A few years ago, a new phrase came into common usage called the ‘theatre of operations’. Sadly this phrase was associated with the desert wars that took place in Iraq. This phrase was another way of referring to the battlefield where dreadful events unfolded. War is always something dreadful with no winners and this phrase does not succeed in making it any different. In the gospel this weekend, Jesus is also in the dessert and also in a battle. However this battle against the temptations of the evil one are fought for us. Simply stated, Jesus is not trapped into making himself the centre of everything and overlooking us. We are not forgotten. Jesus Christ enters into a battle so that we can have hope and some meaning to the suffering of life. This battle will only conclude during the events of Holy Week and victory on Easter morning. Perhaps this weekend you find yourself in a cauldron and a ‘theatre’ of suffering and struggle. Perhaps you are fighting your own battles and need a word of strength. Take heart from the words and actions of Jesus in the desert and on the first Sunday of one of the most ‘real’ seasons of the year in Lent. Fight on and keep going!
The gospel reading this weekend (Feb. 2nd/3rd) tells us that those listening to Jesus were ‘astonished’ by the gracious words which he spoke. Later the same gospel tells us that others were ‘enraged’ at His words because it was not what they wanted to hear and that they were one of many to hear the words of Jesus. Nowadays, people are often ‘outraged’ in public discourse and on social media. There are very few places where people recognize and have time for ‘gracious words’. Increasingly, we hear fewer gracious words and many more words that stir rage and outrage. The beauty of our Sunday Mass and our Christian faith is that we have a ‘space’ for gracious words. Words of faith, hope and charity can never enrage and are invariably gracious. In Our Lady Crowned, we are blessed with very good Mass attendances and beautiful celebrations in the church. Gracious words can be heard and can take root. Anything that comes from God is gracious. Such words nurture and encourage rather than create fear and anger. May God continue to bless us in our lives, bless our families, bless our homes and our parish.
The words of the first reading on Tuesday, New Year’s Day are beautiful: ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.’ These are beautiful words from the scriptures and a most prayerful blessing with good wishes to all in our parish and community. Also, New Year greetings to all family members in different parts of the world. May they be blessed with the care and protection of Mary the Mother of God on this, her feast day. Please God, we can all make a fresh start to face our many challenges with faith and courage in 2019.
2018 was a very busy year in our parish and community. The parish team, parish groups and parish ministries work together in our parish ensuring a welcoming, caring and prayerful environment. Just some of the events arranged by the parish and different parish groups are as follows: Our Lady Crowned welcomed Fr. Laurence Freeman on Aug. 23rd. Fr. Laurence gave a wonderful reflection and prayerful meditation in the church on that evening. Approximately 500 people attended this very successful event. The church was again full to capacity on Sun. Oct 14th for a memorable Finbar Wright Concert. The proceeds of the concert which reached €15,000 went to the provision of supports for the newly established ASD class for children with autism in Scoil Mhuire agus Eoin. Our parish was well represented at the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park in late August. The Mayfield bus was full to capacity and everyone enjoyed an historic event. While it was a very long day, everything went on schedule and people were delighted with their pilgrimage. A pilgrimage from Our Lady Crowned and surrounding parishes is planned to go to Loudres from Jun. 10th-15th 2019 with Fr. Michael. Details of this pilgrimage will be provided very soon. All bookings etc will be arranged through the Office of JWT Travel in Patrick St. Thanks to the Parish Finance Committee for their great work caring for the maintenance and upkeep of our church. Scoil Mhuire agus Eoin was officially opened in May 2018. The new school continues to expand rapidly serving our parish and community. Enrollments are very strong for 2019 and beyond. Refurbishment works on St. Killian’s School (previously St. John’s) was completed in August and the school opened smoothly on the 31st August. A further phase of refurbishment is due for completion soon. Additional ministers of the Word and Eucharist completed their preparations during the autumn and were commissioned in November. Our Lady Crowned Parish continues to work with St. Patrick’s/Holy Family and St. Joseph’s parishes in a very strong and successful pastoral area. We wish Canon Dan Crowley the very best as he continues to recover from illness. These are just some of the events along with the celebration of the sacraments of Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation for the children of the area. The church continues to be a special place of celebration and consolation with many christenings, weddings and funeral ceremonies. May Mary, Our Lady Crowned and our patron continue to bless us and we rely on her help and blessing in 2019 as our parish develops and grows. Our Lady Crowned, pray for
While Advent has been very short this year, the ‘run-up’ to Christmas has been very long. Many people remark that they are worn from preparations and all the expectations associated with Christmas. People are expected to be in so many places, to attend numerous events and fearful that they may forget someone in their greetings and gifting. It has now reached such a stage that people nostalgically yearn for a less complicated time when the ‘run-up’ was shorter and Advent had a real purpose of creating anticipation and no little excitement. Indeed the deepest and greatest expectation is waiting for the golden moment on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning when we look on the infant Jesus at the centre of our beautiful church crib. It is a real expectation because it matters to our own lives and that of our families. Please God, our hearts can jump a little beat when we see that the promise of the newborn infant is real and makes a difference. If this year, your heart is broken or sad, if you are lonely for someone away from your table, if a relationship has deteriorated or broken down, then look on the newborn infant and see our hope and our future. May you all have a blessed and holy Christmas and may you not be disappointed in your hope and expectations of a new beginning and better days ahead