From Sean Sheehy

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Wed, Apr 3, 12:36 PM (4 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Lent: Remembering what’s on Our Horizon

 

   Lent is a time of spiritual spring cleaning and renewing our commitment to Jesus Christ sacramentally present in His Church. Renewal calls for self-examination. So we must ask what’s on our horizon. Why? Because whatever is on our horizon is something that will happen or that we will do soon. This is the time to ask, “What’s my goal in life? Where am I headed? Where do I want to be? What is it that I’m moving towards in my life and in my relationships?” Our answer these questions shows us what’s on our horizon and determine where we’ll end up. There’s nothing worse than being somewhere you and I don’t want to be. Sadly, this is the fate of many people since they never stop and ask themselves, “What’s on my horizon?” or “Where am I heading?”

 

   Jesus’ universal Church begins her fifth week of Lent in preparation for her celebration of His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. She asks each of her members, and the whole world, to examine what’s on their horizon to make sure that what’s on it is what they need for their fulfilment. God speaks through her proclamation of the Holy Scriptures and tells us: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new” Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:16-21)  Often we let our past rob us of our present and drive us into the future. It is baggage that weighs us down. In focusing on our horizon the first thing we must do is let go of our past. How? By trusting it to God’s mercy. When God said to His people, “I am doing something new” He was talking about the gifts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and resurrection from the dead, all of which Jesus would bring into the world. We trust our past to God’s mercy by repenting and seeking His forgiveness through His Church. Jesus made that possible by giving His Church the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is good for the soul because it frees us from carrying the baggage of our sins and enables us to feel God’s merciful love and the liveliness that the Holy Spirit instils in us. God challenged His people to accept what He was doing when He asked them, and us, “Do you perceive it?”

 

   All too often we don’t perceive the good things God offers us and so we trudge along burdened by our selfishness and myopic view of where we’re going or what we’re doing. Then we wonder why we aren’t happy or feel any joy in our life. The Psalmist perceived what God was doing new and so he responded: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed …Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing  ...They shall come back rejoicing carrying their sheaves.” (Ps 126:1-6) God makes us new when He renews us through the grace of repentance and reconciliation. When we’re reconciled with God we clarify what we want to be on our horizon, namely happiness with Him. What’s on our horizon is very important because it’s what drives us. If union with God is on our horizon then we won’t be driven by a desire for power over others, self-gratification, popularity, or wealth. Because union with Jesus was on St. Paul’s horizon he was able to declare: “I come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else as rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth and I may be in Him  ...” (Phil 3:8-9) As Christians with Jesus on our horizon He is the source of our power, our gratification, our popularity, and our wealth.

 

   As Christians we must continually ask our self: “Does my relationship with Jesus Christ and my knowledge of Him present in His Church take precedence over everything this world offers me?” In the Gospels Jesus challenged people to examine what was on their horizon.  One example is His encounter with a woman accused of adultery by some leading citizens. (Jn 8:1-11) He led all parties to clarify and change their goals. He called the woman’s accusers to examine what was on their horizon: “Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7) They all walked away since each of them had sinned in some way. He called the woman to change her horizon: “You may go. But from now on, avoid this sin.” (Jn 8:11) This could have been a very ugly situation where the woman would be stoned to death because that was the penalty for committing adultery. It would also have been ugly for the accusers because their self-righteousness would have masked their own sinfulness. Jesus, in calling both parties to examine what was driving them and calling them to change made everything new and improved. Both parties were renewed in their humanity and shown a new way of living.

 

   This week is a good time to examine our horizon and see if we need to change what’s there or reinforce it, as the case may be. Let God make you new by trusting your past to His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, your present to His love in prayer and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and your future to His Providence guided by the Holy Spirit. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Wed, Mar 27, 12:40 PM (11 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Lent: Remembering to Be Joyful

 

   Lent is a season during which we renew our relationship with Jesus and His Church through devoting extra time and effort to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, which results in sharing who we are and what we possess with others. So you might ask what’s joyful about Lent? But actually the purpose of Lent is to prepare our self for the joy of Easter.  How? By knowing that we’re doing what Jesus did, namely spending in prayer with His Father, controlling bodily desires in order to focus on spiritual needs, and by generously sharing our time, talent, and treasure with others. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are instruments in the practise of self-denial which is necessary if we want to love God and our neighbour. Jesus reminds us, “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps.” (Mt 16:34) Lent, therefore, is a time to remember to be joyful that we are following in Jesus’ footsteps.

 

   Joy, in its various forms, is mentioned 478 times in the Bible. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” Does that mean that we can’t be joyful if we’re ill, failing, unfortunate, or can’t satisfy our desires? There are two kinds of joy, natural and supernatural. Natural joy is the result of feeling well, successful, fortunate, and hoping to get what we desire. Supernatural joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22) St. Paul speaks about supernatural joy when he prays, “So may the God the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that through the power of the Holy Spirit you may have hope in abundance.” (Rom 15:13) Natural joy fades in the face of adversity. Supernatural joy thrives in the face of adversity because it’s generated by hope in a God who loves us unconditionally. This hope is supernatural, a theological virtue, a gift from God, “And this hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5) Natural hope or optimism that generates a feeling of joy is based only on wishful thinking. Supernatural hope is the substance of God’s gifts of Faith and Love to us.

 

   Supernatural joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances in this world, whether we’re successful or failures, fortunate or unfortunate, well or ill. Since it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit all we need is to invite Him to join our spirit. Therefore we can be joyful in the midst of illness, failure, misfortune, and poor prospects. The Holy Spirit assures us that God is with us and will make all things work in our favour if we love Him. This is why Nehemiah was able to encourage his people when he said, “Do not be saddened this day, for the joy of the Lord must be your strength.” (Neh 8:10) This was the joy expressed by the Psalmist when he exhorted his people, “Glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol His Name. I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy …” (Ps 34:2-4)

 

   As Christians we can be joyful no matter how difficult life may be for us. St. Paul reminds us, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things passed away; behold new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:17-21) God’s promise in the Old Testament has been fulfilled by Jesus. “I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.” (Jer 31:13) Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes that those who mourning is for personal sin as well as for the sins of the world “shall be comforted.” (Mt 5:4) Repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation make us joyful. This is why Jesus bestowed the power of forgiveness on His Apostles and enshrined it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation administered by the bishops and priests of His Church. Jesus highlighted forgiveness as God’s gift of joy in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11ff) We see the joyfulness of forgiveness in the father’s happy reception of his youngest son’s return. He was joyful despite the earlier rejection he felt from this boy who turned his back on him and wasted his property. The father’s joy translates into a feast for his prodigal son. He expressed the power of his supernatural joy to his older son, who felt the celebration wasn’t deserved by his sinful brother’s return, when he exclaimed, “But we had to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life again; he was lost and is found.” (Lk 15:32)

 

   We can’t help but be joyful when we remember that though we’re dead in sin God brings us back to life; though lost in our selfishness God finds us. The older brother robbed himself of joy because he let his anger prevent him from forgiving his sibling for abandoning the family. Everyone who forgives is a recipient of the joy God gives both the forgiver and the forgiven. Remember that God wants to give you His joy by forgiving you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Wed, Mar 20, 12:29 PM

 

               

 

to me

 

Lent: Remembering to Repent

 

   In the lives of the Church’s saints the one thing all have in common is that the closer they came to God the more conscious they became of their sinfulness.  Lent is a special time when we prepare our self to enter a closer walk with Jesus.  The more we focus on intimacy with Him as our Saviour the more we have to face the reality of our sins that block the effectiveness of His love. Lent is a special time during which God gives us the grace to repent of our sins and more fully enjoy His love. Jesus reminds us that “if you do not repent, you will perish” (Lk 13:5) because you can’t be forgiven

 

  Repentance is the freely chosen act of recognizing our wrongdoing, and feeling deep regret and hatred for it with a commitment to amending our life. Apart from its spiritual value, repentance is essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing and the health of our relationships. The spiritual writer, Thomas a Kempis, noted that “the acknowledgment of our weakness is the first step toward repairing our loss.” In repenting we face who we are and what we need to change if we want to experience the joy and peace that only Jesus can give us. Jesus’ Church teaches us that His “call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before Him, does not aim first at outward works, ‘sackcloth and ashes,’ fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false …” (CCC 1430) Remember that “Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him impure; that which comes out of him, and only that, constitutes impurity …wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart.” (Mk 7:15, 21)

 

   To repent is to change one’s heart. How? Holy Spirit tells us, “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.” (Joel 2:12-13) Jesus reminds us that “where your treasure is there is your heart also.” (Mt 6:21) Repentance is about making God our most precious treasure where we put our whole heart. God wants our whole heart, not just a piece of it when we need something, because He wants to give His whole Self to us to bless, heal, and perfect our flawed humanity. Jesus has no time for half-heartedness. “But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16) Repentance is about coming back to God with ALL our heart. What does this involve?

 

   Jesus’ Church teaches us that repentance involves a radical conversion. To be radical is to get to the root of something, the basics, the kernel of our situation, namely that we’re sinners who can’t save ourselves and are in desperate need of God to save us. “Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end to sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and the resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of His grace.” (CCC 1431) The motivation for this “radical reorientation” comes from God Himself. The Holy Spirit promises that by repenting God “pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion … secures justice and the rights of the oppressed … so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear Him.” (Ps 103:1-11)

 

   We don’t hear much about repentance today? Why? Because we don’t know God and we don’t know our self. Pride and ego-obsession are our downfall. We’re so stuck on our ego today that we can’t risk facing our flaws and our sinfulness. Without God we can’t get rid of our flaws and selfishness.  Instead of repenting for our sins we avoid them by making everything permissible even though it leaves us stressed, lonely, and isolated in superficial or broken relationships. We suffer from the illusion that we can heal and forgive our self. St. Paul warns us: “Whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.” (1 Cor 10:12) But without God’s Spirit we can’t help but fall since we’re all sinners. Sin is like cancer; even if we don’t admit that we’ve sinned it still eats away at our soul and causes our humanity to deteriorate. Again, like cancer, the sooner we recognize sin’s existence in us the better are our chances of healing.

 

   Repentance is powerful. In a homily, St. John Chrysostom, (c. 388 A.D.) noted that repentance, “alone will turn a wolf into a sheep, make a publican a preacher, turn a thorn into an olive, make a debauchee a religious fellow.” It brings about a radical reorientation of our heart toward the things of God. To facilitate this need for repentance and forgiveness Jesus bestowed on His Church, through her bishops and priests, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a powerful expression of God’s initiative in enabling us to enter into a more intimate relationship with Him and through Him with one another. Forgiveness of sin is one of the most important gifts Jesus brought to this world. But to be forgiven we must first repent. Repentance calls for an examination of conscience: Where have I fallen in keeping God’s Commandments and living Jesus’ Beatitudes? Let’s remember to repent, confess our sins, and experience God’s forgiveness that brings us a refreshed sense of wellbeing. (frsos)

 

So then as now I say “Yes” and am always on the lookout for the good things God is doing.

 

We’re on the cusp of April, and it is not the cruelest month. T.S.Eliot was just making a joke.

 

Instead I’ll end with this version of the same thing from that Harvard classmate of his: e.e.cummings

 

 

 

    yes is a pleasant country:

 

    if’s wintry

 

    (my lovely)

 

    let’s open the year

 

 

 

    both is the very weather

 

    (not either)

 

    my treasure,

 

    when violets appear

 

 

 

    love is a deeper season

 

    than reason;

 

    my sweet one

 

    (and april’s where we’re)

 

https://dwightlongenecker.com/yes-is-a-pleasant-country/

 

 

 

The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate", is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:

 

    I believe the Trinity in the Unity

 

    The Creator of the Universe.

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,

 

    The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,

 

    The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,

 

    The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    The virtue of the love of seraphim,

 

    In the obedience of angels,

 

    In the hope of resurrection unto reward,

 

    In prayers of Patriarchs,

 

    In predictions of Prophets,

 

    In preaching of Apostles,

 

    In faith of Confessors,

 

    In purity of holy Virgins,

 

    In deeds of righteous men.

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    The power of Heaven,

 

    The light of the sun,

 

    The brightness of the moon,

 

    The splendour of fire,

 

    The flashing of lightning,

 

    The swiftness of wind,

 

    The depth of sea,

 

    The stability of earth,

 

    The compactness of rocks.

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    God's Power to guide me,

 

    God's Might to uphold me,

 

    God's Wisdom to teach me,

 

    God's Eye to watch over me,

 

    God's Ear to hear me,

 

    God's Word to give me speech,

 

    God's Hand to guide me,

 

    God's Way to lie before me,

 

    God's Shield to shelter me,

 

    God's Host to secure me,

 

    Against the snares of demons,

 

    Against the seductions of vices,

 

    Against the lusts of nature,

 

    Against everyone who meditates injury to me,

 

    Whether far or near,

 

    Whether few or with many.

 

 

 

    I invoke today all these virtues

 

    Against every hostile merciless power

 

    Which may assail my body and my soul,

 

    Against the incantations of false prophets,

 

    Against the black laws of heathenism,

 

    Against the false laws of heresy,

 

    Against the deceits of idolatry,

 

    Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,

 

    Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

 

 

 

    Christ, protect me today

 

    Against every poison, against burning,

 

    Against drowning, against death-wound,

 

    That I may receive abundant reward.

 

 

 

    Christ with me, Christ before me,

 

    Christ behind me, Christ within me,

 

    Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

 

    Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

 

    Christ in the fort,

 

    Christ in the chariot seat,

 

    Christ in the poop [deck],

 

    Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

 

    Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

 

    Christ in every eye that sees me,

 

    Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

 

 

    I bind to myself today

 

    The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,

 

    I believe the Trinity in the Unity

 

    The Creator of the Universe.

 

Wisdom from the Desert

 

 

 

"Sr. Joan Chittister has done it again. She touches your soul. She places you beyond your human self."—an Amazon review

 

 

 

The Desert Monastics, thousands of monks and nuns who lived in the Egyptian wastelands between the third and fifth centuries, have come to be seen as the Olympians of the spiritual life. Renowned spiritual writer Joan Chittister explores the sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, finding wisdom from that ancient tradition that speaks to your life today. In God's Holy Light is a powerful source of Christian wisdom can be a companion to your own spiritual journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Abba Anthony

 

 

 

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ”Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.”

 

So he did. The old man then said, “Shoot another,” and he did so.

 

Then the old man said, ”Shoot yet again,” and the hunter replied, “If I bend my bow so much I will break it.”

 

Then the old man said to him, “It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.”

 

When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

 

 

 

—from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORLD YOUTH PRAYER 2019

 

 

 

Merciful Father,

 

You call us to live our lives as a way of salvation.

 

Help us to recall the past with gratitude,

 

to embrace the present with courage

 

and to build the future with hope.

 

Lord Jesus, our friend and brother,

 

thank you for looking upon us with love.

 

Let us listen to your voice as it resonates in the hearts

 

of each one with the strength and light of the Holy Spirit.

 

Grant us the grace of being a Church that goes forth with vibrant faith

 

and a youthful face to communicate the joy of the Gospel.

 

May we help to build up the kind of society we long for,

 

one where there is fairness and fellowship.

 

We pray for the Pope and the bishops;

 

for young people; for all those who will take part in World Youth Day in Panama

 

and for those who are preparing to welcome them.

 

Our Lady of Antigua, Patroness of Panama,

 

help us to pray and live with generosity like yours:

 

“I am the servant of the Lord.

 

May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

 

 

 

Amen

 

Dear God,

 

 

 

On this day I ask You to grant this request,

 

May I know who I am and what I am,

 

Every moment of every day.

 

 

 

May I be a catalyst for light and love,

 

 

 

And bring inspiration to those whose eyes I meet.

 

 

 

May I have the strength to stand tall in the face of conflict,

 

And the courage to speak my voice, even when I'm scared.

 

 

 

May I have the humility to follow my heart,

 

And the passion to live my soul's desires.

 

 

 

May I seek to know the highest truth

 

And dismiss the gravitational pull of my lower self.

 

 

 

May I embrace and love the totality of myself,

 

My darkness as well as my light.

 

 

 

May I be brave enough to hear my heart,

 

To let it soften so that I may gracefully

 

Choose faith over fear.

 

 

 

Today is my day to surrender anything that stands

 

Between the sacredness of my humanity and my divinity.

 

 

 

May I be drenched in my Holiness

 

And engulfed by Your love.

 

 

 

May all else melt away.

 

 

 

 And so it is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

A Deeper Spiritual Dive!

 

"Richard Rohr has brilliantly introduced 12-step spirituality as a lens through which we can identify our 'holes in the soul' and move into more authentic relationships with ourselves and with our Lord."—an Amazon review

 

 

 

To survive the tidal wave of compulsive behavior and addiction, Christians must learn to breathe under water and discover God s love and compassion, says Franciscan Richard Rohr. In Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, Rohr identifies the Christian principles in the Twelve Steps. Rohr offers encouragement for becoming interiorly alive and inspiration for making one s life manageable for dealing with the codependence and dysfunction—sin—rampant in our society

 

Let us now pray for God’s blessing in the new year.

 

 

 

After a short silence, parents may place their hands on their children in blessing as the leader says:

 

 

 

Remember us, O God;

 

from age to age be our comforter.

 

You have given us the wonder of time,

 

blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.

 

Bless your children at the turning of the year

 

and fill the months ahead with the bright hope

 

that is ours in the coming of Christ.

 

You are our God, living and reigning, forever and ever.

 

R/. Amen.

 

 

 

Another prayer for peace may be said:

 

 

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

 

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

 

where there is injury, pardon;

 

where there is doubt, faith;

 

where there is despair, hope;

 

where there is darkness, light;

 

where there is sadness, joy.

 

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

 

to be consoled as to console,

 

to be understood as to understand,

 

to be loved as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive,

 

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

 

it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

R/. Amen.

 

 

 

—Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

 

 

 

The leader says:

 

Let us bless the Lord.

 

 

 

All respond, making the sign of the cross:

 

 

 

Thanks be to God.

 

 

 

The prayer may conclude with the singing of a Christmas carol.

 

 

 

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayer-for-the-new-year.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 3:56 PM (13 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Christmas: Celebrate Divine Fulfilment

 

   The Cambridge Dictionary defines fulfilment as, “The fact of doing something that is necessary or something that someone has wanted or promised to do.” What have you done in your life that has brought you fulfilment? Maybe it’s raising a family, your career, pursuing a cause, serving others, prayer, Church, etc. But none of these will bring you ultimate fulfilment? Just like joy, fulfilment isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness follows from fulfilment. When I’ve done something that’s necessary or I wanted or promised to do I feel happy. Christmas is the celebration of God’s fulfilment. In the birth of Jesus God did something that was necessary, namely revealing Himself to human beings in a manner in which they could understand. So God came in human form, in the flesh, to reveal who He really is in human terms. In Jesus’ birth God wanted to save mankind by becoming human and overpowering our greatest enemy, Satan. In Jesus’ birth God fulfilled the promises He made through His prophets to His Old Testament people. Christmas is the celebration of Divine fulfilment that’s the basis for our joy, peace, and our hope for happiness.

 

   Jesus’ Church reminds us that God’s promise to send a Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus’ birth. “From Bethlehem … shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel whose origin is from of old, from ancient times … He shall stand firm and shepherd His people … His greatness shall reach the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.” (Mic 5:1-4) God made this promise through His prophet, Micah, between 700 and 600 B.C. This was God’s assurance that He would send a permanent ruler to restore order among His people and who would fulfil their history taking care of them like a shepherd his flock. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that God’s ruler would be unsurpassed and universally known; He would be their source of peace because He will be peace itself. Because God is love He’s able to love. Because God is peace He is able to give peace. The Christ child in Bethlehem is God’s love and peace made visible. So with Christmas joy we pray with the Psalmist, “O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from Your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse Your power and come to save us.” (Ps 80:2-3) God heard this prayer and fulfilled the people’s plea in Jesus’ birth. He is the Shepherd of God’s people who demonstrated His power to save us from sin, suffering, and death during His public life on earth.

 

   Jesus fulfilled God’s will to liberate mankind from sin by his humble obedience to His Father. His lived prayer, “Behold I come to do your will, O God”, prefaced everything He said and did. The Holy Spirit tells us, “By this ‘will’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:5-10) Jesus asked His Father to dedicate His Apostles and disciples. “Consecrate them by means of truth – Your word is truth. As You have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world; I consecrate myself for their sakes now, that they may be consecrated in truth.” (Jn 17:17-19) To consecrate is to formally dedicate to a religious or sacred purpose. At Jesus’ birth God’s consecrated His Messiah to be Immanuel – God-with-us. God reinforced that consecration at Jesus’ Baptism and He proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son. My favour rests on Him.” (Mt 3:17) Again at His Transfiguration God spoke and said: “This is my beloved Son on whom my favour rests. Listen to Him.” (Mt 17:5) Since Jesus is God’s Word-made-man and God’s word is truth, Jesus is truth personified. He revealed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6) When we embrace Jesus we embrace the truth and it dedicates us to a religious purpose, namely to continue Jesus’ mission to save mankind by living the truth our self.

 

   When the virgin Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, she greeted the Mother of Jesus, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42) Elizabeth affirmed God’s fulfilment in Mary when she said to Mary: “Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45) Christmas is God’s fulfilment of His wish to save us from our fallen nature by showing us in Jesus what He originally created us to be. In Jesus God fulfils our human yearning for permanent love and peace. Knowing that this fulfilment of our soul’s desire is now possible enables us to be joyful and at peace. Christmas literally means “Christ’s Mass.” The Mass celebrated by Jesus’ Church is the renewal of the New Covenant which Jesus initiated between God and mankind and signed in His blood. It is the means which He instituted on Holy Thursday to make Himself present to us. Every Mass is a visible sign that God fulfils His promise to bestow His love and peace on us in Jesus who is Love and Peace itself. By giving us Himself in every Mass in Holy Communion Jesus blesses us with unconditional love and a peace no one can take away from us. He is the source of our joy and a peace that only He can give.

 

   May you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas and a New Year during which God will do everything possible to fulfil the dreams and hopes of your soul. But, like Mary, you must trust that His words to you will be fulfilled. Remember, He only sends His peace to people of good will. (frsos)

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 3:56 PM (13 days ago)

 

               

 

to me

 

Christmas: Celebrate Divine Fulfilment

 

   The Cambridge Dictionary defines fulfilment as, “The fact of doing something that is necessary or something that someone has wanted or promised to do.” What have you done in your life that has brought you fulfilment? Maybe it’s raising a family, your career, pursuing a cause, serving others, prayer, Church, etc. But none of these will bring you ultimate fulfilment? Just like joy, fulfilment isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness follows from fulfilment. When I’ve done something that’s necessary or I wanted or promised to do I feel happy. Christmas is the celebration of God’s fulfilment. In the birth of Jesus God did something that was necessary, namely revealing Himself to human beings in a manner in which they could understand. So God came in human form, in the flesh, to reveal who He really is in human terms. In Jesus’ birth God wanted to save mankind by becoming human and overpowering our greatest enemy, Satan. In Jesus’ birth God fulfilled the promises He made through His prophets to His Old Testament people. Christmas is the celebration of Divine fulfilment that’s the basis for our joy, peace, and our hope for happiness.

 

   Jesus’ Church reminds us that God’s promise to send a Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus’ birth. “From Bethlehem … shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel whose origin is from of old, from ancient times … He shall stand firm and shepherd His people … His greatness shall reach the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.” (Mic 5:1-4) God made this promise through His prophet, Micah, between 700 and 600 B.C. This was God’s assurance that He would send a permanent ruler to restore order among His people and who would fulfil their history taking care of them like a shepherd his flock. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that God’s ruler would be unsurpassed and universally known; He would be their source of peace because He will be peace itself. Because God is love He’s able to love. Because God is peace He is able to give peace. The Christ child in Bethlehem is God’s love and peace made visible. So with Christmas joy we pray with the Psalmist, “O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from Your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse Your power and come to save us.” (Ps 80:2-3) God heard this prayer and fulfilled the people’s plea in Jesus’ birth. He is the Shepherd of God’s people who demonstrated His power to save us from sin, suffering, and death during His public life on earth.

 

   Jesus fulfilled God’s will to liberate mankind from sin by his humble obedience to His Father. His lived prayer, “Behold I come to do your will, O God”, prefaced everything He said and did. The Holy Spirit tells us, “By this ‘will’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:5-10) Jesus asked His Father to dedicate His Apostles and disciples. “Consecrate them by means of truth – Your word is truth. As You have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world; I consecrate myself for their sakes now, that they may be consecrated in truth.” (Jn 17:17-19) To consecrate is to formally dedicate to a religious or sacred purpose. At Jesus’ birth God’s consecrated His Messiah to be Immanuel – God-with-us. God reinforced that consecration at Jesus’ Baptism and He proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son. My favour rests on Him.” (Mt 3:17) Again at His Transfiguration God spoke and said: “This is my beloved Son on whom my favour rests. Listen to Him.” (Mt 17:5) Since Jesus is God’s Word-made-man and God’s word is truth, Jesus is truth personified. He revealed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6) When we embrace Jesus we embrace the truth and it dedicates us to a religious purpose, namely to continue Jesus’ mission to save mankind by living the truth our self.

 

   When the virgin Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, she greeted the Mother of Jesus, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42) Elizabeth affirmed God’s fulfilment in Mary when she said to Mary: “Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45) Christmas is God’s fulfilment of His wish to save us from our fallen nature by showing us in Jesus what He originally created us to be. In Jesus God fulfils our human yearning for permanent love and peace. Knowing that this fulfilment of our soul’s desire is now possible enables us to be joyful and at peace. Christmas literally means “Christ’s Mass.” The Mass celebrated by Jesus’ Church is the renewal of the New Covenant which Jesus initiated between God and mankind and signed in His blood. It is the means which He instituted on Holy Thursday to make Himself present to us. Every Mass is a visible sign that God fulfils His promise to bestow His love and peace on us in Jesus who is Love and Peace itself. By giving us Himself in every Mass in Holy Communion Jesus blesses us with unconditional love and a peace no one can take away from us. He is the source of our joy and a peace that only He can give.

 

   May you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas and a New Year during which God will do everything possible to fulfil the dreams and hopes of your soul. But, like Mary, you must trust that His words to you will be fulfilled. Remember, He only sends His peace to people of good will. (frsos)

 

Sean Sheehy

 

               

 

Nov 21, 2018, 1:22 PM (3 days ago)

 

The King of Hearts

 

   Jesus’ Church ends her liturgical year of God’s grace by recognizing Jesus as King of the universe. This is also Thanksgiving week in America. Christians have much to be thankful for. Celebrating Jesus as King notifies the world and everything in that it’s accountable to Him. Every human being, whether king or queen, is subject to the rule of Jesus Christ, if not admitted during life then certainly in death. It’s a sober reminder that when we die we’ll be judged by Jesus, King of creation, regardless of who or what we are.  Then we’ll reap the fruits of what we sowed during our lifetime. “Make no mistake about it, no one makes a fool of God! 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) Therefore it’s essential that we clarify whose rule we’re embracing. Who is the king of your heart? Our king is whoever we follow or serve in our daily life. Will the king of my heart deliver a kingdom that lasts forever and provides me with everlasting peace, joy, and happiness?

 

  Jesus’ Church invites us to meditate on His interrogation by Pilate who asks, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33) Jesus informed him, “My kingdom does not belong to this world … as it is my kingdom is not here.” (Jn 18:36) Pilate reacted, “So then you are a king?” (v37) Jesus responded, “It is you who say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into this world, is to testify to the truth.” Pilate then asked what everyone needs to ask and answer: “‘Truth!’ What does that mean?” (v36) How would you answer his question?

 

   The prophet Daniel, inspired by the Holy Spirit, foretold Jesus’ kingship over one hundred-and-sixty years before His birth. In a vision he saw, “one like the Son of man coming on the clouds of Heaven … He received dominion, glory, and kingship … all nations and languages serve Him. His dominion is everlasting. His kingship shall not be destroyed.” (Dn 7:13-14) The inspired Psalmist recognized that, “The Lord is king, in splendour robed … girt about with strength. He has made the world firm, not to be moved. Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting You are, O Lord. Your decrees are worthy of trust … holiness befits Your house for length of days.” (Ps 93:1-5) The same Holy Spirit inspired John to proclaim that, “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. He loved us and has freed us from our sins by His blood. He has made us a line of kings, priests to serve His God and Father.” (Rev 1:5-8) He is the King our hearts crave.

 

   Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” (Rev 1:8) He’s our beginning since God created each of us through Him. He’s our end since each of us will be judged by Him as to whether we enter eternal life and happiness or eternal death and misery. Jesus is the ultimate King of kings, Priest of priests, Servant of servants. He is the One who will judge our leadership, sacrifices, and service as to whether they were inspired by love and truth or greed and lies. Is He the King of your heart?

 

   Jesus is a different kind of king with a different kind of kingdom that’s not temporary but eternal. Instead of looking on us as His subjects He calls us to be His friends. “I no longer speak of you as slaves … I call you friends, since I have made known to you all that I heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:15) Friendship with Jesus is founded on hearing and heeding His voice. Who hears Him? He answers: “Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.” (Jn 18:37) Commitment to the truth leads us to Jesus as our King since He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6) He sent the Holy Spirit to guarantee the continuity of His Church’s fidelity to teaching the fullness of the truth until the end of time. “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When He comes, however, being the Spirit of truth He will guide you to all truth … and will announce to you the things to come.” (Jn 16:12-13) He speaks to us in our conscience informed by His Church as she proclaims His Gospel of truth.

 

   Truth is that which accurately describes all things as they really are in themselves at their core. Only the Creator can accurately describe His creation. Hence only He can speak the truth about what it really is and what’s its purpose. Jesus is the truth that hurts, but sets us free. It hurts because He forces us to see things as they really are. He frees us from deceiving our self, making us admit our responsibility and need for change. Many turn away from Jesus and His Church because they don’t want to hear the truth about themselves, their behaviour, the world, its end, and their need for repentance if they want to be saved from their sins. We can run from the truth but it always catches up with us either through our conscience or at the end of our life. No one can escape God or hide from Him. Jesus is King and those who’re committed to truth hear and follow Him to freedom, justice, peace, and love. Those who follow some other king are deaf to the truth and remain enslaved. Let Jesus be the King of your heart. (frsos)

 

 

CHALLENGE

 

 

 

Talk with your spouse or a close friend about your seeming differences and the similarities that lie underneath. Pray together about ways your strengths can be united to serve God.

 

 

 

https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/sisterhood-of-saints-margaret-of-scotland?utm_campaign=Sisterhood%20of%20Saints%202018&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66651483

 

Pope Francis joined with recently engaged and married couples at Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

 

in the Archdiocese of Dublin on Saturday 24 August 2018.

 

All couples participating at the event received a specially packaged copy of the Family Prayer Book produced by the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Episcopal Conference which was recently re-published by Veritas.

 

The World Meeting of Families concludes with a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration that will gather individuals and families from all around the world in thanksgiving and communion. The Mass will mark the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin and the next diocese to host the event in conjunction with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life will be announced.

 

 

 

The main celebrant for the Final Mass will be Pope Francis. At the weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square on 21 March, the Holy Father announced that he will attend WMOF2018 and take part in the Festival of Families in Croke Park (25th August) and the Final Mass in the Phoenix Park (26th August). The Mass will start at 3 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Dublin Streets August 2018

 

https://youtu.be/uCZESVcp8Hw

 

 

 

Phoenix Park on Pope’s Visit August 2018

 

https://youtu.be/W6UrTA6KTL0

 

 

 

Celebrity priest James Martin, S.J. speaks at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland. The topic of his presentation is “Showing Welcome and Respect in our Parishes for ‘LGBT’ People and their families.

 

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/fr-martins-false-comfort

 

 

 

In a major piece entitled “Culture War as Class War”, Darel E. Paul argues persuasively that the culture war is deeply rooted in class distinctions. Paul, who is a professor of political science at Williams College, traces the development of anti-life, anti-family, and pro-sexual liberty values from the academic and WASP establishments that led in the acceptance of artificial contraception in the first half of the twentieth-century to the deadly combination of university, business, and political interests that lead the gay and transgender campaigns today.

 

https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1566

 

 

 

Dublin Croke Park and Pope’s Visit

 

https://youtu.be/kN63oU4D9h4

 

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 r