The Best Is Yet

To Come


"Did she go to heaven Father?"

Mollie asked.

"Asha, like a shootin' star my dear",


Maggie Barry's neat cottage in the golden vale of Ballyrally  boasted two red front doors.   The outer one just four feet high, and ever off the latch, enabling her to see and call the locals at the pump, for a hot cup of tea.   Her rich, sonorous, Irish brogue filling the morning as she welcomed one and all.  Hers was a character that was inimitable,intense,witty, exuberant and deeply sensitive to human need.  

It was more than obvious that Maggie had entered what Father Tom called  

'The Illuminated Way'.  

 Nobody knew  for sure what that phrase meant but it sounded really grand.  It was common knowledge that Maggie forgave instantly, loved spontaneously and was never, ever hostile towards anyone.   Sure, wasn't the half-door ever open to friend and foe alike and to the vandal incursions of the village children bringing pets.  Didn't she throw a party to welcome the foreigners from Malta when all the neighbours were invited to join- in, in her big feast.  Hadn't Fr. Tom said when Paddy died, that the word


 was her special gift which she used for The Lord

'to her level best'.

Even when things were not going her way, Maggie radiated love and benevolence galore and was quick to assure us that heaven was filled with saints who invariably said

'Thy Will be done'

and hell with folk who said

'My will be done!'.

She would end the conversation by quoting Charles Wesley :

Faith mighty faith the promise sees/ and rests on that alone / laughs at impossibilities / and says 'It will be done!'

Despite her nobility of character, Maggie had her share of detractors and it was been well said by Blessed Fulton Sheen:  "The world has room only for the ordinary, never the very good or the very bad.  The good are a reproach to the mediocre and the bad are a disturbance".

Maggie was not the ordinary. 

A tiny woman of fey appearance with absurdly blue eyes which were younger than the Springtime, and a face that was a cobweb of amused lines, the quality which surrounded her like an effulgence was her forthright honesty.  She had thought deeply, read widely, and lived intensely, resulting in a mind which was a storehouse of wholesome lore. There wasn't a wisp of grey in her thinking.  Her heart was as pure as the snowdrops that dotted Long Tom's Top Boreen.  Nothing demands more speed "she would say, as the need of others".  "Take whatever God gives she would tell us, and give whatever God takes and never, ever quit before sorrow.  Don't leave until the miracle happens"!

A chair was immediately pulled out the minute Packy arrived - just in time for 'the dinner'.  He, it was, who supplied the village with monthly rations of palm-olive soap, luxflakes, Gibbs and Euthymol toothpaste, Pond's cream, brasso, rinso, Jeyes fluid, shoe and boot laces, candles, matches, woodbine cigarettes, cut-plug tobacco, beeswax and Nugget shoe polish, Goddard's plate polish, Enos fruit salt, barmbracks, boiled sweets, snuff, peggy's legs, drumsticks, Kleeve's toffee, blackjacks, kerrycreams, bull's eyes, conversational lozenges and very secretly - a jar of poitin.   " Keep your forks folks" - she would shout, "the best is yet to come" as she hobbled off to the black oven which swung over a roaring turf fire and which contained a rhubarb or apple tart dripping with juice and smothered in smooth custard or sharp carrageen- moss blancmange. 

Dark was the day when Maggie left for greener pastures. "Did she go to heaven Father?" Mollie asked. "Asha, like a shootin' star my dear",was his soft reply.  The villagers 'laid her out' in regal style.  She reposed 'neath dozens of her own pink, cabbage roses, a mix of pansies entwined  with verdant mosses from Knockfennel 'just beyond', milky primroses clustered near the gosling's pond in Meehauleen's wee paircin, cowslips clasped with buttercups from his sloping Ruadh Saoidhe with its background blaze of flaming, golden furze, a ring of purple violets jostling for position around the weeping wart well, and every, single bluebell in the Fairy Moat atop his mossy hillock which yet bore the sweet morning dew. Old  Father Tom wound her worn rosary beads around her roughened left hand and in her right, he gently placed a fork.

She wishes she could see to read,

She wishes she could walk, 

This gallant lady, old, infirm

But you should hear her talk.

Though pains and aches

Are here to stay,

She dosen't grouse a bit, 

So long as there's a

roaring fire, 

Before which she can sit.

One must not teach a sermon with his voice, one must preach it with his life.

God looks at our potential and is overjoyed when we use His gifts for His honour and glory.  Sometimes we allow these gifts to remain dormant until He gently taps us on the shoulder as He is doing now.

 Allow me to tell you the story of two elderly Maltese ladies who had the wisdom to meet Him with their hands more than full.  They had baked their way to heaven.

The year was 199O and we were helping two young students who had escaped with their lives from a communist country, having been leaders in a political uprising at their university.

Now in Malta they were safe but were afraid to contact their parents.   After a spell of a few months they were informed that it was necessary for them to leave this country and to find another safe haven.  From this new address they would need an invitation.  By the grace of God we were successful in acquiring this from a family from Durban, whose boat was temporarily moored in the harbour,and who were attending Sunday mass in Saint Paul's Bay.   God was working overtime on their behalf.  Everything went swimmingly until we got the bad news that single tickets to Africa would not be accepted, and it was imperative that we provide return tickets. We needed another £6OO urgently with three days to spare. Our daughter Tara had a brainwave and went straight to Mosta, the next village, to find the 'ladies who baked buns for charity' and the rest is history as the saying  goes. 

Aldo went on to qualify in medicine and wrote twice to us since then, and Ivan became an engineer, but we never heard from him since the day he left.

May the Good Lord guide and protect them both! 


"Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to REFUSE to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others.  All of us have received spiritual and material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God'd plan, for the good of the Church and for personal salvation.  The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance, inevitably regress".   Pope Benedict XV1. 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen has this to say:

"Often those who complain that they receive 'no breaks' in life are the very ones who have not utilized their gifts.  It is true that there is a diversity of talents, some being given ten, others five, and others only one; but condemnation in the Gospel is meted out only to him who does not make returns on his gift. This is because we are not merely receptive beings; we  are also active.  The tree yields its fruit , the air ministers to life by passing through the lungs.  Nature knows no arresting hand, no selfhood.

The muscle that is not used atrophies.   In the Gospel, he who is perpetually condemned is the one who does nothing with his gifts. It was so in the case of the priest and the Levite who passed by the wounded man on the road from  Jerusalem to Jerico. It was so of the rich man, of whom no ill was recorded except that a beggar lay at his gate full of sores, and yet no man gave him to eat;  it was true of the servant who hid in a napkin the talent committed to him, and also of the unprofitable servant who had only done what was his duty to do.  A man plants a tree so that it might bring forth fruit.   The tree in the Gospel which bore no fruit was cut down because it only cumbered the ground.   God EXPECTS RETURNS for His great and wonderful  investments in us.  The condemned man is the negative man who gives way to the inertia of the moment, follows the line of least resistance, remains stunted , starved and pointless to society".  

"The greatest among you must be your servant"

(Matthew 23-1-12).  

 " Each one of us is asked for a total readiness to follow Christ, who 'came not to be served but to serve'. To serve; to be a person for others."I bid every one of you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned to him"

( Romans 12 - 3 ). Saint Paul adds :

'Having gifts that differ '

(Rom. 12-6). 



You need to


 the gifts God has granted you in Christ.  It is necessary to know well the gift you have received , in order to give it to others, to contribute to the common good.  


You need to perceive well the gifts God has granted you in Christ.  You need to know well the gift you have received in the very experience of family and parish, in working together with others in associations and in the charismatic flourishing of movements, so as to be able to give it to others: thus to enrich the communion and missionary thrust of the Church, to be witnesses of Christ in your neighbourhood and school, in the university and factory, in places of work and recreation, contribute to the common good , as servants of experiences of growth in humanity, of dignity and solidarity... This is what the apostle teaches.  What he says is not just a mere teaching ,but a fervent call .  "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection and outdo one another in showing honour.  


 be aglow with the spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and


(Romans 12:9- 13). Homily of Pope John Paul 11 Santiago de Compostela, August 2O, 1989.

The message for Lent 2O12 from Pope Benedict XV1 :

...sadly there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others. All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God's plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation.The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance, inevitably regress.  Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, to-day as timely as ever, to aim for the "high standard of ordinary Christian living"  (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31).  The wisdom of the Church in recognising and proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints, is also meant to inspire others to imitate their virtues.  St. Paul exhorts us to "anticipate one another in showing honour".  (  Romans 12-1O). 

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works.  This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing. 

 You never stand so tall, as when you bend to lift someone up!   Praise God!

Anita kilbride-Jones,


Saint Paul's Bay,


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