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Listing August - 2012
'Most of life is routine, dull and grubby but routine is the momentum that keeps each of us going.' ~Ben Nicholas

Many schools after reopened after the summer holidays. For some children it is a very exciting day and their parents as they begin school for the first time. For others they have made the transition to secondary school and begin a whole new journey there. Traffic gets busier and the sun comes out after hiding all summer! These early days of start up are all about swapping and sharing stories about what happened during the holidays, the places that were visited, the fun that was had and what might have been if the weather had been better. It seems that everyone tried to make the most of the break despite the weather.

It is good to be back to a routine again. Routine allows us to be comfortable with what we have to do and what we like to do. As we begin our journey along a new school year we ask God's blessings on all of us. We ask God to help us with our daily routine. We pray that we will get through all those necessary things we have to do and also to help us find the time to do those things that we enjoy doing as well.
'A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains' ~Dutch Proverb

There is a lovely story told by the Jews from ancient times about an old man, well over a hundred years, who wandered into Abraham's camp just before nightfall. Abraham being a good Jew welcomed the man and offered him hospitality. While the food was cooking Abraham suggested that they pray together. Abraham raised his hands and his eyes towards Heaven and began the evening prayer. After a while looking down he saw the old man worshipping the camp fire.

Stopping for a moment he raised the old man up to direct his prayers to the Almighty. A moment later Abraham was looking down and he saw that the old man was on his knees again worshipping the fire. Abraham pulled him back to his way of praying. But it kept happening, the more Abraham corrected him, the more he insisted on returning to the fire. In the end Abraham had enough and kicked him out of the camp. As he returned to his prayers he looked up to heaven and said, "See Lord how much I love you". There was silence and then he heard the Lord saying, "Abraham, I have put up with that old man for the past 100 years and you cannot even put up with him for five minutes!" The moral of the story is to ask ourselves how patient we are with the limitations of others.
'Help thy brother or sisters boat across and lo thine own has reached the shore' ~Old Hindu Proverb

It is a well known fact that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. The obvious response is how can we teach it unless we have spent time learning it in the first place? But however much we know something, when we share it with someone we grasp it much better. When we share we enrich our own learning. That is why learning is a lifelong skill. When we are open to learning no matter what our age, we will always be young at heart. This also has spiritual applications. When we share spiritual values like love, compassion, healing, encouragement, guidance and direction we also enrich ourselves beyond measure. Others receive the benefits but we even more so. Whatever spiritual values you may share today, be open to the rebound!
'If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere.' ~Billy Sunday

A lot of people say joy and happiness are exactly the same thing, just different words. But there is actually a big difference between the two. Happiness comes from what we do, joy comes from God. Happiness is based on circumstances; joy is born in the heart and has strong spiritual connections. Happiness can change like the wind but joy is much more stable and always around. A joyful person thinks different, is usually upbeat and positive and always makes good company. They gently encourage and make the most of the present moment. A joyful person is slow in allowing bitterness, anger, jealousy or hatred to take a hold in their life. So if there is no joy in our lives at the moment, then there is a leak somewhere. Today our news headlines are predominantly negative and are no help to any leaks in our lives. But any leak can be repaired and at least plugged to stop the flow. In our Gospel stories Jesus did a lot repairing and fixing of leakages. He gave people a renewed sense of hope and brought much joy into their lives. Most important he showed them a way forward in how to find lasting joy. The same way is extended to us too. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
'The LORD's promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace' ~Psalm 12:6

Silver often takes second place to its neighbour gold. It is cooler, shinier and often purer than gold. The vast majority of cups used in sporting competitions are made from silver. One unusual quality of silver is its ability to kill bacteria when it comes into contact with it. Many references comparing God to silver are to be found throughout scripture readings. Silver is strong and has an ability to survive and stay around. God is equally compared to silver, strong, durable and with us through thick and thin. Whatever challenges today or the coming week may bring, we ask God to give us the strength to get through each day as best we can.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

'Does it seem to you that churches these days just expect too much from their people? Try us! We are the new and improved lite church. We have 24 per cent fewer commitments than other churches. We have only eight Commandments - you choose which ones apply each week. We are everything you want in a churc and less!' ~Anon

In today's Gospel, Jesus does not conform to his followers expectations. His teachings are too difficult to comprehend and to follow. They are annoyed and offended. 'This is intolerable language,' they grumble, 'How could anyone accept it?' Though they were happy to accept his healings and miraculous feeding, they find his claims about eternal life confusing and upsetting.

Jesus demands a lot of his followers, who must each decide whether or not they want to follow him. It's a free choice. Some of those in today's Gospel are not ready. Many of his disciples leave him. But, seeing what he has to offer, the twelve hang in there. 'Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life,' realises Peter. What is our reaction to some of the more difficult sayings of Jesus? Do we brush them aside and focus only on the ones that suit us? Or, like Joshua in our Old Testament reading, are we ready to boldly declare: 'As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord'?
'There are toxic people who can weaken us, who can absorb our energy. Until we are stronger, they are to be avoided. We are encouraged to pray for them and we are not obliged to be in their company.' ~Dan O'Leary

We all know of such people who simply drain us. There are many reasons as to why we call them 'toxic'. For some it is deeply hurtful and painful, while for others it is simply down to the fact that we just don't get on with them. Sometimes they can take advantage of us, demand too much of us and make us feel uncomfortable. It is good to know that we are not obliged to be in their company. We must look after ourselves as well. The Christian response is to pray for them but importantly not to surround ourselves in bitterness and hatred. Avoiding toxic people is easier said than done. It requires courage, conviction and determination. If we continue to allow ourselves to be surrounded by toxic negativity something eventually snaps. This is usually our health because all our energy reserves have been eaten away. This weekend we pray for the strength to keep clear as best we can of those who drain us. We pray for help in surrounding ourselves with people and events who energise and strengthen us on our daily journey.
'When we become disciples of nature, we learn that we are both growing and dying at every moment. We learn that change is as integral to the human condition as it is to the mountain valley or the sandy seashore. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is constant except the overarching love of the God who created this ever changing universe.' ~Nancy Roth

One of the great joys of gardening is composting. What was growing and living in your garden or home does not get dumped. Instead it is placed in a compost heap for a transformation to take place. In a year from now what could have been described by some as waste has turned into beautiful soil, full of nutrients to sustain new life. We are surrounded by change and cycles. We need to learn to tune into them and when we do we will find ourselves grounded. We will be able to build an appreciation that God is the sustaining and uniting force or energy in everything around us. Television, mobile phones and modern forms of technology bring great blessings but also remove us from the cycles of nature and rhythms of life. It is good to be aware of the difference. What can I do this weekend to appreciate the beauty and cycles of nature around me? God is to be found in so many of these happening each and every moment all around us.
'God is source of our longing, of our dreams and of our restlessness. Though we might believe otherwise, this longing will always remain with us, until we can acknowledge God's calling deep within.' ~Liam Lawton

There is a place within each person where no one can reach us. Some call it 'heart', some call it 'soul' and some call it their 'special place'. There is no more sacred spot and it is also the place where God dwells. Many do not give it much thought or believe that such a thing exists. Some dismiss it as some sort of religious nonsense. St Augustine said our hearts are restless until they rest in God. This place within each of us that no one can reach needs to be acknowledged. It needs quiet time and it needs its own space. When we ignore it we are restless and we try to fill this restlessness by being busy. We chase after things that are trivial; we surround ourselves with noise and distractions. But we are never fully happy or satisfied. What can I do to acknowledge God's gentle presence within me? Can I spend a quiet moment today or across the coming weekend, knowing I am loved by a God so near to me that only I can hear?
The following extract from the 'Prayer of the Fisherman' by Liam Lawton was read at the funeral Mass of the late Pearse Lyne, in Castletownbere yesterday. Pearse was an experienced fisherman who loved the sea. He was much loved by his family and community and is a huge loss to them. He died tragically last Friday when his boat capsized while working on lobster pots near Pulleen Pier, Castletownbere.

Lord as we put out into the deep, we place ourselves into your keep. May no storm separate us from sheltering coves. May we never lose hope in your eternal presence. Calm the seas with your gentle breeze. May dolphins dance and seagulls swoop to a rich harvest. When the sun is setting in gold across the bay, it is in you we find our anchor. In you we rest and pray. Come lead us through our darkness, O fisherman of Galilee, Come be our morning star. May he rest in peace.
10 commandments to get along with people

(1) Say less than you think. Cultivate a calm voice, how you say it often means the most.
(2) Make promises sparingly, keep them faithfully.
(3) Never lose opportunities to say a kind word to or about somebody. Praise work well done.
(4) Be genuinely interested in others. Let everyone you meet feel that you regard them as if they are the only person that matters in the world.
(5) Be cheerful as best you can.
(6) Keep an open mind on all debateable questions. There's a big difference between discussing something and arguing something.
(7) Don't give in to gossip. It is so destructive.
(8) Respect the feelings of others.
(9) Pay no attention to those who think less of you. There are always knockers in this world but know that there are many more people willing to uplift and encourage.
(10) It won't cost you anything, smile!!
'Our journey to God is brief, often unknown and full of surprises. It can be compared with a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, its thrills and scary moments, its slowness and fastness at times, its twisting curves, bumps, and sudden jerks. At times, during this journey, we want to cry, laugh, shout and scream. The best preparation for life is to know that we have a wonderful travelling companion.' ~Author Unknown

Life can indeed be compared to a roller coaster ride. It is never straight forward or easy to predict. Our best plans and hopes can be dashed with unexpected events and experiences outside our control. We can also be uplifted and inspired by many beautiful and special moments that make up our everyday experiences. Some say it's easy to find God when things are going well but impossible to find when we are struggling. All the great spiritual writers tell us that God is to be found in every experience of life. Even in our darkest hour God is with us and it has been described as having a wonderful travelling companion on our daily journey. St Bonaventure a famous Franciscan described it as finding traces or footprints of God everywhere. Some are easy to see while others are not as obvious. Where have you found traces or footprints of God in your life recently?


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