Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seven Last Words: "Today you will be with me in Paradise"

(Luke 23:33, 39-43)
During the seven weeks of Lent we invite you to  come and stand with us at the foot of the Cross as we listen to the 'Seven Last Words' spoken by Jesus.  Each week we will post a reflection which will seek guidance from these words as we, his Church today, like him, experience betrayal, criticism, abandonment and disownment.
In this second weekly Lenten Reflection we shall listen to Christ's offer to us of eternal life, so long as we come to him with true repentance and full faith

As Jesus hung upon the cross horrendously suffering, vulnerably naked, helplessly dying he had to endure further scoffing, mocking and derision, from the Jewish leaders, the soldiers and the unrepentant thief. Their taunts about saving himself reveal that for them salvation meant liberation from the cross.  However, amidst all of this the repentant thief cries out to Jesus and teaches us two vital lessons: repentance and faith.  Contrary to the unrepentant thief, the openness of the repentant thief to accept his judgment is linked with the acceptance of his sin.  He acknowledged his need for forgiveness and asked for salvation from the very one who could grant it.

Jesus’ response is one of the most astounding and encouraging verses in all of Scripture. He promises that the criminal will be with him in paradise.  He asks nothing of the past crimes of this man.  We have no reason to believe this man had been a follower of Jesus, or truly understood who He was.  He hadn't left everything behind to be Jesus’ disciple.  He wasn't suffering because he spoke the truth to those who refused to hear it, but because of his crimes. He even admitted that he had been justly condemned!  The repentant thief’s faith was the size of a mustard seed, if that.  And even though he came for forgiveness in the very last hours of his life it seems that his confession of guilt opened the way for forgiveness and salvation. 

Do you acknowledge your sins? 

Do you accept your guilt and any fair-judgments put against you? 

Do you accept your cross and see delight and salvation through sorrow? 

Have you put your ultimate trust in Jesus?

Do you know that, when your time comes, you will be with him in paradise?

There are many of us who are ignorant of our sins and deluded by what they are doing through pride and self-centredness.  There are those of us who seem to deny our guilt, refuse to accept fair judgements put against us, rebuke criticism, and place our trust in people and not in God; we can be people imprisoned by our stubborn denial of sin.  Last week we reflected on how God is infinitely forgiving but how we must reach out for this forgiveness.  How much, today, in response do we need to hear the word Jesus once spoke to a man who had no hope and no reason to expect mercy. We can be in God’s presence with all our weaknesses and failures, like the good thief, and God still takes pleasure in our very existence and promises Paradise to us.
Although we should make every effort to live, according to the Church’s teachings, as disciples of Jesus, in the end our relationship with him comes down to simple trust. "Jesus, remember me," we cry. And Jesus, embodying the mercy of God, says to us, "You will be with me in paradise." We are welcome there not because we have the right theology, and not because we are living rightly, but because God is merciful and we have put our trust in Jesus. All Christ asks of us is repentance and faith. 

Prayer for the week:
Lord Jesus, those you loved wished to crush all hope from you leaving you hanging in utter sorrow and despair.  And yet it is joy and hope that you offered to the repentant thief.  When we cry out to you, you hear us. When we ask you to ‘remember us when you come into your kingdom’, you offer us the promise of paradise.  Today, I live trusting you and you alone.  My life is in your hands; fill me with joy and hope so that I may share it with those who are filled with sorrow and despair.  Amen

Come and Join us....
If you live in Dublin why not come and be present for our 'Seven Last Words' Lenten Reflections?  The above reflection will be part of a 30 minute meditation held at the Our Lady of the Angels Capuchin Church on Church Street each Friday of Lent beginning at 8:00pm.  Music for these reflections will be provided by the CYC chamber choir (you can read the reflection for week one here).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fairtrade Fortnight...Take a Step!


Like swapping your tea to Fairtrade, or a bigger step, like asking everyone in your office to do it too.


All over Ireland when you take a step for Fairtrade. Make it as inventive, daring, funny or messy as you like. Every step counts for millions of farmers, workers and their communities in developing countries who urgently need a better deal from trade.


See the steps others are taking and find out where all these steps will lead. Take a step for Fairtrade in 2012 begins with Fairtrade Fortnight from today, 27th  February until 11th March 2012.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lenten Reflections and Resources 2012

  'The Spirit led Jesus into the desert 
       where he stayed for forty days'.  

      We begin, once again, for our annual pilgrimage with the Lord as we journey with Him for forty days. This Season of Lent is an opportunity to take ourselves out of our normal routine and place ourselves more consciously into relationship with God.  It is traditional practice during these forty days to ‘give something up’, however, increasingly we decide to take on a Lenten challenge instead; like voluntary work, or raising money for charity, or a daily good deed.  This Season can be a time when we discern between what we really need and what we think we need.  It can be an opportunity to let go of what is holding us back from living life to the full!

      Below we have listed seven useful resources for you to use during Lent (click on the pictures to be brought to the site).  There is also some information about Lenten reflections which we will be running in our Church Street Friary in Dublin and to which you are more than welcome to attend.  During Lent we will also be posting weekly reflections and will update our resource list so please do ‘follow’ this blog or ‘favourite’ us and be sure to check back during the Lenten Season. 

1) Vatican Website

“Let us be concerned for each other,
to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24)

2) Christian Aid
Lent is an opportunity to still our minds and focus our thoughts on those less fortunate than ourselves.  Join Christian Aid in reflection and prayer during Lent as they journey with Jesus into the wilderness and from there, towards the cross.

A new reflection will be added every week.

Download Count Your Blessings leaflet

Count Your Blessings is a daily calendar which takes you through Lent using thought-provoking reflections and engaging actions that will encourage and challenge you, not only in your own life but in praying for those living in poverty around the world.

3) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

In Lent, Christians go on a journey of deepening reflection, prayer and discipline which leads them to the great festival of new life at Easter. In their Lent study course, CTBI invite you to think of this journey as leading towards the true freedom of living in love towards God and others, and what this freedom means for ourselves, our churches, our local communities and our world.

4) Trocaire 
This year, Trócaire’s Lenten campaign focuses on communities in northern Uganda who are trying to rebuild their lives after 20 years of war. Find out more below about our work and what you can do to help rebuild lives and communities.

5) Catholic Ireland

Lent is above all a time for prayer, for withdrawing a little from the hustle and bustle of daily life to be alone with God in the secret room of our hearts, to encounter the hidden God (cf. Matt 6:6). The danger is that, using the Lenten fast for any other reason – like collecting money for Third World projects, for example, which are good in themselves and can be personally gratifying – can so easily distract us from the initially less appealing task of seeking the face of God. But that is the real purpose of the Lenten Fast. 

6) Franciscans International 

It is during this time of Lent that we remember Jesus’ suffering on the cross because he was seen as a threat to the powerful. We can liken this to the continuing suffering that people are still experiencing today worldwide, because of unjust legal structures. 
FI invites you to use this new prayer booklet to reflect on the 'Seven Last Words of Jesus' in relation to current issues affecting people who are marginalised and to hold them in prayer.

Download 'The Seven Last Words of Jesus'>>

7) Church Support Team

The Church Support Team invite you to share their Lenten journey.  They will be offering you some ideas, encouragement, support and guidance on this journey.  Their daily material is organised through the ‘Lenten Journey’ buttons which you can reach by clicking here.

8)  Capuchin Franciscan Lenten Reflections on the 'Seven Last Words'

The Irish Capuchin Franciscan Friars invite you, for the next seven weeks, to come and stand with us at the foot of the Cross as we listen to the 'Seven Last Words' spoken by Jesus.  Each week we will post  a reflection (click here for week one and here for week two) which will seek guidance from these words as we, his Church today, like him, experience betrayal, criticism, abandonment and disownment. In this first weekly Lenten Reflection we shall listen to Christ's plea of forgiveness; considering these words in the context in which Jesus spoke them and questioning how they affect our perception of God's forgiveness towards us - and others.

If you live in Dublin then why not come and attend the actual reflections?  At 8:00pm, on each Friday of Lent, we will be hosting 40 min reflections in Our Lady of the Angels Capuchin Church on Church Street in Dublin.  Music for these reflections will be provided by the CYC chamber choir.

 Lent is our annual Springtime Journey  to God - where will it take you?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Seven Last Words Lenten Reflections

"Father Forgive them for they know not what they do"  
 (Luke 23:33-35)

As we begin our Lenten journey today we invite you, for the next seven weeks, to come and stand with us at the foot of the Cross as we listen to the 'Seven Last Words' spoken by Jesus.  Each week we will post a reflection which will seek guidance from these words as we, his Church today, like him, experience betrayal, criticism, abandonment and disownment.
In this first weekly Lenten Reflection we shall listen to Christ's plea of forgiveness; considering these words in the context in which Jesus spoke them and questioning how they affect our perception of God's forgiveness towards us - and others.

As Jesus spoke these words he may have thought about Judas who betrayed him, the Jewish leaders who perceived him as a threat, the Romans who wished to maintain control and order; he may have looked down from the cross towards the people who had scourged him, beaten him, spat on him, and shouted for him to die….and yet he asked God to forgive them.  But when we consider the whole ministry of Jesus, would we expect any less from him than forgiveness of those who mistreated and killed him?  Isn’t that ultimately what his cross is really all about?

As Christians we believe that it is also our sins that put Jesus on the cross, as much as Pilate and all the others, and so we can rightly hear Jesus’ petition for forgiveness as including us too.  And just as God forgave those who betrayed his Son and attempted to eradicate all his influence and his works so too, in present times, does God forgive those who, like Judas, have betrayed his Church. . . God forgives those who, like some of his followers, have abandoned his Church. . . God forgives those who, like Peter, have denied belonging to his Church. . . God forgives those who, like the Romans, would like to see the Church’s influence and works die. . . God forgives those who, like Pontius Pilate, listen to the crowds without following their own hearts. . . God forgives those who, like Thomas, have lost faith in the Church. . . God forgives pride, anger, judgements, jealousies, resentments. . . God’s forgiveness is bountiful and endless. It may be a forgiveness which we feel is underserved and inappropriate for some but, nonetheless, God’s forgiveness, often unlike our own, is immediate and without reservation.

But how do we feel about being forgiven by God?  

We may not have explicitly betrayed or abandoned Christ and the Church but we are all sinners.  Do we really believe God has forgiven us for our sins? Do we enjoy the freedom of God’s forgiveness? Even though you trust God and have confessed your sins perhaps, you believe you are only ‘semi-forgiven’ and you live as though sin still has power over your life?  Do you try to prove yourself to God, as though you might earn more forgiveness if only you were better?  

The truth of God’s complete forgiveness needs to penetrate your heart in new ways.  Jesus dies so that we are forgiven for our sins.  As we hear the words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" may we fully understand that we too today are forgiven through Christ.

Prayer for the week:
Good and gracious God, help me to know with fresh conviction that I am fully and finally forgiven, not because of anything I have done, but because of what you have done for me. May I live this week as a forgiven person, opening my heart to you, choosing not to sin because the power of sin has been broken by your salvation. All praise be to you for your matchless forgiveness! Amen.

Come and Join us....
If you live in Dublin why not come and be present for our Lenten Reflections?  The above reflection is one of two that will be shared; the second will have a particulary Francsican flavour.  Reflections will be held at the Our Lady of the Angels Capuchin Church on Church Street in Dublin each Friday of Lent beginning at 8:00pm for forty minutes.  Music for these reflections will be provided by the CYC chamber choir (more information can be found on our blog or facebook page).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An audio message from our Provincial Vocations Director.

Welcome to the Vocations Blog of the Irish Capuchin Franciscans!  If you have been following us for a while you will have noticed a number of recent changes to the blog.  We hope you find these new changes useful.  You will note that we have introduced a top menu bar to offer you easier access to information in the blog and other Franciscan websites and resources.  Links to other pages, posts, websites and blogs which might be of interest to you run down the right hand sidebar.  Importantly, you can now easily connect with us across the social networks under our 'capfrans' name.  We do hope you find the new layout and increased information useful in your online vocation search.

To begin, why not listen to a message from our Vocations Director, Br. Terence Harrington.  In it, he talks about our way of life and invites you to contact him if you feel the Lord drawing you to a life as a Capuchin Franciscan Friar.  To hear Br. Terence click on the link below.  You can always hear this message again, and our welcome message, through the two players at the top of the blog.  Enjoy our blog and please do offer any suggestions or feedback.  


If you would like know more about our brothehood, Br. Terence would be delighted to hear from you.  You can contact him on his mobile (086 323 0638) or via Email (  May you be guided by the Holy Spirit in your discernment!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

'Called: The Postulant'

Watch this wonderful testimony of the conversion of our brother MJ as he shares his journey from drug addiction to a vocation with the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in the Province of St. Joseph's, USA!  Br. Liam, from our Irish Province, had the gift of spending his Novitiate with him last year in Pittsburgh.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life 2012

Today we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.  Instituted by Blessed John Paul II in 1997 the day was chosen to coincide with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; to symbolise the presentation of ourselves to God.  Today, we also bless candles to symbolise Christ, who is the light of the world, and to remind us that we, who are in consecrated life, are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
      As Capuchin Franciscans in Ireland we share Christ’s light and love through our work in churches, parishes, schools, universities, hospitals, hospices, homeless and drug centres, retreat houses and many other areas of society.  We live and pray in community, and serve the Church through our apostolic service and contemplative prayer.  As Capuchin Franciscans we embrace the consecrated life through our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  As we journey with Francis, we seek to discover Christ in the face of today's most needy and vulnerable. 
      May we are who consecrated to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience seek to live our Baptismal promises more intensely.  May God grant us the grace to persevere in our commitment to continue our journey with Francis towards the Lord and serve with open hearts and willing spirits. May we experience the support of the Church as we continue our growth in holiness.  May the Lord continue to call many to be generous and to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to give themselves to God and live the consecrated life. 
      If you feel called to consecrate your life to God through the brotherhood of the Capuchin Franciscans, why not get in touch with Br. Terence our vocation director (Mobile: 086 323 0638 or Email:  Trust in the echoing words of Blessed John Paul II, "Be Not Afraid!"

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feast of St. Brigid of Kildare

   St. Brigid lived at the beginning of the Golden Age of the Celtic Irish Catholic Church.  This period, from the late fifth century AD, saw monasteries become social, spiritual and political centers.  They were often huge theocratic villages, associated with a clan, along with their slaves, freemen, celibate monks, married clergy, professed lay people, men and women, all living side by side and serving in various roles.  
   In these times the monastic abbots were not necessarily ordained and, as is the case with St. Brigid, were women too.  These Celtic Christians took their spiritual life very seriously and sought to achieve a personal and organic union between themselves and God (a theosis); with God dwelling in them and they in Him.  They saw the true Christian life as being lived in and with Christ.  During these times the monasteries were universally esteemed and regarded as the utmost expression of the Christian life. 
     Today, as we seek a renewed vision and approach to both the spiritual and the material world, we pray that we may recapture something of the essence of the deeply spiritual, holistic, ecologically sensitive, inclusive and egalitarian Church which St. Brigid knew and led.  Following her example, may we grow each day into greater wholeness of mind, body and spirit!