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Listing April - 2011
'God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.' ~Prayer composed by Prince William and Kate Middleton and read at their wedding service yesterday

It was a splendid occasion yesterday, full of colour, energy, excitement, anticipation, celebration and a great sense of occasion. The cynic might say it was way over the top and totally hyped up. But for nearly 2 billion people who watched the wedding it was important and good to be a part of. In the midst of much darkness and uncertainty in our world, the wedding yesterday certainly lifted the spirits of many. The events of the royal wedding put the word sacred back into the word love which has been cheapened by trivial use. It reminded us that hope still flourishes and that faithful commitment in marriage is still an attractive option. Much will be written about William and Kate today and there will be endless pictures. But the prayer above says much about them and their maturity. The prayer may not make the headlines today. There is one line in the prayer which I think is a gem and one which we could all make a part of our daily prayer: "In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy."
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is the only story making the headlines today. The following reflection is appropriate for the day that's in it called 'Friendship V Love'

Friendship is a quiet walk in the park with the one you trust. Love is when you feel like you are the only two around.
Friendship is when they gaze into your eyes and you know they care. Love is when they gaze into your eyes and it warms your heart.
Friendship is being close even when you are far apart. Love is when you can still feel their hand on your heart even when they are not near.
Friendship is hoping that they experience the very best. Love is when you bring them the very best.
Friendship occupies your mind. Love occupies your soul.
Friendship is knowing that you will always try to be there when in need. Love is when you will give up everything to be at their side.
Friendship is a warm smile in the winter. Love is a beautiful smile to which nothing compares, a tender laugh, which opens your heart.
Friendship can survive without love. Love cannot live without friendship.
The Few Things You Really Need to Remember ~Author Unknown

Remember that your presence is a present to the world.
Remember that you are a unique and unrepeatable creation.
Remember that your life can be what you want it to be.
Remember to take the days just one at a time.
Remember to count your blessings, not your troubles.
Remember that you will make it through whatever comes along.
Remember that most of the answers you need are within you.
Remember those dreams waiting to be realized.
Remember that decisions are too important to leave to chance.
Remember to always reach for the best that is within you.
Remember that nothing wastes more energy than worry.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Remember that the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it gets.
Remember not to take things too seriously.
Remember to laugh.
Remember that a little love goes a long way.
Remember that a lot of it goes forever!
Remember that happiness is more often found in giving than getting.
Remember that life's treasures are people, not things.
Remember that miracles can still happen.
Remember you are you and always celebrate you!
'When the Church speaks, people hear only moralisms. Almost nobody has any understanding of Christianity as anything other than a set of rules for avoiding sin. Almost nobody has any sense of faith as a way of looking at reality and making sense of everything.' ~John Waters

Many regard the Church as an out dated and out of touch institution. It has lost its foothold, lost its way and seems to be wandering along in its own cocoon. The latest update on this is the energy and time it is giving to the introduction of the new Roman missal. It is taking pride in introducing old, stale and archaic language in the liturgy as a positive step forward in connecting with people. But at ground level the feedback from the people who really matter is confusion and bewilderment. Rather than connect, it seems determined to put as many obstacles and pitfalls in our way. It has lost the unique ability Jesus had in connecting with people's lives and touching in exactly where people were. It's a massive loss and one that has gradually happened over time. People have walked with their feet and are now indifferent, disillusioned or hostile to what the church has to offer. Easter at its core is about helping us to make sense of life. At its core is humanity and everything about our struggles, our hurts, our confusion, our fears, our joys, our hopes and our dreams for a better tomorrow. It is time we reclaim Easter for what it truly is, a time of hope, renewal and fresh beginnings.
'The story of Easter is the story of God's wonderful window of divine surprise.' ~Carl Knudsen

This window of surprise includes many blessings. Which one speaks most to you this Easter?
Peace - Health - Happiness - Love - Friendship - Balance - Harmony -Strength - Inner Beauty - Joy - Forgiveness - Confidence - Courage - Family - Knowledge - Laughter - Growth - Support - Serenity - Prosperity - Encouragement - Independence - Experience - Learning - Healing - Abundance - Wisdom - Understanding - Prayers - Dreams - Safety - Gentleness - Memories - Hope - Vision - Light - Conviction - Belief - Openness - Faith - Honesty - Freedom - Inclusion - Letting Go - New Beginnings - Sobriety - Excitement - Inspiration - Simplicity - Gratitude - Satisfaction - Goodness - Kindness - Faithfulness - Patience - Reverence - Wonder & Awe - Right Judgement - Self Control - Contentment - Enjoyment - Togetherness - Compassion - Sensitivity
'The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.' ~Robert Flatt

Easter is indeed a special time of year. The Easter message is one that gives us all hope and gives us a timely lift. We all have our difficult moments. We carry burdens, darkness, hurts, pain and disappointments. We're not on our own, every single person carries these. But the Easter message reminds us, that right in the middle of them, there is a promise of new life, new beginnings and a sense of hope and promise. Without Easter we would have absolutely nothing but with Easter we have indeed everything. With Easter coming so late this year, there are so many signs of Easter all around us paricularly in our gardens, walkways, parks and countryside. The coming week tends to be nice and relaxed. Let's enjoy these many Easter moments around us.
The following reflection is by Amanda Dillon

Easter stands at the very heart of our faith. It is the central point around which everything we know and believe about Jesus the Christ, turns and has meaning. Everything about Jesus and his teaching must now be viewed through this prism of glorified, exalted, resurrected life! We should be rendered speechless at the mind bending enormity of it. It demands that we recalibrate our worldview and change, change, change! Our task is to take this mind blowing impact of Christ's resurrection into a suffering and broken world. Our job is to model our lives and behaviour on Jesus, to go out and leaven the dough, to love and to serve, forgive and heal, feed and clothe. Happy Easter!
'Generosity is not a quality of God's nature; it is God's nature.' ~Gregory Collins

In many churches the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper will take place this evening. It starts the drama, tension, darkness and the unexpected twists and turn of events over the coming days. Easter hasn't been this late for many years and with everything in nature bursting into life at the moment, the timing is just right. The Last Supper is all about Jesus not just giving his life for his disciples but he also gives it to them, to us, to you and to me. God's generosity knows no bounds. We may put limits on our giving, our generosity, our love and our time but God has no limits especially with generosity. To even make the point further Jesus began washing the feet of his disciples. Peter who always spoke his mind blurted out: "You will never wash my feet". This was the last thing he or anyone expected Jesus to do. It was something below, beneath him and almost cheap. But for Jesus it was exactly right. Everything he did shattered what others expected of him. By washing their feet he was showing them just how much he was with them, how much he loved them and that he would do anything for them including washing the dirt and dust from their feet. He extends the same invitation to you and to all of us today: "Would you like your feet washed by me?"
'Don't deepen your relationship with the God society or even the church talks about. Deepen your relationship with the God you know, right now, the God who is constantly calling you into deeper union and communion. God is personal. God is unique' ~St Ignatius

St Ignatius of Loyola is famous for his book called 'The Spiritual Exercises'. In this book he encourages each person to find an experience of God that is meaningful for them. Whatever your experience, the invitation is to enable and allow you to grow in your relationship with God. It is like a flower. There are at least 10,000 different types of flowers all with their own unique name! Everyone though has their own favourite. It might be its colour, the time of year it flowers or its scent. It is special to you. How boring if there was only one flower, one colour with no variety whatsoever. The same goes with our experience of God. The variety is unbelievably wide and varied. This is healthy and positive. Your experience of God is personal, it is unique and it's all that matters. As we journey through Holy Week treasure your experience of God. If it's life giving, if it gives you energy and if it gives you a great sense of freedom, you're on sacred ground. We walk on such sacred ground all this week.
The human ego hates change or a genuinely new experience. We prefer ideas. We can do anything we want with a new idea, including agreeing with it too quickly. But a genuinely new expereince does something with you. It forces you to reassess your terrain, find new emotions and realigh your life coordinates.' ~Richard Rohr

This Holy Week that we are journeying through is all about realigning our life coordinates. It would be foolish to think we haven't changed since Easter of 2010. A lot happens in a year and so have we. Our life story has moved on, we have had to cope with lifes fragile moments and those many moments that are often outside our control. Our journey through Holy Week helps us get in touch with where we are in life particularly the shadows, the darkness and the crosses. The invitation is to hold them during the week and as we celebrate Easter next weekend, the invitaiton will be to start a new journey with new beginnings. Our expereince of Holy Week will be different to last year because we have changed. We invite God to hold all that is going on in our lives today and we look forward to the new experience of Easter. We may resist, feel its not worth it, prefer our own comfort zone and want to remain closed to the blessings that this week can bring. But rather than slam the door shut, leave it ajar. The blessings of this week await you.
'So the disciples went out and did as Jesus had told them. They brought the donkey and the colt, then they laid their cloaks on their backs and he sat on them. Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in his path.' ~Matthew 25:5

This week we journey through Holy Week and traditionally it all starts on Psalm Sunday. We are told that as Jesus came into Jerusalem there was great excitement and people spread their cloaks and threw psalm branches along his pathway. As he passed many words must have been spoken to Jesus. What they were we don't know but they must have been complementary because five days later the words changed to 'crucify him'. As we begin our journey through Holy Week it might be good to name one of those complementary words for ourselves. We don't have to change it during the week, only hold it and treasure it. Some of these words might be: Jesus you are our inspiration, our shepherd, our light, our peacemaker, our healer, our guide, our leader, our friend, our saviour, our forgiver and our hope. The invitation is to pick one of these words or even better again pick a different one that is good for you; hold it today and for the coming week that's in it.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett. To mark today Psalm Sunday the reflection is called 'Taking up your cross'

From triumph to agony. It's a time where the Temple of the moneychangers is cleansed. A time where bread is broken, friendships betrayed and denied. Often we try to place ourselves in these scenes and wonder, what would I have done? Would I have run away, betrayed, kept awake, denied or stayed at the cross until the end?

When we join a procession or a protest, (holding a palm branch or a placard), we are committed to stories of our own Passion. We might want the long Gospel to be over quickly, but we must try not to miss the journey that this week offers us:

'You have to incorporate your pain into yourself. This is what Jesus means when he asks you to take up your cross. He encourages you to recognize and embrace your unique suffering and to trust that your way to salvation lies therein. Taking up your cross means, first of all, befriending your wounds and letting them reveal to you your own truth.' (Henry Nouwen)
To send light into the darkness of people's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. ~Schumann

It was my privilege to launch the Impressionist Art exhibition last night in Coláiste Choilm. The art on display was truly wonderful and got widespread praise from the huge turnout of people who came to see the paintings. Even better again all the money raised last night went to the Cork Cancer Research Centre. As a photographer myself I can take a picture, download it in seconds and send it off to the other side of the world in a few more seconds. Photography can become casual at times, particularly when we are saturated with images from every corner. An artist is far from casual. Every painting takes weeks and hours of dedicated work. The layers of colour are patiently added. The artist is not concerned with instant fleeting moments but much more interested in creating a wonderful moment over time. The exhibition last night in Coláiste Choilm was a collection of these wonderful moments and a great tribute to the talents of the young people involved. The work of every artist is a reminder on the importance of reflective time in our lives. It is also a reminder how important it is to be able to take a step back from the hectic pace of life and produce something that has priceless value. If you are an artist, you have a truly precious talent. It is indeed a gift and blessing from God. May God continue to bless you as you add colour, beauty, light and hope to those special moments in life that can often pass us by.
'A kind word spoken can make another's day. A kind word not spoken leaves an empty hole.' ~Author Unknown

We need little reminding how negative stories tend to grab all the headlines. Every negative story seems to have the energy to generate another and we can get swamped with so much of it around. That is why it's so important that every community, family and person makes sure that the good news stories do not get swamped and lost. We need to promote good news and a great place to start is with a kind word for someone today. Just as a negative story can generate negative, the power of a kind and positive word knows no bounds. It can uplift, encourage, instil hope and make today special for someone in a way we mighn't have even thought possible. Sadly today there are lots of empty holes and lost opportunities, when a chance to speak a kind word was let go. It's all in our mindset. Can I choose a kind and encouraging word for someone today?
'When today becomes exactly like yesterday, then I may have lost the plot' ~Jack McArdle

It is only natural that we compare today with other days and with events in the past. The Census form was filled in last night and we know so much has changed since the last one was filled five years ago. We tend to compare what we do each day to what we did last week and maybe a year ago. But there can never be close comparisons because today is so much different to yesterday, the day before and every day in the past. If today is exactly like yesterday in our own lives then it's time to take a look at why this may be so. Today is God's precious gift to us. It's the only day we can do something that will make a real and lasting difference. While today will not be perfect, with challenges and distractions, it is up to us to make this day our own and leave our mark on it. God asks nothing more from any of us only to do our best. How am I going to leave my mark on this day?


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