Paul O'Reilly SJ

Winter Sun from Unsplash.com
Prepare a way for the Lord,make his paths straight.Every valley will be filled in,every mountain and hill be laid low,winding ways will be straightenedand rough roads made smooth. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.There were four of us in our noviceship - Matthew, Chris, Tony and myself. And in the summer of 1999, just after we had all been ordained and were about to be sent our separate ways, we all decided to have a reunion. And it happened that this was the time of a total...
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“Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.'”There are many parts of the Mass that I love, but there is one moment in our Eucharist that I have now come to love as much as any of them - it is that moment when - as part of our Offertory procession - a member of the congregation, one of the people of God,  brings up to the altar, along with the bread and wine, the Petitions Book. Along with the...
Credit: John Stephen Dwyer
“So you are a King, then."Pilate’s problem is that – like most of us – he has never actually met a King before. So Jesus does not fulfil his expectations of what a King should look like, act like, be like. And so, like many of us, Pilate fails to recognise genuine authority when he meets it. For him, a King is a bit like a governor – a bit like himself – only bigger. That is one of the commoner mistakes we all make about God – we think of Him like ourselves, with much the same likes and...
Branch in the Sunshine by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash.com
“Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.”One of the things I have to do from time to time in my work as a doctor is to tell someone they are going to die.Well, in one way, that is no great surprise. Sooner or later, we are all going to die. And we will all die of something. But it always comes as a shock to anyone to know that they now have the disease which will probably kill them.Telling someone that he is going...
Pegs hanging out on a clothes line
‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’The year I was ordained, they put me into a parish in North London. I was young, keen and enthusiastic, so they thought they had better put me somewhere safe, where I couldn’t do too much damage.And when I arrived, I unpacked and the first thing I did was to...
Love Thy Neighbour
          “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your might... and you must love your neighbour as yourself.”When I worked in the Amazon in South America, I met a young lad called Jonathan and heard his story.When he was ten, his mother died. Three months later, his father abandoned him and his two sisters, emigrated to a rich country and was never heard of again. The three children were taken...
A wise old man's face with glasses
When I was working in the Amazon in South America, we had a lot of people come in to us with eye problems. Many of them just had simple things like short- or long-sightedness and we could help them with eyeglasses. Doubtless for good genetic reasons, there was one particular Amerindian tribe – the Wapisana – who had a very high prevalence of presbyopia – long-sightedness in old age. And that meant that in that whole tribe, almost no-one over the age of thirty could see within hand-distance. And...
Where there's tea there's hope
'If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, they will most certainly not lose their reward.'As you may know, I come from Northern Ireland, which is – or at least used to be - a very divided community between two sorts of people who, for very long and complicated historical, political, social, economic and even religious reasons, find it very hard to share one country. One race is called the nationalists - to which I happen to belong...
Kindertransport bronze statue in Liverpool Street Station, London
“Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”If you go to Liverpool Street Station and you happen not to be in a terrible hurry to catch your train (or like me, know that you have already missed it), you may notice, tucked away in an unobtrusive little corner, a sculpture in bronze of two small sad looking children - a boy and a girl - and a large suitcase.And then you can look at it for quite a...
Athlete gets a false start on the running track
I once knew a professional athlete. She was a 100 metres runner. At the age of 28, she was coming towards the end of her 10-year career. To maintain her sport, she worked five days a week and trained seven evenings a week. Her only time off was going shopping on Saturday mornings and going to church on Sunday mornings. She ate nothing – absolutely nothing - that was not on her diet sheet. She never went to parties, or discos. She never had a boyfriend and did not expect either to get married or...

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