Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Ash Wednesday in Rome

Pope Francis celebrated Mass today at 5 p.m. in the basilica of Santa Sabina. It can be viewed on YouTube here, beginning c.15 minutes into the recording, since the Mass was preceded by a Lenten Station that took place in the nearby church of Saint Anselm.

The homily begins thus (read the full text here) :  

We begin the Lenten Season by receiving ashes: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return (cf. Gen 3:19). The dust sprinkled on our heads brings us back to earth; it reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. We are weak, frail and mortal. Centuries and millennia pass and we come and go; before the immensity of galaxies and space, we are nothing. We are dust in the universe. Yet we are dust loved by God. It pleased the Lord to gather that dust in his hands and to breathe into it the breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7). We are thus a dust that is precious, destined for eternal life. We are the dust of the earth, upon which God has poured out his heaven, the dust that contains his dreams. We are God’s hope, his treasure and his glory.

Ashes are thus a reminder of the direction of our existence: a passage from dust to life. We are dust, earth, clay, but if we allow ourselves to be shaped by the hands of God, we become something wondrous. More often than not, though, especially at times of difficulty and loneliness, we only see our dust! But the Lord encourages us: in his eyes, our littleness is of infinite value. So let us take heart: we were born to be loved; we were born to be children of God.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Thoughts on Spring Flowers

Images like this make us think of nature reviving in spring and the annual life-cycle starting anew. Fruit trees and bushes will soon show the first signs of budding and flowering, and all the bedding plants throw out new shoots. May we, from child to grandparent, enjoy many moments of tranquil reflection in our gardens, as well as in Rathcoole park, this year.

And Thoughts on Lent, beginning Wednesday 26th. There is the garden of the soul, our own inner garden, where seedlings like new initiatives / good intentions / wishes to help others in some way etc. all take root and spring up from. Don't we all want our deeds to bear fruit both for ourselves and others? (These very words are being typed out by a volunteer trying to use the few skills he has as a form of service to the parish. If there is someone out there reading this that has skills to produce better flowers and fruits in this 'plot' of a webpage, please come forward.)  Everything we give our full thought, attention and effort to is a kind of garden, where we see to it that our work blossoms as best it can for the common good.

The first person to see Jesus on Easter Sunday morning was Mary Magdalene (John 20. 11-16). She took Jesus risen from the dead to be the gardener. What a nice combination (brief and mistaken) between the ordinary workman and the most extraordinary person of all!

Read about a new parish initiative for Lent and Easter this year in the Newsletter for Sunday 23rd : House Masses.