Archive for Spirit and Life

Prayer of St.Brendan


“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.

Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me.

I will trust in the darkness and know that my times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow, make my obedience count for You.”


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Where Once There Was Love

Good Friday 2017



Where Once There Was Love


This is a day like no other. For anyone who tries to make sense out of life and for those who are trying to grapple with meaning – this day has it all. It is the finest play, poem and pageant that has ever been conceived. For some the conception of this event remains only in the realm of myth for may others it occupies a space we call truth and as such is dissolves every other attempt for ultimate truth.


Today, many will try to emulate the path that the man Jesus took.  The re-living of this event takes many forms. There is liturgy, pilgrimage and pageant which strives to bring one into the events ultimate mystery. For some it is a matter of ignoring, for others it is a time for observing, for others again it is a necessary metaphysical plunging into the sinews of life.


Good Friday is for many a day that creates an opportunity to make sense of the gift or the burden that we call life. It is especially an opportunity to make sense of all those things that that the world as we know it can’t absorb. It often provides a space for the real self to be even more real so it can experience healing and life.


The world today invites everything to have an image. This is the language of the market but it has been absorbed by many as a way of existing. What was made for the transient and fickle market place has become a modus operandi for a lot of people. This is not the way life should be, but this is the way it has become be it consciously or unconsciously.


Today, in liturgy we find a figure who was beyond an image that anyone could create or project. Any self-induced sense of importance was stripped away. Properly articulated today is life in its rawest and most abject. In the strangest of ways it shows how life can only be lived in the context of love, real love, that steps over convention, narcissism and self-seeking. Anything can be undergone, anything can be endured in the name of love.


The antithesis of this is true also and it is very much part of today’s deepest reality which is how infinitely more difficult life is when love has been stolen or displaced by denial, anger, hurt and selfishness. The absence of love makes things futile. The absence of love take purpose away. The absence of love destroys joy. Life’s experience is all the most bitter when one can recall the fact that ‘Where once there was love’ there is now nothing or even something else. This was the most hazardous part of the journey for the man Jesus today. When this happens in our lives it is the most hazardous journey too.


The fact that one who claimed to be God stepped into this space makes that God all the more real, all the more necessary and all the more accessible.  To walk with him today means to step beyond image, to embrace what is raw, to wave good-bye to what is false so that our lives can be blessed with real and ever- lasting love.


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RHYTHM – November -Remembering Dympna

I penned these words in memory of Dympna. November is when she died and November is a month when Christian and Pre-Christian Ireland remember those who have gone before us.

It was the poet John O’Donoghue who said ‘inspiration is always a surprising visitor’. Those who inspire are scarce and when we meet them we are bound to acknowledge them.

Dympna’s family and her beloved Mike have given me permission to share this with you. Sorry that you have to click on the link below but I was unable to get the proper layout on a FB post.



Please click on this link to read the reflection:



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Three Wise Men ‘Like’ the Birth of a Child in Bethlehem.

Three Wise Men ‘Like’ the Birth of a Child in Bethlehem.




Think of it in today’s terms. A child is born, to save themselves the bother of visiting, to overcome the discomfort of sitting on camels for a few weeks, the three wise me ‘Like’ the birth of a Child in Bethlehem. How un-newsworthy and more importantly how insignificant for the wise men. Even for those of you who may not believe in God or who do not in any way subscribe to Christianity you cannot deny the layers of humanistic truth that exist in these wonderful ‘stories’.

No amount of ‘likes’ or ‘loikes’ can capture the engagement of arriving, seeing, smelling, gazing, thinking, reflecting, kneeling, worshipping, giving and receiving. It is a simple story but it has so much truth for our age.

Ireland was renowned for years for ‘visits’. It was not uncommon to arrive home from school to find a neighbour in the house having the chat and dinner would be served around them. God knows why they needed to be there but most likely the ‘chat’ was about some issue that wasn’t going away but the tea and company helped bid it adieu. This is type of thing that a person might seek medication for today or even sign up for counselling for. These visits were simple Epiphanies; moments of revelation that made a difference and brought about a necessary change. Tommy Tiernan has a funny sketch when he talks about the last World War when Europe was being blown apart; Ireland, he reminds us was undergoing ‘an emergency’. What was that emergency he observes… ‘we had no tea’.

Our culture is shifting and changing so much that it is time to name what is being lost. ‘Liking’ is not the same as ‘Living’. 2016 is a new year and maybe it’s a year for less ‘liking’ and more ‘living’ or even continued ‘liking’ but not at the expense of ‘living’. Neither is texting a substitute for talking. I’m a great fan of social media and I see its value but I don’t think it is meant to substitute for finer things.

For many years I looked after Irish people abroad. I set up programmes for elderly Irish in London who were isolated due to difficulties and the complex isolation that emigration brought about. It’s funny but I see the same isolation here in Ireland among elderly people. For people who aren’t on FB or Twitter and who don’t in any way tack into cyber connectedness they have fallen off the face of the earth. For many today by the need for connectedness and their social obligations are met with a ‘like’. This is not enough for a society to flourish.

Maybe I’m old fashioned and maybe I am part of an institution that goes back long before the middle ages but even last night I heard word of someone whose father passed away suddenly; I always try to drop in to extend my sympathies before I send a text. Sometimes due to geographical distance I have to depend on cyber space but not when I pass by the door of the house a few times a day or even a couple of times a month. What is going on that is so important that we don’t have those few minutes any more. Years of experience have shown me that dropping in oneself or even dropping in a note is so appreciated.

I think back to what I remember in 2015. Times when for various reasons I was ‘grounded’ and couldn’t get around as much as I liked. It’s not the  ‘likes’ I remember so much as the visits. Thank you. When it comes to elderly people today arriving, seeing, smelling, gazing, thinking, reflecting, kneeling, worshipping, giving and receiving can have its challenges but sitting with people brings about Epiphanies. Some times its telling us things we don’t want to hear – there are always a few Herods lurking around in us and in others and sometimes we can be graced by wisdom and insight. The emergency in World War ll was no tea; the emergency today is little time for tea…the kettle is on.



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