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18th Mar, 2019

athgarvan

Patrick's Way may be the best way to live as a Christian in Ireland today.

To say that St. Patrick was successful in his mission is an understatement — up to recently, Ireland, Catholicism, and St. Patrick were synonymous — and the key to his success was in his ability to interact with the non-Christian native culture. It seems today that many Christians in Ireland are beginning to feel like aliens in a strange land, that we are inhabiting an increasingly non-Christian culture. So perhaps Patrick's way is what we need for modern times. Can we not only survive but thrive in the particular cultural moment in which we find ourselves?

He never separated himself: He was British, they were Irish. He was Christian, they were pagan. His mission was to understand the people who had enslaved him, live with them, and show them a better way. For us, this means continuing to interact with and befriend all types of people, and to treat them with good faith as people we’d like to know. He considered the opportunity to interact with a foreign culture to be a blessing and a gift. He didn’t bewail and bemoan how terrible the Irish were. He didn’t pine for the good ol’ days back in Britain. He didn’t consider himself unlucky to be in the challenging situation of living in a hostile culture. The diversity of our daily interactions can be a positive experience, an opportunity to live an authentic, attractive, happy life as an example.

He remained faithful to his identity and beliefs: Everyone knew he was a Christian, and he took extra care that his way of life expressed his values. He had self-assurance and courage to live a life that looked very different than that of his neighbours. Over time, people come to respect it when people live their lives with conviction.

He never wrote anyone off: We never know what’s in a person’s heart. If we continue to show them respect and understanding, it isn’t impossible they might have a gradual, or even sudden, change of heart.  Patrick had a clear sense of his mission and values, a willingness to share that with a hostile culture, and a commitment to interact with that culture in an authentic way. We are in much the same position that he was. Is not this a path of how to live in a non-Christian culture while influencing it for the better?

Based on some thoughts by Geoffrey Bruno

16th Mar, 2019

athgarvan

EVIL

Christchurch Mosque attack.

Do you believe in evil? Do you see it as a personal spirit (Satan, Devil) or as an impersonal   force? Today we seem to live in a world of temptations. How should we react to them?

Last Sunday in the Catholic church gospel reading, we are told that Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the desert: 'If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread' - to use his divine power for his own advantage. And then to seek earthly 'glory and authority' by throwing himself down from the temple.

Jesus rejected these temptations but is clearly giving us to understand that he is treating this evil spirit as real and personal.

Picture: Felix Joseph Barrias

15th Mar, 2019

athgarvan

Dialogue with Religious Organizations

Article 17 of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007), provides a legal basis for an open, transparent and regular dialogue between the EU institutions and churches, religious associations. It states: The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States. Paragraph 3 calls on EU institutions to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.

Yesterday, European Union President Juncker in dialogue with EU Bishops said:

"In today’s diverse Europe, many different churches, religions and philosophical organisations make an important contribution to society. The European Union institutions are committed to an open dialogue with these religious and non-confessional organisations, and the European Parliament actively engages with them on EU policies".

Someone should bring this article of the Lisbon Treaty to the attention of the Government of the Republic of Ireland!

12th Mar, 2019

athgarvan

Mother's Day

March 31st is Parent 1 Day this year!

In France it's been voted through parliament, on first reading, that the national education system should delete 'Mother' and 'Father' in all official documentation, substituting gender-neutral words instead.
It's an innovation that was first proposed in Justin Trudeau's Canada, and it has arisen in legal language in Britain too. Valérie Petit, the French deputy who brought forward the amendment, claims that the change is so that "no one should feel excluded from this society by backward thinking.

11th Mar, 2019

athgarvan

LENT AND PENANCE

For some time now I have been eating less and less meat. Why? I don't know. But Catholics, traditionally, 'give up' something during the Lenten season as a form of penance or reconciliation. Cutting down on food or drink intake during the season is common nowadays even if not motivated by religious beliefs.

This year Catholics are being urged to make what is probably an even harder sacrifice during the Lenten season - switching off their mobile phones! People are being urged to 'reconnect with their families' by talking rather than texting and browsing online. Young people will soon lose the ability to talk at all they're so engrossed in their mobiles.

Even McDonalds, I understand, seeing a drop in sales of burgers during Lent, have  copped on and are offering a filet-o-fish. I must try it!

3rd Mar, 2019

athgarvan

GODPARENTS

Are you a Christian? Do you know who your godparents were? Have you yourself ever been asked to 'stand for a child'?

A Godparent is a person who presents a child at baptism and promises to take some responsibility for the child being brought up under Christian principles. In practice, however, in Ireland today, the expectations of godparents sadly appear to play  a merely honorary role.

Do godparents have legal rights? No. The role of the godparent is a spiritual one, without any legal obligations or responsibilities.

In today's world, however, wouldn't it be nice to see godparents play a more positive role in helping parents to raise young people in the faith in which they have been baptized.

I wonder would a more pro-active involvement by godparents have lessened the number of child abuse cases we have witnessed?

20th Feb, 2019

athgarvan

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

EuroMillions is a lottery that is played across nine European countries. Draws take place on Tuesday and Friday evenings with a minimum guaranteed jackpot of €17 million which can roll over up to an impressive €190 million.
The first draw was held on February 2004 in Paris. A standard EuroMillions ticket costs €2.50.
The odds of winning the jackpot are something like 1:140 million. The jackpot is tax-free! Last night the jackpot was 175 million euro and was won by an Irish player.

Ireland has been very, very lucky in EuroMillions.

July 2005: Dolores McNamara, won Ireland’s first EuroMillions jackpot worth €115million.
July 2008: €15million jackpot was won.
June 2009: A family syndicate won €29.4million.
June 2013: Over €187million.
September 2013: Over €25million was shared with a player in Spain.
April 2014: €15million was claimed.
September 2014: €86.7million was won by a syndicate.
January 2016: A syndicate of friends won over €66million.
July 2016: Twenty-two Dublin Bus staff won €23.8million.
January 2017: €88.5million was won.
July 2017: A syndicate won a €29million.
December 2017: €38.9million was won.
June 2018: Syndicate shared €17million.
January 2019: €130 million from a ticket they bought on New Year’s Day.
Last night Ireland’s biggest ever lottery win of €175 million was announced with the lucky winner yet-unknown.

11th Feb, 2019

athgarvan

DOES RELIGION MAKE ONE HAPPY?

Or are Christians, especially, scared to be happy? What is happiness anyway? The primary function of religion isn’t to make you happy. It is to draw you closer to God and make you a better person. In addition, every spiritual writer, every great novelist, every thinker worth their salt knows that sometimes we only become better people through suffering, which anyone who has ever cared about someone else has experienced.

But lots of research seems to show that religious people happen to be happier on average anyway. Happiness is a very subjective thing, of course, and we can argue about the cause and effect of the link till the cows come home. Nevertheless, the research shows what it shows.

A new international survey (The Pew Research Centre for Religion and Public Life) asks people to rate their level of happiness and then cross-correlates it with their level of religiosity, from unaffiliated, to active and inactive members of religious groups. With only few exceptions, the actively religious are the most likely to be “very happy” no matter what the nationality. Culture also clearly plays a very big part. Mexicans are more  likely to say they are “very happy” than Russians!

The happiness level of religious people has nothing directly to do with the truth or otherwise of religious claims, of course, except to this extent: if religion is true to human nature you would probably expect it to make us happier, on average, even if that is not its primary purpose and is only an unguaranteed side effect.

But it totally contradicts the accusation that religion is repressive and against human nature and should therefore makes us less happy, on average. Yes, repressive forms of religion exist, but if the general accusation that religion is repressive was true, then this latest survey should not have found such a consistent connection between happiness and religious practice.

8th Feb, 2019

athgarvan

Does ancestry influence how I live out my life and faith?

We all have ancestors. Are they still related to us in some kind  of conscious way?  Do they bring vital support to fulfill one's potential here on earth?

Looking back to our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, we can often trace our physical features, strengths, and weaknesses through the family line. In the same way, we can observe character traits and spiritual influences that span the generations. A religious heritage may offer a sturdy foundation of virtue and faithfulness, but deeds such as anger, lust, and bitterness set destructive patterns that need to be recognized and overcome.

I suppose the most important and most challenging way to honour ancestors is to fulfill my personal potential and life’s purpose for me here on earth. My culture maintains that I have a unique destiny or karma to fulfill. Ancestors can be seen as allies in this process. They can help us embody our potential in this life and, when we have lost touch with a sense of greater purpose, remembrance of ancestors may bring about life changes aimed to jar us into greater contact with our soul’s longings.

Ironically, the very things that could drag us down are often part of our inheritance from family ancestors. Alcoholism, patterns of physical and sexual abuse, emotional cruelty and dysfunction, religious extremism, racism, sexism, and a thousand and one other poisons can all be passed down.

6th Feb, 2019

athgarvan

DEATH

Death has been on my mind a lot recently. Why? I know not.

Death, be not proud

-John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

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