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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.

Is the way I think ‘God’s way’ or my own human way? Peter thought his thinking was God’s way. It wasn’t. Worse still, Jesus calls him Satan! Why? Because he sees things as in the song, “I did it my way”.

This is serious stuff and it scares me. Almost daily, I ask myself if I know, ‘God’s way’ of thinking? For instance, now at St Joseph’s we are in a new situation. What does God want?

For the first time in 150 years, the Passionists can assign just one priest to St Joseph’s instead of two or three as in the past. Decades of decline in vocations is now being felt.

It seems to me, that St Joseph’s future depends not only on the number of priests, but on all of us together reclaiming our priestly, prophetic and sovereign roles received at Baptism:     

Anointing with Chrism

“God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.” {Rite of Baptism}

In 1985, the original St Joseph’s “died” as its buildings were knocked down. People said, it could not recover after two years away from Ave Hoche. A “resurrection” did take place in 1987 with the blessing of the ‘new’ St Joseph’s on the 1869 site.

God continues blessing St Joseph’s when each weekend 2,000 people answer God’s invitation to our five Masses. A building can be knocked down, but, not the spirit of a people.

At the risk of Jesus calling me, ‘Satan’, I suggest that God may be calling us at St Joseph’s to a ‘death and resurrection’, as we hear in the Gospel today. The history of this holy site is magnificent. St Paul of the Cross’s blesses a Passionist Parish so that we may keep alive the Memory of the Passion. Maybe we are called by God to die to some past ways for a resurrection to different future ways.

I believe God has a great dream for St Joseph’s. Some aspects may change. The core will remain. With Faith in God and trust in each other, we can move forward. It may disturb us, as does Calvary. Easter Sunday seemed impossible on Good Friday. Yet, Jesus did rise and so will St Joseph’s to new life in different ways. 

If this is not of God, it must fail. As we examine our future with faith and trust, God’s Spirit will guide us.

The Passionist Provincial Superior in Dublin has asked all laity in our Passionist parishes and communities to engage together in a series of ‘Conversations’. You will receive an explanation of what is involved and an invitation to these conversations.

The way ahead will need our prayer. St Joseph and St Paul of the Cross, will intercede for us as we search for what God wants of us.


23rd sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.

11.00 a.m. Mass at St Joseph’s today will be a time of prayer and praise as we mark the return of students to their schools over the past week. For some little ones, this will have been their first experience of school. Those children starting school are setting out on a long road of education. What a great adventure, we pray!

St. Joseph’s parishioners’ daughters and sons attend a variety of schools. Some are Catholic with a religious ethos: others have a different one. All students are God’s children.

All schools have in common that they want the best for their students. A school is the partner of the Family together working to advance the students’ development and education.

A parish is a third party along with the family and the school. At the Baptism of every child, the church recognises that parents are the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith and then prays, that they be the best of teachers. The family is at the centre and heart of education of their children, academic and religious.

Even after ten years at St Joseph’s, I still marvel at the faith of families registering children for Sacramental preparation. Many CCD volunteers minister by teaching and religious formation of children, while others do all the administration needed. The ‘Gospel Group’ introduces little ones to stories of God at an early age. The post-Confirmation Group continues the journey of faith into adulthood.

In Catholic Schools, a religious ethos permeates all that happens daily. In the past, as part of a retreat team travelling to schools presenting Jesus and listening to students, I always found very rewarding. Traces were visible of Jesus’ footprints in the lives of students and are still today.

I have unbounded admiration for parents wanting a good education for their children and for teachers and school staff. As a school chaplain for many years, students taught me more than I could give to them. All students are God’s precious gifts given to be cherished and protected.

Our Reading today from Isaiah can be adapted to apply to Education:

  • “Eyes shall be opened” = Student minds shall be opened to new horizons
  • “Ears of deaf unsealed” = Student ears hear the message of Jesus for today
  • “Lame shall leap like a deer” = no Student judged disabled
  • “Tongues of dumb sing for joy” = Students praise God
  • “Water gushes in the desert” = Students reach for the stars and seemingly impossible.

Everywhere, Jesus is Teacher and Master; God the one Father. (Mt 23: 8-10). Schools are holy ground, with Christ in all classrooms, playgrounds, and at sports. Today, we greet ‘Jesus of the Schools’ as He blesses another school year. We remember today children who cannot go to school due to war, famine or being refugees. May we help end their nightmare soon.

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.

Tomorrow I’ll have my annual medical check-up. Please God all goes well. We need to know what is happening inside of us, invisible to the human eye. The saying is that, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Early diagnosis can lead to a better outcome.

Scripture, God’s Word, gives us an interior spiritual check-up, shining a light into the recesses of the human heart. Jesus tells us where evil starts – “For it is from within, from peoples’ hearts, that evil intentions emerge.”

The 10 Commandments never caused anybody to sin. It is in the heart that I harbour anger, lust, malice, jealousy, pride and lots more. To excuse myself, I often blame anyone but myself.

But, looking at the Heart of Jesus open on the Cross, we see love laid bare. Jesus loves us and remains present with us since we were created; He loved us from the Cross on Calvary. His love burns eternally for us.

Moses asks: “What great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?” [1st Reading] We’re not children of some distant God but of One who lives in us. If this had not been revealed in God’s Word, who could have guessed it? Powerful people may be remote from us, but not our loving God.

As a caring healer, Jesus helps us examine our hearts. If I am suffering ‘heart problems’ by the presence of evil in me, the “Divine Cardiologist” unblocks the channels of evil to let grace flow once again. Jesus’ intention in helping me to discover what is in my heart is not to condemn but to give me ‘pardon and peace’ [Confession absolution]

Jesus is at the heart of every parish and Christian community. I have been deeply touched by your kindness and concern for me as we await another priest to be appointed to St Joseph’s. Keep praying! Our present situation is not a surprise. This outcome for parishes has been on the horizon for years as Ordinations dropped annually.

Our present situation can be a time of grace. We invite Jesus to examine with us life at Saint Joseph’s. Many can accept that Jesus is the heart of our parish, but act as if Fr X, Y or Z, really occupies this ‘divine space’. What a pity! How sad if we lose sight of Jesus as the one & only heart of St Joseph’s since 1869.

To be a priest at St Joseph’s is a huge honour. But, I am but one of 2,000 worshippers answering Jesus’ call to His Altar each weekend. As servants of God and of each other, we must work together to harness the goodness and potential present in our changed situation. This is a gift God is now offering to us.


21th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.

Pope Francis is very much in my thoughts and prayers this week.

On Monday past he wrote a letter to the whole church. It is a good letter but sad that he felt the need to write it in the first place. His letter relates to the sexual abuse of children by clergy and how their crimes were dealt with by their Bishops and Superiors. Each of us is called to pray and make sacrifices for God’s help at this time of extraordinary suffering. [www.vatican.va has full text]

On a happier note, I am praying for Pope Francis as he spends this weekend in Ireland. The World Meeting of Families has been taking place this week in Dublin. On Saturday, Pope Francis visits the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in the west of Ireland. Part of our plans to celebrate next year the 150th Anniversary of St Joseph’s include a pilgrimage to this same shrine.

On Sunday, today, he will offer Mass in Dublin for an expected congregation of 600,000. This reminds me of Sept 1979, when I concelebrated Mass with St John Paul II in the same place where Pope Francis will be on Sunday. That memory still lives with me.

Of course, I would love to be there today at the Papal Mass. This is not possible and so I will join through Mass at St Joseph’s.

Last week’s Bulletin had a few of my thoughts about the way ahead as our 150th Anniversary nears. Fewer priests is a reality in many places; together we’ll continue to pray and work for our wonderful community. Pray that another Passionist will soon be assigned to St Joseph’s. Any news of this and you will the first to know!

Each of us, baptised into the Body of Christ, is called to be a witness and ministers of God’s Kingdom. Jesus is at the heart of this. His greatest gift is himself; His Body and Blood given to us.

Another great gift to us is our freedom to choose. Jesus was not afraid to lose even those He had chosen as ‘The Twelve’, among them the First Pope (Peter). To all 12, Jesus asks about believing in His Presence as the Bread of Life, “what about you, do you want to go away too?” Few leaders risk such questions!

Peter’s answer is that he was not leaving Jesus. What is my truly honest answer to Jesus?

There are people I know who have stopped walking with Jesus. They are not bad people. Their opportunity to choose Jesus again will only come by the grace of God. Any of us could be called as the channel of that grace!

May God keep Pope Francis safe and strengthen him in his faith.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.

A new era begins in the long history of St Joseph’s, Mission Anglophone. From our beginning in 1869, (150 years ago next year), a Passionist community has always been privileged to serve all who come to St Joseph’s. Due to the drop in the number of priests being ordained for the Passionists, there will now be one Passionist assigned to St Joseph’s for the foreseeable future.

It is not the number of priests who sustain a parish. All do this by living the Gospel and witnessing to Jesus. Now we have a glorious opportunity to live this present moment of grace given by God to create together a future reflecting the actual situation of the Church and of the Passionists.

It will give me joy and great hope if soon we can come together to listen to the Spirit speaking in the signs of the times in which we are living. Each person has something to offer that will be of value.

The absence of more priests at St Joseph’s need not prevent us from developing the wonderful community spirt and outreach which previous Passionists and countless number of parishioners have bequeathed to us.

Now, I believe, is a moment of grace that we should accept with open hands from the loving hands of God, who hasn’t forgotten us.

We’re being called into a future that is not clear; the Holy Spirit will give us the map. It will be different from the past but exciting to discover where God is leading us. May His will be done.

So, what is the situation to date? I am very happy to remain at St Joseph’s for as long as my Passionist superiors, you, the parishioners and God’s gift of health allow me. But, if a better long-term future can be created without me, I’ll always thank God and you for these blessed years in Paris. It isn’t about me – “He must increase, I must decrease”, to quote St John the Baptist.

While asking God what He wants of us, nothing should be ruled in or out as the we start this new part of our journey.

The Passionist superiors of St Patrick’s Province have promised to supply a Passionist to assist here on a temporary basis when it is necessary. I appreciate this as an interim measure. Also, some priests in Paris are ready to help as needed. I’m grateful to them.

These are just my thoughts. Together we can create a future. Few parishes that I know of, have such a glorious opportunity as is ours to realise in a new way God’s dream for His World and Church in the 21st Century. Pray, reflect, study, discuss, that we may be ready for a great future. St Paul of the Cross, pray for us.



Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

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