Tired of all the bad news

While we can't deny the difficulites for so many people at home and overseas, it's important to take account of the positives, and to spread the Good News. I don't know who said this but; "No-one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side." Blessings..

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Church is built from living stones.

Following the controversial comments of a popular morning time radio presenter on an independent Irish national radio station critically using the F-word in relation to the catholic church, there has been much comment in the social media. This morning the same presenter refused to apologise.

It is fair to say that many ordinary catholics are hurt and disillusioned by the revelations and cover-up in relation to clerical child sexual abuse. It is also fair to say that many catholics while they are angry, are prepared to stand up for their church and defend it. Many catholics feel angry at the pervasive criticism levelled at the church from sections of the media, print and broadcast. One would feel that this media can look down on the church and in their commentary and reportage make catholics look like some kind of quaint and out-of-date grouping. (1.1 billion catholics world wide 2005) They seem to suggest that the cause of most of the social ills in Ireland and in the west is the historical power of the catholic church.

There is no denying that in the past the hierarchy of the church wielded huge moral power.  In small-town and urban Ireland years ago there was an hierarchy for example; the local teacher, the local bank-manager, the local policeman, and at the top of this was the local parish priest. These days are gone now but the fall out continues and we are reminded of this from time to time.

Despite the reportage, and speaking only from my small experience here in Dublin city centre, there are still people contacting us in the parish for the sacraments: One girl booked an infant baptism for a Sunday in July and there are already some for May and June. I baptized two babies yesterday.

A young couple contacted me Saturday and asked me to visit their very ill baby son and bless him with the relic of St. Padre Pio in a children's hospital. As a result of that visit, two other mothers asked me to bless their little babies in the unit too. I visited two adults in another hospital on Sunday and blessed them.

These are only examples of those who feel that they need prayers and blessings along with the expert and dedicated care of the nursing, medical, surgical, and care staff in our hospitals. These are the real miracle workers.

I have had three calls today in relation to people asking to be blessed with the relic of St. Pio. On Friday morning last, I celebrated the funeral Mass of a young middle aged man who quietly came to pray in our friary church all his life. Then I celebrated the wedding of a couple from this parish, rushing from one to the other. I have been invited to Newbridge, Eadestown/Kilteel and Bagnealstown to speak at their novenas over Lent, each to very full churches.

And that's just me, and that's apart from daily Mass and work in the parish office, and working with the two primary schools in the parish in preparation for the First Communion ceremony in May.
I know many other priests and religious, pastoral workers and chaplains who are very busy in their ministry to ordinary catholics, ordinary christians etc.  We are the privileged ones.

Incidentally, if you want a someone to visit a patient in hospital for a blessing or a prayer, the proper channels are the chaplaincy and pastoral care staff there. Also the patient himself or herself needs to consent and also next-of-kin.  All this needs to be cleared by the staff nurse and the nurse managers. And all of course within the visiting hours of the hospital.

"No one laughs at God in a hospital
 No one laughs at God in a war
 No one’s laughing at God
 When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

 No one laughs at God
 When the doctor calls after some routine tests
 No one’s laughing at God
 When it’s gotten real late
 And their kid’s not back from the party yet

 No one laughs at God
 When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake...."

-Regina Skeptor lyrics


Friday, 6 April 2012

The Scandal of the Cross

All Jesus' disciples deserted him on Good Friday except John. Those who followed him and supported what he was doing in his public ministry must have been shell-shocked, terrified, and bewildered at seeing him suffer and die on the cross (John 18ff) Humanly speaking, it made no sense for Jesus to go when the momentum was gathering pace. More and more were hearing him speak words of life to those broken down in sin. People were coming to touch the hem of his garment so as to be healed. Jesus himself was always willing to heal the sick, and to raise the dead. And to forgive the sinner. So why this roller-coaster of a week where at the beginning people were crying; 'Hosannah', and by the end of it they were saying; 'Crucify him?'

Jesus came on earth on the Father's Terms. He always did what pleases the Father. (John 8:29)
He said; "It was written that the Christ should suffer..."(Luke 24:44-48) This was the master-plan of God the Father that He would prove once and for all that He loves His people. 

"Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God, but emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave. And being found in human form he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised Him on High, and gave Him the name that is above other names..." (Philippians 2:6-11)

The cross at first glance is a symbol of failure and of scandal. But looking deeper, the cross is the theatre of redemption. For it is here that we are saved from our sins. Jesus never came down off the cross. (Matthew 27: 40) We are loved unconditionally. The cross of Christ is the touchstone for us with the Kingdom of Heaven and it burns away our sins and failures. The good news is; the cross of Christ is the symbol of hope for the hopeless. And it is a hope that will sustain us for our journey of life here on earth, and it sanctifies us for our life with God in heaven. There is no need to be afraid.