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Encouraging Words

Author(s): Jill Sheehan

ISBN13: 9781853909573

ISBN10: 1853909572

Publisher: Veritas Warehouse - Ballycoolin D 11

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  • Jill Sheenans Encouraging Words have appeared in Intercom magazine for the past seven years, offering opportunities for reflection for lay and religious readers alike. Whether you are new to Jills writing or are already familiar with those Intercom pieces, this collection provides thoughtful and heartfelt reflections for times of joy and trouble.

    As we face the day-to-day challenges that life throws at us, Jill reminds us that a few well-chosen encouraging words can make our journey that littl ebit easier. She also emphasises the importance of remembering the love that God has for us, of appreciating the blessings we have received, of remembering the word Thanks, of being a cheerful giver and of using our hears for love.

    Encouraging words, with its simple but significant message of optimism and appreciation for what life offers, makes a perfect bedside book and encourages us to act with the courage, charity and kindness needed to filfil our calling as Christians.

  • Jill Sheehan



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    Jill Sheehan offers a chance for reflection by lay and religious readers alike, for times of joy and for times of trouble. It offers a simple but significant message of optimism and appreciation of what life has to offer.

    - Bookshelf, 2006

    Short pieces that aim to encourage hope at difficult times. These were published as a series in Intercom magazine, and the pocket-sized book is handy for inspirational browsing.

    - Books Ireland

    Jill Sheehan s reflections will be familiar to the readers of Intercom (the national priests magazine). Now collected into a little book they should reach a wider audience. Each piece runs to a couple of pages, just enough to provide a thought to carry the reader through the day. A thought such as: I realise that I can be God s messenger by staying close to the small, weak, vulnerable child that is within. The Christ-child is within us. Discovering it gives us reason to truly rejoice.

    - The Irish Catholic, Feb 2006

  • Chapter One

    1.
    Many years ago a friend told me I should take up writing. His suggestion amazed me. When eventually I put a blank sheet into the typewriter, I could not imagine that I had anything to say that had not already been said better by someone else. I had a fear of expressing what was in my mind and heart. My fears often made me delay or even abandon my writing plans.

    Every time I write, I overcome these fears and trust not only my own unique way of being in the world, but also my ability to give words to it. This gives me a deep spiritual satisfaction.

    What I am gradually discovering is that in the writing, I come in touch with the Spirit of God within me and experience how I am led to new places. Writing does not come easy but it reveals what is alive in me. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.

    Writing requires an act of trust, because we do not yet know whats in our hearts. We hope it will emerge as we write. Once we dare to put on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in contact with our own riches. I owe a deep gratitude to the Lord for this gift.

    2.
    At the start of each spring, taking one day at a time, its good to reflect on the following, from the pen of an Indian wise man:

    I slept and I dreamed that life was joy.
    I woke and saw that life was but service.
    I served and understood that service was joy.

    Christs apostles werent able to watch one hour with him. Their intentions were good but the frailties of the body betrayed them and they slept while Jesus endured his agony. Many people have had the same experience that Christ had - nobody seemed available in time of need. But ordinary people, struggling to contend with their own lives, find it particularly hard to make a commitment outside their own concerns.

    Those who do so, those who manage to stretch themselves to give help and comfort to others in good times and in bad, transcend their ordinariness. And there is hope for the human race when that Christ-like compassion is visible.

    Compassion is the most beautiful of all Gods names.
    Victor Hugo

    3.
    Looking through a calendar produced by the Irish Sisters of Charity for 1999, I was touched by a photo of a smiling little African boy, with a proverb printed under it:

    Happy are those who light fire in the hearts of others.

    Since Christmas I got many opportunities to reflect on this saying, as a special friend of mine - a contemplative Sister - was dying. The news of her approaching death was heartbreaking for me. But she was longing to meet the Lord she loved and served so faithfully.

    Many years have passed since our time together in the Ursuline Convent in Cork. When she died, I thought to myself: no more phone calls or letters from Sheila. But then I thanked the Lord for the fire she lit in my heart, as we shared our love of Jesus and his message, which was so precious.

    Why was Sheila (Sr Jordan) so special in my life? Firstly, because I was conscious that my desire to spread the Word of God was part of her many hours of prayer; secondly, because of her affirmation and joy when the Lord used me to show His love; and lastly because of her sense of humour and deep humanity, and her understanding in difficult moments of life.

    I know Sr Jordan will be sadly missed by the sisters in Siena Convent and by all who loved her. Her meeting with Jesus should bring her closer to us all, because her heart was full of love.

    Let us love one another, because the source of love is God.

    4.

    From the moment I knew I had a heart I gave it to God.
    Mary Aikenhead

    This saying of Mary Aikenheads was In my thoughts during the Funeral Mass for Sr Kathleen Murphy (Ursuline, Cork). Unable to be present, I went apart in my home and spent the time in prayer of the heart.

    Kathleen and I met on our first day of boarding school, many years ago. She was great company; we prayed, laughed and studied together. Her decision to enter Blackrock came as no surprise because I knew she had given her heart to God and the Ursuline order. Nothing was impossible to her where the love of the Lord and people were concerned as she travelled far and wide spreading the Good News.

    During my prayer and in the midst of some tears, my eyes were opened to the truth of myself as well as to the truth of God. How precious we are if only we give our hearts to God. In spite of, or because of, the purification experienced in the Church, there are people who open their hearts and give them to God in love of Him and his beautiful message for our challenging times.

    Welcoming Christ in the peace of our nights, in the silence of our days, in the beauty of creation, in the hours of intense inner combat, welcoming him means knowing that he will be with us in every situation always.
    Br Roger

    5.

    Yesterdays gone sweet Jesus,
    And tomorrow may never be mine,
    Lord help me today, show me the way,
    One day at a time.

    A popular author wrote: Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is promised to no one, the only thing you have is right now.

    At some stage of life we all spend time reminiscing about the past. It may bring pleasure or pain. Maybe we enjoy our memories and their associations. But were all products of our past.

    While we have negative emotions about our past, it is a wonderful grace if we accept Gods love in the present so we are able to look back at life so far and say, I can see Gods invisible hand in all that Ive experienced in my life, both the good and the bad.

    Has the inner pain and turmoil of daily living disappeared? No, but the peace, love, hope and trust in the message of the love of Jesus will ease the ache in our hearts as we live out his teaching one day at a time. Christ can only operate in the present. Our true self, that self which is of God, exists not yesterday, not tomorrow, but only today. Loving God is I am, never I was or I will be.

    You show me the path of life,
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures
    for evermore.
    Psalm 16: II


    6.

    What does it matter, 0 Lord, if the future is dark?
    To pray now for tomorrow I am not able.
    Keep my heart only for today,
    give me your protection today,
    grant me your light - just for today.
    St Therese of Lisieux

    Reading this prayer my thoughts turn to the many great, generous women I have met through the years, both religious and lay. They were, and are, caring, compassionate, sensitive and most of all hopeful people.

    Naturally religious women are sad at the lack of vocations. While praying in a convent chapel in Dublin some years ago, an elderly nun called me and said, Will you pray that this chapel be once again filled with young Sisters? It never happened. But Sisters with hope, courage and faith in the Lord left their large convents, are living in small communities and ministering to the needs around them.

    And what about the committed. dedicated laywomen who are working with the elderly. sick. lonely. homeless and who are alive to the injustices in our world? They bring the words of Thomas Merton to fruition in their lives:

    Unless we learn the meaning of mercy by exercising it towards others. we will never have any real knowledge of what it means to love Christ.

    A prayer from Edwina Gateley, who founded the Lay Volunteer Movement:

    My God equally present in darkness as in light, stand by me! Allow me, yes to suffer and be hurt, but not to be broken or destroyed. Allow me to be bruised, but not my spirit to be overcome. I know of suffering and I do not fear it. I only fear my strength to carry it. I ask not to escape from the threat and the pain. I ask that I might carry them.

    With grace, with hope, with love.

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Encouraging Words