Dolores Keane sings “Lion in a cage” – a tribute to Nelson Mandela who died on December 5th, 2013
Some gathered quotes from Mandela are gathered here
Mandela remembered ….
Dolores Keane sings “Lion in a cage” – a tribute to Nelson Mandela who died on December 5th, 2013
Some gathered quotes from Mandela are gathered here
Mandela remembered ….
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
RTE’s “Would you believe” programme ran a feature on Fr Alec last year. The piece above is taken from that and the show, in its entirety, may be viewed below.
Check out @CMcHughPhoto’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/CMcHughPhoto/status/402736152664219648
Another year over …..
Wasn’t it John Healy who wrote about the tragedy of rural decline in a book entitled “No One Shouted Stop”?
“STOP”! If today is asking us to do anything it’s to stop and look again at the man on the Cross and to search for and find in the bleakness of that moment the one we call “KING”. It may not be an instant recognition but it’s there to be found, somewhere in the dialogue of the two thieves – one of whom cried “STOP”. Stop the sarcasm, the taunting, the mocking – “this man has done nothing wrong”. Nor has he ….. Recognition of a centurion who, having seen how he died said, “In truth, this man was a Son of God”. Recognition in a veil of the temple being torn in two …
We have celebrated the “YEAR OF FAITH” that comes to an end today. What impact has it had? What impact on YOU? The logo contained a boat, the great image of Church and of voyage from one shore to another. How did we make the crossing? Do we feel we’ve travelled at all? Did we un-berth the boat or leave it tied at the pier?
It’s that sort of a day. It’s a day for honest and deliberate reflection. Little can be gained by stepping away from this year if we don’t allow for some reflection. Joy should be part of that – joy and gratitude for a year of fidelity to prayer and worship, community and church. Joy – in our being there with and for people when “Calvary” drew all too close and real for them in recent months. There should be in us a sense of living faith in our celebrating the Sacraments this year; Baptisms, First Penance, First Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Anointing of The Sick and maybe here and there an Ordination. We had these moments because our “KING”, Christ The King, journeyed with us.
Though celebrating Christ The King, our day is not spent in Royal Palace or on Celebrity Red Carpets but in the here and now of life in this parish, this place and at this time. The KING before us is practically naked, blood stained, battered and bruised. He is riddled with doubts and hurt “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” He has the taste of bitter vinegar on his lips and the taunting of a mocking crowd in his ears. He so needed that recognition and prayer of the man by his side “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. He is KING though and that’s the truth we’re called to accept today.
The King calls us to service and recognition. He calls us to be men, women and children of faith, vision, compassion and courage. He needs us to speak out, to whisper or if need be shout “STOP” when things are going in the wrong direction. He needs us to change the flow and direction of an uncertain and possibly non-reflective age. He needs us to come away from the foot of the Cross having recognised there-upon, the presence and love of a gracious and giving King.
I’m not a great soccer fan! This video caught my eye though. I don’t know where it happened but the video sort of speaks for itself. The goalie, about to take a kick out, has a loose lace on his boot. One of the opposing team steps forward, bends down and ties his bootlace. The kindness is acknowledged and the free taken but the ref blows up for a free for time-wasting. Players of both teams tell him what happened but he refused to accept any objection and insisted the free be taken …. The rest, is in the video …..
(Another of The Furrow installments!!)
Within walking distance of Ground Zero, New York, is found a memorial to the victims of the Irish Famine. It’s an amazing piece of work – approaching it from one side you see a high wall with place names, quotations from accounts of the famine, statistics and details of the impact it had on our country. The counties and many place names of Ireland are included. Many might see this as the memorial but, in reality, that’s only the backdrop. It is literally the reverse side of the intended memorial – yes, of course, part and parcel of the design but you could almost say a “lean-to” to the main focus of the memorial.
The memorial is best approached from the other side and, it’s on that approach, the reality is best displayed. It is a fallen down cottage, nested on a little hill that gives life to hungry rushes, patches of grass and all that is familiar to anyone who has ever wandered through, never mind lived in rural Ireland. It’s so real. The cottage, taken stone by stone, from a townland in the parish of Attymass, Co. Mayo was re-birthed in its adopted surrounds of Battery Park, New York. Re-birthed like so many who travelled from Mayo and the other 31 counties of our country in search of new life and hope. As they went, they left the cottages behind and, in the words of another tune; “Castles tall, houses small, left alone, all fall down” – that’s what the memorial represents – the emptiness left behind, the falling in of the house, the quenching of the fire … stones left to crumble.
Surely that’s what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel passage. The admired temple, it too without love and left alone, will fall in on itself. It is truly dependant on people’s love – literally the movement of feet in prayerful attendance to keep it alive, relevant and fresh in the hearts and minds of people. If just looked at from a distance, admired as a piece of art, its full potential will not be reached. That house in Attymass was once a temple. Its kitchen table, the alar – its s rooms the sacristy, its door the entrance to a place of prayer and worship. Its floor the concrete kneeling board where family prayer found its launch and, its family, the congregation called to faithful service and mission. It emptied though, hunger and death – worry and emigration took a lasting toll.
It took a lot to transport that fallen cottage from its Attymass foundation but it sits well and speaks a sad but pride-filled message in its new setting. It took a keen eye to see the potential of that cottage to tell a story to people who might otherwise never hear. Whatever it took, it was worth it and necessary.
Is there, as we near the end of the Church’s Year of Faith, a call here to protect the building, not just admire it – to be partakers not just onlookers and to recognise the true beauty of our Church which, like the Famine Memorial in the shadow of the fallen and desecrated towers, is best approached from the other side where the view reminds us of home, calls us home and makes us better people? Is there a need for the imaginative and creative eye that can see us in a better setting where the story can be told?
Like the Mayo Cottage, the church in which we now gather has a story to tell also. As long as we gather to hear and share that story it will be safe, solid and present for in our gathering it is not left alone, it is not unloved – it lives and breathes.
Occasionally, Fr Ronan Drury (Editor of “The Furrow”) asks me to contribute homily material for the publication. Most recently he asked me to submit some homilies for the month of November. This is the homily for 32nd Sunday of The Year
I’ve always had a feeling of pity for the youngest brother!! I’m sure emigration must have crossed his mind!
It seems to me that today’s passage has less to do with the story of the seven brothers and more to do with our understanding of resurrection. A clear divide existed then, as it does today, between those who believe in life beyond the grave and those who don’t. Even for those who believe, there can be a varying understanding of what form it will take. Will it be life as we know it now or a totally different existence?
This is something I’ve wondered about, not least since my parents died. Like all my family, and indeed the families of all who have died where there is a belief in resurrection, Heaven and a “new day”, I hope to one day see my parents again. That said, I have wondered what it will be like. My mother, in particular, had a number of difficult years before her death, with her mobility and alertness of mind profoundly affected. If I am to see her again, is that the woman I see? I’d prefer to think of her in the full flush of youth, energy, love and fullness of life that her earlier years must have afforded her. Truth told, I didn’t really know her then. She was always my mother – older and wiser than me – and I’m not sure what version of her the afterlife might present. The one freshest in my mind is the mother I knew nearing her end, the mother I attended on the day she died but that’s not the image I want to hold on to. Likewise my father, and many who have died, changed over the years and age had its way with their looks, health and energy. What version of them does the “resurrection of the body” present? It’s a real question. At the end of the day, like much of the journey we walk in this life, the answer is beyond us. We rely, and continually so, on faith.
Jesus, in replying to the cynically charged question of the Saduccess, seeks to answer us too. He is saying that there is resurrection. We need have no doubt about that. He quotes the “burning bush” story and the recognition, in that moment, of famous giants of our past, still present and involved in all that was happening.
Could it be that we arrive at a sense of peace in the belief that there will be recognition for us? Maybe, like Mary Magdalene on that Sunday morning, resurrection will be revealed not in a face we instantly recognise but in the intonation of a name. That intonation, that intimacy of relationship will, I believe, answer our questions, unwrap the hidden mysteries of our faith and bring us “home” to the eternal truth that those we love, those we miss, continue to know us and whisper our names – to call out to us, “not to cling to them” but to have certainty that they are “caught up” in God and that we will be together again.
At day’s end, there are questions asked today whose answers are found and will only be truly answered in eternity.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions and to ponder these important issues. The hope for us is that we’re starting our questioning from a place where the line of the Creed is found:
“I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come. Amen”
Occasionally, Fr Ronan Drury (Editor of “The Furrow”) asks me to contribute homily material for the publication. Most recently he asked me to submit some homilies for the month of November. This is the homily for 31st Sunday of The Year
Yesterday we celebrated All Souls’ Day and, throughout this month, we will remember in a special, on-going and prayerful way all those gone before us “marked with the sign of faith”. In most of our churches and parishes, Altars reserve a special place for the names of our loved ones written on “November Lists” and there will be a variety of remembrance services held throughout the church to recall the lives of those who have died. It is, without doubt, a month as necessary as it is solemn, as hopeful as it is sad and as powerful as it is vulnerable. We do well to remember, to pray, to hear again those precious names and to find direction for our grief and onward journey.
Today we meet Zacchaeus, the low-sized tax collector who wanted desperately to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Feeling neither popular nor tall but anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was he climbed a sycamore tree, hid in its bark and branches and felt he was out of view. How wrong he was ….. What seemed hidden and closed was rendered wide open. The hidden one takes centre stage and is called, by Jesus, from the place of hiding into a deep, lasting and practical friendship – “I must stay at your house today ……”
That “Sycamore” tree speaks to me of casket and coffin. The branches of hiding are the closed and tightened lid. To all it may well seem the one is gone beyond viewing, beyond contact, beyond reach but not so for Jesus. Just as Zacchaeus is seen and called so also, the deceased. There is no hiding place from the Lord. He knows those who are anxious to see him. He knows those from your family, from our parish – from our present and past who have died – and invites them to join him in an eternal friendship.
It’s great the way Zacchaeus hurries from the tree. He knows he’s safe, knows he’s wanted and needed and that life will never be quite the same again. The sycamore was a temporary stop on an on-going journey of faith and discovery. Likewise – the coffin or casket.
Everybody didn’t rejoice with Zacchaeus of course. There were some who resented him, thought him incapable of change and not meriting this special attention. The “little man” knew all too well his faults and went about making amends. There’s no doubt that must have pleased the Lord greatly. “If I’ve cheated anyone ……” It wasn’t too late to make a change to wander a new way. God’s mercy is everlasting to all who call on him, who seek to know him and who journey with him. “Life is changed not ended.”
There’s something going on here, in this month of November, about letting the deceased rest in peace and letting them be “in God”. Something in the old saying about it not being right to speak “ill of the dead” and something too, in our own time, to acknowledge the need for change should it be required.
At the end of the day, the one who climbed the tree to get a bird’s eye view met the Lord face to face. He had nonetheless to have that desire in him – that “pilgrimage” that took him to the heights so that he could come down again, be transformed and raised to a new life.
In this month, we continue to pray for all gone before us in the belief they’ve been noticed in the Sycamore, called down and are now “at table” with The Lord.
Occasionally, Fr Ronan Drury (Editor of “The Furrow”) asks me to contribute homily material for the publication. Most recently he asked me to submit some homilies for the month of November. I was in Knock yesterday at a Day of Recollection for priests from the Tuam Province (Tuam, Achonry, Clonfert, Elphin, Galway and Galway) and it was nice that two of the homilies were mentioned to me by priests there – I thought I might include them here as well for anyone that might have an interest.
This is the homily for All Saints’ Day
I remember a priest of our diocese who used always name, in its entirety, the list of saints given in Eucharistic Prayer 1. He had a slow and solemn delivery and when he’d say “and all the saints”, you’d be inclined to ask “are there any you didn’t mention?” That list seems to be getting longer – soon to be added Pope John Paul 11 and Pope John XX111 – but maybe that’s no bad thing. Maybe we need to be reminded that saintliness is still in vogue and that good people are found in every generation and in every place.
A few years ago I was doing some work on the weekend parish bulletin – okay, a bit of last minute work – and it was the weekend of All Saints so I decided to consult Google for an image I might use. I simply typed in “ALL SAINTS” and every image presented to me was of four girls who make up the band of the same name! Even going down through the pages, I didn’t come across one religious image representing All Saints.
Could this be an all too sad sign of the times? Maybe X-FACTOR is the new creator of saints. Perhaps the “Judges” panel is the new assessor of miracles - not settling for three but rather the millions of albums and downloads that must be sold before a band is deemed to be worth its salt and deserving of a spot in the limelight.
Our “All Saints” though speak of countless people who lived good and faith-filled lives and are now numbered among the “Holy Ones” in God’s presence. We need to dig deep into all that is good and honest in us to recognise their story and imitate their life choices. They are, in absolute truth, our “role models”.
A slightly deeper “Google” dig, including the word “Day” with All Saints, brought forth a different set of images. Google did the trick though. What’s needed is there to be found and sometimes finding it involves just trying a bit harder and giving it a bit more time – adding another word!
The addition of the word “day” took me to images that spoke to and of the Feast Day we celebrate. Maybe it’s not an accident. Maybe “day” has to be synonymous with saintliness for it’s in the “daylight” we live at our most honest. St Paul told us to “cast off the works of darkness” (Rom 13:12). It’s certain that those remembered today lived life “in the day”.
Miracles are associated with saints. People who may never have known or met them benefit from their lives through miracle or cure and that link of benefit helps lead the sainted ones to the Church’s moment of recognition and canonisation. It is a lovely way of acknowledging the connectedness of the ages in our on-going story of faith and pilgrimage. We look to and learn from those gone before and they too are blessed in the remembrance.
Back to my friend of Eucharistic Prayer 1, who, in the opinion of many, is now numbered among the sainted ones, thank you for the listing the names and reminding us of our “Holy Past” and calling us to a faith-filled present.