Feast of the Assumption

Feast of the Assumption

This day, the 15th August, is one of the most important feast days of the year and a Holy Day of Obligation.

Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was made a dogma of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Earlier, Pope Pius V had in the year 1568 made this feast a universal holy day for the Church. Before this time the tradition of Assumption was already proclaimed as early as in the eighth century, Pope Sergius I encouraged celebrations for the Feast of the Assumption, and later Pope Leo IV confirmed the Feast as official.

Blessed Virgin Mary is closely associated with the events of Jesus’ life; we can think of some, the Annunciation, Presentation of Jesus, and Jesus getting lost and found in the Temple, the Wedding at Cana and at the Crucifixion of Jesus. Like all mothers, she experienced the joys, sorrows and the anxieties that a parent has for their child. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven.

Extract of what Pope Francis said on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15
th 2019.
With the assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven, she is “like a mother who waits for her children to come back home”. Knowing that she is there with God in heaven “gives us comfort and hope during our pilgrimage” on earth, he said.

The feast of the Assumption of Mary is an invitation to everyone, “especially for those who are afflicted by doubt and sadness, and live gazing downward”, he said.

“Let us look on high,” he said, where Mary awaits. “She loves us, she smiles at us and she comes to our aid with haste.”

Just as every mother wants what is best for her children, “she tells us, ‘You are precious in God’s eyes; you were not made for measly worldly gratifications, but for the great joys of heaven’”, the Pope said.

In life, it is important to seek what is truly great, “otherwise we get lost” chasing after so many trivial things, he said.

“Mary shows us that if we want our life to be happy, God goes first because only he is great,” he said.

“Instead, how often we live chasing after things that don’t matter: prejudices, grudges, rivalries, jealousies, illusions, superfluous material goods. How much pettiness in life!”

But today, “Mary invites us to lift our gaze up to the great things that the Lord has done for her” and reminds people that the Lord also does great things in them.

“Let us be attracted by true beauty, let us not be swallowed up by the petty things of life, but let us choose the greatness of heaven,” he said.

With these beautiful thoughts, let the Blessed Virgin Mary has a special place in our live.

Feast of Corpus Christi

In this month we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, Latin for the body and blood of Christ, on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

Corpus Christi is the reminder of the Last supper of Jesus and the disciples is the sombre room in Jerusalem. He said that anyone who believes in Him, to do this in remembrance of Him. This festival is used to fulfil that final wish.

Corpus Christi is celebrated by Christians around the world and in some countries it is celebrated in great style. They will have a procession through their towns and villages, with Priest heading the procession, First Holy Communicants following, people in their regional dress and costume, in some countries people will display pictures of Jesus Christ and spread carpets in front of their houses and floral displays in honor of the day. The climax of the ceremony comes when the priest raises the silver monstrance and exposes the Blessed Sacrament, the “body of Christ”. Some of you might remember the Corpus Christi procession through your town or village in a more-low key manner, and the excitement that was associated with it.

In June 2020, and “New Normal” we are getting accustomed too, we may not be able to have processions or attend an Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but maybe we can have our own way of celebrating the Feast day by displaying a picture of Christ in our front window, or maybe in our homes have an altar with Jesus in the center – like our May altars for Mary, to mark this very special day. It is an occasion every year to remember what a great gift Jesus left us in the Holy Eucharist – the abiding sign of His Redemption and His Presence among us.

Mary

It is a centuries-old custom of Catholics to dedicate the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month of May is always part of the Easter season, the fifty days we celebrate in the liturgy the Resurrection of Our Lord, a time also of awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The celebration of May as a Marian month fits well with the liturgical celebrations of Easter and Pentecost as we recall Mary’s great joy in her Son’s victory over death as well as her presence with the apostles in the upper room prayerfully awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

It is good to consider the faith of Mary. At the Visitation, Elizabeth said to Mary: Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. When we think of our Blessed Mother, we recognize that she is indeed blessed, not only because she was the Mother of Jesus, but because she believed in the Lord’s words. She believed with all her heart and said “yes” to become the Mother of the Messiah and Son of God. She allowed herself to be led by God’s grace throughout her life, a life rooted in a deep faith in God. She became her Son’s first and most perfect disciple.

In our pilgrimage of faith, we walk always with Mary at our side. She is our model of faith and she helps us with her prayers to live by faith. She teaches us to believe as she believed.

During this month of May, we pay special honor to our Blessed Mother. In 1965, Pope Paul VI wrote a short encyclical on the month of May. He wrote that May is an occasion for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world pay to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”

We recommend the observance of May as a Marian month. Many churches and schools have celebrations of the crowning of images of Our Lady. This is a beautiful custom that expresses our love for the Mother of God as our Queen. Other Marian devotions are particularly fitting in the month of May. Of course, the holy rosary is always a wonderful prayer to enter more deeply into the mysteries of Christ’s life with Mary. It is a Gospel prayer.

All honor that we give to Mary is ordered to, and leads to, the adoration of God. Devotion to Mary fosters within us a faithful adherence to her Son. When we crown images of Mary, we are honoring her. In honoring Mary, we are ultimately praising God for the grace He bestowed on her.

We all probably have our favorite images of Mary as well as our favorite devotions: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Perpetual Help, the Miraculous Medal, etc. The many images and devotions express various aspects of Our Lady’s vocation and mission. They help us to know the virtues of Mary and remind us to turn to her for her intercession.

We invite you to pray with Mary during this Marian month. Let us especially commend to her our prayers for life, marriage, and religious liberty. Let us all place ourselves in the school of Mary to learn from her how to love God more fervently and to love one another as her Son has loved us.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us and draw us closer to Christ her Son.

Holy Week

Holy week is the final week of Lent, begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Holy week commemorates the Passion of Christ, from his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through to Jesus Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday, Jesus Enters Jerusalem to people cheering and placing palm leaves in front of him – Matthew21:1-11

Spy Wednesday, The day when Judas plans to betray Jesus to the guards – John13:21-32.

Holy Thursday, Jesus and the 12 apostles celebrate a meal together…The Last Supper – John13:1-5.

Good Friday,   Crucifixion on the Cross – John18:1-42.

Holy Saturday, The day that Christ’s body was laid in the tomb – Matthew 28:1-10.

Easter Sunday, Resurrection of our Lord – John20:1-19.

Easter is a very special time in the religious calendar. Of all the religious events during the Christian year that Christians celebrate, Easter Sunday is undoubtedly the most important. On Easter Sunday Christians remember that after three days following Jesus crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead and in doing so, he fulfilled God’s promise that he would rise after three days. This is a reminded, that when we die, we too can be raised to a new life – a new life in the presence of God.

St Patrick

When Irish people think of March, the main thing that spring to mind is Saint Patrick. The time to remember him, how he brought the catholic faith to Ireland, using a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity and banished all the snakes… but this year there is also another event we as Catholic have

Lent

Lent is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter Sunday. This year Ash Wednesday is on the 26th of February.  It a time for believers to reflect, repent, offer sacrifice in preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The main things people focus on during lent are Prayer, Fasting and Charity.

  • Prayer during Lent focuses on our need on God’s forgiveness. It’s also includes repenting and receiving God’s mercy and love.
  • Fasting or sacrificing is giving up something that we would do regularly. For some it could be giving up eating something they enjoy, for others it could be giving up an activity they do and for others it could be doing something that they normally wouldn’t do.
  • Charity (or the giving of something), giving in a charitable way, this can be in the form of giving financially or giving of your time. We have a traditional way of giving, the money saved on things we have given up for Lent and putting it in to our Trócaire box. We can also give our time to help others, to listen or just to be there in a time of need.

For all of us, to make a sacrifice and in doing so we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

We do this to remember when Jesus went into the Desert for forty days and forty nights. While here he prayed and fasted. We are also told that he was strong and resisted the temptations presented to him by Satan. Mark 4:1-11

St. Patrick Breastplate Prayer

I arise today 
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,     
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

A Family Prayer for Lent

Creator God, be with us 
as we make our Lenten journey together as a family. 
Give us the strength to do what we have promised 
and the love to help one another along the way. 
When Easter comes, may our Lenten promises 
have brought us closer to you and to your Son, Jesus.

Amen

St. Brigid

St. Brigid’s Feast Day is celebrated on February 1st.
Brigid is one of the great saints of Ireland. With Patrick and Colmcille she forms the Trinity of The Patron Saints of Ireland. Saint Brigid was born in Faughairt near Dundalk about the year 450. Her father was a chieftain named Dubhtach and her mother was a bond woman named Brocessa. Her parents wished her to marry but she wished to dedicate her life to God as a nun. She had a hard childhood. Her father was a nobleman who expected his family to work very hard. Brigid had to work in the fields, milk cows, make butter and clean the house.
Brigid’s mother often prayed or sang hymns as they worked together in the fields. She told Brigid stories about Jesus and about St Patrick who had come to Ireland to tell the Irish people all about Jesus Christ.
Brigid was a very beautiful girl and many young men admired her beauty and her charm. Her father wanted her to marry the son of the King of Leinster. Brigid didn’t want to marry since she felt that God wanted her to start a convent. It would be a place of refuge for the poor and a place of prayer and worship. So Brigid, along with her friends, left home, much to her father’s dismay.
About the year 467 she and seven others took the veil from Bishop Macaille. Her first religious settlement seems to have been in Westmeath. The group of women, with Brigid as their leader started to build a convent with their own hands starting with a small hut for each nun. The nuns then built two larger huts. One was the chapel where they sang hymns and prayed; the other was a place for meeting and having meals.

Everyone talked about the convent. They talked about the good work Brigid and the other nuns did. They talked about how hard Brigid and the nuns worked, ploughing the fields, sowing corn and gathering the crops at harvest time, milking their cows every morning and evening, making butter and cheese. The people nearby loved to hear them singing praises to God as they worked.
She later built a monastery at Cill Dara (The Church of the Oak), which became famous as a religious centre of great renown, with a scriptorium and school of metalwork
The nuns helped all those in need. Any poor person who called at the convent was sure of something to eat and drink. They took care of sick people. They often travelled miles to care for the poor and the sick.
One day Brigid was called to the bed of an old pagan chieftain who was dying. Brigid sat by his bedside to keep him company. To while away the time, she picked up a few rushes from the floor and began to weave them into a cross. The chieftain opened up his eyes and, though he was dying, asked her what she was making. She told him the story of Jesus and his death on the cross. She told him that Jesus loved everybody so much and loved God Our Father so much that he wasn’t afraid to die on a cross. She explained that followers of Jesus Christ had a great respect and great love for the cross of Jesus.
Brigid spent many hours with him and, before he died, the old pagan chieftain became a Christian.
Brigid was a gifted teacher and is said to have visited Scotland and England .
The old Irish custom of placing a St. Brigid’s cross over the door of dwelling houses and animal sheds began. Irish people have prayed to her for many hundreds of years. They ask her blessing on themselves, their families and their work. They use her name in prayer. “Brid agus Muire dhuit” was one old Irish blessing. Another prayer was: “St Brigid, help us on our journey.”
After a long life she died on February 1st 523. Her feast day is on 1st February.

What about the Legend of her cloak?

The legend of Brigid’s cloak is often told. It’s the story about the manner in which she came to acquire the land to build her monastery at Kildare. It is often regarded as one of the first miracles associated with her
She approached the King of Leinster requesting the land on which to build her monastery. The place she selected in Kildare was ideal. It was near a lake where water was available, in a forest where there was firewood and near a fertile plain on which to grow crops. The King refused her request. Brigid was not put off by his refusal. Rather, she and her sisters prayed that the King’s heart would soften. She made her request again but this time she asked, “Give me as much land as my cloak will cover.”
Seeing her small cloak, he laughed and then granted this request. However, Brigid had instructed her four helpers each to take a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions – north, south, east and west. As they did this the cloak began to grow and spread across many acres. She now had sufficient land on which to build her monastery. The King and his entire household were dismayed and amazed. They realised that this woman was truly blessed by God. The King became a patron of Brigid’s monastery, assisting her with money, food and gifts. Later he converted to Christianity. It was on this land in Kildare that she built her dual monastery c.470.

A Poem on St Brigid

A Poem on St Brigid

Brigid wove a cross of rushes
By a dying chieftain’s bed.
“Brigid what is that you’re making
From the rushes there?” he said.
Brigid said, “A cross I’m weaving
Like the cross where Jesus died.”
“Who was Jesus?” asked the chieftain,
“Why was this man crucified?”
Brigid told the gospel story
To the dying pagan king.
Lying silently he listened,
Never saying anything.
Then he kissed the cross of rushes
Saying, “Brigid, thanks to you,
I have come to love this Jesus,
I will follow his way too!”
Finbar O’ Connor