Paul O'Reilly SJ

Parent holding baby's hand
We all know that if something is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. We’ve all been fooled at some time and none of us wants to be fooled again.Most people have more sense than to believe things that cannot possibly be true. Things like, if you have seen a man killed before your own eyes, seen him dead, you are not going believe that he is alive, well and going around doing miracles unless you see at least the same quality of evidence put before you. That’s why all of...
Close up of an older mans' face - by Neill Kumar on Unsplash
A long time ago when I was a hospital doctor – long before I became a priest, and if I’m honest, when I was not necessarily at my most Christian – I once knew an old man called Harry who taught me, if not the meaning of life, then the meaning of his life.I happened to be the doctor on call when Harry came into our hospital very ill with what is called a femoral embolus. That means that the main artery in his leg had been blocked by a blood clot, so that his leg had lost its blood supply and was...
Father teaches his young son to ride a bicycle
I was told this one by one of the fathers in a Parish where I used to work - I’ll call him Tom.He told me that many times in his life, his own father had told him that one of the happiest days of his entire life had been the day he taught Tom to ride a bicycle. A small thing perhaps, but to Tom’s Dad, it symbolised everything that he had hoped to pass on to Tom in wisdom and wealth. It was a symbol - a brief encapsulating vignette - of everything fatherhood had meant to him.Tom loved and...
A man clutches his ice cream
I am sure that, this morning, as soon as we awoke, all of us had just one major concern in our minds – would Ireland beat England at Twickenham this afternoon?When I was very young, my mother’s most annoying favourite saying was: “Offer it up for the Holy Souls in Purgatory”. Usually she said it to me when I was filled with righteous indignation at some major injustice that had been perpetrated against me – such as an unequal division of the ice cream. It is not, you understand, that I could...
Bread and Flowers from Unsplash
We believe that men and women do not live by bread alone, but by the presence and goodness of God in our lives.Two of my oldest friends are called Charlie and Sarah. They married about fifteen years ago. And, quite quickly they had two children, called Eddie and David. Then, about four years after they married, just when they had settled down comfortably to live happily ever after, Sarah developed a cancer of the brain. She suffered great pain and frequently she could not eat. And Charlie made...
A girl bends forward towards a flower bush
Have you ever been entrusted with a sacred responsibility?I remember the day somebody first gave me a job. It was when I was about six. My grandfather had a clothes shop in Omagh in Ireland. And my job on Saturday mornings was to watch my grandfather serve customers in the shop. And then when one of them bought something my grandfather would take the money from the customer, write the receipt and very solemnly hand both to me. It was then my solemn responsibility to carry the money and the...
Photo by Bill Williams on unsplash.com
Happy New Year! - I think it’s still not too late to hope!So, actually, how exactly do you turn water into wine?Just about this time a year ago, I was asked that question by a small boy at the back of a church a little way from here. He obviously felt that, being a priest, and having just preached on the topic I was supposed to know about these things.Playing for time, I asked him why he wanted to know and he said that he wanted to know because he wanted to be able to do it himself.‘Oh’, I said...
Pope Francis Meme
So, how are the New Year’s resolutions getting on?Well, maybe better we just don’t go into that.As it happens, the Church has a new year’s resolution given us by our Holy Father. It is one of Mercy – to bring reconciliation into the life of every single person we can.Of all things that I ever do in my life, I believe that the most useful to humanity, is hearing confessions. I think there is no suffering, no pain, no anguish in life that is greater than guilt – the knowledge deeply felt of all...
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool footballer prays on the pitch
“Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”I wonder if anybody here has been following the football. If you have, you will know that my team, Liverpool, haven’t really been doing all that well. In fact it would not be too much to say that this season so far has probably been the worst ever performance by a Liverpool team in the history of the Premiership. It has already cost our manager, Brendan Rodgers, his job.But what struck me was the reason that...
God has a bigger plan for me than I have for myself
“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.”A few years ago, I walked into a Church and I found that there was a little service going on. So I sat down at the back and joined in. It was the reception into the Church of a young woman. It was a very nice ceremony and afterwards the people gathered for tea and biscuits in the presbytery. And I got to talk to her.Being – as you all know - the shy retiring sort, my first question was: “why did you want...

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