21st March

For some time here in Ireland there has been a series of dire news reports about Mother & Baby Homes of the last century which were setup for unwed mothers and their children. These were ran by religious orders and grave questions were raised about the Church’s accountability for their mismanagement. I have been asking myself: Was it all that bad? My usual sense of such media reporting is that it is calculated to show the Church in the worst possible light. Thus there are other perspectives that need to be considered to get a fuller picture of what actually happened.

Below are two newsletter articles I wrote on the Mother & Baby Homes controversy.

Mother & Baby Homes: Two recent articles from the Irish Catholic and Catholic Voice are important contributions to a wider, fairer and more informed debate about the happenings in these homes. They are available for download and viewing at these links https://1drv.ms/b/s!Alb1xoBeKkVogkZbmI_9DnMUZfBJ https://1drv.ms/b/s!Alb1xoBeKkVogkXEwHKsedagjAAz. Copies are also available in the sacristy. The articles make a number of points: (a) The high mortality rates were influenced by poverty and the easy spread of infectious diseases within an institution – this in a time prior to antibiotics; (b) It discusses Irish cultural values of the times which were largely influenced by Victorian morality and sense of respectability. There may be an element of blaming (scape-goating) the Bon Secours sisters for the wider failings of Irish society; (c) Whatever the previous uses of the underground tanks, it is possible that they were rededicated as burial crypts. An example is given of disused tunnels in Paris being reused in this way. There is currently no evidence that internments were done without due respect; (d) We cannot judge an earlier time in history entirely from our present perspectives. Would we have done things differently if we had been present in these earlier situations? Pending the full outcome of the inquiry, there is no denying that the Church shares in the overall culpability for what happened in these places.

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Recently we have been hearing the sorry accounts of how unwanted children of the near past have been treated by Irish society and particularly in Mother and Baby homes: forced adoptions, high mortality rates, burials in unmarked and mass graves, being treated as second class citizens, etc. What about the fate of unwanted children today? One common solution is their deliberate and mass killing by abortion. Some 180,000 have perished in foreign abortion clinics since the late 1960s; about 4,000 are killed annually. Their remains are given far less dignity than burial in unmarked graves (without going into the sorry details!). Now the powers that be in politics and media want to legalise this killing in our own country by removing the Eight Amendment. When something is legalised, it becomes among other things more culturally acceptable. Too bad that these powers that be cant see that unwanted babies in the womb might be worth a second class status that would at least ensure their right to life.

 

 

20th March – Solemnity of St Joseph

Today we celebrate the solemnity of St Joseph – foster father of Jesus, spouse of Our Ladyst joseph worker and patron of the universal Church. The intercessions for Morning Prayer invite us to imitate St Joseph – his faith and cooperation with God’s plan for his life. Read them slowly and apply them to your life.

Whatever we do or say, let us do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Lord, hear us.

As Joseph believed what you had told him, and became the guardian of your only Son:

  so may we put our faith in you, and receive the fulfilment of your promise.

Lord, hear us.

Father, give us that faith which gives substance to our hopes,

  and make us certain of realities we do not see.

Lord, hear us.

Joseph took the child Jesus into his care, loving and accepting him as his own Son:

  may we accept all that God gives us, and care for those entrusted to us.

Lord, hear us.

You have given man authority over the work of your hands and invited him to share in your creation:

  help us to accept our responsibility by working for your glory and the good of all mankind.

Lord, hear us.

 

 

19th March – 3rd Sunday in Lent (A)

woman at wellThere is so much to be spoken about in today’s gospel where  Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. One point I raised in my homily is that all of us are meant as Christians to have a real personal encounter with Jesus in this life – not just in the next life at the Final Judgement. This should be a fundamental expectation of ours! Jesus came back from the dead and is truly alive in his Body, the Church. He is accessible through the gift of faith and more generally, the gifts of prayer, the sacraments, the Word, one another, the poor, nature, etc. When we truly encounter the Lord as did the Woman at the Well he gives us LIVING WATER; the HOLY SPIRIT; the Lord, the giver of Life. This in turn leads of conversion and transformation so that we can truly experience what it is to be ‘born again’.

Yesterday morning during breakfast I was reading in Catholic Voice an article by Deacon Nick Donnelly about why Catholics lose their faith. (It can be downloaded and read from this link https://1drv.ms/b/s!Alb1xoBeKkVogkjxpD7sG4JJ5_o- .) This section below is particularly relevant to our expectations of a faith encounter with Jesus.

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18th March

Today was a special day for our parish as the children preparing for first Holy Communion made their first confession.

Medjugorje Message of March 2nd

our lady queen of peaceDear children, with motherly love I am coming to help you to have more love and that means more faith. I am coming to help you to live with love the words of my Son, so that the world would be different. Therefore, apostles of my love, I am gathering you around myself. Look at me with the heart, speak to me as to a mother about your pains, sufferings and your joys. Ask me to pray to my Son for you. My Son is merciful and just. My motherly heart would desire for you also to be like that. My motherly heart would desire that you, apostles of my love, speak of my Son and of me to all those around you with your life; so that the world would be different; that simplicity and purity would return; that faith and hope would return. Therefore, my children, pray, pray, pray with the heart, pray with love, pray with good works. Pray that everyone would come to know my Son, so that the world would change, that the world would be saved. With love live the words of my Son. Do not judge, instead love one another so that my heart could triumph. Thank you.

17th March – Solemnity of St Patrick

StPatrick2Today is the solemnity of our national patron St Patrick. When I was in seminary, our history professor said that it is difficult to separate fact from legend in dealing with such a bygone  age. Apparently even the link between St Patrick and his use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity can only be traced back to written records of the 1600s. The only two authentic sources we have for Patrick is his autobiographical CONFESSIONS OF ST PATRICK and a letter he wrote to a slave trader on behalf of one of his flock.

Below is an excerpt from Patrick’s CONFESSIONS that appears in the Office of Readings. It speaks about his great gratitude to God for his many blessings; his sense of being enfolded by God’s providential plan for his life; that he has offered his life completely to God. Ponder it prayerfully.

I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trials. I can say now: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling, that you worked through me with such divine power? You did all this so that today among the Gentiles I might constantly rejoice and glorify your name wherever I may be, both in prosperity and in adversity. You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God. God showed me how to have faith in him for ever, as one who is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel, bearing witness to all nations.

How did I get this wisdom, that was not mine before? I did not know the number of my days, or have knowledge of God. How did so great and salutary a gift come to me, the gift of knowing and loving God, though at the cost of homeland and family? I came to the Irish peoples to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.

If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favour. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many peoples should be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation and everywhere among them clergy ordained for a people so recently coming to believe, one people gathered by the Lord from the ends of the earth. As God had prophesied of old through the prophets: The nations shall come to you from the ends of the earth, and say: “How false are the idols made by our fathers: they are useless.” In another prophecy he said: I have set you as a light among the nations, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.

Responsory

℟. God has given me this special grace: he has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans,* and so make them acceptable as an offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

℣. I offer God the humble service of my spirit by preaching the Good News of his Son to the pagans,* and so make them acceptable as an offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

 

Here is a link to St Patrick’s Breastplate which expresses his essential spirituality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DONuyLwWPaY

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St. Patrick Drives the Snakes Out of Ireland

 

16th March

I have been negligent in not bringing to your attention the novena that is in progress to St Joseph, perhaps the most beloved saint after Our Lady. His solemnity is being celebrated this year on Mon March 20th (moved from March 19th which is the Third Sunday of Lent). If you begin today, then the middle of the novena (Day 5) will fall on his feast day.

St. Joseph Novena Prayers

St-Joseph-Guido-600x402Saint Joseph, you are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I come to you as an example for holiness, for you are especially close with God. Therefore, I humbly commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, pray for me to have a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request)

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers on my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

Day 1 – St. Joseph Most Just, Pray for us!
Day 2 – St. Joseph Most Prudent, Pray for us!
Day 3 – St. Joseph Most Loving Husband, Pray for us!
Day 4 – St. Joseph Most Strong, Pray for us!
Day 5 – St. Joseph Most Obedient, Pray for us!
Day 6 – St. Joseph Most Faithful, Pray for us!
Day 7 – St. Joseph Pillar of Families, Pray for us!
Day 8 – St. Joseph Patron of the Dying, Pray for us!
Day 9 – St. Joseph Terror of Demons, Pray for us!

Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.