Presentation of Our Lady


WHAT FOLLOWS IS THE TEXT OF THE HOMILY PREACHED TO THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY OF COLAISTE MUIRE, COBH TO MARK THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR LADY 21ST NOVEMBER 2012, AT ST COLMAN'S CATHEDRAL
 
 
We are all called by God to be the best version of ourselves

Blessed Edmund Rice, who founded the Presentation Brothers became this in his own life –  the best version of himself – the whole person and a holy person – complete, lacking nothing. We are called to be likewise but it does not mean we will ever be perfect! No-one is! We all need to work on being better than we are right now.

To create the kind of school and school atmosphere this year as a community – and our own class atmosphere – that Blessed Edmund Rice would be proud of,  is to be giving to be generous with our time as he was.

So where do we start?

There is a big billboard ad on the right hand side of the road as you leave Cobh –just after the Bramley Lodge – advertising the 2013 BMW cars already.

Now you all know what a BMW is and this is not an ad for BMW!

I want to change those letters around and from BMW to BWM

What do the letters BWM stand for – Beginning With Me!

The second reading gives us an example of where to begin BWM

What kind of person am I at the moment?

Can I identify with the Second Reading?

Here it is again in part

A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.

'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with your seal for you to be set free when the day comes.
 ....Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness....'

In class, at home, even my feelings at times, do I feel the following: anger, temper, resentment, revenge, hatred, spitefulness, loud, lashing out?

There is a story of a woman who used to buy her husband’s shirts – when asked what his collar size was, she couldn’t give it in inches, but she put her hands together in a choking gesture and said: ‘oh, about this size!’

 
Anger is the easy way out, and there is a very short lived sense of satisfaction in shouting someone down or insulting someone, being nasty, by word, or even text.

That’s not the version of ourselves we are proud of!

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a nasty word, I bet you remember it doesn’t go away that easily! But we have to remember that we might have been on the giving end.

So it is not the Christian way, it was not the way of Blessed Edmund Rice

Instead, what version of myself can I be, does God want me to be, that I am capable of being? Well think again of BWM – I am asked by God to be GENEROUS, SYMPATHETIC AND READY TO FORGIVE.

The second reading continues with these words:

Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ..

Beginning with myself, I can be the best version of myself.

The hardest word in Christianity – to be a true Christian is a two letter word....AS

Follow Christ by loving as He has loved you – completely. Forgive us our trespasses ...AS we forgive those who trespass against us; Love your neighbour AS yourself – EQUALLY. THE Golden Rule is to treat others AS you would expect to be treated yourself.

The reading today concludes too with an ‘as’ in the middle

Try then to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ by loving as he has loved you

We mentioned BWM – beginning with myself

I want to finish with another similar one  - BVM.

Today’s feast is of a woman who as a young girl presented herself to God at a young age in the Temple in Jerusalem – she wanted to be the kind of person God wanted her to be. This was Mary. She was open, and she was generous, sympathetic and ready to forgive. As a teenage girl, she was engaged to be married –because that’s the way it was in those times – girls, imagine being engaged?

Well, God had a plan for her – she was called to be the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary - BVM

And He has a plan for you – a plan that is only just beginning

Can you be generous, sympathetic, ready to forgive, can you be BWM, can you be BVM – the Best Version of Myself?

Let us ask Mary to be like her – to be open to possibilities, but also open to others. The BVM if I pray to her and ask her help even if it’s just ONE HAIL MARY every day she will help me to be like her - BVM – the Best Version of Myself, this school year.

 

 

 

 

Christ the King


Christ the King 34th Sunday of the Year B (Final Sunday in Ordinary Time)
 

'So you are a king, then?,' said Pilate.


This feast has its origin in 1920 when the Pope at the time realised that there was the threat of much social chaos in Europe – in fact it was already present, at the overthrow and assassinations of kings and emperors in Portugal, Spain, Austria-Hungary and Russia – in the previous decade. This present decade 2010-2020 marks the centenary of much disorder and war in Europe. Hence the decade witnessed the overthrow and destruction of the royal houses of Europe – or if they continued to exist - were all reduced at best to being symbolic figureheads where they continued to ‘reign’. Examples such as  England, the Low Countries such as the Netherlands, and Scandinavia continue in this line to the present day. This massive upheaval in a short space of time changed the face of Europe and ushered in a new era for the first time in centuries, a ‘brave new world’ was born. People’s potential blind loyalty to the newly founded States, however, be they republics or parliamentary democracies (and Communist as well as fascist dictatorships) was in real danger of eclipsing their prior loyalty to God’s will and kingdom. Indeed the Church was suffering already and would continue to suffer anti-clericalism and persecution in the backlash against the unfortunate prevailing clericalism up that point.
The remedy or attempted remedy was to establish the Feast of Christ the King, as a reminder to all Christians, of Christ’s ultimate Lordship over all people and history, and His universal and everlasting reign - to remind us of our ultimate calling and destiny if we choose to accept it.
On the plus side, it is a reminder that in the world religion and faith have a social dimension, as well as obligations binding on its members and citizens. This was a new era for the Church also as its social teaching came into its own. However, to this day many Christians struggle with unjust laws of the State concerning marriage and the family; the protection of the right to life of society’s most vulnerable members; as well as the place of religious education that is denominational in a pluralist society.

The Kingship of Christ does not have any physical or geographical boundary. But He is the universal King and, as the hymn has it, He is ‘king of all hearts’. This may perhaps seem a romantic, symbolic or remote and abstract concept to us, even ‘flowery’ and not particularly appealing as it seems a bit up in the air.

Yet the prayer of all Christians is the Our Father, where we always say Thy Kingdom Come, and then we say thy will be done. They are actually one and the same request or petition. God’s kingdom can be seen and is manifested where His will is seen to be done in individuals, families, communities and in institutions and societies at large. It does not preclude or exclude the State but where state laws abide by the natural law and respect the dignity of all citizens, the State is not threatened rather its workings are more orderly, peaceful and efficient. We are promoting God’s kingdom by following His commandments and obeying the just laws of the State. But it goes beyond a mere minimalism of conformity, as in the statement I have heard so often ‘I don’t harm anyone’. We must go further and ask and challenge a statement like that with, ‘well, life is about what you do, not what do you not do.’

The kingdom of God is within – it is in our choice to want to do His will above ours, or at least to conform what we want as we consider if it is what God would truly want for us. And that is not the abiding by a mere checklist of commandments and the avoidance of the seven deadly sins, but a real effort at virtue and sanctity. Christianity, truly lived, is not for the faint-hearted.

The kingdom of God, in the words of the Preface for the Feast tells us that it is meant to be

‘...an eternal and universal kingdom,

A kingdom of truth and life

A kingdom of holiness and grace,

A kingdom of justice, love and peace.’

Therefore do I practise truth, do I reverence life, do I strive for holiness of life in prayer, appealing to God for the graces I need to remain always faithful to Him, do I hunger and thirst for justice, do I exercise a love that is patient, kind, forgiving, and am I a source of peace?  In the measure that I am all of these things, that is the measure that I am a true representative of Christ in my daily life, an ambassador as it were, of His Kingdom on earth.

Finally, we cannot really effectively have Christ as our King if we do not have Mary as our Queen. This is not to take away or diminish the Lord’s rule or to suggest that Mary does not remain a creature. Yet she has been elevated at her coronation - as the woman of Revelation chapter 12, depicted with a crown of 12 stars around her head, clothed with the sun and the moon at her feet- and we celebrate her Queenship, her coronation, each August 22nd. We do not celebrate that feast with as much prominence as Christ our King, but the Kingdom of God – sometimes called the reign of God, is about the Will of God. And the one who manifested that will perfectly was Mary who said ‘do whatever he tells you’ at Cana – her last recorded words. She is our role model and as the first to enter the Kingdom of Heaven body and soul, she calls us to follow in her footsteps. She played her part and continues to do so through her maternal protection and intercession for all of us.

 Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Thirty third Sunday


Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away, says the Lord

Have you ever noticed that words outlive people? I am not just talking about famous sayings like 'to be or not to be’ or anything like that where we can readily answer their origin in a table quiz but  sayings and expressions whose origin goes back hundreds of years, and where nobody knows now for sure who coined them in the first place. Their wisdom and their applicability says something about human nature and behaviours that these words still hold true.

‘Minding your ps and qs’ for example had to do originally with closing time in pubs, where ps were pints and qs were quarts. It was last orders, and it was the announcement of the last chance to but a drink! Has anything changed?

All sorts of clich├ęs like ‘to be honest’, at the end of the day, it’s not rocket science, thinking outside the box, back to the drawing board (1941) avoid it like the plague (middle Ages), a bad hair day (1998 in print), or one of my favourites cut to the chase, used by film editors when a movie in the process of final editing seemed to be lacking in dramatic tension. We might hate sayings like that, but we are all guilty of having repeated phrases whether we like it or not.

Words outlive people. CLOSER TO HOME, we can think of a saying of a deceased relative or friend that has huge significance. It may be witty or wise, and like a family heirloom it has value only within the family circle and conjures up a funny or significant moment. We might introduce it by saying, ‘Lord have mercy on my father, he used always say...’ or ‘as my mother used to say’, or ‘my mother had a saying..’ it may need further explanation outside the family circle. It may be a common enough saying like ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’, or ‘there’s no accounting for taste’. I wonder what phrases or sayings you might associate with a parent or grandparent or even further back?

The point is: their words live on. The phrase might conjure up an image or memory, it might sum up the character they were for us, so it’s more about the words and their appropriate usage in a given situation, it’s also about the memory of the person we are invoking. We will always make that word association in our minds, and it can be very personally significant but have little meaning for others. We might even have a phrase ourselves unbeknownst to us which people associate with us! Sometimes people want or use a phrase, or better, a favourite prayer for their memorial card or headstone!

So why all this emphasis on words?

Jesus says today: Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away.

Put simply, there is something uniquely significant where words are concerned and particularly in Jesus’ words.

They are the most important words ever spoken, or that will ever be spoken and put to paper –the words, teaching and preaching of Jesus in the Gospel. They will remain forever, no matter what happens. Therefore it is worth getting to know them better, and even having a few simple words or phrases of Jesus we can easily remember and even ponder driving along in the car, such as Come to me all you who labour and I will give you rest. Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. Come follow me, anybody who listen to my words is like a wise man who built his house on rock; blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Watch and pray, can you not keep watch with me and pray one hour? Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. I am the Good Shepherd; those who belong to me listen to my voice’.

Jesus placed great importance on taking His word to heart and taking them seriously as words for living. We can take great comfort in them.  Without even realising it we find ourselves really praying, bringing our own worries and concerns, at home or at work, to Jesus and finding wisdom and maybe an answer that has been eluding us. They also tell us about the kind of person Jesus was and is, and the kind of people he wants us to be. They are not difficult, they are not rocket science!

In this year of Faith we realise therefore it is not so much about what we believe – although that is important too, but about who we believe in and why? Jesus, whose words will never pass away

Finally as we resolve to take Jesus comforting and at times challenging words more seriously, what were Jesus'  ‘famous last words’ before He ascended into heaven - they are words for every day:

 ‘Do not be afraid, I will be with you always.’

 

Thirty second Sunday Year B


The generosity of the widow


 
Gospel

Mark 12:38-44

In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

____________________


Jesus encounters and sums up the characteristics of three classes of people in the Gospel today

(1)    Jesus condemns the Scribes

Those ridiculous pompous arrogant vain, self-seeking, self-important scribes, who are both seen and heard, say and do anything to attract notice, and make heads turn to look, dressing to make a statement, to gain a certain fame and notoriety and honour – all for them is external show and their religion is skin deep. They were loud in dress and manner, larger than life characters, dressed to impress and for effect, affected, thier manners studied and yet they were ultimately hollow people.

We all know people who value others (or us) only insofar as they have status, fame, money, celebrity and authority in office, people of rank, and are people of influence. These society people summarily dismiss those (of us) who may lack any influence or status, and who did not go to posh schools, and judge us by our educational attainment or our address in town. What matters to them is who we may know or they name drop who they know.

They are the snobs of this world. Perish the thought that we might have ambitions in this direction. We can all think of people whose accents differ remarkably as adults from their upbringing and background, who came from the wrong side of the tracks but you wouldn’t guess it now. It is extraordinary how put on some people are in their new found accent, diction and affectation. Where they shop or even where they go for coffee as well the brand names they wear - are all fashion statements and a keeping up with the Joneses. What and who they value is vanity.


(2)    Jesus is not impressed by the wealthy


The rich (or nouveau riche) in the temple all gave well within their budget. The tinkling or clanking of the many coins, as there were no notes, would echo in the corridors of the Temple, signalling the amount they contributed. They would also attract notice and praise. ‘They have had their reward’. But for all the quantity there was no merit in it. The merit in a sacrifice is the value of what you are giving up, what you are surrendering, but they gave of their plenty. Their contribution was calculated and measured, and fell within their budget. They had plenty left over.

 
(3)    What is the lesson of the widow?

 
It is likely that the widow’s generosity was not a one-off. It symbolised and summarised who she was – simple, unworldly, unassuming, devout, but above all, generous, and with a heart whose value far exceeded the material value if all the Temple treasury offerings that day.

The greatest lesson I ever received about generosity was from a wise Capuchin friar, who told me:  be a generous giver and a gracious receiver. Not counting the cost to ourselves – that is sacrifice and the meaning of true love for one another – it is selfless. It is Christian love, because it was the love Christ showed us. It is why she has her reward in heaven, and why we must do likewise, ‘to give and not to count the cost’.

 




 

 

ALL SAINTS OF IRELAND NOVEMBER 6TH


ALL SAINTS OF IRELAND

Every school, club, and voluntary organisation has its hall of fame. Go into any hall or sports complex and there is a wall with pictures taken of past heroes and triumphs, called the ‘Hall of Fame’. Honorary members are given pride of place, while trophies and plaques and medals are not hidden away in a corner but placed in a place of honour, in the hallway where passers-by can stop and pause at the greatness and pride of the organization in past accomplishments.  Wistfully some senior members might think ‘we will never see their like again’. They are the stuff of legends, of the golden age, of the good old days, when times were tough and simpler, where sports equipment was rustic and crude, where diet and exercise regimes were not heard of. Photographs, usually black and white, or more recent pics of faded colour whilst showing geeky and dorky dress codes and hairstyles, cannot take away their success and achievements.

Every grouping of people with a tradition will recall founding members, who had a vision for their area geographically, a vision of building up the community, of harnessing the ingenuity and talents of the young as well as the experienced, to manage and support a budding idea and organisation. Risks and sacrifices were taken, and the dream and vision grew brighter, until the idea caught on and its attainability realised over time and with grit and determination in the face of naysayers, critics and persecutors. This applies not only to sport, but to democracies, to clubs, to theatres, to universities and schools, to building projects, to concert halls, to civilisation itself. The same is true of the Church. The vision of the founder, Our Lord Jesus Christ, His teaching, His vision, ethics, moral teaching.

Back to the club or society. But while the older generation look back and shake their heads at the loss and passing of such great ones, a younger eager generation of coaches and selectors see the potential in newer and younger athletes. Who knows, perhaps another Olympic medallist, all-Ireland player or some new household name will give honour to the club. Memorabilia – sports equipment used by the famous, are held in honour and looked on in awe as secular relics.

And what is going in the minds of the younger and fresher athletes – is their ambition to be remembered, not just to play their best and get on the team but to be remembered in stories in times to come, to be famous, to go down in history as one of the greats?

There is something appealing in that thought. Young people are more positive, and ask themselves ‘why not me?’ in their energy and enthusiasm and spirit, they are open to the possibility of greatness. This is their youthfulness. And what happens? Sometimes early Disappointment, and failure and the realisation that not everybody will be that household name, as after all, how many after all can fit on a winners’ podium?

But the great ones are not daunted by failure, seeing it only as postponed success. But even if not successful they can reach a certain level of attainment and potential and do not give into disillusionment. It may be temporary but they can look back later and honestly say, with hand on heart, that they gave it their best shot. It is worth the sacrifice, fuelled by belief.

Coaches, having been around for a while, can be candid, discouraging, and selective. They weed out the untalented, who at best will always stay on the subs bench. Coaches do not make too much of a fuss if they drop out from the panel. In later years perhaps their younger siblings or children will perform instead and be everything theirparents weren’t.

Maybe too parents will pressure them to be what they were not capable of, and project their own expectations on them instead.
Success can be a cross. It brings its own demands. You are under more scrutiny from friend and foe alike. Not that you have upped the ante, there are those who will want you to fail as much as there are those who want you to succeed. There are those who, never having been made a success will taunt you and want to knock you from their pedestal and would be only too happy to drag you to their level. But confidence and encouragement is also there, from family and friends and supporters - urging you on, despite hardships and setbacks.

So it is with the pursuit of holiness. It is a marathon, and not a sprint.

We celebrate the honours list that we call the communion of saints. Not only those who are in the Hall of Fame of the thousands of recognised canonised and beatified men and women and children – but all those gone before us marked with the sign of faith. Those who participated and those too who the crown, the alumni of the Church, all the saints.

We are called to join them and to seriously consider becoming members of the heavenly hall of fame. As St Paul says we must go into 'strict training’ and not depart from the path we have begun. We are striving for ‘a wreath that does not wither.’

As saints we can expect the ‘hardships, worries, insults and persecutions’ that St Paul endured. 
All you holy men and women OF IRELAND pray for us, that we may one day join you.

DIVINE MERCY TALK


Purgatory and Divine Mercy

The souls in Purgatory experience a joy second to that only of heaven. They are saved, and are certain one day of enjoying in heavenly rest and peace.

Yet they have gotten so near and yet so far. They now need our support, our prayerful solidarity.

It is as if they are spiritually paralysed. They cannot go another step unaided. Any progress towards heaven is with the aid of spiritual crutches of the saints in heaven and the prayers, sacrifices, penances and almsgiving of the Church on earth. They need to propped up, supported, lifted, like the paralysed man in the Gospel whose friends and faith moved Jesus ‘seeing their faith’ to heal and raise up the man so that he lifted up his own stretcher, folded it up and walked freely and unaided. Held up and brought to Christ by the others, whereas left to his own devices, he would remain far from Christ.

Blessed are the merciful, they shall be given mercy. Our prayers and sacrifices are in keeping with Divine Mercy because it is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead: it is a good and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.

Who is in Purgatory?
Those who need to make satisfaction for forgiven sins. It is one thing to break a window and say 'sorry' and be forgiven by the window owner, but it is another thing entirely and a demand  of justice, to pay the bill, to restore what was lost, to make up and repair for the breakage.
To prove true sorrow and penitence. To do penance for those thoughts, words, actions and omissions we all regret. To atone so that we can be ‘at-one’.

In Purgatory, we are purged of all traces and effects of sin in our hearts. Our pride becomes humility, control becomes surrender, lust becomes love and purity of heart, anger changes to forgiveness, greed becomes contentment, gluttony becomes self-control, envy becomes gratitude, sloth - diligence and sorrow for lost opportunities. We mourn our sins, we squandered opportunities to be merciful in conversation, to be gentle in our dealings with others, especially the vulnerable, detachment from earthly possessions and possessiveness. We neglected our duty, we neglected to speak up or speak out, and we refused to act. We sinned knowingly and deliberately and sought God’s forgiveness, but the damage was done, chiefly to ourselves. We desired what was not ours to take, or to have – yet we took them anyway or coveted in our hearts but the opportunity never came to act out what we had consented in our hearts. We bore others ill will and desired revenge in our minds and hearts; we challenged authority and were disobedient to parents and disrespectful to siblings. We teased and bullied others at school or failed to stand up for them. We lied to parents and teachers, we stole from others. We wasted time, we drank to get drunk and spoke uncharitably or cruelly and vindictively, we caved into the popular thing that was immoral to save face, we indulged in pornography in books, movies and TV or on the internet, and acted out our fantasies because we saw the opposite sex as objects to be lusted after. We imagined ourselves married to someone else, we wanted to run from marital responsibilities, we fantasised about being unfaithful. We abused food and drink and comforted ourselves with gluttony. We refused to listen to the voice of our conscience and that of others. We criticised others to distract from our own faults and shortcomings, and we stubbornly refused to change, we criticised clergy and made fun of them in front of others or failed to defend them or the difficult teachings of the Church. We failed to speak up in the face of blasphemy or sacrilege. We lost our, rag our temper. We demanded our own way, and spoke without due consideration for the needs or feelings of others. We hurt people with our words and we never apologised.  We avoided taxes, we failed to return borrowed items, and we failed to make restitution for stolen money or property. We failed to forgive our neighbour from the heart. We broke our word, we breached a confidence, we swore needlessly, we took the Lord’s name in vain, we deliberately gave bad example, and we were thoughtless and unappreciative towards parents.  We argued and lied. We spoke behind our friends backs. We delighted in others’ embarrassment or misfortune. We neglected the poor. We were lazy in prayer.

This is why there is a Purgatory, if the Church didn’t teach of its existence we would want it to exist anyway. If you ever felt ashamed or embarrassed about your appearance or the state of your house when relatives arrive unexpectedly, or felt utterly unworthy in the presence of a saint, imagine being before the living God in your present state. You would beg Him to allow yourself to appear presentable, to be polished, cleaned, scrubbed, tidy, saying ‘I’m not ready!’. God in is mercy has allowed us to make ourselves ready, so that we truly appreciate the love He has for us in sending us His only Son to take away our sins. He loves us and wants us love as He loved.

To sum up, we have therefore failed to love God with our whole heart strength and mind. We have loved ourselves more than our neighbour. That is why there is a Purgatory, but it is avoidable if we truly love, and that is a true indulgence of God. Let us gain all the indulgences and merits we can in God’s sight – selflessly, without any motivation other than to truly love as we are loved by Him, with mercy.