Newsletter Resources – October

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

Click here to download a PDF version of our newsletter resources.

For more resources from our October issue, click here.


Sunday, 1 October 2017 – Day For Life


Matthew 21:28-32

1.  It is possible to be a dutiful and observant Christian, and yet feel there is something missing. It makes such a difference when your heart is in what you are doing – so much better than just going through the motions. Where do you experience that most in your life?

2.  The desire of Jesus for us is that we grow in that kind of committed, enthusiastic involvement in life. What encourages you to grow in this way?

3.  The elders probably thought well of themselves in contrast to the tax collectors and sinners. Perhaps you know some unconventional people, ones who appear to ignore the ‘right’ way of doing things, and yet they have taught you something about true goodness.

John Byrne osa



St Paul says that we received the spirit of being children, and the spirit ‘makes us cry out Abba: Father’ (Rm 8:16). This is where our dignity lies and even in the depths of distress teaching that we are beloved of God … It is hard to speak of the Spirit of love. Hans Urs Von Balthasar says: ‘This Spirit is breath, not a full outline, and therefore he wishes to breathe through us, not to present himself to us as an object; he does not wish to be seen but to be the seeing eye of grace in us and he is little concerned about whether we pray to him, provided we pray with him, Abba, Father, provided we consent to his unutterable groaning in the depths of our soul.’

     For Von Balthasar Christ is the proper object of our vision. The Holy Spirit remains hidden in revealing the love of God revealed in Jesus.

John O’Brien OFM, Waiting for God: From Trauma to Healing


THE DEEP END:  What is Mission?

What does it mean to be a missionary? I have held to a variety of definitions since I first identified myself as one. When I first went out ‘on mission’, it was clear to me that mission was strictly limited to making disciples of all nations, to bring people in to the faith. During my first long term placement in Uganda I met my husband, who identified as a missionary, but shockingly he was a carpenter, and had never led a single Bible study. Could he truly be a missionary if his day to day work was (as I saw it) so mundane?

     As I watched how he gave all of himself to build beautiful, strong buildings that would benefit so many people, my eyes were opened. He developed quality relationships with the builders he worked with, and the skills he taught them completely transformed their lives. And it was all motivated by his faith in Jesus.

     On return to Europe I struggled with no longer being a missionary. I couldn’t see how I could honestly respond ‘I will go’, and mean it, because I wasn’t going anywhere!

     So I redefined (again!) my concept of mission. For me, mission is bringing about the kingdom of God, wherever we find ourselves in the world. I will go, even if ‘go’ means ‘stay’.

Louise Talbot Beirne
VMM International


Sunday, 8 October 2017


Matthew 21:33-43

1.  The target audience of this allegorical parable are the Jewish chief priests and elders portrayed here as rejecting Jesus and his teaching, and as a consequence losing out on what God was offering them. It is a story of opportunity for life presented and rejected, and they lose out in the process. How important have you found it to recognise and accept opportunities for growth, development and new life when these were presented to you? 

2.  The parable is also a cautionary tale about the destructive effects of greed – doing violence to the rights of others and eventually destroying the greedy themselves. What attitude towards possessions has helped you to be at peace in yourself and at peace with others?

3.  The vineyard of the Lord is an image for God’s people. As we look at the vineyard we have been given we can ask ourselves ‘are we good tenants?’ Recall times when you have been a good tenant, and reached out caringly for those around you.

4.  ‘It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone. This was the Lord’s doing and it was wonderful to see’. Sometimes a person not highly regarded plays a key role in a project, and it is wonderful to see. Can you recall examples of this?

John Byrne osa



When God wants to speak to our hearts he leads us to the wilderness. This was his pedagogy with the people of Israel. They had lessons to learn and he had much to teach them. They were schooled and seasoned in the desert. And the schooling was a good forty years!

     The forty years in the desert for the Israelites was a fairly long novitiate. God was their Novice Master! He formed them well with lessons that would last a lifetime! They needed to know that he alone was their God and that they were his people. They had to know too that they needed him for they depended entirely on him as he screened them from the scorching sun during the day and sheltered them at night from the freezing cold.

     The desert is the place between promise and fulfilment. God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt but they still had to cross the desert to reach the Promised Land. It was not an easy lesson that they had to learn. It took them some forty years!

     We who are time bound and always in a hurry find it difficult to keep pace with God’s eternal rhythm.

Mgr Alex Rebello, 
Wandering in the Wilderness: Discovering the Divine in Everyday Things


THE DEEP END: Where is God?

As someone who has willingly left these shores to assist people on the margins, I am familiar with the inhumanity of man to his fellow man, where millions of people are left to their own devices, forgotten in their own poverty. The I’m alright attitude permeates not just the so called ‘developing world’; it is alive and well here in Ireland.

Does God, like the absentee landowner in the gospel parable, leave us and depart for another country? A personal relationship with anybody means that the person is present. God should be no different. God is deep within our heart, not something out there and distant! I battle with the castigation of the high priests and elders, the negative portrayal of the people of God, and the raw deal for the slaves that came to rescue the situation. Is this the forgiving God that out of the worst injustices can transform human hearts?

So where is the hope? Jesus doesn’t condemn in the passage: he invites us to understand his meaning. He asks the elders what they would do. This question is asked of us too.

Jesus then refocuses the parable: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’. This is the high point of this gospel, where Jesus reminds us of the marvel that he is: the one that was rejected, the one that was overlooked – the one abandoned by us. It is this stone, this rock, that becomes our Saviour. The rock symbolises one who never leaves us. God loves us not because we are good but because God is good.

Shane Halpin
Viatores Christi


Sunday, 15 October 2017


Matthew 22:1-14

There are two parables here that Matthew has joined together. Looking at the first one:

1.  Scripture often speaks of the kingdom of God as a banquet. The image of people being at a meal where everyone is happy and welcome and where all hunger and thirst is satisfied gets across the idea that God loves, accepts and welcomes us and wants us to make that experience available to one another. Think of times in your life when you have had ‘banquet’ experiences and when you have felt accepted and loved? 

2.  The host enlists the help of his servants to invite people to the banquet. We are commissioned by the Lord to invite people to the banquet of the kingdom, to the fullness of life – as parents, teachers, friends, etc. What has it been like for you to play a part in leading others to a fuller life?

3.  As in the parable last week there is a message about being alert to invitations that offer a fuller life and the danger of losing out if we neglect to respond to such invitations. Perhaps there have been opportunities offered to you that you missed, and now regret. Think also of the blessings you received because you seized the moment and took an opportunity that presented itself.

4.  The second parable puts the focus on how we respond to invitations. Some invitations are ones that challenge us to change, to conversion, to put on a ‘wedding garment’. What has been your experience of changing in response to an invitation you received?

John Byrne osa



Priests will continue to minister to ‘occasional Catholics,’ or the ‘semi-attached.’ This is sometimes a source of frustration for priests. In part, this is because there does not seem to be any coherent strategy, not only at a national level but even within dioceses, for instance, with regard to admitting children who are from non-practising families to the sacraments of initiation and providing for sacramental marriage. In other countries people are quick to register formally ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the Church. In Ireland, we tend to be pragmatic rather than to take principles stances, and so it is likely that many people will drift in and out of the Church. The challenge here is to get the balance right between providing pastoral care sensitively, on the one hand, and inviting people into fuller communion and conversion, on the other.

Fr Eamonn Conway, ‘Being a Priest in Contemporary Culture,’ in Priesthood Today: Ministry in a Changing Church


THE DEEP END: What do you want?

What people want is at the heart of today’s parable. A king invites people to his son’s wedding banquet, but their minds are on other things; they don’t see the value of the invitation. They don’t want it. Jesus’ story tells us that rather than being an imposition, our faith is an invitation, a gift.

     It’s been said that the biggest problem with consumerism is not that it makes us want too much, but that it makes us want too little; it diverts and distracts us with lesser things. The world we live in is, now more than ever, full of appeals to our most precious possession: our attention. We are, so to speak, in constant receipt of many invitations. There is so much that conspires to steal our attention from what is deepest and most important.

     When the king of Jesus’ parable issued the invitation to his son’s wedding banquet, people’s attention was elsewhere, they wanted other things. And some of them, evidently, were angry at what they perceived to be an imposition on their time and on their priorities.

     We would do well to let this parable of Jesus pose two simple questions to us. First, do we habitually think of our faith – the practice and the living out of our faith – as an imposition or as an invitation? Second, what do we want – for ourselves and for our loved ones?



Sunday, 22 October 2017



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



In our work with groups we have noticed a certain tension between those who feel hopeful about the future and those who are not there and voice their lack of hope and even despair. With such groups, we have found it helpful to adopt what we call a family systems approach to hope. When trauma or illness strikes a family, hope and hopelessness are often ‘divvied up’ between family members. One parent may ‘hold’ the hope for the child making a recovery, while the other parent may ‘hold’ the hopelessness, fearing the worst. As the illness progresses members step in and out of hope and hopelessness. We find something similar happens in a traumatized organization. Some members will be optimistic about the future and others will hold the hopelessness. It is not a question of one group being more faithful than another … Before we can recapture hope we sometimes need to be present to hopelessness and trauma. This truth is often overlooked.

Kevin Egan and Cora Lambert, ‘Trauma in the Church’, The Furrow.


THE DEEP END: The Third Side of the Coin

Most of us have been raised to believe that there are two sides to every issue. So often we hear the term ‘there are two sides to every story’ or ‘two sides of a coin’ but there is, in fact, a third. A story always has your version, their version, and the truth. When it comes to a coin, there is the head side, the tail side, and the edge of the coin! One side of the coin may represent a particular point of view; the other its opposite. However, if we just stand the coin on its edge, we can see both sides more clearly and, more often than not, a third way.

     What a loaded question the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians asked Jesus. If Jesus said the taxes shouldn’t be paid, he would have pleased the Pharisees but then they could report him and have him arrested as a rebel. If he said they should be paid, he would have gained the support of the Herodians but almost certainly lost all support from his followers.

     But Jesus did not come into the world to discuss Roman taxation, temporal revolutions or political action. Neither did he come to only see two sides of a coin! He neither endorses Caesar as divine sovereign (as the inscription on the coin indicates) nor does he discourage the paying of taxes. He simply reminds his questioners that these are worldly affairs in a worldly kingdom but there is another kingdom yet to come with a much higher authority. ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’

Julieann Moran
Society of Missionary Children


Sunday, 29 October 2017


Matthew 22:34-40

1.  You may feel some sympathy with the Jews struggling to cope with 613 laws and wondering which were the important ones. But have you ever felt overwhelmed by the rules and regulations of your own tradition? And have you ever been blessed by meeting someone, or reading something, that was able to cut through all the layers and point out to you what is essential in life? Who was that person? What did they say or do? Is there some phrase or text that encapsulates such wisdom for you?

2.  If you were asked what is most important in life, what would your answer be? Recall the experiences and relationships you have had. Which are the ones that you treasure most? What has particularly enriched your life? How would you encourage another person who asked you how s/he could live a full life?

John Byrne osa



Prayer of Pope Francis to Mary, Mother of Silence

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,

Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.

Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:

Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.


Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,

Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.

Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole;

Let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.


Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,

Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.

Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the truth of love.

Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom.



THE DEEP END: Charity and Dignity

A number of years ago, I began working for a well-known homeless charity. At the induction week we had the privilege of being addressed by a leading campaigner against homelessness in Dublin city. ‘Do not give broken cups to broken people’ resonated from the address and has stayed with me ever since.

     As acts of charity many people are often inclined to give or donate old items that they no longer have use for. Within this there is a sincere act of generosity and perhaps a desire of not letting anything go to waste. However, there is a challenge here to consider the recipient’s feelings on being handed worn out clothes, almost out of date food or damaged toys. How, perhaps, is this impacting on their feeling of worth in society today? Are they not worthy of some new clothes to regain their sense of pride? Some fresh and tasty food to nourish their bodies? Some new, clean toys, the same as other children their age?

     These are superficial examples but point towards a challenge to society to provide services of the highest standards to vulnerable people. History and even recent news stories from both home and abroad have presented infuriating examples time and again. Good intentions need to be coupled with thoughtfulness and a determination to give only the best to our neighbour most in need, to show them that they are respected and loved.

Mary Anne Stokes
Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM)


Click here to download a PDF version of our newsletter resources.