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Sermon for 26 January 2014



My Dear People,

The Marriage Course begins this Sunday at 2.30pm in the Marian Room of our parish Centre. All the couples marrying in the twenty five parishes of our deanery and more besides who are marrying abroad will be starting the course. Pray for them. They are so brave, starting off together and putting total trust in each other when marriage is under such pressure of negative opinion. People now refer to "partners" as though it was the same as a spouse and it ain't is it? However - that is another story. They will continue each Sunday afternoon for five weeks in total and at the end I would hope that they have more reasons for marrying than they do now! Our Lord will bless them with a faithful love and he has given them the power of the special Sacrament of matrimony to assist them in their life long union.

"Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is very close!" - Thus spoke the Word made man at the very beginning of His public Ministry. The evangelist shows how right was the that prophesy concerning the Messiah's origins in that he came from that part of Galilee that was in a "deep shadow - the Galilee of the nations" - near to the borders of those who did not really believe in the true God of Israel. Perhaps it was a sign from our Lord that his mission was to bring the scattered people of the world out of the darkness of unbelief to the knowledge and love of the One and True God.

Straight away our Blessed Lord begins to build his team. The apostles were the first bishops and they were carefully chosen to be the witnesses closely associated with the Saviour and indeed the recipient of his secret and his true identity as the only Son of God. The fact that two sets of apostles are brothers is amazing or is it? There are priests in this diocese who come from families where there are three priests and two nuns from the one house. Fr Murphy, the PP who served before me, had two brothers who were priests - God be good to them.

The church Catholic has all the hallmarks of a human family you know. After all the Vicar of Christ is called Holy "Father" is he not? The intimacy, love and friendships which exists in the universal Church and binds it together is tangible in holy places like the parish on Easter and Christmas, Lourdes, Rome, etc. Even the Blessed Virgin's best title is "Mother". In Mexico, in Guadalupe said she said to Juan Diego: "But I am your mother". You see how things are?

So when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, James and John we are seeing the elements of the future church being laid out. Leaving their father they left the mending of the nets ( a daily task) and the catching of the fish and "FOLLOWED HIM". "I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN" Jesus told them.

The Priest is a fisher of men. Last week I witnessed a lad who had left his Catholic faith to become a Moslem and I wanted to throw out a big hook to catch him and draw him back into the shoal which is Christ. I was upset for days that a young man should reject Christ for another. That is how it should be? We must all have a thirst for men and women's souls you know. We should be eager to save them and to draw them back for the pit. What a terrible waste of a life if a man gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul.

Our Lord wanted to build up his team to begin his proclamation of the Kingdom. He chose not to do it alone but chose "The Twelve" as they were known and to them he revealed many things.

He still continues to choose and to raise up parents and teachers, priests and bishops, catechists and the married to announce His kingdom and to make it a reality present in our world. It appears at times very weak in the face of the cold blast of anti Christian legislation but we will withstand that opposition - and the powerful voices will all have to shrivel when their fruits are seen to be rotten. Let us stand serenely with Christ and allow him to use us in whatever way, to further his Kingdom in his Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

God bless you all,

Father Tom Connolly

Saint Kentigern: A companion on our journey of faith

Whenever planning a journey there are some essential tools we need from maps to sat nav's and road signs. It is these tools that help us reach the destination we set off for. Our journey of faith towards Jesus is no exception. We need guidance and direction to help us on our way and we are blessed that God has given us saints like Kentigern who act like divine signposts steering us on the right road towards Christ. As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: "Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives imitate their faith." (Heb.13:7)

A monk called Jocelyn living just over 800 years ago at Furness Abbey in Cumbria did exactly that, he reflected on the life of St. Kentigern and wrote down an account of this holy bishop so that others could imitate him and be inspired by him. The words of this Cumbrian monk's history of Kentigern still guide and steer us toward knowing Christ better.

To prove those words true, that the saints are like heavenly signposts helping us come closer to the Lord, there is a wonderful episode in Kentigern's life about the bird, the robin. Jocelyn recalls that as a young boy many of Kentigern's fellow pupils in the school of St. Servanus at Culross in Scotland were jealous of him. They were jealous for Servanus, their teacher, looked more favourably on Kentigern than the rest of them because he excelled in his studies and had a real desire to know Jesus. This jealousy came to a head one day when the bitter students took St. Servanus' pet robin and severed its head from it body hoping to blame Kentigern for the evil deed. Jocelyn takes up the story from when the young saint came across the atrocity:

"…Putting the head upon the body, he signed it with the sign of the cross, and lifting up holy hands in prayer to the Lord, he said, 'Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose hands is the breath of every rational and irrational creature, give back to this bird the breath of life, that Thy blessed name be glorified for ever.' …Straightaway the bird revived."

This story may seem very far-fetched by the standard of our modern minds yet if we look at it closely as a story that is meant to reveal religious truth rather than scientific truth then all becomes clear. In that moment of disaster the first thing that St. Kentigern did when he saw the lifeless body of the robin was to turn to God immediately in prayer. He imitated Jesus exactly. When Our Lord was worried before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane he turned to God the Father in prayer (Lk 22:41-44), when he was on the cross he turned again to God in prayer (Lk 23:34) and when he was asked by a disciple how to pray he taught them to turn immediately to God by teaching: "So you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy…" (Mt 6:9)

As the Father heard the Son's prayers so He heard Kentigern’s prayer because it was a prayer straight from the heart and born out of love like Christ’s prayers for us. It was a prayer said to take away the pain of another, to not let Servanus become distraught at the death of his pet.

What reveals Kentigern's faith in Jesus most powerfully is when he made the sign of the cross over the murdered creature. The cross is truly one of the most powerful signs we possess because it reminds us that sin and death no longer have power over us. Why? Because Jesus Christ, God in flesh and blood, by his life death and resurrection has destroyed that abyss between God and man and restored all creation to its right and proper dignity. Kentigern knew that there was nothing more powerful than the cross and would have known those powerful words of St Paul:

"…Here we are preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor 1:23-24)

As we begin this New Year let us make that resolution to walk towards Christ and know him better because he truly is the source of all joy and peace. We are not alone in this endeavour for God has blessed us with a guide, Kentigern our parish patron, who has shown us already the importance of prayer and the power of the cross. With prayer and the knowledge of the salvation that the cross brings are feet are already on firm ground and set on the right path.

Father Sean O'Brien


Bidding Prayers

Bidding Prayers 3rd Sunday A.

Priest: With call of the apostles we all feel the need to respond to our Lord's calling to us to follow him in whatever vocation God has given us. We bring to the throne of Divine Mercy the needs we have and the needs of the whole world.

Reader: We pray for many more generous and youthful hearts to experience the joy and vigour of Christ’s call to a priestly or consecrated life Vocation - the calling to Christian Marriage - and all the different ways in which Christ calls us to build up his Body, the Church, on earth. Lord in your mercy.

For all those who have to leave father and mother and lands for the sake of progress for themselves and their families - comfort the exile, welcome the stranger, lead all to a safe harbour and to our heavenly home. Lord in your mercy.

For the cause of Christian Unity: may the Conversion of St Paul help us never to underestimate the power of God's grace to bring back the stray and to heal the brokenness of human sin and division - may there be One flock and One Shepherd under the supreme pastoral office of the Papacy - the focus of all unity. Lord in your mercy.

For the sufferings of the people of Syria that the peace talks at the UN will bear fruit. We pray especially for our own Christina brethren in that region who suffer persecution from every side. Lord, in your mercy.

For our parents and teachers - that they may grow in the love of Jesus, listening to him speaking to them in the Scriptures and in the Mass. May they give our children the full teaching and love of Christ. Lord in your mercy.

For all our sick and those who care for them that the good Lord touch them through our pastoral care and the ministration of the sacraments: John Mercer, Joe Toner, Marie Whitley, Beanne O'Grady, Tom and Brenda Lynch, Mary Fitzpatrick, Jim Leonard, Hugh Foran, Denis McLoughlin, Kirsty Rafferty. Lord in your mercy.

We commend to the loving Mercy of our Saviour the souls of those who have departed this life: Kath Molone, Canon Valentine Kamatis, Fr Joe Duggan, Padraig McCormack AND All those whose anniversaries occur about this time: Mary Cleary, Michael Foy, (Sat.11.30 Jan 25th) Mary Colbert (11am), Sheila Delaney, Phylis Hannah (9am) John Morris (Sat 11.30 Feb 1st) Christopher Lawlor (Month’s Mind) (6.30 Sun) Edith Moore, Roji Thomas.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Our Lady is the Purest of Creatures and the House of God, the tower of Ivory - may she pray for us her children now: O Mary, Conceived without sin. Pray for us who have recourse to thee. HAIL MARY...

Priest: Oh Lord and Loving Father, see your family gathered around this Eucharistic Table of your Son who founded the church on the foundation of the apostles and hear and answer our prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.