Third Years at Islamic Cultural Centre

On Thursday 15th November, 3A1 and 3A2 visited the mosque in Clonskeagh. It was most informative and very enjoyable to learn about Islamic culture, beliefs, traditions.

Mr Selim was our guide and before we went into the mosque, he showed us some pictures in the hallway. Using the pictures, he spoke to us about the three Islamic holy shrines in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Before he brought us into the mosque, we removed our shoes and Mr Selim asked us to stand in silence for ten seconds and think about the room we were about to enter. We sat in an orderly way on the floor of the mosque. Mr Selim explained the different features of the mosque including the way in which Muslims pray, the times of prayer, the five pillars and the Qu’ran.

After that we went to a conference room where Mr Selim showed us a video on the contribution made by Islamic scientists and inventors over the centuries. Then there was a question and answer session where students asked anything else they needed to know about Islam.

As well as being educational and enjoyable, the students were models of good behaviour. Well done to them all.

Remembering Our Dead

All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) are annual reminders to remember, honor, and celebrate the dead. Today these ancient observances are overshadowed by Halloween. However, the ritual of consciously remembering loved ones who have passed is an important spiritual practice in all our lives. It brings death into the context of our daily experience and reminds us that dying is not the end.

The community of Gormanston College – students, families, staff, and all connected with the school hold close to their heart a dear friend, wonderful student, beloved family member who passed away during the summer. November gives us a chance to remember the joy of Cian Maloney and to pray for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of his family, his friends, his teachers who miss him deeply.

Many religions and cultures remember the dead on the anniversary of the death. Since that date may bring back painful memories of a passing, some prefer to remember their departed loved ones in November or on their birthdays. Here are some of the practices that could be meaningful.

Light a candle.We can choose a candle in a colour that reminds us of the person. As we light it, we say a prayer of thanks to God for our memories of this loved one. During the day, as we look up from our work at the flickering flame, we recall the blessing this person was in our lives.

Make a donation.One way to signal that you still feel connected to someone who has died is to make a donation to a cause he or she supported. You give money to a church, school, local service organization, or favourite charity.

Find something to remember them by.The inspiration for this practice comes from the Bible account of Jesus’ disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were joined by a stranger whom they did not recognize as Jesus until they stopped to eat and he broke the bread for their meal. They knew him in that act; it was something he had given them earlier to remember him by. So for a close loved one, there may be an act, a saying, a song, a place, an object that helps us to remember that person.

When we think back on our relationships with people who have died, we can find something to remember each of them by. Other common triggers to memory are a favorite song, a particular recipe, a certain type of weather, a special fragrance, a piece of jewelry. Each creates a feeling of connection beyond the grave.

This year on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and during the month of November, make a list of your departed loved ones and find one act, one object, one gift that can be your remembrance for each of them as you go about your daily life in the year ahead. This simple spiritual practice becomes an expression of gratitude, wonder, and your continuing love.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Camino Prep Hike 1: Slieve Donard

Robert, Kate, Jake, Joe, Adam and Eoin turned up bright and early for the first Camino practice hike today. Meeting in Gormanston at 9am, unsure of the weather conditions that lay ahead, we hopped on the bus and arrived at Donard Park Newcastle Co Down just before 11am. In wet and drizzly conditions we wrapped up and began the steep but varied ascent. The first section of the climb was tricky underfoot as we crossed over the river Glen a couple of times amidst beautiful spruce and pine forest. We then reached an open stretch with the river on our left, the forest on our right, an ocean view behind us and Slieve Donard hidden from sight, but lying in wait ahead of us. We crossed over the river again using delightful stepping stones and the ascent to the saddle between Donard and Commedagh was steep and rocky. Nothing could stop those superhuman fifth years who made it to the saddle as a mere mortal huffed and puffed twenty minutes behind. At the saddle where the Mourne Wall stretches right and left, we met some hikers on their descent who tipped us off to the snow that covered the summit. Mist and fog rolled around us making it difficult to know how far the summit was from us. The intrepid Gormo hikers zoomed up to the top and waited for the last member of the party to arrive. The snow was glistening and the wind was both freezing and forceful so even though it was a fun and exhilarating experience, we did not hang around. The descent was far easier on the lungs and the muscles than the uphill climb had been. Robert and Eoin reached Donard Park first but still came back without any seeming effort to meet the stragglers.

These students are well on their way to being more than mentally and physically prepared for the Camino Pilgrimage next March. To be fair, their physical fitness was never in question (not like that of the organiser of the hike!!)

Here’s a slideshow with some photos from a great day with very cheerful and happy hikers:

Slieve Donard 2.11.12