Thought for the Week – The Kikuyu culture

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The Kikuyu culture does not have the concept of Sunday or a day of rest or an extended period of time such as Advent, Ramadan or Lent.
But what they do have is ceremonies that demand a time of rest. For example the day after a burial, people do not work – even animals are not allowed to go to the fields to graze. Every being stops their normal routine activities for a day. This gives people time to grieve, to express respect, appreciation, and gratitude for the one who has left them to join the ancestors.
Rest also takes place as the community waits for the harvest. During this time young people dance and celebrate as they wait patient for the grain to ripen.  And then they celebrate after the harvest – rather than rushing into the next activity.
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Thought for the Week – Rule of Three and Saint Ida

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The Rule of Three and Saint Ida 
Saint Ida, the sixth century Irish saint,
is said to have to taught that there are three things that God loves;
faith in God with a pure heart;
a simple life with a grateful spirit;
and generosity inspired by charity.
The three things he can’t stand are,
a mouth that spews out hatred,
a heart full of resentment
and confidence in wealth. 
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Thought for the Week – We the People

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Today people are focussed more and more on themselves – with ‘worshiping the self’ – and aligning themselves with likeminded people, in like minded groups.

Face book and other social media leads us to surround ourselves with people like us – people whose views, opinions and prejudices are just like ours.

This identification with ‘my group’ leads to hardening of boundaries, divisive elections and divided societies.
With too much of the ‘I’ and too little of the ‘we’ we become more vulnerable, fearful and alone.

With increased number of immigrants to Ireland we have an opportunity to move out and be challenged by those who are different from us.
But as Rabbi Jonathan Sachs points out many of us are opting to stay in our ‘hotels’. “what has happened in the West is that we have turned society into a series of hotels;
you pay your bills which are your taxes and in return you get a room where you can do whatever you like as long as you don’t disturb the people to the left or right.

The trouble is that no one ever belongs to a hotel so we are losing this concept of society as a place where all sorts of different people come together in the common aim of pursuing the common good.
My favorite phrase in politics is, ‘we the people’ , because it says that we all share collective responsibility for our collective future and that is how things should be.”

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Thought for the Week – Let us relinquish control

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In his list of diseases found in the Curia, Pope Francis’ refers to the disease of “excessive planning and of functionalism”. A disease we could all take note of – the disease of excessive control reflecting a lack of trust.

“When an apostle plans everything down to the last detail and believes that with perfect planning things will fall into place, he becomes an accountant or an office manager.

Things need to be prepared well, but without ever falling into the temptation of trying to contain and direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is always greater and more flexible than any human planning (cf. Jn 3:8).

We contract this disease because “it is always more easy and comfortable to settle in our own sedentary and unchanging ways.

In truth, the Christian and the Church show their fidelity to the Holy Spirit to the extent that they do not try to control or tame that Holy Spirit! … The Spirit is freshness, imagination, and newness”.

Let us relinquish control, even for a moment, and trust in the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.

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Thought for the Week – MINISTRY OF LISTENING

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Psychotherapy taught me the power of listening.’ I was at my first session, (it had taken me six weeks to work up the courage to talk to him!) and I became aware of a new sensation – a feeling of safety – this person was present in a way that I had never experienced – present in a way that made me feel safe and secure. He held a space for me where healing could begin –  he was exercising what I now know as ‘the ministry of listening’.
The difference was that he was really present – he reflected what I said, sat forward, focussed on me. And I knew he was listening and not just hearing – and there is a difference – hearing is something passive – our ears are always on – we can’t switch them off. Listening on the other hand is active, requiring effort – it is powerful in its transforming ability.
Listening is a ministry we can all engage in no matter what age and there is no need for further study or ordination, though training makes a difference my mother and I both agree!
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Thought for the Week – DIGITAL sabbath

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If we don’t get our attention under control there are plenty of people who will. The church has always understood that directing our attention toward what is holy is important. That is why medieval Christendom was filled with prayers, rituals, fasts and feasts: to keep life, both public and private ordered around divine things.

If we are to regain control of our attention, the first step is to create a space of silence in which you can think. To still the mind is hard but by doing it you open up a beach-head in which the holy spirit can work to calm the stormy waters within.

There is a Jewish organisation called ‘Reboot’ which promotes what they call the ‘DIGITAL sabbath’ – a day of rest in which people disconnect from technology especially computers, iPads and smartphones – in order that they can reconnect with the real world..

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Thought for the week – to live in reality

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After a recent school trip to Kenya one of the boys was asked what was the most important lesson he learnt – he said, “To be kind and respectful to everyone and to spend less time using technology.” This reminded me of Andrew Sullivan, one of the world’s most prolific and influential bloggers – in 2015 at the height of his success he suddenly dropped off the radar…

He wrote a year later in the New Yorker Magazine about his awakening …”Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual interaction I was not involved in a human encounter. Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection or calm or spirituality. “Multitasking” was a mirage. This was a zero-sum question. I either lived as a voice online or I lived as a human being in the world that humans had lived in since the beginning of time. And so I decided after 15 years, to live in reality.”


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Thought for the week – Grief

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We defend ourselves against grief. Our culture carries subtle and not so subtle messages to stop us expressing our grief. We are told ‘the pain will go away if we ignore it’, or ‘overcome it or simply push beyond it’. We are given ways to deal with it – ‘buy something’ or ‘talk ourselves out of grief by being positive’ and there are even spiritual suggestions where we are told it is ‘God’s will’, or ‘they’re better off now’.

And many of our rituals for dealing with grief, such as wearing black or not going to social events have all but disappeared.

We need to be creative about honouring grief. It is recognised that we go through stages of grief; shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We don’t have to go through these in order or within any timeframe. It is normal to go back and forth, to get stuck in one stage for a while or to bypass another.

We need to accept grief as part of life’s path – that every embrace has a goodbye, every togetherness a loneliness and every beautiful memory a tinge of sadness; ‘there will always be a corner of our hearts where it is autumn, that part of us that aches with searching and loneliness with restlessness and dissatisfaction’.

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Thought for the Week – Everything changes.

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Everything changes. The weather changes, fashions change, our body changes, our ideas, our moods change, our loves and friendships change. Our finances and life plans change.

So much in the world reflects change and adaptability – the eye of an insect, the wing of a butterfly, the ear of an elephant, the functions of the human brain are all testimonies to adaptation to a life in continual change.

It was Cardinal Newman who said that ‘to live is to change, and to live well is to have changed often’. The only way we can survive is to be prepared to change. In the midst of changing conditions if you try to stay the same, static, fixed, you will suffer greatly.

Those who do not change or adapt are likely to end up like the dinosaurs!

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Thought for the Week – The Lonely Man of Faith

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In 1965 Rabbi Joseph B Soltoveitchik wrote an essay called, ‘The Lonely Man of Faith’. In it he examines two images of Adam based on the first two chapters of Genesis – he suggests that these reflect two sides of our nature.
Adam One is found in chapter one of Genesis-  he is the,  “majestic man” commissioned by God to master the world. He is the pragmatic one ambitious with his motto of success.
Adam Two emerges in chapter two of Genesis. He is a different, ‘the keeper of the garden who tills and preserves it’ , the ‘contractual or religious man’ who surrenders himself to the will of God.  He is the humble side of our nature and his motto is love.
These two sides of our nature operate different logics.  Adam1 has an external logic – an economic logic – input leads to output, risk leads to reward. Adam 2 has an internal logic – a moral logic and often an inverse logic – ‘you have to give to receive’, ‘to find yourself you have to lose yourself’.
Soloveitchik is not suggesting that either Adam is better than the other, but that they represent the struggle we undergo between these sides – the  spiritual and material, the mystical and scientific. We have to integrate both sides.
In Western culture we tend to adopt Adam 1 – we spend a lot of our time and energy focussing on values such as ambition and success – mastering or trying to master our universe.
We need Adam 2 for balance – to listen to him, integrate his compassion, kindness and honesty – befriend this inner reality. Our sense of alienation is due to our over emphasizing one side of our nature to the detriment of the other – we need to integrate both.
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