Wednesday, 27 January 2010


'Their Last Steps' painted by David Olere,
an Auschwitz Holocaust Survivor (1902-1985)
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day when we are reminded of the horrors inflicted on the Jewish people by the Nazi regime.

You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.
Primo Levi

Translated by Ruth Feldman And Brian Swann

"Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they're sending all the Jews....If it's that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they're being gassed." - Anne Frank


A smiling survivor of the earthquake in Haiti
The recent calamity of Haiti has been occupying the news headlines and indeed the public mind for the last two weeks since that island was torn to pieces by an earthquake. An estimated 200,000 + people are feared to have died in the tragedy and relief efforts from all around the world have been criticised for lack of proper co-ordination . In many cases it seems that the aid is not getting through quickly enough to prevent further death and suffering. The sight on t.v. of bodies trapped under fallen buildings have been nightly reminders of the devastation that has befallen one of the poorest countries in the West, and the ‘miraculous’ finds of survivors in that rubble have been uplifting and the only sparks of joy in an otherwise bleak landscape. One man waited while heavy machinery delicately sifted through the remains of a bank in which his wife worked until he heard the faint sound of her voice calling through the ruins. She said to him, “No matter what happens know that I love you so much” as he tried vainly to dig through the rubble and reach her. Without the proper digging equipment his task looked hopeless until a fire-team from the U.S. just happened along and brought their expertise to the job. After 3 hours the lady was pulled to safety and re-united with her husband.
These stories are so moving and serve as a reminder to us all that the important things in our lives are not tied up in what we possess but rather in our relationships with those we appreciate and love. For those of us living at this remove from the awfulness of the Haiti tragedy it sometimes takes these ‘human interest’ stories to focus our minds on the painful realities of the aftermath of the earthquake disaster.
The sadness of Haiti is that the scale of death was dramatically increased by the poor infrastructure on the island and the primitive quality of most of the buildings resulting in such large casualty figures. So the rawness of this act of nature was compounded by the greed of man and our inability to share our resources equally, where the poor become the fall guys of international avarice and indifference. While ordinary citizens globally have raised millions for relief and aid ,the International Monetary Fund are still holding Haiti to their national debt despite their plain inability to meet it. All most of us can do is respond to the numerous appeals as generously as we are able and pray for the people remaining in that troubled country that they may experience the peace of God midst the tears and turmoil of these dark days. In fact the ‘faith’ of many Haitians seems to be intact as there were countless examples of people who had survived, openly thanking Jesus for His protection and singing hymns of praise even as they waited for food and medical supplies. Long may they continue to look to Him to rebuild their nation and restore shattered lives as we also seek His face and live up to our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters in this , their hour of greatest need.
Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 23 January 2010


O God of mercy,look with pity upon all those who have been left homeless, bereft, in shock, in the wake of this mighty act of nature in Haiti.

Holy God, who fed your people in the wilderness, whose loving kindness is everlasting, lift the burdens of all who are weary from the search for food and refresh those who are parched from thirst.

O Source of all consolation , comfort with the sure sense of your presence all who feel forsaken, and all those who have lost loved ones.

Gracious God, you sent your son Jesus o bring sight to the blind, hearing and healing to all who asked, open our ears to all cries of affliction, and through us provide healing and help.

Merciful God, you ask us to cleanse our hearts, to loose the bonds of oppression, and to repair the ruins. Pour out upon us the spirit of your love and generosity that we might pour ourselves out for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti so that they, too, will know your generous healing power.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Adapted from a prayer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

Monday, 18 January 2010


If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickinson

Friday, 15 January 2010


My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favour some people over others?
For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewellery, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonour the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you favour some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.


James Chapter 2

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Survivors trapped in the rubble
of a collapsed building
I know I’ve already posted on the tragic events engulfing Haiti but I feel this letter from Tony Campolo has some interesting insights to help us make sense of this unfolding catastrophe. Campolo has long been a champion of the poor in Haiti and has worked with the EAPE missionary organisation to initiate relief projects and assistance for that desperately impoverished nation. ~GOSh.~
Dear Friends,
By now you have heard that there was a major earthquake in Haiti yesterday, which brought much of Port-au-Prince to the ground and also devastated other areas where our ministries work. The colleagues we’ve heard from are all right, but we are very worried about the rest of our Haitian friends. The U.S. Geological Survey is saying that this is the worst earthquake to shake this region in 200 years. Haiti is in chaos, and both Bart (who was just there) and I are heartbroken.
Haiti’s former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier, was a voodoo witchdoctor, and when he was driven from power it was widely rumoured that he offered an infant boy as a blood sacrifice to Satan, and cursed the country with an evil spell to bring disasters and suffering upon the Haitian people. You may not believe in that sort of thing, but many Haitians do. Now we must show them that God’s love, expressed through sacrificial people is greater than the forces of darkness.
First, I would ask you to pray for those already affected immediately- -and for the entire country as the suffering ripples out in the days ahead. Then give as much as you can to EAPE's newly established Haiti Earthquake Fund. Click here to donate online. (Gifts by check should be made payable to EAPE and include "Haiti Earthquake Fund" in the check's memo line.) We will work as quickly as possible through our local partners to reach the people we love with the help they need most. Finally, if you are (or know) a doctor or a nurse willing to serve in Haiti over the next few weeks, please check in the comings days for details of how to get involved.
Just after the earthquake, as huge billows of dust caused by collapsing buildings hung over Port-au-Prince, witnesses heard not only the moans of suffering people, but also the eerie sounds of hymns being sung by Haitian Christians. These are the songs of an undaunted people who are determined to defy Duvalier’s curse with their faith in God.
Help them to hope! Help their prayers to be answered! I don’t believe God called this disaster down on Haiti, but I do believe God’s grace and love, flowing through those of us who are surrendered to His will, can bring healing and redemption to our Haitian brothers and sisters. Please, please, please…do what you can.
Aid arriving for the relief operation



Tearfund is a Christian relief agency engaged in helping alleviate poverty and human suffering throughout the world Often the aid is networked through local churches in a trouble spot and Tearfund volunteers will share the Gospel as well as ministering to people’s immediate and practical needs. Below is a report from the Tearfund website on the situation in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the earthquake, which hit the country in the last 24 hours. ~GOSh,~
Tearfund is today dispatching emergency aid funds to help survivors of the earthquake that has shattered impoverished Haiti.
Hundreds of people are missing feared dead after a quake measuring seven on the Richter Scale struck the Caribbean island yesterday.
Many buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged in the capital Port-au-Prince, including the presidential palace and the five-storey UN offices.
As darkness fell last night, fear of after-shocks led many people to spend the evening sleeping out in the open.
Jean-Claude Cerin, Tearfund's Country Representative for Haiti, who is based in Port-au-Prince is among thousands of people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Rescue efforts to dig people from the rubble of smashed homes, shops and offices are being hampered by blocked roads, power cuts, disrupted communications and a lack of equipment.
As Tearfund partners in Haiti assess emergency aid needs, Jennie Evans, Tearfund's Head of Region for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, said, 'Although detailed information about the number of people needing help is proving hard to come by, it's clear that we are facing a very serious disaster.
'With so many buildings destroyed and so many people made homeless, the need for shelter and basic essentials such as food and water is extremely urgent.'
The UN has an 11,000-strong peacekeeping force in Haiti which is gathering information about the extent of the devastation.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, 'My heart goes out to the people of Haiti after this devastating earthquake. At this time of tragedy, I am very concerned for the people of Haiti and also for the many United Nations staff who serve there.'
From Ireland you can donate through
Or anywhere in the world through



A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.
"I couldn't help noticing how happy you look," she said. "What's your secret for a long happy life?"
"I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day," he said. "I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise."
"That's amazing," the woman said. "How old are you?'
"Twenty-six," he said.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


The Big Freeze continues as the nation grinds to a crawl, we are definitely not able to deal with this arctic blast and the novelty of waking up to a frosted landscape is beginning to wear off. To lighten my tundra state of mind I penned this little ditty to be sung to the tune of ‘Let It Snow’ and took a few pictures of the Westfields wetlands that are a few minutes walk from where I live. Enjoy… ~GOSh.~
Oh the winters grip is tightening
The government response is frightening
The schools are staying closed
Cause of snow, cause of snow. cause of snow.

No buses or trains are moving
Conditions are not improving
A and E’s are packed to the door
Cause of snow, cause of snow, cause of snow.

Now there’s little else to add
Its all going a bit astray
This weathers not just a fad
Looks like its here to stay.

Our grit supplies are used up
And although we need to wrap up
The National mood is about to blow
Cause of snow, cause of snow, cause of snow.

This green and pleasant place
Has got a brand new white-washed face
And we’ve all no place to go
Cause of snow, cause of snow, cause of snow.

But the kids are so enthralled
While their parents are appalled
Snowmen stand proud in a row
Cause of snow, cause of snow, cause of snow.

So despite the ice not thawing
And the cold that keeps on gnawing
We all must patience show
Cause of snow, cause of snow, cause of snow.




I explain quietly. You

hear me shouting. You

try a new tack. I

feel old wounds reopen.


You see both sides. I

see your blinkers. I

am placatory. You

sense a new selfishness.


I am a dove. You

recognize the hawk. You

offer an olive branch. I

feel the thorns.


You bleed. I

see crocodile tears. I

withdraw. You

reel from the impact.


Roger McGough

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Paul Malone,
died, January 2010
.I learned today with sadness of the death of Paul Malone, who was an active and enthusiastic member of the early Charismatic movement here in Limerick during the 1970’s. I knew Paul from countless conversations in the Christian bookshop and at various street corners where he was a regular sight as he strolled through the city. Paul had an encyclopedic knowledge of Limerick and he told many a story of its past and the prominent role played by the Catholic church over the years. He had, as a young man studied to be a monk at nearby Glenstal Abbey but did not complete the training as he found the constraints of ‘religious’ life intolerable. He also recalled a stint in the British army and he served in Africa and other foreign parts which opened him up to a world outside the narrow confines of a conservative provincial city.
All his life Paul was a great reader and he had the ability to remember in detail everything he read making him a formidable opponent in any debate. Along the way Paul read the Bible which changed his life forever, leading him to involvement with the fledgling Catholic Charismatic movement and later with a local Pentecostal group. Sadly Paul never felt inclined to commit his rich repository of knowledge to writing and so this legacy has gone with the man.
I recall being in town one afternoon with my friend Tony Ryan and we met Paul who was homeward bound, stopping to chat it wasn’t long before he began to quote from one of his favourite Christian writers, Finis Jennings Dake. As we were about to part Paul extended the invitation to walk home with him to see his library, a proposal to which we both gladly acceded , relishing the prospect of seeing this voracious reader’s book collection. Bringing us upstairs Paul waved his hand towards a solitary bookshelf which held about 10 volumes, saying, " this, gentlemen is my library ". Seeing our underwhelment he explained that he had a policy of passing a book on after he had read it , so the depleted shelves. On another occasion I was at a wedding reception in company with Paul and his wife as the band struck up for a waltz. Throughout the opening bars of the music Paul sat there explaining rather uniquely, " both my wife and I love to dance, but never with each other " Later he proved the point by dancing with practically every other woman in the hall but not his wife, and she did likewise!
In later years Paul’s health deteriorated and over time sadly I lost contact with him. He was one of those people who figure larger than life in memory, with his crisp rhetorical flourishes, his photographic recall of information and his contagious enthusiasm for the Scriptures. Paul never pretended the Christian way was an easy one and he was open about his own personal struggles, but he always conveyed an excitement and intellectual curiosity about every aspect of the faith and spirituality in general.
It was always a joy and an education to meet Paul Malone and listen as he explored an aspect of the Scripture or shared nuggets from the latest book he was reading. A street walk through Limerick is all the poorer for his passing and the city has lost one of its most erudite and colourful sons. Paul is survived by his wife Anna, and sons Paul and Brian.

Gerard O'Shea

Monday, 4 January 2010


'And the old man prays' by Barbara Lemley


Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times.

May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.

Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself. Let me not follow the clamour of the world, but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.

Max Ehrmann

Sunday, 3 January 2010



Its nearly all over now, the Christmas, the New Year the whole holiday shebang. Domesticated involuntarily by the harshness of an Arctic turn to the weather this year the old cliché of Christmas being a family time was more strictly adhered to than usual.

As a result many mums and dads have been seen shrieking wildly at the first onset of opportunity to leave the family hearth (surrounded by screaming kids for whom the novelty of Santa’s trove has already worn thin!) and take tentative steps of freedom on icy pavements or frosty streets as bargains are hunted in the January sales.

To the perennial old question, ‘How did you get over the Christmas?’ the answer this year was always the same, ‘Very quiet, didn’t get out much’. I experienced the hazards of real winter weather on Christmas morning as I drove in from Pallaskenry at snails pace on icy roads, at one point on the brow of the hill near Hegarty's Cross in Ballymartin I almost baulked at he sparkling decline before me.

Before I left Mag’s place a neighbour who drives the biggest tractor I’ve ever seen visited the house and gave the most dire account of the state of the roads, not a man given to exaggeration his report had to be taken seriously. As I sat listening I could feel my resolve to travel weakening and I decided to up and leave before my will to live deserted me and I would be stranded out the country for the duration.

Gingerly, might best describe my driving to my brothers house in Corbally for the festive dinner. And the frost and icy conditions have persisted curtailing travel and other outdoor activities. While we had a spattering of snow, there was not sufficient for the making of snowmen or decent snowball fights so to fill the gap I have trawled the net for examples of the fine art of snow sculpture.

For the ultimate in reality viewing I recommend you turn off all heating for the duration of this blog and immediately afterwards stoke up the fire and warm yourself after your excursion through our virtual winter wonderland.


Gerard O'Shea


The end comes to us all !