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.