Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Advent: Finding the Holy Season

Advent: Finding the Holy Season 

Advent is an advertisement for Christ’s coming again
We prepare, we get ready, we don’t know just when
If he returned today would Christ find faith on earth?
It’s been hijacked by those who ignore his holy birth
The PC brigade celebrate instead, the "holiday season"
So as not to offend, or embarrass, that is their reason
Happy holidays, in Winterville, enjoy the festive cheer
God forbid that the Christ should come anywhere near!
Finding a Christmas card with a stable on is hard to do
There are lots with snowmen on, or a mince pie or two
I asked the other day for a Christian advent calendar
An assistant said “we’ve one reflecting popular culture”
Concerned I said “no, one that has Christ at the stable”
“We don’t have one of those, not even under the table”
Came the bemused reply, from behind the shop counter
I came away shaking my head at this most sad encounter
Not despairing I continued to search for a true meaning
Faith, hope and love these are the values worth heeding
So put Christ back into Christmas during this holy season
Remember what are we celebrating, Christ is the reason! 

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014



Worship springs from the desire to return love
To be lifted from the earth, to soar up above
Before I ever loved him, he has loved me first
His very presence quenched my deepest thirst
Words form in my heart, a whisper, a shout, a cry
As I tremble with anticipation and quiver with joy
Transfixed by his presence, I do not raise my eyes
Bursting forth from me are prayers thankful sighs
He calls my name, beckons to me, asks me to trust
My name is known to him, who formed me from dust
Standing alone, clothed with my weakness for a gown
I tremble before my King, who wears thorns for a crown.

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Homily Notes: Christ the King

In Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring books, he tells the tale of a fight between good and evil, and of a kingdom and a king returning to the throne. Aragorn the good hero, with wonderful virtues, the rightful king, becomes the king of Gondor, and peace is restored to its kingdom. The qualities of the king are service, one who would sacrifice himself for his people, loyalty, truth and love for his people who he is one of. The hobbits have played a great role in destroying the evil ring and returning Aragorn to the throne. In the film, he bows down before the hobbits in an act of humility, demonstrating the quality of his kingship. It is a work of fiction, but Tolkien was a Catholic and the king in mind was modelled on Christ “the” King.

The qualities of kingship are explored in the scripture today. Today’s gospel is a little like a job description for one who would be king.

Firstly the king is a good shepherd, one who cares for his sheep, who seeks out the lost and straying ones, who bandages the wounded, who heals the sick, the champion of the weak and poor. The good shepherd is loved by his sheep who rely upon him for life.

Then the quality of kingship is further developed in the gospel.

Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'

The King invites those who adopt the qualities they see in the “Good Shepherd King” to share in the joy of the Kingdom.  This invitation is extended to all those who in life attend to the needs of those who have no voice, no comfort, who are poor and in genuine need. Sharing in the work of the King is a vital component part in the make up of any Christian worth his or her salt!

Our King that we celebrate today says, “do this in memory of me”: He healed the sick, took pity on the poor, bandaged the wounded, fed the hungry, showed compassion in all his words, gave hope to the desperate, he stretched out his arms on the cross and forgave his killers, destroyed death forever and opened the way to heaven! This King invites us imitate him as we live and when we fall short of this, he himself picks us back up again in the Mass, in the sacraments, and he dusts us down and wills us to carry on.

Christ is our King! May we rejoice in having so wonderful a Saviour!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sunday Homily Notes: 33rd Year A

When I was at seminary there were different interpretations of what was required. One would say have you done your best? If so there is nothing more to say. Another would be your best is not good enough…you ought to give more. How much more than your best can you give?
The parable of the “Talents” can be an illustration of how thinking you are doing your best is not always the best option! The man who dug a hole in the ground and gave the money back as he found it, thought he was doing the best he could do, but he could have done more. We can find ourselves saying that coming to church each week, is doing our best, but is it? Coming along but not taking part, coming along, leaving early, coming along but having no contact with the parish for the remaining days of the week, until the next weekend is that giving our best? Before we came to Mass did we prepare by reading the scripture, did we pray for the grace to respond to our Lord’s calling to engage our faith in each and every day, not just for one day of the week? Have we shown a good example and encouraged others to come to faith in Jesus?
If you have done your best then there is nothing more to be said. Yet when it comes to faith we can always do a little bit more.
The most harrowing pictures I find are those of children who are hungry, images of poverty in the world can break the heart. Poverty blights the world and yet it is a reality. Recently there was a crash in the desert of a vehicle that was due to take people into space, as space tourists, each person pays over £100,000 for a ticket…it seems obscene when there are people hungry and through no fault of their own, starving and dying in poverty. The priorities of the world are upside down, and it is said that Christianity is out of touch with the world, good thing I would say, if that is the rational for the world! The Church is called to proclaim Christ to the world, to bring light where there is darkness. It is a hard task, one that leads to being hated at times, misunderstood at other times, and rejected too. It is not easy to do. The parable warns about how hard it is. Burying our faith in the ground and not using it to the full, is not what Jesus wants of us. He asks more.
The first reading speaks of the wisdom required to be doing our best, wisdom reaches out to the poor, a helping hand for the needy. The second readings speaks about the task a Christian has to proclaim Christ to the world, an urgent task one that needs us to be alert, a task that is done best when we are giving of ourselves.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Remember, a word that is whispered in the hush of a half lit room,
a sanctuary, where a name can be treasured, and in remembering, that name becomes the greatest treasure. 

Remember, is to evoke an emotion, one that hugs tight the very gnawing pain of the hurting soul, tugging at the fabric of meaning, remembering, is clinging to that unbreakable bond of hope. 

Remember, brings back open wounds where words were left unsaid, a lament of silence for the long time dead, yet in the act of remembering there grows a flicker of laughter, a time where the fullness of life held court, and hope poured forth. 

Remember, a task, an annual pilgrimage, a daily enlightening, enabling the heart to continue beating, the soul to keep hoping, the spirit to soar into the delight of the reality of the ecstatic joy that is to…remember.

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2014

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sunday Homily Notes: Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

In the Church calendar, we celebrate the feast of the dedication of The Lateran Basilica.
It may seem unusual to celebrate a building far away. But this building, which was a palace of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine and which he gave to the pope in about 311, this building, which still stands, is the first of the Churches of Rome. It is therefore our mother church. It was the residence of the popes until 1308 and the cathedral of Rome.

What do we think of when we hear the word “Church” The buildings themselves or the worship that happens in them?

Today's scriptures explain what the church means. Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and speaks of his own body as the true holy of holies. St. Paul also personalises the temple and writes,

“YOU are God’s building! YOU are the temple of God.”

And Ezekiel describes the temple as a great well-spring from which flows a river of living water filling the oceans, nurturing all life and providing healing.

We are God’s building; We are the living temples of God. Each of us is one of the living stones in the temple of God. None of us is the whole temple: I am not. You are not. Pope Francis is not. But each of us and all of us together build up that temple that is Christ’s body.

Together, we are the living, Body of Christ in this parish as in all parishes and places where the Church is lived out. St Teresa of Avila reminds us of this in one of her prayers.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

More than any church building in Rome, the church is the Body of Christ as it lives in us. From this body, this living temple, should flow forth healing waters providing life and sustenance, especially for the poor, the hungry, the homeless. The church, the Body of Christ, never exists for itself alone, but always for others. Saint John Henry Newman said in a famous quote

“I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, But God declared: "Go down again - I dwell among the people."

The Church is called to be ever faithful to Christ. The Church is called to be his witnesses and bring about his Kingdom. As unique parts of the Church, may we all play our little part in building it up here on earth.