Newsletter Resources: October

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.

 

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 17:5-10

1.  Faith can move mountains. Well, it can certainly get us moving. Recall a time when you were full of self-doubt, skepticism about a project, or lacking trust in God. What was that like? Contrast this with times when you believed in yourself, or in the value of a project you had undertaken, or when your faith and trust in God was strong. What kind of faith have you found that enriched your life?

2.  Faith is like a mustard seed: small; and sometimes we may be tempted to wait till our faith grows. Part of the message in the gospel is to use the faith we have, even though it may be small. That is how we grow in belief in ourselves and in God’s presence in our lives. Does your experience back up this?

3.  It is nice when what we do is recognised and acknowledged, but the desire for recognition leaves us vulnerable. It is not always forthcoming. It can be helpful if our main motivation in doing something is the value of the action itself. Have you experienced this?

4.  Love is a free gift. What is given lovingly is not given because of a claim. What is your experience of the freedom of love given and received?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

Mere Servants

Anecdotally, it is recounted that the Kerry man when asked at Slea Head for travel directions to Dublin, replied that if he were going, he would not begin from here at all. To tune into this Sunday’s Gospel, it is better to begin four verses before the given beginning. The disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith because of the intimidating challenge he had put to them. His instruction to forgive the repentant one seven times a day left them bewildered. Their request for more faith was very apposite. Forgiveness and faith are intertwining relationships.

Faith is friendship with God. Sown in a receptive heart, it is nurtured through contact, experience, expression and tenderness. Sometimes damaged by failure, faith is restored and often enriched through genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness is the welcoming acceptance of the offending one back into a vibrant heart. It is a pure gift and can never be earned. To trade it, is to destroy it. It happens only between those who love.

No wonder the disciples were gasping for an increase in such forgiving friendship and challenged by Jesus to protect it by fidelity. Described as mere servants, perhaps, but we are called to be the faithful custodians of a vibrant treasure.

 

Fr Tom Clancy

Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork

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THE DEEP END

I used to be a terrible worrier. You know the type. Somebody who actually worries about not worrying! I have improved hugely however. It would be hard not to as time, experience and faith have stood me well. Virtually all of the things I have ever worried about have never become a reality and for this I am grateful.

Generally, I have always liked to believe I am quite rational, but the head and the heart can sometimes be at odds with one another, so when I was in my ‘worry maze’ the reasoning side of me always knew that my worries, in the main, were idle, but a tiny, annoying voice would say ’maybe this time’. That’s where wonderful friends come in. I am blessed to have lots of truly genuine people in my life who ‘tell it as it is’.

A lovely friend of mine once berated me for ‘worry worming’. He was a man of faith, and during a telling off from him (a necessary one!) he said, ‘For God’s sake Sally, would you listen to yourself; You talk a lot about your faith but you are certainly not putting it into action. Absence of faith is fear and absence of fear is faith.’ Take a minute to process this. Good isn’t it? That simple but hugely profound sentence has come to my rescue time and again and I would go so far as to say that it is the reason I don’t really worry any more.

Because I do have the incredible gift that faith is, and, as in Luke, it has increased my joy, my serenity and my peace. Every prayer is an act of faith in God and faith that whatever happens in this life, God and I will deal with it together. To me, faith and gratitude are the best insurance policies against getting trapped in the insidious net of worry.

Don’t worry … have FAITH! And wonderful friends!

Sally McEllistrim
World Missions Ireland • pr@wmi.ie

 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 17:11-19

1.  The cure of the lepers is not just a physical cure, it also brought the people healed back from exclusion into the community. Perhaps you have experienced the movement from exclusion to inclusion. What was it like for you to be accepted once again when you had felt excluded?

2.  Who were the people that brought about this change for you? For whom you have been able to do this, perhaps by healing a rift with a friend, or by listening to the opinion of someone you had dismissed out of hand, or by opening the door in some other way to another?

3.  Some people work hard at breaking down barriers in society, seeking inclusion for those who find themselves labelled as lepers by society or by a section of society. Where have you seen this happening? Who has been doing this kind of work? Where is the Good News in such action?

4.  When we do good for another we may not do it for the thanks we hope to get, but it can hurt when no gratitude is shown. How have you experienced the positive effects of thanks given and received?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

Where are the other nine?

As we know only too well, prejudice, ignorance, betrayal and social class can create apparently insurmountable divisions among us. But traditional barriers often crumble in the face of a common crisis or a great opportunity for a better life. This is particularly obvious nowadays in groups helping with recovery from addiction. It is not surprising, then, that it happened among the lepers of Christ’s time. Lepers were total outcasts, banned from all contact with the settled community. Food was left for them by their families at designated outposts only. Living such a disrespected way of life, the centuries old and bitter barrier between Jews and Samaritans gave way to a survival camaraderie that led to a racially mixed group of lepers approaching Jesus for healing. All were healed but only the one who was an outcast, through both race and health, returned to give thanks. The others felt that the healer was one of their own, so they were entitled to healing.

Our expectations about our entitlements because of our family background or our education or hard work, often blind us to how gratuitous all God’s gifts to us really are. Failure to appreciate the graciousness of such goodness leads to a hardening of the arteries of love that quickly deprives the heart of contentment, generosity and joy. Happiness is the flowering of appreciation and giving thanks. The Samaritan leper knew this. He seized his opportunity. Saying thanks opened up a new relationship with Jesus for him. Where are the other nine? Where are we?

Fr Tom Clancy

Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork

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THE DEEP END

So often when we hear Luke’s story of the ten lepers, we concentrate on the supposed rudeness of the nine who didn’t return, who seem ungrateful for the healing Jesus brought. I wonder, however, if they were being rude or simply doing what they had been told to do. Jesus said ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests’ and that is what they set out to do. In fact, their initial cry for help would indicate they recognised Jesus as Master, they knew to call out to him for healing, they trusted him, and they believed him when he spoke to them. They even set out in the direction he told them before there was any evidence he had healed them.

Luke makes a point of distinguishing the returning leper as a Samaritan/Gentile so, presumably, the other nine were Jewish. They, and Jesus, knew the priests would provide official acknowledgement of their being cleansed, allowing them to re-enter the community in accordance with the Law. They continued on their path to visit the priests so they could resume their lives, go home to their family and friends, and return to worshipping in the synagogue. They were cleansed. But that’s not the end of the story. The Samaritan did a turnabout and returned to thank Jesus, to thank God. He, however, was not only cleansed; he was ‘made well.’

All ten are healed but the thankful Samaritan is somehow more prophetic. He is grateful for the grace he has just received and, perhaps, lights the way for future Gentiles to respond to the Good News through faith and thankfulness. The thankful Samaritan shows us that gratitude is an essential response to God’s mercy. It is essential to our wholeness of mind, body and spirit; it is essential to salvation. To be made well we must add thanksgiving to our faith.

 

Julieann Moran

National Secretary, Society of Missionary Children
julieann@wmi.ie

 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 18:1-8

1.  The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind, but to change ourselves; and we can be slow to move. When have you found that persistence in prayer strengthened your faith in the presence of God with you in that struggle?

2.  The context of the story may be a concern about the delay in the final coming of the Lord. Have there been times when your persistence in prayer, or action, was eventually rewarded after a period when you had doubts about the outcome? What were the fruits of your persistent prayer?

3.  Behind the story lies the final question of Jesus: Who does have faith? Who have been models of faith and trust in God for you? How has that trust been shown in their lives? How is it shown in yours?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

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MUSINGS

God does not need reminding

I have just paused to notice my breathing. The heart is working away. Both are steady and normal. The normality almost deadens my awareness of God’s creative presence giving me life with all its blessings, opportunities, challenges and difficulties. It sometimes takes the absence of one of His gifts to alert us to our total dependence on God. In times of crisis, we pleadingly voice our needs, even our panic, with a persistence that seems discourteous to our benefactor. This persistence in intercessory prayer is strongly encouraged by Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel. There, the carefully crafted parable has a deeper message than just bullying God into changing his mind. God does not need reminding, but we do. Highlighting our needs is a reminder of all we have received. Such remembering evokes gratitude that leads to praise and worship culminating in happiness.

Jesus does not explain the parable. He expects us to mine it. Some miners find diamonds.

 

Fr Tom Clancy

Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork

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THE DEEP END

Support; an important word in our vocabulary today and very much so in our families. Where would any of us be without the support of the family which is the bedrock of society? Moses had his family, the Israelites of old, and note how they supported him, holding his hands on high, as he interceded for his people when they were engaged in defending the people. No cameras to record it, but what a sight it must have been and a wonderful family story.

We had a wonderful summer of sport this year. We had the thrills and spills of the European Cup, the Olympics and the GAA Championship. Our sportsmen and women did us proud and themselves too. Everybody wants to bask in the glory of coming out as number one. Only one can make it to the top and yet can we recall the frequency with which we secretly, or openly shouted ‘God, O God, can they make it?’

God, O God: I wonder is He always listening! Could he ever be akin to the unjust judge, who even though, apparently, not interested in the dear old lady in the gospel story, granted her request to get her, as it were, ‘out of his hair’. I wonder did he still have hair and how long was the widow pestering him. Isn’t this how it is in some families? In the time of large families, it was noticed that younger members easily got what they wanted, their first disco, holidays away from the family, etc., in comparison with the struggle the first members of the family had to endure. Even parents give way to pressure perhaps because of weariness or it could be that they too acquire wisdom over the years.

Being human and trying to communicate with a divine being we use human concepts and the God we call on is sometimes likened to a parent who could possibly know what is best for the children. He may be slow in responding and we wonder why. Is the Almighty mind being changed or is it my request that is being modified?

 

Sheila Crowe

Missionary Sister of St Columban

 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 19:9-14

1.  There can be an element of defensiveness in our relationships with others. We are reluctant to let another see us as we see ourselves. Occasionally, we meet someone with whom we can be totally open and know we will be accepted. With whom have you had that kind of a relationship? What was it like for you to have that freedom?

2.  Likewise with God, when we come to prayer pretending to be better than we are, we are hiding from God. What difference does it make when you pray to God, acknowledging your faults and limitations? Have you ever found that when you are humble in this way in prayer, God lifts you up?

3.  The parable is also a cautionary tale against judging others negatively on the basis of externals. Perhaps God, who looks into the heart, sees another picture. When have you discovered there was more to another person than the negative picture you got from first impressions?

 

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS

From bargaining…

Hard bargaining is inimical to robust loving. Effective bargaining is built on perceived strengths. Enriching love thrives on trustful acceptance. A bargaining heart misses out on the fulfilment of generosity. Self-righteousness blocks out the balm of enriching friendship.

The Pharisee in this Sunday’s Gospel sets out his stall very well. His fidelity to the accepted norms is above reproach. His report card merits ten out of ten at least. He is a cut above the rest. He can bargain with the Lord from strength. What he wants in prayer is affirmation in self-righteousness, approval from his peers and first place in the pecking order.

The man at the back of the temple has no bargaining chips. He believes in a different God. His heart is just open to healing mercy; to a tender welcome; to new beginnings; to ongoing, enriching love; true friendships, human and divine.

The two men may be in the temple at the same time, but have very different agendas.

 

Fr Tom Clancy

Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork

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THE DEEP END

In 1973, I decided to enter the convent. The last thing I wanted to do before I left my wonderful job was to go out to dinner with the boss. So there we sat having dinner together and he said to me, ‘I am puzzled that you want to enter a convent’. I said, ‘why’s that?’, he said, ‘because nuns are usually humble!’. You can imagine my shocked expression. I have been working on that point since that night.

I have made a discovery though over those 43 years. God really does exalt the humble. In very small ways I have realised that it is the very thing we do not want to do that God is waiting for us to do and in that very thing is our healing. He is waiting there in the middle of that issue with his healing oils. I have noticed humble people succeeding and I have rejoiced that I noticed. It’s a start.

To call a spade a spade: we exclude people from our lives. We are so subtle and clever. Nobody knows except me and God. I would rather drown or be burnt alive than invite someone who would make me feel uncomfortable and I avoid going where they are. But there are ways of getting around it. In the same way we are so clever to exclude, we can be creative to include. Think! You might be the only person who can help that person. They are, after all, flesh and blood like us. Are we really going to spend our God-given energy on avoidance? There are so many other wonderful things to do with it. But we have to get over this mountain. What is stopping us? – a little word called pride. I challenge you. This week – you know your weakness and I know mine. Let us focus on how we can climb that mountain so that we can get on with our lives in freedom, love and mercy.

 

Sr Carmen Lee SSpS

World Missions Ireland • pr@wmi.ie

 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Luke 19:1-10

1.  Zacchaeus showed himself open to the call of Jesus, to the surprise of his contemporaries who thought there was no good in tax collectors. Sometimes the people who give us lessons in goodness may be people we previously disregarded. Recall when this happened for you.

2.  It was the eagerness of Zacchaeus to see what kind of a man Jesus was that opened him up to conversion. When you consider moments of change in your life what were the interests or desires that prepared you for change?

3.  The decision of Jesus to eat in the house of Zacchaeus broke the social norms of his day and scandalized those who saw him. When have you found table fellowship a useful way of breaking down artificial boundaries between people? When has a kind word had this effect?

4.  Zacchaeus had become rich off the backs of the people and they thoroughly disliked him. Yet, he was the one singled out by Jesus, and he responded to Jesus’ call. Perhaps you have also seen people who hurt you and caused you pain change their ways. How have you reacted to such a change? What has helped you to see the grace of God at work, and give thanks?

John Byrne osa

Email john@orlagh.ie

**********

 

MUSINGS

Never too small

In times of crisis, a common reaction is to blame our leaders. Church leaders know this only too well. Of course, like the rest of us, they too make mistakes and need to acknowledge this fact. But to lay the blame for all our ills on them is destructive and dishonest. Each of us has the opportunity to create cells of goodness and service wherever we are. Among believers, buck passing is often due to a crippling sense that we cannot see a way to make a worthwhile input into the life of God’s Church. Too many believe that we are too small to count. We are not.

In Christ’s time, Zacchaeus was too small to see Jesus passing by. Aware that life’s chances do not repeat themselves, Zacchaeus moved quickly to offset this limitation. He climbed a tree. Looking Jesus in the eye changed his life.

We meet Jesus in and through one another. Responsibility for caring for people in need and for our environment belongs to each of us. Like Zacchaeus, we must find ways of seizing today’s opportunities now and not leave it to the preacher. Otherwise we may never encounter Jesus. We are never too small to make a difference.

 

Fr Tom Clancy

Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork

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THE DEEP END

The beautiful old Irish seanfhócail, Ar scaith a chéile a mhaireann na daoine, (it is in the shadow of others that we live) is one that I grew up listening to.

It is just one of many that my beloved Aunt Kally was fond of quoting, and it always had, and continues to have, a deep resonance for me. To me, it is one of the most meaningful and beautiful sayings in a language that is not short on either. It illustrates how interconnected we all are, to our own families of origin and, of course, our wider global Christian family.

While those families of origin are moving amongst us in this world, exuberant and full of life, that seanfhócail can give us a wonderful warm sense of belonging, place, care and support.

When they have moved on to their eternal realm, it takes on even more significance, for me anyway.

In my case, Kally’s shadow, and that of my wider family, of passing on the faith, trying to be a good example, instilling good values, being generous and decent and kind, was a bright one, and anytime feelings of missing them all threaten to overwhelm, I breathe and thank God that I had them. I learned from them. I am of them. I am truly blessed. They have not left me, they have just caught the earlier train in the great journey of life and we will all rejoice at our final destination.

Today’s readings remind us that November is just around the corner and, just in this life, we are all linked to those who have gone on. The wonderful chain of life continues and it is great to be a link in that chain, just like the familial one. It is so comforting and hopeful, just like our faith itself.

I believe and trust that I will see my family again, God willing, and in the meantime I will try and honour the things they taught me.

 

Sally McEllistrim
World Missions Ireland • pr@wmi.ie

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