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.

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When I celebrate Mass as a priest, one of the gestures and accompanying prayer that always strikes me comes as the gifts of bread and wine are being prepared and offered to God the Father. Just after the bread is offered, the wine is then poured into the chalices followed by the addition by the priest or deacon of a small amount of water as he prays these words: ‘By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity’. As I make this prayer and watch how the water commingles with the wine as it enters the chalice, I am awestruck of how this deeply symbolic action and prayer express the faith of the Church – that by th


Dear friends. The celebration of Christmas over the past few days reminds us once again if ever we needed it, that the life blood of this parish community and every parish community is family life. One of the many reasons why Christmas is special for most of us is because of that togetherness with family members we love, sharing meals, exchanging presents and spending quality time again. One of the reasons why Christmas is sad for some is often because of a bereavement or a broken family situation where the pain of separation is felt more at this time of year. But whether Christmas has been happy or sad for you, one of the great strengths of being part of this community is that we are never


We are now in the time of immediate preparation for Christmas. The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent reflect this with the first reading being a passage from Isaiah which explicitly predicts the Virgin Birth. This text is chosen by the Church for the liturgy this Sunday in order to underscore the fact that it was not just the coming of a Messiah that was foretold in the Old Testament but even some of the circumstances of his birth, most especially the fact that he was to be born of a virgin mother. The Gospel provides us with the account of the immediate events leading up to the birth of Jesus and explicitly quotes the prophecy of Isaiah which we already heard in the first reading. T


On behalf of all our contributors to 'The Hook of Faith', I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Thank you for your being with us over the past year and for following us. We hope and pray that the content of 'the Hook of Faith' each week has somehow enriched your faith and encouraged you to share it with others. If this has been the case, please encourage your friends to check out our resources each week that try to 'proclaim the Gospel in the diocese of Ferns and beyond'. This continues to be our mission - to make the gift of Christ known and loved via the digital highway and to reach more people with the Good News of God's love that came to save us. May 2020 be a


The following is a powerful meditation on hope - one of the theological virtues and something that we cannot do without, especially at Christmas. It was written by Charles Peguy (1873-1914). ‘You must have confidence in God my child. You must have hope in God. You must trust God; you must give God a chance; you must have this confidence in God in order to have hope in him; you must trust God in order to have hope in him; you must give God a chance in order to have hope in him; you must extend hope to God; you must hope in God; you must have faith in God - it's all one, it's all the same thing. You must have this faith in God in order to hope in him. You must believe in him which is hoping; y


The following poem was written by Philip Quirke and reflects on both the stable and the gift of God born within it: THE STABLE Among the animals in the stable: Joseph's donkey, the innkeeper's ox, even a fine Arabian stallion. And chickens and guinea fowl pecking in straw-dust. Around the crib, metaphors abound: the lion lying down with the lamb, a cat put among the pigeons, perhaps the wispy leap of a unicorn. In the manger, swaddled baby, divine child hands outstretched in welcome. All welcome: his fellow humans, fellow creatures, shepherds with lambs, kings leading camels, filling out the tableaux of the crib: the participants are rapt, amazed at the mystery of God present among us: not


This beautiful icon of Mary with her child was written by Fr Jim Nolan, PP Davidstown. He also penned the following reflection on the icon. These are beautiful words that lead us into the mystery of the incarnation at Christmas - God becoming one like us in all things but sin to save us out of love. BEARING THE BABE IN WONDER UNFOLDING THE IDENTITY OF GOD A SAVIOUR CHILD RELEGATED TO A CRIB SUJECTED TO THE MAJESTY OF CREATION A CHILD IS BORN DELIVERING THESE MIRACULOUS MOMENTS WHICH ELEVATE US BEYOND OUR ODYSSEY CLUTCHING THE HAND OF GOD IN THE TENDER FINGERS OF A CHILD AFFORDING THE GRACE OF GIVING


There are increasing concerns about how societies have become polarised in recent years over politics and social issues such as immigration. We saw it in the American presidential election in 2016 and in the British General election in the last few weeks. Ireland is certainly not exempt from the danger of this polarisation effect where differences of opinion on various issues can translate into a culture of contempt for the other. I came across this talk on YouTube given by Arthur Brookes, an American social scientist and devout Catholic who directs us back to civility and unity. A timely lesson for us all at times like Christmas when families and friends get together. CLICK HERE TO WATCH:


In our interview this week, we speak again to journalist and social commentator David Quinn, this time about the crisis of climate change. In an article in the Irish Catholic earlier this year, David floated the idea of an environmental temperance movement for all people of faith and none, akin to the alcohol temperance movement that began many decades ago. This movement would be to encourage people to take responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint and to reduce excess consumption of the earth's resources. But how might such an idea work? CLICK HERE TO LISTEN:


Bishop Robert Barron is one of the leading Catholic Bishops in the United States and one of the most prominent evangelisers and commentators on social and religious affairs worldwide. Recently he was asked to give a presentation to the Catholic Bishops of America on the reach out work he is doing to those on the margins of the Church including young people who find it hard to connect to the faith. In that presentation, he outlined five ways that the Church can extend its mission to draw young people back to God and back to the Church. In this video/audio, he explains why he choose these five ways and how they might speak to the hearts of young people. CLICK BELOW TO SEE AND LISTEN:


Today on this Gaudete Sunday, the Church anticipates the joy that will be ours in the celebration of the Christmans and Epiphany mysteries. An approach that can evoke this real joy of liberation is to reflect on the role of the prophets in salvation history The Old Testament, is full of dynamic leaders; Noah and Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Saul and David. There are priests, monarchs, judges and patriarchs. Of all of all the people in the Old Testement, the most dynamic are the prophets: Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and many others. The Bible calls them major and minor prophets due to the lenght of their respective books. They challenged the the way of life at the time, drew people


The film 'Unplanned' was shown recently in Irish cinemas. It tells the story of Abby Johnson who went to work in America for Planned Parenthood - an institution that facilitates the abortion of thousands each year. At first, she threw herself enthusiastically into her new role, even winning the title of employee of the year. But then she began to become uneasy with the things she saw until eventually her eyes were opened to the horror of the reality of the abortion industry. In this video interview, Wendy Grace from I-Catholic interviews Ashley Bratcher, the American actress who plays the role of Abby Johnson and explains how this film has also changed her life and her appreciation of the re


As believers, we can be weary of being marginalised in modern life. As a faith community, we can feel archived, shelved and confined to the quaint boundaries of a heritage movement. Of course, the oft reported lessening of faith amongst the general population and the de-Christianisation of European public life can trace its origins back to the time of the French Revolution, if not before. One would be forgiven for concluding that secularisation and the priorities of modern life have smothered receptivity to the Gospel. Are we truly deaf and blind to the blessings of Christianity? Yet, Jesus told us to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. This is the radical story of ‘us’. Christiani


Saturday 14th December is the feast of St John of the Cross (1542-1591). This feast turns our attention to one of the greatest masters and teachers of prayer in the history of the Church. His writings about the topic have depth and beauty but also a simplicity that ensures that his insights are accessible to us who try to pray and to pray better. There is so much of St John’s teaching on prayer that we could highlight. Here I would like to focus on one profound but simple insight that is found in his masterpiece 'Spiritual Canticle'. The message of what John teaches here is about intercessory prayer and how to interpret our human needs or lacks - not as inconveniences but as opportunities fo


I heard it said recently that Christmas is a time that is endured by some and enjoyed by others. And so it is true. Christmas is not a time of joy for all. It is a time that brings added struggle to many and their families. There is loneliness, financial hardships and many other challenges to contend with. This weekend, in all the Churches of the diocese of Ferns, the annual St Vincent de Paul collection takes place. In asking us to support this appeal, the message from St Vincent de Paul is a stark one. Rightly it sums up the reality of Christmas some struggling families experience at this time of year. They point out that it is 'the most worrying time of year' for many. In his pastoral let


In the Second and Third Sundays of Advent we encounter the person of Saint John the Baptist. He is an important figure in the New Testament and therefore in the history of our salvation as he is the herald of continuity between the Old and New Testaments. He is very much a man in the model of the prophetic tradition of Israel, reminiscent of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and especially Elijah or any striking figures we encounter in the Old Testament. St. John the Baptist is revealed to us as a real though mysterious person, one who is outside of the mainstream but who like the other prophets comes with the urgent message of repentance, proclaiming to those who will hear him, a conversion to new effort i


In our interview this week, we speak with Bishop Denis Brennan who is chair of the Irish Episcopal Council for Immigrants. He explains the work of the Council and tells us about his involvement in the Santa Martha Group that was established by Pope Francis himself as a taskforce to tackle human trafficking and forms of modern day slavery. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN:


If you lose the religious side of Christmas much of the wonder goes up the chimney. There are many wonders, social and personal in the giving of gifts, the meetings of families, the celebration of a festive meal. It’s great when emigrants can make it home from the US and Australia to reconnect with those they love. And fair play to the retail outlets who supply the presents and for whom the Christmas shopping season is essential for their businesses. There is magic in the streets when the Christmas lights come on. There is good humour in the pubs when the singsong starts. Restaurants host office parties and staff dinners with the party hats and crackers, and there is a letting go of t


On Sunday 1st December, Pope Francis signed and released an Apostolic Letter on the meaning and importance of the nativity scene. He signed the Letter during his visit on Sunday afternoon to the Italian town of Greccio. Greccio is the mountain village where Saint Francis of Assisi created the first crib scene in 1223 to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Pope Francis returned to the town on Sunday to deliver his Apostolic Letter entitled, “Admirabile signum...enchanting image'. Here is the short letter in full with a beautiful Advent hymn 'Rorate Caeli'. APOSTOLIC LETTER ADMIRABILE SIGNUM OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON THE MEANING AND IMPORTANCE OF THE NATIVITY SCENE 1. The enchanting image of t



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