In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy  sends his message of hope and renewal as the signs of Spring approach

Recently, I had occasion to be reminded of the importance of generosity and community.

I have no doubt that in our search for meaning and purpose through life, the more we engage, the greater will be our sense of fulfilment and purpose.

On St Stephen’s morning, it was fantastic to witness the energy and enthusiasm at our local turkey trot, organised by Mrs Margerie Holligan, supporting the Carlow-Kilkenny Homecare Team. Families gathered, not just to support a worthy cause, but to share company and friendship on a walk which raised more than €1,000.

Similar events, such as swimming in the River Barrow and charity concerts added greatly to the spirit of positive Ireland, which is so much brighter than the grey economic forecasts for the coming year.

I was greatly privileged and inspired to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary for my friends Tom and Lilly Dermody, Pairc Mhuire, Bagenalstown on 4 January. I marvelled at the wonderful gift that their generosity and love has achieved.

It was a proud moment for all their family, and a positive moment that suggests the good news is always greater than the doom and gloom of fear and uncertainty.

I recently went to visit a lady who was sick in hospital.  No doubt, she was burdened by the pain of illness and being away from family and the familiar.   I brought with me an image for her to find hope. I shared how, in the depths of winter, daffodils were in full bloom in her garden. The image was a powerful one.

The grey clouds of January are not easy.

For so many, the burden of carrying heavy crosses can be felt heavily on their shoulders at this time.  However, with the eyes of hope, we can achieve a more positive perspective that brings with it a sense of renewal and expectation.

I firmly believe that there is a bold and tremendous opportunity to embrace a radical new beginning for us all.

Soon, the signs of a new spring will emerge from our winter soil – may it awaken a spiritual hope within us all.

Fr Peter McVerry recently wrote:

“As Christians, we are called to an Irish spring. We are called to replace a society where relationships are corrupted by greed, possessive individualism, a quest for having rather than being, and the construction of an unbridgeable abyss between those who have and those who have not, with a kingdom of love, of caring and sharing, of solidarity and reaching out to the unwanted, a kingdom over which God can truly reign.”

An ancient wisdom once suggested: “Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time.”

These days are very challenging, yet they contain a marvellous gift. I pray we can see more clearly through the eyes of hope and good news.

Daffodils visit all our gardens to remind us that we are not alone – God is very near.