Pray for children

Will you pray for God's little children?

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

This blog invites you to pray for the protection of children and young people. Will you pray for God's little children, from the unborn baby in the womb, the new born baby, little children of all ages and young people.  It could be your child you want to pray for or just any child.  You can pray before the Blessed Sacrament for one hour a week or before a tabernacle in your church.  If you are not able to make it to a church you can pray in your own home. Please join us as we pray.

This blog was set up under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ and our Blessed Lady are its patrons.

O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts

January 2021 Intention

Homeless children/young people

Introduction

A new year begins with a new intention. This month of January, we will pray for children and young people who find themselves homeless. No child or young person should be living in refugee camps, in parks or hotels, or on the streets. Every family needs the security of a home place filled with warmth and love. As our leaders plan, wish or pray for a return to a state of normality ‘by Summer’, we should realise that they are not representing the millions of people across the world, for whom normality ceased to exist, long before the rest of us heard about the Corona virus.

Harden not Your Hearts

As I prayed and reflected on this topic, I felt great sadness. We have spent the past year, rightly worrying about Covid 19 spreading across the world. We self-isolated, followed guidelines from governments and managed without some of our needs and wants. However, as I did a little research on homelessness across the globe, I realised that, in terms of numbers, Covid 19 has affected a small if significant number of people, compared to the pandemic of homelessness in our world, which has been ongoing for centuries.

The line from Scripture that resonates with me is: “O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts!” How easy it is for our hearts to become hardened to everyday life situations. I was reminded of an elderly man I once knew. He attended daily mass. As he dressed in tattered, old clothes, he was considered a ‘rag-bag man’ on the outside; but on the inside his soul must have been as white as snow. He did not consider himself worthy to receive Jesus in Holy Communion and yet he attended Mass and received Confession, regularly. I was told by a local priest, of the goodness in this man. While he lived in a house, he did not light fires to keep himself warm. He ate very little. He carried his belongings around in a sack, slung over his bent shoulders. His shoes were worn and torn. Yet, he had a beautiful smile for those he encountered and the light shone from his eyes. The reason he dressed and lived so poorly was because he came to the realisation that others had so much less than he had and he wanted to give everything to those in need. All the money he saved was given to the priest’s brother, who himself was a priest that worked on the missions. This elderly man saw and recognised the dignity of God in every human soul. How blessed he was! He has since died and hopefully gone to his just reward in Heaven.

The Common Good

Each person falls under the category of The Common Good. It is in keeping with the social nature of man. Cf. (CCC 1095). There are three essential elements to the common good: -
The first common good presupposes respect for the person as such. Public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfil his vocation. The second common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. The third common good requires peace, that is the stability and security of a just order. Cf. (CCC 1907, 1908, 1909).
The unity of the human family, embracing people who enjoy equal natural dignity, implies a Universal common good. This good calls for an organization of the community of nations able to “provide for the different needs of men; this will involve the sphere of social life to which belong questions of food, hygiene, education … and certain situations arising here and there, as for example … alleviating the miseries of refugees dispersed throughout the world, and assisting migrants and their families. Cf. (GS 84 $ 2, CCC 1911).

About 28 million children are homeless globally due to violent conflict. Almost the same number have had to abandon their homes in search of a better life, due to poverty and gang violence to name just two reasons. Children make up about a third of the world's population, but account for almost half of all refugees, UNICEF said in its report issued on Tuesday. The number of child refugees has doubled in the last decade. "What's important is that these children on the move are children…they should be treated as children," said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programs in Geneva. "They deserve to be protected. They need access to services, such as education."

Of the 28 million children, 10 million are child refugees and one million are asylum-seekers whose status has not yet been determined. 45 percent of the children refugees came from just two countries: Syria and Afghanistan.

The children mentioned are also increasingly traveling alone, with 100,000 being unaccompanied minors applying for asylum in 78 countries in 2015; three times the number in 2014.

Refugee and migrant children face a host of risks including drowning during sea crossings, malnourishment, dehydration, kidnapping, rape and murder. When they arrive in other countries, they often face discrimination and xenophobia. "The world hears the stories of child refugees one child at a time and …is able to bring support to that child, but when we talk about millions it provokes incredible outrage and underscores the need to address the growing problem," said Emily Garin, the report's author.

UNICEF called on the international community to provide protection, education and health services to these children and for governments to address the root causes contributing to the large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
"We'd like to see some clear commitments and practical measures," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth told journalists in New York. "The burden sharing of this crisis is not fair: the greatest burden is supported by neighbouring countries or the poorest countries."
Deaths

At the time of writing, 1,766,336 people have died from Covid 19 in the world, a figure which is terrifying in its own right. Quite correctly, an incredible, global effort has gone into preventing its deathly spread and developing vaccinations to rid us of this awful contagion; or to at least bring it to the level of control, of other ailments which we have to contend with. We cannot begin to contemplate how much this pandemic has cost us in terms of lives, livelihoods lost or interrupted, not to mention the disruption to our everyday routines. Governments have from somewhere, found the means to support those who have lost their jobs and cannot pay their bills. They have kept roofs over their heads and put food on the tables. Tragically, lives have been lost but our way of life will hopefully return to normal, after being put on hold for 18 months or so.

Finding the antidote

While we were consumed with this pandemic, Unicef, Trocaire, Action Aid, Concern and other organisations reminded us about the world of the displaced and the constant need, the requirement to support refugees and the homeless. A tremendous effort is in place to offer provision to the almost 50 million children who have no homes; and many would have died by now but for the support of nations, organisations and individuals who give up their time, skills and finances to provide them with the basic means to survive. But where there is a lost child wandering battlefields, mud-tracks and vast areas of desolation, there are parents and perhaps brothers and sisters who are themselves uprooted and too helpless to be able to return the lost sheep to the fold. This is an issue of gargantuan proportions. Some may argue that it is too complex to be solved with the jab of a needle but it is not today or yesterday, or indeed over a year ago when it first developed. We have had ample time to come up with a solution, an anti-dote, a vaccine.

Children and young people are the future of our society and the illness that can wipe them out is called homelessness. The powerful nations, global companies and gifted scientists of the world have proved that they can act quickly to produce a vaccine, to control a deadly contagion. Governments have acted promptly in garnering the support of their people to act rationally when it comes to preserving lives, and a way of life which is vital for our existence. Take this model now, and apply it with the same dedication, financial support and urgency bring homelessness under control, with a view to finally eradicating the pandemic.

Conclusion

I was listening to a priest speaking at Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock, Co. Mayo, the other day.   I thought his words were so true and warranted a mention. “We must stand for the truth, Justice and values that the Church teaches us”. This January, let us pray for children and young people suffering from homelessness and poverty. Let us see the face of Christ in each and every individual and where possible let us give what we can to making other lives better.

 

Prayer Vigil for Life

This morning I attended a Vigil for Life which was held in Holy Family Church, Ballsgrove, Drogheda.  It was run by the Sisters of Renewal. The singing was heavenly.  The Rosary was recited and prayer intentions were prayed for. It was such a worth while event and I was glad I went. After the hour of Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Mass was offered and the young priest spoke bodly about abortion in Ireland and around the world. Its a must for your diary.

Every 2nd Saturday of the month from 9.45am until around 11.45 you can come along and pray for Life. Please if you live local spread the word. The more who pray for this worthwhile intention the better.  Well done to the sisters for this great initiative.

For so many marvels I thank You

Thanks to Juan Encalada of unsplash for sharing her picture.

You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb. For so many marvels I thank you; a wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.

You knew me through and through, my being held no secrets from you when I was being formed in secret, textured in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes could see my embryo. In your book all my days were inscribed, everyone that was fixed is there. 139 13-16 NJB

As always in the month of December, we pray for the protection of the unborn child in its mother’s womb.

December is the time of Advent, a time of waiting with our Blessed Lady for the birth of Her Son, Jesus Christ. Mary was a humble maiden, who was chosen by God to carry the God man for nine months in her womb and give birth to Him, the Saviour of the world.

Psalm 139 tells us that we have been knit together by God in our mother’s womb. What a beautiful line for reflection. When our adult children have doubts about the existence of God, I always ask them to reflect on this subject. How God has made us and formed us. How a baby can live for 9 months in its mother’s womb and how it quietly is formed over time. I usually point out that man and woman have the ability to put the seed in the womb and fertilize it but that it is only because God has placed this ability in man when he fashioned Him in the womb. It is mind blowing how we are made and formed in the womb and not only that but we are made in the image and likeness of God. How precious, unique and special we all are. God designs each one of us, we have our own unique pattern and then he knits us together in our mother’s womb. In the silence and in secret we are formed.

This month we will reflect on the unborn child and how it is formed stage by stage and how special and beautiful each stage is.

First Month

After the egg has been fertilized with the sperm the cells of the epiblast divide until they form three different types of cells which become the baby’s tissue in the future. The cells of the mesoderm develop also as do the notochord, which replaces the role of the vertebral column till its formation. The size of the embryo is still so small that it cannot even be spotted through an ultrasound yet but it is clearly visible to its creator.

Father in Heaven, we pray for all unborn embryos as you fashion their tissue in this first month of live. As your gentle hand weaves and fashions their little being, please keep them safe from all harm or attack from the outside world. Thank you, Father for the wonder of their being.

Second Month

During the second month of the pregnancy, the spinal cord, the brain, the heart, the intestine, and the skin are formed. The eyes, ears, nose, and upper lip as well as the limbs begin to develop as well. Many things happen throughout this month, in which the embryo starts resembling a human being.

Father in Heaven, we pray for all unborn embryos as you form their vital organs and limbs in this their second month. Please keep them safe from all harm or attack and thank you Father for the wonder of their being.

Third Month

After the third month of pregnancy, the embryonic stage is over and the fetal stage begins, so the embryo is now called fetus. The baby-to-be already has all the organs but they are still developing. Further growth is necessary for them to be considered fully developed. During this month, the male or female genitals are formed as well. However, in spite of this, it is not easy to see the baby's gender yet.

Father in Heaven, we pray for all newly formed fetus’ as they continue to grow and develop in their third month. We ask you to please keep them safe from all harm or attack and thank you Father for the wonder of their being.

Fourth Month

In this month, the fetus is all covered in a downy hair called lanugo. The role of lanugo is to keep the fetus warm, as its body does not produce enough body fat yet.
The vocal cords are formed at this stage but the baby won't be using them until birth. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why children cry right after being delivered, or it is initiated if they do not do it automatically. The purpose of causing them to cry is to ensure that the vocal cords work properly and that the baby responds to stimuli.
The baby's eyes are big, shut, and separated during this phase. Although they are still very separated from each other, the face of your baby is well-defined, and we can now spot a neck, which allows us to differentiate the head from the rest of the body. Teeth begin to show up, although there is still a long process until they are fully out. The outer ear moves upwards.
As your baby's face defines more accurately, its muscles become capable of practicing suckle movements. This is the reason why babies suck their thumb. Skin folds start to develop on the palm of the hands and the fingers—your baby has now a fingerprint. Also, this month, the baby begins to expel urine, which is mixed with amniotic fluid. The functions of his sweat and sebaceous glands begin to develop. The intestine begins to fill with a thick substance secreted by the liver called meconium.

Father in Heaven, we pray for all babies who are now 4 months in their mother’s wombs. At this stage so much new growth is taking place as you weave and fashion. We ask you to keep them all safe from harm or danger and we thank you for the wonder of their being.

Fifth Month

During the fifth month of pregnancy, the internal organs develop faster. As regards the blood system, the heart chambers are completely delimited and the heart beats strongly. Other relevant changes occur at this stage, such as the development of basic senses, including the sense of taste, along with the taste buds. Also, the baby is now able to notice the first sounds and lights. Baby will develop the second layer of teeth during approximately the last weeks of the 5th month. Baby teeth have now developed within the dental alveoli. Millions of neurons are created in the brain, which is almost as developed as it will be by the time of birth.

Father in Heaven, we pray for all your little unborn who are now five months being formed in their mother’s wombs. Thank you for the wonder of their being and please protect them from all harm and evil as they continue to develop.

Sixth Month

In the sixth month, the baby has got hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. The length of the umbilical cord allows him to move in the amniotic sac he is in. These movements facilitate the development of the muscles. The baby is now developing specific sleep and activity patterns. The skin of the baby will lose its translucent appearance and become more consistent. Now, he or she can open and close the eyes, in addition to being able to make gestures such as sticking the tongue out. His body becomes more proportioned in comparison with the head. In short, baby's development is very advanced at this point and he resembles very much a new born baby.

Father in Heaven, we pray for the protection of all unborn babies and we thank you for the wonder of their being.

Seventh Month

Fetal development is at an advanced stage now. During this month, the baby's lungs are fully developed. The skeleton is more consistent because the ossification of the bone tissues. The fat is stored in his body, which will help the baby regulate the body temperature by itself. This will be very useful following birth. The amount of hair covering the baby's body is considerably reduced, and lanugo disappears. The skin gets thicker and pigmented. The iris gets pigmented too.
Father in Heaven, we pray for the protection of all unborn babies and we thank you for the wonder of their being.

Eight Month

The body hair starts falling off and the lungs are almost fully developed. In addition to being able to feel the light and hear sounds, the olfactory neurons are formed and the baby can now perceive the strong smells that you might encounter, a sign that the brain is still developing.

Father in Heaven, we pray for the protection of all unborn babies and we thank you for the wonder of their being.

Ninth Month

The baby gets the head stuck in the mother's pelvis. Both his stomach and intestine are now working. The skin is no longer wrinkled but softer thanks to the fat cells of the skin. His skin colour has turned from reddish to more pinkish, and it is now more similar to the skin colour he will have at birth. The nails are now well formed, reaching the end of the fingers. He will turn his head down to prepare for labour.

Father in Heaven, we thank you for all you have done to form new life in so many mother’s wombs. Nine months of knitting together new life, forming and developing until they are ready to be born into the world. Thank you, Father for the gift of new life in the world, for making us so wonderful and so special and for the wonder of each and every human being. We pray now for the safe delivery of all unborn babies and for the health of their mothers. We pray also for all babies whose pattern never gets finished for whatever reason. We pray for all who are not happy with what you are creating and who rip up what you have knit together stitch by stitch until it is no more. We pray that everyone you have ever created will come to know the wonder of their being. Finally we pray for all medical staff who deliver and care for your little ones. Amen.

Job 10:11
You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.

Psalm 119:73
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding to learn Your commandments.

Ecclesiastes 11:5
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the bones are formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

Isaiah 44:24
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by Myself spread out the earth.

References:

Psalm 139: 13-16 NJB
Job 10:11
Psalm 119:73
Ecclesiastes 11:5
inviTRA

Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord

As always in the month of November we remember children and young people who have died and we pray for their souls. We will also pray for the souls of children and young people who are living. Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:8).

St. Matthew tells us in Sacred Scripture not to be afraid of those who (can) kill the body but (who) cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28). It is for this reason we are praying for the souls of the living and the dead.

So, what is our soul? How would you describe it? The dictionary describes it as a person, or as the spirit and essence of a person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as human life or the entire human person. But soul also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: ‘Soul’ signifies the spiritual principle in man. (CCC. 363). From her innermost aspect, in the Canticle of our Blessed Lady, Mary tells us that Her Soul, “proclaims the greatness of the Lord”, (Luke 1:46). Clearly, it is the source from which we draw our range of emotions, as it was with Jesus, who stated, during His Agony in the Garden: “My soul is sorrowful, even to death.” For me I would say my soul is the place within me where I meet God and communicate with Him. It is where God dwells within me, a tabernacle where he can reside.

Every spiritual soul is created immediately by God. It does not perish when it separates from the body in death and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection. (CCC 366). When a person dies, if their soul is not in a state of grace, then it will need to be purified in order to see the Pure vision of God in Heaven (the Beatific Vision). This is why we pray for the deceased. (CCC 1030, 1032). One might say children and young people are pure, so why the need to pray for them? Not all are in a state of Grace. Our world is full of temptation and we were all born with original sin and because of this, most of us will need some form of purification. (CCC405). Let us pray for all young people who have died and remember their parents who miss them dearly.

We pray also this month for the souls of children and young people who are still living in this world. At Baptism the baby is given new life in Christ Jesus. It is welcomed into the family of God (CCC 1277). As the child grows, it receives the Sacraments of First Confession and Holy Communion and later, it receives the gift of the Holy Spirit into its soul, in the Sacrament of Confirmation. God continues to nourish the soul with His Sacraments and to give all the Divine help needed to attain Salvation. Because we are weak human beings born with original sin, we sometimes do things that are not pleasing to God. As Saint Paul puts it: “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.” (GNT Romans 7:17). Jesus Christ understood our weak nature when he taught us to pray His prayer to the Father: “…And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”, (Matthew 6:13).

It is good to pray for the souls of children and young people living today, as there are so many temptations out there to lead them astray and the power of prayer can sometimes be their only help. Being young, one does not always think of owning a soul or indeed saving it. The emphasis tends towards outward bodily needs. Christians in any state or walk of life are called to holiness, (CCC 2013). “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, (Matthew 5:48)”. Our Blessed Lady calls us all to convert to her Son, Jesus Christ, to live a life of prayer and of peace. In this time of Covid 19, there is far more time to pray, so let us pray for our young that they may be perfect, as their heavenly Father is perfect.

Love your neighbour as yourself

Photo - Tyler Nix - Unsplash

After much prayer and thought, our prayer intention this month of October is for the protection of young people against “Party Culture.”

This article is not to condemn young people but rather to try and understand their world of thinking and behaving, and to pray for their safety and protection. Not all young people are lured by the party culture but those who are, leave themselves open to self-harm and possibly a life time of regret.

As we are all well aware, Covid 19 has arrived in our world and is slow about going away. In the meantime, people’s lives have been taken out of their control and new rules and norms have had to be put in place by the world leaders/Governments. Most people find change a challenge, are slow to adapt to it, or never stop fighting against it. A lot is being asked of everyone including children and young people. Party culture has always been around in some shape or form. Young people are full of life and the very process of ‘growing-up’ and ‘maturing’ brings great changes and trials which they must face up to. Some meet these challenges with an undaunting spirit; fear of danger is not part of their worlds and often times it can be a case of ‘jump in’ without thinking. To corral, isolate or fetter these life-affirming souls for any length, with no satisfactory end in sight, results in the inevitable.

In June of this year, just as the world had begun to get a handle on the pandemic, the Guardian newspaper reported on parties and raves across Europe, sparking fears then, of a Covid 19 surge . Of course, there were other indicators to suggest this and not all came from the activities of children and young people.

In recent times we have read many reports of incidents where young people held parties or failed to observe simple Covid guidelines. On 22nd September, a rave was held in Oliver Bond flats, Dublin city. On the 29th September RTE reported on student parties continuing in Cork despite Covid 19 restrictions. On 29th September, large crowds of young people packed together partying at the Spanish Arch in Galway city. On the 4th of October, the youthful players, family members, supporters and inhabitants of the area, all celebrated wildly and without restrictions the victory of Blackrock hurling club in the senior championships, in Cork. Similar scenes in Meath, Waterford and Northern Ireland, prompted the GAA to suspend all club championships.

These are but a few occasions where the celebration of life’s successes were practised as normal by the younger generation (and in some cases, their elders). As previously indicated, it is not just Ireland that has this problem. Europe and many other parts of the world are experiencing partying without Covid restrictions. In Spain, vacant houses are being broken into, to house raves. Drink and drug use have come to the fore during the pandemic. Crowds swarmed the Great Wall of China during that country’s most recent holiday week.

Despite multiple warnings and instructions on how to keep safe and restrict the virus, many young people choose to disobey orders and do their own thing. As Christians, we are all part of the one Mystical Body of Christ. When one part of that body hurts, all other parts do too. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all. The authority required by the moral order derives from God… Perhaps some young people seek parties, noise and worldly ways because they do not know God, perhaps do not seek Him; or simply choose to disobey Him. St. Teresa of Calcutta says in her Essential Writings that God cannot be found in noise, distractions or agitation. Saint Augustine, a saint who probably would understand young people, as he was a wayward child himself, said: “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in God”. Is it this restlessness that stirs the hearts of our young people? When obedience is a thing of the distant past other innocent people will suffer as a result.

The elderly, the sick and the vulnerable who keep the Covid 19 rules are at the risk of prolonged suffering and ultimately painful death, as a result of the lack of action of some others, including their young and not so young relations; and they worry about the harm that the young people are doing to themselves.

Let us remember, so, our restless young people who constantly put themselves and others in danger, as they pursue the “party culture”. Let us pray that their leaders, elders and betters show better example to them, than some have been displaying off late. May their hearts seek God, may they find Him and may they rest in Him alone.

 

References:

Guardian Newspaper, June 26th, 2020
www.thejournal.ie
Irish Mirror online
Irish Examiner
CNN.com
CCC1897
CCC 1900

Child of God
We are delighted to post our new video on prayforchildren.net. Many thanks to Joanne Kieran, a well known Drogheda musician/composer who composed the wonderful song "Child of God" and who has given us her kind permission to use it. We hope you enjoy the video and continue to pray for God's little one's.

"I will strengthen you and help you." Isiah 41:10

September Intention

This month we are praying for the protection of children and young people against the dangers of the cyber world. Today we live in rapidly changing times. Technology provides us with the most modern, fastest means of communication, to every part of our world. In these challenging times, it offers great advantages, particularly to the disadvantaged and most isolated of us. But, it is also the means by which those most vulnerable of us may be targeted for all the wrong reasons.

I remember when our youngest daughter was two and a half years old. My parents were babysitting her for us. I told my mam to put on our daughter’s favourite, children’s video and she would watch it. My poor mam did not have a clue how to turn on the video player, never mind put in a video tape. Our little bundle quickly ran over to the machine and said: “It’s OK, Granny”. She selected the right tape, turned on the machine, put the video in, pressed the play button and proceeded to watch the film. My bewildered but proud parents could not believe how much the little child knew about technology; and that was nearly 24 years ago! How much quicker and knowledgeable children and young people have become these days, with the rapid advances in the use of the internet, mobile phones, Bluetooth and wireless technology.

The many dangers associated with the use of technology in a modern world have been well documented and highlighted. Access to even a small part of what is on offer to our children and young people can be very dangerous. The protections that we as parents and carers are required by law to provide, are more difficult to erect, when barriers crumble at the touch of a button; our children are no longer allowed to be children. They are being stripped of their innocence and opened up to a world of exploitation, artificiality, vice and bullying.
Yes, parents do their very best to protect their children, especially when they are young and mostly confined to a home environment. But work commitments, financial considerations, peer pressure and the bombardment of the family unit with promises of wonders unconfined wear down the need to be vigilant. “Where would you like to go today?”, was one of the earliest, great enticements, to sign up to the internet. That offer remains, but has been expanded, to allow you access to the thoughts of anyone, anywhere who has created their own blog. It is an open invitation to connect with your favourite personalities or even the President of the United States.

Our wonderful, beautiful, intelligent children whether by their own inquisitive means or egged on or leaned upon by their peers, seem to have an ability to find out more than they should. The privacy and safety of home life is invaded and nothing is sacred any more. Bullying, where it once was done outside of the home can now be done in the child’s bedroom. Heartland is a Canadian family drama, the most recent episodes of which featured the impact of cyber bullying on one of the central, younger characters, Georgie. It highlighted the fear and anxiety caused by the cruel, on-line comments, on an otherwise talented but very impressionable person. There was no place for her to hide, either from the on-line comments, her own innate insecurities or the cruel taunts in the street, generated by the blog. She was forced to try and physically run away from it. Fortunately for her, she ran into the arms of her mother, who offered her the initial reassurance required to calm her down. Through the magic of the script, the main culprit was identified and Georgie went on to use her own talent and regained self-belief to overcome the damage caused. In real life, not all endings are this happy.
Gambling on line, is also there at the push of a button; adult and porn sites also, to entice anyone who presses the wrong button, or even the right one. Advertising and articles on news feeds pop up to influence the thinking and beliefs of anyone who will read them, irrespective of the content. Incorrect information, ‘fake news’ and certain trends are dangerous in the hands of our impressionable young, and even not so young.

Correct balance and informed judgement, are values children and young people require to thrive on. As one trolls through the news feeds, there is an overwhelming sense of too much glamour, perfect hair, pure white teeth, perfect figures, and ways and means to help you obtain them. There is an attitude that things must be “perfect” in an imperfect world. Pressure is placed on the shoulders of our young and this leads to anxieties. A front-page article in the Sunday Independent of 13th September, 2020, highlighted the soaring use of anti-depressant medication among children, under the age of 11 years. In total, children up to the age of 15 have been prescribed anti-depresssants, 4,571 times over the last 10-year period. The report did not include figures for this year, which encompasses the Covid-19 pandemic.
My mother had an old saying: “It’s no use locking the stable door when the horse is gone”. Another one was: “Prevention is better than a cure.” It is easy enough to dismiss these adages as hackneyed but they do have a basis in sound reasoning. With the world full of Covid 19, diseases and many other viruses, and, as a result, people having to lockdown, isolate, cocoon or quarantine, there is a much greater opportunity, perhaps requirement to communicate through the means of technology. Parts of our lives are orbiting in cyber space. While this can no doubt, be good and helpful, as a means of vital contact, especially between families, overuse can also draw young people away from family members; and isolate them.

We pray that God’s little one’s will not be lost in the world of cybernation and will not fall prey to evil within it. Making space and time for God, family and the beautiful world of nature that God has given us is important. Let us pray for our young, that they will have a healthy and safe balance in their use of modern technology.

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

August 2020 Intention

We pray for the protection of children and young people against the vices of sexual exploitation and behaviours against the body.

This month, after much prayer and thought, we decided to write about the evil that sex offences can cause to children and young people. Sex abuse and deviation were listed among the sins committed by the entire population of Sodom and Gomorrah - despite Abraham’s pleas, no innocent people were found. In Genesis 19, there is an account of Lot offering his virgin daughters to the townsmen of Sodom, if they will spare the two men (actually angels from God), who have sheltered in his house. Shocking as this was when first suggested to us as young children growing up in Ireland, the modern proliferation of sex trafficking, prostitution, paedophilia and sexual abuse in families, parishes, sports clubs and even the scouting movement, has, it can be argued, numbed us into a state of complacency, when what the situation clearly demands is urgent action on all our parts, if the innocent children and young people directly concerned, are to be saved. We regret that such a wide area of vital interest cannot be covered properly in this article.

Having spent my teens growing up in the company of a number of paedophiles, and knowing first-hand the terror and evil that children and teenagers suffer at the hands of evil, anytime that I have read the many accounts of sexual exploitation of children and young people, proliferating in the media, has brought back unpleasant memories. In the past few years, while travelling in Spain, inglorious weather, towards heavily advertised, beautiful family beaches and resorts, sometimes accompanied by our children, we would notice very young girls at roundabouts just outside town limits. They would be scantily dressed, heavily made up and obviously…waiting. While in the backs of our minds, we feared the obvious and passed their presence off to our children with some lame excuse, it was confirmed for us later, that what we were witnessing were acts of ‘lawful’ solicitation. True, there were at times some older women, but they were mostly, it appeared, young girls, alone or working sometimes in pairs; and on an approach road to the same roundabout, there were sometimes people selling agricultural produce. The girls are still there, to this day and my heart breaks to see these beautiful souls ending up like this.

My husband and I would class ourselves as ordinary people, somewhat cocooned perhaps, especially in the present climate of Covid-19, but our ‘sheltered’ upbringing and present lives have not protected us from being exposed to the horrors of perversion and exploitation. We must think of the people who feel a need to avail of these services because they are the customers in this ‘business’, without whom it would not exist. We must also think of society as a whole and the terrible damage that is being done to its overall reputation, while these crimes continue, too many to be crushed by the machinery of justice administration. Collectively, we are all ‘infected’ by this particular sin and ironically, the safe distancing and social exclusion required to ‘defeat’ Covid-19, appeared to bring some relief to the victims, and society as a whole, from these devious and immoral acts, if only for a short while. How can we strengthen the lessons learned from these practical approaches to one problem, which might also solve an even greater one?

Prayer might seem useless but to those who pray with real faith, it can move mountains in ways we never truly know. Sex crimes against children and young people are crimes that have been and will always be in the world, as long as evil exists. Broken trust, lies and deceit are all part of the behaviour. The little child and teenager are the silent hidden victims. They have no voice, only the still cry, the quiet, desperate prayer for help. Like our Blessed Lady, they learn to silently ponder all these things in their hearts. This is not something any child or teenager should have to deal with.

So, please, if you can, pray for this intention and ask God to help those  little ones and protect them from such evil.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor

For the month of July we are praying for children and young people affected by poverty.  

We all know of the terrible poverty in our world and now with covid 19 there will be even more.  Many people have lost their jobs, young and not so young.  The lower paid jobs have been hit and this only means that the poor will become poorer. I often give out because so many begging letters from various charities come in to my mail box. Recently, I received as many as three letters from the same charity in one week along with several others from other agencies. When this happens, I always ask myself:  "what does Jesus tell me to do in Sacred Scripture", and the answer is "Give to everyone who asks." This may not always be possible, but to try is the thing.  It is important not to forget those who have less than we have.  We are all knit from the same fabric; we all belong to God. If it is not possible to give money, at least give your time and a smile.  Oftentimes, in a world starved of love a smile is all that is needed.  A smile can warm a soul and give it the love of Jesus.  Sometimes, it can be the little things that will help the poor.  The person sitting on a wet street may ask for money but may get much more when the person giving the money asks them how they are; and offers a listening ear or a warm smile. "I care to take time to recognise Jesus living in you", is the message you give to that person.  Othertimes, it could be a person you know who has very little with which to make ends meet, and just by offering food in a kind way, can often be a lifesaver.  When you give to a family in need, you give to their children; and you give to Christ.  I am often surprised to hear some people say: "It's my money, I earned it".  Everything we own is God's.  Everything we have has been gifted to us by God.  This month of July, let us remember the poor in our streets, in our town, perhaps living beside us and in our world.  Let us see the face of Christ in the poor and give as generously, as he gives to us.

Wait for the Lord, Be Strong and let your heart take Courage

June 2020 Intention

As the Covid 19 virus still continues in the world, so we continue to pray for all who are affected by it. This month of June, we pray for children and young people who have had their lives put on hold and have entered a time of waiting. Some are waiting with God, while others are waiting for God. We pray for all the children around the world who are waiting for Jesus to come into their souls upon the reception of their First Holy Communion. We pray for all the children who are waiting for God to send them His Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation. We pray also for all the leaving certificate students and all young people doing exams, who have to wait with God, and pray for a good grade based on past merits.

In our prayer, we ask God to be with all these children and young people and to grant them the grace to wait. Waiting has always been part of God’s plan for His people – Psalm 123 – 2, James 5: 7-8, Luke 12: 35-40, Romans 8: 23-25. Moses liberated the Israelites, who had been waiting and praying, after many years of enslavement by the Egyptian Pharaohs. Jesus had to wait: The Jews tried to capture and kill Him on more than one occasion, but he eluded them, as His hour had not yet come. Some saints often waited for things to happen: The Little Flower, St. Terese of Lisieux, as a young girl, had to wait to enter the convent. Now, in 2020, the world has entered a time of waiting.

We pray that our young people will grow in patience and understanding, during this time; and will be all the richer and better off for having this down-time with God.

In the quiet Lord, I seek your face.

For now and the foreseeable future we will pray for people suffering from Covid 19. We are all God’s children no matter what age we are, so it is fitting that we pray for everyone during this pandemic. This virus has taken the world by surprise. We were all going about our everyday lives, when suddenly they were drastically altered and everything came to a stand still. One might ask where is God in all of this? How could he let this happen?

One truth we must all grasp is that God is not in anyway, directly or indirectly, the cause of evil. He illuminates the mystery of evil in his Son Jesus Christ, who died and rose in order to vanquish that great moral evil, human sin, which is at the root of all other evils, Cf. (Com. of CCC 57). When I was much younger, many times I remembered my mother saying: “Out of evil, cometh good.” As I grew up, I thought of these words when bad or evil things happened and I learned to see the goodness of God at work in every situation. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil. This was realised in a wondrous way by God in the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from the greatest of all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he has brought forth the greatest of all goods (the glorification of Christ and our redemption), Cf. (Com. of CCC 58).

To try and make some sense out of all that has happened over the last few months and is still happening, let us look at things through the eyes of a loving God. The worst part of this virus is the number of people, especially the old and infirm, that have died. Some were physically weak, with underlying symptoms and/or co-morbidities, yes, but none of them expected to die as the result of this virus. God in his mercy and love took them home to be with him to share a much better life with Him in heaven. What about all the younger people who died? God also took them home to be with Him. Death is the inevitable end to our earthly lives. We all must go through it. We never know when it will happen, only that it will. God gives us hope to deal with death: the hope of resurrection to new, eternal life.

Jobs have been lost, while others work from home. In the most pleasant of Spring weather, the café culture has vanished, pubs are closed. Fiestas and public events are banned indefinitely. Stock markets have plummeted, wiping millions of share prices. But there are definite pluses. Cease-fires have been called in countries where wars have been raging for many years. Drug dealers in some parts of America use their extensive network of ‘runners’ to deliver food parcels to those most in need. In all that has happened, it has brought a certain calm and greater silence to the world; a quiet place where we can breath again. We can hear God’s whisper once more. God had seen the way the world was going. It was as if He had said, ‘Stop, enough of this madness! I am in charge and these are my people. I want to help them.”

I have heard my adult children commenting on how the lock down has helped them. Two of them are currently out of work as a result of the pandemic, but they are not phased by it. They are glad of the rest, the quiet time. Our sons, who are very busy with work, are also glad not to have to travel, as more can be done at home. Our married daughter is now working from home and is so happy to have so much more time with her husband and her dog. Her job involved some travel and many long evenings. Michael and I are in lockdown in Spain, completely cut off from family, friends or neighbours in Ireland. Yet, we have had more contact with them, through the wonders of technology, than if we had been at home.

Physical attendance at Mass is no longer possible, but thanks to the wonderful kindness of our priests in our Irish Parish, we are enriched through daily mass and Eucharistic Adoration each day on the web-cam. We are no longer able to physically receive Jesus in Holy Communion, only in Spiritual Communion and yet we feel God has nourished us completely each day with his Sacred Word. We, as a couple now pray each day, side by side. We watch Mass and Eucharistic Adoration and we even do Lectio Divina, once a week together. Would this be the case back in Ireland if things were “normal”?

This pandemic is a great threat to our health and the structures of our existence. There are small but significant groups of people in each country who continue to battle on behalf of each man, woman and child to save their lives, a thin white line of critical intervention. How many new saints are there now in heaven, so many wonderful people who have laid down their lives in the service of others? “No greater love has man than to give his life for another.” So many people are following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, in their ordinary everyday life situations. We are called to a life of holiness, to a life of love of God and love of neighbour as one’s self. I have read so many stories since the outbreak of Covid 19, especially those of doctors, nurses, care professionals and many others who mopped a fevered brow or held the hand of a dying person. Theirs was the voice of love and re-assurance when people were alone and isolated, in the forced absence of loved ones and family members, who were unable to be with them on their journey from death to new life. This is true holiness, loving one’s neighbour as oneself. This love is also an interior reality; the grace of the Holy Spirit, which makes possible such love. Cf. (Com of CCC 420).

Finally, after a Lenten time of imposed and voluntary penance for all people; during the silence of Easter with no ceremonies, and empty churches; where even the Holy Father in Rome had no congregation, our religious people, normally so busy at Easter, were given a much needed rest, a gentler, simpler time with God. He has called each and every one of us back to Himself. In silence, He desires that we come back to Him, that we trust in Him and we spend this valuable time with Him, resting in His gentle arms. Amen.

Covid19 Prayer

Dear Jesus,

A terrible evil is upon us now,
The evil of an unknown virus.
Many have died,
Others are very ill, Isolated and alone.
Jobs have been lost and the future looks bleak.
More will go hungry
And happiness will seem a part of our past.

Help us to cling to you in faith.
Do not let us fall into despair.
Show us the way of Holiness and
Send us the Holy Spirit to guide
And instruct us on that journey.
Please turn all our sadness into a vision of hope,
The one that Jesus Christ gave us on the Cross.
Dispel all fear from our hearts and
Fill them with your holy love.
Teach us to work together with a spirit of unity
And strengthen us with the Word of God.
Reveal yourself to us in our neighbours and
may we share with them in charity and love.
Remind us to count our blessings in
Each living moment.
Should our time of death arrive,
Fill us with thanksgiving and praise
And lead us to the place where we will
See the glory and vision of God.
Amen.

 

They may look but not perceive, listen but not understand.

This month of February we will be praying for children, young people and their families who have been affected by the evil of drugs. Our world is rapidly changing and with each change comes more dangers.  Drugs and addictions are vastly becoming a major scourge in our society. Let us pray for all who have been affected, that they may find a way back to the light of Christ.  

Money is the root of all evil

In an ever-changing world, one might ask what is its driving force? A very good answer might be, money. As a young person growing up, I constantly heard my mother say that money was the root of all evil. I heard what she said but it never really sunk in until I was much older. The desire for riches and the ‘quick-fix’ felt by some children and young persons, leads them to fall into the hands of the ‘wrong people’. This month, specifically, we are praying for young people and their families who are affected by the scourge of illegal drugs, their trafficking and use.

Drug pushing, use and addiction are awful evils in society. Lives, families and souls are destroyed by them. Only last week, all of us in Drogheda saw the true evil that crime and drug abuse causes. A young man lost his life in the most gruesome way anyone could have imagined. There are no words to describe what his family are suffering.

That five-letter word, "Money" was wholly or partly to blame. His parish priest pulled no punches at the young man’s funeral when he said: “…I hope that his death will be a warning to other young teenagers who are being groomed by the ruthless criminals, that the promise of money and gifts will inevitably end in tragedy.” Indeed, in society as a whole, everything has been cheapened; even life itself. As a mother my heart goes out to all mothers who have to suffer because a child of theirs has got caught up in addiction of some kind or another. You wonder what will come through your door next. Your fears heighten at the thoughts of recent events: ‘Will I be burying my child in the near future?’ This is no life for a parent, not to mention the horrors that the young person himself or herself has to endure. What has gone wrong in society?

When I first became a mother at the tender age of 22, I wondered how I was going to rear this beautiful child, given to me by God. When I bought a washing machine, a new TV or any household item, I was given an instruction manual with it. Where was the book of directions for my new bundle of joy?

There is the most amazing manual given to us by God on how we should live and not live. It’s very in-depth and needs constant referring to. What is this manual and where do I get a copy? Well as life has taught me, it is of course the Holy Bible and it can be purchased in most good book shops. Growing up as a young person the Bible was something you used in school or in church and that was that. It was only in my married life that I came to take it up, read and find great instruction and comfort in it. Our Christian faith teaches us all we need to know and do, to live good lives.

Another saying I have heard over the years is "you cannot put an old head on young shoulders." This is true in a lot of cases. Robbie Williams may have picked up on something that George Bernard Shaw once said about youth being wasted on the young, but this does not have to be the case. God who made us, loved us into being and wants only what is good and right for us. He gives us all we need in life through the family we live with and the people in our communities.

Wisdom is a gift that God gives us, especially when we ask for it in prayer. The book of Proverbs speaks about choosing wisdom (Proverbs 4:1-27). It tells us that the path of the upright is like the light of dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day; the way of the wicked is as dark as night, they cannot tell the obstacles they stumble over. I had often thought as they were growing up, that I didn’t have enough wisdom to instruct my children correctly. As I grew older, though, my children would turn to me and ask for some sound advice on different issues; and I could feel wisdom pop up its wise, old head.

Our dignity as human beings is found in God alone (Ps. 8:4-6), not in money or possessions. We tend to be easily led and tempted, often towards the things that bring us down and are not good for us. Jesus Christ, as a young man while here on earth was also tempted, but he overcame his temptations by entrusting himself to His Father in heaven through prayer, (Lk4: 1-14). Jesus shows us how to overcome temptations and desires. Indeed, in the Lord's prayer, "The Our Father" (Mt. 6: 9-13), there is a line where we ask God to help us not to be led into temptation. Jesus Christ lived on earth as a human being, but his nature was also Divine. He knew the struggles and temptations we would have to endure here on earth and he gave us all ways to overcome them. (Mt. 5: 29). As baptised Christians, we have the Spirit of God with us and in us, 1Jn. 4:13. What greater power can one have than this?

If only we would listen to God's voice and not harden our hearts with evil and sinful ways, how much better life would be for us all! We came into this world with nothing and we will leave it with nothing except for the good we do while alive. People who long to be rich, are prey to trial. They get trapped by all kinds of foolish and harmful ambitions, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evil and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith and so have given their souls any number of fatal wounds – (1 Timothy 6: 8-10). Life does not have to be like this as change back to the right path is always possible; and love can conquer all. In the great parable of The Prodigal Son, the father waited for many years with love in his heart and open arms for wandering son to come to his senses and return home by the right road. He did not close the door on him. No, his was always open, waiting, hoping and praying for his child’s safe return. This is the example that all parents must follow. Children on the other hand have been asked by God to be obedient to their parents and when they follow this path, life will flow much smoother.

Yes, there are many temptations, challenges and trials in our world and there is much evil too but what we must remember is that there is always hope: Nothing is impossible to God. Pray often, asking for God's help; and when lost as to what to do next, take out that wonderful instruction manual on life, and search for the answer.

When we read the Word.
Meditate on the Word.
Pray with the Word.

Its the year of the Word. Why not read a small passage of Sacred Scripture each day and let God speak to your heart.
Here is a light explanation of the Mass. Why not read it with your child/children it is important that we all understand what happens at this holy sacrifice.