Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Holocaust



Holocaust
 
Bitterest memory,
 recalling mankind’s savagery
a blight of immense cruelty
destined to repeat its terrible history
unless kept brightly burning, in mournful memory.

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2015

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Good Examples


I was thinking about the example that Christians give to others. I wonder what impression do I give to others about my faith in God? Does my faith in God shape the person I am? Does my faith underpin and support the structure of my living? As a priest I have a wonderful responsibility of administering the sacraments, which are encounters with Christ. As I am entrusted with these tasks, I am aware that I am blest with my own opinion, personality, character, weaknesses, strengths, faults and failings, fallibility, unworthiness and the like, and as a whole person, I am representing Christ by embracing my faith. Not just in the holy places am I to radiate Christ, I am to be an icon of Christ. This is very difficult and when I struggle to live up to Christ, “mea culpa” suffices. What I take from my encounters with Christ in the holy places is to be that nurturing principle and aspect of living the Christian life. How I choose to do good in certain situations can be supported by a life of faith, by a real attempt to bring together in living, what is prayed, and what is demanded by Christ.

I try to be the person that God wants me to be only when I cooperate with his grace. This cooperation incorporates my reliance upon Christ, my abandonment to his will, it relies upon humbly accepting my weaknesses and offering this to Christ in each encounter with him. There are times when the witness given or the example shown falls short of what an encounter with Christ demands. We learn from experience how to radiate Christ, we learn from the example of others too. I remember too examples that have helped shape and form who I am today. Both relate to being on placement in a parish as a seminarian.

The first example is a priest who I was on placement with, who was giving, caring, understanding, helpful, prayerful, he showed me much kindness and encouraged my vocation by relating his own love of the priesthood and demonstrating that in the kindness he showed me. He would go out of his way to show a good example and I learnt about being a good priest from him. I did not have a car at that time, and he would drop me off at places I needed to be, even though sometimes that would put him out of his way.

The second example is a priest, who I was on placement with, who was also giving, caring, understanding, helpful, prayerful, in a slightly different way to the first. On his day off he would play golf with some friends, he invited me to come along. I went along with him thinking it to be the right thing to do, though I had no clubs. So I walked around with him and his friends, retrieving golf balls if I remember correctly! At the end of the round it was time for lunch and after a long walk I was hungry. When we got to the club house I was told by the staff that I was not allowed in, as I was wearing jeans, and only trousers were permitted. The priest and his friend went past me and I was told to go and wait outside, which I did. I was not best pleased, as the priest knew the dress code, and could if he had wanted to, advised me not to wear jeans! After an hour or so the priest returned and we drove home. The priest said on the way back “That will teach you a valuable lesson!” He thought it was somehow a good spiritual lesson learnt, but I failed to see the wisdom of it! Hungry and tired I felt little love towards him at that moment! It did teach me something, but not how he had intended it! It taught me how not to be a Christian or a priest, it taught me that the choices we make as Christians can sometimes be wrong, that priest was not a bad person, and was a prayerful, good man, yet sometimes the good choice is not made. The lesson I learnt too is that we are called to serve God, to be an example, and sometimes we get it wrong, though for the most part when we rely upon Christ and entrust ourselves to him, we get it right too!

We learn about being a Christian from Christ and the example good or otherwise from those who follow him. Jesus says follow me in the gospel for this Sunday and when we do, only staying close to Christ on the journey will help us show, and be the good example.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Vocation: Spelling it out! (A Repost)


Vocation: Spelling it out!
V is for vision
O is for openness
C is for calling
A is for attentiveness
T is for trusting
I is for I
O is for opportunity
N is for nurturing
As I explore the gift of a vocation to the priesthood I reflect today upon the word itself taking each letter as a point for reflection, trying to understand better the meaning that my priestly vocation has had for me
V is for Vision: Listening to Christ and truly hearing him, is I suppose an essential for starting out on the journey to the priesthood. I have found that to be the case. Why did I want to be a priest? I wanted to serve Christ, the person I had learned about in the scriptures, the Saviour of all, who died on a cross and still more, rose again! Making heaven not just a possibility but a reality! Getting to know Christ, adopting his vision for my life is an important element in deepening my vocation to the priesthood. Having a vision that strives to emulate Christ is part of the everyday struggle in being a priest. One thing I have learned is that I fall short of Christ in every respect, instead of that being a point of despair it renews my love and awe of Christ. The person of Christ, Jesus has to be personal to me, he has to touch my heart and soul before I can adopt his vision.
Lord help me to see, may I adopt your vision in my living.
O is for Openness: I really dreaded this word in the seminary, it came in the context of being open to anything! But as I reflect upon the priesthood I come to realise that I have to adopt an openness in my prayer, exposing my attitudes to Christ and allowing his healing touch to enable me to function as a priest. Openness to Christ enables me to hope and enables me to walk with Christ with full confidence. So that whatever good I do, it is through Christ and my being open to his life.
Lord help me to be open to You.
C is for Calling: I am called to the priesthood, I did not choose this! When talking with young people about vocation, one of the confusing aspects of discerning a vocation is the element of choice. Sometimes a vocation is seen in the same category as a career which is in itself a choice. A vocation is a calling one that leads and guides. I am chosen and if I listen it is a daily choice!
Lord you call me to follow, keep my faithful to that call.
A is for Attentiveness. When the Lord calls to the priesthood I used to think that call was a once heard voice. But as I grow in the priesthood I begin to understand he calls each day and when I adopt an attentive posture and listen with my heart then I appreciate the gift of priesthood more.
Lord grant me an attentive and listening heart.
T is for Trusting: The key to a happy priesthood is trusting in God’s goodness. Trusting is no easy thing, yet it helps to guard me from giving in to on the one hand pride and on the other hand despair. I trust that each step I am taking is taken with Christ.
Lord increase my desire to trust you more and more
I is for I. In the seminary there was much talk of teamwork, which I know has an important place in my priesthood. There is no I in teamwork, but there is in priest and in vocation! I must take responsibility for my actions, I am a priest and I must be prayerful, hopeful and an example.
Lord help me to take responsibility for my living.
O is for Opportunity: Priesthood is a gift, an opportunity to grow closer to Christ. When God calls to a life in the priesthood I must take the opportunity to listen and accept the invitation to serve.
Lord may I see the opportunity to grow closer to you as a priest.
N is for Nurturing: At the end of the word of vocation is the letter N that I see as nurture. So vital for growth is a nurturing spirit, one that feeds upon the Eucharist and expresses that in a Eucharistic lifestyle. When I am happy and fulfilled as a priest, I am nurturing my vocation by getting to know more fully the person of Christ.
Lord nurture my priesthood in the revelation of your nature.

Birthday Prayers

 
Birthday Prayers

There is a chill in this early January air
A pilgrim rises from sleep, called to prayer
To recite psalms, to read the days scripture
Entrusting to God each moment of the future
Praying for loved ones, aware the Lord is there
Certain that the Lord of life keeps all in his care.

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Journey


Journey

The beauty of creation reveals its glory
God’s word, telling his timeless love story
The skies above weave a glorious tapestry
The earth is bathed in the light of eternity
This moment is captured by prayers clarity
Presenting a vision of heavens certainty
Echoing a heart beat for the whole of history
A revelation upon an altar, on the sanctuary
Raising the heart and mind to seek sanctity
Words of life proclaiming Christ’s humility
Upon bended knee, worship flows instinctively
Consecrated to faith, blest by its tranquillity
Love stretched out on a cross through savagery
Mankind versed in hatreds seeming invincibility
Is redeemed by the obedience of vulnerability
The Saviour’s presence, soothing each journey. 

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2015 all rights reserved

Monday, 19 January 2015

“I am bored at Mass and I get nothing out of it”


“I am bored at Mass and I get nothing out of it”

I have listened to people who no longer come to Mass, and who use the phrase, “I am bored at Mass and get nothing from it.” Usually this can be an attitude that kicks in as teenagers and then it becomes a justification for not practising in later life. So a person is bored and is not getting anything from coming along to Mass, then of course why should they come! Why indeed!
It starts with being educated in faith, simple questions like who made me, and why, are not explored so much these days. There seems to be more of an emphasis generally upon how does it feel for me today, rather than is it right. A reliance upon transitory whims, rather than on truth. The latest fad seems to win over old fashioned values, if it feels right, then do it, blow the consequences. A modern mantra of our society is the freedom to do what I like, and this replaces the freedom to be aware of others. All of this contributes to a world view, a developing conscious awareness of what life is and where we find a place in it. Does life serve us and our needs or do we serve life and the needs that manifest themselves outside of our own desires?
If I come to Mass, then I must want to come, and if it’s to make an impression upon my life then I stand a better chance of that happening if I am educated as to why I come. I don’t come because I am dragged along kicking and screaming, or perhaps I do, and until I understand why I come, then the experience will perhaps be a boring, empty one. Being bored is a part of the humdrum of life. Not every moment of everyday is exciting, not very meeting is riveting, not every hour is stimulating, there are times in the lifetime of any human being that is repetitive, necessary, tedious, difficult and painful. These run along swiftly with joyful experiences, such as happiness, ecstasy, love, vitality, enjoyment, hopefulness and inspiration. If I come to Mass expecting to be entertained, as I would come to a cinema or a concert, then am I realistic about my expectations?
There is a rather beautiful passage from the scriptures, in the Old Testament, in the book of Job 1:20-21
Then Job arose and tore his cloak and cut off his hair.
He fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”
This passage sums up an attitude of trusting in the Lord. This trusting is to underpin any understanding of why I would come to Mass. The Mass is not about entertainment, it is not about how I am feeling today, it is not about feeling good when I come out again, it is not meaningless either, or empty, a dead rite, or an irrelevant recitation of words mumbled in repetition, and a series of half hearted actions done at a distance from me. The Mass springs from the very heart of truth, from God himself. Jesus’s death on the cross, and rising again, sets me free from sin and death, and makes me an heir to heaven. In response to this truth I come to worship God, to participate in that truth, to be thankful for the very notion that God loves me and holds me in the palm of his hand. What do I get from the Mass? I get life itself, the fullness of life, lived in service of others, a life that’s direction is eternal. “Blessed be the name of the Lord” These are not a few empty words, but a statement of intent, a declaration of trust, an indication that I understand why I come to Mass, and what I expect!
Being bored, and not getting anything from the Mass, is a poor excuse.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Walking with the Lord.


Walking with the Lord.
Walking with the Lord is an exercise of faith, it is a simple prayer. When the conversation and walk began many years ago I was struck with questions, I was hesitant as to how to engage. I first thought, what do I say as I walk along? How do I address him? So soon that conversation become essential to my living, the listening, the silence, the journey, so important to me now.
I talk with him as I would with a friend, a good friend, one who does not take offence easily, one who knows me, knows when I’m sad or happy, or when I just want to be left alone. I speak to him, and let him know how things are in life. “Things” that word that describes any number of issues, activities, emotions, needs, or just plain old trivial things! Things are good, life is moving on before me, I am scared sometimes how little control I have when it comes to the passing of time. It’s a road before me that I am walking upon, a large open one, filled with buildings, people, events, and as I walk, there is little time to look back, or to stop still, and reflect. There is always a deadline to make, an appointment to keep, a “thing” to do.
I am rushing around and as I grow older it is not so easy to keep up!  But through it all, you Lord are with me, your presence fills the spaces that surround me, your presence is as natural to me as my breathing, your presence makes the road familiar, worth walking along, and a task I willing undertake. I remember the first time I heard you calling to me, a whisper in the background of my living, "follow me" you said and you invited a response. I ignored you for a while, but I recall the wonderful moment I heard you calling me by my name, and the joy I felt when I recognised it was your voice, your words that I heard.
I have tried to be inspired by the likes of the prophet Samuel, and whispered in the darkness and stillness of my prayer “speak Lord, your servant is listening!” My heart dances within me when I talk with you, and walk along with you, my eyes are fixed upon the road ahead as your eyes are fixed upon me. Sometimes I look to the side anxious you are not there and you tap me on the other shoulder and reassure me of your presence, and as I express anxiety you move me to look at the bigger picture, that all is in your hands. Each step I take of this walk with you, I follow you, Lord.
Lord, throughout our walking together, keep my heart steady, my feet firm upon the path you ask me to walk upon, and lighten my spirit with your presence.