April 2, 2013

An Easter Message

Robin Redbreast

Amid the ruins of St. Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough,
this Robin Redbreast was perched upon an ancient tombstone.
It was as if he was waiting for me.
Fearlessly, he allowed me to come so close, within six inches.
With his knowing look, he shared with me his story:

“Many, many years ago a Robin Redbreast was there on Calvary
on that dreadful Friday.
Jesus was crucified and the Earth was darkened.
That Robin Redbreast was the only bird that dared to be present.
He perched on the very cross beam beside the torn and bleeding Hand.
Amid the jeering taunts of the mob, the Robin sensed the muted sobbing of the women, the forgiving words of Jesus and His cries of agony and loss.
What could he do?
Only what he knew. So he raised his little head and began to sing
as beautifully and loudly as any robin could.
Throughout those three long hours, he sang and he sang.
Then his Master, crying out in a loud voice, bowed His Head and died.
The little robin’s heart burst in sorrow and song.
Falling from the Cross, his chest brushed against the bleeding Hand of the Master, to be forever marked by the Precious Blood.
Forever afterwards, each and every Robin around the world bears that mark of un-ending love”.

May you find in your heart this Easter and always, that same unending Love.

Grace Cottage
28 March 2013

January 15, 2013

What do we really need to give and to receive?

It’s a time for Christmas greetings and best wishes. Coming from an ingrained Passionist tradition, my old heart responds to the joy, the pain and the hope of Christmas. 

Why is it that joy and pain are brothers? They are, as the dance of darkness and light, moving to the unpredictable beat of our often violent, then serenely calm weather.

We really never know what life is going to be like from one moment to the next. Where can we find constancy, a guiding permanent light, a steady and sure hope? We all look for these, especially this Christmas.

Could we have a darker moment than Sandy Hook Primary School? This unfathomable tragedy becomes a focal point of all the darkness, cruelty and evil across the countries of our world. What can stand against it? How can we survive?

Maybe the answer is found in the very midst, in the heart of those terrible events. In a true sense it takes me back to Calvary, not Bethlehem, to darkness and pain and fear and death.

Yet, in the middle of that darkness, in a little washroom, is a teacher with her 25 little children, huddled, trying to be silent in the darkness with the sound of continual gunfire on the other side of the door. The teacher, in extreme fear, believes that she and the little ones are next.

What can she do? She thinks of the parents of these little ones. What would they do? And, in this moment, she hopes she is not over-reaching her position, but what she is to say, she knows, comes from her breaking heart.

“I love you. I love you. Every one of you. I love you so dearly. You are my children. I love you. Do not be afraid. All will be well. I love you. I love you.”

Later she explains, “I believed that we were next. We were going to be shot. I did not want the last sound that these little ones of mine would hear, would be the violent sound of gunfire. I wanted them to hear ‘I love you. I love you’.”

What more needs to be said about Christmas? What else do we have to do?
Peter cp

Passionist Family Group Movement
Grace Cottage  Sydney, Australia                                                                  

August 31, 2012

Sunday down the southcoast

One Sunday I was privileged to be down the southcoast of NSW with Family Group friends cared for by Margaret and Paul Casey, whom so many of you would remember with delight. I have to admit that the group was all senior citizens except for one outstanding young woman, Rebecca , Family Group Coordinator of Kiama.

We all had a great time in each other's company and for sure, Marg Casey can work miracles. She’s even got me enjoying vegetarian food immensely!
When you least expect it, the Father surprises us. In our Faith sharing, a grandmother,  who had raised eight children herself on a dairy farm, spoke to us from the heart saying,

When I was a young Mum I wish I knew the loving God I know intimately now instead of the strict and judging God I passed onto my children."

Family Groups do change lives.

August 3, 2012

A Moment in the Sun - and with the Son

I was on the veranda of an Italian farmhouse deep in the woods of rural Duffy’s Forest. It was a crisp morning with the sun warming us and the birds at their prayers. I had just anointed and given Pietro, 97, and Rosa, 83, the Holy Oils and Communion along with Edda, my faithful Italian translator.
We sat in silence and all were praying to the Master of our hearts. Pietro, who had lived and suffered even false imprisonment in his native Italy, been through the War in Italy and struggled as a refugee here, was quietly praying. His time on this Earth was numbered in days and yet he sat in the sun at peace with all, especially his Lord.
All was peaceful and God was close at hand. At that moment that is all I wanted to be.  A servant of these faithful, hard-working people of God.

July 18, 2012

New Team member joins NSW Directing Team

From June 2012, Catherine Boulton, commenced working with NSW Director, Mary Ingham, at the offices in Grace Cottage.
Catherine has been involved with Family Groups since 1972 as the daughter of  Mary & Leo Ingham, Leaders back then of one of the very first Family Groups, based at St. Anthony in the Fields, Terrey Hills.
Catherine brings years of experience and exuberance to the NSW team. Over the coming months Catherine will be assisting Mary and her Regional Teams throughout NSW.
PFGM Directors 2012
In June Catherine met all the Australian PFGM Directors at their Annual Meeting in Melbourne at Holy Cross, Templestowe.

July 12, 2012

Only One White Flower

A reflection by Fr. Peter McGrath C.P.

Desperate for a coffee, crossing the busy road quickly, I was halted at the curb. There in front of me was the green hedge of the coffee shop and just one white flower.

A dismissive voice behind me “only one white flower!”. It came from an old man also braving the crossing. I reflected “Only one white flower…  Only one white flower in all that green!”

A memory came to me. There was a time millions of years ago on our evolving planet when there was the first flower that ever bloomed, all alone in a world of green. One flower to be followed by so many that changed the world forever.

It would be only when humans walked the earth that those flowers would touch the hearts and the spirit of mankind, bringing a beauty, grace and peace beyond all measure.Here before me was the symbol of it all. Just one white flower.

My mind switched tracks and I thought of that African motto “It takes a whole village to raise one child”.

Again I was reminded of the vital importance of our little Family Group Movement.

May 11, 2012

The Toppling Wave of Hope

What is HOPE? 
I remember attending a Jesuit Retreat at Canisius College some 40 years ago and the Retreat Director made this poetic metaphor
Each of us rides the toppling wave of Hope”.  
This has lived with me all these years in the back roads of my mind. While more and more seeing myself as a cork bobbing up and down in the breaking waves, I’ve come to see a great difference between Hope and Optimism.
Having twice seen, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, I delighted in the lunatic hotel manager, formerly of Slum Dog Millionaire. “Yes, yes. I am so terribly sorry that the room has no door, the window will not open and the shower has fallen on your head. These are catastrophes. However, my Uncle said to me that all will be well in the end. So this is not the end!!”  Unbridled Optimism. It’s only when Maggie Smith, the movie’s supreme English Racist, takes over the management that Hope enters.

The distinction between Hope and Optimism could not be better portrayed. Optimism is the belief that somehow, somewhere, sometime, things will get better. Whereas, Hope is the energy and result that we find within ourselves, in our very guts, to do something about the situation, well aware of the apparent impossibilities and challenges that lie ahead. Hope is active, whereas Optimism is passive.

This is true about the present situation of the Institutional Church and during the past decades of the Vatican Council there was plenty of Optimism, now there is only Hope. That’s where this meeting of our PFGM is so vital. We are given the gift of Hope, as Jesus was in His Ministry when everything was going against Him, and even the Father was silent. There was still the Hope of the Resurrection when the Father raised the Son into Light and Life.