Sunday, 29 November 2015



At the hinterland of this fast disappearing year
There is an advancing wasteland of growing fear
Am I prepared to stand alone before my maker
To give an account of how I serve my creator
At disconcerting speed, life's sands slip away
Am I any nearer to be ready for a heavenly day?

The shrill cry of Advent pierces this cold crisp air
Make the heart ready, straighten the way, prepare!
What is past, is gone, slipped through ageing fingers
Yet unpleasant regret, an unwelcome guest, lingers
Cast it off do not hesitate, for the Christ is coming
Be at peace, fervent in prayer, awaiting his returning

Lilac is the expectant mood of an advent anticipation
The Baptist brings a dire warning for our meditation
Now is the time to repent, to turn away from our sin
To change our living, allow the good Lord to enter in
I pray each day for a vigilant heart, for a listening ear

Now is the urgent time to banish worries useless fear

Behold the face of Mary, the mother, a faithful servant
Serenely she brings us to adoration of the divine infant
Advent leads us to genuflect at the Christmas stable
To worship at the crib resting on each Christian's table
Seeking humility, embracing simplicity, spiritual poverty
So as to guide us to eternity, the fruition of life's journey

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2015
all rights reserved

Four weeks of Advent. Four verses in the poem. Two figures from Advent feature in the words, Mary, and John the Baptist. The mood is urgent, the call one of vigilance. Advent points towards Christ, which is the central mission of Mary and John the Baptist. Prayer is at the heart of the task to make Advent a spiritual time, a time of grace.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sermon Notes: 1st Sunday Advent Year C

Another translation of the words “stay awake” in the gospel is “be vigilant”

Vigilant means: Keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.

Being vigilant is an essential quality of a Christian because there are many issues that affect us in our society today. If we are not vigilant then we will find our faith being eroded, even as we come to worship and deepen our faith. 

Faith frightens people who want to be free to do what they want. Faith shackles those who wish to dictate the terms of human existence and who dismiss God as superstition or myth. Faith is an obstacle for many; it always has been and always will be. There are those who wish to outlaw our faith, who call it old fashioned, who label it as unenlightened, having no place in our modern day culture. Faith talks about God and his revelation, which those who do not believe ridicule and mock. Yet faith is the hope we hold precious, the goal of our conduct, the challenge to our living.

Faith is underpinned by the person of Jesus Christ, who has been revealed as the Son of God, who became incarnate in our world. Through him we are restored to God’s friendship, by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, opening for us a way to eternal life. The gospel tells us our liberation or redemption is near at hand.

Faith is at odds with modern day culture. We are not relevant to a society that does not treat life as sacred from the moment of conception to the point of death. Our faith is at odds with a culture that champions celebrity and offers role models who aspire to be rich or famous for its own sake. The faith we have will always be at odds with the world! Jesus told Pilate last week on the feast of Christ the King that his Kingdom is not of this world, how true that is!

During Advent we are to be vigilant both on a personal and spiritual level too. The world tells us that Christmas is about partying, getting drunk, spending money we don’t have, having a good time no matter what. It can be quite a shallow celebration for a world that is at odds with faith.

As people of faith we prepare ourselves for Christmas during advent by anticipating the Lord’s coming! We welcome him as a tiny child born in the stable and as a mighty king, coming again at an hour we do not expect. May we be vigilant in our preparing for the Lord’s coming, that he may find us busy with the task and demands of our faith.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

An advert for Christ

An advert for Christ

Homily for House Mass Cardinal Griffin Catholic College
The Church of England has just had an advert for prayer based around the Our Father banned from a cinema chain, because it might offend people of other faiths and no faith. It is deemed to be political and there is a policy not to advertise politics.  Meanwhile an advert for John Lewis or any other supermarket consumer chain you can mention is playing freely on the multimedia of choice. These adverts are enticing people to spend money, and find happiness in material things (Surely that is political too?) It seems a bit unfair, prayer is seen as political and therefore not deemed suitable to be viewed. It is a strange view of the world.
We are entering Advent this Sunday, four weeks before Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. In Advent we spiritually prepare ourselves to focus in on the truth of what we will be celebrating at Christmas. A survey was done recently, it involved the question: What is the meaning of Christmas? Many replied, it is about Fr Christmas, family gatherings, sales, spending money, eating and drinking too much, presents, parties, trees and stuff! There again is one view of the world. Not so many knew that Christmas is about the birth of the baby Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem.
The world has a view point, and so do we. How that viewpoint comes across depends on how we live it and live up to it to. If we believe in God our Father, then do we live as if we do? If we believe in justice do we show it by how we act towards others? If we believe in forgiveness, do we show mercy to others? When we pray the words of the "Our Father" do those words we say live in our hearts, and therefore impact our view of the world we live in?
Perhaps this Advent we who believe in Christ, might see ourselves as an advert for the world, and the example we give might help to show others what Christianity is about.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Grace fell like a torrent of rain

Grace fell like a torrent of rain

Rain fell relentlessly,
spiralling downwards out of a storm filled, darkening sky.
I wipe the water from my face, cold spiteful drops in great supply.
In the distant, my destination, a place of sanctuary,
Where in solitude I gather my thoughts, dry my soaking body.
Here, thoughts raised heavenwards become heartfelt prayer,
Gazing forwards I survey the Cross, where Christ hangs there.
I find devotion radiating out from my trembling, shivering frame,
Here, my mouth repeats the sweetness of God’s Holy name.
In this haven for life, my words become still, my chattering ceases,
In these precious moments, I tear all my useless fears to pieces.
My head clears, my heart soothed, my soul delights in “the” presence,
Joyfully my mind is filed with a truly peace filled calming sense.
Falling to my knees, I am washed by a relentless torrent of grace,
I am saturated by this drenching, lost in awe and wonder in this holy place!

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2015 all rights reserved

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Homily Notes: Solemnity of Christ the King B

The image of kings and queens dripping in privilege, being waited on hand and foot, people bowing and scraping before them, does little to promote the wonderful nature of this feast of Christ the Universal King. The image we have from the gospel today is very different, it is stark:

The image we have is the bound and wounded, beaten Jesus, standing before Pilate. Jesus is asked about his kingship and his answer confuses and disconcerts Pilate. He is a king but his kingdom is not of this world. In fact the kingdom Jesus has will never fade away, as the first reading tells us. His is a kingdom that has the Servant King as its model. Going to the Cross Jesus reveals the nature of his kingship; he is a king who gives his life for his people. The cross is the throne upon which this King is crowned. In his kingship Christ establishes the defeat of evil and by his death “the” Good shepherd, demonstrates he is the King over all dominion.

His kingdom is one that has service at the very heart of it. The care and concern for humanity is paramount in the kingdom he has allowed us to glimpse. We are to be motivated by love, by surrender to God’s holy will, so that we strive to establish a community on earth that anticipates heaven.

The church will move into a new year next week, as we begin the season of Advent. It is a time to look forward to celebrating Christmas. There are four weeks of preparation. Advent is an urgent time, a time to make sure we are ready in a spiritual way to realise the full significance of what we are truly celebrating at Christmas. The Pope this week said that:

'Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes... it's all a charade. God weeps, while people choose war and hatred.”

This sentiment can be understood, there will be aspects of Christmas that can be shallow, it is up to us to portray the true meaning of Christmas, which is “the hope” for a world that seems hooked on violence, hatred and war.

This past year is gone now a new church year begins. The past is not ours to change anymore there is only the present and the future. We dust ourselves down, casting regret to the dustbin of time and move forward, renewing our desire to be more faith filled this year. We resolve today as we worship Christ the King to be guided by his example and led by his abiding presence in the Church. We promise to walk more closely the footsteps of Christ and trace his life in our lives. We are his hands, his eyes, his ears, his voice in our world! And as servants of Christ the King, we are to be prepared to put our whole selves and our full hearts in the service of our faith. May we go into the new church year with fresh vigour and zeal for the task of being servants of Christ, our Universal King! May it challenge us to explore the true meaning of Christmas too, so that we can bring its true message of hope to the world that badly needs to hear it.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Travelling Light

Travelling Light

The pace is slow, the scenery passes by, yet I can see it clearly

I think to myself of how I love this familiar place so dearly

The winter sun bathes the outline of bare trees, bereft of leaves

Heads were bowed in prayer, remembering as the heart grieves

I am snug and comfortable in the back of this huge black hearse

My eyes warm to the beauty of life, my heart beats a poetic verse

I am not alone in this journey, a very important person travels with me

I just celebrated his funeral rites in church with tones of solemn decree

We spoke lovingly of a father, a brother, a friend, a child of God’s own keeping

We were moved by the tributes, and in the hearing, we were left weeping

Now we are traveling light, all burdens lifted, moving to a final resting place

The pace is slow, the scenery passes by, we travel onwards, by God’s own grace.

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2015 all rights reserved