Today is the feast day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorating the tradition of her special consecration to God that took place while she was a young child. In the corresponding gospel passage (Matt 12:46-50) Jesus appears to give his mother a slight of sorts. When told that his mother would like to see him, he said: Who is my mother? Then turning to his disciples he said: Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ St Augustine’s commentary says that far from being a slight, Jesus is stating that Mary’s exemplary discipleship and fidelity to God’s Word is more important that her mere biological motherhood.
I returned from a very edifying trip to Fatima last Monday and then spent a few days with my family down in Kerry before returning to Lettermacaward yesterday evening. One of my family members in the limelight at the moment is niece (and god daughter) Sile whose marriage I officiated at August of last year. She is expecting her first baby on Dec 14th. She invited me to put my fingers on her abdomen and feel the hiccups of her preborn baby. It was a first for me!!!
I said Mass daily at Fatima and all but one of them was offered for all my friends (inc the readers of this blog!) and the written intentions I brought with me from parishioners.
The main purpose of the Fatima trip was to attend a clergy conference organised by Fr “Bing” (Eduardo Arellano) and the Alliance of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary. One theme was that of exorcism and deliverance – it was a real eye-opener to learn from some leading exorcists the problems that can beset people who dabble in the New Age and other occult practices. A particular resolution I made during the retreat was to pray the St Michael Prayer daily with the intention of invoking the archangel’s protection of my parishioners.
Another theme was the call for all the baptised but especially priests to live sacrificially for the love of God and others. This is an important way in which we configure ourselves to Jesus who said: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
This is very much in keeping with the core of Our Lady’s message to the Fatima shepherd children Francesco, Jacinta and Lucia to offer prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. One concrete example of this is the prayer that Our Lady asked us to pray at the end of each decade of the Rosary: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy. A second resolution I made was to be more committed to the First Five Saturdays devotion as requested by Our Lady. This involves receiving Holy Communion on five (or more!) consecutive first Saturdays of the month as well as praying the rosary and then spending 15 minutes meditating of the 20 mysteries of the rosary. One also has Confession but this can be done within 7 days of the first Saturday.
Here are some photos taken during the trip.