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Listing September - 2012
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP spoke recently (at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin) of the importance of pop music for young people.

"For young people today, popular music is of vast importance in articulating their sense of hope and joy and also sometimes their sorrow and distress. Surely, if we are to attend to them with compassion, then we must value that music, open our ears to it, and catch its nuances. We must give thanks to the composers and singers who offer our young water in the desert. Surely we must be open to the creativity of popular music and accept its gifts." How refreshing to think that goodness and inspiration can come from the most unexpected of sources.

The disciples receive a lesson in openness today. 'Not one of us' is how they refer to the man from outside the group who is claiming to work 'in the name of Jesus'. But Jesus responds with a different way of looking at things: 'Whoever is not against us is for us,' he advises. Don't knock anyone's faith. How receptive are we to the many voices we hear and to the people we come across from day to day? Are we tuned in so we can hear and appreciate goodness and wisdom in their many different guises? Fr Radcliffe talks of being 'open to creativity'. We must let the Spirit move as it will, and keep our eyes and ears peeled.
'Archangel Michael has long been a protector of and friend to all who ask. Healer, warrior and guardian, Michael is the bringer of peace and the conqueror of darkness.' ~Doreen Virtue

Today is the feast of the Archangel Michael. Michael, like God and all of the angels is unlimited in his ability to help us. Many people have great devotion to him and in particular call on him during difficult and stressful situations. His primary role is protection and in particular during darkness and evil. We are aware how the world we live in has its own horrible evil moments. The murder of Irish woman Gillian Meagher in Melbourne, Australia has shocked so many. What a tragic waste of a young woman in the prime of her life. There are so many other examples where evil and darkness try and smother love and goodness.

Archangel Michael is busy on our behalf to make sure that evil does not get a firm hold. He wants to respond to every call and prayer for help and protection. We can pray and ask him for protection and healing. We can do this whenever we want but today is a good day to do so. St Michael is the patron of police, grocers, mariners, paratroopers and sickness.
'Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.' ~Seneca

The National Ploughing Championships came to an end yesterday making it one of the biggest rural events in Europe. The mud was still flowing but thankfully the day was dry and so many came along to enjoy a great day out. Listening to the variety of accents from all parts of Ireland yesterday ensured that every single county was well represented including Cork!

Ploughing goes back many thousands of years, right back to the time of Jesus. The need to turn over the old sod, to give way to new beginnings and new possibilities will always be with us. The same need is present in our own spiritual lives as well. How many of us hold onto unnecessary junk, old hurts and mistakes made? Many of these should have been turned over a long time ago.

There is never a need to turn the sod back over again because new life and growth quickly takes hold. God always invites us to turn things over and be open to freshness, life, energy and new beginnings. Some question their story so much, they doubt that God could make much difference. God has no boundaries and certainly no boundaries when it comes to forgiveness. Like the plough, the invitation is to turn over the old and unwanted in our lives and instead to be open to something new in our life, especially today.
'I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.' ~Diane Ackerman

Many spiritual writers do not encourage too much looking forward and the difficulties of trying to predict the future. Some looking forward is necessary and planning for the future can be wise and prudent. But if it becomes a constant need to know what the future might be, we will end up disappointed and frustrated. There are few certainties about what's ahead.

But we can make the most of today with much more certainty. Each day is God's most precious gift to us. It can be as wide as we want it and also quite narrow if we so choose. But it is definitely a loss if we don't embrace its width. Each day is full of possibility, opportunity, blessing, learning, along with many hope filled moments. Where do I feel my life is at the moment: narrow or wide? When a day feels narrow, we pray for God's strength to help us along and to gently guide us through.
'Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.' ~St.Jerome

There is a story told about a young man who got involved with a tough gang. He desperately wanted to be one of them. He forced himself to be the hard man, to talk with a brash tongue and to act hostile towards people. This he felt was what was expected of him. Then one day he met a young woman who was wise beyond her years. She liked him and saw a side of him that he was trying to hide. She said: "Do you know that deep down you are a gentle person with a big, kind heart? Why are you so afraid that someone might see it?" It was what he needed to hear and became a turning point in his life. Our good and especially our best is often hidden away. Can I bring it out in someone else by simply telling them what it is? Such honesty can be life giving and life changing.
'Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.' ~Satchel Paige

Today (Sep 25th) is the feast of St Finbarr and he is the patron of Cork city. Gougane Barra is located a few kilometers west of Ballingeary, in West Cork, situated in a picturesque setting and it was here that Finbarr built his monastery in the 6th century. The weather forecast may be talking of rain, but that will not deter the many people who will make the journey to this sacred spot throughout today. He stayed here for many years before he eventually went further up the river Lee to establish a settlement and the beginnings of Cork as we know it today.

Clearly Finbarr knew that the presence of God was very much present in Gougane Barra, particularly in the beauty of nature that is evident all year round. Against a backdrop of rugged hills, lakes, rivers and streams, Finbarr found great peace. It was here that he cherished the richness and beauty of the present moment. While many of us may not get the chance to visit this beautiful place, there are many places within our reach where we can also enjoy the richness and beauty of God's creation. His feast day today reminds us all of the importance of appreciating the special moments that make up each day especially the present moment. It is God's most precious gift to us.
'They were gentlemen. They were hard working men. They were not perfect but they were genuine. They were best friends. They were Godly men. They didn't talk about God, they just did God.' ~Emma Spence speaking at the funeral service last Wednesday of her father Noel and two brothers Graham and Nevin

Sadly we often hear of farming accidents. But the events that unfolded in Northern Ireland last week touched a nation. It was a dreadful tragedy, an awful loss of life and a story that goes beyond words. Emma had bravely tried to save her dad and brothers in a slurry tank, but were tragically overcome by the deadly fumes within. The words she spoke at the funeral service were so moving. The line "they didn't talk about God, they just did God" spoke volumes about her close knit family. The lives they lived were an expression of what they believed. They simply got on with what they had to do each day. They lived their faith and lived what they believed in. God was with them in the bits and pieces of their everyday lives and with them now in their anguish, heartache and devastation.

David Young reporting on the service said: "The three minute dedication to the lost Spence men was typical of a service that conveyed the pain but also the hope of a grieving family whose Christian faith has remained undented in the face of tragedy". The ripples of this awful tragedy have touched all farming communities and homes. Hopefully an increased awareness of the many dangers lurking on every farm will save lives today and in the future. May they rest in peace.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty called 'I'm the greatest'

Ever seen the Fr Ted episode 'Flight into Terror' where the aeroplane is heading for a crash landing? The passengers on board the plane are asked to write a submission as to why they should be entitled to one of the parachutes. 'I think I should get the parachute because I'm great,' ventures one of the priests. 'In fact, I think I should get both the parachutes, in case one of them doesn't work!'

I always smile at the idea of the disciples staying quiet when Jesus asks them what they have been talking about, because they are embarrassed to admit that they have been arguing over which one of them is the greatest. Last week's Gospel saw Peter remonstrate with Jesus for speaking of his impending suffering and death. And the disciples are still not getting it; they are guilty of another spectacular misunderstanding of what being a follower of Jesus entails. They are afraid to ask him what he means by speaking of his death and resurrection, and instead fall into an argument about which one of them is the best. But Jesus soon straightens them out. In order to be followers of Jesus, they must radically change their entire way of thinking.
'Everyone must learn to believe in someone or something so deeply that life is charged with meaning and a sense of mission. And the more one dedicates oneself to this meaning and mission, the more such a person will develop a sense of profound and personal belonging and discover the reality of community.' ~John Powell

We were never made for isolation. Somehow we crave for companionship, meaning, a sense of purpose and direction in our lives. We all know how racing pigeons can find their way home. When left off they don't fly straight in the direction they're supposed to go. Instead they will circle many times as they find their bearings and then they set off. It's called the homing instinct. We too have that within us. It takes the form of an inner restlessness and discontent. It is to be seen as a blessing. Just as the homing instinct of a racing pigeon doesn't protect them in their struggle with wind and rain, so it is with us. Our belief in a loving God doesn't protect us from the knocks of life but it does charge our life with meaning and purpose. This weekend will present opportunities to reconnect with whatever gives our life meaning and hope.
'Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddha quote

Today (Sep 21st) is the feast of St.Matthew. He was a tax collector and as a result people hated and despised him. As a result of his lifestyle he was an outcast but yet Jesus saw beyond his role as a tax collector and knew that he had so much to give his expanding team. As a tax collector, his life was in darkness. Like an unlit candle, it wasn't making much of an impact. It all changed when he met Jesus and like a candle feeding other candles, his life became a source of inspiration and hope for so many.

His feast day coincides with the autumn equinox, of equal light and darkness. Matthew himself was the writer of the first of the four gospels and his gospel highlights the equality that Jesus brought to everyone he met. For Matthew every person was to be valued and respected for who they were. Everyone had a contribution to make particularly at local level and for Matthew there were no exceptions. Today's feast day also challenges us in how we treat others. Do I treat people differently according to what they have, own or speak? We are encouraged to make as few distinctions as possible. It is never easy but Matthew led the way.
'Of course I pray to God, I believe in God. I pray in the physio room. I go in after my warm up. I basically spend a few minutes in there on my own. I don't pray to help me score goals. I pray for the health of me and everyone on the pitch. It is something I have always done. I pray at night. I pray for my family and friends and for the health of everyone I love' ~Wayne Rooney

A recent radio interview with Wayne Rooney gave some interesting insights into the Manchester United player. His wife Coleen comes from a devout Catholic family but religion has always played an important part of his life. Apparently one of Rooney's top subjects when he attended school was Religion. He often makes the news headlines for the goals he scores and sometimes for the trouble he gets himself into. But few could imagine that Rooney actually takes time to pray and that God is important to him. It doesn't make the headlines and it doesn't need to either.

There are so many like Rooney who quietly do what is important to them, who recognise that there is something more and make time for those few minutes of quiet prayer. Everyone's way of doing it is different and the place we do it is different. The common link between everyone is that somehow it does make a difference in our lives.
'God gives each of us one small piece of this earth, which we alone can make our own, during our span of life. We are called by God to make it blossom and bloom. If we opt out there is no question that God's work will go on.' ~Vincent Travers

Our patch may seem small and at times insignificant but it is the most important of all. Our life patch will always bloom in God's own time and way. We can make it happen in lots of different ways but it mainly happens when we're open to life and all the blessings it can bring. We bring with us our own uniqueness, our originality, our charm, our laughter and humour, our energy, our hopes and dreams and so much more. No one can take these from us.

The gentle invitation each day is to use them to help our little patch blossom and bloom. The spotlight tends to be on negative news. We are bombarded and saturated with it. But today why not put the spotlight on your good news and the blossoms in your life?
'God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes but everybody who looks at it sees something different.' ~Harold Kushner

The image of a mirror is useful in explaining God in our lives. Everybody who looks into the mirror is going to see something completely different and so all our experiences of God are different. These vary from positive to negative, from no experience to a very moving experience. Our faith journey is a collection of all these different experiences. Each one is valued and respected.

When all are put together they point to someone who is special, important and who brings meaning and direction to our lives. Like a stream that parts and divides, it eventually rejoins the one source from which it came. This one source makes the world of a difference. It doesn't mean we have all the answers but it does mean we have a lot more than nothing at all.
'Throughout the centuries there were people who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.' ~Ayn Rand

Over 10,000 people took part yesterday in the Evening Echo Cork Women's Mini Marathon. The four mile event amounted to almost 5000 steps with the average runner putting in 1,200 steps per mile! We are all aware of the significance of a step. Throughout our Gospel stories Jesus is constantly encouraging people to step out of darkness, hatred, negativity, bitterness, jealousy, anger into something much healthier and better. He encouraged and invited them to step into light, hope, inclusion, forgiveness, healing and love. The first step was never forced and he always invited and gently encouraged. Some walked away, some were reluctant but for many who accepted the invitation to take the first step, their lives changed instantly.

The same invitation is extended to us today as well. Can we take a step out of something that is stale, negative and dark in our lives, into something much better and healthier? We will end up frustrated and disappointed if we expect it all to happen in a few days. The journey is much longer but you will feel the difference straight away. For anything to happen we must take one step out of and into.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

'Nobody said it was going to be easy.
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start'

These lyrics from Coldplay's song 'The Scientist' speak of a wish to return to a simpler time, to start over and do things differently this time. I wonder, knowing what they know now, would the disciples in today's Gospel go 'back to the start'? The early chapters of the Gospel of Mark are a whirl of activity as Jesus calls the disciples one by one to follow him. They don't know what is to come. Did they think following Jesus would be an adventure, complete with rewards such as fame and admiration?

If they thought everything was going to be rosy, today's Gospel sees Jesus bring the disciples back down to earth with a bang. The disciples are gradually discovering who Jesus is. 'You are the Christ' recognises Peter. Yet when Jesus begins to talk of the suffering and death he is to face, Peter is having none of it and tries to remonstrate with him. And finally Jesus drops the bombshell: discipleship is hard. If we want to follow him we must take up our crosses. There will not necessarily be rewards in this life. Given what they know now, would the disciples do it all over again?
'Cardinal Martini was honest, just, fair and unafraid. He reminded us that under the smouldering ashes of a Church that is, at times, tired, discouraged, burdened with history and traditions that there are still embers waiting to be fanned into flame.' ~Thomas Rosica speaking about the late Cardinal Martini

The death of the former Archbishop of Milan from Parkinson's disease made the headlines two weeks ago. Thousands attended his funeral Mass in Milan. A great writer throughout his life, he wrote about his long struggle with the disease. Just before he died he also gave an interview which he requested to be published after his death. This interview has created lots of ripples across the world, mainly because of its honesty and his critical words about today's Church. The Cardinal said the Church was 200 years behind its time, weighed down by pompous liturgies and that it was fearful instead of courageous.

The following is a short extract: "If parents feel outside the Church, or don't feel its support, the Church will lose the next generation. Before Communion we pray 'Lord, I am not worthy.' We know that we are not worthy. Love is a grace. Love is a gift. The question whether or not divorced people can receive Communion should be turned on its head. How can the Church help to bring the strength of the sacraments to those who have complex family situations. The Church is 200 years behind the times. How come it doesn't rouse itself? Are we afraid? Fearful instead of courageous? I am old and sick and I depend upon the help of others. The good people around me make me feel loved. This love is stronger than the feelings of disillusionment that every now and then I feel towards the Church in Europe. Only love can overcome tiredness and God is love. Now I have a question for you: what can you do for the Church?"
The 5 Finger Prayer Guide:

(1) Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.
(2) The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, nurses, counsellors, priests, sisters and others in the caring profession. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
(3) Next is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for our president, leaders in government, business and industry. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.
(4)The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our prayers day and night.
(5) Lastly is our little finger, the smallest finger of all. Here we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your little finger should remind you to pray for yourself. You yourself know best your own needs and concerns.
'Love is such an overused word. Pop songs sing about love. Many people only connect love with the idea of fulfilled sexuality. But however much the word is misused, in the depths of our heart every one longs for love.' ~Anselm Gruen

We all know someone special who radiates love. It is not an act or something put on. They radiate it naturally and it simply flows from them. Everyone has the ability to do this but for different reasons the flow becomes blocked. It might be a hurt, a knock or setback in life. Someone may have betrayed our trust. We may have been taken advantage of or we may have grown afraid because others hurt us in the past. Scripture readings refer to God as love. This is 100% pure natural divine love. It is total, complete and will never run out. Each day is an invitation to soak in some of this love. The invitation is to allow it melt away our hurts, fears, anxieties, disappointments or darkness in our lives. Every time we take up this invitation, allows us to radiate our own love naturally. No matter what our age, our belief system or our background, this is what we are born to do.
'But when we are helpless, God is not. God's love can descend into hell itself and breathe peace and reconciliation inside wound, anger, and fear. God's hands are gentler than ours, God's compassion is wider than ours, and God's understanding infinitely surpasses our own. Our wounded loved ones who fall victim to suicide are safe in God's hands.' ~Ronald Ronheiser

Yesterday (Sep 10th) was World Suicide Awareness Day. We have all been touched in some way by suicide. All of us know someone who has died by suicide recently. The World Health Organisation estimates that about one million people die by suicide every year. This represents one death in every 40 seconds. In Ireland 525 people died by suicide last year and the feeling is that this is just the tip of the iceberg with the real figure significantly higher. We know the devastation suicide can bring to families and communities. So often it is not spoken about.

Suicide is an illness. We are made up of body and soul. Either can snap. There is a part of every person that is mystery. We can never know fully what is going on for someone. Suicide is a disease that picks its victim and they will often pick a time and place with our absence in mind. It's not that they don't love us or that they are selfish. Suicide squeezes out rational thought and thinking. Guilt and blame haunt families afterwards but it wasn't your neglect or inattentiveness that lead your loved one to take their own life. The purpose of World Suicide Awareness Day is to recognise that the human heart is so fragile and frail. Our judgments need to be gentle, our understanding deep, our forgiveness wide and our prayers compassionate for all those affected by death through suicide.

1Life Suicide Prevention Helpline is Ireland's first dedicated 24 hour Helpline. It provides a Freephone telephone counselling service. The number is 1800 24 7 100 or text Help to 51444
'Always put things in perspective, family, friends and your health are the most important things in life. People waste too much energy in traffic jams, on Facebook and pursuing the material things in life. If you wish to pursue a career you should find something you love to do and believe in what you do.' ~Marc Rohan from Ireland winner of 2 gold medals in the Paralympics

The Paralympic Games closing ceremony took place last night. The games have been a massive success. Over 4,200 athletes from 166 countries have taken part, with Ireland collecting a very impressive 16 medals. The lasting legacy of the Paralympics is how it will impact on people's attitudes towards disability. The emphasis during the past two weeks has been very much on ability. The story of every participant is special and in particular the huge effort and determination in getting to where they are today. If we at times are lethargic, ungrateful and take much for granted, then the Paralympics should awaken in us a new awareness of doing our best and making the most of each day. We thank God today for the great blessings that these Paralympic Games have brought to so many.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty

'Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave others to talk of you as they will' ~Pythagoras

Gossiping is part of human nature. The more we know we really shouldn't tell a secret, the more we are itching to pass it on to just that one person. Of course we know gossip can be destructive, but that doesn't always stop us giving in to the temptation to spread a story around. But isn't it nice when it is a positive story that is doing the rounds; when we hear about a person's goodness or generosity even though they do not want any recognition, or when we are dying to pass on an experience of kindness that has been shown to us? Every so often on radio programmes we will hear the story of a 'good Samaritan' who returned a lost wallet or went out of their way to be helpful. We like to spread good news as well as bad or scandalous.

The people in today's Gospel want to spread the good news about Jesus. Even though he orders them to tell no one of the wonders he has worked, they are so filled with awe that they cannot help but publicise it. 'Their admiration was unbounded'. What a wonderful description of their experience of the healing they had witnessed, and their enthusiasm to pass it on.
'Your birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of 'you' to the world.' ~Author Unknown

A birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of you to the world. Today (Sep 8th) is the feast day of the birthday of Mary. It is a day to celebrate Mary and all the contributions she made as the cornerstone of God's story. Her parents Anna and Joachim were infertile and they prayed for a child. When their daughter Mary was born there was much to celebrate but little did they know the impact she would make. Mary was a woman who was brave, courageous and strong. Her life was far from straightforward but she kept going despite not understanding everything that was happening around her. Mary's birthday gives us a chance to celebrate her life but importantly it gives us the chance to pray to her today. It is a day of blessing and hope. Mary brings us these and much more besides.
'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 we had yesterday and tomorrow is an entirely different story. Busy lives and heavy working schedules can often 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? Throughout today and across the weekend there will be opportunities to recognise that the moments of our everyday routine, do in fact have their roots in God.
The following reflection is from the Macroom Parish newsletter called 'Instructions for life Mantra'

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Follow the three R's of good karma: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone each day.
Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't let the past take over.
Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the earth.
Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
'I believe that God loves each one of us without condition, no matter what we ever do or say or think or feel. We are free to accept that love, respond to that love or reject that love and try to go it alone.' ~Nina Herrmann

A farmer placed a weathercock inscribed with the words "God is love" on the top of his barn. One day a traveller, stopped to look and with a smirk asked the farmer standing at the door: "Do you think that God's love can change so lightly like the vane you have up there?" With a smile the farmer replied: "No my friend. That is meant to show that whichever way the wind blows, God is love."

Many words have been used to describe God and the most popular one is love. No matter how many times we hear this, we are still slow and reluctant to fully believe what it means for us. Our horizons are limited in the sense that we know our own limits, our fragility, our worries and our fears. Because of our limitations we sense that God must have limits too. But God's love goes way beyond our limitations. God is with us through every experience. God loves us even when we struggle to love. God loves us whichever way the wind blows. Nothing will ever change this.
'Assess yourselves to check that you are living in the faith. Test yourselves to make sure.' ~2 Corinthians 13:5

'Taking Stock' or 'Counting Stock' is not a job that many like doing. It smells of lots of hard tedious work, counting and recounting, checking records and loads of numbers. Some shops and stores even close down while the job takes place. But it is a job that has to be done especially in business. For them it is vital to check if stock is missing and to see what is selling well and what is struggling.

In terms of spirituality taking stock is a good and healthy thing to do. Even Jesus himself used to go off into quiet and lonely spots to be by himself to pray, to gather his thoughts together and to take stock of how life was going for him. Taking stock can take a minute at the end of the day, a few minutes at the weekend looking back on a week and sometimes much longer if the need to take time out is important. Taking stock while so beneficial can also be difficult. We can often see areas where we have slipped or are slipping. But at least we can do something about a slip in our lives and put some small effective positive change in its path. It is always good to pray for help in seeing ourselves as we really are, rather than what we imagine ourselves to be. Such honesty means 'taking stock' becomes an important thing to do rather than a burden to be avoided.
'We Christians are called to journey with Christ into the innermost truth about ourselves, meeting on the way all of our brokenness and imperfections, but finding in our centre the Holy and Living God.' ~Albert Holtz

Life is full of externals. We are often concerned about our looks, the clothes we wear, how others see us and what tomorrow has in store for us. We get caught up in the hectic pace of our everyday activities that keep us pushed to the limit. Much of this is fine except that we seldom look within ourselves and look at the really important things that matter to us. What are our core values and beliefs that make up the cornerstone of our lives? When we are rocked by an unexpected crisis or tragedy in our lives what do we have to fall back on?

Our brokenness and imperfections which are part of our makeup should not be obstacles but stepping stones. If we can get to the heart of what really matters, we will most certainly find God. This is the God who is totally on our side and who brings meaning, direction and fulfilment to everything we do. This journey inward doesn't happen in a day. As we journey through the coming month of September, may it be a time to feel and appreciate the really important and special people in our lives. May it also be a time to treasure our core values and whatever is precious and special in our lives.
The following reflection is by Triona Doherty called 'What's on the inside'

'When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out - because that's what's inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside' ~Wayne Dyer

It's what's on the inside that counts. How often do we hear this? Yet how often do we receive contradictory messages. On the one hand we are told it's what's on the inside that counts, and on the other hand we are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should look, dress or act, on what is appropriate outward behaviour.

In today's Gospel Jesus has something to say to us about the tension between outward appearances and what's on the inside. The religious authorities of the time felt that outer appearances and traditions were important, and rebuked Jesus for allowing his disciples to eat with 'unclean hands'. However, Jesus explains that it is not outward show that make a person unclean. It is what is on the inside, rather than outward appearances, that indicate the true nature of our hearts. Indeed in today's Second Reading, St James offers a summary of what we should be focusing on; as well as listening to the word we must also do what it instructs. Our actions must speak louder than words.
'Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not.' ~C.S Lewis

A story is told about the late Mother Teresa who was upset about the heavy storms and the flooding in Calcutta. She spoke to a priest about her distress and her near despair, "How can I go among all the poor people and talk to them about the love of God?" The priest gave her a profound answer, "Go among your people, but don't talk to them about the love of God, be the love of God to them." We often have similar thoughts, especially if there is a tragedy, some awful bad news or some sudden unexpected crisis that leaves us reeling. It can be difficult then to try and fit God into this picture. If God is a God of love, why is there so much tragedy and sadness? This is where we need to dig deeper and know that all we can do in such a situation is to be the love of God to whoever needs it most. Every single one of us can extend God's love into someone's life. As we journey through this month of September it is good to know that the smallest action of love can often make the biggest impact.


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