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75008 Paris

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12th Sunday 25 June 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Only view of the writer – no more, no less.

Another Summer has arrived and I’m loving it. Keep the sun shining, Lord, for as long as possible. I grew up where we could only dream of temperatures like these. You will not find me waving a fan to keep cool. When rain, grey skies and cold is your template of weather – then, this is heaven on earth. Long may it last and thank you, Lord.

Weather report over! Now to the Word of God given today. As always it is rich in meaning and full of wisdom. The Word is a person – Jesus and all the individual words point to Him. He was made flesh and dwells among us.

God doesn’t send the Word, Jesus, in a generic way as “one size fits all”. The context in which the Word was first delivered and heard is essential to the meaning. The context in which you and I receive the Word is also essential to His full gift being received.

When Mary was approached by the Angel Gabriel, her first reaction was fear. The reaction of God was, ‘do not be afraid’. The admonition, ‘do not be afraid’ occurs at least 70 times in the Bible. God gives this message as important for us to hear and absorb.

Today, St Matthew in the Gospel read at Mass begins with the same words, ‘do not be afraid’. Regularly confidential information held by banks, governments, etc. is broken into and people fear the consequences of this falling into other people’s hands. Today, we listen to Jesus as He talks about how hidden things will be brought into the full light of day.

We are told that our whispers and hidden secrets will one day be made public. It makes me careful about what I say about others, even in secret. God sees and God cares and never wants the reputation of another damaged. Perhaps the most foolish thing anyone says is, ‘tell no one else this, it must be secret.’ God doesn’t deal in Slander, Calumny or Detraction. He detests them. It is probably a while since I preached a sermon on these sins.

‘Do not be afraid’, Matthew writes where your soul, inner self, Temple of the Holy Spirt part is attacked. One day, somehow and somewhere, each of us will die. But that is not the end. The only real end is to lose my soul and miss out on the vision of God for ever.

God treats us as special and precious and never sees us as other than beautiful. Each of us can deface that beauty and prevent ourselves entering Eternal Life. God doesn’t condemn; I pass judgement on myself by the choices I make and by how I treat you.

Jeremiah, a young, sensitive and initially reluctant prophet, suffered the cruel words, ‘Denounce him, let us denounce him.’ If he had done evil that deserved this, he could have no complaint. But he didn’t deserve this and it must have hurt. But, this didn’t derail the prophet. Jeremiah has a lovely name for God – ‘my mighty hero.’ I’m no Jeremiah, but I feel the hurt of being denounced to superiors last summer by people unknown. I admire Jeremiah and all who suffer like him. Whenever opportunities arise to take down walls, do so. In their place, build bridges. A restful Summer, and may the sun continue to shine on you!

Feast of Corpus Christi 18 June 2017

Some words by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] {Reflection here only the view of the above}

Corpus Christi reminds me of processions I walked in as a child, going through the streets of my home town. The finish was on the promenade where Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament took place on the bandstand. After blessing the people, the priest blessed the sea, that there be a safe season for swimmers, boats and fishing that would take place during the summer. Petals were strewn by girls in their white veils and First Communion dresses and two altar servers swung thuribles, gushing smoke sweetened with incense. It was a wonderful event to behold and drew huge crowds.

It’s now many years since a procession has taken place there. This way of honouring the presence of Jesus has changed but the sacredness and wonder of the Blessed Sacrament has not changed one iota since those days of my childhood. In those days, I thought that this great devotion went back to the beginning of our Church. Not so.

The devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament can be traced back to a vision of Juliana of Liège, Belgium, a 13th Century Norbertine Canoness. She wanted the church to have a feast of the Blessed Sacrament, as there is for Mary, Joseph, Angels and Saints. A breakthrough came in 1263, when Pope Urban V1 started the Feast of Corpus Christi to be spread throughout Europe. In due course, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and processions spread to all parts of the Catholic world. *

Besides emotional attachment to the beauty of processions, the church has never forgotten that Jesus in the Eucharist is primarily to be consumed by us and to consume us. The readings today tell that the Body and Blood of Jesus from the Last Supper until today, are the gift of God’s Son given as food and drink to sustain us. I see no contraction between the beauty of the processions and the realisation of our call to be the Body of Christ that we receive.

*Thanks to Scripture in Church, No.186 page 64*

Seeing that I am in the mood to reminisce, I can recall vividly the excitement as the documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) became the basic texts of my studies. This great Council reminded us of the four Presences of Jesus in the Mass:

  1. In the presider [priest]
  2. In consecrated Bread and Wine
  3. In the Word of God and
  4. In the people gathered

No. 4 can be overlooked and sometimes we may slip into the trap of thinking that this is the priest’s Mass. Already as Mass begins, we are the Body of Christ, called together to pray and to be strengthened by Heavenly food. Then at the end of Mass, we are scattered to be the Presence of Jesus Christ in the world, wherever we find ourselves. The Eucharistic Minister simply makes the statement, ‘The Body of Christ’. When we answer this statement with AMEN, we are saying two things – yes, I believe that Jesus is present, but also, I believe that already we are the Body of Christ.

I still tremble at the thought of this love relationship with Christ and His trust in me to be His presence in the world. That is why I mean it every time when I say before Holy Communion, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.’ Perhaps that is why Pope Francis says that Holy Communion is not just a reward for good behaviour. Holy Communion is food for the journey to eternity, keeping us alive as did manna for the wandering People of God.

Sorry for so much theory in this week’s reflection. Let me share with you where I learn most about the beauty of the Eucharist – at First Communions. Seeing a child go to receive Jesus for the first time, I see a miracle of God working in His beloved, ‘little ones’. Their faces are a picture of God’s. For 9 years, I’ve been privileged to give First Communion to newly baptised and confirmed Adults at the Easter Vigil. There too I see wonder and love in their eyes. ‘Everyone who eats this bread will live forever.’ Amen.

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity 2017

Some words by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection here only the view of the above}

It is true that the Mystery of the Trinity is not easy to understand and no less easy to explain. This doesn’t surprise me. If you are in a loving relationship, do you understand fully the other person? Some may say, ‘Yes’, while others will immediately say, ‘No’. There is not one person, for instance, at St Joseph’s that I don’t try to love. Yet truthfully, I would never claim to have summed you up to such an extent that I can say, ‘I fully understand you and am able to describe you totally so that another will fully appreciate you.’ This, does not stop me from trying to love and understand you. So, with our understanding the Trinity.

We all give signs of how we love, or don’t, to those around us. Some people choose to ignore their neighbour or even not speak to them. The other person may keep trying but the hardened heart is difficult to melt. The eyes being described as the window of the soul has always seemed to me to be true. The story of our soul is revealed by a loving glance or sadly, by a cold stare.

Many of us see a glance of love from God as the power of Love falls on First Communicants, on those Confirmed, on a baby baptised, on huge crowds at Mass and in beautiful Confessions heard on Saturdays. The ‘Seal of Confession’ prevents any more, but I feel the warmth of love and mercy in the celebration of the amazing Sacrament of Reconciliation. At the same time, I can sense the tears of God as innocent people were struck down in London and death came in other places. Never was it more important to keep love and hope as our ‘breastplate’.

The Holy Trinity is our God walking with us in Jesus and living within us by the Holy Spirit. Some will find this overly simplistic. It is. But, it is also true. When God created us and the universe, He did it simply – He spoke and it came into being.

When Jesus redeemed us from death and sin, He gave to us His Body and Blood. How simple, but true. Jesus is really, truly and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. Yes, the bread and wine are signs of His presence but more importantly, this is where Jesus remains within us until the end of time. Then, signs and faith will be no more. We will see Jesus face to face and not under the signs of Bread and Wine. He will speak our name; He will embrace us in his arms and draw us to His Heart; He will look at us having arrived at the destination for which His Father created us.

There is a truth, ‘You cannot give, what you have not got.’ God Father and Son are in a relationship of total love. Their love has a name and is a Person – the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s symbols are a dove, tongues of fire, wind, many languages understood. All these are from Revelation. One that helps me is the revelation that you are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. That is your dignity as a child of God. By this, you are a holy person. You can show me the face of God.

So true is this, that at the end of the journey of life, we will face a test. It will be one of God asking us if we saw, recognised and became involved with Him on the highways and byways of life. Did I love and appreciate God at home, in St Joseph’s fellow worshippers, among my friends as well as those whom life has pushed into the gutter and to the margins? I see the traces of the Trinity as I see you feed the hungry; dry tears of the broken-hearted; bring Holy Communion to the sick; collect clothes for those who lack bare necessities; keep God’s House worthy of Holy Ground. The Trinity is a Mystery. The action of the Trinity I see every day in your goodness.

Next Sunday at 11 a.m. Mass, we will offer thanks for the generosity of people in CCD and all ministries here. What a beautiful Feast on which to offer thanks – Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Reflection Pentecost 4 June 2017

Some words by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
 {Reflection here only the view of the above}

Pentecost Sunday is utterly special; the day on which we remember how God gives Himself in the coming of the Holy Spirit. The outward signs of the first coming of the Spirit are not evident to us – no violent wind filling our church or home; no tongues of fire resting on each; no speaking in other languages but being able to hear in our own. These accompany the Spirit’s coming, but are not the Spirit.
St Paul, a convert, spent his life under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Experience taught him that his words, good deeds for the people he helped hear the Word of God, were not his achievements, but works of the Spirit of the living God. Paul’s life has become a model for many travelling the road of life under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I can do nothing on my own. I can say nothing of value by myself. As Paul puts it, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, unless (s)he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”
Every one of us is gifted. Each of us is called to service for the same Lord. At school and even much later, when I heard that I am gifted, I thought that this couldn’t apply to me. Then and now, I see around me people who are so gifted. It is good to have such people around. There are people around who put me to shame when it comes to answering the call to service. Such people are a blessing in a world which needs shining examples of generosity.
Do you know who helps me greatly when what God asks seems beyond my limited capacity? Mary, the Mother of God. To the Angel Gabriel she puts a great question – “How can this be?” The answer to her and us is, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” A great exchange between Mary and Gabriel. It works for all who feel that the task is beyond them. The answer does not lie in trying harder, but in knowing that we cannot succeed by our own efforts. But, with God all things are possible.
During Holy Communions and Confirmations this weekend, there will be busy, caring people. Without these, the Sacraments wouldn’t be celebrated with reverence and beauty. The busiest Person of all will be the third person of the Holy Trinity –  the Holy Spirit. He comes into us silently but powerfully.
God doesn’t show off. He could and would have every reason to showcase His works. Rather, in the hearts and souls of each Communicant and of each Confirmand, silent miracles will be taking place. For them and their families these are great times. Come Holy Spirit on us all today and always.

Reflection 25 & 28 May 2017

Ascension Thursday and 7th Sunday of Easter

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

I can’t explain it. I don’t want to try. If it could be explained, it would be robbed of mystery. What am I on about? Not in my wildest of dreams, could I have foreseen the St Joseph’s celebration last Saturday evening at Marymount School. If you were not there, please don’t feel excluded. What happened wasn’t restricted to those present. What happened belongs to us all.

A small proportion of our parish – the capacity was 150 – met to say ‘Thanks’ to God for the past 30 years of worship and life at St Joseph’s. That decision to demolish the church and house was the result of over 10 years of research to see if the ‘sinking’ building could be saved. The best advice was that it couldn’t. It fell to me in 1985 as Provincial at the time, to sign on the dotted line for the Passionists and trigger the demolition and rebuilding. It was one of the difficult decisions that faced me as a young provincial – I had completed two mandates as provincial before I was 40 years of age.

Since May 1987, the Spirit has seen to the rebuilding of the community of St Joseph’s. A parish, with Jesus at its centre is only secondarily a building. Primarily the parish consists of people gathered together around Jesus, His Mother and our Patron, St Joseph. With these, all of us are Passionists along with our priests. We have the protection and intercession of St Paul of the Cross, St Gabriel, St Charles of Mount Argus, St Gemma Galgani, St Maria Goretti and all Passionist Saints. We are part of the Passionist Family in Heaven and on earth.

The Parish Pastoral Council, created a small group with the task of preparing a fitting celebration of thanksgiving for the past 30 years. In my early years here, parish socials were held. It was at the back of mind that we would do well to have a similar celebration. As in the past, those organising for 20th May worked hard. But I am still stunned at what unfolded last Saturday.

The venue was offered. The catering firm at the venue became available. The leadership, some staff members and pastoral council members generously stepped forward saying that nothing would be too much bother so that St Joseph’s celebration of thanks would be worthy of a great parish and a great Saint. [I must make it clear that Saturday’s event was not my creation or my work in any shape or form.]

God works in mysterious ways. In early May 2017, parishioners went on pilgrimage to Cotignac & Ste-Baume – site of an apparition of St Joseph and the burial place of St Mary Magdalene. They prayed and did penance. A few weeks later, pilgrims from St Joseph’s stood with Pope Francis in Fatima as he declared two shepherd children to be Saints. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought back first to Marymount for Saturday night, is now home at St Joseph’s. It is my belief that these prayer events contributed to the blessings that were evident on Saturday night’s event.

The Mass, eating together, St Joseph’s history presented, singing, laughter, the children, families together, a torchlight procession, cutting the cake…were gifts from God and signs of blessings. Now we begin to prepare for 2019 to celebrate 150 years of Passionist presence on this site. We hope to join Passionist Communities in Glasgow and Belfast who also will be celebrating 150 years in 2019. 2020 will be 300th Anniversary of the founding of the Passionists by St Paul of the Cross in Italy.

Shortly after the work began at 50 avenue Hoche, I came to Paris from Dublin, spending a long time gazing into the gaping hole that was once our church and home. ‘If I have been wrong in the decision made, O Lord forgive me’, I prayed. My prayer was then and is now that whatever God wants for our Mission Anglophone may be done. I have heard His promises many times since then and again very clearly last Saturday.


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

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