Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Discerning in Lent!

Part of a regular medical check-up is to have tests taken of your pulse, blood pressure, a heart check and perhaps a blood test. With the season of Lent, there is the invitation for a spiritual check-up – one that lasts for forty days!

Just as many of us do not like visiting doctors, many of us may not like the season of Lent. Perhaps it is for the same reason. Are there issues I may not wish to face up to? Perhaps I am not as well as I would like to be; perhaps changes in life-style will be called for, when I would prefer to continue as I am. Nevertheless, in both cases, I know it is for my benefit and I am being irresponsible if I avoid looking after body, mind and spirit. I don’t know about you, but the above certainly applies to me!

Lent can perhaps be seen as a check-up on how well we have been transformed into the mind, heart and vision of God. St. Paul puts it like this: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) 

Let us use the remaining time of Lent to examine our minds and hearts and to commit ourselves to transformation and renewal so that we truly can “discern the will of God” – what is good, acceptable and perfect”! 

If you wish to learn more about the Presentation Brothers, don't hesitate to get in touch. I'm at; vocation@presentationbrothers.org

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

St. Valentine

Wednesday, February 14th, is of course St Valentine's Day, a day when we talk about love more than usual. A lot of the discussion you hear today will be light-hearted and fun.

But who was St Valentine? There are some conflicting accounts but we know he existed and his remains have been identified in the catacombs of Rome. This feast day has been celebrated for 15 centuries!

Three things you need to know:
1. He was a Catholic priest
2. He was arrested for tending to the needs of the persecuted Christians of Rome. 
3. He was executed for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith during the persecution of Roman Emperor Claudius.

For men and women discerning a vocation, then there is an obvious resonance here.

For a start St Valentine answered the call to serve by embracing a religious vocation. Secondly, he served those in need and risked his own life to do so. Finally, he refused to deny his faith and has since been remembered as an icon of love. 

It's ironic that at a time when celibacy and chaste love are dismissed, the day on which the world celebrates love is in fact a day in honour of a priest who died for his faith!

(Take time to read this beautiful reflection below)

Fall in Love
Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.


Friday, February 2, 2018

The Feast of St. Bridget!

The beginning of February is traditionally associated with the heralding of the start of spring and the arrival of fertility to the land. The land dormant during the winter months begins to stir and new life embarks on its journey towards the light. Precious seeds, deep within the soil are germinating, awaiting the breath of spring to accompany them to the earth’s surface.

These are days when we are invited into our own spring space – a space where new life is stirring, awakening and becoming, a space full of potential and possibility. These are days of rebirth and re-growth, of renewal and resurrection. Then with their first appearance they adorn the earth with their beautiful presence and remind us of resurrection.

The 1st of February marks the feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland, and we celebrate this great woman of prayer and her great devotion to God and neighbour. She dedicated her life to God and to the poor. She became known for her good works and many young women were inspired to follow her.

The following day is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. We conclude a year of celebration for Consecrated Life as we celebrated the many priests, brothers and sisters whose faith, devotion and commitment influenced many of our lives. We remembered the young men and women who continue to discern a call to priesthood or religious life. We continue to pray for them all and thank God for their lives of quiet dedication.

We also celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on the 3rd of February, whose life was very simple and ordinary. He is known worldwide for his care of those who were sick and particularly those with ailments of the throat. Many churches will give a blessing on the day. If you can't make it to a church, then our own quiet prayer to St. Blaise will be just as effective and important. 

At the beginning of spring, maybe now's the time to go deeper in your discernment journey...

I'm always available at 
vocation@presentationbrothers.org if you'd like more information.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cristus Natus Nobis, Venite Adoremus!

Advent has reached its end! The waiting is over! As we look at the infant in the manger we are not only reflecting on a wonderful moment in history - we are also challenged to find room in our hearts for the birth of Christ. A night of sublime comfort and extraordinary challenge!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Waiting in Joyful Hope!

These early days of December are marked by the beginning of our journey through Advent. It’s not a word you will find in many shopping catalogues. How many of us get excited about Advent and yet it is a season full of meaning and symbolism?

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin “Adventus”, a name which means coming or arrival. The prayers of Advent touch on each person walking in some darkness and also awaiting and anticipating a great light. It is a time for us to hear those quiet whispers in our lives of a God gently calling us from darkness into light. Advent is a reminder of how we need this light more than ever in our own lives.

Life certainly moves fast and particularly in the run in to Christmas. Time appears to be going faster and everything takes on an air of urgency. Waiting for many of us may not be our greatest forte and we go directly to celebrating Christmas without getting in touch with that part of ourselves that is reflective, trusting and hoping.

Joseph, the husband of Mary can only wait with her, loving and supporting her and their unborn child, but unable to accelerate the process. Unless we step aside from all of this and reflect on this great event and its relevance to us, take time to see where we fit into the bigger picture, we have failed ourselves. 

The season of Advent is an opportunity to step aside. The sheer speed of life today can literally choke and block out those beautiful, simple and ordinary moments that no money can buy. Advent gives us the chance to appreciate that we are indeed on a privileged journey.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Happy Presentation Day!

November 21st, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady - is the feast day of the Presentation Brothers and Presentation Sisters. It is an occasion each year when we celebrate our call and mission as religious men and women in the Presentation Congregations.      
The feast recalls a Jewish custom whereby young Jewish men and women went to the Temple of Jerusalem to dedicate their lives to God.

In this feast we remember that Mary PRESENTS her life to God. Mary in turn PRESENTS Jesus to the world. This is the ideal of the Presentation Brothers and Sisters - to do their best to present Jesus Christ in the world today by the example of our lives. The mission of the Presentation Brothers is Forming Christ in the Young.

Christmas ads are already appearing on our television screens. They remind us of a time of year that is fast approaching. Part of Christmas is the giving of gifts. The challenge for those of us as Presentation religious is to present our lives as a gift to others. Each one of us is blessed with many gifts, we may not think so but we are a gift to others. 

“Never doubt the power of a small group of committed people to change the world, for indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade 
During the week the Presentation family around the world celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. All associated with the Presentation Family, communities, schools, friends, and young people are invited to join with the Presentation Brothers in celebrating this great feast.
For those of you informing yourselves about your future careers, I encourage and challenge you to keep the option of serving others as a Presentation Brother or Sister among your list of options. Do not be afraid, have courage, be risk takers and explore this option. I believe people need the witness of Brothers and Sisters in a world where there is so much suffering, pain and division. 

For those of you discerning your vocation in life - know that you on this special Feast dedicated to Mary our Mother, are held in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

In November we Remember!

We celebrate the feast of All Saints on November 1st which reminds us that October 31 truly is All Hallows Eve. It is the beginning of the last month in the Church’s Year so we call on all the saints of all time to intercede for us before the Lord. We have many saints in the Church calendar. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for our loved ones beginning with All Souls Day on November 2nd. Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (Oct. 31st) & All Saints Day (Nov 1st), All Souls Day is a solemn celebration commemorating all of those who have gone before us! Indeed, the Church encourages us during the month of November to take time to pause, remember and pray for all our loved ones.   

But the month is not limited to the many saints whose names are in the calendar and are celebrated at an appropriate date with a feast day and memory. It includes all the faithful departed who have gone before us and are now in the presence of the Lord. The vast majority of these are not canonised but are known to those with whom they lived and loved. We all know many good people whose lives were exemplary and a testament to all those around them. During the month of November, we have all of these in mind as we remember with confidence our saints.

Many people pay a visit to a cemetery with a flower or a night light. ‘It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be freed to eternal life’. In prayer we are in God’s presence and we believe we are in some way in communion with our loved ones. 

We may wish of course to avoid talking about death, we don’t like being reminded of our mortality. Woody Allen famously quipped, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” It strikes a chord because that is how many of us deal with death. We joke about it while keeping our real thoughts and fears to ourselves.

Some of our deceased relatives we got to say goodbye to, while others left us before any goodbyes could be exchanged. By remembering our deceased in prayer or by visiting their resting place is an attempt at saying we haven’t forgotten them and that they will always be a special part of our lives.  

It’s a custom too in Ireland to abstain from alcohol and or cigarettes during the month of November. Fasting and sacrifice help us to focus our mind on prayer. ‘I’ve given up alcohol. And, yes, it’s tough!’ As we spend the month recalling the example of people of faith who went before us, spare a thought for your future too. Would life as a religious help you to be the saint that you are called to be?

May all our loved ones who have died, rest in peace!