Last Sunday was a very special and proud day for me. A man I have long admired and looked up to, Oscar Romero, was canonised a saint of the Church in Rome. He was a truly extraordinary man of faith and I believe that his life ought to be a constant inspiration to people of faith everywhere in the struggle for justice and the work of peace.

Appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 at a time of great political turbulence and ruthless oppression in El Salvador, Romero was initially seen as a “safe pair of hands” who would steer the Church clear of trouble.  Barely a month later however, Rutilio Grande, a fellow Jesuit priest and a personal friend of Romero, was brutally assassinated and his death was to have a profound impact of Romero. It awakened deep within Romero an indomitable sense of solidarity with the oppressed and a vision of faith centred on the call to justice.  He began to courageously denounce social injustices and became a fearless advocate on behalf of the poor in El Salvador.  He said at the time: “When the Church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which that cry arises.” In his weekly radio sermons he exposed human rights abuse listing disappearances, incidents of torture, murder and much more, insisting all the while that it was his faith that compelled him to do so: “There is no dichotomy between man and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being, abuses God’s image.  We know that every effort to improve society, above all a society that is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”  Such outspoken condemnation of the authorities was unlikely to go unpunished and Romero paid the ultimate price for standing with and for his oppressed people when he was assassinated while celebrating Mass on the 24th October 1980.  His Funeral Mass in San Salvador was attended by over 250,000 mourners from all over the world.  Twenty five years later I had the great privilege of being amongst a crowd of over 50,000 people that gathered in San Salvador to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his assassination and to say a prayer at his tomb – a moment I count among my most treasured memories.

For anyone interested in learning more about this incredible man of faith and justice I invite you to join me this Tuesday night, 23rd October 2018, in the Gill Room in Monkstown to watch the movie ‘Romero’ starring the late Raul Julia. The movie will begin at 7.30 p.m. and runs for one hour and forty minutes.  All are welcome. Parking is available in the yard of Monkstown Church.  Come and join me in celebrating an extraordinary life.                                                               Fr Seán

One of the most delightful scenes in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” begins with Tevye talking to God.  He says “Lord you made many, many poor people and I realise it’s no shame to be poor but it’s not a great honour either.  What would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune”.  Then he begins to sing his dream of how life would be “If I were a rich man”, the house he would build, the clothes he would wear and the respect he would have in the community.  There are times when all of us dream the same dream.  We have thought about how nice it would be never to worry about paying the bills.  It is a lovely dream, but we should keep in mind that money has its own category of problems.

In this weekend’s Gospel reading Jesus talked about the dangers of prosperity.  He said “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”.  Most of us do not think of ourselves as being rich, but most of us would like to be.  We live in a culture that is obsessed with the material side of life.  The word success has come to mean only one thing – MONEY.  It would of course be foolish to under-rate the importance of the economic side of life.  Money is not simply money.  Money is food on table and a roof over our head.  It is education for children, it is help for those we love in time of sickness, it is old age relieved from the prospect of poverty.  It would be foolish to minimise the importance of life’s economic support.

Prosperity can keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are.  It can convince us that we are a special breed, deserving special consideration, when in reality we are nothing more than little people who just happen to have a little money. Prosperity can prevent us from facing the truth about ourselves.  The person who has plenty finds it difficult to understand the problems of people who have virtually nothing.

Jesus knew what he was talking about.  “How hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God”, especially for the prosperous. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”.  This does not mean that prosperity is not allowed in God’s Kingdom, it simply means that it is difficult to reconcile the two.  Jesus said “For man it is impossible, but not for God”.  That is how difficult it is, we can never do it without God’s help.  Money is a powerful thing but it can block the door of God’s Kingdom.  When money is earned honestly and used unselfishly, it can enrich the lives of those who have it and bless the lives of those who are served by it.    

                                                                                                             Fr John     

 

 

 

 

The Gospel on this Sunday may evoke pain, anger, disappointment and condemnation, reassurance and commitment.  Whatever the immediate reaction, everybody has a vested interest in the critical issue of the teaching of Jesus on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  The most futile reaction to the Gospel would be one of blame.  It is easy to blame.  It is common to blame the media, parents, the church or even God Himself for the pain that arises from marriage breakdown.  The real tragedy of our times is not so much that people separate, because unfortunately they find that they can no longer live together but that so many forces in modern society contribute to the disintegration of marriage as a permanent commitment.

The Christian response is to build on what is worthwhile rather than to indulge oneself with negative criticism that leads only to frustration. Jesus puts God’s plan clearly before us.  It is that man and woman will be willing and able to commit themselves to one another for life.  It is a plan that is worthy of our highest human calling.  There is the possibility of great happiness in marriage, but marriage is also hard work.  The divorce rate is one indication that the work is more effort than many are willing to expend, or that many marriages were entered in the first place without thoughtful consideration.  A failed marriage is not just one that ends with a divorce recorded at a court house.  A failed marriage is also a marriage where a couple failed to live together in their own house in the manner that God intended. Successful marriage is not just staying together, it is growing together in a relationship that honours God and honours each other.

The last sentence in the first reading from the Book of Genesis gives a blueprint for the home as God intended it from the beginning.  God intended that happy marriages would be characterised by couples who leave their past, cleave to their partner and weave a new future together.                                               Fr John

The principal was visiting first class and asked the students what they wanted to be when they grow up.  A hand shot up.  “I want to be possible,” the boy answered. “Possible?” the principal asked.  “Of all things that you might want to be why do you want that?”  The boy replied, “Because at home my mum and dad are always saying that I’m impossible.”

It is easy to label someone as impossible. It is just as easy for them to think that they are indeed impossible, loose self confidence and not believe in themselves. God never sees anyone or any situation as impossible.  The constant message throughout scripture is how God makes the impossible, possible.  God always believes in us and always believes that we are indeed full of possibility.  Today is a day when I can make something good and positive in my life possible.

                                                     © Fr James McSweeney, A Year in Reflection

This summer, take time to slow down, to relax and to focus on what truly matters to you. 

Take time outdoors …. you’ll be inside long enough when winter returns!  

Take time to be astounded by the beauty that surrounds us and the sheer joy of being alive.

Take time to paddle in the ocean, to sit in the sun, to laugh with friends and to play with children.

Take time for whatever makes your soul soar and your heart sing. 

Take time to make others feel good and you yourself will feel the better for it! 

Take time for fun and include others in your fun – a joy shared is often a joy doubled. 

Take time above all to build memories that will endure even when the sun has declined and the evenings have shortened. 

Take time this summer to let your breathing slow and your heart be open. 

Take time to be present to all that is so that you might see all that might be. 

Take time this summer to allow God to refresh and renew you. 

That is what summers are for!                                                            Anonymous

As Christians we pray daily using the words that Jesus taught us and say ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ When we do this we are saying that we want the world to be the way God wants it. In other words, a place of peace and justice where no-one suffers through poverty, war or oppression. If this is what we want then we must live in a way which helps to bring this about, we must be committed to change. Such a choice may well leave us like the Servant in today’s first reading facing abuse and insults from those who would prefer to leave things as they are. This is what Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel: taking up our cross to follow him does not mean we are to go looking for suffering; rather it means accepting that choosing the way of God’s kingdom will cost us. In short, faith without works is dead!

© Seán Goan, Let the Reader Understand. www.columba.ie

Like the water we drink, some Gospel values are so obvious that we ignore them until pollution hits.  Then it is very often difficult to restore what has been lost.  Again and again Jesus taught us that unity among people is a cornerstone of his Gospel.  As we read in this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus pointed out that any group of people divided among themselves can never achieve success.  This is true of families, of communities, of nations, even of the Church itself.  Division is the direct opposite of Christianity.  The forces of evil make progress, by setting neighbours against neighbours, teenagers against parents, workers against management, sport followers against sport followers. When bitterness is countered with bitterness, it can only lead to additional bitterness.  When hatred is met with hatred, it sows the seeds of continuing hatred.  On and on it will go until someone somewhere decides to put an end to it.  This is what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of turning the other cheek.  He wasn’t speaking of weakness, he was speaking of wisdom.  He was appealing to us to have the courage to fight evil with good.  The Christian calling is to heal such rifts, to bring those who are alienated together, to build bridges of reconciliation. Jesus assures us that anyone who builds unity and peace in these ways is closer to him than even his own mother and family.  It is a strong way to put it, but he meant it.        Fr John

In today’s gospel Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment, unable to hear or speak God’s word of truth. The challenge to hear what God is calling us to and to speak out is renewed in every generation. In our own time we are increasingly called to hear the cry of our ailing common home and speak out to protect the environment.  Scientists warn us that unless drastic action is taken we will lose the battle against the environmental destruction which threatens the future of humanity. But change is possible. All it takes is one good person to restore hope. As followers of Christ we have a duty to hear and heed the call to care for God’s beautiful creation. We can be cynical and say that the issue is too big, that it is up to governments to sort out.  Or we can choose to do what we can. This week can you encourage your family to make small changes in the home such as ensuring all waste is correctly recycled, composting, encouraging one another to use public transport or walk/cycle when possible? A very simple action is to reduce the use of plastic by buying a reusable water bottle or coffee cup.  We can begin with small actions and encourage others to do the same. Together we can make a difference.

© Jane Mellett, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Intercom Magazine, Veritas Ltd.

We are told that here in Ireland one of our most common nightmares is thinking that we are back doing our Leaving Cert once more.  It is probably a reflection of how stressful and anxious a time it was for many of us.  Our whole future seemed to hang on those two weeks in June.  Our worse fear was of our mind going blank or the topics we had studied not appearing on the exam paper.  At this time of year those memories make us mindful of young people about to face into their exams     

over the coming weeks. We wish them well and we promise them that they will be very much present in our prayers throughout the month.

Last year I attended the 30 Year Reunion of my Leaving Cert Class.  It was lovely to catch up with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years.  But what stayed with me most from that night was how each of us has found our own path in life.  Our Leaving Cert neither defined us nor did it determine our future. People found a way to pursue what they wanted in life.  Life presented opportunities that we could neither have foreseen nor imagined. It turns out that the Leaving Cert was not the’ be all and end all’ that we once imagined.  It was one step, an important one, on a journey with many other steps and many twists and turns. Yes, for many of us it determined our next step in life but it did not shape the entire journey.  That depended on ourselves, our willingness to work hard, to apply ourselves and not to give up on what we really wanted in life.  Perseverance and character were what shaped our journey most.

And so, as you prepare for your exams, I say to you: Believe in yourselves, trust in the work you have done, stay calm and give of your best.  No one can ask anything more of you.  Support one another and encourage your friends who may be anxious or nervous.  Remember that there is life after the Leaving Cert! Whatever door it opens for you later this summer is but the first of many doors and opportunities that life will hold out to you.  Look to the future with hope.  We all wish you well.                                                                                   Fr Seán