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25th May, 2018

athgarvan

SILENCE

Are you good at silence? I find it very difficult. I hate sitting with confreres who sit in silence, not conversing at all. Silence makes my brain fill up with distractions.

Anyway, what is silence even for? Does it help you relax? Does it help you pray better? We're told that silence allows us rest in God. When I’m "with God" myself, I seem to be always occupying my mind with other things - examining my conscience, trying to remember what the heck he wants me to do next, about who needs my time, and how.

Maybe silence isn’t 'for' anything. Maybe we just need it, full stop. What’s so special about the mere absence of sensory stimulation? Maybe silence is better than much of the ‘noisy music’ being served up in so much of life today.

When was the last time you experienced true silence? Should we all make the effort to escape our noisy world and get some peace and quiet a bit more often? I tend to think of silence as an absence, a lack of noise, rather than a positive condition. Surely, silence isn't just not bad for your brain, actively good.

25th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

OUR CUCKOO

I was delighted to hear the Cuckoo sounding off at Curracloe (Wexford) today. Now I know that, inspite of all the recent rain, there is hope of a summer. The Cuckoo is a widespread visitor to Ireland from April to August.

Its song is probably one of the most recognisable and well-known of all Irish bird species but, despite its obvious song, the Cuckoo is infrequently seen and can be mistaken for a bird of prey such as a Sparrowhawk. It survives mainly on caterpillars and other insects.

The lazy little female lays her eggs in the nest of some other bird. At the appropriate moment, she flies down to the host's nest, pushes one egg out of the nest, lays an egg and flies off.

Our Cuckoos winter in central and southern Africa. Isn't that some flight!

A children's little ditty about the Cuckoo goes:

"The Cuckoo comes in April,

She sings her song in May,

She changes her tune in the month of June

And July she flies away".

21st Apr, 2018

athgarvan

ANSELM

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feastday of St. Anselm of Canterbury. Anselm was born in Aosta in Italy in or about 1033 AD. He was a philosopher and theologian. Following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, he found himself made bishop of Canterbury.

Perhaps his best known proposition was: Does faith seek understanding, or does understanding seek faith?

A very valid question in today's world. The Catholic view is that belief points us and brings us to insight.

Anselm died in Canterbury in 1109.

18th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

A prayer, by John O'Donohue, for those who, like myself, are pushing on!

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age           
Be transfigured.

May you be given wisdom for the eyes of your soul
To see this as a time of gracious harvesting.
May you have the passion to heal what has hurt you,
And allow it to come closer and become one with you.

May you have great dignity,
And a sense of how free you are,
Above all, may you be given the wonderful gift
Of meeting the eternal light that is within you.

May you be blessed;
And may you find a wonderful love
In your self for your self.

17th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

SENTIMENTALITY - or AN ETERNAL QUESTION?

Last Sunday, Pope Francis visited a poor parish on the outskirts of Rome. Before celebrating Mass at St. Paul of the Cross Church, he began taking questions from the youngest parishioners, including a little boy named Emanuele, who asked, "Is my father in heaven?" His father was an unbeliever. Emanuele approached the microphone, but then froze. "I can't do it," he kept saying. Pope Francis then told him: "Come and whisper it in my ear."

Pope Francis visited a poor parish on the outskirts of Rome on…
youtube.com

13th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

LETTER I WISH I HAD SENT ...

We all have our regrets.

Write a brief letter you regret not having written because you had not the opportunity or the courage, to someone who has now long passed away.

12th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

TRANSFORMATION

Eastertime.

It's that time of year again when we are encouraged to reflect on the meaning of resurrection in our own lives. To ask ourselves if we have a capacity to be transformed in some way. To take the first step out of the tomb of the past. To emerge from the prison of history with its faults and failures and secrets.

I can only believe in Christ's resurrection if I can see and experience transformations happening in and around me, in people, in society, in attitudes.

Do I ever see stones being rolled back?

11th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

GLOBALIZATION AND RELIGION

Globalization is the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence. Globalisation provides the chance to sell goods and services abroad.

Do we still need religion in a globalized world? Have religions any role to play in public life? I believe that religion cannot be separated from the process of globalization and globalization can be an enormous opportunity to spread a religious perspective on life. All religions—far from being a “plague for humanity”—are great carriers of human ideals.

Although, for many people, religions are now seen as obsolete, they are still part of the dynamic of globalization, and globalization is part of the dynamic of religions. Globalization passes through  religions' morality, doctrinal articulation, cultural and political formation, and religions' missionary efforts influence globalization.

Religions are not the problem. Rather, they are an indispensable part of the solution. Living only for “worldly realities” leads us to a world of competition, social injustice, and environmental destruction. It is also an obstacle to a more just, generous, and welcoming life, with social sensibility.  If man “lives on bread alone,” then there are no transcendent values. And globalization is principally occupied with “bread.” Globalization can contribute to improving the state of the world only if shaped by the perspectives of human growth and morality.

9th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

GAUDETE ET EXULTATE

“Rejoice and be glad!,” Pope Francis’ new (third) apostolic exhortation, was published yesterday. It's about holiness in everyday life. How can we respond? Here are five takeaways from Francis’ very practical exhortation.

1. Holiness means being yourself
Every believer is meant to “discern his or her our own path” and “bring out the very best of themselves.”
2. Everyday life can lead to holiness
It doesn’t have to mean big, dramatic actions: a loving parent raising a child; as well as “small gestures” and sacrifices that one can make, like deciding not to pass on gossip. If you can see your own life as a “mission,” then you soon realize that you can simply be loving and kind to move towards holiness.
On the other hand, you do not want to be caught up in the “rat race” of rushing from one thing to another. A balance between action and contemplation is essential.
3. Two tendencies to avoid: Gnosticism and Pelagianism
Gnosticism is to know. It's an old heresy that says that what matters most is what you know. All you need is the correct intellectual approach. Today Gnosticism tempts us to make the faith “entirely comprehensible” to want to force others to adopt our way of thinking.
Pelagianism says that we can take care of our salvation through our own efforts. Pelagians trust in their own powers, don’t feel like they need God’s grace and act superior to others because they observe certain rules.
4. Be kind
Pope Francis’ trademark practical advice for living a life of holiness: don’t gossip, stop judging, stop being cruel. Online “defamation and slander can become commonplace since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, as people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. In claiming to uphold other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying and ruthlessly vilifying others.”
5. The Beatitudes are a roadmap.
The 8 Beatitudes are what Jesus himself means by holiness:  being poor in spirit, meek, peacemakers, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and especially,seeing and acting with mercy.”

7th Apr, 2018

athgarvan

THAT SCEPTIC THOMAS

In tomorrow's Gospel we read about that skeptic 'Doubing Thomas'. There is a Thomas in all of us 'believers', I'm afraid, when something completely new occurs in our everyday life?  But although Thomas did not initially believe in the resurrection of the Lord, he remained faithful to the original call he had received - the call to be a part of the community of the Apostles.

Ultimately it was in and through that community that Thomas finally encountered the Risen Christ. I always need the support of a community  from destroying my capacity to believe. For me it is the Christian community.

But can I believe in the Christian community's support? There is a growing number who consider Catholic belief something alien, imposed, second-hand.  Some say that they enjoy being part of the Christian community but are strangely disengaged from its official beliefs.  They say that's not what faith is about.  Should it be: personal insight first, then belief; or belief first, then personal insight? The Catholic view is that belief points us and brings us to insight.

Before G. K. Chesterton became a Catholic he gave as his reason: “for accepting the religion and not merely the scattered and secular truths out of the religion.”  “I do it, because the thing has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing. All other philosophies say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true. Alone of all creeds it is convincing where it is not attractive.”

Painting: Caravaggio

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