Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer is here.


Summer holidays are in the air. Our weather is warm and sunny. Days are long and bright, airports are busier than usual, strawberries and ice-cream is popular again - all announcing that summer is here. The schools have closed until late August or early September, and university exams are all but over. Families are making plans to get away to the sea-side or   take a break. Despite what St. Paul seems to be saying in Romans 8:9, 11-13, we really do owe a debt to the flesh, in the sense that we have a responsibility to care for the bodies with which God has blessed us. Our bodies, minds and spirits all need to be renewed and refreshed from time to time, and, for most of us, summer is the traditional time for that.  Paul’s focus is on a theme he often repeats: If we engage in dull, destructive, repulsive pastimes, we’ll naturally end up dull, deadened and repulsive. And that’s hardly an expression of appreciation to the God who loved us into life. The debt we owe to the flesh is to revive its energy, to bolster it up, to prepare it to encounter life’s stress.

In Mt. 11, 25-30, we hear Jesus’ invitation to rest.  And it’s an invitation that is supported by his action. The Gospel writers make frequent references to his going off by himself to rest and pray.  Without rest and renewal, we do, in fact, reduce our productivity, and become irritable, prickly and testy. All too often, rest and holidays fall into the category of privilege rather than necessity.  I am reminded of a cartoon that depicted a family on a beach outing, all in swim wear - dad is sitting under an umbrella tapping away at his laptop, mum is seriously talking on her I-phone, and two teenage children are fully engrossed in electronic games. Even on holidays, we feel the need to be constantly connected with the business and people we have left behind, through emails, texting, What’s App, Facebook and other social media. Perhaps we might need to consider that rest for the weary and heavily-laden is as much a matter of justice as of anything else.

What’s more, we may well benefit from reflecting on some of the implications of accepting Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Is it an invitation we accept with eagerness? When did you and I last respond to it with joy? In reality, I can use busyness as a means of keeping myself away from a personal encounter with Jesus, of keeping God at a distance. Accepting Jesus’ invitation implies getting close to him, and that can make me uncomfortable.  I may have to ponder some of his questions and reflect on his challenges.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eucharist Procession


The sun reigned on the ninety second Annual Eucharistic Procession on Sunday 18th June, 2017. It is a significant part of Cork’s Religious Heritage.

The procession takes place on the Sunday afternoon nearest to the feast of “Corpus Christi”. People walked from the North Cathedral of St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s and gathered in Daunt Square. Bishop Buckley, of Cork brought the Blessed Sacrament from the Cathedral to Daunt Square where there was a religious service consisting of prayers, readings and hymns. On arriving in Daunt Square, Bishop Buckley first blessed the sick and infirm in a special reserved area near the altar. Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne preached the homily.

The idea of a Eucharist Procession through the City of Cork is that it is a public witness to faith. It celebrates the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and also in people today, when we gather as a community of brothers and sisters and reach out to people in need. Many Catholic groups who contribute to the life of the city attended the procession. Cork’s multi-cultural nature was on display during the procession, with members of the Asian, African and East European communities in the city in attendance.

The ceremony was live-streamed to facilitate households, patients in hospitals, nursing homes and Cork people around the world.


Bishop Buckley thanked the City Council, the Gardai, the Civil Defence, order of Malta and St. John Ambulance brigade for their assistance with the procession. He thanked the Church of the Incarnation choir for their singing, particularly soloists Jessica O’Connell and Ramelo Gregorio, and paid tribute to the organising committee.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Remembering All Students Doing Exams

Lord, today I am just really stressed. You know, Lord, that I am having some trouble with the test I am about to take. I know it's probably not the biggest world problem, with people starving, people turning away from you, people in wars, and more. But, Lord, it's what I'm facing right now, and I need you in this time. I know that no problem is too big or too small for you to handle, and I need to turn this stress over to you to help me with.

Lord, I just need to be able to focus. I need your help to look at this information so I can remember and apply it well on my exam. I need you to help me feel more confident going into the test and relax a bit so I can concentrate. Lord, please help the people around me to understand that I need to focus and study.

Also, Lord, help me when I walk into the exam. Give me the peace, when it is all said and done, to know that I walked in and did my best. I pray, Lord, for your guiding hand as I take the exam, and I ask for your welcome calm when I walk out of the classroom after.

 Lord, thank you for all the blessings you have placed in my life. Thank you for being here in this time when I feel a bit overwhelmed. Thank you for always being there and allowing me to rely on you. Praise your name. Amen.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chapter 2017

The curtain came down on our Chapter (Assembly) after Easter in Rome. A sense of quiet satisfaction reigns as Brothers reflect back on the two weeks and allow ourselves the credit of a job well done. Guided by the facilitator, Sister Catherine Ryan, a direction for the next six years was charted.
It was a good experience being at Villa Palazzola. It was an opportunity to meet with Brothers from other units around the congregation. It was for me a prayerful, reflective time and a time of inspiration and openess. I enjoyed the sense of Brotherhood, the communal dimension of shared meals, laughter, negotiating the stone stairways, the walks and beautiful scenery, the various liturgies, and the opportunties to share faith, A graced time!
On the final day, participants departed by taxis for the various airports or other places. We were happy that the Chapter was a graced moment and a wonderful experience. Jesus was among us and the Spirit was present in many moments of invitation and challenge.

A Chapter Statement will eventually be shared more widely and its inspiration will inform decision-making across the wider Congregation of the Presentation Brothers. We wish the new Congregation Leadership Team success and many blessings. They will be supported by the prayers and good wishes of many. For updates from the Chapter, you are welcome to visit; chapter 2017.presentationbrothers.org  

“It Spreads like Wildfire”



When I read the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit from the Acts of the Apostles, I think our God has a sense of humour! It seems that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early Christians at Pentecost was by no means a quiet or gentle event; it was a noisy, chaotic and somewhat disorganised affair! Certainly, I think that if many of us were given the responsibility for the official “launch” of the Church (which is what Pentecost is about), I think we would organise it far more efficiently – noises, tongues of fire, people speaking different languages – no way!

The poem “Pentecost” by the 19th century poet William Blake captures some of the power of the scene, with the repetition of the phrase “catch fire”. When a piece of news or gossip gets around quickly, we say it “spreads like wildfire”! By its very nature, fire jumps from one thing to another, burning more intensely the more it spreads as was evidenced in the West of Ireland recently.

The symbol of tongues of fire is apt then. The arrival of the Holy Spirit propels the apostles from the room where they were huddled out into the street. They cannot contain themselves as they begin to preach and spread the Good News far and wide – like wildfire.


Perhaps what Luke (the author of Acts) wants to convey to us is that God does not always act in a way that is humanly reasonable. God does not meet our expectations! Our God is a God of surprises! The feast of Pentecost should teach us to be open to the wonderful and amazing things God can do in our lives. There is noise, chaos, many different languages in our world and in our Church today and as disciples of Jesus, this is our time. We are called to engage and embrace this diversity in a positive way. The Catholic Church is at its best when it is precisely that – truly Catholic, with a welcome and a place for everyone. So, let us not be afraid of entering into the confusion of our times – there we will find God.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Be Patient!


I find the readings at Mass during this Easter season joyful and life-giving. Aside from the beautiful Gospel readings on Sundays there are other very interesting passages. They are very relevant to those of us who live in the Western World where the Church faces many pressures.

The Acts of the Apostles reminds us that times were difficult also for the first Christians. The early Church faced challenges from within and without. Challenges from within were of hypocrisy (Acts 5: 1–3); murmuring (Acts 6 – 1) and doctrinal questions (Acts 15: 1). The major external challenge was one of persecution (Acts: 4: 1-3; 5: 17–18). The challenges that face us as we follow Christ are both internal and external. Persecution of Christian minorities is all too common today. The threat to Christians and Christian places of worship is now a worldwide phenomenon.

In reflecting on the readings of these weeks I also think of the question, “Who will roll away the stone?” posed by the women on their way to the tomb. I find an answer from St. Paul when he reflects on the struggle that is part of human life in Romans 7, telling us, “It is the Lord!”

The stone is rolled away and we are opened up to new possibilities, new life and seeing things radically differently. This is accomplished by God. Our task is to allow it to be done.

The strange thing is that on entering the tomb the women learn that Jesus is risen, but at this stage they don’t see or experience the risen Lord. They must wait awhile. For each of us Jesus may be risen but we may have to wait awhile before we come to experience this as a lived reality.

Patience is an important virtue for all of us but especially for men and women who are discerning religious life. Maybe, when discerning our future, we too must be patient until we see and experience where the risen Lord may be leading us.

Perhaps, as we approach the Church’s Holy Week when Our Lord himself was crucified, we, his followers shouldn’t expect to be treated otherwise. With hope, we await the Resurrection.

P.S. I will be in Rome for our Chapter Assembly ‘til the end of April. The blogging brother will return in early May. A Blessed Easter to all my followers! For further updates on our assembly cf. www.presentationbrothers.org/utube channel link.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Living forward – understanding afterwards


Not a day goes by without our being confronted with the reality of death. We receive phone calls informing us of the death of friends, relatives and colleagues. We reach out to neighbours who have lost a loved one through illness, suicide or accident. Our T.V news networks show us graphic pictures of terrorist atrocities that claim scores of lives. In the face of all that, this story assures us that God’s love, reflected in so many ways by prophets, saints and ordinary, decent human beings, is stronger than death. The clear message is that God favours not death but resurrection.

Coming as it does on the Sunday before Holy Week, the gospel story of the raising of Lazarus from the grave is effectively a preview of the resurrection of Jesus. I often wondered, did Jesus know of events in advance? Was it all kind of “mapped-out?” I don’t think so. He felt deeply the pain of people and he took part fully – he was not like an actor passively going through the motions.
Did Jesus know as he stood (4 days late) before the tomb of Lazarus – “that will be me not long from now? A stone, even a few guards and precious few to mourn.” Did he know how things would turn out?

I always like the child’s statement in class who said that this is a story of Jesus bringing us back to life no matter how “stinky” we become. I agree. It would be nice if we realised that there is life before death as well as after. I do not believe that we have to wait until our physical death to experience resurrection on some level. If you like, our entire life is a series of deaths and resurrections.

What Jesus is asking us to do in this story is to look at living and dying in a completely new way. We have to look at it not just in reference to the last day, but in relation to the present, to the deaths we experience in our daily lives, when we lose people close to us, when our close relationships fall apart, when family members just don’t come home, when others laugh at us, when we fail to live up to our own values and expectations, when our human frailty gets the better of us.

Belief in Jesus and his message strengthens us to see all those kinds of “deaths” in a new way. That kind of trust and belief in Jesus helps us to see that resurrection is already here. So, instead of complaining, instead of lapsing into grief, depression and despair, I am encouraged by Jesus to trust the power of God’s love at work in me and see God’s love and unfailing source of renewal and life. The words that Jesus addresses to Lazarus: “Unbind him, let him go free” are meant to resound beyond today’s reading into my life. Jesus invites me out of the graves in which I can so easily bury myself; out of the graves of anger, self-pity, bitterness, desire to get even, or anything else that binds me from experiencing the richness of God’s life and love.

As a consequence to that, as a disciple of Jesus, I am urged to free other people from their graves of embarrassment, shame, fear, addiction, or whatever is keeping them bound up without freedom, life or hope.