Tuesday, July 26, 2016

That All may be One : Living in Radical Amazement.

There is no shortage of wonderful books on the marvels of God’s creation, but Judy Cannato blends the story of the universe into a very informative, reflective, refreshing and challenging read. I quote briefly below from chapter 12 of her book Radical Amazement.

The new universe story invites us to expand our hearts to include all creation. Indeed, connectedness is fundamental to our reality. No matter what sphere of life we observe, from the physical to the spiritual, we are connected to others. We cannot separate from this truth, no matter how hard we may want to try. Albert Einstein called the notion of separation an “optical delusion”, yet for several centuries we have lived deluded, and at a great price. So Many of the social and ecological problems that confront us today stem from our delusion that we are separate from, better or more significant than, other members of creation – from other groups of people we encounter to the air we breathe. Our lack of openness to all may very well mean our demise.

If we are to expand our hearts to include all creation, we need to embrace our capacity for communion. Relationship is something that all life requires, even organic life. Our vitality depends upon the connections we establish and the communion we share. Of course we are made for agency, of course we are asked to develop our gifts and use then well. But our gifts, as life-giving as their expression can be for us, are foremost for others. This means we must reject a perception of separateness and exclusivity that keep others at bay. And it means we reject any temptation that keeps us from self-communion, from tending to the Holy that dwells within. What nourishes any of us, more that bread itself, is a relationship in which we discover simultaneously who we are as we discover who the other is. Communion that honours the other, that reverences the Holy One in the other and in the self-this is what we embrace. Connectedness is primary. Communion is essential.

(Judy Cannato)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Youth 2000 Summer Festival Retreat

Following on from my visit to Youth 2000 retreat in Killarney in April, I looked forward to the Summer Festival at Cistercian College, Roscrea which took place last week end. I joined the Presentation Brothers’ Youth Ministry Team: Silvia and John together with Brothers Stan, Douglas, Theiva and Barry.

In excess of 1,000 young adults gathered to celebrate and deepen their faith in a safe and supportive environment. One youthful adult attending for the first time said to me he thought it would be all old people in attendance but he was shocked to see so many young people and that was very reassuring. It was he said like being part of one big family, the family of God where he felt a sense of belonging, united around Christ through adoration and the Eucharist.

The theme of the festival was, “Receive my mercy...inherit my kingdom”. Thursday was Gathering Day, Friday was Mercy Day, Saturday was Mary’s Day and Sunday was Mission Day. It was great to catch up again with friends and make more new friends in Roscrea.

It was a festival full of variety. It included adoration, inspiring talks, music, prayer, drama, share groups, testimonies, workshops, reconciliation and healing service and Mass. It was a packed programme but there was also time for chatting, relaxing, field games and generally chilling out. I experienced a lovely sense of joy and camaraderie throughout the four days. It was a gathering of friends that cut across, age, ethnicity, background, culture and personality.

A number of excellent workshops were offered on Friday and Saturday afternoon. I would have loved to sample all the workshops but four was as many as one could attend over the two afternoons. There was a workshop on ‘Dodgy Stuff’ (New Age Movements) and the cost of discipleship. Other workshops included exploring love and relationships, faith in media (spirit radio), pro-life, lectio divina, discovering your vocation, pure in heart, a tour of the Monastery and others.

There were faith groups with display stands in the assembly hall offering information to interested seekers. Personnel were present at display stands to distribute literature or answer questions was Vocations Ireland, Shalom T.V. Legion of Mary, NET Ministries, Pro Life, Newman College (Derry), Cana, Mary’s Meals and many others.         

For many people to whom I spoke, the healing service was a lovely experience for them followed by reconciliation. Bishop Phonsie Cullinane, Waterford and Lismore Diocese led the Mass on Friday while Archbishop Charles Brown, Papal Nuncio was the main celebrant at the Saturday Mass. Both encouraged the youth to be strong in standing up for their faith and to use the festival to overcome any fear they may encounter beyond the festival. A number of those who attended will represent Youth 2000 at World Youth Day in Poland at the of the month.

I acknowledge the weeks of preparation and hard work by Lana Wilson, National Director and her team of dedicated volunteers at national level. Well done to all concerned! Youth 2000 continues to grow in strength throughout Ireland. In the words of Lana, it is about, ‘Youth leading youth to the heart of the Church’and I know many are looking forward to the next Youth 2000 event.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Movies with Meaning: “The Bucket List”

Recently, I saw a good film, “The Bucket List” in the company of young adults. Two old codgers Edward (Jack Nicholson) and Carter (Morgan Freeman) end up in hospital because of a terminal illness. They share the same hospital room together and they become good friends. After making a “bucket list” (list of things to do before they ‘kick the bucket’), they set out together on a worldwide adventure, completing the items on the list—and adding more—as they go along.

There are many engaging twists and relevant messages in the film. At one point Edward arranges a prostitute for Carter, who refuses and in the process finds a renewed love for his wife. Edward also shares personal experiences from his own life: He’s been married three times, and has a daughter, from whom he’s estranged. Carter understands that Edward longs for his family, and arranges a meeting at his daughter’s home. Edward was furious, and responded by saying that he doesn’t need anybody. When Carter passes away, a letter he left moves Edward to reconcile with his daughter, giving him an opportunity to be with the cutest girl in the world—his granddaughter.

During one of their journeys, Carter asks Edward some questions about life. Have you found joy in your life?” “Has your life brought joy to others?” Edward says he envies people who have faith but he never could get his head around it. Faith doesn’t make sense to him. Does it make sense for you? In the end of their lives, they realise what is really important. Why do we never know what we have got until it’s gone? This film reminds us to cherish our lives at every moment and treasure our families and friends. I often wondered if I had six months to live, what would be my response?

I recall a line from the film: Upon death, God asks a question: “Were you ever happy?” The answer determines whether or not you’ll be allowed into heaven. This makes an important point: The purpose of life is happiness, even to the last moments. It doesn’t matter how much money you make; what matters is whether or not you’re happy in the process of making it. At the end of the day, the goal of making money should be to increase your own happiness, not accumulating wealth just for the sake of becoming wealthy.

Having watched the film a lively discussion ensued. It is a film that raised many questions for me. It is well worth watching especially for anyone discerning their future direction in life. We can also call the ‘bucket list’ a ‘list of dreams’. ‘Bucket list’ emphasizes passing away, while ‘list of dreams’ sounds more life-centered. We should make a list of dreams—at the very least this will give us goals to strive towards in our youth, giving us fuller and happier lives. So, what’s first on your list?