Thursday, 29 December 2011


A new doctor had arrived in town. He could cure anything and anybody. Everyone was amazed with what he could do - everyone except for Mr. Thompson, the town sceptic.
Grumpy old Mr. Thompson went to visit this 'miracle doctor' to prove that he wasn't anybody special. When it was time for his appointment he told the doctor, "Hey, doc, I've lost my sense of taste. I can't taste nothin', so what are ya goin' to do?"
The doctor scratched his head and mumbled to himself a little, then told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47."
So the doctor brought the jar out, opened it, and told Mr. Thompson to taste it. He tasted it and immediately spit it out, "This is gross!" he yelled. "Looks like I just restored your sense of taste Mr. Thompson," said the doctor. So Mr. Thompson went home.... very mad.
One month later, Mr. Thompson decides to go back to the doctor and try once again to expose him as a fake, by complaining of a new problem. "Doc," he started, "I can't remember anything!" Thinking he had the doctor stumped now, he waited as the doctor scratched his head, mumbled to himself a little, and told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47, it's......"
But before the doctor could finish his sentence, Mr. Thompson was cured and fled the room!


The Queen during her

visit to Cork's 'English Market'

During her visit to this country earlier this year Queen Elisabeth ll won the hearts of many by her gracious and good humoured disposition as she visited landmark sites on the island. Perhaps most moving was her time at the Garden of Remembrance where those who died in the struggle against British occupation are honoured. Also her interaction with the crowds who turned out after her visit to Cork’s English Market was remarkably warm and spontaneous. The visit definitely advanced neighbourly relations between our two countries and changed many ‘Republicans’ views of the British Monarchy. The Queen is the head of the Anglican Church and is reported to have a strong Christian faith herself and is a daily Bible reader. In this years Christmas message she speaks explicitly of the Saviour and the necessity of an individual relationship with Him, as you will see from the excerpt below… ~GOSh.~


For many, this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home.
The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas."

Sunday, 25 December 2011



Immanuel -God with us ! May I wish

all loyal supporters of this blog
a Happy Christmas

and Peaceful New Year

Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 24 December 2011



So how’d it happen? Baby Jesus. The Liberator? You ready for this?
I’ll tell you: his mum, Mary, is engaged to Joe. They’d not had sex yet, but – weird! She’s pregnant! Courtesy of the Holy Spirit.
Focus on Joe. A good guy, trying to do the right thing and he’s desperate to keep this news quiet. The locals would come down so hard on her. He’s working out how best to deliver the “sorry, but it’s off” speech – without the gossip grapevine crashing from overload.
He’s smashing the billiard balls of his best options around his brain, well into the early hours. Finally he drops off and God downloads a dream: An angel saying:
“Joe Davidson, don’t you chicken out of making Mary your wife. I’ll tell you why. ‘Cause it’s the Holy Spirit’s baby. She’ll have a boy, and you’ll put the name Jesus down on the birth certificate. Why “Jesus”? ‘Cause it means Liberator and that’s what he’s going to do for all his people…. liberate them from all the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.”
Joe wakes up and, yes, realizes it was all a dream. But he follows his Angel Orders to the letter and the wedding’s back on as soon as the baby’s born. Joe makes sure the birth certificate reads, “First name: Jesus.”

Meanwhile, in the depths of the Roman Empire, he-who-must-be-obeyed, Augustus Caesar, announces the Big Count. Caesar, the Big Cheeser, wants accurate population stats across the empire. Everyone is expected to trek back to their hometown for the registration.
So Joe Davidson sets off on the 130 km trip down the map, crosses the border and arrives in Bethlehem, Davidstown, in the south. He takes his fiancee Mary, who’s pregnant and showing. Three, four, maybe five days later they arrive and realize someone else is about to cross a border and arrive in Bethlehem.
Crisis! Her waters break! “No vacancy” signs in every B&B window. Decision. Mary has a ‘home birth’ in a livestock shed. She wraps strips of cloth round the baby and uses an animal feeding trough as a cot.

Noisy night, chaotic night

All is alarm, all is fright

Rounded virgin, now mother to child

Wholly infant, so other, so wild

Awake at an unearthly hour

Awake at an unearthly hour

Pull back to the fields outside the overpacked town, focus in on a local Sheep Security Team sitting through their night shift.
One of God’s angels turns up, with brilliant supernatural special FX packing the fields with God’s radiance. The guys are scared stupid.
The angel delivers his standard, “Don’t panic” line then hits them with, “I’ve got great news, great news to bring a smile to every shape of face on the planet. Mark the date in your diaries. Today over in Davidstown there’s a new baby born. Not just any baby – The Baby! The Boss, Liberator God himself, turning up for you in baby shape. You’ll know which baby – he’ll be wrapped up snug and lying in a feeding trough that’s caked with old animal grub.”
Cued to make their entrance on the last line of the breaking news, the whole angel choir turn up and blast out the song:
“Celebrate! Elevate! And on planet Earth, serenity. In your earthly home, shalom for all who have known God’s smile.”
Once the angel choir scoots back up the Heavenly HQ, the Sheep Security Team come out with, “Let’s check it out”. “Yeah, let’s hit the town.” “Search the whole of Bethlehem for this baby.” “God’s put us in the picture – let’s go!”
They leg it and, sure enough, they track down Mary and Joe, then find the baby in his makeshift cot. The next days they fill the pubs with echoes of what they’d been told about this baby. The public pulse is breakneck pace as “Liberator Talk” bounces round the walls of the town. The reactions range from amazed to – well, amazed.
The Sheep Security Team go back to work, talking up God for letting them in on the whole adventure.
And Mary’s reaction? She’s quietly storing away all of this in a safe place in her heart, bringing memories out when ever she has some space to wonder.

This is a paraphrase of the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible. Rob Lacey used ‘street language’ to make the old old story relevant for a new generation.

Monday, 19 December 2011


Patrick Kavanaghs powerful evocation
of his childhood memory
of Christmas in Monaghan.

Saturday, 17 December 2011



I saw a stable, low and very bare,

A little child in a manger.

The oxen knew him, had Him in their care,

To men He was a stranger.

The safety of the world was lying there,

And the world's danger.

Mary Coleridge

(* safety of the world)




The Amish, justly famous for their hearty home cooking, give us their recipe for a happy marriage.

If yours isn't so great, perhaps there's an ingredient missing!

3 cups love

2 cups warmth

1 cup forgiveness

1 cup friends

4 tablespoons hope

2 tablespoons forgiveness

An equal measure of faith

Generous amount of humor with laughter to taste

Mix together warmth and love.

Thoroughly blend in tenderness.

Stir in the friends, add the hope & mix in the forgiveness.

Sprinkle with laughter and cook in faith.

Serve daily in generous helpings.

(taken from

Saturday, 10 December 2011


"The atheist
can't find God
for the same reason
that a thief
can't find a policeman."





It’s my first Christmas away from home. Our college youth choir is on tour and we’re making our way from southern California, across the barren landscape of the Texas panhandle, to Oklahoma. It’s bitter cold, our van is smothered with ice, I can’t see out the window, and we’ve been on the road for more than twenty-four hours.
We make it to First Church in time to set up for their Christmas Eve service. Our program is John Fisher’s musical, The New Covenant. In between songs I narrate the message from Jeremiah of a new and better way:
“The time is coming,” declares the Lord,“when I will make a new covenant…It will not be like the covenant made with their forefathers…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.I will be their God,and they will be my people.For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Our program is over. The congregation surrounds us with love and good food. They’re touched and moved: The baby Jesus, full of grace and truth, God-with-us, in our hearts, in our minds. No more rules. We can start anew.
It’s getting deathly late, so we bed down in the church’s Fellowship Hall. The room is piled with bodies, strewn all over the floor under sleeping bags. I’m too exhausted to care.

Christmas morning. All is quiet, but all is bleak. Through the windows, which reach from ceiling to floor at the other end of the room, there is nothing but grey, icy dirt. Sparse blades of grass whimper in the wind. Nothing looks or feels familiar—nothing like the Christmas I know.
We pack up, wind our way back through Texas, to another church. It’s another evening concert. It’s Christmas night. Our program proceeds as before. From the Gospel of John I announce, “The law was given through Moses; but grace and truth through Jesus.” I go on to quote from the apostle Paul:
Therefore, we are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face… No, Christ has taken it away. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into this likeness…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts.
In the Christ child is life, and that life is the light of the world. In us too is life and light. It shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not and cannot overcome it. We are witnesses. It shines.
It’s approaching midnight. This time families invite us home and give us a bed. Before I turn in, my host thanks me. His wife left him several years back. “Thank you for reminding me of how the light can still shine.”

Morning comes early, much too early. We have to pack up and head off to Albuquerque. I’m not too sure I have the energy to keep doing this, but I’m eager to sing and tell about the new and better way.
This time the congregation is packed with elderly folk. “Merry Christmas! God is with us – Immanuel is born.” Our program commences. Near the end, I quote from Paul again:
We have seen his glory and do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all… Glory to God in the highest!
A bent-over gentleman, with cardigan and cane, comes up to me afterwards. He is teary-eyed. He embraces me, and then gingerly walks away. His wife had just died of cancer.
Several days and several more churches later I’m back in school. A letter is in my mailbox from Mom. “So how was your Christmas?” I tell her all about the tour, where we went and what we tried to bring to those we met.
Another letter from Mom. She worries I didn’t have a good Christmas: No tree, no gifts, no Santa, no caroling or parties. I don’t know what to say. Then I recall the shepherds in the Christmas story, and how they hurried off to spread the news about the babe lying in the manger. “All who heard them were amazed at what they said to them.”
“Mom,” I write back. “I did have a good Christmas… I was doing shepherd’s work.”
Christ is born! There is a new and better way. The light shines in the darkness. Our sins are forgiven, remembered no more. Spread the news. It’s the season for shepherd’s work. Hallelujah!

Charles Moore

(taken from 'The Plough' magazine)

Thursday, 17 November 2011



Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men's eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what's gone.

The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what's gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.


Sunday, 25 September 2011



Therefore he no more troubled the pool of silence
But put on mask and cloak,
Strung a guitar
And moved among the folk.
Dancing they cried,
'Ah, how our sober islands
Are gay again, since this blind lyrical tramp
Invaded the Fair.'

Under the last dead lamp
When all the dancers and masks had gone inside
His cold stare
Returned to its true task, the interrogation of silence.

George Mackay Brown

Monday, 19 September 2011


This was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista , California . He wrote it for his third class homework assignment, to 'explain God.' I wonder if any of us could have done as well ?


'One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'
'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'
'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.'
'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista . At least there aren't any who come to our church.'
'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'
'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.'
'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.'
'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!
Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.'
'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.'
' shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.
And...that's why I believe in God.'



I first heard Daniel Martin Moore singing on a TV arts programme presented by John Kelly, a man who knows his music. Moore sings old Gospel songs as well as his own compositions in a laid back gentle style that allows these old ‘spirituals’ to eat right into your soul. When I got to meet him prior to a performance here in Limerick I asked the Kentuckian if the songs meant much to him. He considered for a while and replied, “Sure they do, I love the words”. I pressed a bit harder and asked him if he was a man of faith ? Again he paused before he answered, “I’m not religious…I left that behind me years ago” He declined my outstretched hand as he had picked up a head cold during his visit but he was warm and friendly if a little distant. He went on to play a dazzling set to an appreciative group of half a dozen people, such are the joys of any live music gig that is a little different here on Shannonside ! As I left he came after me and said “Thanks for coming”, and as he shook my hand, “Don’t forget to wash your hand ! “ I didn’t .

Gerard O'Shea


Monday, 12 September 2011


This little nugget was brought to my attention on ‘The Shepherds Staff’’, a blog worth looking up in its own right. These probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability


Stoner states that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, "we find that the chance that any one man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." (Please pardon the format. Blogger will not support superscript). That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover the state two feet deep. "Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man."
Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, that is, 1 in
The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfil the prophecies by accident.

Sunday, 11 September 2011



President Obama reads Psalm 46 at the the 9/11 rememberance ceremony

in New York city today.

Friday, 2 September 2011



One of the most compelling and precise teachers of the Scriptures that I have heard. Leaving his Harley Street medical practise for the pulpit many of his colleagues at the time were at a loss to explain this unusual move. Lyod Jones took this radical step after becoming convinced that this was the road God was directing him to take. Time proved that God’s wisdom is superior to eartly wisdom and the fruit that followed his ministry became a powerful vindication of that early decision. ~GOSh.~

Monday, 29 August 2011

KATHLEEN O'SHEA 14th Anniversary

Today is the 14 th Anniversary of my Mams death.

Here she is pictured in the front porch of Ardhu with

her loyal companion 'Judy'.


Towards the end
I was like a guide-dog
Leading my mother
Through the hazards of shopping centres
And crossing roads
As her eyes dimmed with age.

She bore it all bravely
And kept the tears
Till we were gone,
Then - in a flash of time
A light dawned
That spirited her away
From all our care and ken.

She had simply had enough,
And at the end
Sat back in her chair
And didn’t even wave goodbye.

Now her eyes are wide open
And she is seeing things
We can only dream of.

Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 30 July 2011



Today is going to be a struggle, Lord.
The act of rising, journeying,
conversation, bustling crowds,
people I work with,
people I meet.

Be my confidence,
my assurance,
in the words that I speak.
Be my freedom,
my guidance,
as I walk through these streets.

Today is going to be a struggle, Lord.
Keep my head above water,
keep my eyes fixed on you.

This prayer written in the Celtic tradition by John Birch who has a delightful site of prayer and worship resources at

Friday, 22 July 2011


Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave this landmark speech in the Dail in response to ‘The Cloyne Report’ on the clerical cover-up of sexual and physical abuse of children in their care. Above is the full speech with an abridged version in print below…


THE REVELATIONS of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture. It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children.
But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.
Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic – as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.
And in doing so, the Cloyne report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism – the narcissism – that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or “managed” to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and “reputation”.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”, the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer. This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.
The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose. The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.
Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.
Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused. Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals. In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding.
There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the commission.
While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence…

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy reports.
This Roman clericalism must be devastating for good priests, some of them old; others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work so hard to be the keepers of the church’s light and goodness within their parishes, [their] communities [and within] the human heart.
But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome.
Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.
This is the Republic of Ireland 2011.
A republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities; of proper civic order; where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version, of a particular kind of “morality”, will no longer be tolerated or ignored.
As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily.
Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim church. Today, that church needs to be a penitent church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied. In the name of God. But for the good of the institution…

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [the current Pope Benedict] said: “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the church.”
As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Many of the phrases and sayings that are commonplace in our veryday speech come from the Bible. This ancient text is not just a repository of spiritual wisdom but in its many translations has entered words and phrases into our language that still resonate today. Here is one…


The word ‘ointment’ comes directly from biblical times when kings were ritually anointed with fragrant creams or unguents.

In Ecclesiastes 10 verse 1 (King James Versioin) we read,

“ Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”

Today we use the phrase to describe any minor irritation that spoils everything

Wednesday, 13 July 2011



I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our
mobilel phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we used it to receive messages?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to children as gifts?

What if we used it as we travelled?

What if we used it in case of an emergency?

What if we upgraded it to get the latest version?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our mobiles, we don’t ever have to worry
about our bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill!

Monday, 4 July 2011


Keats had a keen eye for the glories of nature and in this poem values the refuge that the countryside affords to the pent up dweller of the city. He would have loved Limerick for its close proximity to an abundance of green and waving bounty as in the images captured here from a recent stroll on Plassey bank. One can literally walk from the centre of the city along this riverside pathway until within minutes all sight and sound of the frantic city fades away. ~GOSh.~

To One Who Has Long
Been In the City Pent

To one who has been long in city pent,
’Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.

Who is more happy, when, with hearts content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?

Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel,—an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.

John Keats

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Ballymartin, Pallaskenry


I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R S Thomas

Saturday, 2 July 2011



Strolling home from town today in glorious sunshine there was reason aplenty to stop and take in the marvellous scenery on this riverside walk. After crossing Sarsefield Bridge I turned down along O'Callaghans Strand with the majestic Shannon on my left hand side and I counted over forty swans swimming in a straight line . Onward under the Shannon bridge and along the bank in the direction of Barringtons Pier. This part of the walkway is arched over by a canopy of green with the traffic on the adjacent Condell road just a background hum. On my left still the river at its widest breadth with the now disused docklands on the other side. The Shannon will wind and twist its way until entering the sea beyond the port of Foynes. To reach home I cross the busy road aided by the recent addition of pedestrian lights, and leaving the river behind I am in the Westfield wetlands. Here is an undisturbed habitat for wildlife and an oasis of calm and serene beauty within a shout of the bustling city of Limerick. And it’s on my doorstep ! The wetands are a favourite location for dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, fishermen, birdwatchers and all who enjoy the delights of the great outdoors.
Gerard O'Shea



Satan has in fact a plan against the saints of the Most High which is to wear them out. What is meant by this phrase, "wear out"? It has in it the idea of reducing a little this minute, then reducing a little further the next minute. Reduce a little today, reduce a little tomorrow. Thus the wearing out is almost imperceptible; nevertheless, it is a reducing. The wearing down is scarcely an activity of which one is conscious, yet the end result is that there is nothing left. He will take away your prayer life little by little, and cause you to trust God less and less and yourself more and more, a little at a time. He will make you feel somewhat cleverer than before. Step by step, you are misled to rely more on your own gift, and step by step your heart is enticed away from the Lord. Now, were Satan to strike the children of God with great force at one time, they would know exactly how to resist the enemy since they would immediately recognize his work. He uses the method of gradualism to wear down the people of God.

Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee was born Ni Shu-tsu November 4, 1903, and became a Christian in China in 1920 Watchman Nee attended no theological schools or Bible institutes. His wealth of knowledge concerning God's purpose, Christ, the things of the Spirit, and the church was acquired through studying the Bible and reading spiritual books.. When Communists came to power in the late 1940's - Nee became a target because of his growing Christian ministry and belief, which contradicted that of the Communist Party. He was arrested by the Communists in 1952 for his professed faith in Christ as well as his leadership among the local churches. .More than four years after his arrest and after a long trial, - Watchman Nee was sentenced to fifteen years in prison with hard labour. He was, however, never released. During his confinement, his faith remained unconquerable. He sang hymns in his cell and preached the gospel to everyone he met. He remained in prison until his death more than twenty years later.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011



I don’t know if Microsoft founder Bill Gates is of any particular religious persuasion but he certainly has grasped one of Jesus essential teachings on the nature of wealth. Wealth and its acquisition can have a numbing effect on the spirit of a man or woman when they become enmeshed in its deceitful web. Jesus told the story about the wealthy farmer who had his barns filled and his money made but was not ready to face his God when death called (Luke 12:16-21). Gates has made more money than almost any other man on the planet (this year he came in as the second wealthiest) but he has realised the limited happiness that simply acquiring money gives.

At the peak of the software revolution it is estimated that he was worth $400 billion. To invest his fortune in worthwhile endeavours he has set up a foundation endeavouring to raise $37.1 billion to assist the poorest of the worlds poor. He is under no illusion that he can take it with him and he has no intention of leaving it to his children, as he says, “ they will have to pick a job they like and go to work. They are normal kids now. They do chores, they get pocket money.” Paul the Apostle tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and Jesus in His earthly life gave an example of living simply and without ostentation which sadly is more than can be said for some of His present day followers (but that’s another story!).

Even the rich and famous sometimes see through the glam and sham of high living. Liz Taylor once refused to accept a $1 million pink diamond ring from Richard Burton. She said they decided to build a hospital in Botswana with the money instead. Taylor explained, “ I love Richard for the extravagant thought but he doesn’t have to spoil me any more…just love me.” Bill Gates is currently pouring his vast resources into a programme to vaccinate 243 million children in the worlds poorest countries against illnesses such as pneumonia and measles. As a result it is expected that four million lives will be saved over the next four years.
Not only is Gates making an invaluable contribution to the betterment of peoples lives but he is also inspiring by example other members of the super rich to emulate his philanthropy. Oprah Winfrey is a close friend and has pledged to donate the bulk of her $2.7 billion estate to charity. Proverbs 11:28: says "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." - Bill Gates has learned this ancient truth. Let’s hope that he has also taken to heart Jesus insights into the limitations of simply living for the here and now…. “ Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing …And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need… So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12)
Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Walking out of town the other day I dropped in to a ‘Quilt’ exhibition at ...

what was formerly the Franciscan Church. Inside the church was ablaze...

with colour from a wide variety of quilts created by groups of women here ...

and around the world. These are truly stunning pieces of artistic ...

achievement as you can see from these pictures.

Gerard O'Shea

Monday, 23 May 2011



You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

C S Lewis -
'Surprised by Joy'

Wednesday, 18 May 2011



For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15–16

There are times when life gets so hard that you feel unable to pray; you may even feel you no longer have any faith. It seems as if the Savior is far from you and that you no longer belong to the Savior, or that you never were on the right track to begin with. It’s as if you were in hell, gripped with fear and a sense of being lost. You may even wish you had never been born. The pain is too great, the future too hopeless.
How I would love to direct you in such a way that all darkness is taken away from your soul! But such agony cannot be blown away with one stroke. For that, we have to wait for a time of grace. Yet, even now the Savior can give you much, but only if you become quiet and place your hope in him. If you remain childlike about your condition, you will not think that everything is lost – even when you hear discordant voices inside you. The Savior is there to comfort you. And if you are unable to become quiet, don’t worry. The harm is not irreparable. Inability is not a sin. The Savior loves you, if only because of your sighs.

Remember, Jesus came into the flesh, into your very need, so that you may know that God is not indifferent to your suffering. You sigh and weep, you are miserable, you mourn for the Savior. That is all right, as long as you do it in the right way. The Savior did not say: “Blessed are those whose cause is right.” He did say: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn” (Matt. 5:3–4). Believe it!
If you can’t feel the Savior, then all the more believe in him. Those to whom God’s love is nearest are precisely those who don’t see and yet believe (John 20:29). The same is true of those who don’t feel and yet believe. The enemy often wreaks havoc on our feelings; but he can’t touch your faith. The devil cannot own your faith –unless you give in.
Sometimes you will feel that you have no faith, and yet deep down you still believe. Believe then in your faith. Things will get better. Christ is there, even if he is somewhat hidden. Don’t even be afraid of hell – he is there too. Anyone who sighs and longs will not be lost. It is for our sake that the Lord reveals his glory. Remember, the Savior intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:34) and cannot help but intervene with his assistance if you have a longing in your heart.

Johann Christoph Blumhardt

Sunday, 8 May 2011


for Patrick Kavanagh

He sits between the doctor and the law,

Neither can help. Barbiturate in paw
one, whiskey in paw two, a dying man:
the poet down, and his full caravan.
They laugh and they mistake the lash that lurks
in his tongue for the honey of his works.
The poet is at bay, the hounds baying,
dig his grave with careful kindness, saying :
‘Another whiskey, and make it a large one !’
Priests within, acolytes at the margin
the red impaled bull’s roar must fascinate -
they love the dead, the living man they hate.
They were designing monuments - in case -
and making furtive sketches of his face
and he could hear, above their straining laughs,
the rustling foolscap of their epitaphs.

Michael Hartnett

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Wednesday, 4 May 2011



These are words we need to be reminded of over and over again as we seek to follow the way of the Master. Such extraordinary forbearance is impossible through human resolve alone and with this in mind He has sent the Holy Spirit "to lead us into all truth". Only through His supernatural power can we ever hope to even come near to the standard of living being set out here. This teaching is timeless...its implication is from the lips of Jesus is a truly life altering principle.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011



When I arrived at work the other morning I was greeted with the news, “So they got Bin Laden” My first reaction was of slight incredulity as he has become an elusive icon for violent Islamic fundamentalism over the last 15 years and has been pursued for all of that time by the Americans . Two days ago in a heavily secured compound in Pakistan, elite members of the U.S. SEALS unit stormed the building shooting the terrorist leader through the head. Even the death of such a patently dangerous man should cause us to stop and reflect on the whole issue of the taking of a life. On Facebook I exchanged thoughts on this subject in response to a post by an idealistic (I don’t use that word condescendingly)) young woman who felt that any killing is wrong and there should be a better way. My mind recalled that incredible Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who during the Nazi regime joined a group who planned to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer described himself as a Christian pacifist but was prepared to live with the consequences of killing Hitler for the sake of the greater good. As it happened Bonhoeffer and his companions were arrested and executed before they could carry out their plan.

Men like Gandhi and Martin Luther King eschewed violence even in the face of very forceful confrontation taking Jesus’ teaching of ‘turning the other cheek’ literally. So through the ages followers of Jesus have responded differently to the problem of evil and the proper response of a child of God to violent attack. My own thoughts on this run along the lines of two possible courses of action at a personal and a governmental level. While Jesus certainly taught non-confrontation in his Sermon on the Mount there is a clear passage in Romans 13 which allows the governing authority to ‘wield the sword’ against wrongdoers. It seems to me that the individual is called to live a peaceful life where we forgive those who wrong us and we do not return evil for evil. In society however it seems that the government has a duty of care towards its citizens to protect them from violent people and those who would do harm. In this context the death of Osama Bin Laden was a justifiable act against a man who had not only admitted his part in the mass murders of thousands of people, but had openly gloried in those terrible acts.

The Bible tells us that God does not delight in the death of the wicked and neither should we. Every mans death is a stark reminder of the present bind of sin upon this whole earth and even the death of a wicked man should give us pause for thought. Bin Laden ended up with his warped philosophy after many twists and turns in his own life and it must be said, the sometimes indefensible activities of Western powers in his own homeland. While his perception of injustices heaped against his people may have been correct , the resolution of them through violence and killing led to his involvement in one awful atrocity after another, with a huge cost in innocent lives lost. The challenge now for the Americans after this coup is to proceed with graciousness and caution not getting caught up in triumphal boasting or reacting gleefully to the death of their greatest enemy. As the philosopher Nietzsche warned, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. "

Gerard O'Shea