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