Newsletter Resources

You are welcome to use these resources in any parish newsletter distributed free of charge. 

Items included in the Liturgy Preparation pages may also be used (e.g. short summaries of the readings, homily thoughts, etc.) Please give credit to the author and this magazine.

 – Ed

Click here to download or print our February Newsletter Resources.

 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 5:13-16

1.  Jesus uses the image of salt as something that makes food tasty. Without it food can be tasteless. Who are the people who give zest to your life and make it enjoyable? For whom have you done this? When have you been particularly aware of your potential in this regard?

2.  The second image is that of light. Who have been the people who have been a light for you, particularly in moments of darkness? For whom have you been a light? Recall these experiences and give thanks.

3.  The images of salt and light can also be applied to communities to which we belong, a family, a parish, or other group. Thinking of the groups of which you are a member, how can their potential be enhanced to enrich the lives of members and offer them a guiding light? How can you make a contribution to this?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS

We now celebrate and practise the Eucharist in a society of many faiths and none. In celebrating, we recognise that when Christ offers himself for the world, he offers himself for all. In the words of the Prayer over the Offerings, ‘God sustains us in our frailty.’ At every celebration of the Eucharist the memory and moment of betrayal and the breaking of that first Eucharistic community is present. At the very heart of the Eucharist we include and incorporate our own fragile brokenness and the searing, fractured brokenness of our world, precisely because it mirrors the brokenness of Christ himself. In the presence of the body of Christ we become the body of Christ. The Prayer after Communion reminds us that ‘we are made one in Christ’. Later this week, we mark World Day of Prayer for the Sick, as it coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In the words of St Paul in his first Letter to the Corinthians today, he reminds us ‘that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.’

Fr John Cullen
Kiltoom, Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

THE DEEP END

Salt and Light

In today’s Gospel we hear of two scenarios where salt is concerned: one is that we are called to be ‘salt of the earth’. What salt does for food, Christians are called to do for the world – to give life ‘taste’. You might recall someone who brought ‘taste’ to your own life, encouraging you on your journey, offering hope, a new insight or project, someone you followed and learned from. What gifts did they bring?

The other scenario in the Gospel today is where salt has lost its taste – how can it be restored? You might recall someone you placed great hope in, whether it be a family member, a public figure, a Church leader or politician; someone who had vision and inspired others. Yet the ‘salt’ or the ‘taste’ was lost. We see this all around us in our world, when someone’s potential is lost.

There are many situations in our world today where people’s light is not allowed to shine. It is controlled, hidden, prevented from being used for the benefit of all because of jealousy or perhaps others are afraid of the consequences. Jesus tells us that these lights must shine, for all, and then we can give glory to God in heaven for the fruits it may produce. To help lights shine and to give flavour to the world is our task today. Another way of putting it might be: how are the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ evident in our lives?

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 5:17-37

1. In this section of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus proposes standards that go beyond external ways of behaviour. He challenges our inner attitudes. When have you found that living out of inner conviction is more life-giving than keeping up appearances?

2. Jesus applies his teaching to feelings of anger and sexual desire. He suggests that if we do not keep an eye on our feelings and thoughts we will not be able to control our actions. Perhaps you have experienced the truth of this. What has helped you to integrate your feelings so that you were able to live in right relationship with yourself and others?

3. For Jesus, persons with genuine authenticity do not need to swear an oath to be convincing. Their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ suffices. Recall people who had this kind of credibility for you. When have you found that your simple, direct and honest communication had a positive persuasive force?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has a beautiful way of explaining creation, which according to him should be understood not with the model of a craftsman, but with the creative mind and creative thinking. The Church places freedom and dignity at the heart of its message about the unrepeatable uniqueness of every person from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Human beings are not just mere individuals, but persons embodied with the gift of freedom. Life seems simpler if we blot out awareness of its mystery, but such a life is an impoverished one. Yes, there are the complexities of our human existence. There is a confusion and chaos where we cannot fully understand the meaning and events that make up our conscious experience – in relationships, in family, in faith, in prayer, in work, or whatever. But the swirls of events are the context wherein we discover a presence, a way, a possibility as cited in the last words of St Paul today, ‘for the spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.’

Fr John Cullen
Kiltoom, Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

THE DEEP END
Going Deeper

This Sunday we have a third extract from the Sermon on the Mount. It can appear at first glance to be a series of moral statements and rules from Jesus. On closer reflection we can see Jesus’ message here is the call for each of us to ‘go deeper’. The Scribes and the Pharisees followed the letter of the law but without depth. Jesus is clear that he has not come to demolish the law, rather, this whole passage is a call to a more profound reflection on our lives; not ticking boxes but moving towards a deeper change of heart in dealings with others. Jesus gives many examples of how people might do this: warning against the hypocrisy of offering gifts and rituals at the altar when we may have huge anger and resentment towards another. Is the real sacrament not in reconciling that relationship first? Which offering is more life-giving? It is not enough to ‘not murder’, but we must watch our anger which can lead to violence. Jesus is calling on people to watch their thoughts which can lead to serious actions like murder and adultery.

When we encounter Christ, the grace that this experience brings can make us aware of what is not ok in our lives. We are called to a radical conversion, a change of heart. And so we read today’s passage with our hearts, not our heads. It may help to recall a time when you felt God’s grace bringing you to a deeper realisation about your life.

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 5:38-48

1. Jesus tells us to act out of love and says that acting out of love is better than acting out of revenge. What does your experience tell you?

2. Perhaps you have at times hit back in revenge when you have been hurt or offended. What effect did this have on you, on others, and on your relationship with them? Contrast this with the times when you resisted the urge to retaliate. What outcome did this have on you, on others, and on your relationship with them, both at the time, and in the long-term?

3. From other passages in the Gospels it is clear that Jesus did not mean that we should ignore injustices, and never make a stand against others. What lessons have you learned in life on when, and how, to make a stand? What wisdom would you share with others from your experience?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS

To know what matters and what does not is a lesson that accompanies us all through life. Today’s Word of God condenses our choices to basic fundamentals. Be holy (First Reading). Show compassion and thanks. Our desire to be holy, compassionate, grateful and to love perfectly is intensely ‘there’ and, with equal intensity, ‘not there’. We hold ourselves in a condition of surrender. We desire all that God’s Word offers us by invitation, yet we choose by our passivity not to initiate nor to cooperate. St Paul opens today’s reading with a direct question: ‘Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you?’ From our own sluggish passivity arises a creativity, a mysterious liberation from all the everyday ordinariness of demands and deadlines. There is nothing to say in answer to the question by St Paul, nothing even to experience in any words that sound impressive, only to accept and realise in the words of today’s Psalm, that ‘we are crowned with love and compassion’ and our ‘life will be redeemed from the grave.’

Fr John Cullen
Kiltoom, Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

THE DEEP END
Turn the Other Cheek

Today we hear and read one of the most famous passages in the Gospels: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. It is a radical text and not so easy. How can we be expected to love those who have hurt us or done harm to us? Anthony de Mello, an Indian Jesuit who wrote many books on spirituality, spoke often about the concept of ‘loving enemies’. When someone hurts us, when someone triggers emotional pain in us, de Mello suggests that we try to come to the realisation that we are ‘standing before our benefactor’. The situation is a reminder that we are still to grow and we are hurt because someone has not met our expectations. It is these expectations that we must let go of. We can learn from the other who has wronged us: how has this affected me? What do I need to let go of?

The teachings in this passage are radical and go against what we hear around us in our world like calls for retribution and revenge. However Jesus has high expectations of his followers, to go against the grain. Jesus is not encouraging passiveness. He is inviting people to a ‘third way’: to make a non-violent stand when faced with persecution. By ‘offering the other cheek’ we allow for the potential of conversion of the other to a realisation of what they have done. The easy option is to retaliate, to not see our brother or sister standing before us. We can offer them an opportunity to see our own sacred humanity. ‘Loving our enemies’ is a call to constantly move towards restoring relationships, offering mercy and peace.

‘An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind’.

Gandhi

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 6:24-34

1. This passage has many beautiful images and encouraging words. Read it slowly and let the words and images speak to you.

2. We all worry, and possibly spend a lot of energy on needless worry. Often the things we worry about never happen. Behind much worry lies a lack of trust in ourselves, in others, and in God. What has helped you to develop the kind of trust that helps you to avoid excessive worrying?

3. One of the situations that can cause anxiety is when we have divided loyalties. ‘No one can be the slave of two masters’. A clear set of priorities can help us avoid this dilemma. What has helped you be clear in your own mind on where your priorities lie?

4. ‘Set your hearts on God’s kingdom first’. Has your faith in God helped you in times of anxiety? Your faith will not take away the problems, but knowing that God is with you, no matter what, can make a difference. What is your experience of this?

John Byrne osa

Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS

All of us, ordinary and flawed, have at heart a seemingly boundless longing for fulfilment. On this Day of Prayer for Temperance, we consider Matt Talbot, who had only seven people at his funeral in 1925, but whom hundreds of thousands came to see as a beacon of hope that reflects the struggles addiction can impose on someone’s life. He relied on a higher power that affirmed and accepted him, without preconditions. He made an extraordinary journey from the darkness of excessive addiction to wholeness and the light of holiness. Amidst the anxieties and personal anguishes of his own pain-filled days and nights, he shows us the answer to one of the seven questions that Jesus asks in the Gospel today: ‘Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life?’

Matt Talbot could identify with the words of today’s Psalm: ‘In God is my safety and glory, trust him at all times, pour out your hearts before him’. He imbibed the refreshing waters of grace and renewed his life as a heroic witness of the power and presence of God at work within him. 

Fr John Cullen
Kiltoom, Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

THE DEEP END
Don’t Worry. Be Happy

We all have moments of worry and anxiety. Many people are anxious about the future, planning their lives and stretching forward months and sometimes years. We can worry about finance, about relationships, about the world, our communities. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us not to worry about material things. We should not be enslaved by possessions. We are asked ‘what really rules our lives?’ If it is money and objects then that leads nowhere; they do not lead to fulfilment. Worry is unproductive. We all know this but that’s not very helpful when we are actually anxious about something. Jesus is urging us in today’s Gospel to free ourselves of worry. Worry is a symptom of a lack of faith. Jesus is not calling us to apathy or a life of carelessness but to realise that nothing was ever achieved by worrying.

How do we respond to worry or anxiety? Do we pray? Do we talk to God and hand these things over to God? Our thoughts can bring us to imagining endless outcomes of a situation, but none of those thoughts are real. Jesus is calling us today to a deeper awareness, to a letting go, to being more present to this moment, to ‘today’.

‘Consider the lilies in the field, how they grow…’ These words of Jesus about the providence of God are powerful and encourage us to put trust in God at the centre of our lives. God knows our deep desires and needs. The challenge of the Christian life is to place our trust in God, not material things, to stay focused on what God is doing in our lives right at this moment.

Jane Mellet

melletj@gmail.com

 

Click here for more resources from our February issue.

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