Reflection by Aidan Troy
The funeral of Jean Vanier took place on Thursday last. May he rest in peace. Numerous tributes have been paid to this wonderful human being who loved Christ in the vulnerable. His conviction was that all of us are crying out for what matters: love. He goes on to say that God hears our cry because in some way we respond to the cry of God, which is to give love.
A child of God inhales Love from God’s Spirit and gives Love recklessly. ‘Reckless’ is used because, loving in our lives is without limit. It does not follow a fool- proof plan. It takes place whenever we risk going beyond our safe zone to where the outcome is not known or sure. To love as Jesus loves is to be vulnerable.
Paul and Barnabas were ‘making it up as they went along’. They were ploughing a new furrow, just as Jesus had when He walked among us on this earth as the Incarnate Son of God.
St Luke pays them a great tribute – “they put fresh hearts into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith”. [1st Reading] There were times when these brave apostles and equally brave converts to Jesus, were in danger of becoming discouraged. All of us need love and support when the going is tough.
Paul and Barnabas explained to the first followers of Jesus, “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the Kingdom of God”. At one time I thought that difficulties were not normal. I felt a failure when all was not going well. As students, we were reminded that we had chosen a life of perfection. I’m no longer striving for perfection by my own efforts. Only God is perfect.
“The ideal doesn’t exist. Peace is the fruit of love and service to others. I’d like to tell people in communities, ‘Stop looking for peace. Give yourself where you are. Stop looking at yourselves, look instead at your brothers and sisters in need. Ask how you can better love your brothers and sisters. Then you will find peace’.” [Jean Vanier]
This is sound advice. Last Sunday the 3rd ‘conversation’ between Laity and the Passionist community, requested by the Passionist leadership, took place. The Provincial attended the second of these meetings in February. One Passionist is all that is at Saint Joseph’s since August 2018. Next parish meeting will be on 6 Oct. Like Paul or Barnabas, it is an honour for me to serve you over the past10 years.
The hope is that sooner rather than later, a Passionist community of three will be restored. It’s not that I can’t cope – there are great priests who help us out – but it’s not fair on you, to have just one face, one voice to preach, one approach most of the time. Further, though I am very happy, I entered Religious life to live in community.
This issue does not compare to the many blessings of 150 years of Passionists and Laity living the Gospel and spreading the Kingdom from here. St Joseph’s is holy ground. At Monday’s Pastoral Council Meeting, it was agreed that we should offer thanksgiving to God for the many graces and blessings bestowed here.
With this in mind, the following acts of thanksgiving have been arranged:
On Ascension Thursday, 30th May, Exposition of Blessed Sacrament after 11 a.m. Mass to 6.30 pm Mass.
First Communion Mass, 8 June, children will pray together a prayer specially prepared by and for them.
Confirmation Mass, 9 June, petition of Prayer of Faithful to offer Thanksgiving for 150 years.
Feast of Sacred Heart, 28th June, 7.30 p.m. Mass will be offered in Thanksgiving. Organ and choir.
Last word to Jean Vanier: “we must have long moments under the anaesthetic of quiet prayer, because Jesus can teach us certain things only if we are under an anaesthetic. He can show us our poverty, our misery, the gravity of what we have done; only if at the same time He can show us the depth of his merciful love.”