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Feast of Pentecost 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only the view of the above.

This weekend at St Joseph’s is one of unsurpassed joy. It is a most blessed time with First Holy Communion on Saturday and Confirmation today. It is way beyond my poor words to capture. My belief tells me that the breath of the Holy Spirit is in the air. Come, Holy Spirit!

If there is a shadow over this joy it comes from what is happening in our world. Last weekend, worshippers in Indonesia were targets at Mass and other religious liturgies. Conflict in the land and city, Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit first came on the infant church, shows how elusive trust and peace can be. Come, Holy Spirit sent today on your Church, continue to work in the world.

The Holy Spirit is needed in the heart of the Body of Christ, our Church. The hierarchy of Chile is called to Rome to address the tragic situation of the church in their dioceses. Not so many years ago, it was the hierarchy from Ireland that was called to Rome for the same reason. Come, Holy Spirit, and bind up the wounds on the Body of Christ today. May God’s little ones, that He loves so dearly and so tenderly, be always safe.

Pentecost fills us with wonder and awe, as the Spirit breathes upon us in this sacred place. Welcome Holy Spirit!

There can be a coldness about religious practice that can leave people who seek God to pass us bye and look elsewhere. Our hearts need to be set on fire by the tongues of fire of this great Feast. Come; Holy Spirit and rest on my head this day. Penetrate my heart and set it aflame like the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thaw my coldness.

The many languages on the day of Pentecost spoken, was a miracle of hearing rather than one of speaking. Come Holy Spirit and open my ears to your word. Open my ears and my heart to the prophets living in our community who have a message from You for us.

The Holy Spirit celebrated today is the Third Person of the Trinity revealing the love between Father and Son. Holy Spirit does not live in a world of ghosts and shadows but in a home, which is a Temple. We are the Temples. There is more to people than appearances and looks.

Those we know and love, we appreciate for their inner beauty and love. Each of us is a Temple and provides a home for the Spirit. Come home Holy Spirit to my heart. Where there is a lack of warmth, please bring me your fire so that other people may know that God is in our midst. Make me daily worthier of carrying you in my heart.

My hope and prayers are that many communities will be as blessed as St Joseph’s is today.  

7th Sunday of Easter 2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only the view of the above.

This is the last Sunday in the sequence of Sundays after Easter. Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. The gift of the Holy Spirit will come upon us anew. In a special way, that afternoon CCD and Marymount School candidates will receive the Holy Spirit at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Denis Jachiet at 3 p.m.

On the eve of Pentecost, we will share in the joy of the Spirit as First Holy Communions are celebrated. Then later, on the Eve of Pentecost, one of our RCIA candidates will receive the Sacrament Confirmation at Notre Dame Cathedral. What a truly blessed weekend lies ahead.

At Mass today, we learn of the early church calling on the Holy Spirit for guidance. Judas was no longer part of the Twelve and so a vacancy needed to be filled. There was no way of knowing which of two candidates God wished would become an Apostle. Then came the solution.

They prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate.’ God answered their prayer and Matthias was now listed as one of the Twelve.

Notice how their prayer was not that the Lord can read everyone’s mind. He can. But, the prayer addressed God’s power to read our hearts. The mind is essential but without the heart it is incomplete. Nothing has really changed – God still reads hearts to see what is there.

A heart that is set on creating unity and doing away with division is of God. It is part of our world and even of our church that division can gain the upper hand over unity. Unity can never be uniformity. We are all so different, and in our being different we seek unity. Do you know where the unity comes from? It is the Holy Spirit who breathes unity into our hearts and minds.

Being one, as prayed by Jesus before returning to the Father in Heaven, is not easy. Jesus knew that. He knew that we would not be spared challenges and even death. Jesus does a lovely thing, He tells us to stay immersed in our world. The He adds, ‘Father, protect them from the evil one.

The greatest lie of Satan is to imagine that he/she is no longer active. Once that lie is swallowed, the work of Satan is made that much easier.

Then Jesus addresses this issue of lies. ‘Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.’ The truth of the Word of God is like a shield that protects us from any attacks of the evil one. These attacks can have many faces or masks. When I tell lies, when I cause division, what I am indifferent to you, when I could not care less about Creation or people, when I turn in on myself and keep you out of my affections, and much else, I am doing the work of Satan.

To be open this week in preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, will bring us closer to God and further from Satan.

Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts!

6th Sunday of Easter 6May2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only the view of the above.

Easter is leading to the Ascension Thursday this week. Then Feast of Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Even though these great Mysteries come each year in the Liturgy, at times I’m overcome by this richness of blessings.

It is important that we don’t look on these great events in the life of Jesus and of the Church, as ‘outside’ of us. If we are spectators rather than participants, we miss so much. In the Gospel today, Jesus brings us into the events that we are celebrating.

If I am told by a person, ‘I love you’, my life is enriched beyond measure. The scourge of loneliness and low self-esteem arises when I think that I could not possibly be loved as I am.

‘I love you’, must be among the most wonderful words any of us can hear. But, when Jesus speaks these words, the impact is all the greater. In what way does Jesus love you and me? He loves us in the same way as He is loved by his Father, God.

Jesus comes to live among us because of His love for us. He shows us that we are loved. The Cross is the greatest proof of God’s love for us. He did not spare His own Son.

Then, He asks us to show that we love each other. This is part of His plan of love. Without this, I can be lost in loneliness and isolation. But, once I am shown love, I know I am loveable. Once this is true and real, I believe more in the revelation of God’s love, not just for me but for all.

As a child, I was not a great athlete or football player. I was not fast, because I was over-weight. Words like ‘obesity’ had not then been invented. I was often called ‘fat’. In picking teams for a game of any sort, I was often last to be chosen. It hurt then, and the memory lingers still.

How wonderful it was for me when I first heard that God had chosen me for His team! God says, “You did not choose me, no, I chose you.” For a child who had not been chosen until there was nobody else, this is pure music. Being chosen by God is beautiful; this still brings tears of joy to my eyes. I’m so grateful to God.

Being chosen is good. Being given a ‘job’ by God is even better. To all, including priests and religious, Jesus says, “I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” God doesn’t need any of us to go out and bear fruit – God is all powerful. He has chosen to want us for this most wonderful mission. He doesn’t ask us to carry a package of religious instructions for others. He asks each to be His message. This is serious.

It gets better. “Then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.” Is this true? It must be, because Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Friendship with Jesus begins by His choosing and loving us; it becomes more likely that first, we will ask Him for what is good for others and then, for ourselves.

Ask Him this weekend in your prayer about what He wants to give His people in love. He will shower us with gifts beyond our wildest dreams.

5th Sunday of Easter 29April2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only the view of the above.

Last week, Jesus came as the Good Shepherd to care for us. This week, Jesus tells us that he is the Vine and that we are the branches. The vine, like the shepherd, is an image familiar throughout the Scriptures. As some shepherds were good and others not, so some vines blossomed and produced fruit, while others withered and died. But, as Jesus is the Good Shepherd, so He is the True Vine.

The vine is an intimate image – the blood of God flows into our hearts and lives. His life is ours. We don’t go through a ‘transfusion’, but rather are reborn in Baptism into His life. In Holy Communion, He comes to us as the Bread and Wine now made into His Body and Blood.

From God as Vine, there is a welcome for every person who is grafted onto Christ. God does not do ‘exclusivity’. He freely chooses to share life and love with all who accept Him. Being a Vine’s branch is beyond my words to capture. It is to be human with Divine life flowing through us by grace.

From time to time, I see a tree that has been struck by lightning or attacked by some disease. In some instances, it is so badly damaged that it must be cut down. Even when the branch is fruitful, God ‘prunes’ us to bear more fruit. To do this pruning, it is not a secateurs or clippers that is used. “You are pruned already by means of the Word that I have spoken to you.’ What a lovely thought.

Where to start? Why not with the second reading at Mass today. St John calls, ‘My children, our love is not to be just words or talk, but something real and active.’ It can be easy to talk and find words to describe what Jesus asks. Putting into practice is the real challenge.

It always means more to me when I see you, who have been pruned by the Word of God, putting His words into action. When people who do not know Jesus, see you putting love into action, they may ask, why is this person so generous towards others? This way of acting is your evangelisation in our world.

Staying attached to Jesus is key for our growth in life. Jesus gives a stark warning, ‘cut off from me you can do nothing.’ Sometimes, I forget that I am a branch who lives by the strength of the vine. That can be dangerous as I can slip into thinking that I can become holy by my own efforts. It is not possible. To be aware that I am dependent is both a challenge and a relief.

It is a challenge, because my pride can want to see all that happens as ‘my’ work and not His. It is a relief to be dependent, because I then do my very best but realise that He is only one who can bring the true fruit that lasts into eternal life.

Life is a striving for closer union with Jesus the Vine and knowing that I have yet to become a true disciple. ‘It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’ As branches, we help each other become Jesus’ disciples.

4th Sunday of Easter 22April2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.

Pope Francis recently wrote an Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate’ with 176 paragraphs on the call to holiness in today’s world, encouraging us to become saints! Early on, in par. 12, we read: “I would stress too that the “genius of woman” is seen in feminine styles of holiness, which are an essential means of reflecting God’s holiness in this world.”  

Pope Francis goes on to point to some great women as canonised Saints and then adds, “But I think too of those unknown or forgotten women who, each in her own way, sustained and transformed families and communities by the power of their witness.” [Par. 12]

Pope Francis chose Dublin, Ireland, for the ‘World Meeting of Families’ in August 2018. The theme chosen by the Pope is, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. There will be workshops, talks and discussions for adults, others for young people and children. If possible, I would love to be present for the Papal Mass at Croke Park to close the Meeting.

Far more important than whether I or any other priest will be on the Altar with the Pope, will be the manner in which the World Meeting of Families treats the role of women in the family and in the Church. There will not be opportunity to delve deeply into this crucial topic in the space of a few days, even in Dublin!

Last week, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America suggested that Pope Francis plan a Synod of Bishops, “to seriously pose the theme of women in the life and mission of the church.” [La Croix 16 April 2018, pg. 11] This year’s Synod in October will address the vocation of young people. 2019 Synod will have the theme of the Amazon for the world.

Those of us who love St Joseph’s, know that women are at the core of our life and mission. This in no way is intended to belittle the role of great Passionists who have served at avenue Hoche since 1869. Neither is it in any way a comparison with the dedicated, heroic male parishioners who have provided a staunch backbone in our community over those years.

The Holy Spirit, I feel, is urging a search of Scripture and a reading of the signs of our times, to discover God’s guidance on what further gifts and blessing He wants to give to His church through ‘the genius of woman’, to quote Pope Francis.

When I hear that some roles in the church are closed to women, I hear the beautiful echo of the words of Scripture, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ;” [St Paul to the Galatians, 3/28-29] How beautiful is this dream of Christ!

Today is known as Vocations Sunday, when prayers will be offered that God inspire men to consider Priesthood or Diaconate. This is good and necessary – prayer is essential. My conviction is that throughout the world, the Body of Christ is well-served by Deacons. Male Deacons are ordained. The service of women in our Church may not need ordination for effective ministry, but are the reasons to withhold Sacred Orders still valid today?

My prayer is that soon there will be a Synod of Bishops for the universal church, whose planning involves input from women. A principle to guide Synod preparation could be that nothing be ruled out until the Spirit speaks to us of the plan of God for His Body in this 3rd Millennium. This also will be part of my prayer on this Vocations’ Sunday.


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

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