Newsletter Resources – April 2018

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You can find more features and resources from our April issue here.


Sunday, 1 April 2018


John 20:1-9

In some ways this gospel is a difficult one for prayer. It only presents a part of the story and the full unfolding of the good news the story contains lies in the next part of the text. However, even with this section there is plenty of material for reflection and for prayer.

  1. The disciples are in a state of shock and suffering from a traumatic loss. Jesus, the one in whom they had placed so much hope, has been murdered and buried. Then, before they have time to recover, comes another shock – the body of Jesus is missing. Have you had experiences in which one tragedy or crisis follows quickly after another? What was that like for you? How did you cope? What, or who, sustained you then?
  2. Mary and Peter, and possibly others, came and discovered that the tomb was empty. The part of the story we have in this text gives no explanations of what has happened. They are left in a state of bewilderment ‘for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.’ Have you been in that kind of a situation, faced with events you cannot explain, possibly events which have dashed your hopes in another person, or in God? What has that been like for you?
  3. Yet in spite of the lack of explanation, the beloved disciple ‘saw and believed’.

Have there been times when others have done something that you could not understand, and which they could not explain at the time and yet you believed that all was not as it seemed; times when you decided to trust in spite of the evidence?

Have there been times when others have shown this kind of faith in you when you were not able to offer satisfactory explanations, and all you could say was ‘trust me’?

Have there been times in your relationship with God when you have felt that you were faced with an empty tomb and still you believed?

 Where have you found life in such experiences?

John Byrne osa



MUSINGS: Be a person who sings life!

Be people who sing life, who sing faith. This is important: don’t just recite the Credo, recite faith, know faith, but sing faith! That’s it. Tell faith, live faith with joy, and this is called ‘singing faith’. And it’s not me saying it! Saint Augustine said it 1600 years ago: ‘sing faith’!

Pope Francis, Address, 3 May 2014


THE DEEP END: For as Yet they did not Understand

Today we celebrate the highpoint of the Christian calendar, Easter. The gospel tells us that Mary Magdalen is the first witness to the Resurrection. ‘It was still dark …’ when Mary went to the tomb but it was also the ‘first day of the week’, a new beginning. We might recall those situations in our lives which seemed so dark, where we felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

 Whatever our ‘death’ experiences may be, we revisit them, going to the tomb as usual. And then we realise that something has changed, the stone has rolled away. Let the stone and linen wrappings in this text today represent all that keeps us from being free; all that keeps us captive, emotionally, physically, spiritually, in our broken relationships and struggling communities. However big that stone appears to be, our faith in the resurrection of Jesus tells us that this stone can be moved. Think of all the situations in our world which need transformation, the homelessness crisis, the violence on our streets, our own sorrow. The Easter gospel shows us that these situations can be transformed, even though it is often a painful journey. Once we experience the resurrection we are called to radical change and to share this transformative joy with others.

‘Jesus you are with us. Keep us ever mindful of how you are a part of our lives in a deep and profound way. Surprise us with a touch of your love in places where we never thought that we would find you.’ –Joyce Rupp


Jane Mellett


Sunday, 8 April 2018


John 20:19-31

  1. ‘Peace be with you’ was the greeting of Jesus on meeting his frightened apostles. Who has come to you bringing peace at times when you were frightened? For whom have you been an agent of peace?
  2. Thomas, doubting and questioning, is possibly a person with whom we can identify. What part have doubting and questioning played on your faith journey? How has your faith been strengthened by such moments?
  3. Note the way Jesus dealt with Thomas. He did not give out because he doubted. He took him where he was and led him along to see the truth of his resurrection. Who has been that kind of a teacher for you, gently taking you where you were and leading you on to a deeper knowledge of some truth about life? For whom have you been that kind of teacher?
  4. ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believed.’ That requires great trust. Perhaps you have had the experience of being trusted without having had to prove every step along the way. What was it like to be trusted in that way? Who have you been able to trust in a similar manner?

John Byrne osa



MUSINGS: The Seasons of Our Love

In the springtime of our marriage grant us growth and hope.

In the summertime grant us warmth and celebration.

In our autumn grant us harvest and affirmation.

And in our winter grant us closeness and support.

In all the seasons of our marriage be our constant companion,

the guest invited to our wedding who has remained faithful and ever present.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


Written by Stephen Cummins and taken from The Family Prayer Book published by Veritas.


THE DEEP END: The Peace of Jesus

We do not come through suffering and difficult times unscarred. We are changed by them. Often they bring some sort of growth into our lives and that is usually not a pleasant experience. Today’s gospel shows us that even in those difficult times, faith can be transformative. Jesus came and stood amongst the disciples even though the doors were firmly closed. The peace that he gives them (shalom) is a peace of body, of mind and of spirit; it moves the disciples from despair and being ‘locked away’ to ‘rejoicing’. Jesus then asks the disciples to be an unending witness to God’s love. They, and we, must be for others what Jesus has been for them. The risen Jesus is active in all our lives and in the world around us, but we must be careful not to close ourselves off or let fear take over. This is not easy as we often meet cynicism and doubt. Yet, John tells us that he writes these things so that we may come to believe and have life; reminding us of the importance of the Word of God for our lives. Through the Word we come to know Jesus more deeply and can experience this peace that he offers us.

‘For even if the whole world believed in resurrection, little would change until we began to practice it. We can believe in CPR, but people will remain dead until someone breathes new life into them.’ – Shane Claiborne

Jane Mellett


Sunday, 15 April 2018


Luke 24:35-48

  1. When we are not expecting it to happen, even a good event can startle us. So it was with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He sought to calm them and helped them to see the good news behind what had initially alarmed them. Who has been a Jesus person for you by helping you to find meaning and good news in life?
  2. Jesus helped the disciples to find new hope, but he did not give them easy answers. He asked them to see the facts before their eyes. He wanted them to learn from the lived experience they were having. As a parent, teacher, friend or guide, have you been a Jesus person to another, helping him/her to find hope and purpose in life by learning from his/her experiences? Who has done this for you?
  3. Jesus opened their minds to ‘understand the scriptures’, and the effect was transformative. Perhaps there have been times when a new and deeper understanding of scripture has had a transformative impact on you. Recall the experience and give thanks for those who opened the scriptures for you.
  4. The resurrection experience empowered the disciples to be witnesses. Unexpected possibilities for the future surfaced when it seemed that hope had gone. When have new possibilities opened for you after a ‘resurrection’ experience: recovery of health when it did not seem possible, new opportunities after failure or disappointment, inner healing after a deep hurt, etc?

John Byrne osa



MUSINGS: Christian Parents

At the beginning of a baptism ceremony, the priest welcomes the parents with their baby at the Church, and after asking them for the name of their child and to formally declare their desire to have the child baptised, he says: ‘You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the faith. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?’

 The parents answer: ‘We do’, showing that they are freely and consciously accepting their duty as Christian parents.

This fundamental principle, that the faith is primarily handed on in the home and family, from generation to generation, goes back to our pre-Christian roots. The people of Israel had a very strong sense that faith is sustained and passed on in the home, from parents to children, from elders to the next generations. As Psalm 78 puts it: ‘we will tell to a generation still to come, the praises of the Lord, his power, the wonderful deeds he has done … so that a generation still to come might know it, children yet to be born’.

Archbishop Eamon Martin speaking at  Knock Shrine, September 2015


THE DEEP END: ‘You are Witnesses of these Things’

Today’s gospel is one of the resurrection accounts from St Luke’s Gospel. It begins with the disciples recalling their experience on the road to Emmaus and how they recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The gospel continues into another account of the risen Jesus with his disciples. Jesus interrupts the disciple’s story and greets them with ‘peace’ (shalom) yet, in this account, they are terrified by this. Jesus shows them his wounds and Luke tells us that they are full of joy, but they still can’t believe it and think it is a ghost. Jesus shows them that he is no ghost as he asks for food and eats fish with them. Jesus then journeys with them back through the scriptures in order to open their minds. He speaks to them compassionately.

 Jesus tells the disciples that ‘you are witnesses of these things’. Luke wants to establish an important point, that these disciples are witnesses to the resurrection, they ate with Jesus after his death and he opened their minds. The resurrection accounts in the gospels are not fantasy, they are the actual experiences of Jesus’ disciples. Our Easter faith is based on their testimony. Once Jesus has opened their minds to understand the scriptures, he tells them to go out and preach them in his name.

‘Every year the dull and dead in us meets our Easter challenge: to be open to the unexpected, to believe beyond our security, to welcome God in every form, and trust in our own greening.’ – Joyce Rupp

Jane Mellett



Sunday, 22 April 2018


John 10:11-18

  1. Our relationship with those ‘in charge’ of us changes when we sense that not only are they in charge, but they care. Remember the difference that made for you as a child, and give thanks for the caring adults who were part of your life.
  2. The good shepherd ‘lays down his life for the sheep’. When has your care for another led you to ‘lay down your life’ for that person, e.g. as a friend, parent, spouse, son or daughter? When you have known another to do this for you?
  3. Jesus speaks of the freedom of the Good Shepherd in laying down his life. Faced with the needs of others, we can at times feel trapped into looking after them, caught by duty, obligation, or guilt. We can become like the hired hands doing a job without care for the person. Perhaps you have experienced both attitudes, caring for others under duress and caring by your free choice. What difference did it make when you chose to care for the other, even in circumstances where you had little option?
  4. What do these experiences of love and care in human relationships reveal to you about God’s love for you?

John Byrne osa



MUSINGS: Family Vocation Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life for us. Please help more young people to follow your example by giving their lives in service as priests and religious.

If you are calling someone in our family to the priesthood or the religious life, please help them to say ‘yes’.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.



THE DEEP END: The Good Shepherd

In Jesus’ time, being a shepherd was not a pleasant job. Sheep became easily lost and the shepherd’s job was to guide them back to safety. There were many dangers and the sheep were totally dependent on the shepherd. Shepherds would round up their sheep in the evening and guide them into their pen. But it had no gate so the shepherd would have to lie across the space in case the sheep were attacked in the night. The shepherds literally laid down their lives for their flock. John compares the sacrifice of the shepherd to the ‘hired hand’ who is not really committed to the flock. He does what he has to but flees at the first sign of trouble.

This Good Shepherd Sunday, the gospel describes Jesus as the ‘genuine’ Shepherd who wants a personal relationship with each one of us and who would lay down his life for us. The gospel emphasises the importance of relationship as the shepherd knows his flock and cares for them. They ‘follow him’ and it is not a Facebook or Twitter type of following, rather it is a genuine relationship. Everyone matters to the Good Shepherd, regardless of their situations. We are told ‘I know my own and my own know me’. We are called today to follow Jesus in a more personal, more intimate way. Even when we stray off the path and get lost, it is then – especially – that the Good Shepherd comes looking for us.

‘We think we are fleeing from God, but in fact we are running into his arms.’ – Meister Eckhart

Jane Mellett


Sunday, 29 April 2018


John 15:1-8

  1. In a relationship, connectedness is important. Relationships cannot be taken for granted and need time and care to be life-giving. What does your experience tell you of the truth of this in your relationships with God? With your friends? With your family? With communities or groups to which you belong?
  2. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote: ‘I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.’ He goes on to suggest that when individuals, or groups, focus on Jesus there is an increase of energy and vitality. Have you seen this happen?
  3. The parable also reminds us that we are not the source of our own life. It is a gift from God, from our parents, and from all who have nourished us. Give thanks for those who have been a source of life for you.
  4. God is glorified by our being fruitful. When has human fruitfulness reminded you of God at work in our world?

John Byrne osa



MUSINGS: Why Pope Francis is happy …

Question from a young boy during an interview between Pope Francis and young people in 2014: Everyone is this world is trying to be happy. But we have wondered are you happy? If so, why?

Response from Pope Francis: Absolutely, absolutely, I am happy. And I am happy because … I don’t know why … Perhaps because I have a job, I’m not unemployed, I have a job, a job as a shepherd! I am happy because I found my path in life and travelling that path makes me happy. And it is also a peaceful happiness, because at that age it is not the same happiness as a young person feels, there’s a difference. A certain inner peace, a happiness that also comes with age. And also with a path that has always had problems; even now there are problems, but that happiness doesn’t go away with the problems, no: it sees the problems, suffers them and goes on; it does something to resolve them and goes on. But in the depths of the heart there is that peace and that happiness. It is a grace of God, for me, really. It is a grace.

Interview with young people, 31 March 2014


THE DEEP END: Stay connected …

As with all good vine growers, God cares for his crop, nurturing it, pruning it, giving it all it needs so that it can grow and reach its full potential. We are no doubt the branches. What does it mean to be a branch? Branches must be connected to the vine or they bear no fruit. Even those branches that do bear fruit need pruning so that they can grow and bear even more fruit. As we are all too well aware, productivity seems to be the measure of success in the world today, in our education system, in the workplace, in economics; we are measured by what we produce. Is Jesus really adding to the pressure by telling us that he wants to see results or else!?

Perhaps we can read this passage in terms of connectivity. Think of your most intimate friendships and relationships. You don’t measure their weight in terms of productivity, do you? But you do want to stay connected right? It is this closeness, this intimacy that Jesus calls us to: ‘abide in me’. Are you connected or disconnected? If the connection is strong, then fruit-bearing comes naturally and people will see the gospel in our lives and in the way we respond to the world. If we are connected, all manner of things are possible for us.

‘People see the gospel in our lives; let them read our lives.’ – Pope Francis

Jane Mellett