THE PURSUIT OF “relevance” in the life of the Christian Church is a futile quest: and yet we are constantly being encouraged to be “relevant”. Usually it implies that, for example, the clergy have to embrace all the world values as part of their evangelism; that we stop looking like clergy and sartorially garb ourselves in beads, beards, sandals, and float around looking “with it”. Frankly I would prefer to be “without it”, thank you! Philosophically the question should be, “relevant” to whom or what?
I CAN THINK OF ONLY ONE REFERENCE POINT in terms of relevance for the Christian, and that is our relationship with God. After my homily on Trinity Sunday last, it was mentioned how much food for thought I had given to the faithful. My point was very simple. I reminded people that our holy God is “utterly other” and frankly he does not need us, though we need him. Any revelation we receive is part of his graceful gift – just as our life is. Once we appreciate this it places our understanding on a very different footing to what many perceive these days. For example, when we attend church we are not doing God favours as many appear to think; rather we are entering a context of worship and reaching out to him in the beauty of holiness.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS AT CHRISTMAS is one of those events when God chose to get in touch with us in a very human way. With the shepherds and the men of wisdom we reverently make our journey to Bethlehem to simply worship God in man, made manifest.
MAY YOU HAVE A HOLY AND HAPPY CHRISTMAS and experience many blessings in the year of Our Lord 2018.


Members of the Chaplaincy are invited to submit to me the names of any cause to which we can give charitable support this year.  We normally allocate up to 300€ to each cause.  It would be appreciated if we could also have contact details about the charity concerned.

Wants and Needs

The tale is told of a demanding little boy who used to ask of his mother, "Mum, I want an ice-cream!" or "Mum, I want some sweets!" The mother sagely corrected the demand by saying in reply, "You may want an ice-cream, Cecil, but you do not need an ice-cream!" The little boy, duly admonished, corrected his ways and modified his demands to, "Mum, I need an ice-cream!"
This amusing anecdote does underline our propensity in life to develop our wants to become our needs. In 1973 I was engaged in some social studies at Liverpool examining how we can define poverty. Many studies have been conducted into establishing what is meant by a 'poverty level', mainly associated with the calculation of a benefits system. Back then, the burning issue was about whether or not a television could be classified as a need. I doubt today that many homes "on benefits" are without a television.
Basically our physical needs are modest and are identified as security, food, warmth, shelter and health. Our social needs may extend to community, family and companionship. Those who govern have been given a responsibility to make sure that these needs are met—and so we pay taxes. Politicians frequently complicate these basics of life. The next time you hear a politician speak, note how many times he or she says, "we need to do so and so". Of course, such a projected need is within the values of the politician concerned and we may not indeed feel any such need whatever.
Conversely, however, there is a need for any society that these days seems to be unwanted, it seems to me, much to its detriment. I am referring to our spiritual need. Societies historically have always had a spiritual dimension; but, beginning with the Enlightenment of the 18th century through communism, capitalism and now secularism, this dimension of human life in Europe is increasingly being diminished. Are we losing our social soul?

Food for Thought ... a reflection

Before the days when western European secular society became de-Christianized, Sunday used to be known as a day of rest.  Observing the day as such was associated with the divine image that we possess, when God rested from  creative activity on the seventh day.   Amidst all the turmoil of work, self-gratification, social upheaval and stress around us; the Church always claimed this day to be special and Jesus still warmly invites us to bring to him our weariness and burdens on this day of rest.  Are we weary of the relentless pressures that make demands upon us or trying to bring up a family in a godless society?  Are we weary of coping with ill-health in ourselves or others?  Are we burdened by guilt for past or persistent sin in our lives of which our conscience is afraid?  Are we burdened by hurts and resentments from past experiences?  

No burden is too heavy for our Saviour, no sin too shameful or embarrassing to him because he gave his life willingly on the cross that we might be set free, comforted and healed of all that prevents us from living the new life he came to bring us.  In exchange for our burdens, Jesus offers us his rest.  That does not mean idleness or passivity; rather it is a prayerful recognition in faith of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.  Sunday, the day of rest, is an opportunity for all who bear the name of Christian to express that faith.

(substantially extracted from Bible Alive, July edition 2014, p.37.)