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Listing October - 2012
'Halloween is a very spiritual time and through history has been one of great significance. From its very beginning as a Celtic celebration of the new year, Halloween has signified deep spiritual importance.' ~Michael Frey

Halloween is sometimes known as Hallow's Eve or Samhain. Whatever name it has been called, this special night preceding All Saints day (November 1st) has been considered for centuries as a special night of the year. It has been said that on Halloween night the veil that separates our world from the spirit world is at its thinnest. In ancient times, this night was sacred. In the Celtic calendar it represented a mid-point in the year and they named it Samhain or summer's end.

Some say Halloween is silly nonsense, a commercial opportunity and a waste of money. But Halloween has a lot to offer. Children love it and always will. For adults it brings back childhood memories of snap apple and other simple games that still survive. It puts us in touch with the mystery of life and that some things in life are often clouded in darkness. It put us in touch with the struggle between light and darkness and the struggle between good and evil. Halloween may have pagan origins but the Christian message is wrapped around it. It's a simple Halloween message that God calms, encourages and reassures us especially when we struggle with darkness, evil, mystery and the unknown.
'Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once.' ~Louise Hay

It is fair to say that we sometimes wish we were younger and could turn back the clock. In looking back it is easy to say to ourselves that we could have done so much more and could have done things so different. But at that particular moment in time, it seemed the right option or we may have had no other choice available. But whatever age we are now is indeed the perfect age. God always encourages us to do what we can, with what we have and to do it to the best of our ability. Wouldn't it be great if we could say that whatever our age, that we're happy with our lot. We ask God's help in making the most of today and everyday right up to our next birthday. It will then be time to look back in thanksgiving and to look forward in hope.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'Following Bartimaeus'

In today's Gospel we hear about Jesus' healing of Bartimaeus. What is remarkable about this story is the courage of Bartimaeus and his expectant faith. We pray for those who are on the margins of society and those who are suffering. Some of the crowd attempt to silence Bartimaeus. We pray for those who persecute others. We pray for those whose voices cannot be heard. Bartimaeus calls out louder because he has the kind of faith that speaks up and acts up.

If Bartimaeus had believed quietly in Jesus, he would not have been noticed. We pray for those who are persistent in their faith and in their actions for healing and justice regardless of the consequences. Some of the crowd encourage Bartimaeus telling him to have courage and get up. We pray for those who work on the fringes of society, whose eyes and ears have been opened to the voiceless. Jesus asks 'what do you want me to do for you?' We pray that we may have the courage to ask God for what we need no matter how impossible it may seem. Bartimaeus wants to see. We pray that we may all have our eyes opened to the realities of the world around us, that we too may take courage and 'get up'. We pray for those who do not want to have their eyes opened because they are afraid. Bartimaeus' healing is immediate and he follows Jesus on the way. We pray that we may receive the same insight as Bartimaeus so that we can follow Jesus on 'the way'.
'Be a bright flame before me. Be a guiding star above me. Be a smooth path below me. Be a kindly shepherd behind be, today, tonight and forever.' ~St.Columba Of Iona

This jazz bank holiday weekend is always an important one in Cork. For many it marks the beginning of the school mid term break. For many more the weekend is a time to relax and unwind. With the clocks going back an hour tonight we will have to adjust to much darker evenings. Few like the long, dark and dreary days of winter. But as always we trust in God, to be a bright flame for us and especially in those darker areas that are a part of all our lives. The darkness of this world is never too dark for God to brighten. The clocks may go back but we move forward in hope.
'Every day cannot be a feast of lanterns.' ~Chinese Proverb

We sometimes may feel that life is boring and that everything is too predictable and routine. Maybe different aspects of our lives that were full of energy, now feel as if they're gone stale. We begin to whisper to ourselves, "I'm missing something", "There's more to life than this." So we begin to push the boundaries out and this can be a very good thing to do. But sometimes we begin to push out unhealthy boundaries. To compensate for boredom we try and have it all. But life doesn't work like that and if it does, it catches up on us very quickly. No one can ever have it all and that's why routine in our lives can be a good and healthy thing. It may not always be good looking or attractive but at least it brings some stability into our lives. The moment we're restless and feel we're missing out, is always a good time to take stock and just realize how lucky we actually are.
'Pride comes before a fall' ~Book of Proverbs 16:18

A frog planned how to get away from the cold winter climate. "I've got a splendid brain. I know what I'll do," he said to himself. Then he approached two geese that soon would start on their migrating journey to a warmer country. "I would like to migrate with you," he said. "But you can't fly," said the geese. "I know" said the frog "but I have a plan". "You pick up a strong reed, each holding one end and I'll hold on to it with my mouth." The geese agreed and started their journey. Soon they were passing over a small town and someone cried out, "Look, Look. Who could have thought of such a clever idea?" Hearing this, the frog was so full with a sense of pride and importance that he croaked out loud, "I planned it." The frog lost its hold on the reed and the rest is history. Is there a bit of the frog in me at times?
'The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.' ~Douglas Engelbart

Today the big switch over from analogue to digital TV takes place across Ireland. There has been plenty notice given and loads of reminders on radio and television. The digital box sets were the biggest selling item yesterday with even some stores running out of supplies. We have been promised better picture quality and a much improved TV service.

There is also a spiritual connection too. When we have a spiritual or faith dimension in our lives it is a bit like digital. We are promised a clearer and better insight into life and living it each day. Not having God in our lives could be compared to analogue reception with limited options. When our screens go blank we need something or someone to turn to. Digital is the buzz word today and spiritually the buzz word is God! Have you made the switchover? Can you feel the difference it makes?
'You can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel full of vinegar.' ~St. Francis of Sales

This summer will be remembered for only one thing and that was the awful weather. The constant rain was relentless with no break. It affected farmers, wildlife, crops and so many others besides. Bees also had a tough time. There were so few days of sunshine to get out collecting nectar and pollen. As a result there is little surplus local honey to be found, if any. Honey is an image that has often been used in scripture. God is compared to the sweetness of honey. The blessings that a Higher Power can bring into our lives are much sought after. Such blessings can prompt or encourage us to be nice, to make an effort to get along with others and to do our bit to make a difference.

It doesn't cost much to be nice or make the effort to show our appreciation of someone else. It takes a whole lot of energy when we are wound up in bitterness and over time this can take its toll on us. Like a barrel full of vinegar holding onto bitterness doesn't count for much. Every day God invites us to let go of bitterness, anger and anything that is holding us back. Can we push the barrel full of vinegar to one side and even start with a spoonful of honey. A small gesture of love and kindness today may seem like a drop in the ocean. But in God's eyes such a drop makes today so worthwhile.
'God does not want us to be in disorder but in harmony and peace' ~1 Corinthians 14:33

If we add some dirt and sand to a glass of water it becomes murky, dirty and looks awful. Give it a good shake and it gets even worse. If we leave the glass for a few hours, the water finds its own balance, the sand and silt fall to the bottom and the water becomes clear again. This is where God always wants us to be. God never intentionally shakes the glass to unsettle us. Life is so unpredictable that the water in our glass can often be cloudy and unclear. Every day we pray to God to bring harmony and peace into our lives. If this seems an impossible task for you today, then for you to know that others are gladly doing it on your behalf.

Yesterday marked Mission Sunday and prayers were said for people working in many parts of the world who bring harmony and peace to so many communities. Harmony and peace are indeed precious gifts. They're not for sale but flow from God abundantly. We pray for harmony and peace in our life today and for those who particularly need these precious gifts.
Today is Mission Sunday and the following reflection is by Jane Mellett

Today, Mission Sunday, Catholics worldwide are asked to recommit themselves to mission, to the gospel message. Many people think of missionaries as those who travel to so-called developing countries and dedicate their lives to serving the poor and spreading the gospel. Today we pray especially for them but we also recommit ourselves to following the gospel message in prayer, in our daily lives, in our relationships with others and in sharing that message. We live in an extremely unequal world that is in desperate need of the gospel message of hope, solidarity, peace, love and equality.

The Mission month of October reminds us all that we are bearers of that message. We are all called to be missionaries wherever we live; we are all invited to love and serve God by loving and serving others. That's how we share our faith with the world. The Mission month of October offers everyone the chance to renew their commitment to the Gospel. Can we be missionaries to our own families and to the people around us? That is one of the more challenging tasks in our society today.
'Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.' ~William James

Everyone packs a lot into each day. Even at weekends a lot gets done including leisure and relaxation time. There is nothing worse than aimlessly getting through each day. It is easy to drift and go with the flow. It is even easier to say to ourselves: "My bit won't make much of a difference." But your bit does make a difference and what seems small can often make the biggest difference.

If we really believe this, our day can be transformed. We can confidently go through each day, knowing that we are leaving our mark on today and on all those around us. No one gets it completely right but our mark is literally God's fingerprint in our world today. Most important it is God's fingerprint wherever you are and whatever you do. Too many have their heads down, lacking confidence and self belief. Today the invitation is to begin to believe in ourselves knowing that we are indeed making a real and lasting difference.
'What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.' ~George Eliot

Which appeals more to us, an ending or a beginning? These are key questions and the answer depends on how we choose to see it. Life as we know is a cycle of beginnings and endings. Some are profound and huge like marriage, a new job or moving home. Many are quick and transient like a holiday, reading a book and so on. As we head towards the end of October we are very much aware how autumn is upon us. Nature is gently moving into the cycle of slowing down and letting go.

Throughout each day there will be moments that are just beginning and others that are simply closing. It can sometimes be good and healthy to close the door on some things in our lives, such as mistakes, regrets, guilt and so on. It is even healthier to welcome today as a new beginning. It's not about making it perfect or having everything just right. It's about doing my best, being open to the blessings that will come my way and maximising the little moments that can make every day special. Today I can also ask God to help me with whatever beginning or ending I choose to make.
A Celtic Blessing

May the God of strength be with you, holding you in strong fingered hands. May you be a sacrament of God's strength to those whose hands you hold. May the blessing of strength be upon you. May the God of gentleness be with you, caressing you with sunlight and rain and wind.

May God's tenderness shine through you, to warm those who are hurt and lonely. May the blessing of gentleness be upon you. May the peace of God be with you taking away your fears and doubts. May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled or anxious. May the blessing of peace be upon you.

May the encircling God be with you, the encircling power of our Creator. May the enfolding of Christ be around you, the unfolding arms of his love. May the encompassing of the Spirit be around you, the encompassing strength of God. May the guarding of the God of life be with you. May the guarding of the loving Christ be with you. May the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you, each day and every night of your life.
'One of the main reasons why people are not doing well is because they keep trying to get through the day. A more worthy challenge is what I can get from this day' ~Jim Rohn

When we are simply trying to get through the day it usually drags. The day becomes routine, monotonous and boring. But every day has the potential to be a good day, a day when I can learn something new or do something I didn't do yesterday. Often doing something small well can have a much bigger impact than trying to do everything together. We don't give ourselves enough praise or recognition for everything we do. We are usually the last to realize that what we are doing each day is impressive, inspiring and worthy of recognition. What we do makes a difference and often a massive difference. Nothing in this universe or the world we live in is random. Somehow everything is connected. So if we think that the little things we do are a waste of time, with no impact, then we need to change our mind set. It has to start with us first.

The following prayer can be such a start: Lord, I find some days long, doing the same thing each day. Sometimes it all seems random and a waste of time and effort. Help me to see each day as a fresh start and a new beginning. Help me to make the most of today as you have given it to me.
'If there is no struggle, there is no progress.' ~Frederick Douglass

This particular piece of wisdom is most helpful in describing many of our lives. Everyone has some personal struggle or struggles in their life. Sometimes they all come together and other times they tend to be spread out over time. Our struggles are not a failure on our part. They are a part of being human and a part of our life story. They are not sent to us from God as a test or as some form of punishment. Every time we pull through a struggle we have made progress. We no doubt will have experienced love, support and encouragement to help us through. No one is immune from struggles. The most famous of people and indeed the holiest of people such as the saints have also experienced struggles. So we're certainly not on our own. We are often a stronger and better person when we pull through a struggle and thankfully we do. We ask God to help us, strengthen us and direct us through whatever struggle we may be experiencing right now.
'In the Serenity Prayer, we pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can change and what we cannot. When we stop trying to move a mountain, our relationship to the mountain changes. We start to live at peace with the mountain.' ~from Wisdom to Know

The Serenity Prayer is one of the most famous prayers in the world. It has inspired so many: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference." There are many things we cannot change in life. It would be foolish to think that we could. Sometimes what we are trying to change could be like trying to move a mountain. The more we try the more frustrated we get. We think we can do it but it is beyond our control. The moment we are honest with ourselves and to know it's beyond us, is always a turning point. We begin to live at peace with what we can't do, allowing us to concentrate on everything we can do and what we can change. If we were to think of all the many little things we do each day, we would be pleasantly surprised by the impact they make. All put together and they make a significant change and always for the better. We thank God for all the little things we will do this day and to know that they all add up to make today significant and special.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'The impossible is often the untried'

As I am writing this, the Olympics have just finished and I have been glued to the TV for two weeks of good news stories, images of solidarity, humanity at its best and the universal language of sport breaking down all cultural and political barriers (if only for 16 days). What struck me most was the interview given by Katie Taylor right after she won her gold medal, her first words being 'Where would I be without God in my life?' Katie decided aged 11 she would be Olympic champion and aged 26 that's exactly what she achieved. Katie talks of the Bible as her psychological tool and Jesus as the strength in her life.

The man in today's Gospel is a man of faith but he wants to know what rules to obey and what things to avoid so that he can simply get on with things and achieve some deeper existence without too much bother. The man goes away sad perhaps thinking about a goal he had set but not achieved because he was unwilling to give everything. What Jesus asks seems impossible to him. We are not given impossible tasks. We are given dreams that can be achieved but that will involve hard work, determination, perseverance and bouts along the way. There is no easy path to a deeper involvement with life, whether that be in our relationship with God or with a community, a special cause or a lifelong dream. We are reminded that 'all things are possible with God'.
'Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts.' ~S Wise

Many studies have been done on the ability of a group to lift a heavy weight. When the weight is evenly distributed it seems anything is possible. People have been known to lift a person by just using two fingers each. One of the best explanations for such reports is that the participants are tricking their minds into believing that the person been lifted is 'light as a feather'. It is well known that trying to carry our burdens on our own is nearly an impossible task. Wisdom and experience has shown that if we share a burden it does become lighter.

We can also help someone else with their burdens, by being there for them, listening to them and simply being a friend. We don't have to have the right words, in fact few are often needed. Our presence with someone else can make all the difference. The danger is that we often leave it to someone else and that someone else is also leaving it to us. We especially remember those beautiful words from our gospel: "Come to me all you who labour and overburdened and I will give you rest."
The following reflection is called 'Keep Believing' from Reflections on Life

There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren't the way you had hoped they would be. That's when you have to tell yourself that things will get better. There are times when people disappoint you and let you down, but these are the times when you must remind yourself to keep your life focussed on believing in yourself and all that you are capable of. There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life and it is up to you to accept them. It may not be easy at times but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are. You will also see yourself developing into the person you have always wanted to be. So when days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be.
'Human nature is so designed that we can never get enough. Our desire is infinite because it is meant to draw us to God. It cannot be quenched by wealth or designer clothing or alcohol or any of the other security blankets which we tend to clutch.' ~Nancy Roth

We seem to be constantly acquiring and hoarding goods. At the time we bought them, they seemed to be important and necessary. But within a short time what was meant to be everything became redundant. It wasn't quite what we thought or didn't look as good as it was in the catalogue or on the advertising logo in the magazine. It fell short like many things we have bought down through the years. This is not to say that everything is useless or that they do not have a place in our lives. Some things are so useful, handy, practical and make life so much easier. But it's the thought that having everything is the key to happiness, this is the one we all tend to trip on.

Our own feelings of emptiness and knowing that there is something more can be the inspiration to turn to God. Turning towards God can help us make sense of the complexities of life. We certainly do not have all the answers. But turning towards God does mean that we don't have to clutch or hold on to as many 'security blankets' as we normally might do.
'God loves detours, so be prepared to change course.' ~Author Unknown

Detour is an old French word meaning 'to turn away'. On the roads we have often met detours. Sometimes we mutter and give out about the inconvenience. But such a detour often takes us through roads we were never on before and as always we get back onto our main road again. The same can be said of God's influence in our lives. Life often takes us on detours. Life never remains fully predictable. When the unexpected comes we can't just stop and remain stagnant. That's when a detour becomes an opportunity rather than a curse. God provides lots of opportunities, support networks, family and friends to be our signposts through any detour. Every change or new direction in life can be a source of growth and opportunity.
The following prayer was written by Marjorie Ahern:

I have the power to choose to see things as they really are. I choose to see things as God does, with the eyes of love. Since it is the nature of God to be present everywhere, I know that all there really is in this entire universe is the love of God. The love of God surrounds me, dwells within me, goes before me and soothes the way for me. I am a beloved child of the universe and the universe lovingly takes care of me now and forevermore. When I need something, I turn to God who created me. I ask for what I need and then I give thanks even before receiving, knowing that it will come to me in the perfect time, space and sequence. Amen
The following is an extract from a letter by the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference to mark a Day for Life which took place yesterday

Amidst all the rich variety of life on earth, human life is a cause for special wonder. We alone can contemplate the beauty around us. We alone can create art and music and literature to express this beauty. We alone can love one another. Each human being has the capacity to experience and express this beauty and love in a unique way and in doing so, to enrich others. We know that we did not create the beauty and love around us. We know that we did not create ourselves.

When we say that human life is sacred we are recognising something that is sensed not only by religious people but by everyone who appreciates the wonder of human life. As human beings we depend on one another and so others have the right to expect something from us, it is the right to be recognised and respected and never to be treated as less than he or she is. That is true at every moment of our life - from its first beginnings to its natural end.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'The little ones'

In today's Gospel Jesus is being tested with a controversial question on remarriage. 'Is it legal?' This is an honour/shame spectacle deigned to test Jesus on his interpretation of the Torah. Jesus immediately tries to take his questioners beyond the letter of the Law. He reminds us of God's creation and the harmony that exists or that should exist in the world around us. While the questioning refers specifically to remarriage, Jesus' response is that we are all equal and should strive to stay away from all that causes disharmony.

The story of the little children may appear a separate incident but it again involves human relationships. The word 'children' meaning 'little ones' is not referring solely to children but to those in society who are considered 'little'. What does Jesus do for them? He welcomes the rejected, he blesses them, he shows us that they are unique and that they each have something to teach us.'

'Here are many things in life which you have made complementary, not two, but together forming one reality: young and old in a community; men and women in relationships; people of different cultures in our one world; body and soul within each of us. It is difficult to make this unity, and so we allow ourselves to divorce these things from each other. We see them as opposed and in competition. We thank you for Jesus who taught us that it was not so at the beginning of creation, and what you have united we human beings have no right to divide'.~ Michael de Verteuil
'Accept that there will always be those who follow different paths to our own. Learn to respect people as they are and put differences aside.' ~Ronan Scully

Diversity has always been a part of our universe story. Nature programmes that we often see on television are hugely successful because they explore such diversity among animals, birds and insects. When it comes to people we tend to be slow to embrace difference and diversity. It is part of being human to want others agree with our own view point. Problems begin when we begin to impose our view points onto somebody. We feel we're absolutely right, we know it's the only way and so should they! The challenge is to embrace different viewpoints and to accept that others even those closest to us, will see things different from us. Many different viewpoints is surely something positive and healthy. A prayer today and this weekend is to ask God to help me understand that my story is important but that there are other stories out there just as important and valuable as mine.
'Many religious people become exceptionally impatient with the invisibility of God. After years of devotion, their knees worn, trials endured and faith never weakened, they feel they have the right to a little glimpse through the veil. This is one of the hungers behind the epidemic of moving statues that we had in Ireland a few years ago. Religious people, impatient with the invisibility of God were extremely grateful for the slightest little wiggle that an obliging statue would give.' ~John O'Donohue

We long to touch, feel and see God. We'd be happy if could just get a glimpse of something spiritual. This is what makes prayer difficult also. There is nothing visible or within our reach. At times it feels as if there is nothing there. Why bother? It's all a waste of time. This is a trapdoor and let's be honest we all fall into it on occasions. But every spiritual trapdoor has a ladder to climb back up again, giving us a chance to resume our journey.

God may be invisible just like beauty, silence, time, sound and wind. But the invisible has so much to offer us, allowing each of us to find meaning, peace and fulfilment as we journey through life. There is nothing to be afraid of. We came from a spiritual world and we eventually return to it. The invisible is our friend and always a gentle reminder that we are constantly surrounded by light and love. No one can ever take this away from us.
'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness, joy.' ~St.Francis Of Assisi

Today (Oct 4th) is the feast of St.Francis and he is one of those rare saints who has managed to capture the attention and admiration of the entire world. His life has inspired people of all ages and the appeal of this saint, cuts across national boundaries and religious differences. He is most famous for his respect towards God, his simple life and his tender love and attention to all creation. Francis had little time for excess, waste and greed. He always stood up for the poor and downtrodden.

His love of animals has been well documented. Many animals and especially pets will get a special treat today in honour of St.Francis. The life of Francis still challenges all of us today. The invitation is to sort through our lives and discard the unnecessary and useless. There is great freedom in doing with less and using it to our advantage. Francis did it so well and has inspired so many more to do the same.
'They say the Lord works in strange ways and I honestly believe that he has a particular hand in the creation of those who radiate joy and happiness. Whether it has been stimulated by some event in their lives when they were young or parents that instilled an air of happiness in them or their first teacher, these so blessed are 'daily specials' in all our lives.' ~Francis Brennan

We all know people in our lives who are our 'daily specials'. It might just be their presence, their smile, their openness, their word of encouragement, their love, their support, their enthusiasm or the simple way they go about things. There are many other reasons why we could call them our 'daily specials'. But they are special to us and that's all that matters. Working as a school chaplain in Coláiste Choilm, I am surrounded by hundreds of 'daily specials' each day. No one day is ever the same. They bring their own uniqueness and their something special each day. All I have to do is to just be open to it and then to nurture, encourage and support them on whatever journey they may be on.

Who are the 'daily specials' in your life? Today is a good a day as any to appreciate them for the many blessings they bring to your life and it's also a good opportunity to say a prayer for them too. We ask the Lord, to continue to gently guide, direct and bless them each day.
Prayer to St Therese

St Therese of the Child Jesus,
Teach us to follow your way of confidence and trust,
Help us that God's love surrounds us each day of our lives,
Obtain for us the light to see in sorrow as in joy,
in trials as in peace,
the loving hand of our Father.
Give us your own faith and trust,
so that we may walk in darkness,
as in light,
holding fast to the way of love,
knowing as you did,
that everything is a blessing.


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