Newsletter Resources – November 2017

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Feast of All Saints

MUSINGS

The death of a Christian is an event of grace, having, as it does, a positive value and significance in Christ and through Christ.

According to the faith of the Church, ‘to die in Christ’ begins at baptism. In baptism, the Lord’s disciples sacramentally die in Christ so as to live a new life. If the disciples die in the grace of Christ, physical death seals that ‘dying with Christ’ and consummates it by incorporating them fully and definitively into Christ the Redeemer.

 The just encounter God in death. He calls them to himself so as to share eternal life with them. No one, however, can be received into God’s friendship and intimacy without having been purified of the consequences of personal sin. ‘The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect.’

Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

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THE DEEP END: Saints in the Making

Lost something? Talk to St Anthony! Ready to give up on a hopeless situation? Pray to St Jude. Setting out on a journey? Don’t forget your St Christopher medal. Worried about a job interview? Ask St Cajetan to intercede for you. And the list goes on! There is a patron saint for almost every situation you could imagine.

There is something about the saints that touches even the most cynical of hearts. Turning to a particular favourite saint in times of need is more than mere superstition. At its most basic level it is a reminder that we are not alone, an acknowledgement that there is a life beyond this one and we are connected to it. At a deeper level it is an opportunity to pause and reflect on these holy women and men who were shining examples of faith and virtue while alive, and who now continue their great work by leading us ever closer to God.

This All Saints Day, the Beatitudes challenge us to look beyond the trials of this life and see the bigger picture. They offer a way of life that leads to eternal life. The saints whose help we seek embodied many of the qualities of the Beatitudes – gentleness, mercy, fighting for justice, working to bring peace, and bearing suffering with dignity. As we reflect on those who have gone before us, it leads us to ponder how we are doing: are we saints in the making?

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 23:1-12

  1. When our actions match our words about gospel values, then our words carry more weight. Recall people whom you admired for this quality.  Perhaps your own experience at times confirms this.
  2. Jesus also has hard words for those whose priority lies in cultivating flattery and attention. Even for the people honoured such words and gestures can have an empty feeling.  How much better for us to be comfortable in our own skin, recognizing our goodness, and acknowledging our limitations.
  3. Our passage ends with a paradox. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.  For Jesus the way to greatness and a full life is through service of others.  When have you found the way of service brought unexpected rewards?

John Byrne osa
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

Why does Jesus choose this person or that one? Look, Jesus doesn’t choose a crowd. He chooses each person, one by one. So he chose the first twelve as his apostles. But we – you and I – are also chosen, with a first name and a family name. I have been chosen as Jorge Mario and you as Juan Pablo. We have been chosen to be Jesus’ friends and to do something in this life.

Pope Francis, 
Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children
Around the World

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THE DEEP END: Practise what you preach

We have all heard the expression ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. According to one online dictionary, it is ‘an expression used to call out hypocrites, including “environmentalists” with private jets, politicians who send their children to private school while opposing measures to give other kids the same chance, or those who accuse others of racism while not hiring minorities’. We could all come up with examples of people who do not practise what they preach.

The accusation appears to have been made for the Scribes and the Pharisees that Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. He criticises them for placing heavy burdens on people, while not lifting a finger to help them, and for making themselves look important in order to attract attention. If we are honest with ourselves, there are areas of our own lives where we value style over substance, where we wish to give a certain impression to others that does not reflect the truth of the matter. We like to look good, and for people to think highly of us.

There are also times when we do not live up to the expectations we set for others. We expect people to be honest and fair with us, yet we are not always honest in our dealings with others. We expect others to help us, but we might not always repay the favour. Today’s gospel is a wake-up call. It tells us what Jesus expects of us. We must be humble and genuine, thinking of others rather than worrying about what people will think of us.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 25:1-13

  1. While the parable has clear end-of-time applications it can also be applied to any moment of grace. It reminds us that moments of grace come unexpectedly, and we need to be awake to receive them. Recall times when you were alert for such a moment. What were the consequences for you?
  2. Grace can also be disturbing. We can be coasting along in life and suddenly an opportunity or a graced moment arrives and we are shaken out of our routine in order to respond. Perhaps you can recall both moments when you were unprepared, and moments when you were able to respond. What lessons have you learned from such experiences?
  3. We may be tempted to judge the wise virgins as being selfish for not sharing with the others, but perhaps Jesus is teaching us that there are some things that other people cannot provide for us. We have to acquire them ourselves. What qualities in life do you see as the essential oil that you must provide for yourself?

John Byrne osa
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

Each fresh meditation on the life of our Lord impresses on me more and more the necessity of conforming my life to his in every detail if I wish to please him and become holy. To do something great and heroic may never come, but I can make my life heroic by faithfully and daily putting my best effort into each duty as it comes round.

Fr Willie Doyle, SJ [1873-1917]

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THE DEEP END: Are you ready?

‘It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.’

  • Hugh Laurie

I’m not ready – we all think it or say it from time to time. It could be as simple as not being able to find your shoes to leave the house, or a more serious situation like being under-prepared for a work presentation. It can also refer to our emotional state – we might not be ready to talk about an experience, to change a habit, to enter into a relationship, or to let go of a loved one. No one else can tell us if we are ready for a situation or not. It is something only we know. But there is some wisdom in the quote above, in that sometimes we need to push ourselves, to just dive in.

 The parable in today’s gospel pits two groups in stark contrast – the foolish bridesmaids who failed to prepare, and the sensible ones who were ready with their lamps and oil. Both groups fell asleep on the job, but only one group had laid the groundwork and so were ready for action. Jesus tells us we need to be watchful and ready. As well as having the light of faith, we need the fuel – the actions – to keep it lit so we are ready when the Lord comes.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 25:14-30

  1. A gift given in love is given to be enjoyed, treasured, and used. Through fear, one servant failed to recognise the loving trust being shown to him and buried the talent. When have you found that overcoming fear helped you to make the most of opportunities in life?
  2. On the level of our own personal life, faith is not given to us to be locked away, but to be ‘traded’ with. We trade with it when we believe in its value, trust it, and use it, bringing it into the experiences we have in daily life. Can you recall times when relying on your faith has brought you rewards?
  3. Likewise with our own personal gifts and talents. We can fall into the trap of seeing these as our personal possession so that we can do with them as we like, rather than share them as gifts so that they can be multiplied. What is your experience of hoarding or sharing your own gifts? When did you feel most alive?
  4. Pope Francis in his letter Evangelii Gaudium wrote, ‘I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in their respective communities. … The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters’ (EG, 33). How is your parish responding to this call?

John Byrne osa
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way:
what need I fear when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
more safe am I within thy hand
than if a host should round me stand.

My destined time is known to thee,
and death will keep his hour;
did warriors strong around me throng,
they could not stay his power:
No walls of stone can man defend
when thou thy messenger dost send.

Anonymous

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THE DEEP END: Dive in!

Ruth Fitzmaurice was 32 years old when her husband Simon was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2008. He was given four years to live; two years later his lung function collapsed and he chose to be mechanically ventilated. He communicates using an ‘eye gaze’ computer, and their home is a whirlwind of 24-hour nursing care – as well as buckets of joy and love. The family of five has grown to seven since the diagnosis, Simon directed his first feature film, and Ruth has found solace in a daily sea swim with friends near their County Wicklow home while also writing a book, I Found My Tribe, about her experiences.

It is more than some individuals or families have to cope with in a lifetime, but the story Ruth tells is not a sad one. She and her family have taken a challenging situation and turned it into a positive story of love, friendship and hope.

Ruth and Simon came to mind when I read the gospel story for today. We are all dealt different cards in life, and some are tougher than others. We are like the servants in the parable who are given different amounts of money to look after. What’s important is not the life we are given, but what we do with it. Jesus was cautioning against playing it safe. The Fitzmaurice family are doing a lot more than just ‘getting on with it’. Instead of turning inwards or living in fear, they meet their challenges head on. ‘Dive in’ is Ruth’s message, no matter what life throws your way.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 22:15-21

  1. The story sees a mixture of religion and politics, a potentially explosive combination. Jesus does not ask us to avoid politics, but that our involvement in the affairs of the world be informed by the perspective of the reign of God. How does the gospel give you a vision of how your involvement in society should be?
  2. Pharisees and Herodians were not natural allies but a shared dislike of Jesus brought them together in an attempt to discredit him. Perhaps you experience the same opposition in society today when you profess to being a Catholic. Jesus did not get into an argument with them but simply professed his belief in the priority of God in his life. What have you found helpful in bearing witness to the fact that you are still a Catholic?
  3. Jesus recognises that we can be faced with conflicting claims for attention. He does not tell us how to solve that dilemma, but challenges us to make sure that our allegiance to God takes priority. When have you been faced with a conflict of loyalties? What helped you to get your priorities right?

John Byrne osa
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

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MUSINGS

The greatest evil is that in our own hearts, but God is greater than our hearts. When we sin against our brother or sister we sin against God. Charles de Foucauld spoke of seeing Jesus in every person: ‘Above all see Jesus in every person and consequently treat each one as an equal and as a brother or sister, but also with great humility, respect and selfless generosity.’ The other person is the brother or sister for whom Jesus died (1 Cor 8:11f).

John O’Brien OFM, With Thee Tender is the Night

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THE DEEP END: What sort of king is this?

From a very young age, children tend to hear a lot about royalty. Popular fairytales, many of them around for hundreds of years, tell tales of beautiful princesses, brave princes, and noble, wise, old kings and queens. They transport children into a world of extravagant palaces and riches beyond anything they could imagine. Modern children’s stories and cartoons continue the fascination, but many now turn the traditional stereotypes on their head. Princesses no longer wait around to be rescued, but take their fate into their own hands. Princes don’t necessarily want to be brave or to become the next king.

In the time of Jesus kings were powerful rulers, and some were tyrants. We know from earlier in Matthew’s Gospel that King Herod was capable of brutal acts. There were expectations too about the great Messianic King who would lead a rebellion and establish his kingdom on earth.

The king that Jesus talks about turns these images upside down. He is a fair judge, a shepherd who looks after his flock, inviting all who act with justice and generosity to take their place in his kingdom. He is also in solidarity with the ‘least’ of his people. Who ever heard of a king who knows what it’s like to be in need of food, clothing or company? But Jesus is a different sort of royalty. His kingdom is not based on power or riches, but charity, compassion and forgiveness.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

 

Click here for more resources from our November issue.

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