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Lent: Christ fasted; so must we

Posted on February 19, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

There is something that I think is quite unique about our Gospel reading today that causes it to stand out from all the other things we read about in the Gospels. I do not mean the fact that our Lord spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness among the wild beasts; nor do I refer to the fact that he fasted during the time that he was there; neither is it that when the time was over that angels ministered to him; and I am not even thinking about the way that Satan himself came and tempted him.

 

No, while all these things are remarkable in and of themselves, it is not so much what happened as to how we know it happened that makes these events so extraordinary. All the other things that are reported to us in the Gospels of Jesus' life and teaching have one common feature – there were others present … disciples, Apostles, even his own blessed mother … who were witnesses to what took place or what was said and were able to later testify to it so that it might be recorded and passed down to later generations. But in this case our Lord was alone for the whole 40 days. Which means there is only one possible source for the details we have of what happened there during this time – Jesus himself.

 

That our Lord made sure that this time when there were no other witnesses to what happened other than himself, the angels, and the devil would be known to all men down through the ages tells us something important about it – and that is that Jesus considered it to something that it was vital that we know, something essential to our salvation. So what is it that we may learn from from this account of our Lord's time in the wilderness?

 

Well, there are many ways in which it instructs us. But today let us consider only three. The first, which I have no doubt you have heard mentioned many times before, is that by enduring temptation himself our Lord demonstrates that there is nothing sinful in being tempted. This is something very reassuring in this, for we all suffer from temptations. It is simply part of the human condition, and something that will be with us all our days until the very moment that life leaves our bodies. And if we believed that it was sinful to be tempted then we might see no reason to resist temptation and so fall into sin. And so our Lord by his example teaches that while it may well be no pleasant thing to be tempted, we have done no wrong by suffering it; and that by rejecting sinful temptations we instead do good.

But with so much to tempt us, these things being sent to try us not just by the devil, but from the world and the flesh also, how do we strengthen ourselves to resist? We learn this also from this incident in the life of our Lord, for both St Matthew and St Luke tell us that he spent this time fasting. There is great spiritual strength to be found in fasting, something all too many in the Western world, even those who are otherwise devoted followers of Christ, seem to have forgotten. But it is by denying ourselves things that are permitted, things that are good and pleasant, that we train ourselves to resist things that are not permitted, things that are sinful for us to engage in. Also fasting, as we know from the lives of great saints down through the ages, helps us grow in holiness; it is difficult to express in words why that should be … but it seems as if fasting in some way narrows the distance between heaven and earth for the one who does it, helping them to draw closer to God … provided that it be done in the right spirit.

 

And what is that right spirit? Again we may look to the example of our Lord during those 40 days. He, St Luke tells us, ate nothing during that time. Now you or I, or most others I think, were we to attempt such a thing would most probably die. But Christ is God and to him all things are possible. Even so, the evangelist tells us that he was famished at the end – he had fasted, it would seem, to the very limit of his endurance. This tells us that we should not be too easy on ourselves when it comes to our own spiritual disciplines. Christ told us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him – and that means surely that when we fast we should feel some pangs of hunger, just as the time we devote to extra prayer and study should come at the cost of something else we might usually spend time doing, and when we give alms the price we pay for doing so should be not being able to afford something else. But always in a spirit of humility, aware that we engage in these disciplines for the sake of spiritual growth, not for the sake of trying to impress others, or to somehow feel better about ourselves, but to draw closer to God.

 

I realise that all this may seem out of step with the spirit of the age. But that should not matter to us. We are not called to believe in the latest fads and fashions but in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and unto the end of the ages; and we as Christians are called to be as Christlike as possible. Christ himself fasted – therefore we must do so also. More, he took particular care that we should know he fasted. And therefore I pray that all here will do so also, as part of a holy Lent, as a way of growing in holiness, and as part of the path they walk that will one day take them to be with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 18 Feb 2018: The 1st Sunday in Lent (liturgical colour ??? purple)

Posted on February 17, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+Monday 19 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'And (those at his left hand) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’  Matthew 25. 46

Reflection:

Christ warned of the judgement to come. Make this season of Lent your spiritual training ground so that, with God's grace, you may be counted amongst the righteous at the last.

 

+ Tuesday 20 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Your kingdom come.  Your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.' Matthew 6.10

Reflection:

Christ taught these words to all who follow them, words that we pray every day. As you pray them, consider the many ways in which you wilfully ignore or flout God's holy laws. Pray daily this Lent for his forgivenss and help to do better.

 

+ Wednesday 21 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.' Luke 11. 30

Reflection:

The people of Ninevah repented and were saved. How much more should we, to whom God sent his only Son, turn from all that is evil within us and in the world around us, hoping to be saved.

 

+Thursday 22 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.' Matthew 7.7

Reflection:

What is it that you truly seek? Is it not to achieve the purpose for which you were made and be with your Father in heaven? Listen then to his Son and make the changes in your life that will bring you to that which you seek.

 

+Friday 23 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

‘You have heard it said ... “You shall not murder” … But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement.' Matthew 5. 21,22

Reflection:

Christ calls us to be perfect, as he is perfect. Let this season of discipline and self-denial be an aid to you in answering that call, even as you pray for his help.

 

+Saturday 24 (Rector's Day Off; Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Matthew 5. 43, 44

Reflection:

How can Christ tell us to love our enemies? How are we to control our feelings and do such a thing? But our Lord does not ask the impossible because love is not an emotion, it is a decision. To love God, love our neighbour, and love our enemies all are equally possible; it is a matter of deciding to do so and then living it out in our lives.

 

+Sun 26 February, The first Sunday in Lent – Liturgical colour purple

3rd Sunday of month; services according to usual pattern (see below)

 

Notes & Advance notices

Tue: Information Evening on Draft Castlecomer Local Area Plan, view proposed changes & meet KKCOCO planning team, Castlecomer Library from 5-8 pm

Wednesday: Frugal lunch, confirmation classes, and Lenten mid-week services begin – see below for details

 

+21 Feb Frugal Lunch begins in the Rectory, 1-2pm, Wednesdays in Lent (excluding Ash Wed & Holy Week); donations to Parish Poor Fund and local VdeP

+Wed: Lenten Midweek Services begin, 8pm: Feb 21st Mothel; 29th Bilboa; March 7th St Mary's; 15th The Colliery; 21st Bilboa. These all are at 8pm and all are Wednesdays except on March 15th which is a Thursday.

3,4 Mar, extra performances of 'The Maiden Aunt', in Coon

+14 Mar Bilboa Cookery Demonstration with Edward Hayden 8pm Lord Bagenal €15. This is a ticketed event and all interested are advised to purchase early to avoid disappointment. Tickets available from Bilboa parishioners.

+17-19 Mar Ovoca training weekend for Holiday Club. Booking forms from rector.

 

+15 April Parish Confirmation date: preparation classes at 6.45pm the Vestry, St Mary's, Feb 21 & 28, Mar 7, 15, 21. Punctuality important! Preparation book €10

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

The Transfiguration and the beginning of Lent

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Today is the Sunday before Lent, and also the Sunday on which we consider the Transfiguration of our Lord. That we consider this event on the cusp of the great penitential season of the Church is no accident; in the gospels it is after this event takes place that our Saviour begins his journey to Jerusalem – a journey that would culminate with his Passion and death on the Cross – a death which he willingly embraced for our sakes. During the course of Lent we make our own spiritual journey to the foot of the Cross, accompanying our Lord in his sufferings. And so before we begin our journey we ponder the event that came before his.

 

So what took place on the mountain heights that day? Well, as I begin, it is perhaps important to point out that there is a special theological name for what happened. It was a theophany – a visible manifestation of God to man. There are accounts of other theophanies in Sacred Scripture: Moses and the burning bush, for example; and Elijah in the desert. St Paul's Damascus Road experience might also be thought of as one, when he heard not only the voice of our Lord but also saw a light from heaven.

In the gospels, there is the Baptism of our Lord, when the Son stands in the Jordan, the voice of the Father is heard from heaven, and the Holy Spirit manifests as a dove hovering above. The cloud is also considered a symbol of the Holy Spirit and it is out of a cloud during the Transfiguration that the Father speaks, echoing the words spoken at that earlier Theophany, when he says that this is his Beloved Son and we must listen to him.

 

But there is difference on this occasion. At his baptism Jesus, despite the voice from heaven, appears to all present to be nothing more than a man. But now, in the company of the inner circle of his Apostles, he shines whitely, a dazzling whiteness, so white that no one on earth could bleach his clothes as brightly as this. What is happening? Well consider that when we speak of God we often speak of him as Light – uncreated light – and indeed, the Nicene Creed speaks of Jesus as being Light from Light, and the Gospels tell us that he was the Light of the world. In the Transfiguration, then, he displays a fraction of his heavenly glory and the uncreated energies that are the uncreated light of God shine forth and are seen.

 

But not publicly; only to a chosen few. And even they he warns not to speak of it until after his Resurrection. The time has not yet come for him to reveal himself to the world … but he wants his disciples to be able to look back on this moment and remember … remember and only then understand after his death and resurrection what they had witnessed … that they had seen him as he truly is … God incarnate.

 

And this remembering, this understanding, is important for us as we stand on the threshold of that Great season of the Church that is Lent. For it serves to shake us out of our often all too comfortable complacency about the mysteries of our faith and bring us directly face to face with the fact of who it is who is about to begin that journey to Jerusalem, who it is that will willingly suffer and die for our sins – God himself in the person our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

This reminder should spur us on to engage fully with the traditional disciplines of this great season – prayer, fasting, and alms giving – disciplines that are more than things that are simply suggested to us by the Church, but rather practices that were both modelled for us by Christ and commanded by him to engage in. We should not, therefore, see them as something that it matters little if we do or do not do, or do half-heartedly, sporadically, or grudgingly. They are a vital part of the way in which we train ourselves to grow as Christians and grow in holiness … something we dare not neglect, for God himself has told that we must be holy as he is holy …

 

And as I finish, I think back to words of St Paul we heard in our Epistle this day, in which he told us that the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing, those whom the god of this world has blinded to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. It is difficult not to think that we blind ourselves if we do not do everything that we can to grow in holiness. And it is even more difficult not to think that we risk numbering ourselves among those who are perishing if we do not do the things that Christ himself did and asked that those who followed him should do.

 

This Lent, I pray that all here will discipline themselves as our Lord commanded by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving and take up their cross and join with him on his journey to Jerusalem … a journey that will be enlightened by the light of Christ and the glory that is his gospel … and that in doing so you will draw ever nearer to the eternal and uncreated Light that created you … so that at the end of days you will join with the light that is God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 11 Feb 2018: The Sunday Before Lent: The Transfiguration (liturgical colour ??? White)

Posted on February 10, 2018 at 12:40 AM

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+Monday 12

Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.’ Mark 8.12

Reflection

The hard-hearted of Jesus' day already had seen enough to know who he was; there was no point to his giving them even more signs. So it is for those who refuse to believe in our own time; they are surrounded by all they need to know Christ. If that is not enough for them, then nothing more will convince them.

 

+ Tuesday 13

And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ Mark 8 15

Reflection

Our Lord was speaking metaphorically of those who put their wisdom above that of God and risk corrupting others by it. We in our own time must beware the secular wisdom of the age, a wisdom that not only is not afraid to set itself above God's law, but will even proudly denounce Christ's teaching as evil.

 

+Ash Wednesday (Day of Special Observance; & of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Whenever you give alms … whenever you pray ...  whenever you fast … (do so so that you) may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.' Matthew 6, 5-6, 16-18

Reflection

Fasting, prayer, and alms-giving are part of our traditional Lenten disciplines because they are something that Christ expected his followers to do. How can anyone doubt the spiritual rewards that come with them, when it was our Lord himself who promised them?

 

+Thursday 15 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. Luke 9.24

Reflection

We are surrounded by many spiritual dangers in this world, evils that threaten our very soul. Turn to Christ; not only has he the power to save you, but it was the very reason he was sent into the world.

 

+Friday 16 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

And Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Matthew 9.15

Reflection

All the great spiritual teachers of all religions have recognised that restricting how much or what you eat can be of great spiritual benefit. We who call ourselves Christians should be the most zealous in this discipline, for it was mandated for us by Christ himself.

 

+Saturday 17 (Rector's Day Off; Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ Luke 5. 31, 32

Reflection

Christ, we know, came to call us all; therefore, we all must be sinners. Do not try to deny this - even if you can fool yourself, you can not fool God. Instead confess your sins and ask God's mercy - then deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ.

 

+Sun 18 February, The first Sunday in Lent – Liturgical colour purple

3rd Sunday of month; services according to usual pattern (see below)

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Tue MU Annual Tea Party & Exchange of Prayer Partner Gift, the Hall 8pm

+Ash Wednesday: penitential service: noon the Colliery Church; 8 pm Bilboa.

 

+21 Feb Frugal Lunch begins in the Rectory, 1-2pm, Wednesdays in Lent (excluding Ash Wed & Holy Week); donations to Parish Poor Fund and local VdeP

+Lenten Midweek Services, 8pm: Feb 21st Mothel; 29th Bilboa; March 7th St Mary's; 15th The Colliery; 21st Bilboa. These all are at 8pm and all are Wednesdays except on March 15th which is a Thursday.

+14 Mar Bilboa Cookery Demonstration with Edward Hayden 8pm Lord Bagenal €15

+15 April Parish Confirmation date: preparation classes at 6.45pm the Vestry, St Mary's, Feb 21 & 29, Mar 7, 15, 21. Punctuality important! Preparation book €10

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

Notice

Posted on February 4, 2018 at 6:55 AM

The Select Vestry

is pleased to be able to announce at this time

that that purchase of the Brennans' House

(next to Barnes' House and the Wandesforde Hall)

is now complete

and the property is in the ownership of the parish.

Further details will be announced.

'The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us'

Posted on February 4, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

'The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us'

Those words are from our Gospel reading today, that part of St John the Divine's Gospel that is often called the Prologue. Christians have deeply pondered those words and their meaning down through the ages. As well they should, for by them the Beloved Disciple tries to convey to us what took place at the Incarnation - that when the Blessed Virgin Mary said 'yes' to God's will and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived within her womb, the Divine Word that was God, at that moment became also a human being.

These words are reflected in the Nicene Creed, in which we declare that: 'We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.' The Creed is a summary statement of of our Faith, outlining in a very short form that which is to be believed by all Christians.

Indeed, 'believe' may be a word insufficiently strong in this modern age. 'Know to be true' may be better, for this is a time when all too many make themselves large in their own imagination by pouring scorn on religion; to such to 'believe' means having a blind faith in something for which there is no firm proof or evidence. And this is simply not the case. There may be no scientific evidence for much of what we know by faith; but there is no requirement that there should be, for there is much that we know that is not amenable to scientific investigation … and neither, it should be noted, is there any scientific basis for insisting that all things must be provable by science!

There is no scientific way, for example, to prove that love exists; and yet we all know that it does. Nor can someone by science prove that it is wrong for one person to deliberately take the life of another human being who is innocent of any wrong-doing; and yet this is something that we all know to be true. We know these things in our hearts. Theologians of the Orthodox Church refer to this as Noetic knowledge; and the things that we know from the evidence of our hearts is just as valid as anything else we know. It is not scientific evidence; but it is evidence nonetheless and it is as valid to the spheres of life to which it applies as scientific evidence is valid when it concerns investigating the affairs of the material world.

Our knowledge of God is just such a truth, a noetic truth, something we know to be true because our heart tells us so. It is our heart that speaks to us of the awesomeness of God, that he is Almighty and without beginning or end. And so when he speaks to us directly in the Divine Revelation that is Sacred Scripture and tells us that he himself became man we should be humbled beyond imagining at the great love that God has shown for us in doing this. Before this it was already known to man that he was created in God's image; and because of this it was not only a crime against man's law but a sin against God's to take an innocent human life. But now, because God has become man, we understand that each human life is something sacred, because in the face of each man and woman, or each boy or girl, no matter how young, we are to see the face of Christ himself.

And we should be humbled also at why he came into the world – something that St John tells us clearly later in his Gospel; it was that all might be saved and that we might have life and have it abundantly. The Word became flesh, God became man and walked upon the earth in order that we might have our sins forgiven, that we might be holy as God is holy, and one day be with God in heaven.

This knowledge of the heart should have an even greater meaning for us and how we lead our lives than the knowledge we gain through science. Science, for example, helps us to understand gravity. And we know that if we ignore that knowledge and step over a cliff we will plunge to our deaths as a result. But that death is only the loss of the few years that remains to us of this life. If we ignore the knowledge we have by God's grace in our hearts we risk far more – the eternal life that God offers us in the next.

It was for the sake of this eternal life that the Word was made Flesh. This we not only believe, this we know in our hearts. I pray that all here will live with that knowledge in their hearts always and in the end achieve the eternal life offered as a result. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 4 Feb 2018: 2nd Sunday before Lent (liturgical colour ΓΆΒ?Β? Green)

Posted on February 3, 2018 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+Monday 5

And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6. 56

Reflection

The faith that the afflicted of his day had in Jesus' power to heal them is touching. Yet we must remember that he came primarily not to heal the sick but to save all mankind from their sins. It is for that spiritual healing that we should lay ourselves before him, not just daily, but every moment of our lives.

+ Tuesday 6

Jesus said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you … 'You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’ Mark 7 6-8

Reflection

Look carefully at your life. Which are you truly more likely to do: follow the ways of the world even when they contrary to God's law; or be obedient to his commandments whatever the cost? If the former, consider deeply how it is that you live.

+Wednesday 7

And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.' Mark 7. 20-22

Reflection

Ponder carefully these words spoken by Christ himself. Many of the evils he speaks of are if not approved then accepted by the culture of our day. Have you allowed them to become a part of your life, despite his teaching as to how wrong they are?

+Thursday 8

He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’  Mark 7.27

Reflection

Christ's mission was to bring his Gospel to the Jews; the gentiles were the mission of others who came after. We too have our calling – do we allow ourselves be distracted from it by all sorts of reasons we think of as good? Or do we stick to it, trusting that God has called others to take care of those other things?

+Friday 9 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.  Mark 7. 34-35

Reflection With a word Christ, the Word made flesh, could transform a man's life utterly. Are you ready and willing to be transformed? Are you truly open to it? Then open your heart to that Word.

+Saturday 10 (Rector's Day Off)

He called his disciples and said to them, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.' Mark 8. 1,2

Reflection

Our Lord's compassion continues. He does not neglect to feed those who journey with him through this life with the Bread of Life, his own body, which we receive in the Holy Eucharist.

 

+Sun 11 February, The Sunday Before Lent: The Transfiguration – Liturgical colour White 4th Sunday of month; services according to usual pattern (see below)

This Sunday, being the closest to Valentine's Day, we will have our now traditional renewal of marriage vows for those wishing to take part in St Mary's at 10.30am.

 

+Sun/4 Feb Kilquan Drama Group - 'The Maiden Aunt'. 8pm in Coon. No bookings, come early. €10 - includes tea & scone! 9 Feb at 7.30 pm; 10th & 11th at 8pm.

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Mon - Select Vestry Meeting, 7.30pm, Wandesforde Hall

+ Tue – 2-5pm 'Comer library, staff from the Good Shepherd Centre in Kilkenny will be on hand to answer any of your questions about the housing services they provide

+Fri – +9 Feb 'Comer dinner dance, the Springhill Court Hotel. Pre-dinner punch reception 7.30, dinner 8.30 sharp. Music Liam Mannering and Maria Dance band. Sub €25

 

+13 Feb MU Annual Tea Party & Exchange of Prayer Partner Gift, Wandesforde Hall at 8pm

+14 Feb Ash Wednesday penitential service at noon in the Colliery Church and at 8 pm in Bilboa.

+21 Feb Frugal Lunch begins in the Rectory, 1-2pm, Wednesdays in Lent (excluding Ash Wed & Holy Week); donations to Parish Poor Fund and local VdeP

+Lenten Midweek Services, 8pm: Feb 21st Mothel; 29th Bilboa; April 7th St Mary's; 15th The Colliery; 21st Bilboa. These all are at 8pm and all are Wednesdays except on March 15th which is a Thursday.

+14 Mar Bilboa Cookery Demonstration with Edward Hayden 8pm Lord Bagenal €15

+15 April Parish Confirmation date: preparation classes at 6.45pm the Vestry, St Mary's, Feb 21 & 29, Mar 7, 15, 21. Punctuality important! Preparation book €10

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

ΓΆΒ?Β?Be silent, and come out of him!

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Our Gospel reading today depicts our Lord engaged in an exorcism, the casting out of a demonic spirit from a person who is possessed. Such things to the modern mind might seem like something drawn from the world of cinema and movies such as 'The Exorcist', which was based the novel by William Peter Blatty and who also wrote the screenplay for the film. That film is, of course, considered to be something of a cult classic; and even those who have never seen it, particularly the younger people among us, will undoubtedly have seen scenes from it copied or parodied in other films or in television programmes … even though they may not realise what it is that is being emulated.

But it is to be remembered that demons and their attacks upon humanity are not merely the stuff of fiction. They are real and very much a danger to us. We see, for example, in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, how the Fall of humanity was brought about by the demonic temptation of our first parents by Satan in the form of a serpent. The final book, Revelation, has a great deal of material concerning the reality of the demonic, both in its descriptions of battles between these dark angels and the angels of light in the heavenly realms but also in its accounts of demonic predation upon the people of this earth. St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, warns us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but 'against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.' And in the Gospels we see our Lord and Saviour on many, many occasions battling and defeating these dark powers. Indeed, before he began his ministry during his 40 days in the desert he was himself tempted by the ruler of these dark forces, the devil himself …

So by the warrant of Scripture we know the demonic to be real. It is also something the Church has known from experience down through the centuries to be a very serious danger indeed. But I do not think it surprising that most people today prefer not to think too much about the demonic. This is not, after all, a very comfortable topic – of course it is not! If it were, it would hardly be the stuff of horror movies! No, in our day to day life we have a preference that things be a little more cosy, a little more comfortable. Therefore, we will spend too much time thinking about Satan and the risks he poses to us; but we will happily think about God … and often a god made more in our own image than the one who has been revealed to us in Sacred Scripture!

We are more inclined to think of him as a kindly old man, who forgives us our every wrong, who indeed perhaps doesn't even care much about them and instead accepts us for who we are. We are less inclined to think of what we have been taught about him – by no less a person than himself, in the form of the second person of the blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ – that he is a God who loves us, yes, but who hates sin and wishes us to turn away from it, to change and be holy as he is holy – a God who forgives, yes, but only if we repent …

We think of heaven, also … a place of fluffy white clouds … and think not too much of the alternative, hell … and, of course, we think of angels playing upon their harps in heaven … but not of their counter-parts, the demons or what they might be doing to bring us to the place where they now dwell and shall dwell for all eternity …

But picking the bits you like and leaving out the rest is not how Christianity works. It is very much an all or nothing affair. There is a reason for this. Christ is the Truth; and the Church he founded teaches the truth – the whole truth. A partial truth is not the whole truth; a partial truth is effectively a lie … and lies are the realm of the devil who is the father of lies and they help draw us closer to him.

So whether we like it or not we must face the reality of Satan, hell, and demons. And we need not fear them because, as St John tells us, perfect love drives out all fear … and God is love and he is on our side in this battle. This is why he sent his Son into the world to undo the evil that Satan wrought in the Garden; that is why Christ modelled the ministry of exorcism for us in the Gospels and gave his apostles the power to cast out demons – which is why the Church in her wisdom continues to this day to appoint and train exorcists.

However, since they are rather thin on the ground, we might do well to pray for more. And this is why our Lord, when he taught his disciples to pray, included the verse we translate as 'deliver us from evil.' What we translate as 'evil' is written in Greek as tou pon-er-ou … the Evil One – in other words Satan. Our Father in heaven hears our prayers … and will not be slow to answer this prayer, given to us by our Lord himself, if it is sincerely and reverently made.

And please remember that, even though it may come as a surprise to you, you have all already been exorcised – it is part of the rite of baptism, when Satan's empty promises are rejected, and we turn instead to Christ, and are sealed with the sign of the cross. Remembering those promises, repeating them, and remaining faithful to them will keep you, by God's power, free from Satan's snares.

And finally, as we draw near the season of Lent, the time of prayer and fasting, keep in mind the account in the Gospels of how, after the Transfiguration, the apostles asked our Lord how it was that he was able to cast a demon out of a boy and they were not; and his reply was that some demons could only be driven out by prayer and fasting. These are the very things we are called to do during Lent; and we would be very well advised to engage with them fully … for the spiritual benefits that they bring run deeper than most realise … for they not only strengthen us … but they also protect us.

As I finish, one final thought concerning the movie the Exorcist. The author of the book and screenplay of course intended to entertain. But he was also a devout Catholic who took what he was writing about very seriously … and based what he wrote on actual cases studies of exorcisms which he had researched very carefully indeed. He wrote, I think, as much to educate as to entertain. He wished to warn the world of the dangers that exist – dangers we are warned of also in Scripture - a warning I pray all here will heed: in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 28 Jan 2018: 4th Sunday after Epiphany (liturgical colour ΓΆΒ?Β? white)

Posted on January 26, 2018 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service

 

+Monday 29

The man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. But he refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you." Mark 5.18,19

Reflection

The natural and correct response to Jesus for all he has done for us is to follow him and to serve him. But we must serve him as he wishes us to and not as we ourselves prefer. Otherwise we serve our own wills and not his and do not follow him at all, even though we may think and claim that we do.

 

+ Tuesday 30

Jesus said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him.  Mark 5. 39,40

Reflection

The world may often laugh at our faith, especially faith in the face of adversity. But if you hold fast to it, it will bring you safe through any storm.

 

+Wednesday 31

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among t

heir own kin, and in their own house.’ Mark 6.4

Reflection

Bringing the word of God to those who know you well can often be difficult. It can seem 'awkward.' And yet, would you for the sake of avoiding embarrassment risk allowing friends, neighbours, and loved ones losing out on eternal life?

 

+Thursday 1 February (St Brigid)

'I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep ' John 10. 14,15

Reflection

True intimacy is to be found in relationship with Christ; to be known by him is to be truly known. And it is a relationship that cannot disappoint, because it is one that Christ was willing to die to sustain.

 

+Friday 2 (The Presentation of Christ in the Temple)

'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy; for mine eyes have seen the salvation which thou has prepared before the face of all people.' Luke 2. 29,30

 

Reflection Simeon seeing the Christ child knew that the salvation God promised was assured and that he could leave this life in peace, assured that there was nothing to fear in the next. So too must we embrace Christ and enter into the hope of eternal life.

+Saturday 3 (Rector's day off)

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and Jesus had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6. 34

Reflection Compassion takes many forms. When we think of people's needs, our thoughts often begin and end with the material things of this world. But Christ saw deeper. True compassion does not neglect spiritual needs; indeed, it places them first.

 

+Sun 4 February, 2nd Before Lent – Liturgical colour Green

4th Sunday of month; services according to usual pattern (see below)

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Mon - BOM meeting, WNS 7 pm

+Thur – St Brigid: HC The Colliery 11 am

+Fri – The Presentation of Christ in the Temple: HC St Mary's 11 am

+Sun/4 Feb Kilquan Drama Group - 'The Maiden Aunt'. 8pm in Coon. No bookings, come early. €10 - includes tea & scone! 9 Feb at 7.30 pm; 10th & 11th at 8pm.

 

+9 Feb 'Comer dinner dance, the Springhill Court Hotel. Pre-dinner punch reception 7.30, dinner 8.30 sharp. Music Liam Mannering and Maria Dance band. Sub €25

+13 Feb MU Annual Tea Party & Exchange of Prayer Partner Gift, Wandesforde Hall at 8pm

+14 Feb Ash Wednesday penitential service at noon in the Colliery Church and at 8 pm in Bilboa.

+21 Feb Frugal Lunch begins in the Rectory, 1-2pm, Wednesdays in Lent (excluding Ash Wed & Holy Week); donations to Parish Poor Fund and local VdeP

+Lenten Midweek Services, 8pm: Feb 21st Mothel; 29th Bilboa; April 7th St Mary's; 15th The Colliery; 21st Bilboa. These all are at 8pm and all are Wednesdays except on March 15th which is a Thursday.

+14 Mar Bilboa Cookery Demonstration with Edward Hayden 8pm Lord Bagenal €15

+15 April Parish Confirmation date: preparation classes at 6.45pm the Vestry, St Mary's, Feb 21 & 29, Mar 7, 15, 21. Punctuality important! Preparation book €10

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, as announced

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

the kingdom of God is near

Posted on January 21, 2018 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

We are now in The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an important element in the life of the Church, because it is based directly on a command of our Lord Jesus himself that we all should be one, even as he and the Father were One; and it is a tenet of the Christian faith that Christ founded only One Church, as we remind ourselves each time we pray the Creed and affirm that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

Sadly, the unity of the Church is a spiritual rather than a material reality. This of course makes working towards ever greater ecumenical relations between the various traditions in the Church of great importance. The importance of working together and drawing ever closer has always been important. But there is an added dimension to this in the modern world because of the many threats faced by religion in this age – threats that face all traditions and expressions of faith; and threats that we can counter much better if we work together.

 

The Gospel reading we heard just moments ago – the same Gospel that will be read in all the Churches across this land on this Saturday evening and tomorrow on Sunday – suggests, I think, a matter on which we might do well to work together on. In it our Lord tells us that 'the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.' By this he means that heaven, in the person of Jesus, God and man, has come near to us. This ought remind us of several things. The first is that there is both heaven and earth, the material and the immaterial. The second is that there is more than just this life. And the third is that our behaviour in this life has consequences in the next.

 

 

We affirm this indirectly every time we pray or involve ourselves in some act of worship: why would we say words such 'our Father who art in heaven' if we did not more than believe but know in the core of our beings that we did indeed have a Father who dwells in heaven; why would we take part in the Mass or other Divine Services if we did know in our inner-most hearts that there was a God who is worthy of our praise and adoration? And we affirm this directly each time we say the Nicene Creed in which we state that we believe in God the Father who created all things, visible and invisible.

 

The idea that the true reality of existence consists of things seen and unseen would have been an uncontroversial one in most times and places. The vast majority of people in all the cultures of the world from the beginning of time down to the present age have regarded this as the most obvious of truths, something that they know not only by the use of their rational minds but also because it is something that their heart speaks to them. But our age is unusual in that it possesses a small but vocal minority who insist that what is not visible is effectively

some kind of mass delusion. We might regard them as the spiritually blind. And of our charity we must pray for them; for God calls us to love all people. But charity does not demand that just because they reject the spiritual realities, their often made demand that all others must lives as if the immaterial does not exist is one we must accede to.

 

How unreasonable what they ask is may be demonstrated by the following analogy. It is as if a person who was born blind refused to accept the idea that others could see; or, having been born seeing and lost their sight, decided that their memories of being able to see were a dream or mistake and the true reality was the darkness they now inhabited. Those who could see would, naturally, feel sorry for such as these and do all that they could do to help them. But they would regard it as ludicrous if they were to insist that all people should live as if sight were an illusion, never speaking of the things they could see, and wear blindfolds in public, and only remove them occasionally, and then in private and briefly, in order to indulge themselves in their fantasies of sight.

 

But ludicrous though it is, it is exactly this that the spiritually blind ask us to do when they argue that things unseen should be treated as being unreal when it comes to how we live in this world; that, for example, when it comes to educating our children we should agree to a secular model over a denominational one; or when it comes to matters of public debate, we should leave our faith at the door and discuss things solely in secular terms and particularly that we should vote only as if secular arguments were the only ones with any merits.

 

But we can not do that. Just as those who can see cannot reasonably be expected to live as if they were blind, neither can those who are aware of the spiritual realities be expected to lives as if they were not.

 

This is not to try and force religion upon others. It is simply that, just as it would make for a dangerous world indeed if the vast majority who could see tried to live as if they were blind, so too it would make for a dangerous world if those who understand the true reality of things seen and unseen were to allow themselves to be bullied and browbeaten into operating solely on the plain of things that are seen.

 

Indeed, so much of much of what is wrong with the world today has been caused by our reluctance to stand up for what we know to be true. We meekly yield ground when we are accused of trying to force our beliefs on others; and seem not to notice that in doing so they are demanding that we live our lives according to what they believe instead.

 

We owe it to God, ourselves, and also to those who do not believe not to allow this. The only sensible way to live in this world is in accordance with what we know reality to be; and not according to how some falsely regard it to be. This is something that Christians can work on together. This is something that Christians must work on together. And it is my prayer, during this week of prayer for Christian unity, that this is something that Christians will work on together, not just this week but always. Amen.


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