Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity- Discalced Carmelite – will be canonized 16th October. Elizabeth was born on July 18th 1880 at the army camp in Avor near Bourges in France, where her father was a captain. She was baptised four days later on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a fact which she treasured. When she was 2½ her sister Marguerite, known as Guite, was born. Elizabeth’s father died when she was only seven years old. By this time the family was living in a camp in Dijon, but after the captain died, they moved into a flat. Elizabeth could see the Carmel of Dijon from her bedroom window. She was very high spirited and given to fiery outbursts of anger when things did not go her way. In 1891 Elizabeth received her First Holy Communion and it made a deep impression on her. From this time on the Eucharist became the centre of Elizabeth’s life and it gave her the strength and determination she needed to make a real effort to overcome her rages.
Job, blameless and upright and fearing God, cursed the day he was born, the day they said, “It’s a boy!” Our culture tells us that suffering is useless and has nothing whatever going for it. Not so, says our Christian tradition, not so. Christianity sees beyond, hopes beyond and believes beyond that which is immediately experienced here and now.
John and Mary took their six-month old daughter to church for baptism. Back in the house at the reception John was over the moon with excitement about his first-born, Holly, and told me he wanted to grow up “before it is too late.”
“Wasting your life’, that was really the answer you got from most people,” Sr Gwen Collins says of her life as an enclosed nun. “Why are you wasting your life up there and locking yourself up there?
This Sunday’s Gospel is about people who have lost their way in life yet are still valued. In my ministry, I’ve sat with people in the ruins of their life. Sometimes it has been in a jail cell, sometimes in rehabilitation. I have always felt deeply for those for whom things went wrong – whether it was fraud, mental illness, drink or struggles with sexuality. Those in the parable who went looking for the lost sheep and the lost coin were delighted to find them. The father threw a party for the whole village when his wayward son showed
Fr Joe Murphy reminisces with Rachel Beard on a life spent travelling the world and serving God
When people think of San Francisco, they don’t normally think of Ireland. But Fr Joe Murphy didn’t have any trouble maintaining his Irish connections in the sunny Californian city.
This Sunday’s Gospel sees Jesus dining at the home of a leading Pharisee. People were busy watching him. Jesus was not lacking in the observation department either; he noticed those who were seeking to be at the top table, nearest the host.
When former Olympic swimmer Gary O’Toole was asked who his toughest coach was, he didn’t hesitate to answer: it was Sr Gwen Collins, a member of the Carmelite Monastery in Delgany.
“I took him and I coached him, and he began to win, but he was only a kid,” Sr Gwen says. “He was only 10 when I left, but I was his first coach. But we’ve kept great friends all these years. He calls down and he writes, but he says I was a very tough lady. Very fair, that would be his comment.”
“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.” – Mechtilde of Magdeburg
I recently took a week’s retreat at the Avila Carmelite Center in Dublin. Most of us need to carve out some time to make a retreat. It’s like having a spiritual check-up in slow motion. The week was designed to help me and the other five retreatants to become more aware, to wake up to God. And, I suppose, having woken up to God we may never be able to sleep again.