesan Choir. RTE Studios. Sunday, September 1st 2013. Return to School/College for new Semester.

In this gospel Jesus goes to the house of a leading Pharisee for a meal. Pharisees were the holy men of the day. People were intrigued by Jesus and wanted to be around him. They often invited him to their homes and good, or bad, Jesus wanted to meet people no matter who they were. He was known far and wide as someone who performed powerful deeds; who healed the sick, who gave back sight to the blind, who raised the dead, and who told people their sins were forgiven. When he spoke the word of God, they were living words; they set people on fire with enthusiasm.

There were those who didn’t like him and his style because he challenged the old order. He didn’t rubbish it or say it was to be disrespected. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he breathed new life into the law. He turned it from a law of fear into a law of love. The great Emmy award winning TV presenter, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that Jesus makes the word of God become alive so that if you cut the pages of the bible, blood will flow, not ink.
Jesus came to serve and not to be served. He taught his disciples, his followers that their ministry was to be a ministry of service. He commanded them – and by extension all of us, that we love one another. This love was to be a love that puts the other person first. It is a selfless love. It is like the love of a mother for her child, a love of a dad for his daughter or son. This would be the key to real happiness and if we tried to live by this commandment of Christ it would be a recipe for real contentment.

Jesus saw the pomp and the arrogance among some of the church leaders of the time. In the gospel we are told of the jostling for the best seats at the table, for the places of honour. However, for a follower of Christ, it is necessary to take the lowest place.  The Christian message of the lowest place is a counter-witness in a world which glorifies power and control. The Christian idea of moderation tries to talk sense to the worldly popularity of excess and ‘more’ The Christian principle of non-violence (which St. Francis of Assisi preaches in our time) challenges violence and warfare of which we see so much today.

While the glossy magazines and reality T.V. attempt to make us jealous of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, scratch a little below the surface and you will find that sometimes all is not well in the lives of the so called beautiful people. The happiest people are often the people who have little and share it with others with a heart and a half. Of course, there are those who are financially rich and also give more than their fair share because they believe in the principles of justice. And the more they give, the happier they become.
At our Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless in Church St. Brother Kevin helps nearly 600 people from Monday to Saturday who come for breakfast and dinner. On Wednesdays, over 2000 food hampers are given to those who call. There is real need today more than ever because many people are struggling. But Kevin would readily admit that the real good news story of the Day Centre which he helped to set up in 1969 is of ordinary people who send in donations, who run charitable initiatives, and who volunteer to help make a difference. And many of the volunteers are young people who with their great sense of justice and fair play, want to help too.
These days our young people are returning to schools and colleges. We pray for you all, especially those going into exam classes. We also acknowledge those who have left school and are at a crossroads perhaps considering travelling overseas to find work. We pray for you too. In the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II; “Do not be afraid.”

We had a wonderful experience recently in Church St with the ‘Rio in Dublin’ where 500 young people came to a gathering of prayer and song and where 200 stayed overnight to keep the Lord company in an all-night vigil. This was in union with some young people who travelled from Ireland to be with our Holy Father, Pope Francis for World Youth Day where two million young people met with him. Jesus Christ counts on all young people to hear his word and to fan that flame, the flame of faith passed on to us by our parents, and grandparents – real saints. In this way young people can be at the vanguard of this ministry of service to the church. Pope Francis asked the young people at Rio to be a ‘Radical force for good.’ He also Tweets regularly to his millions of followers in eight languages.

Jesus calls on all of his followers to roll up their sleeves. In St. Michan’s Parish, Halston Street where I’m based, we will have a Mass of remembrance tomorrow evening at 7.30 p.m. to commemorate the centenary of the collapse of two tenement buildings in which seven people lost their lives on September 2nd 1913. Some of their descendants still live in the area and we pay tribute to so many people who lent a hand in an heroic rescue effort. We come from a generous and selfless people who have handed on a rich legacy and the gift of faith in Jesus Christ who encouraged his disciples and all of us to never be afraid to serve. And when we do this we will be truly happy.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

'Ozone Friendly' surroundings at Ards Friary, Co. Donegal

Our Capuchin Friary at Ards, Creeslough, Co. Donegal is situated on the shores of Sheephaven Bay. Below are some scenes from around the friary. See www.ardsfriary.ie for more...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Fr. Bonaventure Murphy ofm.cap.

The information about this photo is supplied by Dr. Brian Kirby, Archivist, Capuchin Archives, Capuchin Friary, Church Street, Dublin 7. Ireland. I have blogged this partly in response to a question and replies on Twitter. (impossible to put this in in 140 characters! ) If you join the Capuchin Archives, Ireland on Facebook, you can find out much more about the historical collection at our Provincial Archives. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Easter rising of 1916 for example, there will be further details of material of historical significance published.

Photographic print of Michael Collins attending a wedding party 

Nov. 1920

20.5 cm x 15 cm (pasted onto card)
Print by Keogh Bros., 124 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

Photographic print of an unidentified family group (possibly a wedding party). Michael Collins is the second person to the left in the back row. Fr. Bonaventure Murphy OFM Cap. is seated at the left of the second row. Collins was Minister for Finance and TD for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Civil War. Fr. Bonaventure, born in Carrignarvar, County Cork, joined the Capuchin Order in 1899.

 Fr. Bonaventure died in the Capuchin Friary in Kilkenny on 26 April 1968.

A reader on Facebook subsequently supplied additional information in relation to the photograph:

The photograph was taken at 16 Airfield Road Dublin, on Monday, 22 Nov. 1920, a day after the Bloody Sunday incident. It was the wedding of Lil Clancy and Michael O’Brien. To the right of Collins is Gearoid O’Sullivan.

The image was posted on the Capuchin Archives, Ireland Facebook page on 2 March 2012.






Monday, 12 August 2013

The Friars on the move...

Today, August 12th 2013 is change over day in the Irish Capuchin province. We had our Provincial Chapter during the first week of July where we elected a new Provincial Minister, and four Counsellors (I am one of them) We went away during mid-July to pray, and to reflect on what the chapter was asking us to do. A big part of the meeting is spent with one eye on the recommendations of the chapter, and forming communities that will best help the vision to become the reality. As the picture on the jigsaw begins to emerge, the Provincial makes phone calls to ask friars to move to new places and to begin new ministries. This is not easy for both parties. We are a small enough Province of friars and we all know each other well. It is hard to ask someone to step out of their comfort zone and begin something new and it is also difficult to hear the call come in and prepare to take a leap of faith.

So, today is the day that 50 per cent of the friars are moving to new friaries and appointments. Behind the scenes, a lot of work has been done in preparation for today. For example, friars who are taking up work in a new place will have secured documentation from diocesan bishops, and the relevant organisations (parishes, chaplaincies etc.) Cars and vans are arriving and leaving with belongings. Gone are the days of “Take nothing for your journey, neither staff nor haversack…” Now it's just the laptop, cell phone, and books… what would St. Francis of Assisi say about this 'twenty-first century seraphic logistics'?

Over the years, I’ve seen friars pack their bags and move on. It’s a humbling experience to witness men say yes to whatever the Lord is asking of them. I am mindful on one friar, Fr. Bruno, now gone to God.  A former missionary, he moved from Zambia, where he gave the best years of his life, back to Ireland. He didn’t have great health in the end but he always said ‘yes’ to God.  I was with him when he died and as he waited for death he was quite honest in saying he looked forward to meeting the Lord. He was even excited about it and he smiled all the way into heaven.

By supper time this evening, friars will be settling into their new surrounds. For others, we have been asked to remain for another term. It’s what we professed when we took our vows. No matter what four walls are around us, we try to be faithful to living out the Gospel call of Jesus Christ after the manner of St. Francis.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Go make disciples of all nations – Rio in Dublin 28th of July 2013

This is the text of the homily I gave today at the Mass for the pilgrims at 'Rio in Dublin' It was a two day gathering of music, song, and prayer with young people from Ireland, and other countries including the Brazilian Catholic Community in Ireland. This was to unite with the Irish pilgrims who travelled to Rio de Janeiro to meet with Pope Francis for World Youth Day 2013.
The Call to discipleship is not just for the 12 apostles but for all of us by virtue of our baptism. We have been given a great mission. The moment we walk out the door – into work, or school, or college, or wherever, we are missionaries. The moment we open the doors of our hearts, we are on a mission for Jesus Christ.

We open the door of our hearts to everyone else on planet earth by the way we live our lives…by example. St. Francis of Assisi says “Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words.”
Go. The mission continues – passed on to us by good and generous people; our parents; our grandparents freely received, freely given. The challenge is to pass on the flame of faith in our turn in our time.

And this is the key to happiness, to be about our Father’s business. Fuelled by prayer and strengthened by the Word of God, and by the Eucharist, the core and heart of the Church. We are guided in this by the Holy Father and the Bishops on this side – and by our Blessed Mother, Mary and the Saints on the other side as we go out. And when we do this, when we take up the mission of Jesus Christ we get a spring in our step and a song in our heart.

Look at the Holy Father, Pope Francis; a joyful servant of Jesus Christ. Look at Pope Emeritus Benedict, he is serene and holy supporting the church by his prayers and his study. Look at Blessed Pope John Paul II the great. He is blessing us all from the ‘window of the house of the Father.’ These popes are a trinity of missionary zeal, a power house of hope and joy for our time.

Yes! The disciple is guaranteed joy and contentment on the inside. Sure, we are not all ‘happy-clappy’ people. Real Christians know that suffering is part and parcel of our lives. And this suffering is not a waste of time. God is not blind to anyone’s suffering. Jesus Christ saved the world in agony in Gethsemane and he hung upon the cross on Calvary. And as Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, the cross is the Theatre of Redemption. I worked for a few years in Beaumont Hospital as Chaplain. Some of the widest smiles I ever laid eyes on were from people in hospital beds. They were suffering but they were selfless. And from their hospital beds, they did powerful missionary work.
St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina suffered for 50 years with the stigmata – the bleeding wounds of Jesus Christ’s passion. It pained him every hour of every day of those 50 years. Not because he couldn’t cope with the bleeding or the sores. No – it was a crucifixion to him because he was the object of curiosity.

Pope John Paul II suffered great pain in his life and in his pontificate. He was shot within an inch of his life in May 1981 and one of the first things he said in his recovery in hospital was that he prays for his attacker; ‘the brother who shot me whom I have sincerely pardoned.’ John Paul II was a giant of prayer, preaching, and evangelisation. He witnessed to the gospel of life for all of his life – even when he could no longer walk, or speak.
In all our families - in every community in which we live, there are people who we would call saints. And Jesus Christ says to his disciples, Go, make disciples of all nations. He is also saying, as interpreted by Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis; Go, become saints. Sanctity is not for fourteenth century nuns or bishops. Sanctity is for all. Who knows? Someone in this church could one day be canonised saint by the Church. Hopefully all of us will. How would you feel if in years to come someone lights a candle under a statue of you? And the great saints of the church would have laughed at the thought of them being venerated too. But John Paul II is not laughing. Neither is Pope Francis. Not if you see the amount of saints they’ve canonised. It’s all about the universal call to holiness.

Jesus Christ says; “And I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” This is the promise that the Church will never die. No matter what politician or newspaper or television company says. We have a supernatural promise that they don’t see. So, connect with Jesus Christ. Talk to him. Work for him. Tell all the people about him. By the way you live your lives.
Do not ever be afraid.



Thursday, 11 July 2013

Friday, 14 June 2013

Jesus of Nazareth - Forgiveness...


The Gospel of the 11th Sunday of the Year. Luke 7:36 - 8:3

This is the account of the woman who came in to the house of Simon the Pharisee and began to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears and dry them with her hair. As Jesus illustrates, by her actions she shows great love. This love comes from deep down where she knows Jesus is more than willing to forgive her sins. "For this reason I tell you her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her or she would not have shown such great love."

Doing my bit for the Gathering 2013... Part 3

Some more photos I've taken in the last few years of scenery from around Ireland...

A Frosty December morning in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow...


Portmarnock Beach, North Dublin.

A traffic jam in Carlow town as the River Barrow floods

Another angle on the river Barrow bursting its banks

An Air France/City Jet Avro on take off Roll at Dublin's Easterly facing Runway

A Summer Sunset Boeing 737 on Short Finals into Dublin's Easterly Facing Runway.

Some of the Ryan Clan gathering as they head away from Dublin Airport

Sunset at Baltimore, Co. Cork.

"If I were a Blackbird....."

A phone pic of Portmarnock Beach and a rainstorm with Lambay Island in the distance

U2's 'Claw Stage' on the last night of their Dublin gig for their 360 degree tour at Croke Park.

A splash at the 'Forty Foot' in Sandycove, Co. Dublin.

On one of my flying lessons... banking right abeam the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Overhead Rochestown, Cork with the Capuchin Friary and St. Francis College...

Muckross Park, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

The 'Navigator of the Seas' visits Cobh, Co. Cork.

Defunct Railway, Co. Cavan.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland

A time to uphold the right to life: Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland

A time to uphold the right to life: Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland
 On the second day of the June General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth, the following statement has been issued:

A time to reflect
On Saturday last, tens of thousands of women, men and children gathered in Dublin to express their support for the equal right to life of mothers and their unborn children.
We are at a defining moment for our country.
The Gospel of life is at the heart of the message of Jesus.  He came that we may have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10).  The Gospel challenges us to work for a world in which the dignity and beauty of every human life are respected.

A time to uphold the right to life
The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights; it is the foundation of all other rights.  No individual has the right to destroy life and no State has the right to undermine the right to life.
Yet the Irish Government is proposing abortion legislation that will fundamentally change the culture of medical practice in Ireland.  For the first time legislation will be enacted permitting the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child. This represents a radical change. Every citizen, not just people of faith, should be deeply concerned.
We value the skill and efforts of our doctors, nurses and other care professionals who have helped to earn Ireland’s place as one of the safest countries in the world for mothers and their babies during pregnancy.
Catholic Church teaching is clear: where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort is made to save both the mother and her baby.
This is different from abortion, which is the direct and intentional taking of the innocent life of the unborn.  No matter what legislation is passed in any country, abortion is, and always will be, gravely wrong.

A time for clarity and truth
The Government is under no obligation to legislate for the X case.  People are being misled. We challenge repeated statements that this legislation is about saving lives and involves no change to the law or practice on abortion.  Legalising the direct and intentional destruction of the life of an unborn baby can never be described as ‘life-saving’ or ‘pro-life’.
Contrary to clear psychiatric evidence, this legislation proposes abortion as an appropriate response to women with suicidal feelings during pregnancy.  It is even possible to envisage as a result of this legislation the deliberate destruction of a child, who could otherwise be saved, right up to and including the moment of birth.
Furthermore, we challenge assurances that the proposed legislation will provide limited access to abortion.  As published to date, the legislation will allow for a very wide margin of subjective professional assessment by which the deliberate destruction of an unborn baby can be legally justified. As we have learned from other countries, such legislation opens the door to ever wider availability of abortion.
We remain convinced that enhanced medical guidelines, which do not envisage the direct and intentional killing of the unborn, could provide the necessary clarity as well as a morally, legally and medically acceptable way forward.  While good health can normally be restored, life, once taken, can never, never be restored.

A time for freedom of conscience
Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right.  A State that truly cherishes freedom will respect the conscience of its citizens, including its public representatives, on such an important human value as the right to life.
It is ethically unacceptable to expect doctors, nurses and others who have conscientious objections to nominate others to take their place.  Neither should any institution with a pro-life ethos be forced to provide abortion services.

A time to decide: a time to act; a time to pray
We call on citizens to exercise their right to make their views known respectfully to our public representatives and to leave them in no doubt about where they stand on this issue.
We ask our public representatives to uphold the equal and inviolable right to life of all human beings, even if this means standing above other pressures and party loyalties.
We also invite our priests and people to continue to pray the Choose Life prayer at Mass and in the home that the dignity and value of all human life will continue to be upheld in this country.
Some mothers today are facing difficult or crisis pregnancies. Other people who have had, or who have assisted with abortions, may be re-living what happened in the past.  They deserve to receive all the love, support and professional care that they need.
As Bishops we will join this weekend in prayerful solidarity with millions of Catholics all over the world in the Year of Faith celebration of Blessed John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
Every human life is precious, every human life is beautiful, every human life is sacred. Choose life!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sight is blind before God's glory...

Modern TV shows like 'Hell's Kitchen' and 'Kitchen Nightmares' as well as cookery programmes over the years tell us that we like our food. Restaurant guides and critics give us blow-by -blow accounts of the best places to eat and where to get good value. Celebrity chefs who endorse food products will guarantee food sales.

Reading the gospel of St. Luke, we see him setting scenes where Jesus is sharing table with people. Indeed one could say that in Luke's Gospel, people are either going to table, at the table, or leaving the table. Jesus likes to meet people at table to share stories, life, food and drink. It is real table fellowship. Jesus likes to meet all sorts of people and share their hospitality, even the sinners.

In the Gospel of the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) we see Jesus feeding the people with his word and then challenging his disciples to take up the baton. (Luke 9:11-17)  "Give them something to eat yourselves." They don't see the bigger picture, all they see is the boy with five loaves and two fish. They need Jesus to provide the impetus for action. He takes the bread, and shares it among them, and the fish. Little by little, everyone has plenty of food to share. Jesus shares himself in abundance.

At the last supper, Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples, "This is my Body, given up for you." and then with the wine he says; "This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, poured out for many, do this in memory of me." (Luke 22:19) When we gather together at Mass, Jesus is present - really present in his body and blood. At Mass, Jesus feeds us with his living word, which strengthens us for our lives, and with his body and blood, which sanctifies us.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Doing my bit for The Gathering 2013... Part 2

I'm posting a few more photographs I've taken from around Ireland over the last few years. They are scenes from summer and winter, urban and rural. We do get a lot of rain, and more than our fair share recently, but, 'rain, hail, or shine,' we have a lovely country and that is the good news. Ceád fáilte rómhaibh go leir...
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Sunrise over the Irish Sea from Howth Head.

The Bailey Lighthouse in Howth

Lough Hyne, Baltimore, West Cork

Clonmacnoise Monsatic site, on the River Shannon

Long Island, near Schull, West Cork

The Deer on the 'Fifteen Acres' in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Suburban Dublin

An Aer Lingus Airbus A330 Short Finals into Runway 16, Dublin Airport.

A Basking Shark visits Baltimore Bay, West Cork

The Powerscourt Waterfall, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Near Baltimore, Co. Cork

The Powerscourt Gardens, Co. Wicklow with the Great Sugarloaf in the background

Roaringwater Bay, Co. Cork


Looking out SW into the Atlantic Ocean with the Fastnet Rock in the distance. Next Stop, New York.

Think this is Sherkin Island, West Cork

The Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin on Christmas Day 2010


A wintry suburban scene looking towards the Dublin Mountains

The Pigeon House chimneys at Dublin Bay

The Velvet Strand, Portmarnock, Dublin. Sir. Charles Kingsford-Smith landed here on his round the world flight in the 1920's. The Airport in Sydney is named after him.

Portmarnock Golf Club

The ribbon of light. Sun is just about to rise out over the Irish Sea from Howth Head.

Sunrise over the Irish Sea.

Just as the sun comes up, you can see the hills at Holyhead and Anglesea in North Wales, only 60 miles from Howth....