Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place for the first time on Sunday 25 July 2021 on the theme ‘I am with you always’ (Mt 28:20). 

Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family has welcomed Pope Francis’ World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, as a timely reminder for the whole Church to be close to all the elderly and grandparents at this time of pandemic. 

Bishop Nulty said, “There have been so many unsung heroes and heroines during the pandemic – grandparents and elders, including our older priests and religious – all who are to be applauded for how they have coped with the challenges and uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a society we have learned a lot from their stoicism and pragmatism in the face of so many challenges.

“Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has reminded us to value the many gifts of grandparents and the elderly.  In his theme chosen for this inaugural year I am with you always, the Holy Father is highlighting that promise of closeness that generations share with each other.  Not only are our young people called to be present in the lives of older people, but so too grandparents and elders have a mission to encourage young people on their faith journey.  Our little domestic churches are always enriched by the inclusion of grandparents and elders.

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Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for January 2021, which focuses on human fraternity, and calls for people of different religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to return to the essential: love of neighbour.

The text of the January 2021 prayer intention is as follows: 

“When we pray to God following Jesus, we come together as brothers and sisters with those who pray according to other cultures, other traditions and other beliefs.

“We are brothers and sisters who pray.

“Fraternity leads us to open ourselves to the Father of all and to see in the other a brother or sister, to share our lives or to support, to love, and to know each other.

“The Church values God’s action in other religions, without forgetting that for us Christians, the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity, is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We believers must return to our sources and concentrate on what is essential. What is essential to our faith is the adoration of God and love of neighbour.

“Let us pray that the Lord may give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions and not fight each other, and praying for one another, open ourselves to all.”

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Monthly Reflection- December

Invitation to Prayer: As we begin the Advent journey, let us pray for the gifts of awareness of God’s plan for us, the patience to wait as it unfolds, and the readiness to act when it is revealed.

Prayer: Lord, please help me be patience, but not complacent, either in my own life or in my response to the needs of others, ever mindful that “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, bring your worries to the Lord, ask Him for the awareness to recognise the blessings that can accompany the unexpected.

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Remember our dearly departed

Each November we gather as a Christian Community to remember those who have gone before us and to offer our consolation and support to those among us who have been recently bereaved. In Ireland, death is encased by prayer and rituals that for generations have become part of the rich heritage of our faith tradition.

In March 2020, the traditions upon which we drew solace were snatched from us as we sought to keep our communities safe in the midst of a pandemic. There are many families who by necessity had to relinquish the opportunity to be with their loved one in their final moments of this life, to hear the stories and words of sympathy at the wake house and to experience the gathering of the community at a Requiem Mass. Family life is challenged by the death of a loved one, the challenge can feel all the greater when we cannot access support in the usual way. At this time of challenge, we offer the light of faith as a support to families in their time of loss.

The grieving process takes time. Each stage of grief has its own demands and the process is unique to each one of us. When we look to the Gospel, we see how Jesus was deeply moved and began to weep at the death of a close friend. (Jn 11:33-35) Each of us can understand that there is great anguish felt by those who have lost a much-loved person. With a sincere and patient process of prayer and interior freedom, peace returns. “Love is as strong as death” (Song 8:6). We are invited to love those who have departed from us in a new way. Love involves an intuition that can enable us to hear without sounds and to see the unseen. This does not mean imagining our loved ones as they were, but being able to accept them changed as they now are. The risen Jesus, when his friend Mary tried to embrace him, told her not to hold on to him (cf. Jn 20:17), in order to lead her to a different kind of encounter. It consoles us to know that those who die do not completely pass away, and faith assures us that the risen Lord will never abandon us. Scripture tells us that God created us out of love and made us in such a way that our life does not end with death (cf. Wis 3:2-3). And that with Christ, after death, there awaits us “what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

The above message is taken from “November, a month to remember our dearly departed”.

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The Rosary

By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to a certain devotion. The month of October is dedicated to the holy Rosary, one of the best known of all Catholic devotions. According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roch, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying and doing severe penances because of his lack of success in combating the Albigensian heresy. Mary praised him for his valiant fight against the heretics and then gave him the Rosary as a mighty weapon, explained its uses and efficacy, and told him to preach it to others.

The Holy Rosary, also known as the Dominican Rosary, or simply the Rosary, refers to a set of prayers used in the Catholic Church and to the string of knots or beads used to count the component prayers. The prayers that compose the Rosary are arranged in sets of ten Hail Marys, called decades. Each decade is preceded by one Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father”) and traditionally followed by only one Glory Be. Many Catholics also choose to recite the “O my Jesus” prayer after the Glory Be, which is the most well known of the seven Fatima Prayers. During recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. Five decades are recited per rosary. Rosary beads are an aid towards saying these prayers in the proper sequence.

The Rosary draws its mysteries from the New Testament and is centered on the great events of the Incarnation and Redemption with each decade referring to an event in the life of Jesus and Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary give us “thumbnails” of the life of Christ and his Mother.

  • The Joyful Mysteries are taken mostly from Saint Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament. They involve the joyful events of Jesus’ childhood.
  • The Luminous Mysteries bring a deeper understanding to the public life of Jesus. They fill in the blanks between the childhood of Jesus and His suffering and death on the cross.
  • The Sorrowful Mysteries remind us of how much Jesus loves us. They recall how He suffered and died just for us.
  • The Glorious Mysteries tell us what happened after Jesus died-His Resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the love Jesus had for his Mother.

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is on October 7. The best way to celebrate the month is, of course, to pray the Rosary.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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