Home Columnists Fr Paddy: Gods wings…….Gives Hope

Fr Paddy: Gods wings…….Gives Hope

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live. I’m reminded of this beautiful psalm..

“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.”
Psalm 91:4

Where there is love there is always a way. A pathway that directs our hearts to soften, compassion and kindness. I was greatly saddened by the plight of victims in Grenfell London.


A horrific fire, whose flames abruptly ended so many lives. One eyewitness account, shared the inspiration of a young mother, who physically threw her baby wrapped in blankets, out of her eighth floor apartment. Miraculously, the infant landed in the arms of rescue fire services on site. The same mam lost her life.

We live in a culture so often starved of hope. We may well be inclined to gravitate to the negative. All we have to do is read a newspaper turn on the news and its contents can indeed overwhelm and depress.

Spiritual Hope, is not a licence to live up in the clouds, or have our heads buried in the sand. Rather it is a sacred confidence that whispers, no matter what, “All will be well” Hope gives wider context and bigger pictures.

Hope sustains us with an awareness we are not alone, God is very near. Hope challenges structures where injustice and selfishness are apparent.

When we connect to the love of God we are inspired to share this love with acts of kindness and love. I’m reminded that the prayer of St. Francis is as relevant today as it was when he first gave birth to this inspiration.

Prayer for hope and peace…

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

An aside, this week I’m delighted that a title I held for the past 16 years … has been passed to our newly ordained and soon curate in Portlaoise, Fr David Vard, Kildare and Leighlin’s youngest priest.

I’m really looking forward to sharing ministry with Fr David as he will bring rich blessing and fresh enthusiasm to our parish. May God bless him in his ministry with faith, hope and love.

Fr Paddy Byrne

SEE ALSO – Fr Paddy: Mother Teresa… An icon of love

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Fr Paddy is a curate in the hugely vibrant Portlaoise Parish. From Carlow town, he was educated in Carlow CBS and studied Business and Politics in Trinity College Dublin before training to be a priest in Carlow College. He is the youngest priest in the Kildare & Leighlin diocese and writes for a number of media outlets. He has almost 14,000 followers on Twitter.