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Listing May - 2008
‘It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.’ ~Author Unknown

As the old saying goes, ‘there is a time and a place for everything in life.’ This includes a time to do the right thing. Sometimes we’re not sure what the right thing to do is and at other times it is very clear and obvious. But even when we know what the right thing to do is, we’re sometimes slow and stubborn to do it. This is where prayer can be a great catalyst. A simple prayer today might be to ask God for the strength and courage to do the right thing or make the right decision. There is never a wrong time to begin such a prayer.
‘Awareness is noticing the blessings that often get overlooked in our busy lives. Gratitude for a special blessing can inspire us to look further and discover even more good in our lives. As we are inspired, let us also be inspiring to others.’ ~Author Unknown

If we tend to see today as the same as any other day then we have lost our sense of awareness. Yes there is a lot of repetition from day to day in many of the things we do, but the blessings that today will bring will never be the same as the ones you had yesterday and tomorrow is an entirely different story. Busy lives and heavy working schedules put on the blinkers and our awareness of these blessings. Can we pause when a special moment happens? Can we hold it? Can we allow it to inspire us? Every inspiring moment has its roots in God.
‘A book in the early 80’s was named: 50 Simple Things Children Can Do to Save the Earth. An appropriate title today might be: 50 Things Children Can Do to Make Adults Realise There May be a Better Way.’ ~Alan Dyer

We often hear today about the seriousness of global warming, pollution and the damage we are doing to the world. For many it is someone else’s problem and so let them solve it. But there is also a big change in our mindset and for many people there is a growing inner belief that there may be a better way. Every country is different but Ireland depends on imports for 90% of our energy needs. Yet we could be well placed to become a world leader in renewables with our considerable natural resources in wind, waves and solar. The big swing towards recycling today by people of all ages reminds us that there may be a way forward. As a part of God’s family it is vital we all play our part, not just for ourselves but for our children, our grandchildren and all the generations to come after us.
‘For everything there is a season, a time for meeting, a time to say goodbye. For everything there is a season, a time for loving, a time for letting go. In all things God is near, always guiding your way.’ ~Celtic Blessing

At the heart of Celtic spirituality is that God is close and near. It embraces life and that everything works in cycles. There is a time and a place for all that needs to be done. Everything that lives and breathes is a reflection on the beauty of God. Such a spirituality is simple with a no nonsense approach. It is uplifting and to the point. It is close to people and nature. It is we who tend to over complicate matters when it comes to following God. An over emphasis on rules and regulations have often stifled areas of growth. No wonder Jesus attacked the Scribes and Pharisees for their negativity. Today I can be open to God’s gentle presence in my life, not distant or removed but instead close, near and guiding me through this day.
‘Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.’ ~Robert Kennedy

The history books were most certainly written last Sat evening when Munster won their second European Rugby Cup. To win the competition once is an amazing feat but to do it twice etches their name forever in the history of great rugby teams. As a team they were courageous, brave, determined and so committed to the huge challenge. It is obvious they work as a team and motivate each other to what needs to be done. Their magnificent achievements are a reminder and an encouragement to us on our daily journey too. On our own we are simply on our own. But when we work together, encourage each other and share the challenges we are allowing much greater things to happen.
‘The fact that there is only one loaf means that though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.’ 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Today is the feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ). Bread comes in many forms and is the stable diet of millions of people all over the world. Bread doesn’t just happen. It is a combination of many things together, the soil, the sun and rain. It passes through many hands from the farmer, the miller, the baker, the shopkeeper and then to us. It is people who bring forth the bread but it is to God whom we give thanks to. In the above quotation Paul is referring to the fact that we are all in some way connected with God. We are not isolated individuals on our own but all very much part of a team or family. The gift of the Eucharist doesn’t celebrate individualism but celebrates the fact that we are all a part of God’s family. In sharing the one loaf, we are connected and united, not just with each other but to God, our universe, our community, our family and so on.
‘Human life is a journey. Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars to indicate the route. The true stars of our lives are the people close by us and who guide us along the way.’ ~Pope Benedict

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to Mary. She is sometimes referred to as the ‘Star of the Sea’. Considering the dangers of sea travel in ancient times, it is easy to imagine that sailors and passengers prayed to Mary for protection and a safe journey. The image of Mary as Star of the Sea became popular as the years went on. Jesus has also been referred to as a star particularly the northern star. It is the brightest star in the sky, is constant and never moves. It is good to have a star to guide and direct us in life. Who is the star in your life that guides and directs you? As we move into the final week of May, we might keep Mary in mind as a star in our lives.
‘My best memory from a trip to Africa is of a young man who gave me two of his carvings in exchange for my watch. I got the bargain, he gave me himself, his art and took away a tyrant from my wrist.’ ~Richard Rohr

Everyone’s perspective and outlook in life is different. The little quotation today is worth reflecting on. It is a reflection on what one side of the world has and what the other doesn’t. But it’s also a deeper reflection on what is of real and lasting value. The watch is seen as something to be sought after if you’ve got nothing but if you have everything it is referred to as a tyrant. Why? A watch can tie us down, restrict our freedom and be a constant reminder that we must be doing. Or it can be a gentle reminder to live in the present moment, God’s most precious gift to you and me today.
‘Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.’ ~Anthony D’Angelo

In nearly every secondary school, Leaving Cert Graduation Masses/Services have been taking place during the past week. It marks the end of a significant six year journey and the beginning of a new one. These graduations are hugely significant, meaningful and symbolic. For all the young people involved it is good to look back, reflect and give thanks. For parents it is a huge moment too and the realisation that a son or daughter is about to leave the nest. Unfortunately there tends to be a lot of negativity when it comes to young people. This is a great shame. They have endless energy and enthusiasm, they can live in the present moment and they express kindness and love in ways we couldn’t even think of. We can be proud of each of them. They face huge challenges too and need our support and love. We congratulate them all and we will keep them very much in our thoughts and prayers.
‘If you do not know how to recognize your own faults, have recourse to true, faithful friends and they will tell you. These are above all your own conscience and the angels of God. Get to know them, become familiar with them.’ ~Pierre Favre

We all have our faults with no exception. The only problem is that we tend to point out the faults in others much easier instead of beginning with ourselves. It’s not just you or me, it seems to be a human trait in all of us. Some of our faults are so inbuilt we can do little with them. But many we can tweak, change and adjust to make life better for ourselves and for others too. That’s when a good friend can be such a blessing, pointing out where we are weak and importantly helping us find a way forward in a positive way. We thank God also today for our friends particularly those who are faithful, loyal and always there for us.
‘If you keep a big heart open to God, you will be shown that everything else opens up to you and that you can welcome everything.’ ~Pierre Favre

We often speak of a team with a big heart. Wicklow had it yesterday in beating Kildare at Croke Park for the first time in 130 years. It will be either Man Utd or Chelsea this coming Wednesday in the Champions League final and hopefully Munster next weekend! A big heart also applies to us as well but not one that’s cold, distant or removed. We are called to be open to God and to trust that everything will work out. Sometimes this is hard to do, in fact nearly impossible at times. We like instant results but God’s time is never the same as we see it. A big heart calls for openness, trust and a willingness to keep going as best I can. I ask God today to help me to be open to all that this day and coming week may bring.
'The Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.' ~St. Paul to the Romans 5:5

I like the word 'poured' in this line from St.Paul. It accurately describes the outpouring of blessings that God always wants to bring to us. The Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is sometimes hard to explain. There are things in life that we will never fully understand. We often have honest questions that need honest answers. Unfortunately the answers don't always come even from a faith perspective. Sometimes we have to live the questions and hope that in time we will find the answers. The Holy Trinity is a reminder that despite mystery in life and mystery surrounding God, we should never forget that God is closer to us than we can possibly imagine.
See yesterday's thought in archive for more on Trinity.
‘Without mystery life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?’ ~Charles de Lint

Tomorrow is the feast of the Holy Trinity. We celebrate a great mystery of our faith but one that’s so hard to put into words. There is a beautiful icon of the Trinity painted by a monk whose name is Rublev. It depicts the three divine persons sitting at a table. A dish of food lies on the table. But one thing that immediately strikes you is the fact that at the front of the table there is a vacant place. The vacant place is meant to convey openness, hospitality and welcome towards the stranger and those outside. That vacant place is meant for each of us too. We are invited to share in the life of the Trinity. God never wants to exclude us. In the middle of all the complexities and mysteries of life God loves us through and through.
‘The wall which prevents us from seeing God is our concept of God. We miss God because we think we know. That is the terrible thing about religion.’ ~Anthony DeMello

Many of us think we know a lot about everything. If we’re really honest there is so little we know. We discover more and more about our world and our lives with each passing day. We will never be able to say at any stage that we know it all. This is especially true of God and who we think God is or might be. No religion can give you the whole package and say this is what it’s all about. Every day is our gift from God to use it as best we can. Each day we can discover God in the heartbeat of life, at home, at work, at church, at school, on the training pitch, in our garden, in our local shop, everywhere and anywhere. We can never know everything about God but one thing we know with absolute certainty, God is closer to us than we can possibly imagine.
‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ ~Theodore Roosevelt

It is easy to put many things on the long finger. We want to wait until we have what we need, when we have the money to do it or when we have the time to do it. Much more important is to do what we can in the here and now. This is often far more than we realise. In fact we accomplish so much each day that we never give ourselves enough credit for it. We’re often our own worst enemies by pushing ourselves beyond what’s comfortable and sometimes trying to achieve the impossible. From a faith perspective God never pushes anyone. We are encouraged to use all that’s at our disposal. Too many wait for others to provide them with what they need. We are encouraged to use all we have, where we are, today.
‘Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.’ ~Sean O’Casey

The recent rising temperatures have sent nature into overdrive. May is the month when everything is vibrating with energy and life. Our gardens are simply bursting with colour. The same can also be said of us as well. Every action of ours has an impact and influence that we often don’t fully understand or appreciate. Those that are inspired out of love, kindness and goodness are the ones that will always make the biggest impact. They vibrate out to touch and inspire others. Who is my inspiration in life? Who is my biggest influence? Is God an inspiration or influence in my life? This is not always the easiest question to answer. We might need to hold it along with other important questions in our lives. One answer we are certain of is that very action of ours that has even the tiniest spark of God’s influence will touch and inspire in ways we will never fully understand.
‘Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if no one is doing it.’ ~Author Unknown

Sin seems to be a word that has lost its way in the world. It seems to be no longer popular, has no roots and seems to be homeless. There are many reasons why we have lost our sense of sin. We all know that there was a huge negative emphasis on sin for many generations. It choked our sense of good and of God’s love for us. People were made feel guilty, they felt a deep sense of shame and felt worthless? What a far cry from how God understands each of us, how fragile we are and yet how strong we can be too. If sin is a word that is no longer cool then what words are appropriate? Perhaps Gandhi’s few words sum it up best, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” What have I done wrong in recent times? How can I put things right? Can I ask God for forgiveness? God’s gentle words to you will be: “You are forgiven – now go in peace.”
'I firmly believe that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and self-seeking and every thing that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God; and I believe many a person is praying to God to fill them when they are full already with something else. ~Dwight Lyman Moody

Today is the feast of Pentecost. The above quotation gives us plenty food for thought. The following prayer/reflection is also appropriate today.
The following reflection are the words of the Holy Spirit to all of us: When you’re lonely, I wish you love. When you’re down, I wish you joy. When you’re searching, I wish you direction. When you’re happy, I wish you contentment. When things get complicated, I wish you simple beauty. When you’re angry, I wish you an inner calm. When things look empty, I wish you hope. When you’re confused, I wish you understanding. When you’re relaxed, I wish you an inner silence. But most importantly of all I give you my greatest gift, the gift of my presence, that I’m with you right now, during this special day, during the week, during the years ahead. I’m with you always.
See yesterday's thought in the archive for more on the Holy Spirit
‘Every time we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.’ ~JB Philips

Tomorrow is the feast of Pentecost. It is a significant and important day for all of us. How does one describe the Holy Spirit? We have all been in a restaurant where the waitress has asked, “Can I warm up your coffee for you?” The cup may be half full and cold after sitting on the table for a while. When she pours the new coffee in, she refills and warms up the whole cup once again. In ways we are like the cup of coffee as well, perhaps we are spiritually cold and empty. We need a spiritual boost. The feast of Pentecost is asking God to fill each of us with the Holy Spirit, to renew and refresh, to instil hope and to impart life in each of us. We ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us and to teach us what’s really important in life. It would be a pity to let the weekend go by without a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit.
‘If you have a talent, that’s God’s gift to you. If you use that talent, that’s your gift to God.’ ~Red Skelton

It’s fair to say we take for granted many things in our lives. When we can’t do something we normally do we begin to realise what we have is important and special. If we were all good at doing the same thing what a boring world we would live in. But what you are good at isn’t chance or accident. Very few can do the things you are good at. They can try to imitate you but they will always be only trying. What a shame if we decided not to use our own particular gifts and talents. Using them is our greatest gift in this world and it is also our gift to God. What am I good at doing? What gives me enjoyment and fulfilment? Is there something I am good at but haven’t done in a while? Today could be a great day to explore and begin.
‘No bit of the natural world is more valuable or more vulnerable than a tree. Nothing is more like ourselves, standing upright, caught between heaven and earth, frail at the extremities yet strong as the central trunk. Nothing is closer to us at the beginning and at the end, providing the timber boards that frame both the cradle and the coffin.’ ~Seamus Heaney

The image of a tree is a favourite of different writers going back many generations. At the moment many trees are bursting forth with life and energy along with a cascade of green colour. The roots of the tree that go deep into the earth are also symbolic of our own lives. If our roots are shallow and frail we can’t expect much in return. But if our roots are deep and strong we can expect much life in return. Our faith and belief in a loving God provide those deep roots that sustain us through life. Time and the experience of generations gone before us have nurtured this belief.
‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.’ ~William James

There is nothing worse than aimlessly trying to get 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. 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.
‘There is an inherent good in most difficulties.’ ~Norman Peale

Many of the world’s finest oriental rugs come from the Far East. In many small villages it is a family tradition and all families will work under the direction of a master weaver. They will usually work from the underside of the rug to be. Sometimes it happens that a weaver absentmindedly makes a mistake and introduces a colour that is not according to the pattern. When this occurs the master weaver, instead of having the work pulled out in order to correct the colour sequence will always find a way to build the mistake into the overall pattern. It is a lesson we could all hold onto. We too can learn to take our unexpected difficulties and mistakes and weave them to our advantage into the greater pattern of our lives.
Jesus said "Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time." Matthew 28:20

Today is the feast of the Ascension. Normally it is celebrated 40 days after Easter Sunday. So last Thursday it was celebrated in some countries but many celebrate it on this Sunday with the feast of Pentecost to look forward to next weekend. In our scripture readings particulary in the Acts of the Apostles we are given eye witness accounts of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. However, they are not to be taken literally as the Ascension is a mystery which is beyond words.
But it did mean that Jesus would no longer be physically present to them but importantly he hadn't left them entirely. He had simply taken on a new role where he would now be free from all restrictions of space and time. It wasn't about his removal from this world but much more about his constant presence everywhere in the world we live. During his earthly ministry he could only be in one place at one time. But now that he is united with God, he is present whereever God is present and that is everywhere.
‘My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy, you don’t make them because they are cheap, you don’t make them because they are popular, you make them because they’re right.’ ~Theodore Hesburg

We make many decisions each and every day. Some are done with effort and ease, some we have to think about and some we find difficult and almost impossible to make. It’s the difficult decisions that often throw us. Do we always know when we’ve made the right decision? From experience we know that at the time it may have seemed right but with hindsight we were proved wrong. But every decision is made in the present moment. Hindsight belongs to the future and is no help. We are free to choose and make our own decisions. Sometimes it calls for great courage. Sometimes it calls for prayer and guidance. We ask God to help us in all our decisions across this Bank Holiday weekend.


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