Thursday, September 20, 2018

prayer diary Thursday 20 September 2018

‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ 
Luke 9. 9

Herod murdered John for speaking out against his transgressions of the moral law. The law did not change as a result of the king's evil actions. Such wicked deeds bring the perpetrator only self-condemnation - even as they bring the glorious crown of martyrdom to the one who has been faithful unto death.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bleak fifty-six

I had a birthday last week. Fifty-six. Not a huge age by any means, but one that has always filled with a peculiar sense of foreboding.

Let me explain. That is the precise age my father was when I graduated from UCC at the end of 1983. I have a photograph taken that day. My mother and father are in it with me. They both look so proud and happy. Well, why wouldn't they? A university degree is a big deal; and frankly it was a much bigger deal thirty-five years ago than it is today.

My father looks well and strong in the picture. You'd never think he was a man in the final days of his working life. But he was. My dad worked in the Ford's plant on the Marina in Cork. A few weeks after the photo was taken, in January of 1984, it was announced without warning that it was to close. Eight-hundred men lost their jobs when it shut; eight-hundred families lost their wage packets. Times were tough in Ireland at that time and a lot of men never worked again. My dad was one of them. Jobs were scarce and with so many to chose from, employers preferred to opt for younger men.

My parents were luckier than most. Ford's gave their people good redundancy packages. They had no mortgage and their children were reared. My mother was a nurse and, although she hadn't worked since her children were small, she had kept up her qualifications and was able to get night work here and there. They had more than enough money to live on and to spare.

But there's more to life than having enough cash to pay the bills. My dad had left school at fourteen and worked every day of his life for forty-two years. And then one morning – nothing. No reason to get out of bed. The four walls to look at all day, trying to figure out a way to fill the hours until it was time for bed. And there's only so many times you can cut the grass, put up new shelves, and paint the ceilings. Pretty soon you realise you are just engaged in a more useful version of twiddling your thumbs.

Did it break my father's heart? No – he was stronger than that. But he would have rathered to be working, doing something useful and not make-work tasks he invented for himself to fill the hours.

Of course, having finally reached fifty-six myself, I suppose it is important to note an important difference between my father's situation and my own. He worked for a business; and all businesses ultimately fail. I on the other hand work, so to speak, for the Church … something that has been in existence for nearly two thousand years. And the usual thinking is that the Church will last until the end of times. And when that day comes we'll all have more to worry about, I think, then our jobs … whatever age we happen to be!

this article appears in today's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

prayer diary Wednesday 19 September 2018

Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. 
Luke 9. 1,2

Christ gave great authority to his apostles. This authority continues in the Church he established. This is why we proclaim in the Creed that his Church is 'One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.'

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

prayer diary Tuesday 18 September 2018

But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’ 
Luke 8. 21

Jesus does not denigrate his mother with those words; rather he elevates us. He tells that by obedience we may achieve holiness, and being holy be found worthy to be numbered among the saints.

Monday, September 17, 2018

prayer diary Monday 17 September 2018

'The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ 
Luke 9.22

Do not scorn suffering. Did not Christ suffer? Did not many great saints find the way to faith and holiness of life by painful paths? And did not Lord our say that those would follow him must, like him, take up their cross?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

prayer diary Saturday 15 September 2018

As he said this, Jesus called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ 
Luke 8.8

Jesus' words are for all and God has made us all with the ability to hear what he says. But some will not, for there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Pray for them that they will listen while they still have time.

Friday, September 14, 2018

prayer diary Friday 14 September 2018 (day of discipline and self-denial)

The twelve were with him, as well as some women … and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. 
Luke 8. 1-3

It was a joy and a privilege for these disciples to support Christ and his apostles. Be ye joyful also in what you give to Christ's Church, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.