Tuesday 24th March 2020

40th Anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Romero

In 1977 Oscar Romero became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. It was a time of great violence and bloodshed in his country. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. On March 12 th , 1977, his close friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande and two companions were ambushed in his car and assassinated by Salvadoran security forces. The cold-blooded murder of a priest – the first but by no means the last in the long bloody civil war in El Salvador is said to have caused Grande’s friend, the newly-appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar to find his voice in speaking up fearlessly for those without voices, and against the violence and injustice that polluted their country. He did so at every opportunity. On the 24th March 1980 he was shot dead as he said Mass in a small chapel in a hospital in San Salvador. Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Oscar Romero and his canonization took place on 14th Oct. 2018 in Rome. The following is an extract from his writings: “It helps now and then to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.” Saint Oscar Romero pray for us. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 15th March 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent: The Samaritan Woman

This Sunday we meet Jesus at the well talking to a Samaritan woman, even though Jews and Samaritans normally avoided each other and certainly didn't ask favours from each other. Notice how Jesus is free, he is not tied by convention, he values each person and treats them with respect. Even though he knew about the woman's promiscuous background as well as her different approach to religion, he felt free to ask her for a drink. She was shocked, and even more surprised when Jesus told her that he could give her living water so that she would never be thirsty again. It was when she asked for that water that Jesus made it clear to her that he knew all about her. Uncomfortable with this revelation she challenged him with the traditional argument between Samaritans and Jews. Is it right to worship on the mountain or in the temple at Jerusalem? Jesus again shows his freedom, and invites her and all who follow him to live in freedom of spirit. 'God is Spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth. That is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.' The spirit can come to us wherever we are if we are open to receive him. This is a timely message in this present crisis as many of us have to forgo our usual place of worship, and our usual traditions. Jesus is reminding us not to be too attached to these external things, temple or mountain, cathedral or village church, a quiet room at home or a solitary walk. God is spirit, he is there in every place if we are prepared to welcome him. Sometimes detachment from the externals can bring unexpected graces as we become more focused on God. Jesus knows all about our shortcomings and past mistakes but says to us as he did to the woman, I am thirsty, thirsty for your love, be open to me, give of yourself to me and I will give you the living water of the spirit which will turn into a spring inside you welling up to eternal life. If you are unable to get to Mass or Service this Sunday try to read over the Gospel John 4:5-42. Later in the week we celebrate two great saints, St. Patrick and St. Joseph. They both suffered exile and hardships. May their example of perseverance and faithfulness encourage us all. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 8th March 2020

2nd Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration

The tenderness of Jesus for His 3 chosen apostles, Peter James and John touches me deeply this 2nd. Sunday in Lent. He is concerned that they will fall apart, go to pieces, be overwhelmed by His Passion and Death. Their faith like ours needs to be strengthened. Jesus has a plan. It was the last day of the feast of Tabernacles – the time when the Israelites built leafy booths and dwelt in them for short periods as a reminder of God’s provision for them in the wilderness and of His continued sustenance. So, He brings His big three up a high mountain where they could be alone and “there in their presence He was transfigured.” They see him in all his radiant beauty and majesty talking with Moses and Elijah. They hear the Father’s voice in the cloud speaking the tenderest words ever spoken to us: “This is my beloved Son. He enjoys my favour – listen to Him” and they are undone with terror and awe. Some gut sense flashes thro’ Peter that Jesus is the Messiah; the Living Torah and he wants to build 3 booths to bottle the experience! Jesus the patient Teacher has a living teaching, a truth He must break open for their closed hearts and ours. The promised Messiah is going to be different. He will first suffer before coming to the glory of the Resurrection and we will too. Life will shore up many unexpected things like the coronavirus now and the worldwide travail it brings. Let us not forget the tenderness of Jesus reaching out to them and to us too in our fragility, touching and empowering us. “Stand up and do not be afraid.” He knows how great our need is “to listen to Him” in order to grasp the Mystery of the Cross - “a stumbling block to Jews, and folly to the Greeks but to those who are called, it is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God”. “I looked at your Cross O Christ and I read there the song of Your Love” – St. John of the Cross. BACK TO TOP

Tuesday 3rd March 2020

1st Week of Lent: The Our Father

During the season of Lent we are asked to pray, fast and give alms. In our Gospel today Jesus teaches the disciples to pray. Many spiritual writers have written reflections on the Our Father and you too have your own personal reflections. When you have read the following I invite you to take time and pray the Our Father slowly, very slowly. St Teresa of Avila who wrote extensively on prayer reflects on the Our Father in her book The Way of Perfection. The word perfection may make us feel - that’s not for me! Teresa would probably have as subtitle ‘the universal call to holiness’ which is definitely for all of us. The following is taken from an article by Fr Gabriel Barry, a Carmelite friar, on the Our Father and St Teresa’s reflection. In one way or another, we are all asking, as the Apostles asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us how to pray" (Luke 11:1-4). Help us to know God better, so that we can live better lives for His sake. And you know the Lord's answer; He taught them the Our Father, the model of all prayer, with its seven petitions which include every one of our needs, spiritual and temporal. Reading over Luke's account of this incident, I was reminded of a parallel occasion in the life of St. Teresa of Avila. It took place not long after she had established the first convent of the reform in her native city. The nuns who made up the community there were drawn together by a common desire to pray for the Church and the world. They were aware that their foundress was favored with many exceptional graces, and that, at the request of her confessors, she had even written a book on prayer; a book which learned theologians held in high esteem. So her nuns came to her and earnestly begged her to say something to them too about prayer. In deference to their wishes, she began to write the Way of Perfection. St Teresa instead of using pretentious language she simply says: "Let us talk about the Our Father. This is a prayer that we need to pray, if we are Christians at all. It is worth our while to learn to say it properly." This may sound elementary, but in the mind of St. Teresa it actually summed up everything that could be said about prayer. Teresa found in the Our Father not only a model for vocal prayer, but a foundation for the highest mystical prayer as well. This claim may seem somewhat exaggerated until we take the trouble of looking more closely at St. Luke's version of the story, concerning the occasion when our Lord first taught the Our Father. He had been praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray too." And He said to them: "When you pray, you must say Our Father who art in heaven . . ." You will appreciate, I am sure, that there was something unusual about this request. The disciples of Jesus were not ignorant of prayer. What then prompted this particular question? They had watched the Master at prayer and had seen for themselves that it was different from the kind of prayer that they were in the habit of making. As likely as not, they were unable to put into words what the difference was, but they could see that something was wanting in their own prayer; something that made a world of difference. That was what they wanted to learn. And their question had the implication: "What exactly is real prayer? Can you possibly teach us to pray as you have been praying?" And Jesus' reply can be paraphrased: "This is the sort of thing it is; first, you must realize that your Creator is also your loving Father. His home in heaven is destined to be your home too. Moreover, even during your life in this world, He wants to come and make His home with you. You cannot hope to bear fruit unless you are rooted in God"; and so on. In other words, the lesson which our Lord taught his apostles and which He summarized in the seven petitions of the Our Father is principally a lesson in spiritual attitudes; a lesson in the relationship between us who pray and the One to whom we pray. The Our Father begins by establishing an attitude of adoration, worship and reverence. It makes it clear that the chief object of prayer is not to get something, but to become something; to become all that God desires us to be; to grow up in Christ, as the Apostle says: to strive to be as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. The essence of Christian prayer is this search for God, so that in Him we may live. This means living, in the fullest and noblest and best sense of the word. To quote the words of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "An outstanding cause of human dignity lies in our call to communion with God. From the very circumstances of his origin, we are already invited to converse with God. For we would not exist, were we not created by God's love, and constantly preserved by it. And we cannot live fully according to truth unless we freely acknowledge that love and devotes ourselves to our Creator”. This is what our Lord wished to impart, when He taught the Our Father; that was what the apostles had asked Him to do for them; and I don't think it is straining the facts to say that this too was what the nuns of St. Joseph's of Avila had in mind when they asked St. Teresa to teach them how to pray. Her answer, like the Master's was "Let us learn to say the Lord's Prayer, and to say it as it ought to be said." BACK TO TOP

Wednesday 26th February 2020

Ash Wednesday

Don’t we all welcome the chance to make a new beginning, a fresh start? Well, Ash Wednesday is just that. It is the gateway into another Lent, “the favourable time, the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2). The word LENT comes from the old English word “LENCTEN” meaning “spring season”. It is short for “lengthen”. In the Northern Hemisphere we are on the brink of Spring when the whole of creation is awakening, showing signs of new life after the Winter slumber. The days are lengthening, light is stealing in and casting out darkness, bringing joy and fresh hope to our hearts. A sixth century hymn which we sing in the Divine Office picks up this spring theme:- Jesus, the sun of ransomed earth, Shed in our inmost souls thy light, As in Spring days a fairer birth Heralds, each morn, the doom of night. The day is come, the accepted day, When grace, like nature, flowers anew; Trained by thy hand the surer way Rejoice we in our spring-time too. The Lenten Prefaces too capture the liturgical “Spring” mood:- “Father… each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed…” “This great season is your gift to your family to renew us in spirit. You teach us to live in this passing world with our hearts set on the world that will never end”. Lent is a time to rediscover the direction of our lives. The mark of ashes which we receive on Ash Wednesday is a sign that helps us to re-find that direction. “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. “Repent”: turn over the sod of our hearts, “free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust and rediscover that “we are created for God, not for the world, for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit, for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: “Where do I stand?” Do I live for dust or fire?” (Pope Francis). We can take heart as we face our own Lenten journey, knowing that the whole People of God are setting out with us. Above all, let us keep our eyes FIXED ON JESUS who has gone before us – our Way, and the GOAL of our life’s journey. BACK TO TOP

Thursday 20th February 2020

100th Anniversary of the death of St Jacinta Marto

Sometimes I wish that the Gospels related more detail of conversations between Jesus and children. I would love to know how he answered their questions, and responded to their comments and expressions of things that were important for them! Although we don't have recorded conversations, Jesus clearly had high regard for children. In the Gospel, He remarks that real wisdom is given by God to "little ones", not to those who think they are smart and clever (cf. Mt 11:25). St Therese certainly loved this verse of the Gospel, and it was the basis of her "Little Way". We can all be "childlike" (not childish) and so obtain this wisdom too. Isn't there something very comforting about not having to be perfect and successful? Yes, we can receive the deepest wisdom from God, no matter what our status in life is. Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of St Jacinta Marto, one of the three shepherd children who saw Our Lady in Fatima in 1917. In her short life of only 10 years, Jacinta was given extraordinary wisdom. What about this, for example: "Always be charitable, even with those who are unkind. Never criticize others and avoid those who do." Jacinta showed remarkable courage through extreme illness and suffering at the end of her life, and it is worthwhile reflecting on her life today. If you would like to read more about her spirituality, there is an excellent article here: https://www.bluearmy.com/the-spirituality-of-st-jacinta-ma…/ BACK TO TOP

Sunday 16th February 2020

5th Sunday of Year A: Salt and Light

Jesus told his followers that they are salt of the earth and light of the world. Many people in our world today do not see Christianity as the sparkle of people's lives - a kind of salt that enlivens and a light that outshines. Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher SJ said this after a lifetime of teaching and spiritual guidance: "For me, Christianity offers that which most satisfies the human heart. It offers a vision that most satisfies the searching mind. Christianity offers a way of life that both fulfils and challenges the conscience." There is in Christianity a sense of giftedness that overwhelms the spirit. For Pope Francis, Christianity is a happy way of living and he offers ten pragmatic tips for happiness: - Live and let live. - Be giving of yourself to others. - Proceed calmly. - Have a healthy sense of leisure. - Make Sunday a holiday. - Discover ways to make jobs for young people. - Respect and take care of nature. - Be positive; cultivate positive thoughts. - Respect the sincere beliefs of others. - Work for justice and peace will follow. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 2nd February 2020

This Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple ends our season of celebrations surrounding his infancy. The next major event we celebrate in Jesus life will be the beginning of his public ministry when we enter into Lent towards the end of the month. All Jewish couples presented their first born sons for consecration to the Lord and Simeon must have held many babies in his arms, but he had an inner assurance that prompted by the Holy Spirit he would recognise the long awaited Messiah. When Mary and Joseph entered the temple with the child Jesus, Simeon knew him at once and immediately proclaimed the lovely canticle we now know as the Nunc Dimittis. 'Lord, now let your servant depart in peace... for my eyes have seen your salvation, a light to enlighten the gentiles and give glory to your people Israel.' Simeon recognised that Jesus was a light for all peoples and nations. Anna too recognised him, undoubtedly because she was a woman of persevering prayer and open to hearing God's word. These two old people are seen as a model for consecrated life, steeped in prayer and listening to the word of God. For that reason Pope St. John Paul II declared this Feast to be a day for consecrated life. We ask you to pray that those of us who live this life may be as faithful and attentive as Simeon and Anna. We pray too that all of us, what ever our life-style, may always recognise the presence of Jesus in our lives. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 26th January: Word of God Sunday

Carmelite Spirituality has strong Biblical roots. The early Hermits on Mount Carmel chose as their models the prophet Elijah, the Man of God and of the People and Mary open to God, listening to His Word in scripture and in life. The Hermits pondering on Elijah and Mary’s total commitment to God while at the same time their closeness to the needs of the people, began to meditate on the Law of the Lord. It is from that seed that our Carmelite Family was born. So, we welcome with joy Pope Francis’ initiative “to set aside a Sunday given over entirely to the Word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. ( Misericordia et Misera 7)”. Here in our Carmel of Kilmacud we strive to live deeply the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. So, it is an added joy that Pope Francis has deliberately chosen the 3rd. Sunday in Ordinary time nearest to the Week of Prayer for Unity, because the Sunday of the Word of God has Ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity. The Apostolic Letter, APERUIT ILLIS issued on 30th. Sept. 2019 contains marvellous nourishment for us the people of God to grow in our love for the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible it tells us is the Book of the Lord’s people who in listening to it move from dispersion and division towards unity. The Word of God unites believers and makes them one people. Another fruit of listening to God’s Word is that those who draw daily nourishment from God’s Word become, like Jesus, a contemporary of all those whom they encounter. I particularly like no. 13 of the Apostolic Letter which puts before us Sacred Scripture and the challenge to love: To listen to Sacred Scripture and then to practise Mercy: this is the great challenge before us in life. God’s Word has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity. Here in Carmel Mary is the great Do-er of the Word. We say in the preface of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Your Word filled her heart and inspired all her actions making her constant in prayer with the Apostles and constituting her Mother of all Humankind. May she help us to be like her in her response as we open ourselves to this new grace being offered to us, the People of God, by Pope Francis. BACK TO TOP

Monday 20th January 2020

CHRISTIAN UNITY WEEK: Paul’s message of Hope On this the third day of prayer for Christian Unity, as we reflect on Acts 27:1-42 so many images come to mind. The actual text is filled with drama; you can feel the fear in the boat, hear the raging hurricane, see the waves filling the boat and taste the sea water on your lips. All the senses are bombarded by this experience and what it must have been doing to those on board. Before we look at how St Paul responds to this situation we must acknowledge something else that strikes our senses very forcefully, as forcefully as the hurricane in Acts. You would have to be living on another planet not to make the connection which, this text stirs up within us, with an image which is equally horrifying, real and does not always have the same positive outcome. Namely, the reality of the migrant boats on the high seas in the Mediterranean in our own time, people who are fleeing from their homes and country – sadly, so many have lost their lives on the open seas. The poignant picture comes before us of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy, lying on a beach dead and another picture of his bereft father who said, ‘everything is gone’. You have your own images from the media, so many at this stage. In this week of Christian unity how can we as Christians comfort and give hope to our migrant sisters and brothers? Can we offer hope or do we offer excuses; will we say that is not what we are praying about during this week, after all this is a week when we pray for Christian Unity. Perhaps the challenge is that as Christians can we walk together and be united on this world issue affecting our sisters and brothers? Yes, of course there are issues to be addressed and questions asked - the big one being why do people need to leave their homes and all they love, their extended family their culture? Some of the most obvious reasons are poverty, the lucrative arms race with countries in the Northern Hemisphere being the beneficiaries, and climate change. We need to ask how our political leaders are responding to these issues and what they are doing on our behalf? Now, let us return to St Paul. He also felt doomed in the boat that he had warned the others not to go out in, but he wasn’t listened to. He was paying attention to God and could offer hope to all even to those who were ready to kill him. While he reminds them they should have listened to him he continues ‘but now I ask you do not give way to despair. There will be no loss of life at all’. He tells them about the angel of God who appeared to him and told him this good news. Paul then says to the people aboard the endangered ship, ‘take courage friends; I trust in God that things will turn out just as I was told’ Acts 27: 21-26. Let us reflect on the hope St Paul speaks about to his companions on the ship; the hope which is offered to all peoples today faced with such overwhelming problems even death itself. The angel of God is offering us, and all people in our world, that same message he extended to Paul and companions ‘do not be afraid’, ’take courage’ and trust in God. BACK TO TOP

Friday 10th January 2020

"Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are..." This lovely little song that we all learned and sang as children is still loved by all the little boys and girls today!! It's a timeless favourite!! I've been doing some pondering this week following the feast of the Epiphany about the Christmas Star... prompted also by the recent appearance of a bright Venus in the western sky when it's not cloudy in the evenings. I wonder how bright the Christmas star was?? How did it move so that the Magi could follow it?? Clearly, it wasn't just an ordinary star - it was different and recognisably so... I wonder if it was visible to everyone? If so, how come Herod had to ask the Magi more about it?? And it was so impressive that the Magi set out on a long and dangerous journey... The Gospel tells us that it came to rest over the place where Jesus was - and so it must have been a "phenomena" that wasn't light-years away from Earth!! There are no definite answers - even Google doesn't give satisfactory answers!! It's one of these mysteries that are good to ponder again and again. Some years ago I came across another song that is now a favourite of mine: Epiphany Carol by Francis Patrick O'Brien. The lyrics refer first to a "star sent forth from highest heaven", and go on to explore the deeper meaning of the Epiphany. We are all called to shine in the world like bright stars (cf. Phil 2:15, Rom 11:33), going to find Jesus in our neighbour, the lonely, the unloved... And so, I think that the Christmas Star has never stopped shining since that first time when it led the Magi as it goes on shining in many acts of goodness, kindness, love and justice that are done each day in so many ways! If you would like to listen to the full song of Francis Patrick O’Brien, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OjslOODRFI BACK TO TOP

Monday 1st January 2020

The Presence of God in life’s everydayness -----2020 How do we practice the Presence of God in the New Year that is about to unfold for us? Henri Nouwen has a few suggestions to offer: “We practice the presence of God through prayer and service. Service is being involved in something that is for the people of God. At times, we might be involved in larger things – clothing the naked, sheltering the poor, helping the refugees, visiting the sick or imprisoned, but it is always small to begin with. It begins with small gestures. Being kind to your family and the people you work with, saying a patient word, writing a card. When we pray frequently and know that God is in us here and now, we are very attentive to others because we are less preoccupied with ourselves. We are less worried about ourselves and we see other people more clearly. We see their struggles. We see their beauty. We see their kindness. We realise these people are also struggling. Prayer and service are what life is about. It is how the Spirit of God reveals God to you. Prayer and service are at the heart of following Jesus.” (Extracts from: "Following Jesus" by Henri Nouwen, published by SPCK – 2019) BACK TO TOP
Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Five Lies Our Culture Tells Us. (David Brooks, New York Times) 1. Career success is fulfilling. 2. I can make myself happy. 3. Life is an individual journey. 4. You have to find your own truth. 5. Rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people.
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
© 2020 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara
St. Joseph’s Carmel
© 2020 Carmelite Monastery of St Joseph, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin, A94 YY 33, Ireland Registered Charity in Ireland    CHY 6210 Hosted by Blacknight Made with Xara

Tuesday 24th March 2020

40th Anniversary of the assassination of Oscar

Romero

In 1977 Oscar Romero became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. It was a time of great violence and bloodshed in his country. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. On March 12 th , 1977, his close friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande and two companions were ambushed in his car and assassinated by Salvadoran security forces. The cold-blooded murder of a priest – the first but by no means the last in the long bloody civil war in El Salvador is said to have caused Grande’s friend, the newly-appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar to find his voice in speaking up fearlessly for those without voices, and against the violence and injustice that polluted their country. He did so at every opportunity. On the 24th March 1980 he was shot dead as he said Mass in a small chapel in a hospital in San Salvador. Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Oscar Romero and his canonization took place on 14th Oct. 2018 in Rome. The following is an extract from his writings: “It helps now and then to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.” Saint Oscar Romero pray for us. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 15th March 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent: The Samaritan Woman

This Sunday we meet Jesus at the well talking to a Samaritan woman, even though Jews and Samaritans normally avoided each other and certainly didn't ask favours from each other. Notice how Jesus is free, he is not tied by convention, he values each person and treats them with respect. Even though he knew about the woman's promiscuous background as well as her different approach to religion, he felt free to ask her for a drink. She was shocked, and even more surprised when Jesus told her that he could give her living water so that she would never be thirsty again. It was when she asked for that water that Jesus made it clear to her that he knew all about her. Uncomfortable with this revelation she challenged him with the traditional argument between Samaritans and Jews. Is it right to worship on the mountain or in the temple at Jerusalem? Jesus again shows his freedom, and invites her and all who follow him to live in freedom of spirit. 'God is Spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth. That is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.' The spirit can come to us wherever we are if we are open to receive him. This is a timely message in this present crisis as many of us have to forgo our usual place of worship, and our usual traditions. Jesus is reminding us not to be too attached to these external things, temple or mountain, cathedral or village church, a quiet room at home or a solitary walk. God is spirit, he is there in every place if we are prepared to welcome him. Sometimes detachment from the externals can bring unexpected graces as we become more focused on God. Jesus knows all about our shortcomings and past mistakes but says to us as he did to the woman, I am thirsty, thirsty for your love, be open to me, give of yourself to me and I will give you the living water of the spirit which will turn into a spring inside you welling up to eternal life. If you are unable to get to Mass or Service this Sunday try to read over the Gospel John 4:5-42. Later in the week we celebrate two great saints, St. Patrick and St. Joseph. They both suffered exile and hardships. May their example of perseverance and faithfulness encourage us all. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 8th March 2020

2nd Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration

The tenderness of Jesus for His 3 chosen apostles, Peter James and John touches me deeply this 2nd. Sunday in Lent. He is concerned that they will fall apart, go to pieces, be overwhelmed by His Passion and Death. Their faith like ours needs to be strengthened. Jesus has a plan. It was the last day of the feast of Tabernacles – the time when the Israelites built leafy booths and dwelt in them for short periods as a reminder of God’s provision for them in the wilderness and of His continued sustenance. So, He brings His big three up a high mountain where they could be alone and “there in their presence He was transfigured.” They see him in all his radiant beauty and majesty talking with Moses and Elijah. They hear the Father’s voice in the cloud speaking the tenderest words ever spoken to us: “This is my beloved Son. He enjoys my favour – listen to Him” and they are undone with terror and awe. Some gut sense flashes thro’ Peter that Jesus is the Messiah; the Living Torah and he wants to build 3 booths to bottle the experience! Jesus the patient Teacher has a living teaching, a truth He must break open for their closed hearts and ours. The promised Messiah is going to be different. He will first suffer before coming to the glory of the Resurrection and we will too. Life will shore up many unexpected things like the coronavirus now and the worldwide travail it brings. Let us not forget the tenderness of Jesus reaching out to them and to us too in our fragility, touching and empowering us. “Stand up and do not be afraid.” He knows how great our need is “to listen to Him” in order to grasp the Mystery of the Cross - “a stumbling block to Jews, and folly to the Greeks but to those who are called, it is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God”. “I looked at your Cross O Christ and I read there the song of Your Love” – St. John of the Cross. BACK TO TOP

Tuesday 3rd March 2020

1st Week of Lent: The Our Father

During the season of Lent we are asked to pray, fast and give alms. In our Gospel today Jesus teaches the disciples to pray. Many spiritual writers have written reflections on the Our Father and you too have your own personal reflections. When you have read the following I invite you to take time and pray the Our Father slowly, very slowly. St Teresa of Avila who wrote extensively on prayer reflects on the Our Father in her book The Way of Perfection. The word perfection may make us feel - that’s not for me! Teresa would probably have as subtitle ‘the universal call to holiness’ which is definitely for all of us. The following is taken from an article by Fr Gabriel Barry, a Carmelite friar, on the Our Father and St Teresa’s reflection. In one way or another, we are all asking, as the Apostles asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us how to pray" (Luke 11:1-4). Help us to know God better, so that we can live better lives for His sake. And you know the Lord's answer; He taught them the Our Father, the model of all prayer, with its seven petitions which include every one of our needs, spiritual and temporal. Reading over Luke's account of this incident, I was reminded of a parallel occasion in the life of St. Teresa of Avila. It took place not long after she had established the first convent of the reform in her native city. The nuns who made up the community there were drawn together by a common desire to pray for the Church and the world. They were aware that their foundress was favored with many exceptional graces, and that, at the request of her confessors, she had even written a book on prayer; a book which learned theologians held in high esteem. So her nuns came to her and earnestly begged her to say something to them too about prayer. In deference to their wishes, she began to write the Way of Perfection. St Teresa instead of using pretentious language she simply says: "Let us talk about the Our Father. This is a prayer that we need to pray, if we are Christians at all. It is worth our while to learn to say it properly." This may sound elementary, but in the mind of St. Teresa it actually summed up everything that could be said about prayer. Teresa found in the Our Father not only a model for vocal prayer, but a foundation for the highest mystical prayer as well. This claim may seem somewhat exaggerated until we take the trouble of looking more closely at St. Luke's version of the story, concerning the occasion when our Lord first taught the Our Father. He had been praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray too." And He said to them: "When you pray, you must say Our Father who art in heaven . . ." You will appreciate, I am sure, that there was something unusual about this request. The disciples of Jesus were not ignorant of prayer. What then prompted this particular question? They had watched the Master at prayer and had seen for themselves that it was different from the kind of prayer that they were in the habit of making. As likely as not, they were unable to put into words what the difference was, but they could see that something was wanting in their own prayer; something that made a world of difference. That was what they wanted to learn. And their question had the implication: "What exactly is real prayer? Can you possibly teach us to pray as you have been praying?" And Jesus' reply can be paraphrased: "This is the sort of thing it is; first, you must realize that your Creator is also your loving Father. His home in heaven is destined to be your home too. Moreover, even during your life in this world, He wants to come and make His home with you. You cannot hope to bear fruit unless you are rooted in God"; and so on. In other words, the lesson which our Lord taught his apostles and which He summarized in the seven petitions of the Our Father is principally a lesson in spiritual attitudes; a lesson in the relationship between us who pray and the One to whom we pray. The Our Father begins by establishing an attitude of adoration, worship and reverence. It makes it clear that the chief object of prayer is not to get something, but to become something; to become all that God desires us to be; to grow up in Christ, as the Apostle says: to strive to be as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. The essence of Christian prayer is this search for God, so that in Him we may live. This means living, in the fullest and noblest and best sense of the word. To quote the words of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "An outstanding cause of human dignity lies in our call to communion with God. From the very circumstances of his origin, we are already invited to converse with God. For we would not exist, were we not created by God's love, and constantly preserved by it. And we cannot live fully according to truth unless we freely acknowledge that love and devotes ourselves to our Creator”. This is what our Lord wished to impart, when He taught the Our Father; that was what the apostles had asked Him to do for them; and I don't think it is straining the facts to say that this too was what the nuns of St. Joseph's of Avila had in mind when they asked St. Teresa to teach them how to pray. Her answer, like the Master's was "Let us learn to say the Lord's Prayer, and to say it as it ought to be said." BACK TO TOP

Wednesday 26th February 2020

Ash Wednesday

Don’t we all welcome the chance to make a new beginning, a fresh start? Well, Ash Wednesday is just that. It is the gateway into another Lent, “the favourable time, the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2). The word LENT comes from the old English word “LENCTEN” meaning “spring season”. It is short for “lengthen”. In the Northern Hemisphere we are on the brink of Spring when the whole of creation is awakening, showing signs of new life after the Winter slumber. The days are lengthening, light is stealing in and casting out darkness, bringing joy and fresh hope to our hearts. A sixth century hymn which we sing in the Divine Office picks up this spring theme:- Jesus, the sun of ransomed earth, Shed in our inmost souls thy light, As in Spring days a fairer birth Heralds, each morn, the doom of night. The day is come, the accepted day, When grace, like nature, flowers anew; Trained by thy hand the surer way Rejoice we in our spring-time too. The Lenten Prefaces too capture the liturgical “Spring” mood:- “Father… each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed…” “This great season is your gift to your family to renew us in spirit. You teach us to live in this passing world with our hearts set on the world that will never end”. Lent is a time to rediscover the direction of our lives. The mark of ashes which we receive on Ash Wednesday is a sign that helps us to re-find that direction. “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. “Repent”: turn over the sod of our hearts, “free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust and rediscover that “we are created for God, not for the world, for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit, for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: “Where do I stand?” Do I live for dust or fire?” (Pope Francis). We can take heart as we face our own Lenten journey, knowing that the whole People of God are setting out with us. Above all, let us keep our eyes FIXED ON JESUS who has gone before us – our Way, and the GOAL of our life’s journey. BACK TO TOP

Thursday 20th February 2020

100th Anniversary of the death of St Jacinta Marto

Sometimes I wish that the Gospels related more detail of conversations between Jesus and children. I would love to know how he answered their questions, and responded to their comments and expressions of things that were important for them! Although we don't have recorded conversations, Jesus clearly had high regard for children. In the Gospel, He remarks that real wisdom is given by God to "little ones", not to those who think they are smart and clever (cf. Mt 11:25). St Therese certainly loved this verse of the Gospel, and it was the basis of her "Little Way". We can all be "childlike" (not childish) and so obtain this wisdom too. Isn't there something very comforting about not having to be perfect and successful? Yes, we can receive the deepest wisdom from God, no matter what our status in life is. Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of St Jacinta Marto, one of the three shepherd children who saw Our Lady in Fatima in 1917. In her short life of only 10 years, Jacinta was given extraordinary wisdom. What about this, for example: "Always be charitable, even with those who are unkind. Never criticize others and avoid those who do." Jacinta showed remarkable courage through extreme illness and suffering at the end of her life, and it is worthwhile reflecting on her life today. If you would like to read more about her spirituality, there is an excellent article here: https://www.bluearmy.com/the-spirituality-of-st-jacinta- ma…/ BACK TO TOP

Sunday 16th February 2020

5th Sunday of Year A: Salt and Light

Jesus told his followers that they are salt of the earth and light of the world. Many people in our world today do not see Christianity as the sparkle of people's lives - a kind of salt that enlivens and a light that outshines. Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher SJ said this after a lifetime of teaching and spiritual guidance: "For me, Christianity offers that which most satisfies the human heart. It offers a vision that most satisfies the searching mind. Christianity offers a way of life that both fulfils and challenges the conscience." There is in Christianity a sense of giftedness that overwhelms the spirit. For Pope Francis, Christianity is a happy way of living and he offers ten pragmatic tips for happiness: - Live and let live. - Be giving of yourself to others. - Proceed calmly. - Have a healthy sense of leisure. - Make Sunday a holiday. - Discover ways to make jobs for young people. - Respect and take care of nature. - Be positive; cultivate positive thoughts. - Respect the sincere beliefs of others. - Work for justice and peace will follow. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 2nd February 2020

This Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple ends our season of celebrations surrounding his infancy. The next major event we celebrate in Jesus life will be the beginning of his public ministry when we enter into Lent towards the end of the month. All Jewish couples presented their first born sons for consecration to the Lord and Simeon must have held many babies in his arms, but he had an inner assurance that prompted by the Holy Spirit he would recognise the long awaited Messiah. When Mary and Joseph entered the temple with the child Jesus, Simeon knew him at once and immediately proclaimed the lovely canticle we now know as the Nunc Dimittis. 'Lord, now let your servant depart in peace... for my eyes have seen your salvation, a light to enlighten the gentiles and give glory to your people Israel.' Simeon recognised that Jesus was a light for all peoples and nations. Anna too recognised him, undoubtedly because she was a woman of persevering prayer and open to hearing God's word. These two old people are seen as a model for consecrated life, steeped in prayer and listening to the word of God. For that reason Pope St. John Paul II declared this Feast to be a day for consecrated life. We ask you to pray that those of us who live this life may be as faithful and attentive as Simeon and Anna. We pray too that all of us, what ever our life-style, may always recognise the presence of Jesus in our lives. BACK TO TOP

Sunday 26th January: Word of God Sunday

Carmelite Spirituality has strong Biblical roots. The early Hermits on Mount Carmel chose as their models the prophet Elijah, the Man of God and of the People and Mary open to God, listening to His Word in scripture and in life. The Hermits pondering on Elijah and Mary’s total commitment to God while at the same time their closeness to the needs of the people, began to meditate on the Law of the Lord. It is from that seed that our Carmelite Family was born. So, we welcome with joy Pope Francis’ initiative “to set aside a Sunday given over entirely to the Word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. ( Misericordia et Misera 7)”. Here in our Carmel of Kilmacud we strive to live deeply the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. So, it is an added joy that Pope Francis has deliberately chosen the 3rd. Sunday in Ordinary time nearest to the Week of Prayer for Unity, because the Sunday of the Word of God has Ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity. The Apostolic Letter, APERUIT ILLIS issued on 30th. Sept. 2019 contains marvellous nourishment for us the people of God to grow in our love for the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible it tells us is the Book of the Lord’s people who in listening to it move from dispersion and division towards unity. The Word of God unites believers and makes them one people. Another fruit of listening to God’s Word is that those who draw daily nourishment from God’s Word become, like Jesus, a contemporary of all those whom they encounter. I particularly like no. 13 of the Apostolic Letter which puts before us Sacred Scripture and the challenge to love: To listen to Sacred Scripture and then to practise Mercy: this is the great challenge before us in life. God’s Word has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity. Here in Carmel Mary is the great Do-er of the Word. We say in the preface of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Your Word filled her heart and inspired all her actions making her constant in prayer with the Apostles and constituting her Mother of all Humankind. May she help us to be like her in her response as we open ourselves to this new grace being offered to us, the People of God, by Pope Francis. BACK TO TOP

Monday 20th January 2020

CHRISTIAN UNITY WEEK: Paul’s message of Hope On this the third day of prayer for Christian Unity, as we reflect on Acts 27:1-42 so many images come to mind. The actual text is filled with drama; you can feel the fear in the boat, hear the raging hurricane, see the waves filling the boat and taste the sea water on your lips. All the senses are bombarded by this experience and what it must have been doing to those on board. Before we look at how St Paul responds to this situation we must acknowledge something else that strikes our senses very forcefully, as forcefully as the hurricane in Acts. You would have to be living on another planet not to make the connection which, this text stirs up within us, with an image which is equally horrifying, real and does not always have the same positive outcome. Namely, the reality of the migrant boats on the high seas in the Mediterranean in our own time, people who are fleeing from their homes and country – sadly, so many have lost their lives on the open seas. The poignant picture comes before us of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy, lying on a beach dead and another picture of his bereft father who said, ‘everything is gone’. You have your own images from the media, so many at this stage. In this week of Christian unity how can we as Christians comfort and give hope to our migrant sisters and brothers? Can we offer hope or do we offer excuses; will we say that is not what we are praying about during this week, after all this is a week when we pray for Christian Unity. Perhaps the challenge is that as Christians can we walk together and be united on this world issue affecting our sisters and brothers? Yes, of course there are issues to be addressed and questions asked - the big one being why do people need to leave their homes and all they love, their extended family their culture? Some of the most obvious reasons are poverty, the lucrative arms race with countries in the Northern Hemisphere being the beneficiaries, and climate change. We need to ask how our political leaders are responding to these issues and what they are doing on our behalf? Now, let us return to St Paul. He also felt doomed in the boat that he had warned the others not to go out in, but he wasn’t listened to. He was paying attention to God and could offer hope to all even to those who were ready to kill him. While he reminds them they should have listened to him he continues ‘but now I ask you do not give way to despair. There will be no loss of life at all’. He tells them about the angel of God who appeared to him and told him this good news. Paul then says to the people aboard the endangered ship, ‘take courage friends; I trust in God that things will turn out just as I was told’ Acts 27: 21-26. Let us reflect on the hope St Paul speaks about to his companions on the ship; the hope which is offered to all peoples today faced with such overwhelming problems even death itself. The angel of God is offering us, and all people in our world, that same message he extended to Paul and companions ‘do not be afraid’, ’take courage’ and trust in God. BACK TO TOP

Friday 10th January 2020

"Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are..." This lovely little song that we all learned and sang as children is still loved by all the little boys and girls today!! It's a timeless favourite!! I've been doing some pondering this week following the feast of the Epiphany about the Christmas Star... prompted also by the recent appearance of a bright Venus in the western sky when it's not cloudy in the evenings. I wonder how bright the Christmas star was?? How did it move so that the Magi could follow it?? Clearly, it wasn't just an ordinary star - it was different and recognisably so... I wonder if it was visible to everyone? If so, how come Herod had to ask the Magi more about it?? And it was so impressive that the Magi set out on a long and dangerous journey... The Gospel tells us that it came to rest over the place where Jesus was - and so it must have been a "phenomena" that wasn't light-years away from Earth!! There are no definite answers - even Google doesn't give satisfactory answers!! It's one of these mysteries that are good to ponder again and again. Some years ago I came across another song that is now a favourite of mine: Epiphany Carol by Francis Patrick O'Brien. The lyrics refer first to a "star sent forth from highest heaven", and go on to explore the deeper meaning of the Epiphany. We are all called to shine in the world like bright stars (cf. Phil 2:15, Rom 11:33), going to find Jesus in our neighbour, the lonely, the unloved... And so, I think that the Christmas Star has never stopped shining since that first time when it led the Magi as it goes on shining in many acts of goodness, kindness, love and justice that are done each day in so many ways! If you would like to listen to the full song of Francis Patrick O’Brien, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OjslOODRFI BACK TO TOP

Monday 1st January 2020

The Presence of God in life’s everydayness -----2020 How do we practice the Presence of God in the New Year that is about to unfold for us? Henri Nouwen has a few suggestions to offer: “We practice the presence of God through prayer and service. Service is being involved in something that is for the people of God. At times, we might be involved in larger things – clothing the naked, sheltering the poor, helping the refugees, visiting the sick or imprisoned, but it is always small to begin with. It begins with small gestures. Being kind to your family and the people you work with, saying a patient word, writing a card. When we pray frequently and know that God is in us here and now, we are very attentive to others because we are less preoccupied with ourselves. We are less worried about ourselves and we see other people more clearly. We see their struggles. We see their beauty. We see their kindness. We realise these people are also struggling. Prayer and service are what life is about. It is how the Spirit of God reveals God to you. Prayer and service are at the heart of following Jesus.” (Extracts from: "Following Jesus" by Henri Nouwen, published by SPCK – 2019) BACK TO TOP
Five Lies Our Culture Tells Us. (David Brooks, New York Times) 1. Career success is fulfilling. 2. I can make myself happy. 3. Life is an individual journey. 4. You have to find your own truth. 5. Rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people.
Sisters’ Reflections Blog
Each week one of our Sisters contributes a reflection on a topical subject, or a theme in the Liturgy.
St. Joseph’s Carmel