2nd August.

The two highlights of today was being able to say Mass for a second time and secondly to visit the grave of Sr Clare Crockett in Derry City. Sr Clare is an inspiration religious sister who died in the missions and has attracted considerable devotion in recent years – and even the report of miracles of healing. Her motto for Christian living was “All or Nothing”.

Below is a photo of her grave followed  by a copy of her prayer card and a 10 video in which she speaks about her conversion from a very worldly way of life. If you are interested in the full length movie (1:24) about her life search on Youtube for Sr Clare Crockett All or Nothing.

Sr Clare Crockett CSr Clare Crockett BSr Clare Crockett A

1st August – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The big thrill of today was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the first time since June 29th. I don’t think there was ever a gap like in the 24 years I’ve been a priest.

Even though I only had a congregation of one – my host – I still gave a homily on the gospel (below). Jesus says: I am the Bread of Life. This is one of Jesus’ seven “I AM” statements in the gospels. When Jesus says that he is the Bread of Life, he is saying that he gives us the strength necessary for spiritual / Christian living. Just as the bread we eat for our breakfast gives us the strength for our daily tasks, so Jesus gives us the strength to be his faithful disciples in the world.

Walk with JesusHow does this spiritual food come into our lives? Later in this gospel Jesus will speak about the Eucharist but in today’s gospel he says:  “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst. We “come” to Jesus, we grow in our faith,  by seeking friendship with him particularly through a life of prayer and the commitment that this prayer involves. Jesus said today  “Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life.” I commended my host on the fact that they get up at 6am every morning to start the day with a holy hour. When they are driving in the car they pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet rather than be listening to pop music or talk shows on the radio. Any relationship involves dedication, hard work and sacrifice – be it with our spouse, children, parents, siblings, good friends, etc. We also have to put “work” into our relationship with Jesus as well.

What does this relationship with Jesus “the Bread of Life” lead to? Ultimately it leads to eternal life as becomes evident in the gospels of the upcoming Sundays. But it also is leads to a renewal of our life whilst on the journey. The Act of Contrition that we teach children nowadays ends with this important line: “Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again”. We cannot live as Jesus did without the strength and power that Jesus gives us.

living-in-Jesus-300x224Living like Jesus (or indeed living IN Jesus) is what St Paul is talking about in today’s second reading. Allow me to repeat the passage from St Paul and ask that you reflect on its contents prayerfully: “I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt from Christ, unless you failed to hear him properly when you were taught what the truth… You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.”

The Lord be with you.          And with your spirit

A reading from the Gospel according to John      6:24-35       Glory to you, O Lord.
Theme: He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me
because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’
Jesus gave them this answer,
‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.‘ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

Jesus answered:
I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’~
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’

Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

The Gospel of the Lord.  

31st July – St Ignatius of Loyola

I came across this quote of St Maximilian Kolbe today in my reading.


One of the religious orders that has made a substantial contribution to the life of the Church is the Jesuits. Pope Francis is a Jesuit as is Bishop Alan McGuckian, the bishop of this diocese of Raphoe. Today we celebrate the memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits or Society of Jesus.

st ignatius loyolaIgnatius of Loyola thirsted for fame and glory. The boy, born in 1491 into the lesser nobility in Spain’s Basque country, learned sword-fighting and all things military. As he grew, he danced, got into fights, toyed with women, and dreamed of imitating Spain’s knight-hero, El Cid. It seemed as if his dream was being realized for a time: the man Ignatius was esteemed as a courageous soldier.

But in 1521, at Pamplona, a French cannonball shattered his leg. The leg was set poorly and was healing crooked. The soldier, concerned with his looks and prowess, begged the doctor to break it again. It was a long convalescence. Ignatius begged for chivalric romances to read to pass away the time. There were no such books in his family’s castle, however, so he was brought books he had no desire to read: a life of Jesus and lives of the saints. Boredom got the better of him, however, and at last he opened these volumes. It was like opening the covers onto a new world.

Ignatius began to imagine the life of Christ as he prayed, picturing the scenes. He began to think that people like St. Francis were braver than the bravest soldiers he knew. He still dreamed of knightly glory, but noticed that these dreams left him with a bitter aftertaste. Thoughts of the Lord or of the saints’ sacrifices, on the other hand, were hard but left him with an abiding peace. He was being taught, he realized later: it was his first introduction to the discernment of spirits.

When he could walk, Ignatius wanted set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But first he stopped at a monastery, where this well-dressed nobleman exchanged his clothes with a beggar. He brought his sword to the shrine of the Virgin of Montserrat and laid it before her, keeping vigil all night, as men do before they are knighted. For Ignatius the soldier had begun to understand: he would be a different kind of knight, serving a different Lady, a different Lord.

He lived in nearby Manresa for a year in great poverty, praying and doing penance. He had to come to terms with his past life and come to know the new King who had called him. While there, his “education” continued. He had moments of great consolation, when prayer was sweet, and moments of terrible desolation. At times, he was driven to near despair. Slowly, he began to see a pattern: the thoughts that remained and brought peace, even if they were hard, were from God. Those that glittered but were passing, or that brought on later disconsolation, were not. His notes became the basis for a degree of insight into the spiritual life that has few parallels in the Church, and provided the foundation for his Spiritual Exercises.

There were gifts: one day, he had a kind of vision of the Trinity so beautiful that it left him in tears. The beauty of that vision remained with him all his life. It was part of his education as he learned to see God in all things.

Ignatius did make it to the Holy Land, but he soon returned to Europe and started preaching. This was not looked upon kindly by the Inquisition, which interrogated him but at last set him free. He set off for Paris to study. At the university there, he found roommates: another Basque, Francis Xavier, and the Frenchman, Peter Faber. On August 15, 1534, Ignatius, his roommates, and four others took vows. If they could not go to the Holy Land, they promised to place themselves at the service of the Pope in an obedience that was simply an expression of love. Five years later, that small group of friends adopted the name, “the Society of Jesus.” The Jesuits were born.

Now a priest, Ignatius became the Jesuit’s first Father General, until his death on July 31, 1556. He sent his companions on mission, some to faraway lands. Wherever they went, they carried with them what Ignatius had learned at Manresa: man was created, not to seek glory, but to love, serve and praise. To give glory, or to live “for the greater glory of God.”

30th July.

Since getting discharged from hospital I’ve enjoyed going for daily walks. For almost a month I was in an isolation room with very little exercise apart from walking around the room itself. It is easy to lose fitness without a daily workout of sorts. Such daily walks are an ideal opportunity to multi-task and say the Rosary at the same time!

Friday is a day when we remember Jesus’ death on the Cross like we remember the Resurrection on Sundays. The following hymn from my DivineOffice app is a stirring reminder of what Jesus did for us on the first Good Friday. Try to listen to it prayerfully and follow the lyrics as the video plays.

29th July – Ss Martha, Mary & Lazarus of Bethany.

There is good news about how the cancer has responded to the treatment to date. The first cancer maker test – taken a week after the start of the treatment – fell by 50%; the next test showed a further reduction of 75%. By the time the second cycle is finished I should be in good shape to travel to the US for the CAR T CELL Therapy. (The improvement brought about by the current chemotherapy is not seen as permanent – it is a measure to temporarily suppress the disease for further treatment.)

Saint Martha and her siblings Saints Lazarus and Mary are commemorated together on 29 July. From St Martha we learn two important lessons: from her overly keen diligence, we learn not to allow ourselves to be so overcome by daily duties that we neglect love; from her profession of faith we learn that trust in God makes us experience wonders that we could not believe possible.

We learn about Saint Martha from the Gospels. She was from Bethany, a village a few kilometres from Jerusalem. She was considered diligent and meticulous; she was certainly one of the first to believe in Jesus. The Lord was often a guest in her home, especially during the time of His preaching in Jerusalem.

st marthaSaint Luke especially is able to “draw us a picture” of St Martha, describing her daily life. In his Gospel, relating one time when Jesus was visiting His friends in Bethany, the Evangelist writes: “As they continued their journey He entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’”

The Master helps her to understand that even praiseworthy labour can risk obscuring the interior life. It is a warning that causes one to reflect on how important it is to nourish the spirit, to listen to the Word of God, because it is the Word of God that gives meaning to our daily activities. Nonetheless, on account of her admirable dedication to doing the work necessary to offer a guest a comfortable respite, the Church recognizes Martha as a model of industriousness.

And so Martha and Mary serve respectively as examples of the active and the contemplative life; the life of external activity and the life of prayer. In the life of a Christian, neither should be lacking; activity and contemplation should be seen as complementary, and not opposed to one another.

Jesus MarthaSaint Martha has also left us a strong witness of faith. We see, in her response to Jesus’ questions after the death of her brother Lazarus, a total belief, a faith that does not hesitate, does not doubt. Martha has complete confidence in God, even in the face of what seems impossible on a human level: “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother [Lazarus] would not have died. [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.’” It is already an extraordinary profession of faith; but the conversation between Martha and Jesus continues. And from this simple woman of Bethany, we come to understand what it means to believe in Jesus Christ: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.’”

It is the essence of Christianity; Martha, in her answer, condenses the whole of the faith into a simple confession of belief, which in turn is the faith of every believer; a simple answer in which every Christian can recognize the meaning of life and salvation from the apparent anhillation of death.

28th July.

I got discharged from the hospital today and will stay with a friend in the Letterkenny area till I begin the second chemotherapy cycle in Galway in about a week’s time. It is good to be out of hospital and back in an ordinary setting again. The doctor’s recommendations are that I stay in the Letterkenny area in case there are any problems that arise; that I drink at least 2 litres of water daily for the benefit of my kidneys and thirdly that I stay in self-isolation as much as possible because of my lower immune system.

jesus-and-disciples-400x226Yesterday I spoke about Medjugorje as a place of spiritual conversion and renewal. Many pilgrims visiting the shrine have come to know Jesus in a new and personal way like perhaps the other people in their inner circle of family and friends; or perhaps we could say that they have come to know Jesus in a familiar way like the saints. I firmly believe that one we have this DESIRE that Jesus will give us the grace necessary to achieve it. But as in the other areas of the Christian life, God wants us to cooperate with him – he does this out of respect for our free will.

Our Lady at Medjugorje commends 5 particular practices in this regard. They are called the “Five Stones” of spiritual growth. “Stones” points to the combat of David and Goliath in the Old Testament. In this instance, “stones” are the weapons for the spiritual combat in the great and ongoing battle between the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness.

Below I list the 5 spiritual practices to deepen our relationship with Jesus. If you have time you might like to read commentary from Fr Jozo Zovko, OFM that follows.

  • Pray the Rosary daily with the heart.
  • Practice fasting twice a week (Wednesdays & Fridays).
  • Monthly Confession.
  • Receive the Eucharist every Sunday.
  • Read the Bible daily.

Our Lady has chosen you, like David; you who are small, just as you are. She has suggested that you put five stones into your sack in order to overcome the atheism that surrounds us. Neither we nor the Church are capable of conquering materialism on our own. Our Lady has appeared in Medjugorje to declare that this is possible. Here are her five stones: Prayer, Fasting, the Mass, the Bible and Confession. With these simple weapons we overcome the world.I give you the weapon against your Goliath, here are your little stones.

Our Lady insists upon prayer. She wept when she appeared upon Krizevac [The Cross Mountain, close to the shrine], because Christians no longer pray. Her tears are a medication for you; they fall upon your heart made of stone in order to transform it. Our Lady tells us that to pray means to live as the Church lives.

The gifts, the five stones, have not been given to us as a gratuitous perfection, but in order to develop our spiritual potentialities, to cause the growth of the seeds, which will sprout forth if they fall upon fertile soil. Let us take the gift of faith: it is developed if a family prays together, if we learn to live with the Lord. He who prays knows how to love; he who loves knows how to pray. Many families no longer live a life of love because they no longer are united in prayer.

This month the leaves have fallen from the trees. Next Spring we will see nature transform and renew itself once again. He who prays transforms quickly. What is the significance of prayer? Let us recall St Augustine’s words, “Man lives if he breathes; prayer is the breath for the Christian.” The Christian who stops praying, dies.

Prayer is the first weapon in your knapsack. You must begin praying now so that you may be transformed and raise yourself up with others as well. Priests, parents, everyone, must pray. Prayer is a gift and a principal weapon given to the Church. The Church is neither an idea nor a political party; it is a family that prays, a family that loves. This is the reason Our Lady insists that prayer is needed in order to transform the world.

The second gift, another stone in your sack, is fasting: from cigarettes, from television, from an evil thought, from a negative project, and from food.

Fasting demonstrates your individual capacity to love and affirms that you are important for everyone. Fasting is medicine and a sacrifice. With fasting egoism is defeated. He who knows how to fast is capable of hearing his neighbour, of being available for others, and of understanding how to love the entire world. He who fasts sees himself and others truthfully and is aware of how to cleanse his inner self.

Our weakness is nothing if we possess the ability to love. Even our own physical sufferings, if offered to the Lord, are a gift.

The Eucharist

The Eucharist is the third stone. In May, Our Lady admonished us, “You do not know how to live the Mass.” The Mass is not simply a rite; it is a mystery and a gift of the Lord. It is a sacrament which cannot be comprehended without humility. We are unable to celebrate the Mass without a humble heart, which casts aside the garment of pride. The white garment of the priest is a symbol of humility and of liberation from sin.

In the Mass the Incarnation occurs, the transubstantiation of the bread and wine. This is also a sign of our transformation: from death we are brought to life. The Mass transforms the Christian, transforms the Church, because with the Mass Jesus is offered completely to the Church. The Mass is the origin of the Church, the Mystical Body. The Mass-Sacrifice renders the Church a holy family.

In the Mass one is born again if one’s own life is placed upon the altar as a sacrifice, in the manner of Jesus. We are the drop of water poured into the wine; the Church is united with the Blood of Jesus. Therefore you must not just listen to the Holy Mass but live it. Without the Mass the Church does not exist; without it the Church is an orphan.

The Bible
BibleThe Bible which illuminates the path in the dense fog of ideologies is the fourth stone for the Christian of today. I am sure you know where the salt is, where the flour is, and where to find the sugar in the kitchen. But where is the Bible in your home? When do you read the Bible with your family?

The Bible is not one of many books, it is the Christian’s flag. Deprived of the Bible, the Christian is no longer the same person. The Bible is born from the heart of the Lord; it is His Word. Therefore it must remain in first place within the family. It must be set in a place of honour, and that place must be sacred for us. It must be the source of our prayer. The Bible illuminates the Christian’s walk amid doubt and conflicting ideologies today.

Confession is the fifth stone. Our Lady requests monthly confession of us. I have been informed that in Italy and Switzerland, at many churches, the people rarely confess. The Italians, I state with certainty, are prepared to renew the Church, but they must not neglect Confession.

The purpose of Confession is not to recount one’s actions; it is not a psycho-analytical session. It is a sacrament and a source of peace with oneself in the meeting with the Lord. In Confession I obtain the peace of the Lord so that I may transmit it to others.

A proud person does not know how to confess; humility leads to confession and conversion. To confess well we must prepare ourselves with fasting and prayer. The proper attitude is that of opening ourselves up before the Lord: “I have brought you my heart. Transform it for me, and give it back to me renewed.” This is what occurs in Confession, which is both a sacrament and a mystery.

These are the five stones we must place in our sack as we return home from Medjugorje. Our Lady heals us here. Prayer, Fasting, the Mass, the Bible, and Confession are the true medicines that restore us to health once again, the way through the Red Sea, leading us to the shore where we find peace.

27th July.

Pending my discharge tomorrow I received two units of blood today followed by a unit of platelets tomorrow. The doctor is happy with my situation and the kidney function continues to improve. After the week’s break, I’ll be heading to Galway to begin the second cycle on Wed Aug 4 or whenever a bed is available there.

Many Catholics have at least heard of Medjugorje. It is a village in Bosnia Herzegovina in Central Europe where it is claimed that Our Lady first appeared to 6 local children on June 24th, 1981. Since then it has become an international pilgrimage site, one that I’ve visited 7 times. This is a link to an 8 minute introductory video about Medjugorje. Click on the link.


The Medjugorje apparitions have generated considerable controversy in the Church. What tells me that something of the Holy Spirit is happening there is the good fruit that is evident for anybody to see. I know many people whose faith in Jesus and Christian living has been completely renewed – and who have become ‘born again’ to use a relevant expression. It has inspired many vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Others get a great sense of peace and relief from the burdens of life. The highlight of my 7 pilgrimages to Medjugorje has been hearing confessions which people attend in droves and witnessing these expressions of renewal / conversion first hand. Jesus’ opening words in the Gospel of Mark are: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent [be converted] and believe the good news!” (1:15)

What is it to experience conversion in general, to come to see Jesus in a new way as our personal Lord and Saviour and the central pillar of our life, to have a sense of a direct contact with him? I like to use the following as an illustration:

Jesus Sign

Most people when they see this first can only take in random black and white squares. Yet, when it is seen in the right way, the word JESUS stands out clearly. To see it in this right way, note that there is a black border around the edge and that the letters spelling out JESUS are written in black against a white background. Jesus is always present in our lives but respects our freedom and is waiting for us to seek him. Once we start to open up our lives to him he is eager to reveal himself to us in a gradual way and ultimately gives us the grace to make him the rock foundation of all that we are. We believe that this capacity to tune into Jesus’ presence in our life is a gift of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying inner light that shines within our mind.

(If you’d like your own copy of the above JESUS sign, either download the above image and print it off or visit http://www.tiny.cc/JESUSSIGN .)

our lady queen of peaceEach month there is a Medjugorje Message that the visionaries relay from Our Lady. This is the most recent one of July 25th.

“Dear children! I am calling you to be prayer for all those who do not pray. Little children, witness with your lives the joy that you are mine and God will heed your prayers and give you peace in this peaceless world where pride and selfishness reign. Little children, be generous and be the love of my love, so that pagans [unbelievers] can feel that you are mine and convert to my Immaculate Heart. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”

26th July – Ss Joachim & Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The doctor said this morning that if my condition remains the same, I’ll be discharged from hospital this Wednesday. I will stay in the Letterkenny area with a friend in case there are any problems. I’m advised to self-isolate as much as possible given that my immune system is low due to the treatment. Drinking 2 litres of water daily in addition to other miscellaneous drinks like tea and milk should ensure that my kidneys receive enough hydration. A week later on Wednesday Aug 4th I am scheduled to begin the second chemotherapy cycle in Galway (many thanks to the kind person who has already offered to drive me down). My hair has now started to fall out, an expected result of the treatment to date. The fact that sister Maureen has given me a #2 hair cut means that I’m making less of a mess than I would otherwise do!

Recently one of the staff was talking about the convenience of having a microwave in the ward. I asked if they had ever seen an actual microwave – and I don’t mean the oven itself. Given that they had never seen such a thing, I said this is a micro-wave: and I waved the small finger in my right hand!

Today we celebrate our grandparents in Christ – Joachim and Ann. When we were baptised into the body of Christ, we could address his Father as Our Father. Particularly in the light of John 19:25-27 we can relate to Mary as our mother too. Thus Jesus grandparents (Mary’s father and mother) become our grandparents as well.

Saint Joachim and AnnIn the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a family history of Jesus (through Joseph), tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the fulfilment of the great promises of the Old Testament. However we know nothing factual about Mary’s ancestry and parents except that they existed. Even the names of Joachim and Ann come from a secondary source written more than a century after Jesus died. This secondary source is the apocryphal gospel of St James which was not included in the New Testament because of its doubtful authorship.

The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family at­mosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on traditions about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfilment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.

The strong character of Mary in making deci­sions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devo­tion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at mo­ments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives —all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. Joachim and Ann — whether this is their real names or not — represent that entire quiet series of Jewish generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.

This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to es­tablish a tone for generations to come: they must make past traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of ex­perience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored. Thus the Church in its teaching says: “The family is the foundation of society. In it the various generations come together and help one another to grow wise”.

25th July – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Today’s special event was Kerry’s run-a-way victory over our traditional rivals Cork in the Munster Final in Killarney. The final score was 4-22 to 1-9 for a 22 point winning margin. If anybody is interested in the match report, visit https://www.rte.ie/sport/football/2021/0725/1237162-kerry-sweep-to-munster-title-after-demolition-of-cork/

The doctor was in this morning and said that my kidney function is remaining constant. I’m still on 3 litres of IV fluid daily in addition to what I consume orally – probably another 2 litres. With all this extra hydration to support the kidneys I have put on an extra 8kg over what I was at the start.

Recently I’ve been helping a person who is in a place of real spiritual and psychological difficulty. Maybe you could consider offering up a Rosary for the individual. Another big intercessionary prayer is to say 9 consecutive Memorares for given intention.

Below is a video refection on today’s Mass readings from Matthew Moore – click on the link. Matthew is a lay member of the SOLT community that I belong to. Lay people play a big part in our missionary work. Below the video link are some photos of mission camps that have taken place in Belcourt, North Dakota and San Pedro, Belize. If you know anybody interested in doing something like this, get in touch with me at soltlondon@hotmail.com

SV NDSOLT Volunteers

24th July – St Charbel Makhluf.

I met the main consultant this morning who is satisified with my progress to date. I’ll be discharged from Letterkenny hospital at the end of this 21 day cycle on Wednesday 28th assuming that I’m fit enough. I’m scheduled to begin the second cycle in Galway hospital a week later on Wed August 4th.

St CharbelToday’s saint is Charbel Makhluf (*1828 +1898). He was born in the Lebanon, the son of a mule-driver, and brought up by his uncle, who did not approve of his devotion to prayer and solitude. He would go secretly to the monastery of St Maron at Annaya, and eventually became a Maronite monk and was ordained priest. After being a monk for many years, he was drawn to a closer imitation of the Desert Fathers and became a hermit.

At his hermitage he lived a severely ascetic life with much prayer and fasting. He refused to touch money and considered himself the servant of anyone who came to stay in the three other cells that the hermitage possessed. He spent the last 23 years of his life there, and increasing numbers of people would come to receive his counsel or his blessing.

On December 5, 1965, Pope Paul VI presided at the beatification of Father Charbel at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. The Pope said: “A hermit of Mount Lebanon is enrolled in the number of the blessed… a new eminent member of monastic sanctity has by his example and his intercession enriched the entire Christian people … may he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”

A great number of miracles have been attributed to Saint Charbel since his death. The most famous one is that of Nohad El Shami, a 55-year-old woman at the time of the miracle who was healed from a partial paralysis. She tells that on the night of January 22, 1993, she saw in her dream two Maronite monks standing next to her bed. One of them put his hands on her neck and operated on her, relieving her from her pain while the other held a pillow behind her back. When she woke she discovered two wounds in her neck, one on each side. She was completely healed and recovered her ability to walk. She believed that it was Saint Charbel who healed her but did not recognize the other monk. Next night, she again saw Saint Charbel in her dream. He said to her: “I did the surgery to let people see and return to faith. I ask you to visit the hermitage on the 22nd of every month, and attend Mass regularly for the rest of your life”. People now gather on the 22nd of each month to pray and celebrate the Mass in the hermitage of Saint Charbel in Annaya.