27 October, 2019. 30th Sunday (C)

1st Reading: Sirach/ Ecclesiasticus 35:15-22

The prayer of the humble will reach to the clouds

The Lord is the judge,
and with him there is no partiality.
He will not show partiality to the poor;
but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan,
or the widow when she pours out her complaint.
Do not the tears of the widow run down her cheek
as she cries out against the one who causes them to fall?
The one whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted,
and his prayer will reach to the clouds.
The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds,
and it will not rest until it reaches its goal;
it will not desist until the Most High responds
and does justice for the righteous and executes judgment.
Indeed, the Lord will not delay,

Responsorial: Psalm 32: 2-3, 17-19, 23

Response: The Lord hears the cry of the poor

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad. (R./)

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The just call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress. (R./)

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned. (R./)

2nd Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Paul has fought the good fight and will receive the crown of glory

I am already being poured out as a libation and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

Two men went up to the temple to pray: contrasting approaches to God

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”


A Humbled Heart

Opposites Attract: In marriage and other human relationships we often notice how unlike personalities complement each other, like the positive and negative sides of a magnetic field. One partner shows a natural flair for leadership and the other is happy to follow that lead, at least in many areas. Among ourselves, the taking of initiatives will be shared back and forth of course, neither partner being fully passive with respect to the other; but with God there is only one proper relationship: he is the powerful giver and we the dependent receivers.

This weakness on our side, this dependency towards our Creator and Father, is in fact our way to peace. As Paul so clearly saw: “when I am weak, then am I strong; I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (2 Cor. 12:10; Phil. 4:13.) The apostles attributed all their abilities and successes (cures, conversions) to the power of God, working through them. Only when we are humble in God’s presence can he do great things in us, as Our Lady so well declares, “He casts the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly.”

People often feel awkward about regarding humility as a virtue at all. Is it really a good thing to feel small? Or does it harm our ego and our self-confidence. Perhaps the word “humble” is too often misused, applied without much thought to dwellings that are shoddy or neglected, to efforts that are half-hearted failures and to characters who adopt a pose of false modesty in order to win approval.

Genuine humillity is simply recognizing the essential truth about ourselves. It is honest self-appraisal, in God’s presence, with no pretences, masks or poses. Iin the presence of the all-holy, all-powerful God each of us knows himself/herself as weak, imperfect and indeed sinful; and with this we recognise our need for mercy. There is no bribe that we can offer to blot out our guilt. There is no pressure we can exert (as we might among ourselves) to gain a credit we do not deserve. Our best recourse is a humble spirit; this attitude will draw down on us divine mercy and grace. The Publican felt this need for complete honesty, as he stood in the Temple of God. “Lord, be merciful,” he said; and went home with his sins forgiven and with relief in his heart.

On the other hand, what’s wrong with the outlook of this Pharisee, if anything? After all, he leads an admirable life and gives good example within the Jewish tradition. According to his self-appraisal, he kept all the rules, from fasting and almsgiving to honesty and purity. There was real effort there, a commitment to holiness within his tradition. But his virtues made him to forget that he remained weak and sinful, like other people. His sense of punctilious holiness took the place of prayer. He goes so far as to despise others, while giving thanks for his own merits. And by this attitude, he undermines his other virtues. Pride is like a worm, destroying the apple at its core. Indeed, it turns him from speaking to God, to talking about himself. His prayer dies.

This warning may apply to our church’s attitude, towards God and others. In the past, didn’t we sometimes take a stance of collective pride, towards people of other religions? We claimed ours as the fullest expression of Christ’s Church, with the best moral standards and sacramental practice, promoting a visible world-wide bond among believers. We continue to value these things and want to share them with people who are searching for the truth. But we must resist a niggling temptation to look down on outsiders, to disparage their values or under-rate their sincerity? We need to guard against self-righteous Catholicism and sincerely respect other pathways of faith. Leave it to God to judge the merits of other persons and their faiths. It is enough for us to trust in his mercy, recognise our own imperfections and try to live by the spirit of compassion.

Pharisee and Tax Collector

If we could get this story into my heart, we would be helped enormously in our grasp and practice of the gospel. It spells out how to come before God and how not to come before God.

A newly commissioned colonel had just moved into his office, when a private entered with a toolbox. To impress the private, the colonel said “be with you in a moment, soldier! I just got a call as you were knocking.” Picking up the phone, the colonel said “General, it’s you! How can I help you?” A dramatic pause followed. Then the colonel said “No problem. I’ll phone Washington and speak to the President about it.” Putting down the phone, the colonel said to the private “Now, what can I do for you?” The private shuffled his feet and said sheepishly, “Oh, just a little thing, sir. They sent me to hook up your phone’!

In our youth, in the 1950s, were taught many regulations by which, if we did not deviate from them we would merit a place in heaven. The rule-based religion of that era was aimed at keeping people from going to hell. But the very concept of meriting heaven is a suspect one,.  that can easily lead to a Pharisaic spirit. Humble spirituality, on the other hand, sets free those who feel they have already been in hell. Ask anyone who is in recovery from addictions, compulsions, etc. Religion is about externals, it’s what we do and it’s about control. Real faith centres on what God does, it is internal and it’s about surrender.

The way to holiness is to discover that I’m more a sinner than I realised! The closer I come to God, the more obvious the sin is. It is a long journey from the Pharisee at the front to the tax-collector at the back. It is a journey of repentance and of facing up to the truth. It is a journey that Life will provide if I have the courage and honesty to find it. If I still think that I should be still up at the front with the Pharisee, then my life will be riddled with guilt and I will never find peace.

The tax-collector had the grace aoknow his place before God the Creator, in whom we live and have my being. Before God, we have no right to think pirselves superior to others. Even the hardened criminal and the beggar on the street are children of God. We should at least try to empathise with them and say to ourselves, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The Pharisee should remember that he could have been born in different circumstances and become a tax-collector. He would do well to stand with the man at the back of the temple and pray “God, be merciful to us poor sinners.”


Saint Otteran, monk

Otteran (or Odran) lived for over forty years in the area now known as Silvermines, in County Tipperary, Ireland, building a church there in 520.Tradition also says that Odran served as abbot of Meath, and founded Lattreagh. In 563, he was among the twelve who accompanied Saint Columba to the Scottish island of Iona, where he died and was buried. He was chosen by the Vikings as patron of the city of Waterford in 1096 and later became patron of that diocese.


Ár n-ionad cheart?

Bhí fios a bhéas roimh Dhia ag an mbailitheoir cánach.  Is É Dia bronntóir na beatha agus is air atá mo sheasamh.  Is peacach mé, agus ní mó mé ná éinne eile.  Is sliocht de clann Dé iad lucht déirce agus fiú coirpigh.  Bá chóir trua a bheith againn dóibh agus a rá – “Amhlaidh dom-sa murach grásta Dé” .   Níor choir don bhFairísíneach bheith díomasach, óir más dá treabh eile dó  gheobhadh sé bheith ina mBailitheoir Cánach.   Ba fearr dó seasamh  i dteannta an fhir ar chúl an teampaill agus a rá  “ Déan trócaire orm peacach, a Thiarna, as ucht do bhuanghrá”.


Cuireadh do’n Bhliain Liotúirgeach 2020

(ó’n Domhnach 01/12/2019 amach)

Má’s cainteoir líofa Gaeilgeóir thú,  agus ar mhian leat smaoineamh gearr a chur a fáil i nGaeilge ar an suíomh gréasáin ACP seo, le haghaidh Domhnaigh áirithe do’n bhlian seo chugainn, bíodh fáilte na féile rómhat. Is inghlactha leagan gaeilge a chur ar alt atá cheana féin san téacs i mBéarla, nó smaoineamh úr-nua a chumadh ar ár son.

Má’s féidir leat do dhréacht-téacs a chur chugam  in am trátha – cúpla seachtain roimh ré, ar a laghad – agus ligeant dom é a chur in eagar in ár ngnáthfhormáid agus toisí (gan níos mó ná ALT amháin in aghaidh gach Domhnaigh), is féidir leat cabhrú le paróistí atá ag céiliúradh an t’Aifreann Domhnaigh fós as Gaeilge.

Seól do théacs trí ríomhphost chuig patrogers43 AT gmail.com, led’ thoil. Míle maith agat.


  1. Seamus Ahearne says:

    The poetry of faith is always expansive:

    The dramatist Jesus has done well. The impresario Luke has put the Play on stage. We are the audience. We watch and admire the performance of the two characters. We can hate, like, admire one or the other. We are caught in a dilemma. The obvious Player for our praise, is the Tax Collector. (We like him). But we are snared by our history. Can we dare imagine the folk who collected taxes for the colonial invader (the Brits) in our own country? We have long sore memories. Captain Boycott could invade our minds. And then we come to the Pharisee. The Pharisees were good people who lived a good life and did their very best. (In present day Church; might we look at Opus Dei or the Neo-catechumenate?) The rest of us may be put off by their supposed elitist behaviour but they are/were good people who may not like being contaminated by the-less-than-perfect. I was just wondering. It is easy to dismiss anyone and everyone who isn’t like us.

    The Play’s the thing to catch the conscience of the king. (Hamlet). I think that is what Luke is up to.

    A rogues gallery:

    The Gospels are full of rogues and rascals. It appears that Jesus liked to irritate people by emphasising the amusing goodness of the baddies. That astute steward. The unjust judge. The Samaritans. The Prodigal son. Zacchaeus. Mary and the ointment. The publican/tax collector today. It is always fun to be surprised. We are provoked by the unlikely and can learn anew each day. The adventure of life goes on. We have to be stretched away from easy assumptions. How little we ever know even when we are sure of ourselves.

    Recording Jesus:

    No one had a tape recorder (touring with Jesus) to record the Praying Pair in the Temple. The story was the thing. It was told to those ‘who prided themselves on being so good.’ Not everyone went away laughing from the story. It was a stinging rebuke. How did Jesus get away with it? Not many of us could ever be as nasty as Jesus was; or as Luke portrays him. Is it any wonder that he was seen as a trouble-maker?

    Occasional invaders:

    For us then, the Play is staged to test our reactions. What is our praying like? If someone was eavesdropping on us; how would the Play involving us, turn out? We have to be very careful of any ‘holier than thou’ attitude. There is a purist version of Church life abroad which is full of certainties. We sometimes feel peeved at those who come on occasion to our Church. They can seem so casual; hardly know the Ritual or the words; are perplexed at when to get up or down; seem careless at Communion. We sometimes get upset when people appear to ‘use’ us and to use ‘the Church’ for the Sacraments; for Funerals; for Weddings. We are quite unhappy when ‘the users’ are less than fully reverent. But the language we use so often doesn’t belong to their world and what effort do we make at hospitality? Do we invite them into our world without making an attempt to understand their language? In Religious terms – we often assume that we have ‘the faith.’ The others have nothing and are using the convenience. But Francis’ emphasis on the ‘hospital’ image is precious. All have to be welcome at Our Table! Insiders must go out. Outsiders must feel at home among us. “ We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns! “ (Or in this sense – God’s children!

    Touch the earth with gentleness:

    I go back to the Play. There is something of both characters in all of us. There is something of both characters in the Church. There is a challenge to all who are arrogant and certain, to gently assess our way of doing things; our way of praying; our way of meeting people; our efforts to understand the God in others. There is a deep call towards humility. Around things of God – we have to walk cautiously. The shoes must come off! We know so little. We struggle. We pray. We fall. We feel unsure. The heart in our humanity, has to be gentle and warm. The mind in our humanity, has to be open towards discovery. The imagination in our humanity, is forever on a pathway of adventure. Acceptance. Respect. Reverence. Are real aspects of our Christian profile. ‘Touch the earth with gentleness’ (Kathy Sherman) does apply. Be very careful with everything of God. With everyone of God. With every moment given us.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    As Seamus says: “The Gospels are full of rogues and rascals. It appears that Jesus liked to irritate people by emphasising the amusing goodness of the baddies.” And the badness of the goodies? When I was a boy at a cowboy film (we didn’t call them westerns then), we used to say that the good guy, whom we called “The Chap” for some reason, always wore a white cowboy hat. The Baddie wore the black hat. Things have got a lot more complicated since then.
    Which do you resemble more – the Pharisee or the tax-collector?
    Which do I resemble more? Neither is attractive!
    My answer, it seems to me, must be: Both. Both rely equally on the mercy and love of God. The tax-collector knows it. The Pharisee hasn’t yet seen it.
    But which do I want to be? The answer comes down to the reason why Jesus would say that the tax-collector went home in right relationship with God. He doesn’t say. My best guess is that it is because the tax-collector is the one who was his real self with God. No mask. He was a mess. He couldn’t give up his job because he needed to earn a living. Nobody would give him any other job. He wasn’t welcome in the temple – it’s amazing that he dared to show his face there, even far back.

    An example which is striking for me is Thomas Merton. Quite an extraordinary man. And real.
    In “Thoughts in Solitude” (1956) he wrote a prayer:
    “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
    I do not see the road ahead of me.
    I cannot know for certain where it will end.
    Nor do I really know myself,
    and the fact that I think that I am following your will
    does not mean that I am actually doing so.
    But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
    And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
    I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
    And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
    though I may know nothing about it.
    Therefore will I trust you always
    though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
    I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
    and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

    In his Journal for May 26 1963, he wrote:
    “I have certainly not been a model of priestly virtue. It does not seem that I have willfully sinned, i.e., with my eyes wide open, in a serious matter.
    But there have been repeated failures, failures without number, like holes appearing everywhere in a worn-out garment. Nothing has been effectively patched. The moths have eaten me while I was confusedly intent on what seemed to me to be good or important or necessary for survival.”

    We don’t seem to use moth-balls any more – it must be the materials we use are not sustenance for moths. But I like his way of putting it: “The moths have eaten me while I was confusedly intent on what seemed to me to be good or important or necessary for survival.”
    Then I need to hang in to his prayer of 1956 too. To go home “justified”, in a true relationship with God, it’s the gift of God that matters. Any praying and fasting and good deeds I do are my little way of saying Yes.

  3. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    A thought on the debate on Yoga following a letter from Waterford bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.
    The religious practices of the Pharisee did not open him to God.

    On 9 January 2015 Pope Francis said at morning Mass homily: “You can take a million catechetical courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things. But all of this will never be able to give you the freedom of being a child of God.”
    Bishop Cullinan quoted this in his letter in reply to queries about yoga and mindfulness. What he said about yoga he also said about courses in catechetics and spirituality.
    He was not singling out yoga, but pointing to the limitations of such practices, and that it should not replace religious education in Catholic schools.
    I haven’t heard of people in catechetics or in spirituality objecting!
    Pope Francis went on to say:
    The Holy Spirit moves hearts and compels people to cry out, ‘Father,’ and become docile to “the freedom of his love.”

  4. Paddy Ferry says:

    Pádraig, about Bishop Cullinan and his comments on yoga, while this kind of nonsense coming out of the mouths of bishops or others does not put me up or down anymore, I am still perplexed as to why some seem intent on adding to the multitudes who have already left the church totally browned off with the institution.

  5. Terry Guy says:

    The too often unrecognised Pharisee in all of us, 7 out of 10 could do better, but then again God loves us unconditionally and uses the good and bad.

    Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and out the hour of our death Amen

  6. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Paddy #4:
    Here is the relevant paragraph of Bishop Cullinan’s letter:

    I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is ¬”Will they bring us closer to Christ or replace Him? Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time. Regarding mindfulness, in a sense it has been practised in the Christian tradition since the beginning but Christian mindfulness is not mindlessness but is meditation based on Christ, emptying the mind of everything unnecessary so that we become aware of the presence and love of Christ. In a homily in 2015 Pope Francis reminded listeners that practices like yoga are not capable of opening our hearts up to God. You can take a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things, but all of this will never be able to give you freedom”, he said. May you find Christ and may you find freedom in your prayer. Jesus says; “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt.:7,7) When you find Him may you love Him and allow yourself to be loved by Him. This is very much in accordance with the spirit of our new ‘Grow in Love’ programme.

    In an article in The Irish Times on 22 October, Cauvery Madhavan responded to the bishop. Among other things, she wrote: “This demonisation of an ancient practice that professes no belief systems and therefore seeks no converts is just a diversionary tactic.”

    While the bishop’s letter could have been worded better, there is nothing in the letter to denigrate, much less demonise yoga. He wrote that yoga is not of Christian origin, and Ms Madhavan agrees. This is not a criticism; it is historical fact. He points out that we have something better to offer from our Christian tradition: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pope Francis even said that a million courses in catechetics or spirituality or yoga will never be able to give you the freedom of being a child of God which the love instilled by the Holy Spirit can give. This is not criticism of such courses; it is pointing out that what we are about is something so much more.

    Many of the comments I’ve seen appear to be reactions by people to things bishop Cullinan did not write. Some comments are more ad hominem than addressing the question in hand.

    Ms Madhavan wrote: “Yoga has no arguments with religions of any kind because it doesn’t offer itself as an alternative. Yoga just is – yoga.” However, there are many different schools of yoga, and there are some which have a close association with religion. One Hindu group campaigns against the secularisation of yoga.

    So, Paddy, if you were bishop of Waterford and Lismore, it’s likely you would have responded differently to the queries, as would I. But, reading what the bishop wrote, perhaps I may ask you: is there anything in that paragraph which you consider to be “this kind of nonsense coming out of the mouths of bishops”?

  7. Paddy Ferry says:

    Pádraig, thank you for your well thought out reflection –as always –on this debate around what Bishop Cullinan has had to say about yoga and mindfulness.

    However, why even ask the question in the first place ¬”Will they bring us closer to Christ or replace Him?….” I never imagined anyone ever looked upon yoga as a means of taking us closer to Christ, though, now, having read Liam Power perhaps that is the case –even Ratzinger would seem to think so. Nor, have I ever imagined those who do yoga regarding it as a means of replacing Christ. Very bizarre!

    My wife and daughters do yoga a couple of times a week and I don’t think it has had any effect on their religious life. One of the things I hope to do when I retire is to take up yoga as the benefits to our physical well being are well known. I only wish I had ample free time in my life to do so now. My family keep telling I should make time for it now.

    So, Padraig, I still think this is nonsense, trivial and harmless nonsense, perhaps, unlike other more serious examples of nonsense spouted by our bishops over the years, but nonsense all the same.

    Goodnight and God bless.

  8. Mary Vallely says:

    It seems to me that there is a harshness in the tone of certain bishops when they make public statements such as the most recent episode of a bishop refusing Joe Biden Communion because of his pro- choice stance and that of Bishop Cullinane in making assumptions about the detriment of yoga practice to mass going Catholics.

    A harsh tone is not Christ- like and that rigid judgmentalism is, in my opinion, the greatest threat to keeping our young people in the Church. The way to win souls for Christ is with gentleness, kindness, compassion and understanding and not in making condemnatory statements on those who, through their own discernment, hold different views from the official RCC thinking. How dare we judge when there is only one Judge who really knows the heart and soul of a person?

    Pope Francis reminds us that,
    “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a strength for the weak.”
    Are we not all in need of that strength? I need it more than most, probably, but find it beyond cruel to see good people shut out from the sacraments and from that healing strength. I find our present Pope’s words comforting and reassuring.

    I both respect and agree with Paddy Ferry’s gentle but firm disagreement with the bishop about yoga. I don’t practise it myself but a few friends, who are committed Catholics, enjoy it and they exude a calmness and serenity that eludes me. It mightn’t do the bishop(s) any harm either, giving it a go. Good for the old BP! ( bishops’ pressure) ?

  9. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Paddy – Enjoy – and be challenged by – the yoga! For me, a mountain walk is enjoyable and challenging. And because we are incarnate beings, the body can be an encounter with the divine.
    You say: “Why even ask the question in the first place?” He was responding to questions put to him. He offered his reply. I do not consider it nonsense, although it could have been better expressed. It was his genuine attempt to reply to the queries.
    But he was demonised by some on the grounds that he demonised yoga, which he did not do – nor did Pope Francis. This is where the real nonsense is found.
    So, imagine you’re bishop of Waterford, and you’ve been asked to say a few words on yoga and mindfulness. What’s your reply? – ask wife and daughters too!
    Liam Power writes: “The official Church does not offer practical or concrete approaches to prayer and does not address the hungers experienced and the practical difficulties encountered.” But the official church does offer practical and concrete approaches to prayer, every time we gather for prayer at Mass or other occasions. We could do a lot better, of course, to make sure they are true experiences of prayer.

  10. Paddy Ferry says:

    Padraig, its good to talk, as they say, and its such a shame there is not more of us engaging on this site even if, on the odd occasion, we have to agree to disagree with each other as we have to do in this instance.

    It struck me, reading your last comment @9 above, what a great shame it is that Alphonsus does not have a wife and daughters to consult with on everyday matters in this modern world which would surely gain for him, among other things, a much more informed and enlightened understanding and appreciation of the world we now live in.

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