Today is the 04th of January 2012 and my thoughts are very much at home in the Tullylish parish. Why? Well it was exactly on this day fourteen years ago (1998) that I made my final Profession at home in your presence. What a day to remember. I recall the closeness of family, friends, neighbours and parishioners as we gathered in the Gilford Chapel under a shower of snow. This was an event a little different from the usual events of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages, funerals and daily masses. Unfortunately over the past years final professions to religious life and priesthood have remained very sporadic events in the parish –– they aren’t something most of us recall because they are outside our usual experience.
The occasion of my final vows remains embedded in my memory and heart. Mostly I recall the days of preparation, the nights with the choir – practicing to get the African ‘Masithi’ (Great Amen) to gel with our Irish accents, the rehearsals with Fr Paddy Joe Murray, in chapel, imagining himself to be the bishop receiving my vows, my dad’s speech at the reception, my own speech to my parents, family and friends, and then the wonderful reception up in Newry, despite the fact that all the invited guests from South Africa, Derry and Belfast got lost in the heavy floods and snow. I recall well the evening function in the Bannvale led by my favourite childhood singer, Harry Convery and lunch next day with Canon Treanor and others in the Parochial House, deliciously prepared by Pasty Fegan.
Looking back over the years I realise that a large number of significant people have passed away since that grand day. As life goes we usually have failed to share with our loved ones what we wanted to tell them and much remains unsaid. With this thought in mind I would like to take the opportunity offered by the Tullylish website to share with you some personal thoughts and reflections that might assist you on your own personal prayer and faith journey. I hope to be able to send monthly reflections over the next twelve months. If you wish to comment or ask questions or share your own reflections from what you will read it will be a wonderful link.
Chronologically and physically we cross the threshold into another New Year. Often we hear the words; ‘Gosh its frightening how time passes so quickly and the years are gone.’ This is very true and we begin to worry about the sudden new wrinkles, gray hairs, wider waists, aches and pains that rear their heads and we quickly reach out for the latest anti-wrinkle creams, hair dyes, fitness classes, diets, frequent visits to the doctors and all of a sudden we want our youth to return. In reality unfortunately life is a one way ticket and physically we cannot return to the spring-folds of youth and beauty. However, in case you are dispersing I want to offer you hope should you bear with me for a short while.
On a deeper spiritual level we also enter the cycle of life even though this journey is not always visible and obvious. However, in my opinion, this is the most important level because this cycle reveals our real ‘selves’. It reminds us that we are not what we wear, how we look, the car we drive, the house we own, the company we keep, the work we do, the positions we hold, the mobile we use, etc. But through the challenges, often the pains and sufferings, of life we are becoming the best self God created each one of us to be...
It is my desire for each of us that we will become the best people God created us to be.
Sr. Bernadette Duffy
PAVING THE ROAD AHEAD: FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM
In general, everyone is in favour of freedom. We fight for it and we praise it. In the daily practice of our lives, however, we usually avoid freedom. On the outside a person may seem contented and free, but their inner landscape may be a secret prison. We have a real fear of freedom. We find it awkward and disturbing. We are so used to living our daily lives to the dictates of rules, bells, telephones, policies, regulations, clocks, and even the expectations of others or outside demands! Some of these are necessary to keep order in our lives but when they are so much part of our lives we cannot live without them and this makes us un-free! Think for a moment how all these forces prevent us from living our deeper selves, how they prevent us from meeting people, even those we love, how we fail to rationalise situations but are driven by emotions; how we fail to come home to ourselves........
Freedom challenges us to awaken and realise all the possibilities that sleep in the clay of our hearts. It encourages us to enlarge our frames of belonging – not to settle for a false shelter that does not serve our potential. There is no cage for your soul. You were created to be free. Within you there is deep freedom. This freedom will not intrude; it will not hammer at the door of your life and force you to embrace it. You have to claim your own freedom before it becomes yours. Rousseau said: ‘People were born free, and everywhere they are in chains.’
LOVE verses FEAR
You have probably heard the saying: ‘Love conquers all.’ Well that is literally true. Love is the most powerful energy in the universe. All emotions can be broken down into two categories – love verses fear. All ‘positive’ emotion has its roots in love, while all ‘negative’ emotion has its roots in fear. If you are not acting out of love, you have become stuck in fear. When we are stuck in fear, we tend to generate negativity. That is why it is important to consciously act out of love, especially if you want to manifest positivity in your life.
During this month of January I invite you to reflect on the following:
1. What is the biggest fear I carry within myself? How do I describe it?
2. Today we are invited to let go of anyone, any possession, thought, worry, or habit, anything that chains us up – these things might be big or small – but if they keep us prisoners then they must go!!!! We are invited to offer love all around us
I pray that you may live from what is best in you!