Many of us are familiar with the most commonly quoted verses of St Patrick’s Breastplate like ‘Christ beside me, Christ before me…….’ May I suggest the following verse as a wonderful morning prayer whereby we entrust each day and all it may bring to God’s care.                                                                 Fr Seán

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

This year’s Lenten Trocaire Box features three young girls from different parts of the world where Trocaire is working with local communities. Over coming weeks we will share something of their stories.

María is nine years old and lives with her family in Guatemala in Central America. A number of years ago a powerful outside interest group were granted permission to evict Maria’s entire village so that it could be developed as a bio-fuel plantation.  The villagers resisted peacefully but were violently driven off their lands by riot police.  Brutalised and filled with fear, local families watched on in horror as their homes and belongings were burned to the ground. Three years later the plantation was abandoned.  Seventy two villagers returned.  However as Mayan Q’eqchi – the indigenous people that have lived in Eastern Guatemala for generations – they face constant threats. Their lands are still seen as being ‘there for the taking.’ Still, they plant. They stay. They pray. ‘The land is our life’ says Adela, Maria’s mother. ‘It is for our children.’ Maria’s father José agrees.  He has endured terrible depression since the first eviction and his family lives in constant fear that the violent land seizures and the bloodshed will return.

Trocaire is working with vulnerable communities like Maria’s in land resettlement programmes and in helping them to attain land titles that will protect their rights into the future. As little as €65 can help Trocaire and their partners defend vulnerable families like Maria’s against land thefts and secure legal title to their lands.  Trocaire Lenten Campaign Boxes are available in all our Churches.  Please take one and use it to help Trocaire protect vulnerable communities like Maria’s from exploitation.                                                                                 Fr Seán

 

Our parents often taught us to think before we speak.  It was very wise advice and has served many of us well down through the years. Recently I came across a new take on that advice suggesting a series of questions that we should ask ourselves  before we speak.

T  -            Is it true?

H  -           Is it helpful?

I  -            Is it inspiring?

N  -            Is it necessary?

-           Is it kind?

Lent is a time when we are invited to become conscious of the many people in our world who suffer want and need because of oppression, injustice and poverty. It is a time to strengthen our spirit of solidarity by extending a brotherly and sisterly hand to those in our world who are less fortunate than we are. We are invited to express that solidarity by denying ourselves something that we enjoy and contributing that money instead to Trocaire’s  Lenten Campaign to support their work for development and justice in the poorest areas of the world.  In so doing we honour two of the great traditional Lenten practices of fasting and almsgiving – denying ourselves some small luxury so that others might benefit.

Trocaire Boxes are available in all our Churches this weekend and we encourage all families to take one and to use it over the coming weeks.  Having a Trocaire Box at home is a wonderful way of teaching children the importance of thinking of others and trying to help them.  Over the coming weeks our newsletter will feature a small article each week  telling us a little about the three children, Patricia, Maria and Maya who feature on this year’s box and how Trocaire is helping families like theirs.  Trocaire boxes can be returned to any of our Churches at the end of Lent.  Thank you for making Trocaire part of your Lenten journey this year.   Fr Seán

The Lotto goes from strength to strength. Every week thousands of players ensure that whether they are home or way they are in with a chance to become rich. Many say that they do not want to become millionaires but that they would like to win enough to be more comfortable and to be able to provide for themselves and their families. It is said that those least able to afford the outlay are the most addicted.  Their needs are certainly more pressing but the dream that wealth in itself brings happiness touches most hearts at some level in our world today.

This Sunday’s Gospel contains what we call the eight Beatitudes, what we might call a recipe for living and for happiness. It outlines a series of choices and gives us a programme for living. It is, in many ways, Jesus’ manifesto.  We are all familiar with manifestos trotted out during general election campaigns.  No matter how much good will is involved, no matter how well intentioned, promises will often be reneged on and many programmes will be put on hold. The big difference in the manifesto that Jesus offers is that it comes with a guarantee and a promise. As well as offering us the manifesto, Jesus offers us all that it takes to be able to live up to it. That is something that no earthly power could ever hope to achieve, let alone offer. The Beatitudes contain the secret of happiness.  To be poor in spirit has nothing to do with living in poverty or without the basic necessities for life.  It means that the inner me, the real me, is not influenced by wealth or greed or material things of any kind. The hunger that Jesus speaks of has to do with the hunger for justice, for fair play and equal rights.  The deepest hungers in the human heart are not for wealth and riches but for self-worth, dignity and personal freedom.                  

Fr John

Give up complaining – focus on gratitude.

Give up harsh judgments – find something good to say.

Give up negativity – be positive.

Give up bitterness – seek forgiveness.

Give up worrying about the past – focus on the future.

Give up thinking only about yourself – think of others.

Give up doubting yourself – believe in yourself.

Give up giving up – keep going!  God is with you!

Recently at Mass we were treated to music and song from one of the children’s choirs in the parish. Their singing was truly beautiful and yet some of them are so young and small, it was hard to believe they could create such a wonderful sound. You could hear their innocence in the notes and words. They enhanced the Mass and bridged the gap between earth and heaven.

I thought what a wonderful gift their parents were giving them. Teaching them the love of Christ through music and song. I thought of my own parents. Their methods of teaching faith were not child centric but I learned early on that while they did not have all the answers they certainly knew who did. They had a saint for every occasion and a prayer for every worry. They had novenas to heal a multitude of ailments and at the heart of our home stood Our Lady and her Son. We were typical of most Irish families of that time. As I grew older, more opinionated and mouthy, I turned to prayer only when I needed it. However the seed my parents planted had taken root. It would take years to flourish. I would read all around my faith and the faith of others first. I would look to science for answers and would find my peace in eastern practice. None brought satisfaction.

Close by where I live there is a field. In its centre stands an elm tree. Its roots go deep into the ground, its beauty on display above. It is the tree that housed the secrets of childhood. It contained children’s laughter for years. It was full of sound but not so anymore. However, in its silence it is as beautiful as ever. It still stands strong, waiting for new hands to reach into its branches and find the beauty within. Faith is like that. It is deep within each of us, planted there by someone who felt it important enough to share. I believe my parents planted my elm. They gave me a gift like no other. My faith had taken root and it became my foundation. I left it unattended for years but when life brought challenges, I found my way back and took shelter deep within its branches. For my own children I wish one thing. I wish them to have the confidence to question and be blessed with a life of faith. I pray their faith will keep them from straying. I pray they will never live in fear always knowing that Christ is with them. I thank God for my own parents. They planted the seed and gifted me the space and freedom to find my own path.                              A Parent in our Parish

Lord, teach me to be generous,

to serve you as you deserve,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labour and not to seek reward,

save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

 

The ‘Prayer for Generosity’, which many of us learned as children, is associated with St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order, yet it is unclear whether he actually composed it. One of the earliest references to it comes from 1910, when it began to be used as a prayer for the French scouting movement. To this day it is often known as ‘The Scout Prayer’ and is used by many Scout groups as a blueprint for the work they do.

The prayer perfectly sums up the generous spirit of the many volunteer organisations and charities whose members give their time and energy so freely and generously to help others. There are thousands of volunteers all over our country who put love into action by visiting those who are lonely, listening to those who are struggling, providing food and other supplies for those in need, and fundraising for all sorts of worthy causes. Week in and week out, they give without ever counting the cost. These volunteers are living the message of today’s Gospel, which can be summed up in one short sentence: Go the extra mile. Thank you, Lord, for volunteers. Make us ever more generous with our time, energy and resources. Help us to be compassionate, as you are compassionate.

©Tríona Doherty, www.intercommagazine.ie  Veritas

Today’s gospel begins where we left off last Sunday, with Jesus telling the people in the synagogue in Nazareth that the scriptures are being fulfilled in their hearing. Their initial positive response to him augurs well but change in attitude comes quickly as it becomes apparent that Jesus is not interested in popular acclaim but in repentance.

The word of God is alive and active and invites us to ponder where and how God is at work in the daily circumstances of our lives. It is always a word that saves and heals but if we are not ready to be challenged by it then we can either deceive ourselves by pretending it is what we want or we can just reject it. That was the situation of the people in Nazareth, and today, like them, we must ask ourselves if we really want what God wants – that is what repentance is all about.                         © Sean Goan, Let the Reader Understand, www.columba.ie