Newsletter Resources – September

Newsletter, Family Mass and Irish Mass resources for the August are available free here.

We welcome you to use the following resources in any parish newsletter distributed free of charge.

Click here for a PDF version of our Newsletter Resources.

For more resources from our September issue, click here.

 

3 September 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS 

Matthew 16.21-27

  1. Short-term loss is sometimes necessary for long-term gain, as a student studying, or an athlete training, can testify. When have you found that denying yourself proved to be worthwhile because of what you gained afterwards?
  2. Jesus was teaching his followers that the path of discipleship would involve pain and suffering. Peter would have none of it.   When have you found that taking up your cross brought you life, even though at the time it may have been difficult?
  3. Jesus knew that because his good news message was not acceptable to the authorities he would suffer and die. In spite of this he trusted that the power of God would overcome evil. Have you seen a good news message survive even though opponents tried to stifle it?
  4. Jesus promised that those who suffer for the kingdom would be rewarded. Perhaps, even in this earthly life, you have experienced reward for faithful discipleship.   What have these rewards been?

John Byrne OSA

 

MUSINGS
To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us.

When Christ calls a person, he bids them come and die.

The disciple-community does not shake off sorrow as though it were no concern of its own, but willingly bears it. And in this way they show how close are the bonds which bind them to the rest of humanity. But at the same time they do not go out of their way to look for suffering, or try to contract out of it by adopting an attitude of contempt and disdain. They simply bear the suffering which comes their way as they try to follow Jesus Christ, and bear it for his sake. Sorrow cannot tire them or wear them down, it cannot embitter them or cause them to break down under the strain; far from it, for they bear their sorrows in the strength of him who bears them up, who bore the whole suffering of the world upon the cross. They stand as the bearers of sorrow in the fellowship of the Crucified: they stand as strangers in the world in the power of him who was such a stranger to the world that it crucified him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

 

DEEP ENDS – Selfless love
It can be difficult to understand why anyone would willingly place a burden on themselves. We are bombarded daily with promises of a better, easier life. Magazines and lifestyle gurus offer us a better work-life balance. New gadgets pledge to remove obstacles or irritations and make our lives less stressful. It’s all a bit of a contrast to the message of today’s gospel, where Jesus says that his followers must take up their cross. Why would we deliberately suffer, or take on a burden? Surely we should aim to make our lives as easy as possible!
Yet, we see self-sacrifice all the time. Parents make sacrifices for their children, and many people tend lovingly to elderly parents or relatives. Friends give up their time to listen and support each other.
Teachers go the extra mile for a vulnerable child, and nurses, doctors, and care workers often go beyond the call of duty. Countless people give up their time and resources to help those in need, whether it’s raising funds for charities or offering practical support to those who are sick, homeless, or struggling. And it’s all done out of love.
When Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to suffer grievously and be put to death, they naturally react with shock, as it seems like a strange path to choose. But he is not doing it simply to make life difficult for himself. His sacrifice stems from his passionate love for us, just as we would sacrifice everything for someone we love dearly. Being a follower of Jesus means being prepared to sometimes put others’ needs before our own.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

10 September 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS 

Matthew 18.15-20

  1. At the time Matthew was writing his gospel local church communities would have numbered no more than fifty people. They would be known to one another.   Matthew presents the instructions of Jesus for dealing with people whose behaviour disrupted and harmed the community.   Note the steps suggested.  Simple directions, but many of us do otherwise.   We avoid difficult confrontations.  We talk about the faults of others to everyone but themselves.   We go over the head of someone who displeases us and make complaints.  In your experience, which approach is life-giving for you and for others?
  2. While Jesus is referring to a group situation, the advice can be applied also to personal difficulties and problems with others. What lessons has life taught you about constructive ways of dealing with conflict?
  3. As individuals and communities we have the power to bind and to loose, to exclude people from relationship, or to open up and include others in relationship. When have you found it important to acknowledge this power in your own life?
  4. Jesus also promises to be with his followers when they gather together. What does that mean to you?  How have you experienced the presence of Jesus in his followers gathered together?

John Byrne OSA

 

MUSINGS
Opening ourselves to ideas, including those with which we disagree, this is what the good traveller should do. Happy are they who understand the words, “If you disagree with me you have something to give me.”

If those who are with you always agree with you before you open your mouth, they are not companions but shadows. When disagreement is not a form of systematic blocking, when it arises from a different vision, it can only enrich us.

It is possible to travel alone. But the good traveler knows that the journey is human life, and life needs company. “Companion” means, etymologically, the person who eats the same bread. Happy are they who feel they are always on the road and that every person they meet is their companion. The good traveler takes care of his weary companions. He guesses when they lose heart. He takes them as he finds them, listens to them. Intelligently, gently, above all lovingly, he encourages them to go on and recover their joy in the journey.

Become an expert
in the art
of discovering the good
in every person.
No one
is entirely bad.
Become an expert
in the art
of finding the truthful core
in views of every kind.
The human mind
abhors total error.

Dom Helder Camara, Essential Writings [Modern Spiritual Masters Series]

 

DEEP ENDS – Community living

No community is without its problems. Wherever two or three are gathered, there will be two or three different opinions!
Today’s gospel has a valuable message about community. When we think of our own parish or church community, we might feel uncomfortable with the advice on how to deal with sin. But this passage is just as relevant now as it was to the early Church. First of all, it acknowledges that the Church is not perfect; it is made up of sinners, who will go astray and disagree at different times.
It emphasises the importance of dialogue – if a brother (or sister) sins, the first step is to discuss it with them, and then to enlist the help of the community if necessary. Presumably the other members will do the same for you, if and when you need it. We all have a responsibility, as members of the Church, to help those who are struggling or lost.
If you have a spare few minutes, read the passages that come immediately before and after this one in Matthew’s Gospel. Before, the parable of the lost sheep tells us that God rejoices when one who has gone astray is found. After, Jesus tells us we should forgive each other as many as seventy-seven times. The context is God’s generous love and forgiveness, on which we are expected to model our Church. Jesus is present where two or three meet in his name – even with our human struggles and disagreements and sins. We have a responsibility to be present to each other, and to forgive one another. That’s what it means to be Christ’s Church.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

17 September 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS 

  1. Jesus surprised Peter by telling him he needed to forgive seventy-seven times. Perhaps you have known the truth of this when something reminds you of a past hurt and you find you need in your heart to forgive again the person who hurt you.  What was this like for you?  How has a capacity to have a forgiving heart helped you?
  2. Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for things we regret about past behaviour. What happens to you when you cannot do this?  How has your ability to forgive yourself for past mistakes influenced your attitude towards yourself now?
  3. Are there people whose ability to forgive has inspired you? Recall them and the forgiveness they showed and give thanks for their example.

John Byrne OSA

 

MUSINGS
Just as the Son, on coming into the world and becoming man, chose people’s company to the point of joining sinners at table, so the Church has to keep the same company, because her faith, her adherence to the Lord and to the Word she receives from him, does not remove her from the world, but demands that she live in the company of men and women…

“Company” means wanting to reach people where they are, including in their sinfulness and their refusal of God; it means meeting people with sympathy and love, because “Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8) and “reconciled us to God while we were enemies” (Rom 5:10). The importance of the word “while” needs to be underlined: the presence, all at the very same time, of the world’s hatred, the enmity of sinners and the love of God is an essential part of the word of the Cross. Christ has broken the logic of enmity, and so Christians live “company” when they follow him in breaking down barriers, walls and borders, contradicting every day the logic that creates and perceives enemies…

The “company” of others implies being patient with them, it implies longsuffering, the capacity to remain in a position of support… participating in the patience of God.

And so, Christians are precluded from every attitude… that would harden them in the logic that divides people into allies, friends and enemies.

Enzo Bianchi, Christians in Society [transl. Ed]

 

DEEP ENDS – Generous love

A remarkable story of generosity featured on Joe Duffy’s Liveline: Call Back programme on RTÉ recently. It was the story of Shane O’Neill, who had a history of drugs offences and ended up serving time in prison in Belgium. On release from prison he went to the Irish Embassy to ask for the price of a flight to return home, but was turned down. Another Irish man, Charlie Kiernan, overheard the exchange and decided to help, booking him a flight and buying him breakfast.When Shane asked how he could repay him, Charlie suggested he ‘pay it forward’. The kind gesture was the catalyst for Shane turning his life around.

It is this sort of generous love that we hear about in today’s gospel, in the parable told by Jesus. The master who cancels the servant’s debt does so out of compassion and generosity. It is of no benefit to him to pardon the debt. He will be down ten thousand talents – one talent was worth more than 15 years’ wages of a labourer, so we are talking about a large sum of money! The servant is grateful, but not so grateful that he is willing to take pity on a fellow servant who owes him just one hundred denarii – one denarius was the usual day’s wage for a labourer.
The parable speaks to us about the kindness of God, but also what he expects from us. Because we have been loved, we must love. Because we have been forgiven, we must forgive.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon

 

24 September 2017

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

  1. “I was there first”.   Envy easily comes to the surface when faced with the good fortune of others, especially when compared to what seems less favourable treatment of ourselves.   Can you recall that feeling in yourself and what it did to you?   Can you also recall times when you were content with your lot, even though it seemed others had greater gifts, better opportunities, etc.
  2. A parent or teacher who gives a lot of time to a difficult child does not love the others less, but if we are one of those other children we may not see that.  Recall a “Jesus person” in your life who helped you to overcome feelings of envy and helped you appreciate that the apparently more favourable treatment of another did not mean a lessening of love for you.
  3. This leads us to the core message of this parable, namely, that God’s love is a free gift and not earned. Recall moments when you were particularly conscious of the gifts that God has given you by counting all the blessings that you have, no matter how small.
  4. “It is too late now” are words sometimes uttered to justify doing nothing about a situation. This parable tells us that where love is involved, it is never too late.  Can you recall times when you got a positive response after taking action when you thought it was “too late”?

John Byrne OSA

 

MUSINGS
I should like to speak with You, my God, and yet what else can I speak of but You? Indeed, could anything at all exist which had not been present with You from all eternity, which didn’t have its true home and most intimate explanation in Your mind and heart? Isn’t everything I ever say really a statement about You?

On the other hand, if I try, shyly and hesitantly, to speak to You about Yourself, You will still be hearing about me. For what could I say about You except that You are my God, the God of my beginning and end, God of my joy and my need, God of my life?

… But what am I really saying, when I call You my God, the God of my life? That You are the meaning of my life? The goal of my wanderings? The consecration of my actions? The judgment of my sins? The bitterness of my bitter hours and my most secret joy? My strength, which turns my own strength into weakness? Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner, the One both far and near? Incomprehensible? God of my brethren? God of my fathers?

Are there any titles which I needn’t give You? And when I have listed them all, what have I said? If I should take my stand on the shore of Your Endlessness and shout into the trackless reaches of Your Being all the words I have ever learned in the poor prison of my little existence, what should I have said? I should never have spoken the last word about You.

Karl Rahner, Encounters With Silence

 

DEEP ENDS – Am I a grumbler?

Many of Jesus’ parables are difficult. We are invited to place ourselves in the story. Which character do we identify with? To which group would we belong? Sometimes we find ourselves sympathising with the character who turns out to be in the wrong. God’s ways are not our ways!
The parable of the labourers in the vineyard is one of those tricky ones. We are drawn into the story, and we feel some sympathy for the crowd who end up grumbling at the landowner. These early birds who were hired at daybreak have done the most work. They have toiled all day in the heat, doing far more labour than those who were hired only at the last minute – yet they all receive the same pay. It’s hardly fair, is it?
But the landowner makes his point: ‘Why be envious because I am generous?’ Of course, Jesus anticipates the discomfort of his audience. He uses parables to gently pull the rug from under their feet, to challenge their assumptions, and offer them a new way of thinking that is focused not on themselves, but on the wider community.
Place yourself in the story. If you identify with the grumblers, ask yourself why. Why should we be concerned about what others are getting? Who are we to judge what others deserve? Surely we, too, should want God’s love and blessings to be extended to everyone!

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon

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