Lenten Reflections

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 36 : 'Don't Be So Hard On Yourself'

One of my favourite songs of recent times is the wonderful 'Don't Be So Hard on Yourself' from the amazing Jess Glynne.

It's such a wonderful song which never fails to make me happy - it's one of those catchy numbers that I find myself singing along to (much to fellow train passengers amusement). If you haven't heard it - have a listen!

The rhythm and melody along with Jess' stunning vocal ability make it a winner!

The words of this song title are so apt too!

For you see we can all have a tendency to be hard on ourselves at times! We can all be our own worst critic - and be down on ourselves when we don't achieve perfection!

God however doesn't want us to be 'hard on ourselves' - He wants us to just be who we are!

He wants us to try our best and be who He created us to be! If we are - then He is well pleased with us!

So when we next feel like 'beating ourselves up' or giving up on who we are - let us be reminded and comforted by the truly wonderful fact - that God never gives up on us!

Don't be so hard on yourself!

Paul Murphy Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 35 : 'Be Kind'

Don't believe everything you read in the papers!

That's what everyone used to tell me - and they were right!

If we just read the papers, or watch the news on TV - then a rather bleak picture of humanity is presented : from warring countries, to terrorism, to fraud, to shootings and murders, to acts of selfishness and bigotry.

All it seems is lost! But fear not!

Everyday of my life - I come into contact with people who I consider to be 'salt of the earth' - both people I know and people I meet randomly.

On my travels for work I encounter truly incredible people who show the best of humanity - those who care for their fellow brothers and sisters - those who show compassion - those who love - those who are friendly - those who make the world go round!

When I travel on the trains I meet customer service staff who 'go the extra mile' to make your journey safe and enjoyable, serving you with a 'smile' and a kindness which is lovely and appreciated! Not reported on the news however!

I meet people working in parishes, youth teams, coffee shops, restaurants, buses, tube stations - who demonstrate the very best of what it is to be a 'kind responsible citizen' and a 'warm caring human being'.

We see random acts of kindness each day - from those who help people who are homeless, to those who care for people with disabilities, to those who go to the aid of an elderly person crossing the road.

In a world where anything goes these days - it's refreshing and encouraging to see so many daily acts of kindness.

We must not become disheartened by the negative new stories portrayed by the media - but rather be inspired by others around us who live out the Gospel message 'to love one another!'

It's vital that we live a life where we 'give of ourselves' to others - especially those in need - where we put on kindness - where we put on Christ!

So be kind and gentle today - to everyone you meet - be the face of Christ to them - for you just never know what it means to those who are greeted by your kindness!

In a world where you can be anything - be kind!

Paul Murphy - Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 34 : 'St Paul's Perfection '

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Mass at the stunning Holy Trinity Church in Brook Green, West London.

The Solemn Mass at 1130am is always a beautiful celebration - and yesterday was no different!

The priest is a gently spoken and a deeply wise man who always offers wonderful homilies which really bring the Gospel to life!

The choir and music enhance the liturgy and the reverence throughout is deeply moving!

But what struck me most yesterday was the Second Reading - St Paul's Letter to the Philippians 3 : 8-14!

Please just read this letter again today...........

It is simply stunning! It is full of beautiful gems - and is one of my favourite readings!

'I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord'.

How beautiful is that - St Paul acknowledges that everything else is meaningless or 'rubbish' compared to knowing Christ, and that 'he accepts the loss of everything' to follow Him.

'I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I only want the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith'

These words should encourage and inspire us all - that we must strive for perfection only by trusting in God - and surrendering ourselves to Him - not relying on our own devices!

'All I want is to know Christ......'

If we could just focus on these words more and more every day - is this what we really want? Are we striving to get to know Jesus better?

'All I can say is that I forget the past, and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus'.

St. Paul tells us to forget dwelling on our past mistakes and have our eyes firmly set firmly on Christ. We must keep going in the race and never give up on becoming closer to God! We must fight until the finish!

So today - just simply let St Paul's wise words sink in. Let them permeate our mind and heart! Let them strengthen our faith!

Let us be encouraged by the words of St Paul in our life - and be inspired by his desire to get to know Christ more and more!

St. Paul pray for us!

Paul Murphy Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 33 : 'Negative into Positive'

Are you a half glass full or a half glass empty person?

Do you worry about what could go wrong or think of what could go right?

Do you focus on the negative or positive?

Many of us like to see the problems in our lives rather than focus on what's going well.

We like to dwell on our sinfulness, weakness and our problems rather than on the many blessings and graces we have received in our life!

When I practiced Educational Psychology I often used Solution-Focused approaches to dealing with issues that came up in referrals.

Rather than dwell on the problems and issues that children or families faced, I would initially acknowledge those difficulties before focusing predominantly on trying to find solutions to the situations and issues that were presented.

It was a refreshing and powerful way to deal with potentially challenging difficulties. Less focus on the negative and more on the positive!

With our faith - we must tackle things in a similar solution-focused manner.

We must firstly acknowledge our weaknesses and flaws - and recognise that we are sinners! If we bring them to the Lord we are recognising our need to be reconciled to Him. But we should not dwell on them!

Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we must move on and accept God's forgiveness - and focus on the positive aspects of our lives - truly appreciating the many graces and blessings He has bestowed upon us.

We must recognise the many talents God has given us - and use these more to give Him glory.

God does not want us to be bogged down in our sinfulness - but rather He wants us to use the many positive aspects of our lives and personalities to bring about real change!

So today - let's forget about all the negative things and difficulties we face in our lives. Let us offer these up to God - let us take up our cross with thanks - and appreciate the many wonderful blessings we have received!

Forget the negative - focus on the positive!

Paul Murphy -  Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 32 : 'God's Still Writing Your Story'

I don't know about you - but many of us tend to worry about our past and our future!

So much so - that we often don't live much in the present moment!

I've spoken to many people in the past few weeks and months who have confided in me that they are worried about their future!

Some are not happy working where they are - some feel unfulfilled, some simply want to move away to somewhere new, and some want to return home to find a different future or career path!

Many people are deeply uneasy about their lives, silently struggling with real dilemmas and having to make life-changing decisions - not knowing which way to turn next to find a good work-life-family balance!

And we are increasingly a culture which finds it hard to make commitments and decisions.

Discernment is the current buzzword and many people seem to be engaged in lengthy long term discernment processes - but many of us are finding it difficult to actually just make decisions!

There is a real sense of people analysing things very carefully and methodically but never actually having the courage to make a final decision!

But decisions we must take!

Making plans and decisions takes courage and we must never forget to ask God for grace to discern His will for us!

Often we want to find true contentment and happiness in all aspects of our lives - and we want it instantly!

But our plans are not always God's plans for us! We must stand firm and trust!

We can't see the treasures God has in store for us in the future - but we need to keep the faith and believe!

A good Irish friend used to say 'We plan and God laughs'.

When times are tough and we don't know which way to turn - just pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us to make the right decisions!

God is still writing our story - we just need have the belief to keep close to Him, keep calm and trust in Him.

Don't let go of your faith because of what you have yet to see!

Paul Murphy - Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM)

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 31 : 'Face Time'

Right - it's Friday - so it's quiz time!!

Hands up - who's got a mobile?

Okay silly question - here's another - who's got a tablet? (And no not the Paracetamol variety or the sweet Scottish sugary delicacy!)

Right - this time I'll catch you out - who's got a smart watch?

Well I'm sure one of you has the whole trio of gadgets! So well done! You win a prize - 10 free texts and minutes to speak to God each day!

Technology has certainly changed a lot since I was a lad!

I don't think I had a mobile until I was 21, and had to make do with a pager before that!

Nowadays we all text, Whatsapp, Instant Message, Skype, FaceTime, and seem to spend so much time on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

We appear to have more 'friends' - and we seem to be better 'connected' to people than ever before!

It's ironic then - that this surge of social connectedness through technology and media hasn't really resulted in us getting to know one another better or deeper!

In fact many of us have more faceless communication with friends than in the past!

Face to face meeting is so important however!

We must make time to meet people and talk to them in person - to spend time listening and sharing with them in a meaningful way!

Nothing beats face to face time!

So it is too with Jesus - we need to make time each and every day to just talk to him, visit Him in time of Adoration, and listen to what He has to say to us! That precious time in silence and prayer!

So today - let us strive to find time - away from our social media and technological gadgets and gizmos - to spend quality time with one another - our friends and family and of course with God!

By doing so we will be more prepared for the best Face Time we will ever experience - that Face to Face Time with God one day in heaven!

Paul Murphy -  Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 30 : 'Trying Times'

They say that God loves a trier!

Well I hope that's the case for me!

I don't consider myself to be anything special, any great shakes or doing anything particularly better than the next person.

But I do feel though - that I'm a trier!

I try to give my all in everything that I do - whether it be with my work, or caring for friends and family! I do try!

Life can be tough, it can deal you blows! It can be hard to ride the punches and feel like you're floating on water rather than sinking beneath the waves of life.

It can be painful - it can be lonely. It can take the wind from your sails - it can teach you important lessons.

But God wants us just the way we are. He doesn't want us to pretend we are someone we're not. He doesn't expect us to do things we're not capable of.

God just wants us to try our best to be the person He created us to be.

That lovely quote by St Catherine of Siena is apt here : 'Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire'.

Blessed Mother Teresa also once said : 'He only requires that you try'.

So today let us just try to be ourselves. Let us try to please God by living out our lives the best we can!

Let us try to help others and be kind, patient compassionate and gentle with one another - but also with ourselves!

Life is hard - but don't give up - God is just so happy with us that we keep trying!

Remember 'a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying'!

Paul Murphy is Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 29 : 'Ripple Effect'

'I can't make a difference!'

We hear people say this so often nowadays!

We hear it when people are asked about reducing their carbon footprint, tackling climate change or cutting down on their energy consumption!

We hear it when people are asked about eradicating global poverty or fighting injustice or helping those who are homeless!

Sometimes when we see humanitarian disasters unfold before our eyes on TV, - we often think - 'What can i do?' or 'What difference could I alone make?'

People often say - 'I can't change the world on my own! I'm only just one person. What difference can I make?'

For you see - most of us often feel helpless when we see situations that seem beyond our control - and which seem too large to comprehend! And more often than not - we give up! We leave it to others!

We give up - thinking that alone we haven't the power to make any meaningful difference!

But that's where we fail! That's where we are so wrong!

Blessed Mother Teresa once said : 'I alone can't change the world - but I can cast a stone to create many ripples'.

Every day we have the power to cast that stone - to carry out small acts of love and charity - acts which can make a big difference! Acts which can inspire others and encourage them to follow suit! Acts which can have a ripple effect!

If we all focus on doing what we can do - and doing it to the best of our ability - we can collectively change the world!

St Francis Xavier sums this up perfectly when he said : 'Be great in the little things'.

So today - as we journey ever closer to Easter - remember that we have great opportunities every day to make a difference.

Let us start by being great in the little things - making a difference to the lives of the people we meet and helping our brothers and sisters in need!

Love and charity is contagious - so let us all start that ripple effect today!

Paul Murphy - Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 28 : 'Gifts from God'

Every day is a true gift from God!

Some days are just extra special - and yesterday was one of them!

For most of the day - I was blessed to be in the company of many great youth ministry colleagues from across England and Wales.

We make up CYMFed (Catholic Youth Ministry Federation) and this was one of our Members Meetings in London.

I consider many of those around the table to be not just colleagues but real friends!

As we discussed many of the issues relevant to Youth Ministry - I just looked around the room and marvelled at the wonderful talents and gifts that we all bring in our ministry to young people across the country - and also at the gift of our many friendships!

We all work in different aspects of youth ministry - some working with teens, some with young adults, others in dioceses, some with religious orders or movements - but we all share a deep passion for bringing Christ to young people where they are!

CYMFed plans national events like Flame - and organising events on this scale is no mean feat. It involves many people using their God-given gifts and talents - and it's truly amazing to see people working together for the glory of God.

In the evening I had the honour of enjoying the company of a good friend in London to share her birthday!

The whole evening reminded me once again of 'gift'!

As we ate dinner - and as the sun set beautifully over the London skyline and River Thames - I was just struck by the 'gift of life'.

We often forget on a day to day basis - to thank God for the gift of life - the gift of today, the gift of creation and nature! For the gift of friendship - the gift of a smile - the gift of good company!

It's so easy to take things for granted in life - but let's try to appreciate these gifts more!

We finished the night attending a wonderful Classical Music concert at the Royal Festival Hall. And once again - all I could think of was 'gift'.

Talented musicians and choristers, soloists, conductors and composers - all using their God given talents to bring enjoyment and happiness to others!

So today - maybe we can try to thank God for the gifts and talents He has given us - and ask Him to help us use them more to give Him glory!

Let us never take our gifts and talents for granted! May the gift of life be something we give thanks for daily!

Paul Murphy Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM). 

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 26 : 'Motherly Love'

Happy Mother's Day!

I wish all mothers a very special day - and of course I send my love and gratitude to my own amazing mother who I unfortunately can't be with today as she is in Scotland!

On this of all days - I just wanted to reflect today on 'Our Lady' - Mary our Mother!

Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently addressed the International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines saying : 'If you want to be closer to Jesus - then be close to Mary, as she is right there next to him!'

My whole life and faith has had Our Lady at its heart - and I can't imagine life without her.

I was brought up in the traditional steel town of Motherwell in Scotland - it's name coming from an ancient religious well, the 'Mother's well' dedicated to the Virgin Mary!

I grew up there and my parish was Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral - a church where I was baptised and received the Sacraments in my primary school years!

My primary school of the same name was located right beside the Cathedral and my faith was formed and developed in that school and parish community.

When I moved to secondary education, yet again Mary was there - 'Our Lady's High School' - with Mary Seat of Wisdom as its motto!

In my home Diocese of Motherwell we are also blessed to have the most beautiful Carfin Grotto - our very own National Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes - which attracts 70,000 people annually.

The Marian shrine has stunning grounds, outdoor Glass Chapel, Reliquary Chapel and so much more making it a special place of pilgrimage, prayer and grace.

My faith was strengthened over the years by visiting Carfin often - especially for Adoration and Night Prayer in the Glass Chapel, Rosary, Torchlight Processions - and this heavenly oasis helped foster in me a deeper love for the Lord and for Our Lady.

It was at the Grotto one day that a priest invited me to travel on pilgrimage to Lourdes to help care for children with disabilities. Like Mary, I said 'Yes' to the Lord's invitation and the decision changed my whole life.

I've now been to Lourdes 9 times over the years, have had so many blessed experiences, made so many friends and my faith has been enriched and strengthened.

Many years ago in another local parish I attended their weekly Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help - and I firmly believe to this day - that my commitment to attending regularly to entrust my life to Our Lady - led me to my work with the Redemptorists today!

The Redemptorists are renowned for spreading devotion to Mary under the icon and title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

So it's clear to me that Our Lady has been my Perpetual Help - she has been my Mother throughout my life - she has been central to my life and faith.

Mary has been my comfort, joy, help and consolation - and she leads me closer to her son Jesus each and every day!

So on this Mother's Day - let us not forget Our Lady - remembering that she is also our Mother and that she cares for us, loves us and will always help us!

Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Paul Murphy - Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

RYM DAILY LENTEN MOMENTS

Day 25 : 'Bearing Wrongs Patiently'

I write this to you rather bleary-eyed this morning at 6.34am - as I make my way home after leaving St George's Cathedral in Southwark, here in London!

I have just spent all night at the '24 Hours for the Lord' in this stunning Cathedral - and was privileged to speak at 2am on two of the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy - 'forgiving offences willingly' and 'bearing wrongs patiently'.

When I was kindly invited to speak on these two Spiritual Works of Mercy - little did I know that I would almost immediately have to exercise and perform both these works of mercy!

For when my good friend Johnny Toryusen from Southwark Catholic Youth Service (SCYS) asked me to speak at 2am - I had to patiently bear this dreadful wrong of his and forgive him willingly for depriving me of much needed sleep.

Anyway I hope you can all bear with my tired thoughts this morning - as I summarise what I spoke to the congregation on at 2am about 'bearing wrongs patiently'. I'll omit what I spoke on regarding 'forgiving offences willingly' - as I have already written about forgiveness earlier in my Lenten reflections.

'Bearing wrongs patiently' is a tough one for us - a tall order - a real challenge for us all.

I'm sure we've all had moments in our lives where we have been wronged, or wrongly accused - where we have suffered unnecessary or undeserved suffering.

And these are truly difficult moments in our life where often the depth of our own character can be revealed. They can shine a light on the true state of our soul.

For when we experience injustice - we can often become frustrated and angry, wanting to seek revenge or retribution. In reality these feelings are completely understandable.

But when someone wrongs us - we have a choice - our free will gives us the choice to decide whether being wronged will be an occasion for division, anger and violence - or rather unity, patience and transformation.

God created us - he loves us and does not want to change us but rather transform us.

He wants to take us as we are - with all our strengths and weaknesses - and transform us into the person he created us to be!

God is patient with us - and wants us to be patient with others. He wants us to join him - not in an effort to change our fellow brothers and sisters - but to journey with them patiently on their path of transformation.

Bearing wrongs patiently can be extremely painful for us - but it can also hold within it the power to transform our lives and the lives of the people who have wronged us.

To suffer injustice is difficult - and to try and it suffer it patiently is even harder but we have Jesus as our role model and example in how to bear injustices patiently!

For Jesus suffered the ultimate injustice - innocently suffering and dying for us on the cross!

Jesus tells each one of us today to 'bear with one another' - to forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins.

For what transformed Christ's suffering into something positive - was love - love for the Father and love for us!

So Jesus is telling us not to seek retaliation when we suffer hurts or injustices - but to counter them with something positive!

In Matthew 5:44 we are told 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'

Therefore we are called today and every day not simply to just bear wrongs patiently - but actively - with acts of love.

And Jesus reminds us that the way to bear our sufferings patiently is through the Eucharist.

Paul Murphy Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

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