Wednesday 26 November 2014


Scent of white
Jasmine mingled
With burning turf

Taste of arabica
Coffee ground brown

Sounds of the house
Stretching awake

The creak
Of beaking day

Damp hiss of wood
On fire kindle

Repressed flame leaping
Into life

The uncertainty of wounds
Not healed finds expression

Blended ecstasy
Of agony and hope

Tuesday 25 November 2014


You’ve had it
As a serious artist


Your songs are on
The mellow music playlist
Of Sunshine Radio


The nostalgic flabbiness
Of the middle-aged
Who hanker pastwards

Your edge
Sharp with meaning


Become a blunted

You can have it
As a serious artist


In the stripped down

Prophetic silence
That gives birth

To forward thrusted

Fire of soul
Sharpness of sword

Sound of the deep

Saturday 22 November 2014

IN PRISON - I Will Be The Face Of Christ For You

Feast Of Christ The King
I was in prison and you visited me

The book and the movie ‘Dead Man Walking’ tell the true story of  Matthew Poncelet, a  man facing death alone, except for the love of a Catholic sister. He is a castaway, considered untouchable and worthy of death by his society. The nun comforts him and says, "I can't bear the thought that you would die without seeing one loving face. I will be the face of Christ for you." She is Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille. He is one of four convicted of murder whom she has accompanied to the death chamber in Louisiana and he asked her to accompany him spiritually in his journey to death.

In celebrating the feast of Christ the King we honour a King who is a shepherd, one who looks after all His people, with emphasis on the word ALL. Not just SOME  but ALL - each and every one!

“The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest–it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17)

As Jesus Himself is, so we are called to be; we who are the Body of Christ in our time. And when it comes to the end of time and our lives are assessed and judged by God then the bottom line will be “whatever you did to one of the least of these you did it to me and whatever you neglected to do to one of the least of these you neglected to do it to me” (Matthew 25:31-46)

He will not be asking how much did you pray but how much did you do for the poor. All our prayers and all the Masses we celebrate are supposed to translate into true service of those most in need. And of course this is what is generally happening. As a people the Irish are very generous in donating to charitable causes; here in Shankill there is great generosity to the St. Vincent de Paul. I myself have always had a love for the men of the road, perhaps because my grand uncle was one of them and died on the streets of London; perhaps I feel that I myself could be one of them. In all my dealings with these men I have found myself to be profoundly blessed.

But there is one group of people that has stirred my conscience from today’s gospel - the prisoners. Jesus says “when I was in prison you visited me!” Sadly, I have never visited a prison and so have never visited Christ in this way. And I’m not suggesting that we all need to go running off to start visiting prisons because there are people called to this ministry  but we are all called to be aware of the prisoner, to be concerned for the prisoner.

The prisoner is the criminal, the wrongdoer, the guilty one who deserves to be punished. And the prisoner is one who needs to be saved, to see the face of Christ, to experience that love that God has for every single person. Jesus the  innocent person died for the guilty, so that he could bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18)

While the world leaves the prisoner in his condemnation, God is saying I will rescue him from his darkness, I will look for him in the place where he is lost. That’s the extent of Christianity’s reach - that we have a heartfelt desire to save the guilty, the criminal, the most detestable of people. That we say with Sr. Helen “I can't bear the thought that you would die without seeing one loving face. I will be the face of Christ for you."

And though most of us cannot do this face to face with the person in prison, we can and must do it for the guilty people we meet in the ordinary course of life. To be the face of Christ so that Christ Himself can transform guilty lives.

It occurs to me that we can't always reveal the smiling, kind face of Christ. Sometimes the true face of Christ is the wounded, hurt face and perhaps the guilty one needs to see this hurt face in order to come to his senses, to be saved, rescued and brought to God.

It’s what Pope Francis is trying to inspire us to do as Church - to be the face of Christ for those who find themselves in difficult situations, whose lives are at odds with the Catholic and Christian teachings, those who are stuck in destructive ways of living.

I suggest that we create a space in our prayer for the prisoner and for his victims. One of the inspiring things is that Sr. Helen prayed with Matthew and later prayed with the family of his victim. Pray for the lost, those who are stuck, those in the wrong, those who are victims. In doing this we are touching Christ himself in a real and meaningful way.

Whatever you do to the least of these you do it to me. We need to do this with urgency as if there were no time to waste.

Prayer of Fr. Slavko of Medugorje,

"Lord, grant
that I may always think as if it were to be my last thought
that I may speak as if it were to be my last word
that I may work as if it were to be my last deed
that I may suffer as if it were to be the last cross I could offer
that I may pray as if it were my last opportunity to speak to You while on Earth!"

(Fr. Slavko Barbaric OFM, Medugorje)

Tuesday 11 November 2014


I am present
At his passing
This fine strong gentle


Builder of boats
Husband father grandad

Deep strength of faith
On his knees even

In his agony
I brought him

He loved the sea
In me and made

Made me feel

While we talked
Galway and other
Common ground

Fingering old timber
Caressed like the tender
Flesh of a loved one

The last call
Talked of hours


Time to heed
Better instincts
Without hesitation

All generations gathered
Around his fading moments

To sing and say
Final farewells
Whipsered in his ear

One by one
Unrestrained Love

Sé do bheatha
a Mhuire

Child's head
Resting on his breast

He falls asleep
Slips away

Monday 10 November 2014


In the premature falling

Head bowed bent
Forward against the absence
Of an Indian Summer

Rain like Rice Crispies
On the flapping plastic
Of my hood

Wind whipped ears

My eyes in custody
See only the ground
On which I walk


The world empty now
Except for the odd stray
Runner squawking seagull
Scared crow

Swan heads buried
In the river

But not hiding

I think of all the false

I have tasted

The true belonging
Of Love

That draws me in

To the Claddagh church
Before Mass

Enfolded in the radiance
Of Your Face
Lifted up to intimate communion


How is a child
Supposed to know

That the truth lies
Somewhere in between

Your scolding emotion
Scalded devotion?

You never said
That it was love

It feels like hate

The too-tight noose
Of your embrace

Sword of tongue
Tasting like captivity

Though you keep promising

Friday 7 November 2014



A bit rough around the edges
Said Love

With tears
And a quivering voice

Like the fields he farmed
The soil that felt his footfall

Strong and straight

Not easy then with
Weakness in another

Vulnerability became him
As with surprising grace
He himself surrendered

Allowing us a glimpse
Of something more tender


Praying his way Homeward
With an eye for the frailest
Left behind


He is laid to rest now
In this land that he loved

A calm November day
Sun shining, birds singing

Breeze blowing
Bough of trees bending

River flowing
Rainbow in a clear
Blue sky

Last leaf falling
Whistling in the wind

In this place there is

(In memory of Fr. Roger Rafter sac)

Thursday 6 November 2014



INTRODUCTION As we remember the dead today we pray with great hope to the Lord who is constantly bringing life out of death and light out of darkness.


We remember our own dead and our own sadness … Tears speak out our grief, but they also witness to our love and we are glad to have loved so much that we can cry.  May those we have loved rest in your embrace, O Lord.  LORD HEAR US

We remember the loss and grief of others around us.  We think of the funerals we have been at in the last year … We pray especially for those who are without consolation.  LORD HEAR US

We pray for all the people who have died in our community and in our country this past year – older people; younger people; those who died content; those who died struggling – all sharing in common that they died into the arms of our loving God.  LORD HEAR US

Wherever there is grief, may hope be allowed to enter in and sit beside it, as its silent companion.  May we learn to believe what we cannot see, that our life is hidden with Christ in God.  LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have died around the world in the last year.  We pray for those who have starved to death; for those who were victims of natural disasters; for those who were killed by their fellow human beings.  We pray, knowing that you, Lord, have carved their names on the palm of your hand.  LORD HEAR US

We know that each person dies just as they are.  We ask you, Lord to work through our prayers, for the forgiveness of their faults, the purification of their souls and the completion of their journey into the arms of your everlasting love.  LORD HEAR US

CONCLUSION (by the Presider)
We make all our prayers through Christ Our Lord Amen

Saturday 1 November 2014

Prayer (In Loving Memory of Paul)

(In loving memory of my cousin Paul who found solace in the words of this poem and whose untimely death has given these words another meaning. November 3, 2012)

Place me on a shore at dusk
By the sea’s healing waters
Where thoughts like boats
Go floating by my mind’s eye
Some circling round
Or anchored to distract
Yet not to hide your Light
My Love

Place me at dusk on a shore
Where the soul’s calm sea
Is stormed and laid to rest
At your command
To contemplate your Light
My Love

This I ask