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Fr Paddy: Harvest Thanksgiving

Time seems to be moving extremely quickly. It’s hard to believe that August has arrived.

This is a wonderful time of year when harvest begins to be gathered, a time which evokes a deep sense of gratitude, that what has being planted, now produce rich fruit. Recently, Pope Francis, highlighted the very important role, that grandparents, play in the lives of every family.

Like a rich harvest, they have spent their lives nourishing and encouraging the fruit of their love. Grandparents, have the gift of both time and wisdom. Grandparents inspire a younger generation who benefits by their love example and faith. I pray in gratitude for all grandparents alive or gone before us.

Even though we are still in holiday season, the Celtic festival of Lughnasadh heralds the beginning of early harvest. Marking the cross-quarter day between Summer solstice on June 21st and Autumn equinox on September 21st, it is traditionally held on 1st August, though some of the celebrations in recent centuries have shifted to the Sundays nearest this date.

As one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, Lughnasadh heralds the commencement of Autumn followed by Samhain and winter, Imbolg and Spring then Bealtaine and Summer.

Lughnasadh itself is named after Lugh, an Irish God called samildanach (pronounced sam-ill-dawn-ack), meaning he was highly adept in many arts simultaneously.

There are countless inscriptions and statues dedicated to him and Julius Caesar himself commented on his importance to the Celtic people.

There is something very fulfilling eating fresh vegetables that you have nurtured, cultivated with your own hands. As we celebrate the beginning of harvest time, once again we are reminded of God’s bounty, when it comes the harvest.

In Celtic times, this season of Lunasa was an occasion of thanksgiving. The Celtic people burnt huge fires, danced and celebrated many rituals, as they thanked God, for the food and sustenance that nourished them as they faced the darker and more vulnerable months of the year. Harvest time is indeed a time of rich blessing, a time to gather all that has been planted and cared for since the early spring.

There can be no harvest without all the necessary tilling, planting, pruning, weeding and nourishing that accompany any fruit that ripens into something good and nourishing.

Perhaps this harvest time is an opportunity for us all, to acknowledge the fruits that we all have in the depth of our being. Fruits that take a lot of time to grow and mature into the beautiful personality and unique qualities that are particular to all our stories.

The gift of Grandparents who embody the story of every harvest. Parents who respond so generously to the needs of their children.

Parenting I’m sure in many ways could be likened to tending the needs of the vineyard, it is constant, demanding, most challenging and in many ways totally dependent on the unconditional generosity and reservoir of love, that provides for the needs of family life.

I am often truly inspired by the time and indeed sacrifices that so many wonderful parents, so often make for their children, in order to allow them to grow and realise the best possible harvest for their family. No fruit or talent can realise its potential without effort and work.

Thank you, O Lord, your love is boundless

Thank you, O Lord, your love is boundless,
Thank you, that I am full of you,
Thank you, you make me feel so glad and thankful as I do,
Thank you for all the grains of wheat,
Thank you for all the bread we eat,
Thank you for all the turf we gather,
Thank you, we will have plenty of heat
Thank you for all the ripe bananas,
Thank you for orchards in the field,
Thank you for all the new potatoes,
Thank you for all the beans and peas,
Thank you for all our gifts and talents,
Thank you, we share with those in need,
Thank you I see your world has meaning,
Thank you I know your spirit here,
Thank you because you love all people, those both far and near.

SEE ALSO – Fr Paddy: A guide to prayer

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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.