As we stand before the Lord,” Friar Frank Jasper says, “it doesn't matter what the color of our skin is or if we're rich or poor.” All that matters is what's in our hearts. What's most important is our own unique individuality. 

 

 

 

Enjoy this week's Friar Friday video!

 

https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/who-are-we-before-god?utm_campaign=Friar%20Friday%20Videos&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=65216363&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_cQAMnvgcqB3yg94saEZFsGyl1vcvmnOBgpo8oDYbF0AIq33Nr8gyAqKI9zWUnZvH5E9ZQu7DFxKqM59dAglvYaGkUsw&_hsmi=65216363

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Clinton ignores the loss of human beings from the labour force because of Roe v. Wade.

 

 

 

Clinton’s economic assertions ignore the fact that the work force contributions of 60 million aborted children have been entirely snuffed out since 1973. The lack of necessary contributions by the younger generations is one of the reasons Social Security is in dire straits today. Of course, members of a generation cannot contribute if they are dead.

 

https://www.liveaction.org/news/chelsea-clinton-roe-womens-history/

 

 

 

 

 

Augusta Ada King-Noel, the Countess of Lovelace, was no less exotic than her father, Lord Byron, but the principal influence on her talents was her tutor, the astronomer Mary Somerville, for whom the college in Oxford is named. Ada was only 36 at her death in 1852, but packed a lot into those years, and, having invented the first algorithm for a mechanical computer called the Analytical Engine, she has claim to being the first computer programmer.

 

https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/woman-science-maria-gaetana-agnesi

 

SISTERS July 2018

We are delighted to share with you extracts from the 18th interview in the "Telling Our Story" series, in which Uainín Clarke SSL conducted an interview with the Juilly Community - Elizabeth Beirne SSL, Anne Killeen SSL, Deirdre O’Hanlon SSL, Clare Ryan SSL - on December 1, 2016, before the transfer of the trusteeship

 

http://sistersofstlouis.newsweaver.com/Newsletter/1sni176mlwndxav81nwt7w?email=true&a=1&p=53699590&t=19890255

 

 

 

It’s an honour!

 

by Dorothy Abuah SSL

 

 It is often said that a nation that does not honour its citizens is not worth dying for. The city of Claremont in California, USA, is exemplary in honouring its citizens for their achievements and contributions to society, in its annual parade to mark American Independence Day on July 4.  This year marks the Diamond Jubilee of this long-standing tradition, and the theme for the celebration was “Claremont Cheers to 70 Years.”

 

http://sistersofstlouis.newsweaver.com/Newsletter/12wdvnhu7w6dxav81nwt7w?a=1&p=53699602&t=19890245

 

August 2018;

The three-day Pastoral Congress will be held from 22-24 August in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), Dublin. It will offer a daily programme of workshops.

 

WORLD meeting of families Dunlin: We are delighted to announce that, on Monday 25 June, tickets for the Closing Mass of WMOF2018 and the Papal visit to Knock Shrine will be available for booking on the WMOF2018 website. Tickets are free but you will need a ticket to gain entry. Every adult and every child attending will need a ticket. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. All tickets will be for standing sections. Tickets for Phoenix Park will be sent by email in a "print at home" format by 31 July. Tickets for Knock will be posted before the 10th August.

 

 

 

The Closing Mass of WMOF2018 will take place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, one of the largest public city parks in Europe. The Mass will take place at 3:00 pm at the Papal Cross,

 

Pope Francis will visit Knock Shrine on the morning of Sunday 26 August to pray for families and WMOF2018. He will arrive at Knock Shrine at 9.45am where he will visit the Apparition Chapel and then give the Angelus address on the square in front of the Shrine. He will depart the Shrine at 10.45am.

 

A limited allocation of tickets to the Festival of Families on Saturday 25th August 2018 will be made available through each diocese

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Apr 18

 

               

 

to me

 

One Saviour, One Church

 

   One of the greatest illusions is the belief that we can save ourselves and make ourselves happy. It’s similar to the notions that “I can be anything I want to be!” Every illusion ends in disillusionment.  We can neither save our self from selfishness and sin, nor make our self permanently happy. If I’m five feet tall and want to be seven I can’t do it, unless I walk on stilts and then my movement is severely limited. If I could save myself I certainly wouldn’t suffer let alone die. Why, as supposedly intelligent creatures, do we think and behave so unintelligently? Jesus is the only person in history who conquered death through His Resurrection. Therefore, He’s the only one who can save us from sin, suffering, and death. He alone shows us the only path to joy, peace, and a happiness that lasts forever.  Peter, the head of the Apostles, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, reminds us that, “There is no salvation in anyone else, nor is there any name under Heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12) He was simply confirming what Jesus revealed when He proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (Jn 14:6) Knowing that He was the only means of entry into Heaven, Jesus commissioned and commanded His Apostles just before His Ascension: “Full authority has been given to me both in Heaven and on earth; go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them ‘in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mt 28:18-20)

 

   How does Jesus save us? Through His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. He prayed for unity in His Church’s leadership and membership. “I do not pray for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in me, and I in You; I pray that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.” (Jn 17:20-21) Jesus saves us by making us His adopted brothers and sisters in His Church where He’s present to each member in the preaching of His Word, His healing, forgiving, and grace in the Sacraments, and His intimate nourishing of our soul by giving us the gift of Himself in the Holy Mass. There we’re privileged to “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are … we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:1-2)

 

   If love is the essence of Christianity, the glue of togetherness, why are there divisions among those who call themselves Christian? How can we love God if we don’t love one another? We can’t. Jesus identified Himself as the “Good Shepherd …I know my sheep, and mine know me in the same way that the Father knows me and I know the Father. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must lead them too, and they shall hear my voice. There shall be one flock then, one shepherd.” (Jn 10:16) Jesus shows clearly that there can only be “one fold,” one universal Church, led by “one shepherd,” the Vicar of Christ, Peter and his successors. This is Jesus’ visible community to which those outside it are invited to join. Jesus’ Church, under the leadership of the Apostles successors, re-sounds His voice calling all people to be saved through entering and participating in His “one fold” as His “one flock” shepherded by Him until the end of time. Anybody who tries to build a fold and collect a flock outside of the Church founded by Jesus on Peter causes division. Division is always a sign of Satan’s activity generating confusion and dissension. As Christians we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and pray daily with the Psalmist: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (Ps 118:1)

 

   Division among Christians weakens the Church’s effectiveness as Jesus’ visible sign of His saving presence in the world. It’s an absurdity for Christians not to be united in one family. To heal division and restore unity Jesus empowered His Church to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that her members may repent of their sins, be forgiven, and reconciled to God and to one another in order to witness His mission of supernatural unconditional love. The human love with which we naturally love must be nourished with God’s supernatural love if we’re to mirror Jesus’ love, truthfully, mercifully, and justly. God’s spirit of love - the Holy Spirit - decries division since He leads everyone into the loving union enjoyed by Jesus and His Father. There’s only on Saviour and only one Church. This is God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Apr 25

 

               

 

to me

 

The Key to Effectiveness

 

   Bishop Fulton Sheen noted that the greatest insult you could heap on someone is to say he or she was useless. No one is useless. God gives everyone at the moment of conception the capacity to make a positive difference in the world. I read a story about a reporter who asked a businessman how he got to be so wealthy. He said that when he and his wife married they had only five cents between them. “I bought an apple, polished it and sold it for ten cents. Then I bought two apples for ten cents and sold them for twenty.” The reporter asked, “Then what?” The man smiled, “My father-in-law died and left us twenty million!” Good connections make all the difference. To be successful in life we must have good connections. It’s not what we know but who we know that determines what we accomplish in the world.

 

   In the late 80s Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, identified what enabled people to be successful. He demonstrated that effective people are proactive instead of being reactive; they begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek to understand before being understood, synergize, and continue improving themselves. Identifying and advocating these habits of highly effective people made him highly successful. Habits are actions that we do repeatedly until they become embedded in our consciousness so that we do them unconsciously. We need to realize that our actions flow from our intellect and will, both of which are faculties of our soul. To develop good habits we need a well-nourished soul.

 

   Our soul - our self - is created by God. Therefore we need God to nourish it so that we can think truthfully and choose what’s good, if we’re going to be effective men and women. How do we connect with God? We don’t. It’s God who connects with us. “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.” (Jn 15:16) How does God choose us? Through Jesus’ presence in His Church in the Sacrament of Baptism. There He gives us a new identity, a new nature, and a new destiny as His adopted brother or sister. In Baptism Jesus enables us to “put on the new nature created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth.” (Eph 4:24) We can’t be fruitful if our sinful nature isn’t replaced by a new loving, life-respecting nature. The highly effective person, as is evidenced in the saints, is the man or woman who thinks and acts justly, mercifully, gracefully, and truthfully. These are the habits of an effective Christian.

 

   To display that effective new nature we need to be continually connected to Jesus present in His Church. He is the source of our fruitfulness. “I am the true vine and my Father is the vine-grower … Live on in me, as I do in you… I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:4-5) We can’t be effective without Jesus since He alone shows us how to achieve our God-given potential.

 

   How does Jesus make us effective human beings?  Through His Church’s Sacraments, especially in the Holy Mass where we hear His Word, celebrate His real Presence in the Holy Eucharist and receive Him in Holy Communion. In that action of His, through the ordained priest, Jesus visibly joins Himself to us and energizes our soul so that we can go out and effectively promote life and love in a world wallowing in death, hate, and apathy. This is a real connection with Jesus, not a symbolic gesture, as He Himself revealed. “Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6:53-54) Jesus isn’t speaking symbolically but concretely. He makes the reception of Him in Holy Communion the essential and effective nourishment for our soul: “For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in Him.” (Jn 6:56) Thus Jesus guarantees a continual communion with Him since we need on-going spiritual nourishment to be effective witnesses to what is good. This is why he commanded His Apostles on Holy Thursday when He instituted the Holy Eucharist and ordained the Apostles to the priesthood to “Do this in memory of me!” (Lk 22:19)

 

   Jesus is the best connection we can ever have since He is the only one who has risen from the dead. He alone enables us to “love not in word and speech but in deed and truth …and love one another just as He commanded us.”  (1 Jn 3:18-24) He empowers us, in the words of the Psalmist, to “let the coming generations be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown.” (Ps 22:32) Only Jesus can make you and me effective persons in a fallen world. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

May 2 (13 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Two Kinds of Love – Two Kinds of Life

 

   Love and life go hand-in-hand. Life flows from love. A life without love is miserable. A person who feels unloved finds it well-nigh impossible to love. Every human being needs to love and be loved in order to function fully and joyfully. Without love we die internally. This is why everyone needs to know God loves him or her.

 

   Jesus calls us to a selfless love and here is where we balk as Christians. Just as every individual deserves to be respected as a human being, so does everyone deserve to be loved, even though their actions may be evil. Jesus commands us: “My command to you is: love your enemies, pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are children of your Heavenly Father, for His sun rises on the bad and to good, He rains on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:43-45) Loving like Jesus is impartial. “If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? … Do not pagans do as much? In a word, you must be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:46-47) As human beings born with a fallen nature we’re basically self-centred and view love from a purely selfish perspective. Yet we crave to be loved unselfishly.

 

   There are two kinds of love that generate two kinds of life, egotistical love and sacrificial love. In egotistical love we love those who love us and give us what we want. When they stop loving us or refuse to satisfy our wants we stop loving. “I’ll love you if you love me!” “If you love me, do this for me or give me what I want!” This kind of love views others as objects to be used for one’s own satisfaction. Sacrificial or self-less love, on the other hand, creates an other-centred life that focuses on opportunities to make a gift of oneself to others. Sacrificial love purifies selfish love and makes the person live a life that enriches all those whose paths he or she crosses. Real love always focuses on what’s good for the other person.

 

   Jesus epitomised selfless or sacrificial love in His passion and death and Resurrection. He acted lived His own words: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13) He freely sacrificed His life so everyone might have life. His love gave eternal life to the repentant thief beside Him as He hung upon the cross. Jesus’ love doesn’t have favourites. “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather in ever nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10: 34) Here we see the great difference between our notion of love and Jesus’ love. Our love shows partiality while Jesus’ love doesn’t. We show partiality by loving those we like and rejecting or ignoring those we don’t like. Our love is more often based on feeling than on choice. Just as feelings change so does our love. That’s not Jesus ‘way.

 

   Jesus calls for a love that’s based on obedience, not on feeling.  “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) His love for us is the standard for the love from which the Christian life flows.  We must choose to love whether or not we feel like it if we want our life to be productive. We must love unselfishly if we want to achieve our potential. Sacrificial love brings joy; it’s giving without expecting a reward. Egotistical love brings misery when unrequited.

 

   The Psalmist reminds us that, “The Lord has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.” (Ps 98: 2) Jesus brought salvation and justice to the world. Justice promotes God’s love by making us right with Him and our neighbour making us friends.  Jesus reveals, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15:14) What He commands is to love one another. If we want to be Jesus’ friends, we have no option but to love our neighbour as our self, however difficult that might be. He chose us “to go forth and bear fruit.” (Jn 15:16) Sacrificial love is always fruitful, both for the one who loves as well as the beloved.

 

   Sacrificial love is difficult for us because we tend to be selfish and ruled by our feelings. To love as Jesus commands us we must rise above our ego. That requires the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to “de-egotize” our spirit so we can focus on giving rather than on getting. There’s a huge difference between a life lived selfishly and a life energized by a spirit of generosity. It’s a life marked by engagement rather than disengagement. It’s the difference between a tree that has only roots and a trunk and one that also has branches and leaves. The first tree won’t live long. It takes in moisture and nutrients from the soil, but lacking branches and leaves that spread and catch the sun’s rays, it has no energy to turn that moisture and nutrients into growth and fruitfulness. So is the difference between the two kinds of love and the two kinds of life they generate. Love like Jesus and live joyfully. (frsos)

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

May 9 (6 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Jesus’ Ascension: He Will Return

 

   St. Luke records that Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days after His Resurrection. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles to guide and inspire them as His “witnesses to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Luke tells us, “When He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight. While they were gazing at the sky as He was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee … This Jesus who has been taken up from you into Heaven will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into Heaven.’” (Acts 1:10-11) Jesus’ Church professes her faith in His return in the Holy Mass’ Eucharistic Prayers, “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection until You come again.” Jesus’ life, passion, death, Resurrection, His fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, His claim to be God the Son, founding His Church on Peter, and His promise to be with her until the end of the world when He will return as Judge of the living and the dead, is what separates Christianity from all other religions. Jesus will judge everyone according to his or her conduct. He said Himself, “The Father Himself judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son.” (Jn 5:22)

 

   There are two judgments, a particular judgment of each of us when we die and a general judgment at the end of the world. Jesus’ ascension into Heaven brings us down to earth as we ask whether we’ll be ready when He returns. He promised, “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you may be too.” (Jn 14:3) Will we be ready to go with Him? He warns us to “Keep your eyes open, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Mt 25:13) A poem, “If Jesus Came to Your House,” calls for reflection. Here are some lines: “If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two/If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do./…But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door/With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor?/Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?/Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?/Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?/And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, nasty word?/…And I wonder if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,/Would you go right on doing the things you always do?/Would you go right on saying the things you always say?/Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?/… Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?/Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?/It might be interesting to know the things that you would do?/If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.” Face it, He’s coming! There’s no escape.

 

   How do we prepare for Jesus’ return? We begin with Baptism. He told His Apostles before His ascension, “John baptized you with water, but within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5) He commissioned His Apostles, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. The man who believes in it and accepts Baptism will be saved; the man who refuses to believe in it will be condemned.” (Mk 16:15-16)

 

The Gospel is all about what we need to do in order to unite with Jesus who revealed that, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” (Jn 14:6) Through His Church Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to each of us in the Sacrament of Baptism giving us the gifts we need to live the Christian life and be ready when He returns as our Judge.  

 

  What gifts do we need? Wisdom to act on the truth, namely follow Jesus who is the truth. Understanding to recognize that we need Jesus to free us from our sinfulness. Counsel to choose the things of Heaven rather than earthly things. Knowledge to see Jesus’ presence in His Word and His Church’s Sacraments. Piety to be prayerful. Fortitude to persevere as faithful Christians despite life’s obstacles. Fear of the Lord to recognize that Jesus is our most precious Saviour, Companion, and Friend. To reinforce these gifts and perfect them Jesus sends the Holy Spirit again in His Church’s Sacrament of Confirmation so we can witness publicly to our faith in and love for Jesus. Thus we help others prepare for Jesus’ return.

 

   Whatever Jesus expects of us He gives us the wherewithal to accomplish. It’s up to us, as creatures with free will, to do what He tells us and receive what He offers us. His Mother’s advice at the wedding feast at Cana was “Do whatever He tells you!” (Jn 2:5) By doing what Jesus told them their water was changed into wine. When we do what Jesus tells us we’re changed into a people joyfully awaiting His return. Be ready! He’s returning! (frsos)

 

Reflection

 

 

 

To be thankful for the gift of life,

 

because it gives us a chance to love, to work and to play.

 

To be guided by what we admire and love

 

rather than by what we hate.

 

To envy nothing that is our neighbour’s

 

except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manner.

 

To think seldom of our enemies, often of our friends,

 

and every day of Christ.

 

And to spend as much time as we can in God’s out-of-doors.

 

These are the little signposts on the path to peace.

 

Two Kinds of Love – Two Kinds of Life

 

 

 

Love and life go hand-in-hand. Life flows from love. A life without love is miserable. A person who feels unloved finds it well-nigh impossible to love. Every human being needs to love and be loved in order to function fully and joyfully. Without love we die internally. This is why everyone needs to know God loves him or her.

 

 

 

Jesus calls us to a selfless love and here is where we balk as Christians. Just as every individual deserves to be respected as a human being, so does everyone deserve to be loved, even though their actions may be evil. Jesus commands us: “My command to you is: love your enemies, pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are children of your Heavenly Father, for His sun rises on the bad and to good, He rains on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:43-45) Loving like Jesus is impartial. “If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? … Do not pagans do as much? In a word, you must be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:46-47) As human beings born with a fallen nature we’re basically self-centred and view love from a purely selfish perspective. Yet we crave to be loved unselfishly.

 

 

 

There are two kinds of love that generate two kinds of life, egotistical love and sacrificial love. In egotistical love we love those who love us and give us what we want. When they stop loving us or refuse to satisfy our wants we stop loving. “I’ll love you if you love me!” “If you love me, do this for me or give me what I want!” This kind of love views others as objects to be used for one’s own satisfaction. Sacrificial or self-less love, on the other hand, creates an other-centred life that focuses on opportunities to make a gift of oneself to others. Sacrificial love purifies selfish love and makes the person live a life that enriches all those whose paths he or she crosses. Real love always focuses on what’s good for the other person.

 

 

 

Jesus epitomised selfless or sacrificial love in His passion and death and Resurrection. He acted lived His own words: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13) He freely sacrificed His life so everyone might have life. His love gave eternal life to the repentant thief beside Him as He hung upon the cross. Jesus’ love doesn’t have favourites. “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather in ever nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10: 34) Here we see the great difference between our notion of love and Jesus’ love. Our love shows partiality while Jesus’ love doesn’t. We show partiality by loving those we like and rejecting or ignoring those we don’t like. Our love is more often based on feeling than on choice. Just as feelings change so does our love. That’s not Jesus ‘way.

 

 

 

Jesus calls for a love that’s based on obedience, not on feeling.  “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) His love for us is the standard for the love from which the Christian life flows.  We must choose to love whether or not we feel like it if we want our life to be productive. We must love unselfishly if we want to achieve our potential. Sacrificial love brings joy; it’s giving without expecting a reward. Egotistical love brings misery when unrequited.

 

 

 

The Psalmist reminds us that, “The Lord has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.” (Ps 98: 2) Jesus brought salvation and justice to the world. Justice promotes God’s love by making us right with Him and our neighbour making us friends.  Jesus reveals, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15:14) What He commands is to love one another. If we want to be Jesus’ friends, we have no option but to love our neighbour as our self, however difficult that might be. He chose us “to go forth and bear fruit.” (Jn 15:16) Sacrificial love is always fruitful, both for the one who loves as well as the beloved.

 

 

 

Sacrificial love is difficult for us because we tend to be selfish and ruled by our feelings. To love as Jesus commands us we must rise above our ego. That requires the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to “de-egotize” our spirit so we can focus on giving rather than on getting. There’s a huge difference between a life lived selfishly and a life energized by a spirit of generosity. It’s a life marked by engagement rather than disengagement. It’s the difference between a tree that has only roots and a trunk and one that also has branches and leaves. The first tree won’t live long. It takes in moisture and nutrients from the soil, but lacking branches and leaves that spread and catch the sun’s rays, it has no energy to turn that moisture and nutrients into growth and fruitfulness. So is the difference between the two kinds of love and the two kinds of life they generate. Love like Jesus and live joyfully. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

 

 

 

To be thankful for the gift of life,

 

because it gives us a chance to love, to work and to play.

 

To be guided by what we admire and love

 

rather than by what we hate.

 

To envy nothing that is our neighbour’s

 

except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manner.

 

To think seldom of our enemies, often of our friends,

 

and every day of Christ.

 

And to spend as much time as we can in God’s out-of-doors.

 

These are the little signposts on the path to peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Mothers Day prayer

 

 

 

Pastoral Prayer for Mother’s Day

 

 

 

Loving God, we give thanks today for mothers!

 

Thank you for mothers who gave birth to us,

 

and women who have treated us as their own children.

 

You teach us how to be good mothers,

 

cherishing and protecting the children among us.

 

Help us mother lovingly, fairly, wisely and with great joy.

 

Help us raise our children to be the people they are born to be.

 

 

 

We need your comfort here today, Lord,

 

because some are missing mothers, some are missing children,

 

some are parted by distance or death.

 

Comfort those who have given up their child for adoption,

 

or who chose not to give birth, and had an abortion.

 

Comfort those who longed to be biological mothers, and could not.

 

We pray for those here whose mothers have disappointed them;

 

we ask for grace in relationships where there is pain and bitterness,

 

for healing in relationships where there is abuse and violence.

 

Help our congregation be a space where people can feel mothered,

 

their gifts and talents appreciated and nurtured.

 

 

 

Finally, we pray today for mothers around the world;

 

mothers who cannot feed their children,

 

mothers who are homeless or without a homeland;

 

mothers who must teach their children about the dangers of bombs and bullets.

 

Help us create a world where mothers can raise their children in peace and plenty.

 

God of mothers, who created mothers, who came as a child and had a mother,

 

 

 

God our Mother,

 

loving us with a sweeter and deeper love than we have ever known,

 

hear our prayer this day, Amen.

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Jan 24

 

               

 

to me

 

Authority Makes the Difference

 

   What is authority? It comes from Latin for master, leader, or author. Since God is the Author of all that’s good, all authority comes from Him. Its purpose is to serve the good of others. Anything that isn’t authorized by Him is false and destructive. “If God doesn’t build the house, vain is the builder’s labour; if God doesn’t guard the city, in vain do the sentries keep watch.” (Ps 127:1) Authority is either bestowed or earned and gives a person the right to the power that goes with it. Authority is bestowed when it’s given or delegated to another by a higher authority. It’s temporary because a person can be deprived of it when the particular office that authorizes the power is lost. Earned authority is that which a person possesses by virtue of his/her experience, character, or expertise in a particular field. Authority has much more to do with who we are, our character, than on what we can do or possess. It’s about who we are in relation to others, e.g., parent and children, priest and parishioners, teacher and students. Authority makes the difference and demands respect.

 

   This Sunday Jesus’ Church reminds us that He astonished His listeners because “He taught with authority, and not like the scribes.” (Mk 1:22) Authority distinguished Jesus from the scribes. He spoke from His expertise while the scribes copied what someone else said. Jesus’ authority came from who He was. His experience, knowledge, and character made Him the expert in revealing who God is and what human beings need. He was God incarnate. His authority gave Him the power over evil. “He gives orders to unclean spirits and they obey!” (Mk 1:27)

 

  Jesus, as the truth, spoke the truth. He fulfilled Moses’ prophecy, “A prophet like me will the Lord your God raise up for you … to Him you shall listen. … He shall tell them all that I commanded you … and the Lord said to me … I will put my words into His mouth; He shall tell them all that I command Him. Whoever will not listen to my words which He speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.” (Deut 18:15-20) Because Jesus is God, the Author of truth, St. Paul stressed the importance of listening to Him. “Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties … for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.” (1Cor 7:12-15)

 

   Since Jesus is the expert on who God is and what we need, He alone has the authority to teach us about God and humanity. He revealed, “I am the vine and you are the branches …. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn15:5) Only what He authorizes is good. What isn’t authorized by Jesus causes division and alienation.

 

   How does Jesus continue to exercise His authority as Master, Leader, and Teacher in the world today? Through His Church He calls everyone to an eternal life of joy and happiness. He reminds us that “Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.” (Jn 17:3) He authorized Peter to be the rock on whom He founded His Church assisted by the other Apostles. When He commissioned His Apostles with Peter as head, He reminded them, “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you, and know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mt 28:18-20) Jesus shared His authority with His Apostles by bestowing it on them and their successors to carry on His mission of calling people to repent from their sinfulness and enter eternal life. He reinforced their authority when He declared, “Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.” (Lk 10:16) Rejecting the Church is a rejection of Jesus since, “It is He who is head of the body, the Church.” (Co 1:18)

 

   No one can claim authority to speak in Jesus’ Name except those whom He has authorized. No one can authorize him or herself to represent Him. Only the Church founded by Jesus on Peter has the authority to decide who is authorized by Him to teach in His Name. Jesus continues to exercise His authority through His Church’s teaching and the administration of her Sacraments. Jesus authorizes His Church’s bishops, priests, and deacons through her Sacraments to make children and adults His brothers and sisters, to empower His people to be His witnesses in the world, to sanctify a  man and woman in marriage, heal the sick, forgive repentant sinners, be His official representatives leading and ministering to His Church’s communities in prayer and worship. As His authorized people we’re able to pray, “Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.” (Ps 95:6-7) (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Jan 31

 

               

 

to me

 

Isn’t Everyone Looking for Jesus?

 

   The Gospel or Mark records Jesus’ visit to the house of Peter and Andrew where He found Peter’s mother-in-law suffering from a fever. He took her hand, helped her up and she was cured. She expressed her gratitude by preparing a meal for them. Many people came asking Jesus to free them from their maladies and evil spirits. He rose early the next morning and went to a quiet place to pray to His Father. Peter and the other apostles found Him and exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you.” (Mk 1:29-39)

 

  Why were people looking for Jesus? Because He made them well. Everyone is searching for a sense of wellness and wellbeing. Everyone is looking for Jesus but not everyone realizes it. Every man, woman, and child is looking for meaningfulness, power, self-worth, purpose, freedom, healing from suffering, hope, love, joy, peace, and a life that doesn’t end in failure. Jesus alone is able to fulfil these human desires. Then why isn’t everyone embracing Jesus?  They either don’t know Him or they refuse to do what he asked, so they look for someone or something else to fulfil them. The sad reality is that nobody or nothing except Jesus can raise us up from our fallen nature to permanently experience hopes and desires that are gifts from God alone. Sadly they look for fulfilment in all the wrong places and from illusory sources. Just as Jesus alone gives us a peace that the world can’t give, so also He gives us a meaning, a power, a value, a purpose, a freedom, a hope, a love, a peace, and a destiny that neither we ourselves nor the world can give us. This is why Jesus commissioned His Apostles just before His Ascension to, “God out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.” (Mk 16:15)

 

  We all know that often, in the words of Job, “man’s life on earth is a drudgery.” (Job 7:1) He lamented, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my lifer is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” (Job 7:6-7) Who can truly give us hope when everything is falling apart in our life? Who can lift us up from our depression? Who can help us face suffering and death with a spirit of joy? Who can gives us the grace of forgiveness and the knowledge that God loves us unconditionally? Who helps us shoulder the burdens we and others created for ourselves? Who alone is with us giving us a light to see beyond our darkest moments? Who is with us and within us every moment of our life? The answer: Jesus Christ. Knowing this empowers us to proclaim in the words of the Psalmist: “Praise the Lord for he is good; sing praise to our God for He is gracious; it is fitting to praise Him … He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds … sustains the lowly; the wicked he casts to the ground.” (Ps 147:1-6)

 

   God urges us through Isaiah to, “Seek the Lord while He is still to be found, call to Him while He is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to Yahweh who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving.” (Is 55:6-7) Where is the Lord found? Where is He near to us? In His Church, which He founded on Peter giving him the “keys to the Kingdom of God” (Mt 16:19) and promised to be with her “all days until the end of the world.” (Mt 28:20) Jesus entrusted His Gospel to Peter and the other Apostles and their authorized successors to be preached to everyone so that every man, woman and child would hear the Good News that they would have a marvellous future in which to hope by joining Him in His Church. The task of Jesus’s Church is to unite all people in Jesus through embracing the truth of the Gospel. This is why St. Paul stated, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel … to save at least some … and so that I too may have a share in it.” (1 Cor 9:16-23)

 

   To share in the Gospel is to realize that Jesus is the one for whom we are looking in order to live life to the fullest. We share in the Gospel by participating in the life of His Church as His adopted brother or sister. This motivates us, like St. Paul, to preach it to others because we know that not only is Jesus the One for whom we are looking to make us fully human, He is also the One for whom everyone else is also looking but may not know Him. It’s our job to make Jesus known so the deepest yearning of everyone’s soul may be satisfied through union with Him. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Feb 7 (8 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Be Clean!

 

   A leper approached Jesus, expressed his faith in Him, and pleaded to be cured.  Jesus responded, “I do will it. Be clean.” (Mk 1:40-41)  St. Mark relates that Jesus felt pity for the man. Pity is defined as “sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy.” Leprosy was a dreaded disease. It brought much pain, distress, and unhappiness to the sufferer since it meant isolation from family and community. It caused the person’s bodily extremities to rot, creating a bad smell. Jewish law banned lepers from any interaction with their families and friends to prevent contagion. “The one who bears the sore of leprosy … shall declare himself unclean … he shall dwell apart making his abode outside the camp.” (Lv 13:1-2, 44-46)

 

   Jesus ignored the law against making contact with a leper and “stretched out His hand and touched him.” (Mk 1:41) Jesus sees no one as untouchable, except those who choose to be so. The leper had two qualities going for him: faith and humility. He didn’t act as if he deserved to be cured. His manner reflected his humility. “Kneeling down as he addressed Him.” (Mk 1:40) Then he exhibited unconditional faith in Jesus’ power to restore him to health and family. “If you will to do so, you can cure me.” (Mk 1:40) Jesus responded to the man’s humility and faith with both empathy and sympathy. He put Himself in the man’s shoes and felt his loss of freedom. The he told the man to obey Jewish law in order to be recognized as cured and be reinstated back into his community. “Go off and present yourself to the priest and offer for your cure what Moses prescribed. That should be proof for them.” (Mk 1:44)

 

   Humility and faith are essential qualities in our requests to God for physical and spiritual healing. The Psalmist exemplifies these virtues when he proclaimed, “I turn to You, Lord, in time of trouble. You fill me with the joy of salvation. Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Ps 32:1, 2, 5, 11) Humility is the antidote to guile. Faith is the antidote to our egotistical attempt to save our self from trouble. The leper knew he couldn’t save himself. But he was open to the Holy Spirit who led him to Jesus as His Saviour. This is the challenge to each of us. Am I receptive to the Holy Spirit who enlightens my spirit with the truth of who I am and what I need to be free, belong, be powerful, and enjoy myself? This is why we should begin each day inviting Holy Spirit to fill our heart and enkindle in us the fire of His divine love so that we may be created in accord with God’s will, be truly wise, share in His consolations, and with His help renew the face of the earth.

 

   None of us is immune to physical disease. Neither are we immune to spiritual disease. We can’t cleanse our soul from the stain of sin. If we try, we’re wasting our time. We can clean ourselves physically but we can’t clean ourselves spiritually. Since God is the Creator of our soul, our self, only He can cleanse it of its diseases. The disease of the soul is sin. Like leprosy, sin deforms us making our spirit unclean that separates us from one another. Only love – God - binds us together and gives us a clean spirit. Sin is the opposite of love. Since we inherit a sinful nature due to Original Sin we’re all sinners. Jesus didn’t come to cleanse us from leprosy, but He did come to cleanse us from our sins. “Jesus said to them, ‘The healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do. I have not come to invite the self-righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.’” (Lk 5:31) Self-righteous people think they have no sin and no need to be spiritually cleansed. Sinners are those who humbly recognize and admit their spiritual uncleanliness and their need for to be washed from their sin. They’re the ones who, in faith, recognize Jesus as the Cleanser, the Saviour, and, like the leper, humbly kneel and ask to be made clean and restored to the community.

 

   Coming to call sinners, Jesus knew that spiritual cleansing would be an ongoing human need. This is why He delegated His power Peter and the other Apostles and their successors, the ordained leaders of His Church, to make cleansing forgiveness available to the repentant sinner until the end of time. He does so through His Church’s Sacraments. In Baptism He frees us from Satan’s grip on our soul and destructive bodily desires. In Reconciliation He washes away our personal sins, especially those that are serious or mortal. In the Holy Mass He cleanses us from our venial sins. In the Anointing of the Sick He cleanses those who’re too weak to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (Jas 5:13ff) But, like the leper, to be cured, cleansed of our spiritual diseases we need humility and faith. Then we’ll hear Jesus’ words through His Church when we ask Him to cleanse us, “I do will it. Be cured, clean, forgiven, made whole, and reconciled to God’s family!” (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

1:36 PM (21 hours ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Lent: Examine Your Choices

 

   Ash Wednesday announces the beginning of Lent. It ends on Holy Thursday. Then Holy Week Triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday takes place. Lent is the forty-day period when Jesus’ Church calls her members to prepare for Jesus’ Resurrection by praying, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s a time of introspection when Christians refresh their faith in Jesus by renewing their commitment to promote God’s kingdom on earth rather than embrace the world’s kingdom. The two kingdoms compete with each other so we must choose the one to which we want to belong. That’s a daily choice. Every decision we make immerses us either in God’s kingdom or the worldly kingdom. Therefore it’s essential to examine the choices we’re making. We’re where we are because of what we have chosen, and will reap the results our choices. In every decision we either choose God, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, or else we choose someone or something that’s not of God. As St. Paul reminds us, “A man will reap only what he sows. If he sows in the field of the flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed-ground is the spirit, he will reap everlasting life.” (Gal 6:7-8) If our primary focus is on the physical we’ll lose because it eventually turns to dust. If we choose the Spiritual we’ll win because it’s eternal.

 

   God wants everyone to choose His kingdom because He wants everyone to live. This is demonstrated in Genesis when God entered a covenant with Noah. “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants and with every living creature that was with you … I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign.” (Gn 9:8-15) God made the rainbow a sign of His protection for those faithful to His covenant.  Because we suffer from a human nature infected by Original Sin we’re prone to focus more on the physical than on the spiritual. We satisfy our bodily desires and ignore the soul. St. Paul identifies the split between the two: “I cannot even understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do but what I hate… the desire to do right is there but not the power.” (Rom 7:15-18)

 

   The two kingdoms differ greatly in their aims, scopes, responses, and battles. This is why we have to choose. God’s kingdom promotes the power of the Cross, bringing Jesus’ unconditional love to all, inner conversion to God’s love, return good for evil, care about the wellbeing of enemies, human dignity, equality, collaboration, overcoming the darkness of evil, Church, prayer, worship, and respect for life from conception to natural death. The worldly kingdom promotes the sword, selfishness, control of others, tribalism, conflict, getting even, competition, eye for an eye, kill the enemy, eliminate Christianity, greed, domination, popularity, possessions, selfish pleasure, and power over others.

 

   God sent His Son into a worldly kingdom to save it from self-destructiveness by establishing God’s Kingdom on earth. He founded His Church to be its visible sign. This Kingdom promotes truth, human freedom, justice, peace, supernatural love, and forgiveness. Jesus explained, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” (Jn 18:36) God’s kingdom promotes a whole new way of living in the world. Its members are those who live and promote Jesus’ ways. “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep who keep Your covenant. Good and upright is the Lord, thus He shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way.” (Ps 25:8-9) Since the worldly kingdom is manipulative Jesus knew the struggle men and women would experience. He prayed to His Father for His followers: “I do not ask you to take them out of the world but to guard them from the evil one. They are not of the world, anyone than I belong to the world. Consecrate them by means of truth – Your word is truth.” (Jn 17:15-17)

 

   As Christians we live in the worldly kingdom but behave as members of God’s kingdom which Jesus established on earth. We look to Jesus’ Kingdom for our power, value, identity, and purpose at home, at work, at leisure, wherever we are. This is why Jesus directs us to, “Seek first His (God the Father’s) Kingship over you, His way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides. Enough, then, of worrying about tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today has troubles enough of its own.” (Mt 6:33-24) As we begin this holy season of prayer, fasting, and acts of self-giving let’s focus on our daily choices to make sure we’re choosing God’s kingdom. Isaiah urges us to “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near.” (Is 55:6) Where do we seek Him? In His Church, the visible sign of His Kingdom. This is why Jesus tells us, “The kingdom of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk 1:15) We reform our life by embracing Jesus in His Church’ preaching, teaching, Sacraments, and especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Examine your choices to see which kingdom you’re choosing. (frsos)

 

The story is told that, one night, Brigid went to sit with a dying man. He was a chieftain, and members of his household hoped Brigid would speak to him of Christ, and perhaps convert him before he died. However the man was very ill and couldn’t listen to such talk. So Brigid prayed for him instead. As she sat by his bedside, she picked up some of the rushes scattered on the

 

floor. (This was typical of the time, rushes were warm and kept the floor clean). She began to weave rushes into a Cross, and as she did the Chieftain asked her about it. She wove and spoke of Jesus and

 

 prayed for the Chieftain. He came to know Christ that night, was baptised and died in peace. 

 

St Brigid’s Crosses are traditionally made by Irish people around her feast day. Many homes place them over a door lintel or in the thatch of a house. A simple diagram showing how to make a Brigid’s

 

Cross is available

 

 

 

What can we learn from this story? What does Brigid’s life teach us? -

 

That faithful prayer and action can convert a heart faster than long words? -

 

That being present, and remaining present, with  those in need allows healing to happen? -

 

That God works through all things, even rushes!  The Cross of St Brigid is a sign of simplicity and

 

of faithful presence. May we be generous with our time, our presence and our love this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POPE

 

Pope John-Paul II visit to Ireland - commemorative mug by Arklow Pottery (1979)

 

This ceramic mug was produced to commemorate the visit of Pope John-Paul II to Ireland in September of 1979.

 

 The mug is made of white porcelain or bone-china, decorated with gold trim around the rim and measures 3 3/8” high x 3 3/16” O.D. excluding handle (85mm x 81mm). The opposite side of the mug is plain, no print. The imprint states BRENDAN ERIN STONE MADE IN ARKLOW IRELAND.

 

 

 

DEATH: Kathleen Dowling Singh

 

 

 

No community should botch its deaths. That’s a wise statement from Mircea Eliade and apropos in the face of the death two weeks ago of Kathleen Dowling Singh. Kathleen was a hospice worker, a psychotherapist, and a very deep and influential spiritual writer.

 

 

 

She is known and deeply respected among those who write and teach in the area of spirituality on the strength of three major books: The Grace in Living; The Grace in Aging, and The Grace in Dying. Interestingly, she worked backwards in writing this trilogy, beginning with dying, moving on to aging, and finally offering a reflection on living. And she did this because her grounding insights were taken from her experience as a hospice worker, attending to terminally ill patients. From what she learned from being with and observing the dying taught her a lot about what it means to age and, ultimately, what it means of live. Her books try to highlight the deep grace that’s inherent in each of these stages in our lives: living, aging, dying.

 

 

 

I want to highlight here particularly the insights from her initial book, The Grace in Dying. Outside of scripture and some classical mystics, I have not found as deep a spiritual understanding of what God and nature intend in the process we go through in dying, particularly as is seen in someone who dies from old age or a terminal illness.

 

 

 

Singh encapsulates her thesis in one poignant line: The process of death is exquisitely calibrated to bring us into the realm of spirit. There’s a wisdom in the death process. Here’s how it works:

 

 

 

During our whole lives our self-consciousness radically limits our awareness, effectively closing off from our awareness much of the realm of spirit. But that’s not how we were born. As a baby, we are wonderfully open and aware, except, lacking self-consciousness, an ego, we aren’t aware of what we are aware. A baby is luminous, but a baby can’t think. In order to think it needs to form an ego, become self-aware, and, according to Singh, the formation of that ego, the condition for self-awareness, is predicated on each of us making four massive mental contractions, each of which closes off some of our awareness of the world of spirit.

 

 

 

We form our egos this way: First, early on in a baby’s life, it makes a distinction between what is self and what is other. That’s the first major contraction. Soon afterwards, the baby makes a distinction between living and non-living; a puppy is alive, a stone is not. Sometime after that, a baby makes a distinction between mind and body; a body is solid and physical in a way that the mind is not. Finally, early on too in our lives, we make a distinction between what we can face inside of ourselves and what’s too frightening to face. We separate our own luminosity and complexity from our conscious awareness, forming what’s often called our shadow. Each of these movements effectively shuts off whole realms of reality from our awareness. By doing that, Singh says, we create own fear of death.

 

 

 

Now, and this is Singh’s pregnant insight, the process of aging and dying effectively breaks down these contractions, breaking them down in reverse order of how we formed them, and, with each breakdown, we are more aware again of a wider realm of reality, particularly the realm of spirit. And this culminates in the last moments or seconds before our death in the experience of ecstasy, observable in many terminal patients as they die. As the last contraction that formed our ego is broken, spirit breaks through and we break into ecstasy. As a hospice worker, Singh claims to have seen this many times in her patients.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Kubler Ross, in what has now virtually become the canon on how we understand the stages of dying, suggested that someone diagnosed with a terminal disease will go through five stages before his or her death: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Singh would agree with that, except that she would add three more stages: A fall into darkness that verges on despair; a resignation that dwarfs our initial acceptance, and an in-breaking of ecstasy. She points out that Jesus went through those exact stages on the cross: a cry of abandonment that sounds like despair, the handing over of his spirit, and the ecstasy that was given him in his death

 

 

 

Singh’s insight is a very consoling one. The process of dying will do for us what a deep life of prayer and selflessness was meant to do for us, namely, break our selfishness and open us to the realm of spirit. God will get us, one way or the other.

 

 

 

We’ve lost a great woman and a great spiritual writer. Her children, writing on Facebook after her death, said simply that their mother would want us all to know that “she was an ordinary person dying an ordinary death.”  But the spiritual legacy she left us is far from ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Ronald Rolheiser is a specialist in the field of spirituality and systematic theology. His website is www.ronrolheiser.com.

 

 

 

Posted on 26/10/2017    by glinnews

 

 

 

WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES 2018.

 

 

 

Pope Francis chose Ireland to host next year’s World Meeting of Families to make sure Irish Catholics would take part in a ‘revolution’ promoting marriage and family life, one of the Pope’s key advisors has said. … Speaking to The Irish Catholic about the Autumn 2018 event, Cardinal Kevin Farrell explained that Pope Francis is under no illusions about how family life in Ireland is changing in line with the rest of Europe. “He understands that – he doesn’t think that Ireland is some miracle,” he said. “Nobody thinks that, but he thinks there’s a great spirit in the Irish people of giving of themselves to others, and of taking leadership roles…”

 

 

 

Read more in an article by Greg Daly in the Irish Catholic.

 

 

 

As we prepare – can you pray the official prayer of World Meeting of Families 2018 – and share it in your home, so others can too.

 

 

 

God, our Father,

 

We are brothers and sisters in Jesus your Son,

 

One family, in the Spirit of your love.

 

 

 

Bless us with the joy of love.

 

 

 

Make us patient and kind,

 

gentle and generous,

 

welcoming to those in need.

 

Help us to live your forgiveness and peace.

 

 

 

Protect all families with your loving care,

 

Especially those for whom we now pray:

 

 

 

[We pause and remember family members and others by name].

 

 

 

Increase our faith,

 

Strengthen our hope,

 

Keep us safe in your love,

 

Make us always grateful for the gift of life that we share.

 

 

 

This we ask, through Christ our Lord,

 

Amen

 

Fr SHEEHY

 

to me

 

Use It or Lose It

 

   Researchers indicate that the possibility of dementia is reduced the more we use our brain. By default, the less we use our brain our mental alertness will decrease. Some explain evolution on the theory that when a body part isn’t used its function will be lost. We know that if we don’t exercise our muscles our muscular power will be lost. The “use it or lose it” theory definitely applies to our Christian faith. If we don’t use it in accord with its purpose we’ll misuse or abuse it and eventually lose it.

 

   What’s the purpose of Christianity? It’s to witness to the world that Jesus Christ is the only one who can save us from sin and its sentence of suffering and eternal death. How does sin manifest itself? We sin when, instead of relying on Jesus to save us through His Church, we try to save ourselves. It’s in the process of doing this that we sin, causing suffering and death. In trying to save ourselves we focus only on ourselves and view others as opportunities to enrich ourselves, make ourselves feel better, superior, or more secure through using and abusing them. Jesus clearly stated that He came “to call sinners to a change of heart, not the self-righteous.” (Lk 5:32) The “self-righteous” think they’re perfect and don’t need anyone to save them. Sinners recognize their sinfulness and their need of Jesus’ forgiveness to save them. Pride motivates the self-righteous. Humility steers sinners to repent. In calling sinners to repent and be saved Jesus calls us to experience God’s tremendous love, so that, having experienced this love personally, we are able to display it towards others. Jesus calls us to be like Him by sharing the love we have from Him with our fellow men and women.

 

   Christianity is the response to God’s call to be productive stewards of His creation. But that productivity must be in accord with God’s will. In becoming human Jesus demonstrated and taught God’s will. He continues to be present and teach until the end of time through His Church. There Jesus calls us to be like Him promoting freedom, justice, peace, and charity. A mother was making pancakes for her two sons, Mike and John, aged 6 and 4. A squabble broke between them over who got the first pancake. The mother intervened and said, “Now if Jesus were here and you were His brother He would say “Here, brother, you have the first one.” Mike turned to John and said, “John, you be Jesus, and I’ll be his brother!” Our problem is that we want the other person to be Jesus, not our self. The challenge for each of us is to be “Jesus” for the other person. That’s the proper use of our faith. Then we’ll pray humbly with the Psalmist, “Once again, O Lord, Look down from heaven and see; take care of this vine, and protect what Your right hand has planted … We shall never turn from You again; our life renewed, we shall invoke Your Name.” (Ps 80:14-18)

 

   Jesus told the parable of The Wicked Vineyard Tenants (Mt 21:33-43) to show what happens when people ignore God as their Saviour and set out to save themselves. They didn’t use the privilege of their tenancy properly. Instead they acted like they owned the vineyard and so lost everything.

 

If Christians don’t use their faith in accord with God’s will they’ll lose it. Many claim to be Christian but they neither worship God on the Lord’s Day nor act charitably towards others nor confess their sins regularly. Jesus founded His Church so people could receive, develop, and use their faith in Him to direct their lifestyle. Faith is by its nature relational – a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ in His Church. If a relationship isn’t nurtured it will die. If we don’t use our Christian faith to live we’ll lose it and try to live some other way that leads to unhappiness. At the end of the parable Jesus cautions us, “The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to someone who will yield a rich harvest.” (Mt 22:43)

 

   It isn’t easy to be Christian in this world. Our Leader, the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ ended up on a cross. Christians mustn’t expect any less. This is why St. Paul encourages us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always! …Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.” (Phil 4:4, 6) Using our faith means that “Everyone should see how unselfish you are.” (v 5) “The Lord is near” reminding us that “God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.” (v7) Using our Christian faith brings us peace of mind, heart, and soul. Losing it makes us susceptible to anxiety and distress. Jesus promised His Apostles, “Peace is my gift to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful.” (Jn 14:27) It’s a peace Jesus alone can give us when He stands guard over our minds and hearts saving us from anxiety and distress. This is what the Christian faith gives us. If we don’t use it we’ll lose it. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Sep 27 (9 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

It’s Action that Counts

 

   We’re all familiar with the saying that actions speak louder than words. The musician, Criss Jami, put it like this: “After a while you realize that putting your actions where your mouth is makes you less likely to have to put your money where your mouth is.” Talk is easy while action requires commitment, expenditure of energy, effort, and perseverance. We are what we do, not necessarily what we say. We can say lots of things, build castles in the air etc., but it’s what we do that matters. Our true character is revealed only in our actions. It’s our actions that make our words either credible or inedible.  We’re all familiar with people who make promises but don’t keep them. Politicians are noted for this. People say they’re privately against something but publicly support it. That’s hypocrisy – a lack of integrity.

 

   Jesus told a parable about two sons whose father asked them to tend his vineyard. (Mt 21:28-32) The first refused, while the second agreed. Later, the son who refused his father’s request had qualms of conscience and did was asked of him. The second son didn’t do what he said he would. Jesus asked His audience, “Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The second.” (Mt 21:31) Jesus was making the point that people say they believe in God but don’t live the faith. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus quoted from Psalm 78:36 and Isaiah 29:13, “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.” (Mt 15:8) Jesus is talking about hypocrisy on the part of those who say they’re Christian but don’t put their alleged faith into action.

 

    Jesus warns us all when He said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven. Whoever disowns me before men I will disown before my Father in Heaven.” (Mt 10:32-33) Acknowledging Jesus before others means doing His will, upholding His truth in the way we act. Christianity is much more about what we do than about what we say. We can say lots of prayers but what are we doing to improve the lot of those for whom we pray? The Holy Spirit challenges us: “What good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Faith without works is dead.” (Jas 2:14-17) The Spirit reveals that we all “shall give an accounting to Him (Jesus) who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Pt 4:5) If we don’t stand up for Jesus’ teaching in the way we act, He won’t save us. God responded to His people’s criticism of Him as being unfair in His judgment of them: “Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit sin, and died, it is because of the sin he committed that he must die. But if he turns from wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life … he shall not die.” (Ezek 18:24) God simply says that we must take full responsibility for our actions and experience their consequences. We’ll be judged on what we do, not on what we say.

 

   St. Paul urges us, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each of you looking to others’ interests rather than to his own. Your attitude must be that of Christ.” (Phil 2:3-5) The first son in Jesus’ story put his father’s interests before his own. The second son acted hypocritically. What was Jesus’ attitude? It was one of integrity and humility. He did what He said, always carrying our His Father’s requests. That’s the challenge to you and me as Christians, namely to do what Jesus’ asks of us in His Church. We must pray every day asking the Holy Spirit in the words of the Psalmist: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me. Teach me Your paths, guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour …Good and upright is the Lord; thus He shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble His way.” (Ps 25:4-5, 8-9) The humble learn and do things God’s way. The prideful do things their way, the blind leading the blind.

 

   Jesus is the model of humility. He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave … He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8) To be Christian we must humbly recognize that the good we do is due to God’s grace working in and through us. But, just like we can’t touch our ear with our elbow, no one or nothing can make us humble. It has to come from our heart. Humility is accepting the truth about our self. The truth is that Jesus Christ is our only Saviour, our only way to Heaven, our Truth that frees us from sin, and our Life that’s eternal. We will act on that truth when we acknowledge that God is the only source of our value, power, and fulfilment, who has faith in us, loves us, and gives us hope that we will find happiness and life to the full. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Sep 20

 

               

 

to me

 

Needs versus Wants

 

   Oftentimes what we think we need is actually what we want. What we want and what we need are two different realities. As human beings it’s essential that we’re able to meet our true needs but we can ignore our wants. I need a watch to tell the time, but I want a Rolex. Do I need an expensive and posh watch? No. A much cheaper one will satisfy my need. Needs can be satisfied but wants can’t. When my need is met I’m satisfied, like eating a meal when I’m hungry. But my wants are never satisfied because I want more and more and more. Meeting my needs brings me happiness. Meeting my wants gives birth to greed, lust, covetousness, etc. One of the most important things we can do for our joyfulness is to distinguish between our real needs and our selfish, never-to-be-satisfied, wants.

 

   In the last century Abraham Maslow presented His “Theory of Human Motivation” in which he outlined a hierarchy of human needs. He categorized them as a hierarchy because the more basic needs need to be met before the higher needs can be met. Our most basic needs are physiological - breathing, circulation, temperature, intake of nourishment, elimination of wastes, and movement. Next come our safety needs - shelter, security, environment. Then comes our need for belonging – family, friendship, community, communication, support, feeling loved. Next comes our need for self-esteem to cope with fear, sadness, loneliness, happiness, and acceptance of oneself. This leads to meeting our self-actualization needs – thinking, learning, decision making, values, beliefs, fulfilment, service to others. The highest need is self-transcendence – achieving full consciousness, giving oneself to something or someone higher and bigger than oneself in altruism and spirituality. Maslow pointed out that we’re not motivated to meet our higher needs without having met our lower needs first.

 

   Each of us must ask if we’re focusing on our needs or our wants in our quest for happiness. Am I meeting my need for nourishment? Am I meeting my need to feel safe and secure? Am I meeting my need to belong?  Am I meeting my need to be loved? Am I meeting my need to esteem myself? Am I meeting my need to grow intellectually and spiritually, developing and using my gifts to bring me closer to God and a servant to others? This is what we need in order to mature and be joyful human beings. These are the human needs God has instilled in us that motivate us to grow in our love for Him and our neighbour.

 

   In meeting each of these needs God’s grace is essential to keep us from being side-tracked by our wants and selfish desires. God speaks to us through His Church’s proclamation of His word: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near.” (Is 55:6) How near is the Lord? The Psalmist gives us the answer: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps 145:18) Calling upon the Lord in truth means that in our prayer and worship we’re receptive to His thoughts and make His way our way. He cautions us, “Let the wicked forsake his thought; let him turn to the Lord for mercy. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” (Is 55:7-8) Where do we find God’s thoughts and ways? In the Gospels of Jesus proclaimed by His Church. This is why St. Paul urges us to, “Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” (Phil1:27)

 

   God, like a loving parent, always looking out for the good of His sons and daughters. He is generous to a fault. But we must realize our temptation to think that we deserve God’s generosity and act like we’re entitled to it. Like children who think they’re entitled to their parent’s property after they die, we think we’re entitled to God’s grace. We’re not. It’s a gift. The nature of a gift is that it’s neither earned nor deserved. It’s an expression of unconditional love which is always a gift because we can neither earn nor buy it. Jesus expresses God’s generosity in the Parable of the Vineyard Labourers. (Mt 20:1-16) The owner hires workers when he finds them looking for work at different times during the day. In the evening he pays each the same wage. Those who worked all day for a wage they agreed upon are upset because others who worked less time received the same pay. The owner responded, “Are you envious because I am generous?” (Mt 20:15) The owner responded to those he met looking for work. He also knew that it took a day’s wages for a man to take care of his family. He took that into consideration when he generously gave a full day’s wage to those who hadn’t the opportunity to work a full day. Full time workers were unhappy because they focused on their wants rather than on their needs. Meeting our needs brings us joy while concentrating on our wants leaves us miserable, envious, greedy, lustful, slighted, etc. Focus on your needs which God generously helps you to meet and enjoy the satisfaction that follows. God cares about our needs, not our wants. (frsos)

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Sep 13

 

               

 

to me

 

Imprisoned by Unforgiveness

 

   I read a story about two friends who survived a Nazi concentration camp. One asked the other, “Have you forgiven the Nazis?” He replied that he had. The first reacted, “Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred towards them.” “In that case,” responded the second man gently, “they still have you in prison.” One of the greatest gifts that Jesus brought to us is the power of forgiveness. It frees us to achieve the fullness of our humanity, which is achieved through union with Jesus Christ. To be in union with God we must repent and be forgiven by Him for our sins. Since one good turn deserves another, if we need God to forgive us our sins, so we must also forgive one another for our sinfulness against each other. Refusing to forgive dooms us to remain imprisoned by those who hurt us. Unforgiveness keeps us shackled to a hurtful past that robs us of a joyful present and a hopeful future. Forgiveness, on the other hand, frees us from the past to enjoy and live fully in the present with a bright future ahead. So why, then, do we hesitate or refuse to forgive? To err is human but to forgive is divine. The fact is that we can’t forgive without God’s grace.

 

   In the Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus because it was widely used by Jesus’ Church to teach morality, God clearly states, “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet sinners hug them tight … Forgive your neighbour’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” (Sir 27:30-28:2) Why do we hug wrath and anger tight? We’re like the little boy who was sitting on a park bench in obvious pain. A man saw him and asked, “What’s wrong with you?” The boy answered, “I’m sitting on a bumble bee and it’s stinging me!” The man said, “Why don’t you stand up and get away from it?” The boy replied, “Well, by sitting here I think I’m hurting him more than he’s hurting me!” We hold on to anger because we think, foolishly, that somehow it punishes the one who hurt us. God gave us the emotion of anger to help us defend against those who hurt us, not to hold on to the hurt by refusing to forgive through seeking revenge or carrying a grudge. As human beings we should be the fittest of creatures since we carry grudges, run with gossip, and jump to conclusions. Forgiveness of others is essential if we want to be forgiven for our own sins.

 

   Since God created us in His image and likeness, to be true to Him we must act like Him. Jesus shows us how to be and act like God. The psalmist reminds us, “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all our ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.” (Ps 103:3-4) To be in union with God and be happy we must pardon one another and heal each other’s ills. We must avoid what destroys life, like the poison of unforgiveness, and relate to each other kindly and compassionately. To achieve this we need God’s Spirit to prepare our spirit to do what’s right in His eyes rather than following our own distorted vision. Jesus’ Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, assures us of His help:“For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favour and to find help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)

 

    Jesus fully sympathizes with us, not to condone or excuse our weaknesses and sins but to help us to repent, forgive, and be forgiven. Jesus rose above His hurts through the power of forgiveness when, nailed to the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34) We must always be ready to forgive. Peter asked Jesus, “‘Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?’ ‘No,’ said Jesus, ‘not seven times; I say, seventy times seven times.’” (Mt 18:21-22) Jesus then went on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant whose huge debt was forgiven by his master. However, that servant refused to forgive a man who owed him a small debt. The master was angered at his lack of compassion and had him thrown into prison. His lack of forgiveness caused him to be imprisoned.

 

   Most of our ills result from blind fear and anger. Unless we use them constructively they load us down with baggage that impede our growth as human beings. Jesus reminds us that “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” (Lk 8:50) We cope with anger through forgiveness. We receive the grace to forgive every time we seek God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we should allow someone to continually hurt us. Forgiveness sometimes means we should put distance between ourselves and our abusers. Forgiveness frees and heals hurt, otherwise we’ll be miserable, stunted, and imprisoned in our unforgiveness. We mustn’t forget that only forgivers go to Heaven. (frsos)

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Sep 6

 

               

 

to me

 

Tough Love

 

   True love is basically about caring, whether it’s between husband and wife, parents and children, friends, neighbours, priest and congregation, teacher and student, or health professional and patient. Without caring there’s no love and without love there’s no bonding, and without bonding there’s no relationship, and without relationship our development is stunted. Caring is expressed in concern, acceptance, affirmation, affection, respect, responsibility, integrity, nurturing, and generosity. Each of these ingredients is an essential aspect of caring which means it requires effort and commitment to love. We can’t do it on our own. We need God’s help to love consistently and genuinely. The Holy Spirit revealed that “Love … rejoices in the truth …it never fails.” (1 Cor 13:4-8) Love, like the truth, sets us and others free.

 

   There are two kinds of love, natural and supernatural. Natural love is what a parent has for a child and vice versa. Supernatural love is what God has for us and it empowers us to care not just for those closest to us but even for our enemies. Natural love doesn’t last when those we love don’t love us. Supernatural love empowers us to love others even if they don’t respond in kind. This is why we need God’s love to be truly caring towards everyone we meet. It’s knowing and experiencing God’s love for us that enables us to rise above the hurts, disappointments, failures, and betrayals we experience in our self and in our relationships. This is the love that humbly rejoices in the truth and enables us to care enough for others so that we’re willing to risk calling them to do what’s morally good when they’re sinning. This isn’t easy, but it’s what genuine caring for our fellow man or woman calls us to do.

 

    Jesus summarized God’s Commandments in the Law of Love: Love God with all you have and are, and love your neighbour as yourself. (Mt 12:30-31) As Christians we’re obligated to love God and our neighbour. Our neighbour is anyone in need. Human need isn’t just about food, clothing, shelter, etc. It’s also about a person’s need for salvation; the human need for God, Jesus and His Church, the Sacraments, forgiveness, and to overcome sin. Therefore, to love our neighbour means helping an individual to meet not only physical needs but also, and even more importantly, his or her spiritual needs, namely the salvation of his or her soul. Helping to meet a person’s bodily needs is much easier than helping to meet his or her spiritual needs.

 

   God is very clear about our responsibility to help others to cease their sinful ways. He tells us, “If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.” (Ezek 33:8-9) As Christians we’re obligated to remind others to follow the Law of Love and abandon the way of sin. This isn’t easy because we don’t like to intrude in other people’s lives. After all, “who’re we to judge others,” we tell ourselves. Aren’t we sinners too? Yes, we’re sinners, but we know we must seek Jesus’ forgiveness and His grace to overcome sin. We also know that God expects us to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. (Gen 4:9) Therefore we’re obligated by God’s love to help keep one another on the path to Heaven. This calls for tough love. Love never closes its eyes to another person’s sinfulness because we don’t want anyone to go to hell.

 

   What is tough love? It’s the kind of caring that calls another person to change his or her sinful ways. It isn’t done out of conceit or a “better than thou” attitude, but rather out of a genuine concern for the person’s soul so that he or she might go to Heaven. It’s an expression of affection for another. It’s an act of mercy, but it’s tough to do. It’s like a parent who refuses to help a drug-addicted child pay his or her bills until he or she becomes clean through a rehabilitation programme. The intent of tough love is always the wellbeing and happiness of the other person. The Psalmist expresses the hope of this kind of love, “Oh, that today you would hear God’s voice; harden not your hearts.” (Ps 95:8) The goal of love in general and tough love in particular is reconciliation. Unity in the community was so important to Jesus that He set up a three-step structure to confront wrongdoing. “If your brother should commit some wrong against you, go and point out his fault, but keep it between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. If he does not listen, summon another, so that every case may stand on the word of two or three witnesses. If he ignores them, refer it to the Church.” (Mt. 18:15-17) Imagine what a different world we would have if we followed these steps. These are the steps taken by tough love. This is the kind of love that focuses on justice and peace. Tough love is caring at its best. Remember that “admonishing the sinner” is one of the spiritual works of mercy. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy <frsos@eircom.net>

 

               

 

Aug 30

 

               

 

to me

 

Good and Restful Thinking

 

   St. Augustine prayed, “You have created us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” We all have a restless heart that constantly seeks someone or something to provide it with a place in which to rest. The key question is whether what we rest our heart in will give it the rest it seeks. Will what we put our trust in deliver the peace and happiness our heart desires? If God is our Creator, it follows that only He can fulfil our deepest yearnings. With the Psalmist we can proclaim, “O God, You are my God whom I seek; for You my body pines and my soul thirsts like earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” (Ps 63: 2) The Christian is the person who recognizes that Jesus Christ alone provides the only place in which our heart will find permanent rest both in this life and beyond death. Jesus is the antidote to our restlessness by joining us to Him in His Church and leading us to perfect happiness in Heaven. This is what makes Christianity so essential for human fulfilment. The first line of the song, “It’s Hard to Be Humble” is, “O Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” We could change that and say, “O Lord, it’s hard to be Christian when you’re imperfect in every way.” But we must recognize that Christianity’s purpose is to let Jesus perfect the imperfect, transform the deformed.

 

   To be Christian is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in His Church. He revealed that, “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross daily, and begin to follow in my footsteps.” (Mt 16:24) Because we suffer from a fallen nature that’s prone to selfishness and sinfulness, being Christian requires a change of thinking, namely to focus more on others and less on ourselves. To follow in Jesus’ footsteps we must embrace Him as our Leader and Teacher. Like any good follower or student, we must keep our eyes fixed on Him. The more we do that the more we let our spirit be transformed by His Spirit and the more we place our heart in His Sacred Heart where we’ll experience a restfulness that nothing or no one can disturb. That’s the payoff for the Christian but it requires a change in the way we naturally think. The Prophet, Jeremiah, reflects the conflict we experience between our thinking and God’s thinking. Being a Godly person entails suffering because it involves putting God and others’ needs first when we would prefer to put ourselves first. We prefer to be honoured ourselves than to honour God or others. We prefer convenience, comfort, and ease to sacrifice, discomfort, and hardship. Jeremiah complained to God, “...the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach … I say to myself, I will not mention Him, I will speak in His Name no more.” (Jer 20:7-9) His listeners didn’t like what God told Jeremiah to tell them and it brought him much suffering. So it is with the Christian who often has to stand alone when it comes to upholding what’s sacred and true. However, like Jeremiah who felt God’s Spirit within him “like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones …” (Jer 20:9), the Christian finds that witnessing the truth of Jesus is worth the suffering it might entail.

 

   Since God alone is all good, good thinking is using our reason to seek God’s goodness and act on it in all our decisions. This is why St. Paul warns us in his Epistle to the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:2) This age, the world in which we live, is temporary and imperfect. Our problem is that we focus on what’s passing and imperfect as if it were permanent and perfect. Instead of recognizing that the Creator, not the creature, is in control of the creation we act as if we’re in control. Peter is an example of this when he tried to save Jesus from the suffering He had to endure to save the world. Jesus reprimanded him, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mt 16:23) Peter was trying to save Jesus from suffering. Nothing wrong in that except that he was trying to make Jesus his follower rather than him being Jesus’ follower. Good thinking is thinking like Jesus, while bad thinking is trying to save ourselves instead of letting Jesus save us. He asks, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mt 16:26) Our soul is us, our principle of life, our personality and individuality. Our restless heart reflects our soul’s yearning for our Creator who alone can perfect us and give us rest. Good thinking is Christian thinking that leads us to follow Jesus in His Church where He alone can save our soul and give permanent rest to our heart. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy <frsos@eircom.net>

 

               

 

Aug 23

 

               

 

to me

 

By Whose Authority

 

   Authority is the power and the right to do something. Only the author of something can authorize another to promote and interpret his or her creation. If God is the creator of the universe, reason requires that we accept Him as the only authority possessing the power and the right to properly state its purpose and destination. If God is our Creator, then He alone has the authority to tell us who we are, why we’re here, what we need, how we should live, what our purpose is, and where’re we’re headed. No one else has that authority except those to whom God chooses to delegate it. St. Paul states clearly, “Let everyone obey the authorities that are over him, for there is no authority except from God, and all authority that exists is established by God.” (Rom 13:1-2) When Pilate questioned Jesus, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and the power to crucify you?” He answered, “You would have no power over me whatever unless it were given you from above.” (Jn 19:10-11) Anyone who claims the authority to say or do something that isn’t of God is a fraud and should be rejected as a sower of division.

 

  When Jesus commissioned His Apostles to make every person His adopted brother or sister through baptism into His Church He assured them: “Full authority has been given to me both in Heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Mt 28:18-19) Jesus delegated His authority to His Church under Peter’s leadership assisted by the other Apostles. Jesus created a visible structure for His Church by founding it on Peter as her head on earth. The visible Church is Jesus’ visible body on earth. “It is He who is the head of the body, the Church … to reconcile everything in His Person, both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of His cross.” (Col 1:18-20)

 

   Only the Church that Jesus founded on Peter, which continues under his successors, the Bishops of Rome, has the proper authority, jurisdiction, power, and right to identify Jesus’ real presence in the world. The Bishops of Rome, Peter’s successors, are the principle of continuity of Jesus’ Church in the world until the end of time. Jesus founded His Church on one man chosen and authorized by Him. God did something similar in the Old Testament when He authorized Eliakim to lock or unlock the House of David. “I will place the key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts no one will open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honour for his family.” (Is 22:19-23) Jesus chose Peter for a similar position. When Jesus asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Mt 16:13) Peter proclaimed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (v 16) Jesus responded, “Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.” (v 17) God had inspired Peter to recognize and proclaim Jesus’ true identity. Jesus then designated Peter as the visible foundation upon which to build His Church. “I for my part declare to you, you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my Church …I will entrust to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be declared bond in Heaven, whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be declared loosed in Heaven.” (v 18-19) Jesus authorized Peter, not the other Apostles, to be the “Keeper of the Keys” to God’s Kingdom. Peter and his successors are the only ones with the divine authority to make laws for God’s people. They alone are authorized to interpret God’s word and make visible Jesus’ sacramental presence in His Church as her Head. No one has that authority unless it’s delegated by Peter’s successor who is current the head of Jesus’ Church on earth. It’s the Church under the leadership of Peter and His successors that reflects Jesus true presence in the world until the end of time calling all people to unite with Him. The Pope’s task and that of her members is to proclaim Jesus’s presence to the world, echoing Peter’s words, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus confirmed Peter as the head of His Church when He stated, “He who hears you hears me. He who rejects you rejects me. And he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me.” (Lk 10:16)

 

   Why did Jesus choose one man upon whom to found and lead His Church? It wasn’t because Peter or his successors were or are perfect. To compensate for their flaws He sent His Holy Spirit to guide their teaching and preaching guaranteeing the integrity of His Good News. Then why? We don’t know. St. Paul reminds us, “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counsellor? … For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever.” (Rom 11:33-36) To paraphrase Alfred Tennyson, “Ours is not to questions why, ours it is to accept with joy.” (frsos)

 

FR SHEEHY

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Jul 26

 

               

 

to me

 

The Gift of Discernment

 

   The Hebrew Testament records that God prepared Solomon for his role as King David’s successor by telling him, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” (1 Kgs 3:5) Believers ask God for all kinds of things. Some He grants and others He doesn’t. His response to our requests depends on whether what we ask for is for selfish or unselfish purposes. God never sanctions selfishness. Solomon, noted for his wisdom, at least in his early years, asked the Lord, “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” (1 kgs 3:9) What Solomon asked for was the gift of discernment so he could judge justly and do what was right in God’s eyes.

 

   To be a discerning person is to have keen insight and understanding in order to discriminate between what’s real and unreal, true and false, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, in order to make the right choice. The right choice is always what’s in accord with God’s commandments. This is why the Psalmist was inspired to praise God, “Wonderful are Your decrees; therefore I observe them. The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119:129-130) Since God’s word is the truth it alone gives us the insight to judge what the greatest good is so we can choose the best from the rest. God’s word sheds light on what we couldn’t see or understand on our own. His word gives us an understanding of what we need in order to be fully human and fully alive. The gift of discernment enables us to act wisely by determining what will be beneficial to our relationship with God and neighbor and also what will weaken or destroy it.

 

   A discerning man or woman is a wise man or woman. Being able to discern between the true God and false gods keeps us from being led astray by the false promises of people with evil or egotistical designs. The true God gives us the Ten Commandments to keep us on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal happiness with Him. God sent us His Son, Jesus, to show us how to love and remind us how much He loves us. Jesus gave us His Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to continue shedding the light of His teaching on us so that we can always know what’s true about Him and ourselves and, by default, what’s false. Through Jesus’ Church we’re able to discern that He’s personally with us guiding us toward Heaven. Thus St. Paul was inspired to write, “We know that all things work for the good for those who love God who are called according to His purpose… These He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

 

   Only God’s word proclaimed by Jesus’ Church gives us the keenest insight into our human nature that suffers from inherited and personal sinfulness so that we can deepen our understanding of our need for Jesus Christ to save us. Sin isn’t a physical or psychological problem that we can heal medically or therapeutically. It’s a condition we’re born with and we can’t save ourselves from it. Therefore we need a Savior. Those who reject God’s word and His Church do not have the necessary insight, understanding or help to free themselves from their selfishness. They have to rely on themselves or others with all their flaws, limitations, and sinfulness to determine what’s right or wrong, good or bad. Hence their judgment is extremely subjective and myopic. Only God the Creator can give us, His creatures, the big picture regarding who we are, what we are, why we’re here, what we need, and where we’re headed. He’s the only one who can enlighten us so that we can discern what’s best in order to reach the fullness of our potential, which is to be God’s image and act like Him in the world. Since He is God, Jesus is the model of how to be like God.

 

   When Jesus was describing the Kingdom of God to His listeners He emphasized the importance of discernment in order to recognize what’s most valuable and worth the sacrifice to obtain it. He compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure discovered by a man in a field who then “sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Mt 13:44) Again Jesus likens His Kingdom to a merchant searching for fine pearls who “when he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt 13:46) Then Jesus challenged them, “Do you understand all these things?” (Mt 13:51) The gift of discernment enabled them to give up what they had in order to procure what they realized was better. That’s exactly what the gift of discernment does – it enables us to see what has real value and worth making the sacrifices to obtain it. If you’ve discerned that Jesus, present in His Church, is your greatest treasure – He alone promises eternal happiness to His followers - then you will gladly give up what you have to follow Him. Pray for the gift of discernment each day so you can distinguish right from wrong and choose what deepens your relationship with Christ. (frsos)

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Aug 2

 

               

 

to me

 

Witnessing Divinity

 

   Have you ever witnessed divinity - God’s presence in your life or in that of others? For Jews and Christians there are lots of witnesses to divinity in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Jesus’ Church calls us to reflect on one of the events in Jesus’ life wherein His Apostles, Peter, James, and John witnessed His divinity as they saw Him transfigured on the mountain. “He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:2) They saw Him conversing with Moses and Elijah revealing that He was fulfilling all that the Law and the Prophets promised God’s people. The experience of Jesus’ divinity was so thrilling that Peter exclaimed, “Lord it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Mt 17:4) Peter didn’t want his experience of divinity to end. Then to confirm what they had seen, the three Apostles heard a voice from the heavens that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” (Mt 17:5) Realizing the presence of God, “they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.” (Mt 17:6) But Jesus, whose transformation awed them and confirmed by God the Father, touched the frightened men and urged, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” (Mt 17:7) Witnessing divinity makes people courageous, not fearful. Fearful people accomplish nothing. It’s the courageous people who accomplish great things in God’s presence.

 

   The prophet, Daniel, over 160 years before the birth of Jesus, had a vision of Jesus’ humanity and divinity. “I saw one like the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven … He received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve Him. His dominion is everlasting ...” (Dan 7:13-14). This vision was fulfilled in the Person of Jesus and witnessed by His three Apostles at His transfiguration.

 

   To be transfigured is to be transformed into something better or more beautiful. To be transformed a person must first be conformed. Jesus was transformed before the Apostles’ eyes because He was already conformed to God. He was God’s Word-made-flesh. Just as Jesus was transformed so that the eyes of the Apostles witnessed His divinity, so He wants the members of His Church to be transformed so that the eyes of the world could witness their Christianity and the hope it brings for happiness. But to be transformed as Christians we must first be conformed to Jesus Christ. That means we must, like Peter, James, and John, embrace Him as the Messiah who alone can keep us safe for eternal life. That conformation begins in Baptism where God adopts us as His children, brothers and sisters of Jesus guided by the Holy Spirit embracing “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and lives in all.” (Eph 4:5) To be conformed to Jesus we must be informed by the teaching of His Church and formed by the Holy Spirit. Then He can transform us into witnesses of His divinity here on earth.

 

   Where is divinity witnessed? It’s witnessed where Jesus promised to be present until the end of the world, namely in His Church that He founded on Peter and continues under the leadership of his successors, the Bishops of Rome. After commissioning Peter and the other Apostles to “make disciples of all the nations… and to …Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you,” Jesus assured them, “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Mt 28:19-20) We witness Jesus’ divinity in His Church’s preaching of the Holy Scriptures where Peter informs us, “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain. We profess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it.” (1 Pt 1:16-19) We witness Jesus’ divinity in His Church’s moral teaching, in her Sacraments, in her service to the poor and vulnerable, in Her daily prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, and especially in her celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we recall and renew the new Covenant Jesus entered into in our behalf and the sacrifice He made on the cross to redeem us from our sins. We witness divinity in Jesus’ gift of Himself in Holy Communion. Since “No one is good but God alone,” (Mk 10:18) we witness divinity wherever good is done. Since “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8, 16), we witness divinity wherever love is expressed. Since Jesus came “to serve and not to be served” (Mt 20:28), we witness divinity whenever and wherever others are served. Since God is just and merciful we witness divinity whoever justice and mercy are exercised. Divinity, God’s presence, is all around us but we don’t take time to reflect on it.

 

  God calls you and me to be witnesses of His divine presence. To do so we must walk with Jesus and listen to Him as He assures us, “Rise up and do not be afraid.” We listen to Him when we’re attentive to His Church’s preaching and teaching and receive Him in her Sacraments. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Aug 9 (12 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Faith Conquers Fear

 

   Writing to the Corinthian Christians St. Paul stated, “Therefore we continue to be confident… We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:6-7) The true believer walks by supernatural faith, not by natural sight. Walking by supernatural faith requires total trust in Jesus whom we don’t see but whom we believe to be present in His Church’s preaching of the Holy Gospels and in her Liturgy and Sacraments. Faith, at its deepest level, is a relationship of trust. One difference between Jews and Christians is the difference between adherence to a law and faith in a person. Adherence to a law only requires obedience, while faith in a person requires entrusting oneself to him or her. Obeying a law doesn’t in itself change a person’s heart. But we can’t entrust our self to someone without being open to that person’s influence which brings change.

 

   The obstacle to trust is fear. Fear is a protective emotion, but it mustn’t control us. It’s easier to obey a law than to involve oneself in a trusting relationship. There’s no risk in simply observing a law. But trust involves the unseen which can cause us to be afraid. The Holy Spirit inspired St. John to declare, “Love has no room for fear; rather, perfect love casts out all fear. And since fear has to do with punishment, love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid.” (1 Jn 4:18) Jesus reminds us that when faced with problems, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust …” (Lk 8:50) Our tendency, when tragedy strikes, is to act out of fear rather than faith. We feel more secure walking by sight than by faith. Why? Seeing makes us feel more in control while faith signifies that God alone is in control. Acting out of faith means that we have to trust in Jesus and rely totally on Him to save us. But we want to be independent and self-sufficient, even though we’re not.

 

   Being Christian means that we accept that Jesus is in charge of creation and we’re not. We’re simply the stewards of creation and God will hold us accountable when we die. This world belongs to God; it isn’t ours to do what we want with it. A good steward always takes his or her cue from the property owner. A good Christian totally trusts Jesus Christ. But total trust isn’t easy for us due to our sinful nature that wants to be independent. Jesus came to save us from sin by trusting in Him as the only way to Heaven. That means entrusting ourselves to Him as our Teacher, Saviour, and Life-giver. He reminds us, “Whoever would save his or her life will lose it, and whoever loses his or her life for my sake will save it.” (Lk 9:24) We cannot save ourselves from our sinfulness. We need Jesus to save us because He alone offers us forgiveness and the grace to forgive ourselves and one another. The greatest fraud perpetrated on human beings is the notion that we can be our own saviour. This is the biggest problem we have in our western world today. It leads to a terrible plague of “Me ism” which makes every person his or her own god – a false god that makes promises he or she can’t keep. We always lose when we try to save ourselves. We always win when we let Jesus save us.

 

   St. Matthew shows us the tension between faith and fear in St. Peter during a storm at sea. Jesus left to go and pray. Meanwhile the disciples were in a boat at night hit by strong headwinds. Suddenly they saw someone walking on the water and became frightened, crying out, “It is a ghost!” (Mt 14:26) It was Jesus. He told them, “Get hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid!” (Mt 14:27) Peter blurted out, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to You across the water.” Jesus said, “Come!” (Mt v29) Peter, in faith, stepped out of the boat but feeling the strong wind became fearful and started sinking. Then, in desperation, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v30) Jesus “stretched out His hand and caught him,” chiding him, “How little faith you have! Why did you falter?” (v31) Natural faith yields to fear in the face of danger, whereas supernatural faith doesn’t. This is a problem we all face, namely the problem of letting go of our need to be in control and putting our self in God’s hands. When the blind man asked Jesus for the gift of sight, He responded, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” (Lk 18:42) Faith lets us put ourselves in Jesus’ comforting hands. Then, trusting in Him we can step out of our boat and let Him raise us up from whatever might be pulling us down. It’s comforting to know that Jesus is in charge and, despite our temptation to take charge, He will stretch out His hand to save us when we have that sinking feeling. Faith conquers fear so we’re able to pray in Thomas Dorsey’s Hymn: “Precious Lord, take my hand/ Lead me on, let me stand/ I’m tired, I’m weary, I’m worn/ Through the storm, through the night lead me on to the light/ Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”  (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Aug 16 (5 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

God Wants to Save Everyone

 

   God formed a people, the Israelites, for the purpose of revealing Himself and His plan to save mankind from eternal death due to Adam and Eve’s sin. Choosing this people, beginning with Abraham, didn’t mean He rejected or ignored all others. Rather He chose the Israelites to be His instrument through which every human being could come to know Him and experience His saving love. God revealed through Isaiah that His people is to be a community of prayer and open to all. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to Him, loving the Name of the Lord, and becoming His servants – all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my Covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.” (Is 56:6-7) The task of the Israelites was to be a prayerful people who visibly witnessed God’s love to the world.

 

   Jesus reinforced God’s catholic mission to save everyone by uniting them with Him and embracing His way, His truth, and His life. Jesus formed a people – His Church – to witness and introduce Him to every man, woman, and child as their Lord who saves them by making them His adopted brothers and sisters so all could call God “Our Father” in the midst of His Church, His visible body on earth. The Holy Spirit, revealing God’s will through Jesus’ Church, inspired St. Paul to write, “for He (God our Saviour) wants everyone to be saved and come to know the truth. And the truth is this: God is one. One also is the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 2:4-5) St. Luke, referring to the salvation of everyone by Jesus, was inspired to write, “Now you must realize that this salvation of God has been transmitted to the Gentiles – who will listen to it!” (Acts 28:28) Jesus Himself stated that His mission was to save everyone: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must lead them, too, and they shall hear my voice. There shall be one flock, then, one shepherd.” (Jn 10:16) Just as any good father wants the best for each of his children, so God, our Heavenly Father, wants the best for every human being whom He has created. And, of course, the best for every person is to attain perfect happiness. This is made possible only in Heaven in the arms of God the Father in union with Jesus immersed in the love of the Holy Spirit.

 

   The task of Jesus’ Church members is to bring Jesus to the world to save it from its built-in self-destruction. The mission of the Church is to give witness to Jesus’ loving, just, and merciful presence so that, in the words of the Psalmist, His way “may be known upon the earth; among all the nations, Your salvation.” (Ps 67:3) Because God wants everyone to be saved and come to know eternal happiness doesn’t mean that everyone is saved. Jesus Himself revealed that, “The invited are many, the elect are few.” (Mt 22:14) The elect are those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter is a reminder that it’s the determination to trust in Him, no matter what, that saves us. This woman wasn’t a Jew but she totally believed that Jesus could and would heal her daughter. Her faith was tested by Jesus but she showed it was genuine. Jesus’ words to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (Mt 15:28) tell us that this is the faith we must have in Him if we’re to receive His saving grace.

 

   Jesus warns us, “But how narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it.” (Mt 7:14) If God calls everyone, why isn’t everyone saved? Simply because not everyone accepts Jesus’ invitation to unite with Him in His Church. Why? Because faith is difficult for us. Why? It requires humility. Pride moves us to be independent and self-sufficient. Faith calls us to admit we’re dependent and inefficient by ourselves. Faith is about relying on God for love and happiness so we walk the straight and narrow road with God’s Commandments and Jesus’ Beatitudes as the signposts assuring us we’re on the right path. Our fallen nature leads us to do things “my way” by choosing what gives us pleasure, power, and wealth. But these isolate us from one another creating an “us” and a “them” and they can’t fulfil our yearning for love, happiness, and eternal life. Answering God’s call to save us puts us all in the same boat, each of us needing to be saved because we can’t save ourselves. Recognizing that we all need God keeps us aware that “there’s no they, only us.” Our “Yes” to God’s call to save us from our fallen nature unites us as His people, a house of prayer, whereas a “No” to His call separates us from Him and from one another, creating factions, disrespect, violence, racism, and failure to be fully human and fully alive. Rejecting Jesus as our Saviour is like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. (frsos)

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Jun 14 2017

 

               

 

Food for the Journey

 

   In the Roman Catholic Church when a member is dying Jesus gives Himself to him or her in Holy Communion. This is called ‘viaticum,’ which means ‘provisions for the journey’. The Church assures the dying person that he or she isn’t dying alone but in the company of Jesus who promises him or her eternal life after death. This is done with or outside of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The Holy Eucharist is the proper food for the soul that strengthens the dying person as he or she travels from this world to the next. This Sunday Church calls the world to reflect on “Corpus Christi,” the Body of Christ in which Jesus gives us the gift of Himself as nourishment for our soul here on earth. Just our body needs proper food for physical health so our soul needs food for spiritual health. Without proper food our body deteriorates and our soul withers. Withering souls are the root cause of most of our problems that can’t be healed medically or psychologically.

 

   As God freed His people from Egyptian slavery Moses reminded them, “He let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut 8:3) The Psalmist, aware of God’s providence, proclaimed, “Praise the Lord, He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat he fills you.” (Ps 147:14) But physical food isn’t sufficient in itself for life’s fulfilment. If it were, all well-fed people would be happy. Because God created our soul it hungers for Him since only He can nourish it. The Psalmist reminds us, “As a deer longs for running waters, so my soul longs for You, my God. Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.” (Ps 42:2-3) It’s God’s Word that creates, sustains, loves, and promises us a joyful and peaceful eternal life. It’s the Word from God’s mouth that keeps us in existence, fulfils us, makes us whole, and enables us to achieve the fullness of our potential, namely to be like Him and happily live with Him forever. But how does God’s Word keep us alive? What do we need in order to get it? Jesus gives us the answer.

 

   In Jesus God’s Word became flesh. He’s God-become-man, born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. He’s Immanuel, God-with-us. But Jesus wasn’t satisfied by being God-with-us, He wanted to be God-in-us. He revealed, “I myself am the bread of life …I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. This is the bread that comes down from Heaven for a man to eat and never die … If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:35, 48-51) While celebrating the Passover with His Apostles on Holy Thursday evening Jesus made clear how He was to keep us alive by being the bread that nourishes the soul so we can happily live forever. “During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples. ‘Take this and eat it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a chalice, gave thanks, and gave it to them. ‘All of you must drink from it,’ he said, ‘for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28)  In this action God’s Word-in-the-flesh, Jesus Christ, made Himself the “bread of life” to nourish our soul and prepare our spirit for eternal life. To make sure that He didn’t mean the bread and wine as mere symbols of His body and blood, He stated, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

 

   Jesus changed the unleavened bread into His body and the wine into His blood to be physically eaten and drunk as both the greatest sign of unity with Him and as the only true food for the human soul. He bestowed this power on His Apostles when He commanded them to “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk 22:19) Jesus’ Church, faithful to the Apostolic Tradition, has continued in His Name to enable Jesus’ Eucharistic presence in the consecrated bread – His Body – and in the consecrated wine – His blood. Thus through the ordained priesthood in His Church Jesus makes it possible for believers to receive Him, body, soul, and divinity physically and spiritually in Holy Communion. Jesus’ Church makes Sunday Mass obligatory for all believers because Jesus warns, “Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man ad drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (Jn 6:53) So if we want to have a life that’s spiritually healthy and one that will joyfully last forever we must physically and spiritually feed our soul with Jesus who is the “Bread of Life.” (frsos)

 

VICE PRESIDENT May 2017

 

Kathy Farsaci

 

Yesterday at 2:23pm ·

 

 

 

When I opened the USA TODAY on Monday, May 22nd, I was shocked to see the front page story was about Vice President Pence’s address to the graduates of Notre Dame. After reading it, my first thought was “why in the world would this story make the front page?” I know why, it is because you and other media outlets have to find stories that are negative about the Vice President and President of our country. You said the number of students that walked out were “about” 100. I seriously doubt there were that many after seeing the same story on the national news. You stated the reason for the protest was because of the Vice President’s views on the LGBT community. Well guess what? All of those students were graduates of a “Catholic” University. The Catholic church opposes gay marriage and sex between same sex partners. That is not a secret. The Vice President shares those same views. Why are these students attending such a university? They should have gone to one of those feel good universities where every possible deviant lifestyle is accepted. Also, to have 100 out of 3,171 students means that 97% of the students were respectful of the Vice President and did not protest. The news should have been that 97% supported the Vice President. This is typical of the media. Each year on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate against abortion and it hardly makes news. Your story of “about” 100 students protesting the Vice President makes the front page. No small wonder our President is calling you all out on fake news!!

 

 

 

 

 

Day of Prayer for Permanent Peace

 

 

 

Here are a few excerpts from President Trump’s proclamation for this Memorial Day to be a Day of Prayer for Permanent Peace.

 

 

 

    “Memorial Day is our Nation’s solemn reminder that freedom is never free.  It is a moment of collective reflection on the noble sacrifices of those who gave the last measure of devotion in service of our ideals and in the defense of our Nation.  On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights. “

 

 

 

    “In honor and recognition of all of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.  The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

 

 

 

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer.  I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance.

 

 

 

    I further ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.”

 

 

 

 

 

Edith Sitwell–a Catholic convert wrote, her poem Still Falls the Rain–written during the WW2 bombing of London.

 

 

 

    Still falls the Rain—

 

    Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—

 

    Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails

 

    Upon the Cross.

 

 

 

    Still falls the Rain

 

    With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat

 

    In the Potter’s Field, and the sound of the impious feet

 

 

 

    On the Tomb:

 

    Still falls the Rain

 

 

 

    In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain

 

    Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

 

 

 

    Still falls the Rain

 

    At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.

 

    Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us—

 

    On Dives and on Lazarus:

 

    Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

 

 

 

    Still falls the Rain—

 

    Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man’s wounded Side:

 

    He bears in His Heart all wounds,—those of the light that died,

 

    The last faint spark

 

    In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,

 

    The wounds of the baited bear—

 

    The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat

 

    On his helpless flesh… the tears of the hunted hare.

 

 

 

    Still falls the Rain—

 

    Then— O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune—

 

    See, see where Christ’s blood streames in the firmament:

 

    It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

 

 

 

    Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart

 

    That holds the fires of the world,—dark-smirched with pain

 

    As Caesar’s laurel crown.

 

 

 

    Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man

 

    Was once a child who among beasts has lain—

 

    “Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee.”

 

Deborah Cotton (Avodah) Shot.

 

 

 

(JTA) — When four gunmen opened fire on a New Orleans parade on Mother’s Day in 2013, sending the crowd running, Deborah Cotton stood in place and stared at one of the shooters.

 

 

 

“I looked over and I saw one of the main shooters,” she said last month when she was honored at a dinner of Avodah, the Jewish service group. “Everyone else had taken off running, and for some reason I was just captivated by this one shooter. He reminded me of my son or my nephew.

 

 

 

“My gut instinct was to run over and stop him, take the gun, run with him, move him out of the way,” she said. “My feeling for them was sorrow.” Nevertheless, Cotton was among those shot, losing a kidney and gall bladder, and suffering damage to her stomach, intestines and pancreas.

 

 

 

Barely a week after the speech, on May 2, Cotton died at age 52 of complications resulting from her wounds. The event was her last public appearance.

 

 

 

Cotton suffered the worst wounds of the 19 victims on that day in 2013. The suspects were four brothers who pleaded guilty to multiple charges; two received life sentences, and two each received 40 years. Instead of being vindictive, she was the opposite: She forgave her shooters and became one of their fiercest advocates.

 

 

 

“I thought, this boy, he hasn’t even started life yet,” she told Avodah of one of the shooters. “He hasn’t had a baby. He hasn’t gone out of the country yet. People were stumped that I would actually feel compassion for these young men.”

 

 

 

Cotton, a writer, was already a public voice when she was shot. She moved to New Orleans in 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina, and dedicated herself to covering the city’s “second-line” parades, which descend from the New Orleans black community’s tradition of funeral parades. She saw that the parades, which happened nearly every week during certain seasons, weren’t covered by the press or publicized by the city. So Cotton began publishing information on the parades at NOLA.com and documented them in writing and video.

 

 

 

Cotton saw her work, which gained a large following, as correcting the city’s neglect of its black residents and their culture. After the shooting, she also began speaking out for criminal justice reform, staying in touch with her shooters.

 

 

 

Born to a black father and Jewish mother, Cotton told Avodah that her two heritages inspired her activism.

 

 

 

“Let me just start by saying I get it, honestly, my mother’s Jewish, my father’s black,” she said. “And those two cultures gave me my fortitude.”

 

 

 

Avodah trains young activists to address pressing social and economic issues. Dani Levine, the director of Avodah in New Orleans, said Cotton “was a true embodiment of living her ideals, of living a more just world.”

 

 

 

Friends planned to honor her memory with a series of  — what else — second-line parades.

 

 

 

 

 

PRIESTS

 

Priests for Life <FrFrankPavone@priestsforlife.org> Unsubscribe

 

               

 

May 4 (9 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

 

 

May 4, 2017

 

 

 

J G,

 

 

 

President Trump Gives Priests for Life Two Major Victories This Morning -- And another to follow this afternoon!

 

 

 

In a signing ceremony at the White House this morning, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Religious Freedom and Freedom of Speech. The order reaffirms our nation's commitment to religious freedom, and addresses two major issues that Priests for Life in particular has been battling in recent years.

 

 

 

Priests for Life was represented at the signing ceremony by our fulltime director of African-American Outreach, Evangelist Alveda King, to whom President Trump gave one of the pens he used in the signing ceremony.

 

 

 

First, the order takes aim at the "HHS Mandate," which Priests for Life was one of the first to challenge in court over five years ago. President Trump said that religious groups like ours can no longer be punished by the government for refusing to include abortion in health insurance coverage that we offer our employees.

 

 

 

The Supreme Court had erased the lower court rulings against us in this matter and directed us to sit down with the government to work out the differences. Those discussions have been ongoing. Now, the President's order will speed the process along to a favorable conclusion.

 

 

 

Second, the President's Executive Order takes aim at the "Johnson Amendment," a discredited 1954 provision that muzzles Churches and other tax exempt organizations from speaking their mind about politics. The President said that the days of being afraid to speak our mind on political matters from the pulpit are over, and that the government may not punish such speech.

 

 

 

I have spoken and written against the Johnson Amendment for years. In fact, my book Abolishing Abortion, (Thomas Nelson, 2015), talks about the Johnson Amendment in detail and outlines how pastors are scared into silence regarding anything about elections and voting. They are frightened not only by the Johnson Amendment itself but by dogmatic-sounding pronouncements from chancery offices telling them to shut up about politics and voting, lest the IRS knock on their doors and take away the tax exemption of the whole Catholic Church, even if they "appear" to be supporting or opposing a candidate or party.

 

 

 

Memo to diocesan bureaucrats: those days are over. President Trump has taken away your excuses. The Church is not going to be punished for speaking her mind about politics.

 

 

 

Priests for Life welcomes these developments. As the President was making his remarks this morning and signing the Executive Order, we broadcast it live on my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/FatherFrankPavone), and at the top of that page you can see that video footage and my commentary. Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

And one more thing: another victory is expected this afternoon as the House of Representatives votes on a health care bill that repeals and replaces Obamacare and takes federal funding away from Planned Parenthood!!! This bill is expected to pass the House, and this will be another great victory and step forward for the cause of life!

 

 

 

And find out more about all these things at PriestsForLife.org.

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 

National Director, Priests for Life

 

Reflection

 

Heavenly Father, walk with me today,

 

And grant that I may hear Your footsteps

 

and gladly follow where they lead.

 

Talk with me today and grant that I may hear Your tender voice,

 

 and quicken to its counsel.

 

Stay with me today and grant that I may feel

 

Your gentle presence in all I do and think.

 

 Be my strength when I am weak,

 

 my courage when I fear.

 

Help me to know that it is Your hand holding mine

 

 through all the hours of this day

 

 and when night falls grant that I may know

 

 I rest in Your Sacred Heart.

 

Riots July 1863

 

http://thosecatholicmen.com/articles/violent-protest-and-civil-unrest-the-draft-riots-of-1863/

 

 

 

http://thosecatholicmen.com/articles/922/

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy Feb 22 2017

 

What Are Your Priorities?

 

   Setting priorities is essential if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile. Our priorities reveal what’s important to us and they guide us in the best use of our time and resources. By setting priorities we define what we value the most. But not all priorities have the same ranking. We have to decide what our first, second, third, etc., priority is. What’s most important in my life? What drives me? We can have only one # 1 priority; the others are ranked # 2,3,4,5, etc. I remember college students trying to make study, work, social life, and religion each a 1st priority in their life. As a result nothing was ranked as their most important value, so their lives became chaotic, like headless chickens. There are four areas of our life where we need to set priorities: God/religion/spiritual life, family/friends, work/career, and recreation/fun/leisure. Identifying what we value most in each of these areas tells us what we need to focus on. To give of our best in all four areas we need an overall value that becomes the standard, our overriding priority, against which we measure all our efforts. As Christians, Jesus identifies what that 1st priority must be when He commanded His followers to, “Set your hearts on God’s Kingdom first, and on His way of holiness …” (Mt 6:33a) Then, He tells us, “all these other things will be given you as well.” (Mt 6:33b) The “other things” are our other priorities in life.

 

   We can’t have two competing 1st priorities. Jesus reminds us, “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money.” (Mt 6:24) The problem with trying to have more than one first priority is that it causes divided loyalty, which undermines our integrity. We can’t put both God and money first in our life. If we try, we find ourselves making material things equal or even superior to God. Because we live in a material world our tendency is to give things more attention than we give to God. We tend to give our physical needs, like food, drink, and clothing, more attention than we give to our spiritual needs. Focusing on the creation while ignoring the Creator puts the cart before the horse. Imagine a horse trying to push a cart with its nose instead of pulling it. It doesn’t make sense. Neither does it make sense to give the creation more importance than the Creator. It’s only by focusing on the Creator that Jesus’s words make sense when He teaches, “Do not worry about your livelihood, what you are to eat or drink or use for clothing. Is not life more than food? Is not the body more valuable than clothes?” (Mt 6:25) When we make God our first priority we view material things through His eyes. Then we don’t get bogged down by becoming dependent on or obsessing about material things. God created the material world for our use and benefit. He blessed and commissioned us to “be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28) We must subdue the earth as God’s stewards, and not be mastered by it. By putting God first we make sure to use material things to bring us closer to Him, not let them take us away from Him. Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation to focus on the creation rather than on the Creator and they brought about the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.

 

   Why should we make our relationship with God our first priority? He is our Creator and Saviour. He loves us, and it’s natural to trust those we love. He assures us, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Is 49:15) I make God my first priority because, “Only in God is my soul at rest: From Him comes my salvation … from Him comes my hope … with God is my safety and my glory … trust in Him at all times … pour out your hearts before Him.” (Ps 62:2-9) Jesus Himself epitomized God’s unconditional love for us in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension. St. John reminds us, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die, but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) When we put God first we know we don’t have to “worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt 6:33) We need to make our relationship with God our first priority so that His love will empower us to give of our best to our family and friendships, our work or career, and in our recreation, free from anxiety or worry. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that anything that can be taken away from us against our will can’t make us happy. Since only God can’t be taken away from us against our will, making Him our first priority assures us of happiness and fidelity to our priorities in all other areas of our life. What’s your 1st priority? (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy Mar 1 2017

 

               

 

Temptation

 

   Last week I reflected on the importance of setting priorities in the key areas of our life and having one overall priority that guides us in honouring the others. The Church’s liturgical season of Lent is the time she sets aside to examine our priorities and re-set or re-order them in light of our first priority, namely our relationship with Jesus. It’s a time to renew our prayer, fasting, and charitable giving by inviting the Holy Spirit to join our spirit so we can refocus our attention to what’s most important in our life, namely the salvation of our soul. Prayer needs fasting. Why? The purpose of prayer is to speak and listen to God. That means we must fast from our ego’s appetite for material things so that we can attend to the needs of our soul. Fasting without almsgiving is useless. Why? Because the less we rely on things to make us happy the less we’ll splurge on ourselves, and therefore the more we’ll have to give to others. Prayer without fasting and fasting without charitable giving are simply self-serving and can’t foster a loving spirit. All three energize each other’s genuineness and affectiveness. St. John Chrysostom noted, “The fast of Lent has no advantage to us unless it brings about our spiritual renewal. It is necessary while fasting to change our whole life and practice virtue. Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things— herein lies the true value of the fast.” Fasting reminds us to be generous toward others.

 

   Prayer would be easy if it weren’t for distractions. Being Christian would be easy if it weren’t for temptations to be selfish.  The Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, wrote, “I can resist everything except temptation.”  Jesus’ Church takes us back to the Garden of Eden where humans were first tempted. The word ‘tempt’ means to try out, test, or attempt to influence.  Satan tested Adam and Eve’s trust in God by suggesting that God didn’t mean what He said. He seduced them by promising that by eating the forbidden fruit, “your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” (Gen 3:5) Giving in to their sensual desires they ate the forbidden fruit. “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desiring for gaining wisdom.” (Gen 3:6) Satan tempted them with a half-truth that their eyes would be open and a false promise they would be like gods. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

 

   Temptation always involves half-truths and false promises. It’s only afterwards we realize that what looked good and true turns out to be painful and deadly. The reality of temptation reminds us of the reality of our free will. We always have a choice. But what we often forget is that every choice has consequences. The consequences of Adam and Eve’s choice were suffering and death. Every person since then suffers these deprivations causing unhappiness. It was into this world plagued by selfishness, suffering, and death that Jesus came to restore what God originally intended man and woman to be, namely complementary to one another, loving, and happy.

 

   The temptation in Eden was replicated in the desert where Jesus had gone to prepare for His public ministry. The outcome was totally different. Satan knew the human weakness for physical pleasure, power, and material possessions. He used each of these to test Jesus’ trust in His Father. But, unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus didn’t succumb to Satan’s half-truths and false promises. He saw Satan as “a liar and he father of lies.” (Jn 8:44) In rejecting Satan’s temptations Jesus enables us to do likewise through His grace. As St. Paul points out, “Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” (Rom 5:18) Adam and Eve’s fall by giving in to temptation was replaced by Jesus’ loving act of fidelity to His Father’s mission to save us from sin and death and enter Heaven.

 

   Jesus recognized our proneness to temptation so much so that He included a petition for its avoidance in His prayer. “Lead us not into temptation.” (Mt 6:13) We constantly need to ask the Lord to help us resist the temptation to please ourselves rather than please Him. St. Paul assures us, “You can trust God not to let you be tried beyond your strength, and with any trial he will give you a way out of it and a strength to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13) We can’t do it on our own. With the Psalmist we must pray, “Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offence. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” (Ps 51:3-4) The more we pray, fast, and practise charitable giving, the more God’s Spirit strengthens our spirit against selfishness. Then we can see through Satan’s half-truths and false promises. (frsos)

 

ROOM: By tradition, three of the founding events of Christianity all took place in the same spot: the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The Last Supper, the appearance of the risen Christ to his disciples, and Pentecost—all three shared this sacred space.

 

DALY

 

Salford 27 March 1920, Tablet

 

PADIHAM : PRESENTATION TO FATHER DALY.—Father Mortimer Daly, assistant priest at St. John's, Padiham, was presented with a gold watch on the 17th inst., by the Men's Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, of which he is the director. The presentation, which, besides being a recognition of what Father Daly has done for the men and boys of the parish since his advent among them, was also intended to mark his recent birthday, took place in the schoolroom. Father A. M. Van Tomme, in making the presentation, paid tribute to the work which Father Daly had accomplished for the social and spiritual welfare of the men and boys. He wished Father Daly many happy years to continue the good work he was doing at St. John's. Father Daly said, though the watch was valuable to him, still more valuable were the good will and kindly feelings of the parishioners.