Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Olympian offers her medal to God.

A medal-winning athlete at this year’s Rio Olympic Games has gifted her bronze medal to the shrine of St. Mary of Marija Bistrica in her native Croatia in thanks for answered prayers ahead of the games.

Champion high-jumper Blanka Vlasic has revealed that she nearly missed the 2016 games due to complications from surgery to a leg injury and only travelled after she prayed to God for the strength to compete. That trip, like her subsequent qualifying jump, was made through the pain of her injury.

“Not even a book would be enough to explain why this is another miracle of God,” she said of her first successful jump. “All glory to Jesus.”

Having qualified for the final, Vlasic went on to scoop the bronze and immediately decided on her course of action at the Marian shrine.

“All the medals are God’s, but this one is especially his,” she said.

(Irish Catholic, September 22, 2016)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn"

Today, September 25 is the Feast of St. Finbarr or Fionnbharra in Irish, very often abbreviated to Barra is patron Saint of the city and the Diocese of Cork. It is thought he lived in the seventh century; he was Bishop of Cork and Abbot of a monastery he built in the picturesque and beautiful setting of Gougane Barra in West Cork.

Tradition holds that Finbarr was one of a community of monks who had a monastic settlement near the place where the river Lee rises in Gougane Barra. St. Finbarr’s oratory was built in the early 1900s on a small island on a lake at Gougane on what has long been a place of pilgrimage.

Clearly Finbarr knew that God was very much present in this sacred place, particularly in the beauty of nature that is evident here all year around. Against a backdrop of rugged hills, lakes, rivers and streams, Finbarr found great peace. The Feast of St. Finbarr today reminds us how important it is to appreciate nature and the beauty of creation.

Whenever I visit this holy place, the lines from psalm 19 comes to mind. “The heavens tell of your glory, O God, and the firmament proclaims your handiwork. Day unto day pours forth the story and night unto night reveals its knowledge”.

St. Finbarr is said to have made the journey to the mouth of the Lee where it meets the sea and established a monastic school around which grew what developed into the city of Cork. An annual pilgrimage day at Gougane is held on the last Sunday of September.

Many people have taken the name Finbarr and there are many name places especially in Cork associated with the Saint’s name. The Church of Ireland Cathedral takes its name from Finbarr and the motto of University College, Cork is, “Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn” are just but a few.

Today is a day of pilgrimage and prayer in Gougane.  We ask the blessings of St. Finbarr on ourselves, our city, our families, our schools, our communities, and those who need a special prayer today. May St. Finbarr continue to guide and direct us each day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Miracles do Happen

The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen’ G.K.Chesterton.

I often think about the meaning of miracles. They make me think about how God works in our lives. It seems like in the Old Testament and during Jesus’ time on earth, there was a lot of very obvious, direct divine intervention. Why don’t we see those kinds of miracles happening today?

I used to confine miracles to holy places only, like Lourdes, Knock and Medjugorje. Even in these places miracles seem to be infrequent and rare. But are they? It all depends on what a miracle might mean. If we’re expecting something spectacular and almost impossible then we are going to be disappointed. But if we understand a miracle as God’s intervention, no matter how small, then miracles are plentiful and are to be found everywhere despite an onslaught of negative news all around us. But we can miss it all through apathy, worry, stress, busy lifestyles and other distractions. These miracles are all around us, plentiful, endless and there to be enjoyed and celebrated.

It may be a baby’s chuckle, a child’s laugh, a mother’s love, birds in flight, a blade of grass, a beautiful flower, birth of a baby! Let these miracles do their work. Let these dime-a-dozen miracles free us from our prisons of incredulity.