In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy with some thoughts as we approach the season of Autumn.


There is an old Irish saying ‘the darkest hour comes before the dawn’, that perhaps rings very true to the times we live in. I was reminded by this hopeful sentiment recently, with an early morning phone call, from a lovely couple, announcing with great joy the good news of the healthy and safe arrival of their son Daniel, born after seventeen years of waiting, wanting and yearning to conceive a healthy child.

One of the great gifts of life is the gift of hope. ‘Hope is a living energy, alive and tangible’. Hope helps us to realise that we are not alone, we are necessary, we are part of something great. We belong to something much more than this present moment and every day we can begin again. These days are so often over-shadowed by the grey clouds of fear and uncertainty. There is a crisis of hope. A reality that so often may seem, overwhelming, difficult and brings with it a temptation both to despair and abandon hope. So often we can be consumed by bad news. I suggest that good news is tangible, alive and very real.

Last weeks front page article on this paper, detailed negative news about Bagenalstown Community Games. However, the story of Bagenalstowns’ exceptional and talented young people supported by fantastic parents and volunteers is a much greater good news story. The light is greater than darkness and despite the storm clouds of unemployment, debt, depression, illness and uncertainty we must not abandon hope.

Hope often accompanies the vulnerable moments of life. Some of the most inspiring and uplifting people have the heaviest cross to carry. I recently sat at the bedside of a young man George, who is suffering with Terminal Illness living with Pancreatic Cancer. In the silence and distress of the moment I found his courage and hope truly inspirational, “ I want to live every moment to the full, I want to enjoy life and appreciate all that I have”. Such words gave me a huge wake up call.

Yes we have much to be grateful for. The gift of health allows us to engage indulge and indeed celebrate each moment. Without health we are limited, restrained and lack energy. I’m sure this young man would give everything, despite his acceptance to enjoy good health again. Perhaps the God of creation is also awakening within us renewed appreciation for the abundance of his presence in our midst. This years harvest was abundant in its plenty, for this we must be grateful also. The colours of the autumn season not just reminds us of the coming winter, but awakens within us the hope that in spring time new buds will bring a new season.

To turn the key and open a door, to family and friends where we are loved and welcomed and made feel at home is another reason to hope. No matter what, we have people who support and encourage, who listen and love, who desire for us only good things and through their presence offer us love and genuine friendship.

The greatest challenge of our time, in Irish society is to see beyond the doom and gloom, to raise our eyes to an inspiring hope alive in the generosity, compassion and spirit filled lives of so many good people in all our communities.

‘Spirit of God, loving and free, Spirit of God, flow through me’.