This Tuesday, 11th February, we celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes which also marks World Day of Prayer for the Sick.  It is a reminder of the very special place that the sick had in the life of Jesus. No one who has ever read the gospels could ever question his love of, or his compassion for the sick.  His concern for those who were suffering in mind or body or spirit is imprinted on every page and in every encounter. As followers of Jesus we are called to follow his example of care and compassion for all those who suffer sickness and ill-health. Our care of the sick is one of the most powerful ways in which we can witness to Christian love and it must always be a corner-stone of our faith.   This weekend we extend our heart-felt prayers for all who are sick in our community and in your families.  We commit ourselves once more to caring for them and supporting them in their time of illness and we acknowledge the extraordinary service of so many people in our community who each day are living examples of loving care to the sick: families caring for loved ones at home; home-helps; doctors, nurses and carers in our hospitals, hospices and nursing homes; volunteers caring for neighbours and many other people within our community.  Your service enables and enriches the life of our community and we pray God’s blessing on you and all those for whom you care.

We also take this opportunity to once more say that if anyone is sick or unwell in our community and would like one of us to visit you then we would be delighted to do so, be that in your home, in hospital or in nursing care. If anyone is housebound or struggles with mobility and would like to be included in our First Friday Communion Calls then we would be only too happy to visit you and bring you Holy Communion each month.  Please don’t be shy about calling us.  There is nothing more important to us than caring for and supporting those in our community whose health is failing and it is always a great privilege to be able to visit with you, pray with you if you so wish and bring you Holy Communion.  Please call or have one of your family call whichever one of us you would like to visit you.  We look forward to seeing you.  Until then please be assured that you are always in the thoughts and prayers of our community.   Fr Con & Fr Seán

It might be tempting to run away to a monastery for Christmas, away from the commercialization, away from the hectic hustle, away from the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then perhaps we could have a truly holy Christmas. But then we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians adopted and gave a meaning to the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush.                                              © Fr Andrew Greeley, Selected Writings

Over the past few weeks many people have quietly been preparing behind the scenes to make sure that our Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ is truly the special occasion it ought to be.  Cribs have been erected, trees have been decorated, choirs young and old have been busy practicing to ensure that our Christmas services are truly memorable and can help us to share in ‘the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men and the peace of the Christ Child.’ Quietly behind the scenes many people and organisations have been working tirelessly to help make this Christmas a little more special for those who are struggling or need a hand.  Your quiet service ennobles our entire community and we thank you for the difference you have made and will make over the coming days.

As priests of the parish we are deeply indebted to you, our parishioners, for your continued kindness, friendship and support and we take this opportunity to thank you for your generous support of the Christmas Offering Collection. We welcome everyone in our community to join us for our Christmas Services    

Fr Con, Fr John and Fr Seán

Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfil. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfilment are all part of our Advent experience. The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us—give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned. May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfilment into the Advent of our lives.                                                        

© Connections

The Gospel reading on this Sunday deals with the ministry of John the Baptist.  The theme of his preaching was this “Reform your lives for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”.  How does one do that?  It will do little good for us to say, I will now reform my life.  Nothing constructive is likely to come from that.  I suggest two ideas that I think are essential if we are to experience a personal reformation.

First, we must take an honest look at ourselves, which is not any easy thing to do. The last person on earth that each of us really wants to meet is himself or herself.  So we master the art of hiding ourselves from ourselves.  The Pharisees and Sadducees had convinced themselves that they were the finest people on earth but John called them “a brood of vibers” which to us sounds harsh but there was actually an element of mercy in it.  John knew that they were hiding from themselves and nothing would change until they took an honest look at their own lives.  The same is true of us as well.

The second suggestion is this – to have a personal reformation we must remain self critical, which is true of all of us.  We are weak and make mistakes.  We are not always right, no one ever is.  One of the finest things that any of us could do is face the fact that we are sometimes wrong and admit it.

My final thought is this – do something different, take some action.  John said to the Pharisees and Sadducees “Give some evidence that you intend to reform”.  How easy it is for our lives to get in ruts and remain there day after day, week after week.  It is not our intention, it just happens.

Advent can be a time of personal reformation.  It can be and will be if we take an honest look at ourselves and have the courage to do something good that we don’t ordinarily do.  “Reform your lives for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”.

                                                                                                             Fr John

Looking to give a gift that really makes a difference this Christmas? Then consider becoming a blood donor and giving blood over the coming weeks.  It will cost you nothing more than an hour of your time and it will make an enormous difference in someone else’s life. 

67% of all blood donations go to cancer patients who get transfusions as part of their treatment, 27% of blood is used in surgery and emergency room situations, 6% of blood is used for treatment of new-born babies and birth complications.

3,000 donations are needed each week in Ireland to keep up with the constant demand for blood and this demand is met by ordinary people, like you and I, choosing to donate blood.  The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has a permanent clinic in St Finbarr’s Hospital. There will also be a Blood Donation Clinic this Monday and Tuesday, 2nd & 3rd December 2019 from 5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. in Carrigaline GAA Hall. One in four of us will need a blood donation at some point in our lives.  If you enjoy good health and are able to donate blood please consider becoming a blood donor.  For more information see www.giveblood.ie

It is hard to think of a better gift that you can give this Christmas!                Fr Seán   

We are reading the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel for Year C. Jesus is in Jerusalem and the passages we hear are talking about end times. The people gathered are obviously excited, having seen how magnificent the Temple is, but the time for excitement might not be just yet. Jesus reminds them, and us, that these things are short-lived and we should not be too bothered about ‘fine stonework’ and ‘votive offerings.’ These things do not last.

At some point, we have all seen and heard someone shouting on the street or on the internet about the end of the world. You’d be forgiven for thinking that today’s Gospel is trying to achieve the same thing. Jesus tries to comfort the people regarding various crises that will happen; the call is to take a broader perspective, to look at the bigger picture. Endurance is the message of today’s gospel. The people of Jerusalem will witness the destruction of the Temple, the disciples will face persecution. He warns that for people of faith, there are tough times ahead. Whatever crisis may come, Jesus is asking people to keep going, to stay focused and not be afraid. Michel de Verteuil once wrote: ‘Lord, when we are young we think that we become great through our achievements. Life has taught us the truth of Jesus’ words: it is by endurance that we win our lives.’

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

The last Sunday of the year is always celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King and each year we are invited to ponder some aspect of Christ’s rule over the church and indeed all creation. In Year C we have been reading the Gospel of Luke over many Sundays and have been privileged to see how the great mystery of God’s universal love and mercy is revealed in the person of Jesus. It is appropriate then on this feast to focus on Jesus on the cross granting pardon to the repentant thief. For Luke this aspect of the kingdom of God has been central: Jesus has come to bring the healing forgiveness of God to all who seek it.

‘If you are the king of the Jews then save yourself.’ This cry of mockery from the crowds on Calvary is worthy of our reflection on a feast such as today’s. It is precisely because he is the king of the Jews, and indeed king of the whole world, that Jesus does not save himself. He is more concerned to save others. This he does, not by the majestic use of power or a dramatic manifestation of his glory, but rather through a humble giving of himself in which the mercy of God is offered to everyone in an act of overwhelming generosity. Today we celebrate a king whose wealth lies in his love for all, and whose authority is exercised through service of those who are considered the least important of all. Jesus does not seek servants who grovel before his throne in the hope of being granted favours, he is looking for disciples who can stand before the cross and see there their own worth and the worth of every other human being, and who will be prepared to do what they can to uphold the dignity of their brothers and sisters

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

In today’s Gospel Jesus comes into a room full of fear. Sometimes it is fear itself that makes us close the door on others and on God. Occasionally in life a person comes along with the gift of breaking through our closed doors, a person who comes to be with us in our fears. Pentecost is an invitation to acknowledge those who have come to us and stood with us in times of fear, those who have brought us peace in a time of anxiety.  Likewise Jesus showed his wounds to his friends. Moments of grace can occur when another person shows us their vulnerable side, or when we do so with them. Sometimes our vulnerability and our own experience of brokenness opens us to others and to God and allows the Spirit to breathe new life into our souls.                         © John Byrne OSA, Intercom Magazine, Veritas Ireland.

The Feast of Christ the King gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage we may have about kings, leaders and kingdoms. Jesus’ kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate, or many other earthly leaders know. It is a kingdom built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace. Few ‘kings’ can measure up to this: responding to violence with forgiveness, giving those with no hope a reason to hope, putting the crisis of the world before financial gain or power. Who do you know in our world today who is the more living example of this type of kingship, making daily sacrifices in endless service to those around them?

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

Last Sunday we felt deeply privileged to be part of the Bi-Centenary Celebrations in Shanbally Church where the community gathered to celebrate a wonderfully vibrant yet prayerful Mass of Thanksgiving and gathered afterwards for a reception in the grounds of Shanbally National School.  It was lovely to see so many old neighbours and friends catching up with one another and the afternoon was marked by a tangible sense of a community and goodwill.  It was lovely to see parishioners from Passage West and Monkstown join with the people of Ringaskiddy and Shanbally in celebrating their special day.  Thank you to everyone who played any part in making the day such a wonderful success. 

Olivia Walsh has uploaded a delightful short video of the celebrations on YouTube conveying a fabulous sense of the occasion.  Simply search ‘Shanbally Church Bi-Centenary 2019’ on YouTube. Copies of John Twomey’s fascinating booklet to mark the Bi-Centenary are available in Shanbally Church at a cost of €5 each and copies of Colman O’ Mahony’s thoroughly researched article on the history of the  Church are also available free in Shanbally Church and from the Parish Office. Congratulations again to everyone involved.                  Fr John, Fr Con & Fr Seán