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St Maria Goretti Novena (Collooney)

On Thursday, July 3rd, I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass during the annual St Maria Goretti Novena in Collooney, Co. Sligo. It’s always lovely to spend a bit of time there and great to see so many familiar faces last night.  Thought I’d share the words spoken last night. (They’re not word for word but hopefully make some bit of sense!!)

“Go out to the whole world, proclaim the good news!”

That is the response to the psalm included in the readings for this feastday of St Thomas.  It seems a bit ambitious for us here this evening in Collooney!  The “whole world” might be a bit far from Carrickbanagher or Ballinabole, Coolaney or Ballisodare, Carraroe or Ballymote …. Surely air tickets would be required for travel – passport, ID, a variety of currencies …. No, the “whole world” is a bit daunting.

We know the advantages of SHOP LOCAL!  so let’s STOP LOCAL!  … who is in your world?  WHO IS YOUR WORLD?  In one of his songs Michael Jackson said if we’re to make the world a better place we must start with the “man in the mirror”.  We must first and foremost begin with the Man, the WOMAN, the child in the mirror – with ME!

How can I proclaim good news to myself?  Do we walk down the street talking to ourselves?  Do we stand in front of mirrors speaking to ourselves?  Do we text, tweet or email the ME that is all of us to share the good news?  Chances are if we did any of these and especially if we spent much time doing any of these, there would be questions to be answered about ourselves and our state of mind.

And yet, there’s room for a bit of self-praise and encouragement.  What could be good news for us this evening?  Good news for the “ME” sitting here in this church?  Maybe the very fact that we’re sitting here, able to sit here, wanting to sit here, believing in sitting here is “good news”.  It seems to say there’s a spirit in us, hope in us – life in us.  There are other places we could be right now.  So “why here” this evening?  What good news can you find in all of this?  The news that is GOOD NEWS – you have Faith!

From there to where?  Back to that question “Who is your world?”  Often, it strikes me, people say that about someone they love – “you are my world” – They’re meaningful words.  What they say is you matter to me and I could not imagine myself without you.  What good news then for that part of your life?  How can you make life easier and better for that person you consider to be your world?  Maybe through repeating the reality – saying again what might not have been said for a while.

We mentioned “shop local” a while ago.  Have you any good news for the lad or girl behind the till in your local shop, post office, hairdresser’s, butcher’s or pub?  “Thank you”, “you’re doing a good job”, “you have a lovely way with you” …. All these and so much more that we could say can bring life to a person, HOPE to a person and that reassurance that their work is not undervalued.

What good news for your parish?  It might well be a word of acknowledgement for the local priest, the choir, the folk group – the one who read at Mass.  Good News comes in many shapes and forms.  What good news for your Parish? The good news that can be delivered in saying “yes” to an invitation to be involved in Ministry, host a Community Mass in your home, do a task that needs doing.   “Not a bad show for a penny”.  Less criticism and more praise.  “That’s not my experience”

Good news is needed.   I once heard of someone who asked a Garda on a quiet country road in the small hours of the night, “where will this road take me?” and he replied “anywhere in the world you want to go” …..  This world that needs “good news” is at your doorstep, down your street and the first step into it and along that road, is the next step you take this evening.

The final word must be kept for Thomas – the man of the moment.  He’s called “Doubting Thomas” and I often think it’s unfair.  He was more than this moment, there’s more to all of us than any single event and yet he shone in this moment of doubt.  He led us to a deeper awareness of how much the Lord wants us to recognise him in the daily living of our lives.  Perhaps Thomas put into words what many were thinking.  Having the courage to add voice to his thoughts he allowed us rise above our own doubts and to acclaim the Risen Jesus as “our Lord and our God”.  It wasn’t the first time Thomas took us to a deeper place.  Remember the time when Jesus said he was going away and added “you know the way to the place where I am going?”  They all stood, tight-lipped and confused but again, Thomas found his voice; “We don’t know where you are going to how can we know the way?”  He was honest, practical and worried.  His words gave us the most reassuring definition of Jesus’ role in our lives – “I am the way, the truth and the life …..”   Now there’s a message – good news – for the world!

Fair play to you Thomas!  Fair play to all of you here tonight.  Fair play to those who have arranged this Novena.  Fair play ….

Good news proclaimed in and to this part of the world!  Ripples in the rock pools …..