Ash Wednesday

I wrote this piece four years ago. Remarkably and in humbling fashion, it happened again this week. So I just had to post this…

Solemn witnesses stand

In their strength


and frailty

Ritual binds us together

Reminds us of what matters

Where we belong


“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel!”

I repeat

50-60 times

My mantra or theirs?


I am in awe of these solemn witnesses

Who are part of a larger tableau

800 mostly teenagers

In dead silence

For 5 minutes or more


I am in awe of the Holy Spirit

Who has touched my heart

and who animates this extraordinary scene

Educating for the Lived Gospel #136

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Cor 12:4-7)

There are some people who might find the notion that they have gifts revelatory. There are also times when our self-esteem can take a battering; when we don’t feel we have anything to offer. It is also important to note that there is a distinct difference between being self-assured and egotistical. But the key to this quote is that our God-given gifts are ‘for the common good’ – they are given through the Holy Spirit whose coming at Pentecost we celebrate this week. How am I using my gifts to build community? Are there new ways to use my gifts?

We have an important role to play with young people. They can be caught up in a world of celebrity – where the ‘special one’ seems so distant. This focus, coupled with a developing ego, means that our role is to affirm our faith that we are each special in God’s eyes and to affirm the goodness in young people at every opportunity.

Have a great week!

Gentle friend

There are those who draw attention to themselves

But not my gentle friend

Who quietly stirs the hearts

Of those with good will

Who prompts the shy smile

Who prompts the reticent student

To ask a question

Who helps our hearts

Blaze against injustice

Who helps us see the good

In others and ourselves

Who can use the words of a man

Full of failings

To help another

Glimpse their heart’s longings


O come Holy Spirit?


Our gentle friend

Is already with us.

Am I paying attention?

Educating for the Lived Gospel #114

for the Spirit will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)

In the context of his imminent arrest, passion, death and seeming ‘departure’, Jesus is assuring his disciples that the Holy Spirit will always be with them. In this verse, Jesus is speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit, ‘who will speak whatever he hears’. In reference to this verse, Frank Moloney said that it was as though the Trinity were gathered around the divine kitchen table, thus the Holy Spirit can share the wisdom he has heard. It is a rich, warm, intimate image that has stayed with me. God’s word comes to us in different ways and through different people. Who has touched your heart with God’s word?
As our young people thirst for meaning, may each of us live out God’s calling to us. Living authentically, we can touch the hearts of the young people in our care with God’s word – by our deeds…or our words.
Have a great week!