Digitally proclaiming the Gospel in the diocese of Ferns and beyond

‘The Hook of Faith’ is brought to you by ‘FERNS C.A.F.É’ (Catholic Adult Formation and Education) – a group in the diocese of Ferns, Ireland who are committed to the work of evangelisation and adult faith formation. It seeks to bring the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bear on all sectors of society in a way that offers life and meaning to everyone. We recognise the challenge of this task at a time in the Church that needs healing and hope. The mission of ‘The Hook of Faith’ is to ‘Digitally proclaim the Gospel in the Diocese of Ferns and beyond’. Our hope is that the light that comes from our faith will reach a wide audience through this new age of digital media and will help transform lives through the joy of the Gospel.

For the eight principles of ‘The Hook of Faith’ click on the arrow below:


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The devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots has become more popular ever since Pope Francis encouraged the devotion in Argentina, and then spoke about it during his first year as pope. ‘Mary, Undoer of Knots’ is the name of both a Marian devotion and a Baroque painting which represents that devotion. The painting by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner, of around 1700, is in the Catholic pilgrimage church of St. Peter am Perlach, otherwise known as the Perlach church, in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany. Pope Francis saw the image while in Germany as a student and promoted her veneration in Latin America. Pictured here is a beautiful representation of that painting in icon form by Fr Jim Nolan, PP Davidstow


Dear friends. We human beings are needy by nature. We are in need of many things every day – food, drink, clothes, shelter, love, friends and family. I believe that God created us that way so that we might know our need for him and for each other. Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone could take care of their own needs or if we had no needs at all? Life would be pretty dull and isolating. The Gospel this weekend tells the story of two people who have a desperate need. The first is a man named Jarius whose daughter was very sick. He comes before Jesus and begs him to come and help her. The second person in need is a woman who has suffered from an ailment for twelve long years. S


The compassionate Father presented by Jesus is prefigured in the prophets. A close reading of Isaiah or Jeremiah shows these writers engaging with this tension: how does a loving God deal with a people who consistently break their side of the covenant? They try to present the issue from Yahweh’s point of view. This is key to understanding Jesus’ inheritance, his imbibing of the divine presence whom he eventually addressed as ABBA, Father. As often occurs, themes in the other writings of the Old Testament are given a crisp summary in the Psalms. In a time of personal distress, the psalmist wonders: ‘Has God forgotten to show mercy, or has his anger overcome his compassion?’ [Ps.77:9 JB]


We continue our series this week on ten benefits of faith to our mental health. A sixth resource that comes with faith is the support it provides through community. Much depression and mental health problems are made worse by isolation and feeling we are suffering alone. To illustrate the point, it is known that there are higher rates of depression among those who are separated, divorced or alienated from friends and family (See A. Kheriaty, The Catholic Guide to Depression, Sophia Institute Press, New Hampshire 2012, 28). The problem is so acute that governments are taking action. In January this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the appointment to her cabinet of a ‘Minist


Lately I’m tired. I’m tired of having to constantly explain reality. You would think in this modern day and age that reality would be fairly well nailed down. However, it seems the opposite is true. Never have we been so unsure of our footing despite our great leaps in knowledge and technology. If I ask anyone do they know what a human being is they look at me puzzled and answer “of course!” If I follow this with claiming that all human beings have human rights, again an affirmative answer is given. And if I state that the law should protect these rights, yet again I am agreed with, although the post-modern relativist will start wondering where the trick question is, despite there not being

FOCUS ON THE SAINTS: Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. Feast Day – 28th June

Saint Irenaeus (130-202 AD) is an early Church saint who most people have probably not heard of but who was a crucially important figure as the early Church calcified what it believed and why. He came from Izmir in modern day Turkey but ended up as bishop of Lyons in France. This information is significant for it posits Irenaeus as a bridge between Eastern and the Western Christianity. He was a friend of St Polycarp (69-155 AD) who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Therefore, Irenaeus was a close witness to the words and legacy of Jesus. Irenaeus is remembered for his contribution to a major heresy that arose in the early Church. It was known as Gnosticism which taught that the world was c

Faith and Mental Health - Part 5

We continue our series this week on ten benefits of faith to our mental health. A fifth resource of faith is the transforming power of negative experiences like sin and betrayal. Because of original sin, human beings make mistakes, fail and love imperfectly. In our imperfection, at times we injure each other, leaving us wounded and in need of healing. Being wronged or hurt gives rise to strong emotions of anger and disappointment which, if not acknowledged and addressed, can lead to depression and other mental health problems. In the Gospels, forgiveness is a core teaching. Jesus Christ reveals a merciful God who desires to forgive sins and heal wounds caused by human failings. This is the s

Homily for The Nativity of John the Baptist (B)

Dear friends. In the apse in the chapel of the Irish College in Rome is a beautiful mosaic with Christ the Good Shepherd at the centre. At either side of the Lord are images of Irish saints together with Our Lady of Knock and Fr Ragheed Ganni, a priest from Iraq who lived for a number of years at the College and who was killed for his faith in June 2007. On Christ’s left side is the figure of St John the Baptist who is looking at Christ with his two hands pointing to him (see image below). This gesture is in keeping with the humble spirit of John who said of Christ in the fourth Gospel – ‘He must increase, I must decrease’ (Jn. 3:30). In many other mosaics and paintings of the Baptist, this

Compassion - A Challenge and a Spiritual Discipline

PART 2: Compassion is at the heart of the Gospel. It is central to the message of the great Prophets. Some aspects of compassion experienced as a particularly human disposition is the focus of this reflection. ---------------- Jesus was a Jew who was born into a specific cultural and religious tradition, which he took very seriously. He knew the Hebrew scriptures – the Torah, Prophets and Writings. He could quote the psalms and opened his ministry with a lengthy quotation from the prophet Isaiah [61:1-2]. He earned a living as a carpenter. He became a wandering preacher, like others of his era. He was called Rabbi, as in Teacher, and other names such as Master. He warned his disciples agains

Homily for Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Dear friends. I love this time of year; the long evenings, the beginning of the summer and the whole countryside bursting with new life. As we watch the leaves on the trees grow and the corn in the fields grow taller almost by the day, it is a source of awe and wonder of how the spirit of God is at work in his created world. At times we humans might think that we are at the centre of everything or that our problems are all that matter. The truth is that we are a tiny part of a magnificent enterprise that is God’s creation that is alive and breathing with his Spirit. In the Gospel today, this is precisely the message that Jesus wishes to communicate with the familiar parable of the sower. ‘Th

Faith and Mental Health – Part 4

We continue our series this week on ten benefits of faith to our mental health. A fourth and basic affirmation of Christianity is that every human experience has been touched and transformed by the God who became human. This includes depression and mental illness. In the words of St John Paul II: ‘Christ took all human suffering on himself, even mental illness…This affliction configures the sick person to Christ and gives him/her a share in his redeeming passion’ (John Paul II, Address to Participants at the International Conference Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, 11th December 1996). From the Gospels, we see when and how Jesus suffered fro

Compassion - A Challenge and a Spiritual Discipline

Part 1: Compassion is at the heart of the Gospel. It is central to the message of the great Prophets. Some aspects of compassion experienced as a particularly human disposition is the focus of this reflection. [Reflections on Compassion in the prophets and the gospels will follow in Part 2 next week]. ---------------- To be compassionate operates at many levels. It is our extension of understanding to others, by ‘walking in their shoes’ as the Indian proverb has it. It is making allowances for others, and forgiving others. It is to suffer along with others in their pain and loss; this is a visceral feeling for the pain of another, not just empathy or sympathy - one is moved in the depths of

Faith and Mental Health – Part 3.

We continue our series this week on ten benefits of faith to our mental health. The third resource provided by faith is the gift of meaning. There is broad evidence that a lack of meaning in human lives impacts negatively on mental health. According to psychiatrist Andrew Simms: ‘Lack or loss of meaning in life is probably the most frequent spiritual symptom voiced by our patients’ (A. Sims, Is Faith Delusio n? Why Religion is Good for your Health, Continuum, London 2009, 46). This point was powerfully argued by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning where he observed those who had the best chance of surviving the horrors of Auschwitz were those who could find meaning in their su

The Close Proximity of Cross and Resurrection

A few years ago, I travelled as a pilgrim to the holy land to explore the places intimately associated with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. First stop was Jerusalem where we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There at the rock of Calvary, we lingered in awe and prayerful wonder at the place where Jesus was crucified. We then moved the short distance, within the same Church, to the place of Jesus’ burial. What I hadn’t realized before this visit was the close proximity of the place of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As I thought about it, I began to realize how the short distance between these two places is deeply symbolic of a deeper spiritual reality - namely that our share

Homily for Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Dear friends. In one of their best known songs from their album ‘The Joshua Tree’, Irish band U2 penned a song about something that strikes a chord in the heart of all of us: ‘I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through the fields….I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls…But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’. In the song and in our hearts’ mind, there is no doubt that it is we who do the searching. But as the song suggests, all this searching, running, climbing and crawling can leave us exhausted and with no guarantee that we will find what it is we are really looking for. Today’s first reading from the book of Genesis, invites us to see things different



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