Friday, 31 December 2010



Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.

Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark determination
and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and the future
old friends passing through with us still.

Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

Brendan Kennelly

Thursday, 30 December 2010



As we enter a New Year here are some truths

that every child of God can count on...

God is for you.

God loves you.

God will guide you.

God will not fail you.

God will be with you.

God will provide for you.

God will bless you.

God will give you rest.

God will strengthen you.

God will answer you.

God will uphold you.

God will keep you

Friday, 24 December 2010



Yeshua, at your birth, did the angels

sing Vivaldi’s Gloria? and the shepherds,
did they play jaws harp, Jews’ harp, tonguing
Dvořák’s New World Symphony? The spheres —

were they humming, as twilight turned
from tangerine to emerald, and down
to a drear and turquoise basso — did the stars
sound out Bruckner, Brahms and Bach? --

That sheep may safely graze. . . Or was it merely
the snuffling of animals in their stalls, dawn-music
played each morning in the small farms, the opening

of stable doors, or city-sounds of preparation
for another day, like an orchestra tuning up, this
puer natus, this image of love, of God invisible.

John F. Deane

I would like to wish all the faithful visitors to this
Blog a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year

Gerard O'Shea

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Social Network Christmas

The story of the Nativity for the Facebook generation...


The story goes that in the year 1604, on Christmas Eve, a churchman known as Friar Giovanni wrote a letter to the Contessina Allagra Aidobrandeschi who lived in Florence, Italy. This letter has been remembered and quoted often since.


Most noble Contessina, I salute you. Believe me your most devoted servant.
Contessina, forgive an old man's babble. But I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not got;
but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.

Contessina, I beseech you to look.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour,
woven of love, by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me,
that angel's hand is there; the gift is there,
and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.
Our joys, too: Be not content with them as joys, as they too conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and of purpose,
so full of beauty--beneath its covering--that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage, then, to claim it: That is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.
And so, at this Christmastime, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever,
the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Monday, 20 December 2010



It is Advent again. We call this time Advent because it reminds us of what comes from God for the creation of his kingdom on earth. We who are here have been led in a special way to keep what is coming on our hearts and to shape ourselves according to it. That which comes from God - that is what moves our hearts, not only in these days but at all times. That which is to come from God is the most important thing we have, in the past and in the present as well as in the future. It is only in God's coming that even the Bible itself has value to us, let alone all the other things we call "means of grace." Unless what comes from God is a part of it, it remains like a dead seed and does not achieve what must be achieved if God's kingdom is to be.
There are many today who sigh to heaven, "Saviour, come now!" But they are not sighing for the sake of God's kingdom. They cry out like this only when they are in trouble and want God to help them. And they don't know of any help that is more effective than to have a Saviour come and put a quick end to their troubles.
When it comes to the things of God, however, we must not be concerned for what is ours, but only for what belongs to Christ. We should do this not merely for our own edification; we must become workers for God. This leads us to God's vineyard, a place where there is not a great deal of talk, but where everyone is intent on deeds.
This is what it means to prepare for Advent. Jesus says, "Be ready for action, and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet...blessed is the slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives" (Luke 12:35-48). Here Jesus is speaking of his disciples and their preparation for his coming. Take note that God's kingdom is not formed by any human discovery or intention, however daring and noble, but by the coming of Christ. Our faith, our ardour, must be for this coming. Otherwise it would be better to put aside our meditations on Advent. The reign of God is a marvellous thing. To worldly wisdom God's kingdom seems like foolishness, and yet it gives shape to the whole world, the whole creation, making it God's eternal coming.

But look out! When someone holds a light in his hand and shines it here and there, he is immediately asked, "What business have you here?" Thus so many people let their light go out again. It is too awkward, too inconvenient to keep holding up a light and showing people the dirt and saying, "There, clean that up; the way you are doing things now isn't right in God's eyes. Cut off your hand! Tear out your eye! Cut off your foot!" - as Jesus says, figuratively, when there is something about the hand or eye or foot that stands in God's way.
This is what it means to watch. If you look for the truth in small matters you will not go astray in big ones. You will be able to recognize truth there and carry out the command that comes. Let us keep staunch in our eagerness to do whatever comes to us of the truth. Then there will be knocks on our door, over and over, and God's coming will not be hidden. For devoted hearts the light will keep dawning from him who is merciful and compassionate.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Sunday, 19 December 2010



A young girl who was writing an essay for school came to her father and asked, "Dad, what is the difference between anger and exasperation?" The father replied, "It is mostly a matter of degree. Let me show you what I mean." With that the father went to the telephone and dialled a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, "Hello, is Brian there?" The man answered, "There is no one living here named Brian. Why don't you learn to look up numbers before you dial". "See," said the father to his daughter. "That man was not a bit happy with our call. He was probably very busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch...." The father dialled the number again. "Hello, is Brian there?" asked the father. "Now look here!" came the heated reply. "You just called this number and I told you that there is no Brian here! You've got some nerve calling again!" The receiver slammed down hard. The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that was anger. Now I'll show you what exasperation means." He dialled the same number, and when a violent voice roared, "Hello!" The father calmly said, "Hello, this is Brian. Have there been any calls for me?"

Saturday, 18 December 2010



There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas Day,
and that is keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people
and to remember what other people have done for you?

To ignore what the world owes you,
and to think what you owe the world?

To admit that the only good reason for your existence is
not what you are going to get out of life,
but what you are going to give to life?

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs
and desires of little children?

To remember the weakness and loneliness
of people who are growing old?

To stop asking how much your friends like you,
and ask yourself whether you love them enough?

To try to understand what those who live
in the same house with you really want,
without waiting for them to tell you?

To make a grave for your ugly thoughts
and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open?

Are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love
is the strongest thing in the world--
stronger than hate, stronger than death--
and that the blessed Life which began in
Bethlehem many years ago is the image
and brightness of eternal love?

Then you can keep Christmas.

Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, 9 December 2010


A Nation Protests


The biggest problem with our recent hair shirt budget is how it will disaffect thousands of people who already feel marginalised, driving them further away from the political mainstream. People who depend on government payouts to live on have all experienced cuts in their weekly payments. The blind, the disabled, the unemployed, the carers, those on a minimum wage will all have less money to spend as a result of the adjustments being passed through our parliament even as I write. The mantra of the Finance Minister is that ‘we will all feel the pain’ which is tantamount to equating the inconvenience of a mild headache with the traumatic aftermath of an amputated limb ! Of course the middle class and the rich will be affected by reductions to their take home pay ( and in some cases huge mortgage repayments bringing them to the wire!) but the effect on those solely depending on government allowances is inevitably catastrophic in every single case.

Pearse Doherty celebrates Sinn Fein's
election victory in Donegal

Our political parties seem incapable of taking their fiscal scalpel to the very rich in our society while the poor are a soft target upon which a surgical strike can easily be made. The gross unfairness of this recurring injustice is already causing some to look politically in directions that they would never have considered before, especially to the parties of the ultra left like Sinn Fein. I think if I was in one of the targeted ‘poor’ groups and everything else being equal I would at least be listening with a keener ear to the ‘sharing the wealth of the nation’ rhetoric of these left wing Republicans. The widespread cynicism towards politicians of all hues plays well for the S.F.’ers and it is likely that this party will experience an upsurge of support in the upcoming election. As matters economic have upstaged every other issue for the last two years it will hardly matter where the Left stand on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, if they manage to persuade those marginalised by the cuts that a fairer society is around the corner. And if that happens we have only the cavalier behaviour of our politicians and bankers to blame, for consistently ignoring the mass of citizens of this state as they ploughed merrily on rampaging and devastating the wealth of the nation.

If nothing else the events of the last two years have clearly shown that the Money men call the shots in 21st century Europe. The mysterious Bondholders who gamble staggering amounts of money on international markets are the behind-the-scene figures upon which the future of whole states depend. Perhaps we should have paid closer attention to the unmasking of the real controller of this world in the pages of the New Testament. Jesus blew the whistle on the old enemy when He announced, “ Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31)) Early in His public mission Jesus had encountered the Ruler of this world (Matthew 4:1-11) and wrestled with him in the wilderness, in fact one of Satan’s temptations was to offer the Lord ‘all the kingdoms of this world’, ( implying that they were his to give.)

The heart of the economic realities that affect all our lives is hard and relentless and often energised by a spirit that is anti-God and excludes those who are weakest among us. Jesus put it starkly when He said that a follower of His could not serve God and Mammon (the world’s monetary spirit). We ignore the poor among us at our peril not just because of the potential of social unrest but because their interests are close to God’s heart and we are obligated to love them in real practical ways. How sad that Sinn Fein should be one of the few voices raised in their defence, where is the public Christian outcry at these viscous cuts that will effect those least able to afford them. We stay silent wrapped up in our own comfort zone at a terrible price, while a whole generation are seduced by loud and bold declarations that in the end can never deliver the sought for equality and justice. The ‘god’ of this world can only be overcome in the power of the ‘Prince of Peace’ who alone can take away our hearts of stone and transform us from within. The real revolution turns one life at a time, day by day into a force for change that even the Gates of Hell cannot withstand.

Gerard O'Shea

Sunday, 5 December 2010



There are gifts to buy, meals to make, trips to take, decorations to be hung, songs to be sung, places to go, people to see…
It's December 5th and I'm already tired. Anyone else?

I read the words... Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
But how can I be still when there's so much going on?
Of course, the first answer is to simplify my life.
Yet the kind of stillness God is talking about isn't just about my circumstances. It's about being still on the inside.

I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother. Psalm 131:2 What is a weaned child like? One that has learned to stop asking for more, more, more and instead simply rests in the arms of love, love, love.

My hurry and stress come from that want of more. I want to do more, be more, pack more in to these few short days. Then it seems God whispers to my heart, "Enough. You are enough. You have enough. In the middle of the busy, make a quiet place inside and stay with me. My love is what you really need."

I settle, quiet down, breathe a sigh of relief. The miracle of Christmas?
God came for us so we could come to Him. Even (especially) in the busy, broken, chaos of our lives.

'Tis the season to be still.

Holly Gerth



We have tested and tasted too much, lover-

Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins

O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.

Patrick Kavanagh