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Listing July - 2008
If Jesus had a motto it might read: "One listens best who listens long and late to hear the voive of love emerge from one's depth." ~Fran Salone Pelletier

The following reflection thought is written by Fran Salone Pelletier

To listen is to do much more than simply to hear. When we truly listen, we are truly alive. Every fibre of our being is acutely aware. We are attentive to the tiny nuances in speech, the little movements of body language. We note what is said and unsaid. Our antennae extend. Our feelers sensitively quiver as we probe the presence of God in our environs.

I have a daughter who is a quintessential listener. She picks up every vibration and incorporates it into her psyche. It is her agony and her ecstasy. I have never been able to hide my feelings from her because she is totally attentive to every nuance, to each change of breath or pace. If I have something to tell her that I am trying to avoid, she knows it. If I am feeling miserable and pretend all is well, she knows it.

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he felt the pain of loss. Jesus listened to that pain and heeded its call to solitude. He have himself the gift of grieving because he knew that listening meant loving. So he chose to withdraw, to be alone in a deserted place by himself to contemplate life without his beloved companion, cousin and friend.
‘What makes humility so desirable is the marvellous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God.’ ~Monica Baldwin

Some years ago when Mother Teresa received her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the powers that be didn’t know how to deal with her! They sent two limousines to the airport to meet her, one for her and one for her luggage. She arrived smiling, with her personal belongings in a shopping bag and the welcoming committee was completely at a loss what to do. They would have no problem at all with heads of state and other dignitaries but this frail little woman who had some sort of extra ordinary aura about her, made them feel powerless. They were in the presence of a power and strength with which they were totally unfamiliar with. This can also be called humility. We all need some and when and if we can embrace it, the results are amazing.
‘In darkness, everything appears meaningless, prayer valueless, God distant, people aloof, life empty and inspiration absent.’ ~Stanislaus Kennedy

No one can ever fully understand the pain that comes with depression and feeling low. Depression affects thousands of people every single day including the height of summer. Yesterday the Samaritans celebrated 24/7 marking a significant date of the year but importantly reminding people that their service operates 24 hours a day every single day, all year round. They listen to a whole variety of problems including depression. There is a myth out there that nothing can be done about suicide but there are ways of minimising risk and above all the Samaritans are there to listen. They provide confidential emotional support for anyone who is experiencing feelings of distress or despair including those which may lead to suicide. Their contact number is 1850 60 90 90.
‘The word of God is like a scented garden, delightful and beautiful. It touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger and fills us with eternal joy.’ ~St.John Damascene

Every person has some favourite piece of scripture reading. It may be a line, a verse or a story we have remembered since school, we may have heard it in a church or it may be a piece we have picked for a wedding or a funeral. It meant something to you and importantly it was also the quiet voice of God speaking to you. We can dismiss the word of God as irrelevant, outdated and out of touch. That would be a pity. The world we live in desperately needs a guiding light and some direction. The word of God allows us to move from what’s shallow and empty into something much more meaningful in our lives. What is your favourite line or scripture verse? Why not hold it close to you today?
The following thought/reflection written by James McKarns
'But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.' ~Psalm 86:15

One morning several months ago, I read the words of Psalm 86 about God being slow to anger. I resolved to live that one day by also being slow to anger. As a reminder I placed a rubber band around my wrist. A disturbing article in the morning newspaper irritated me, but I snapped the rubber band to remind myself this was "slow-to-anger-day." I refused to let the traffic annoy me. Waiting in line at the bank I read a brochure on current interest rates instead of being critical of the slow moving line. Thus, I persevered.
That evening I felt a pleasant calmness. I liked being slow to anger, so I tried it the next day and the following. If we are slow to anger in small matters, we will be able to stay more calm and rational when major problems beset us. We will also be imitating the Lord.
‘Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division. Humanity is squandering the earth’s resources to satisfy its insatiable appetite for material goods.’ ~Pope Benedict speaking at the World Youth Day in Sydney

There is nothing like direct words and more so when they speak the truth. Our world as we know it is at crossroads. It can only be exploited and depleted of all its natural gifts and resources for so long. It is at the point of exhaustion. The pope in speaking to such a large gathering of young people has his finger very much on the pulse of life. It is these young people who can make the difference, who can bring about change and who can begin to make things happen. It can be easy to be dismissive, negative and pessimistic. It can be easy to call it hype and wide of the mark. But we as a generation are doing our best to destroy everything that’s been given to us. We as a generation must play our part to turn things around.
Reflection written by an older person:
“Old age, I decided, is a gift. I am now probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body. I sometimes despair over the wrinkles and the baggy eyes! But not for long as I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for one less grey hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself and less critical. I’ve become my own friend. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon before they understood the great freedom that comes with ageing. What does it matter if I read until 2 and sleep until noon? I know I am sometimes forgetful. But then again, some of life is just as well forgotten. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. I’ve been through tough times and broken hearts are what give us understanding and compassion. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think and I’ve earned the right to be wrong. So I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever and with God’s help I’m going to make the most of every day that’s left.
‘I just carry hope in my heart. You either have it or you don’t regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. Life without hope is empty, boring and useless. I cannot imagine that I could strive for something if I did not carry hope with me. I am thankful to God for it. It is as big as life itself.’ ~Vaclav Havel (1st president of the Czech Republic)

There are so many definitions of hope out there. It’s not blind optimism but it does give us something to hold onto and push when it might be easier to quit. If we depend only on ourselves to get through life we’re in for many disappointments. We need others to support and encourage us. If we can be confident enough to use all that God has given to us, then hope will flourish in the depths of our being. As we start a new week we pray for the gift of hope in our lives. Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God. We put our trust and hope in our God today.
Following poem/reflection by Flor McCarty

The word of God is to the human heart what a seed is to the earth. However, just as a seed needs soil, so the word needs a receptive heart. The earth responds to the rain and sun so that even desert land blooms. But the arid human heart has the power to resist so that it remains barren. Lord, soften our hearts with your grace, open them with your gentle love, so that the precious seed of your word may take root in our hearts, and bear fruit in our lives
‘As the pace of the world increases relentlessly, there is a growing realisation of the importance of community and the support which we can all give to one another.’ ~President Mary McAlese

This weekend in Ireland marks Macra NaFeirme’s ‘Know Your Neighbour Weekend.’ This is the third year running for this project and it’s growing from strength to strength. The purpose of the weekend is to open a small window of opportunity where people will be inspired to mingle in a neighbourly way with people living in their own neighbourhood. Sadly today with the hectic pace of life there seems to be little time for those living around us. There is a growing sense of isolation and this is a real shame. We are built and made for community. Everything Jesus did was to build, encourage and sustain community. No person or family can successfully live in isolation. We simply need each other. Can I do anything this weekend no matter how small to reach out to my neighbour? More details can be found on
‘Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.’ St.Francis de Sales

There is a lovely Jewish story from ancient times about an old man who was in his hundredth year and 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 he saw the old man worshipping the camp fire. Stopping for a moment he corrected the old man and asked him to direct his prayers to the Almighty. But the old man went back worshipping the fire. This went on a few times and Abraham lost his patience and kicked the old man out of the camp. He went back to prayer “See Lord, how much I love you.” There was silence and then he heard the Lord say, “Abraham, I have put up with that old man and his unusual ways for the past 100 years and you cannot put up with him even for five minutes!”
A summer blessing

May the beauty of God always surprise you.
May the freedom of God keep you centred and whole.
May the truthfulness of God bring peace to your heart.
May God’s gift of Christ saturate you with love.
May the wisdom of God’s dream always invite you deeper.
May the blessing of God in the company of Christ and the life giving Spirit guide you now and every minute of your life.
May you be open to God’s gentle presence in your life this summer and know that you are loved, cared for and always marked out as special.
‘Men and women know that they have within themselves a ceaseless craving for satisfaction and completion which they do not and cannot find on earth. It is this great something we call God.’ ~Kevin Lyon

The great search for meaning, satisfaction and completion goes on for each person, not occasionally but every single day of our lives. For those who can say they have found God does not mean that the search is over. It is ongoing and always will be. We can never say we know God fully. God is so much bigger than our humble understanding of God. But what a difference our humble understanding makes. It brings stability, meaning, foundation and satisfaction into our lives. Take it all away and we’re left with so little. In fact we’re probably left with nothing. Today I thank God for my humble understanding of God. I may not have all the answers, I may be struggling, I may be doing okay but at least I have something to hold onto which is infinitely better than nothing at all.
‘Deep within us, there is a spirit of judgement and we are often harshest on ourselves. Because a part of us may be disordered, we condemn the whole of ourselves. Somehow we are attracted to the darkness rather than the light.’ ~Martin Tierney

We are indeed our own worst enemies. We can be so cruel on ourselves. We judge ourselves critically, we condemn ourselves and we so often put ourselves down. If it was put along side all our good and strong points there would simply be no contest. Yesterday in Ireland the Munster football final took place between Cork v Kerry. Cork were 8 points down at half time but Cork’s amazing comeback against Kerry in the second half is a fine example of concentrating on the good and positive. They were dispirited and completely lost at half time. But they believed in themselves and turned it completely around. It reflects on us too. Why should negativity, some mistake or weakness on our part overshadow everything else? Can I simply be less harsh on myself and much more kind?
‘Doing the best at this moment puts us in the best place for the next moment.’ ~Oprah Winfrey

The strings of a guitar on their own are important. They are separate, different and unique. When they choose to come together they can make great sounds. It is the same with moments. Each day is made up of many moments and the vast majority of them are good and positive. God calls us to do our best with each moment that comes our way. This puts us in the best place for the next moment. All our moments put together can make for great sounds. These moments make today worthwhile and keeps us in touch with what’s important and life giving.
It was the last day before the summer holidays and the children brought presents for their teacher whom they wouldn’t see again. As it was the last day the teacher decided to make a game of guessing what the presents were. First the shop owner’s daughter came with a box. It was heavy. “Is this a box of sweets?” “Yes” replied the little girl. Next the flower shop owner’s son came up with a box. It was light. So the teacher shakes it and says, “Are these flowers?” “Yes” said the little boy. Next came the wine merchant’s daughter with a box. It’s very heavy. The teacher shakes it and it leaks. The teacher touches the liquid with her finger and tastes it and says, “Is this box full of wine?” “No Miss”, came the reply. The teacher tastes another drop and says “Is it a bottle of champagne?” “No Miss” comes the reply again. “I give up” the teacher says. “Tell me what’s in the box?” “A puppy” the little girl says!
It’s good to have a sense of humour. It is God’s gift to us, enabling us to smile or laugh.
‘Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is one element of faith.’ ~Paul Tillich

Today is the feast of St.Thomas. You have to feel some sympathy for Thomas. He made one remark and he has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” for the past twenty centuries. Thomas should be seen in a much more positive light. He should be praised for his honesty, openness and courage to ask the right question when it needed to be asked. We could all take a leaf out of his book. We could be much more honest in our relationships with other people and in our relationship with God. Sometimes we are afraid to ask that all important question. Why? Thomas had the courage to ask. He had his personal doubts and he honestly shared those doubts. Like Thomas we need not be afraid of doubts, questions and stuff we don’t understand. Maybe we won’t get the answers we’re looking for but a great start is to share and express them particularly when it comes to matters of faith.
'It is never too late to be what you might have been' ~George Eliot

One constant theme throughout the scriptures is how God never closes the door on anyone. Even when people tested, ignored and abandoned God, the door was never closed. The very same happens today. God gently reminds us, that it is never too late to be what we were created for. All of us no doubt have things we want to do and we have hopes for the future. Just because things haven’t worked out for us back along should not be a reason to throw the towel in. It is never too late to make a fresh start, to retry and to be open to new beginnings. Others may close the door on us but at least with God the door is always open. Have I thrown the towel in? Do I feel it’s too late to restart? Can I begin to trust myself and begin to do something I have been putting off for a long time?
‘What is faith? What does it mean to a young person today? For young people, I think faith is not simply about knowing a set of religious beliefs. True faith involves love.’ ~Thomas Kelly

There has been much talk in recent times about a loss of faith particularly among young people. How do you measure a loss or even an increase in faith? You can’t exactly use a measuring tape! Neither can you measure it by whether you go to Mass or not. It is much deeper. For young people today, faith involves loving their friends, enjoying their company, sharing with them and having older adults who are genuinely willing to listen to them. This is where it’s happening for them. It would be a great shame if we are not willing to journey with them. Faith will never be a neat package that we can open and close occasionally. It is part of our daily lives. For young people, they find God easier among friends and family rather than Church or the Bible. Some may find that sad but the very fact that they are finding God is a great reason to celebrate.


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