Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get!

Ok, the photo was crying out for a blog post! Nuns and chocolate! Yes, I confess, I am somewhat partial to chocolate as many of you know. However, it is a charismatic thing! Our religious family for many years has grown hazelnuts for the international company Nutella in Piedmonte, Italy and therefore we felt we had a quasi- obligation to support the company by consuming its products to create a demand. Oh the things one has to do in life! I recall my time in Alba and walking through the town when the breeze was just right and would spread the chocolate scent from the large factories right into your nostrils. What a delight!

Believe it or not, there are many other religious connections with chocolate. We might not have this crucial ingredient of the good life if it weren’t for the important culinary work of a whole assortment of people in history—everyone from pagan Aztecs to Spanish nuns! "Food of the Gods," is the literal translation of the name Theobroma which is the name…

Conversion- from arch-enemy to apostle!

The Bible is filled with figures who sinned, became repentant, and underwent conversion, such as Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene. Today the liturgy offers us the opportunity to reflect on the life of  Saul, the persecutor of the Church, who became Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, following his conversion. 
Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some people seem to think. It is wounding work, breaking of  hearts and all that is stubborn, but without wounding there is no saving. I remember as a child watching my Dad pruning roses and plants. When he would cut the rose bushes, a white fluid would come out, almost as if the rose was ‘crying’ because of the cut. However where there is grafting there has to be a cutting, the graft must be let in with a wound; to stick it onto the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back or there will be no sap from root to branch. It is not a nice process, it hurts, it is messy…

Ordinary in an extraordinary way!

Christmas has officially finished! Until next year that is.  With the second Vespers of the Baptism of the Lord, tomorrow we return to Ordinary Time. We get back into the ordinary course of events. Through the period of Ordinary Time following Christmas, we become increasingly aware that this marvel of birth and growth will mature into something challenging.  However we need time to focus on this and we are gifted with the time of Lent which culminates in the great event of the Resurrection, the battle of life over death, light over darkness.

With the way the calendar fell this year, it seemed that the time after New Year's just flew. Jokingly, I said that the shops will already have the Easter eggs in soon. I wasn't too far wrong, in fact, they are already in the shops since New Year's Eve (not impressed  Tesco!). What is it with the commercial world continually projecting us into the future. Have we lost the capacity to live the present moment? Are we afraid to live the…


"And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” You are God’s beloved. That word “beloved" means every inch of what it sounds like. In Greek it is, “agapetos” which means “loved with agape” – loved with a love that is deep, active, self-sacrificing and absolutely unconditional. This is a love that doesn’t have to be earned. This is a deep love that just is.God gives us life and unconditional love. We are told to give God – nothing. Nothing is demanded of us before or after in return. There is nothing we can do that will cause God to stop loving us. Nothing will cause that love to be taken away. Instead we get an invitation, one that we are free to embrace or ignore. God invites us just to trust in the gift, to trust in the active, unconditional love God has for each one of us. Just to trust in it. Happy feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the day where we recall our own Baptism, where we became part of a community of Christ, as belove…

Basil and Gregory: school friends who became saints!

Today the Church offers us the memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen. By celebrating the feasts of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen on the same day, the Church praises a virtue which has always been held in high esteem friendship. Born in Cappadocia around 330, Basil and Gregory first were schoolfriends, they studied together in Athens. Following this, they were co-defenders of the orthodox teaching on the Trinity. As the French say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Basil and Gregory faced the same problems as modern Christians. Sainthood meant trying to preserve the spirit of Christ in such perplexing and painful problems as reform, organization, fighting for the poor, maintaining balance and peace in misunderstanding.

For Gregory, we are reminded in The Church's Year of Grace by Pius Parsch that ‘during his life span the pendulum was continually swinging back and forth between contemplation and the active ministry. He long…

Resting on the heart of Jesus: Feast of St. John

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. John. It is a feast which I love because most of our spirituality comes from John’s Gospel, a Gospel which is powerfully symbolic and mystical. The symbolic is very close to the mystical, which goes beyond the everyday part of life and finds the presence of God everywhere and responds to it. In the transmission of our charism, our Founder Blessed James Alberione has presented us with various biblical icons as beacons which enlighten and guide us on our journey of discipleship.

On our Congregational emblem, we have engraved the verse from John 14:6: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Our whole itinerary of holiness is based on John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains a single grain”.  The figure of Jesus Master Way Truth and Life is the foundational icon of our Rule of life. He is the one who has chosen us first.  We allow ourselves to be seized by him in order to contemplate him and to follow him in the Paschal mystery (c…

Celebrating our Lady of Guadalupe

Advent is the season where God waits for the love of his children. He waits, silently, patiently for the moment of grace until the chronos of life (our time) becomes impregnated with his kairos (God’s time), the Word becomes flesh! During Advent we reflect on Jesus in the womb of Mary, growing slowly, silently and invisibly, present even though invisible. Mary is an Advent woman, a woman very dear to my heart. A woman of life, a woman for life, every fibre of her being says ‘Yes’ to carry Jesus in her womb. Today, 12th of December, we celebrate a beautiful Marian feastday which celebrates the gift of life, that of our Lady of Guadalupe.

On the 12th of December 1531, our Lady appeared to an Indian named Juan Diego and requested that a shrine be built and dedicated to her on the Hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego, upon reporting this event to the bishop, was disappointed because the bishop didn't seem to believe him. Juan returned to the place of the apparition where Our Lady again appear…

To advent each other!

Advent, the season of light, is an invitation to advent each other,To bring the light of Christ into our own lives and into the lives of others
We can do this in simple ways:
Through the ways in which we welcome each other
And through the ways we recognise the pearl in every human heart.

There is a pearl in every season, a pearl in every heart.
Advent God bring this pearl to birth in us as we journey to Bethlehem.
Advent is a time to take God into all the ar

The hills are alive with the Sound of Music!

Happy feastday to all musicans and lovers of music!

Today the Church marks the feast of St. Cecilia, a saint whom I often invoke!  The most interesting thing about this saint is that even though she is the patroness of music, surprising as it is, she was neither a singer nor a musician. What rendered her deserving of this title is the fact that her life was a continuous song to God. Tradition has it that even whilst the musicians played at her own wedding she sang in her heart to God only. When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome (1584) she was made patroness of the institute and her veneration as patroness of church music in general became still more universal.

 It is fitting to apply the words which we find in the today’s Office of the Reading for her: “ You ask, what is singing in jubilation? It means to realize that words are not enough to express what we are singing in our hearts.”(St. Augustine). Every couple have ‘their song’, the song which reminds of the first time they…

Celebrating another All Saints Day!

In Ireland, on the 6th of November, we celebrate the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland. Pope Benedict XV beatified Oliver Plunkett in 1920 and during his papacy also (1914-22) the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland was instituted. The same Pope also granted Ireland the honour of having a litany of its native saints approved for public recitation. Only four saints, St Malachy (1094-1148), St Lawrence O'Toole (1128-80) and St Oliver Plunkett (1625-81) and St Charles of Mount Argus (1821-93), have been officially canonised. All the other Irish saints, such as Saints Patrick, Brigid, and Colmcille, are saints, as it were, by acclamation of the local Church.

The scope of this feast, while it includes canonised saints, is wider. It also includes those who had a reputation for holiness and whose causes for canonisation have not yet been completed, such as Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy (1455-92), the seventeen Irish martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762…