It was Saint Paul more than anyone else who showed what man is and how great is the nobility of our nature, as well as what capacity for virtue this human animal has. Every day he advanced in stature, every day he fought with ever-renewed keenness against the dangers threatening him; he showed this when he said: ‘I forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.’ When he was expecting to die he summoned others to share his joy, saying, ‘You also should be glad and rejoice with me.’ Again he actually leaped with joy at the dangers and insults and every dishonour which pressed on him, as he wrote to the Corinthians, ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions.’ He called these the weapons of righteousness, showing that from them the greatest benefits are reaped.
Therefore he was always undefeated by his enemies. Everywhere he was beaten, insulted, and reviled. He treated it all as though it were a triumphant procession setting up trophies of victory everywhere on earth, glorying in them, giving thanks to God, saying, ‘Thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us to triumph.’ So he sought dishonour and insults in his preaching of the gospel more readily than we seek honours. He sought death more than we seek life, and poverty more than we seek riches; and he looked for work to do more than others look for rest. It was not simply that he looked for more, he looked for much more.
There was one thing, and one thing only that he feared and shunned, and that was to give offence to God. Just as there was one thing he longed for, to please God.
He was rich with the love of Christ which was the greatest of all things to him. While he had this, he reckoned himself the most blessed of men. Without it he had no wish to be numbered among princes and rulers and powers. Possessing love he wished to be among the lowliest of men, among those being chastised, rather than without love to be among the loftiest and honoured. There was one torment for him, to fall away from this love. That for him was hell, that was damnation. That was the sum of all evils.
Even so to find this love was joy. This to him was life, it was the whole world, his angel, things present, things to come, the kingdom and the promise. This was the sum of all blessings. Anything else which was not concerned with this he regarded neither as painful nor as pleasant. Things visible he considered of no more worth than withered grass. Tyrants or peoples breathing fury seemed to him like gnats. Death, torture, and a thousand torments he thought of as child’s play, provided only he could endure something for Christ’s sake
A reading from a homily by St John Chrysostom Hom 2 on St Paul.
It says in the Bible Alive for 25 January: ‘At the very heart of everything that Paul wrote and did was his lucid and clear understanding of what happened to him on the road to Damascus’. Everyone has this moment of conversion when we were going one way and we turned and went another. Why? It says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1428 that it is a movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first. It happened to me. It happens to you. That moment should be nurtured, remembered, and dwelt on often as Paul could not be separated from that moment he met Jesus.
Today the dawn broke on another year. We look out on it as it stretches ahead of us, full of hope, and we pray and ask for grace. As we are all too aware, the passage of time is relentless and unstoppable. The young urge time to go faster that they may grow up more quickly and do all the things they want to do. The more mature among us simply do not know where the years have gone. Time is a mystery, for sure. However, there is one thing that we know for certain about time and that is that
“when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (and daughters).”
Time itself changed forever when, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born to the young virgin, Mary of Nazareth, in the small town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. Time itself became charged with the very presence of God in a new and special way.
We owe Mary, our Mother in Faith, a debt of gratitutde we can never truly repay. For with her embrace of God’s plan, with her ‘Yes’, with her co-operation and docility to God’s will, the plan of God’s salvation could begin. Today, lift up your voice in praise and thanksgiving to God the Father for Mary, for through the fruit of her womb we receive our dignity as children of God and are privileged to have the Spirit of God living in our hearts. Mary’s obedience overthrow Eve’s disobedience and opened the way for Jesus’ obedience to overthrow the disobedience of Adam and therefore Satan’s hold over the human race.
Cling to this truth today; hold on to it, bring it to mind and pray over it because the whole gospel message hinges on it. We do not know what the New Year holds; we cannot know what it will bring. What we can know is that we face whatever comes as the beloved children of a gracious and merciful heavenly Father, who was willing to sacrifice his own beloved Son so that no one single person on this earth would perish.
‘Everything comes from love, all is ordained for our salvation, God does nothing without this goal in mind.’ (St Catherine of Siena).
Taken from Bible Live for 1st January 2020 www.alivepublishing.co.uk
This great mystery of your love, of how you come to us, each of us, of how you come to share our lives, in spite of all our unworthiness, in spite of our preoccupation with so many worldly things!
This indescribable wonder of how You, Lord of all, have a place for each one of us in your heart, in your kingdom, and how you wish to share your life with us, your divinity, and of how you wish us to share our lives with you to find a place for you in our hearts!
Such is the infinite wonder of your unbounded love for us.
This is the inside page of a little booklet called Light of the World – a treasure for anyone and written by The Prayer Trust www.theprayertrust.org.uk.
These thoughts appear in the front cover of the booklet called Light of the World by THE PRAYER TRUST www.theprayertrust.org.uk.
Albert Einstein was once at a lecture in
New York when, as it finished, a student who wanted to go and study for a
doctorate asked him what area of study he could recommend. Einstein replied, “Study prayer; we have got
to find out more about prayer.” The student, himself a scientist, was
gobsmacked; he thought the Nobel Prize winner and world famous physicist would
point him towards nuclear studies or further work on the atom but no, he
Today we encounter Jesus’ teaching on
prayer, which is more radical, challenging and life-changing than we may at
first realize because it encourages an approach or attitude to prayer which we
might not share or even appreciate. The Lord Jesus positively and unambiguously
encourages a bold, confident, even brazen attitude towards approaching God in
prayer. The Lord wants us to cultivate a way of praying that is hopeful,
expectant and sure of God’s goodness and generosity.
No prayer captures this more beautifully
and perfectly than the Our Father, which the Lord himself taught us to
pray. The Our Father is the Magna Carta,
the blueprint, for all prayer. Despite
being so short and compact, it encapsulates the essence of prayer and the very
heart of our relationship with God. St Augustine said of the Our Father: “If
you run through the petitions of all holy prayers, I believe you will find
nothing that is not summed up and contained in the Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus further uses the story about a bold and
persistent neighbour, who has the hind of a rhino and simply refuses to take no
for an answer, to reveal that God the Father is not like the unwilling
neighbour, but is a generous, kind and benevolent provider for his children’s
‘Who is God?’ and ‘What is God like?’ are
the most important questions we can ask.
Today’s Gospel sheds a dazzling light on these eternal questions. We
discover who God is more through prayer than any other spiritual exercise, for
it is in prayer that the Spirit works in us to expand not just our minds but
our hearts, our imagination and our horizons.
Lord’s Prayer is the best of all prayers. All prayer requires five excellent
qualities which we find here – our prayer needs to be confident, ordered,
suitable, devout and humble.’ (St Thomas Aquinas)
Extract from Bible Alive for Sunday 28th
July 2019 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
I can no longer believe
in any kind of external God who will shrink my tumour just because I bombard
him with prayers, pilgrimages, sacrifices and repeated religious routines. But
I believe more and more in the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the love-energy of
whatever I’m called to endure, to suffer, to accept and to be transformed by.
As you read these pages of personal meditation you will notice this recurring
insight as I try to cope as best I can with my current situation. The key to so much of our dis-ease, our
wisest religions insist, is that we want life to be other than the way it is,
“Wisdom begins”, wrote Jean Vanier, “when we stop wanting to fight the reality
of the present as if it should not exist, and start to accept it as it
is”. As I’m swiftly learning to my cost,
the secret of Christianity, too, is to learn how to live as one with the daily
unfolding of what happens. No more, no
less. Rather than asking for miracles
from above, my prayer now must be about how to gladly accept what is happening
in the here and now. This insight, in
Buddhist teaching too, is on the Noble Truths about how to lessen our
As these reflections flow
in and out of my consciousness, I can’t help wondering how these thoughts
affect my current darkness and fear. The
nearest I can get to some kind of peace is to continue surrendering
whole-heartedly to that all-embracing Reality, that river of love, that God
beyond God, that whole divine milieu that holds and caresses everything that
lives, everything that grows, everything that keeps happening at every second
of evolution: personal and universal.
Richard Rohr reminds us
that this kind of total trust is achieved through a moment by moment choice and
surrender. This reminder always gives me hope. Total trust takes time. Too
often we think that the grace of sacramental vision, of the new way of seeing,
of the desired intimacy with God, comes suddenly and then stays with us. In a
sense that is true; all we have to do is to become aware of this sublime gift.
But awareness takes time. God’s incarnate grace is, in a sense, bound by the
laws, times and tempo of an evolving and developing Creation.
St Paul mentions the
light of God’s eyes that we try to reflect each day until, after much practice,
we begin to become the light itself. Ours is an Incarnation-inspired
spirituality. It has its own timing. We
awaken slowly from the sleep of our limited conditioning to know the
transforming potential that is latent within us all. A huge problem is that this rude awakening
usually comes with an All-Mighty and tragic shock. If this is true, does it make you desire to
take your life really seriously before being forced to do so when the bad times
Dancing to my death with the love called cancer. The last masterpiece from the bestselling author Daniel O’Leary
This book was written when Fr Daniel O’Leary was dying. I bought the book because I had watched some of the Astonishing Secret which is a book and a video. Coming to Dancing to my death – I found it very heavy but the chapters are short and often quote other writers and has also stories in it. It is well worth reading and I am sure you can get the feeling from this 26th chapter that what I say is true. Carmen
The only begotten Son of God, wishing to enable us to share in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that by becoming man he might make us gods.
Moreover, he turned the whole of our nature, which he assumed, to our salvation. For he offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation; and he shed his blood for our ransom and our cleansing, so that we might be redeemed from wretched captivity and cleansed from all sins.
Now in order that we might always keep the memory of this great act of love, he left his body as food and his blood as drink, to be received by the faithful under the appearances of bread and wine.
How precious and how wonderful is this banquet, which brings us salvation and is full of all delight!What could be more precious? It is not the meat of calves or kids that is offered, as happened under the Old Law; at this meal Christ, the true God, is set before us for us to eat. What could be more wonderful than this sacrament?
No sacrament contributes more to our salvation than this; for it purges away our sins, increases our virtues, and nourishes our minds with an abundance of all spiritual gifts.
It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that it may be beneficial to all, as it was instituted for the salvation of all.
Finally, no one is capable of expressing the delight of this sacrament, through which the sweetness of the Spirit is tasted at its source, and the memory is celebrated of that surpassing love which Christ showed in his passion.
And so, in order to imprint the immensity of this love more deeply in the hearts of the faithful, at the Last Supper, when the Lord had celebrated the Pasch with his disciples and was about to pass from this world to his Father, he instituted this sacrament as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It fulfilled the types of the Old Law; it was the greatest of the miracles he worked; and he left it as a unique consolation to those who were desolate at his departure.
This reading is from the works of St Thomas Aquinas OPUS 57,1-4
The experience of the love flowing to us from the Father and the Son and back from us to the Father and the Son is common to all Christians.
This enables us to live in unity with one another and to love one another.
None the less, we must also exercise our own wills. We must decide to love one another and overcome all disunity between us, drawing upon the power of love living within us, the power of the Spirit.
By relying on the divine love indwelling within us and by drawing on its power, we shall attract others to believe in Jesus for they will see Jesus, living within us, as the source of our unity and our love for one another.
“At eventide they
will examine you in love.” – St John of the Cross, Spiritual Sentences and
Maxims, n. 57.
six of them arrived simultaneously at the Gate of Heaven. The angel Penuel, who
was on duty at that time, received them in his usual, efficient manner.
Apparently he had done his homework because, as he approached each one of them
in turn for a warm embrace, he rattled off each one’s biodata.
he said, spotting a rather youngish man with a camera hanging from his neck,
“Carlos de la Cruz. Chilean journalist. Atheist. Fought against political
tyranny. Died in jail. Yes, very nice. Welcome to heaven. Oh, by the way, you
will not have much use for your camera here. Too much light, you know,
especially when you come in the vicinity of God.”
man did not say anything, still under the shock of having discovered that there
was a God, after all.
angel went on to the next arrival.
Svenson. Swedish. Lutheran. Unmarried. Spent your life taking
care of an invalid brother. Welcome, my dear, welcome!”
girl obviously felt a bit lost, not having any more to push her brother’s
wheelchair everywhere she went. She seemed shy and quiet, but very capable.
pass on to the figure next to her.
M’Butu. Congolese. Animist. Spent your
life trying to preserve some endangered species of fauna in your country.
Welcome, dear brother.”
man quietly received his welcome with the natural dignity of a prince.
Apparently, he was quite used to dealing with spirits.
Divarkar. Indian. Buddhist. As a bonze you confined your life within the
austere walls and duties of a monastery. You are most welcome, brother.”
monk bowed slightly, one hand held upright in front of his chest in the
Buddhist sign of peace.
Yamamoto. Japanese. No religion. Artist. Painted birds and flowers all your
life. May you enjoy our own birds of paradise, dear brother.”
man bowed deeply several times, overwhelmed by the angel’s gracious manner.
Meanwhile Penuel had turned towards the last of the party.
Cardinal Rampolla. Catholic. Spent most of your life in the Vatican Curia. Died
as a Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. Welcome,
Cardinal was a bit surprised not to receive the red carpet treatment he had
grown used to, but he kept his peace, being a born diplomat.
the angel said, stepping back and overlooking the whole group, “the five of you
may enter immediately. As for you”, he added, speaking to the Cardinal, “I am
afraid there will be a slight delay. But, I assure you, your stay in Purgatory
should not be too long.”
Cardinal was astounded. Had he heard clearly?
you saying,” he asked in his cultured voice, “that these – these – persons are to take precedence over me,
a Cardinal, a prince of the Church?”
yes,” Penuel answered blandly. “Is there
Cardinal swallowed hard, trying to keep his patience.
you think,” he asked as suavely as he could, “that this is pushing ecumenism a
bit too far?”
at all, my dear brother,” the angel answered innocently. “You see, these –
persons, as you call them, have amply deserved to inherit eternal bliss,
whereas you have not. At least, not
why not?” the Cardinal asked in an acid tone. He really felt affronted by the
the angel replied patiently, “they have dedicated their whole lives to loving
someone or something selflessly. They
are what we call here True Lovers. And
here love is the only thing that counts, you know. Whereas you dedicated most
of your energies to furthering your career, using not-too-loving expedients to
climb the ecclesiastical ladder – if you know what I mean.”
Cardinal blushed. He knew what Penuel meant. And he had to admit that his
ambition had often gotten the better of his Christian charity. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat cheated.
does it count for nothing that I belong to the Catholic religion, the only true
faith?” He was mentally comparing himself to his companions – whose religious
background seemed to him quite unsatisfactory.
really,” Penuel answered kindly. “Up here orthodoxy does not have a very high
priority. What impresses us here is rather the way a person lives. As for being
a Catholic, well – that in itself is not a recommendation.”
Jesus Christ was a Catholic!” the Cardinal exploded. This conversation was
getting him nowhere and his temper was getting short.
us say,” the angel said with infinite tact, “that Jesus Christ was a reformed
Jew. The term Catholic, as you probably know, is not even found in the Bible.”
other five persons present, although not understanding the finer points of this
exchange, were nevertheless aware that their poor companion in fine scarlet
robes would be left behind if something was not done. And so, being genuinely
loving people, they began to intercede for him. Carlos de la Crus, the atheist
journalist, was the first to speak up.
Penuel,” he said with his charming Latin smile, “you know I never liked priests
very much. But this one doesn’t seem a bad fellow. Why don’t you give him a chance and let him
in with us?”
the others joined in, adding their fervent plea to that of the journalist. Even
the quiet Ingrid interjected her soft appeal amid the chorus of her companions.
angel was secretly pleased. This kind of thing happened all the time at the
Gate of Heaven and it enabled a fair number of dubious characters to be
admitted on the insistence of their companions. A routine case of the Communion
of Saints. God always applauded this sort of thing. However, a minimum of
justice still had to be preserved.
well! Very well!” he shouted over the clamour of the group. “Just give me a
chance to make the proper arrangements!”
all calmed down, curious to see what would happen.
right, Luigi.” The Cardinal winced interiorly at being addressed with such
familiarity. But he knew he might as well get used to it because in heaven
people did not seem to be very impressed by titles. “Since you never deserved
to be made a Cardinal in the first place, you just cannot enter heaven dressed
like one. In fact, you will be allowed to go in with your companions only
because their merits will cover your spiritual nakedness, as it were. And, in
order to signify this, you will have to exchange your clothes with their.”
the Cardinal was aghast at this turn of events, but what could he do? Besides, deep down in his heart of hearts, he
knew he had a lot of things on his conscience he was not too proud of. So he
gave his precious episcopal ring to Ingrid and took hers (it was her mother’s
wedding ring, which she had inherited). He traded his purple cassock and cape
for Raju’s saffron robe (this was done discreetly, behind a cloud). He gave his
fine Italian leather shoes to Seseko and put on the latter’s old sandals. He
exchanged his skullcap for Hideki’s straw hat, and his pectoral cross for
Carlos’ camera, which hung at his neck by a leather strap.
so, on that day, five True Lovers entered triumphantly in Heaven – followed by
a shamefaced Cardinal in a rather strange attire. Nevertheless, once again love
had had the last word.
They were talking about how late Easter is this year. ‘Couldn’t be much later’ said one. ‘At least the evenings are brighter’, said another. ‘We won’t have the Easter fire in the dark’, another added.
You’d wonder what it’s all about – empty tombs and weeping women and despairing friends. I wondered too.
It’s about hope that never fades, that the most lifeless thing in creation is not dead. that means that there’s life everywhere. In failures, in shame and guilt, in illness. The life may lead to good health or to peace of mind and heart. It’s about God in Jesus taking care of everyone I worry about: And worries about children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Something that keeps me praying for people whose lives are really troubled. It’s all about prayer that’s always answered and the God that forgives us all, and helps us forgive each other. And much more besides which will unify us in the weeks to come. Easter began with creation in a garden and the garden has been replanted as a place for refreshment and peace.
Yes, couldn’t be much later and when you think of it, isn’t it worth waiting for?
Donal Neary SJ (editor Sacred Heart Messenger) found in the Parish of Ballisodare 28th April