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.

The Lord hears the cry of the poor

This month of April, let us remember all those who are suffering from starvation.  There is so much hunger in our world today.  This should not be the case as a lot of countries have an overproduction of food.  What is the real cause of people dying from starvation? Perhaps it could be from a lack of love. Greed is the opposite to love, love of self denies love of others.  Change only has to start with each individual person.  If everyone ate less, then they would be more conscious of what others did not have instead of thinking of what they want and should have.  Christ did not think of himself, instead he thought of others needs.  He did without quiet time in prayer in order to feed the multitude, His compassion reached out to all.  This lent, this month of April along with praying for starving children and their families, put your hand into your pocket and give a little to children who have nothing.  Think of the waste that happens at meal times or in restaurants where a lot of food is thrown into bins.  If less was put on the plates more could be given to those in great need.  The widow in the gospel put in all she had.  We are not asked to do the same but to open our hearts to those with no food. Every time we look at all we have on our plates let us think of those who have nothing and donate something small to them.  The problem of starvation is a huge problem and one that you or I cannot solve but we can open our hearts to the cry of the poor. 

This Lent, you could choose to reflect on the Holy Wounds of Jesus Christ. Pray for little children who suffer so much and unite their sufferings to those of Christ's.
Why not give your child something meaningful to colour this Holy Week and explain the meaning of the picture to them.
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.

Let the little children come to me, do not stop them

Sr. Clare Crockett

Another month is here and this time we will pray for all the children around the world who are preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. March 2019 Intention

Recently I was watching a film about a young nun from Derry in Northern Ireland. Her name was Sr. Clare Crockett. She was a young lady, a budding actress who left her career and the open doors to fame behind, to give her life to God. She was described by her mother "as being dramatic, she wanted to go to Hollywood and she was going to be a great star. She made a film, she did interviews, she got offered a job and was asked to make another film. And then she left and went with the Sisters."

What struck me most as I watched the short film made about her life was the way in which she prepared the little children she was teaching in Ecuador for their first Holy Communion. I was so struck with the reverence those little children had for Jesus in the holy Eucharist. As they processed to the altar to receive Holy Communion, their hands were joined, their heads bowed in prayer and not a glance or even a smile was given to parents, relatives or friends. Their total focus was on Jesus. These children seemed so small and yet Sr. Clare had managed to impart to them this holy reverence that is needed in the presence of God. Sr. Clare's attitude was: it is either yes or no; everything or nothing, black or white, but not halfway. This attitude showed in the way she prepared the little children for their first Holy Communion, exemplifying her motto of All or Nothing.

As little children prepare to receive Jesus today, what is their preparation like? Is it about Jesus or the things that surround their day - dress, money, friends, family etc. Will Jesus be the centre of their attention when they come to meet him on that special day?

Today's Sunday mass was a preparation mass for all those who will be making their Confirmation. The children were present along with their parents/guardians and their sponsors. Our parish priest highlighted the special, very important role of the child’s sponsor in his/her preparation for receiving the sacrament. The choice of sponsor is critical and the person selected must be qualified in accordance with Canon 874. He or she must be a Catholic, confirmed, having received Holy Communion and leading a life of faith in keeping with the role for which he or she has been selected. The sponsor will be an ever-present support for the candidate in their journey to receiving the Holy Spirit, share in going to Mass on Sunday, explaining why it is important to be there and why it is important to follow Jesus, and act as God would want us.( www.answers.com)

In asking not only the children and their sponsors, but also the parents/guardians and the entire congregation to undertake a support role for the candidates in their preparation for the sacrament, it is clear that being a role model, guide, mentor, parent is not just an undertaking which ends with the ceremony on the day, but is one which must continue throughout the life of the child. It is that strong and that important a commitment and one which you realise more and more as you gain wisdom with age! In your life and indeed in your death, it is necessary that people gave witness to the fact that you were a follower and a believer.

Let us pray for all God's little one's as they prepare to meet him in the Holy Eucharist, and in Confirmation and let us also pray for their parents, teachers, families and friends that they too will be like Sr. Clare in the way they help them to prepare for their encounter with Christ.

 

As we forgive those who trespass against us

This month of February we will remember children and young people who have suffered from any kind of abuse.

Introduction

There are many different types of abuse and while some are quite obvious, others are not. No child should ever have to suffer any form of abuse, be it verbal, emotional, physical or sexual, but unfortunately children do suffer these tortures. Such abuses are a part of their lives and, unfortunately and shamefully for mankind, a part of his existence.

Abuse suffered in childhood, unless detected and treated, will affect the child into adulthood; and when that adult has children of its own, there is a risk of the abuse continuing into that person’s family. By watching and imitating others, young children learn how to interact socially. They learn acceptable and unacceptable kinds of behaviour. The examples set by adults, older siblings and children are the most powerful influences shaping a child's behaviour and personality.

One way children learn is by copying what others do. If men and women do not treat each other equally, the child will observe, learn and probably copy this behaviour. If adults shout at each other, behave violently towards each other, exclude or discriminate against others, children will learn this type of behaviour. If adults treat others with kindness, respect and patience, children will follow their example. If mothers and fathers treat each other with love and respect, this is what their children will learn and most likely 'replay' in their adult relationships. Cf. (http://www.factsforlifeglobal.org)

As we know from media reports and, in some cases, personal experiences, certain children have and do suffer abuse in their little lives. Whether it is abuse in the home, at school, in sports’ clubs or other organisation or even in the Church, this action is wrong and harms God's little ones. In this article, I do not wish to write any more on the hurt and pain that children have suffered; rather I would like to look at abuse with a different slant.

How did Jesus react to Abuse?

As a Christian, a follower of Christ, I try to model my behaviour on that of His. I try to look on how He did things and how He reacted to situations and at least aim to do the same as Him, where humanly possible. One might say that this an unreal and far too simplistic approach and query what the author might know about abuse. Without going into detail, I suffered many different kinds of abuse as a child and the one thing that carried me through the ordeal, was the faith that my dear mother had passed on to me. My mother was called Mary after our Blessed Lady and, indeed, she had tremendous devotion to Mary our Blessed Mother in Heaven; and she passed on her love of the Mother of God to me. I was so blessed as a child because I had two mothers - my mother here on earth and my spiritual mother in heaven.

My mother had a lot to cope with, as my sister was bedridden most of her life. When I had problems, I would not burden my mother with them. Instead, I would run up to our local church, to a white statue on our Lady's side altar there, and I would kneel and pray to Mary my Spiritual Mother: I would tell her all my problems. I always found strength and courage to cope with the awful abuses that I endured from a very young age.

Recently I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St. Mary's. I was asking God what our prayer intention for February should be. Immediately, abuse came to mind, and as I pondered on the subject, I began to see Jesus as a victim of abuse, not as a child but as a young adult. I had never seen Jesus in this light before, despite the fact that I had understood all that he had suffered, especially during His persecution and crucifixion. I just did not see it as abuse. But it very much was. So how did Jesus react to His abusers?

Jesus had two natures, divine and human. He came to earth and lived as man. He understood our human condition, but He was also Divine, the Son of God. And being Divine, he was pure love. He could only act out of this pure love. St. Paul describes love to us in his first letter to the Corinthians:

"Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Cf. (1 Cor: 13:4-7, NJB).Let us look at Christ's persecution and crucifixion in the light of pure love:

In the Garden of Gethsemane

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and His soul was sorrowful to the point of death, he fell on His face and prayed. He felt the weight of what was about to happen to Him. He must also have felt the anger and bitterness and remembered the cruel things that people had thought and said about Him; but he chose to be even more concerned for their souls, and their lack of love.

At His arrest, "one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck the high priest's servant and cut off his ear." Jesus reacted to this man's physical abuse by telling him to put his sword back. His follower had used physical abuse and Jesus indicated that this was not the way to act. Cf. (Mt. 26:51-52 NJB). When charges were being brought against Him, Jesus was silent (Mt. 26:63 NJB). They spat in the face of Jesus and hit him with their fists; others jeered him. (Mt.26:67, 68).

Jesus is crowned with thorns.

"Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him, "And having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' "And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion. Cf. (Mt.27: 27-31, NJB). Here we see horrible abuse being inflicted on Jesus, Christ, the Son of God and there is no reaction from Him but silence.

Jesus Carries His Cross

Jesus was made to carry a heavy wooden cross on a badly beaten and torn body. In fact, he was so weak that a man from the crowd called Simon from Cyrene, was seized and made to help Jesus carry His cross. Cf. (Lk 23:26, NJB) Physical abuse was heaped upon physical abuse and the Lamb of God, gentle and meek, still remained silent. In St. Paul's words, Love is always ready to endure whatever comes.

The Crucifixion

Even as Jesus was being crucified, He had nothing in his heart only love and mercy. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him, "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." Cf. (Lk 23:33,34 NJB). Here, Jesus shows us how to behave towards those who abuse us in any way. The Lord's Prayer, the Our Father also gives us this instruction, TO FORGIVE. Jesus tells us in Sacred Scripture that we must forgive many, many times, over and over again.

The Crucified Christ is Mocked

“The people stayed there watching. As for the leaders they jeered at him with the words, 'He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.' The soldiers mocked him too, coming up to him, offering him vinegar, and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself’." Cf. (Lk 23:35,36, NJB). Here, Jesus is suffering verbal abuse and yet again there is no reaction from Him.

The Death of Jesus

“It was now about the sixth hour and the sun's light failed, so that darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, The veil of the Sanctuary was torn right down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice saying, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' With these words he breathed his last." Cf. (Lk 23:44-46). Jesus was tortured, abused verbally, emotionally and physically and yet he was pure love to the very end. Jesus was always ready to make allowances. He trusted and hoped in God His Father's plan of Salvation, and He endured whatever came his way right up to His death.

Conclusion

The message Jesus gives us in all his suffering from abuse is to love with a pure love, to forgive with a mighty heart, to leave all judgement of others to God the Father and above all, trust, hope and pray, pray, pray for the strength to do all that God asks of us; pray for healing from the evils inflicted on us by others, and for a merciful heart that will not judge but will forgive many, many times; and pray for those who have fallen in sin.

We pray for all peoples who have suffered any form of abuse
We pray for all people who abuse others in any form.
We pray for healing for victims and for abusers.
We pray that children/young people who suffer or have suffered abuse will be given strength and courage to forgive and to pray for those who have wounded them.
We pray for the Church that it may be freed from all abusers and restored to acting only from God's redeeming love.
We pray that parents will see their children as beautiful souls placed in their care by God, to be loved and nourished with His love.

Falling To Their Knees They Did Him Homage

We thank God for his gift of Salvation

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to make the perfect sacrifice for us.  God has fulfilled his promise through his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are filled with the joy of being able to attain Salvation.  This perfect little baby has made life with God the Father possible.  Today let us take time from the trimmings of food, drink and presents and thank God for the gift of our Salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

The Annunciation

Today we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation. It is a great feast, a moment in time that was to change the lives of God's people.

"In the sixth month' the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David and the virgin's name was Mary. He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice.' you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.' She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end. Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man? "The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow." And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.' Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the Angel left her. Cf(NJB Luke 1:26-38)

What a story and yet truth. For years I struggled to get my head around this passage of scripture. I could not figure out how the Holy Spirit could make a woman pregnant, it was beyond me and yet that is what our faith is all about, being beyond us. I never dwelled on the fact that I struggled with understanding this passage, but God in his greatness knew my struggle and in his own time he chose to help me out. I was in Medjugorge some years ago on a pilgrimage. During our visit we travelled up to the mountains to a church where many priests would pray with us and pray over us. It was all new to me. My youngest daughter Marie was with me. She was 12 years old at the time and had been sick that day. I brought her with me as I knew there was a chance for her to be made feel better and I thought it best to bring her to God rather than leave her behind. I could still mind her on the bus and in the church. There were large crowds in this big church up the mountains. We all sang and prayed together and after a while the main priest announced that there would be the laying on of hands and healing. I had never seen anything like this before. We were all put into lines to wait for a priest to come and lay hands on us. As we waited we all sang "Come Holy Spirit". The previous night I went to the Sacrament of Confession as I wanted to be free of sin before a priest was to pray over me. I prayed that day while in church to our Blessed Lady and I asked her to take all the excess baggage in my life that I had carried for many years, I did not need or want it anymore and I thought nothing more of that prayer. Marie was standing next to me and the priest approached her. I had my eyes closed now and was praying to the Holy Spirit, I felt an energy coming from Marie towards me and I opened my eyes and the priest was laying hands on her head. The energy went away and I thought well nothing is going to happen that was for Marie. The Priest came over to me and placed both hands gently on my head and he began to pray over me. In a very short time I felt a huge surge of energy and in a blink I was lying on the ground, a person from behind had caught me as I fell backwards and rested me on the ground. What had happened? One minute I am standing and the next I am falling backwards as light as a feather and am lying on the ground. I could not move, I could hear everything around me at first. I thought to myself "get up of f the ground what are people going to think of me lying here?". Then I thought to myself if this is the work of God's Holy Spirit than I need to be still and let God do what he willed. A warm energy came from my feet and right up my body, I felt such deep peace which I could only describe as a heavenly peace. I lay there for awhile until the power returned to my arms and legs and I could get up. When I got up I was filled with great joy and peace. I pondered on what had happened and I thought if the Holy Spirit can knock a 5'8" woman to the ground in a puff, he can do anything he wants. In that moment my faith had been restored, I now understood the power of God's Holy Spirit. I was blind but could now see clearly. Upon re reading the above passage of Scripture I could identify with some of the words spoken to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" that is how I would describe what had just happened to me. Before leaving the Airport for Dublin, our Blessed Lady made sure I fully understood what had happened to me in Medjugorje by providing a Priest who explained it all to me. How blessed I was. If there are people reading this post and you have wondered and doubted about the Annunciation please 'Doubt no longer, but believe'.

As We Wait in Joyful Hope

This December our prayer intention is for the protection of the unborn

"You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end. Mary said to the angel, "But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man? " The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. " And so, the child will be holy and will be called Son of God." cf. (Lk. 1:31-36)

The Conception and Birth of Jesus

The story of the conception of Jesus was presented to us growing up in the 1950s in Ireland, in a sense of mystery and awe. We fully accepted how the Saviour was ‘made’, adults as much as children. It had to be that way. Our parents had to pass on that belief with utmost sincerity, for their children to accept the word. Despite the obvious descent of a progressive society into what might be perceived as a moral decline, Christians have not cast aside the fundamental story of the birth of the Son of God, and it survives, despite everything.

What helps us to believe in the creation of Jesus in this manner, is the realistic interpretation of the difficulties and hardships endured by his parents on earth. The Virgin Mary was no more than a child herself when presented with the enormity of her forthcoming pregnancy and the role she was chosen to play, to fulfil the word of God. She was frightened, stunned, perhaps unbelieving. Joseph initially baulked at marrying Mary, when he heard the news. A carpenter, no doubt a realistic man, his head was filled with complex thoughts and perhaps he was egged on by his associates and members of his family, to have nothing to do with the marriage. The shame of it!

In choosing to fulfil their destinies, we must remember that there was no Christianity and that Mary and Joseph, themselves immersed in the Jewish faith, could never have been perceived as the conduits for the deliverance of God’s promise to mankind. But this very human couple, residing in very difficult times, endured through threats of death, hardships and an extremely unbecoming birth experience to deliver the promise. As a couple, and later as a widowed lady, Jesus’s parents raised him and worked alongside him in what was probably a normal, even anonymous existence, for the first thirty years of his life.

The protection of the unborn in today’s world

I often wonder if God had waited until the present day, to fulfil his promise to mankind, how different the story of Jesus would be. The truth is, I do not have the necessary wisdom, knowledge or imagination to accurately predict the outcome. What I can state with certainty, is that there would be no Christianity. I’m not sure what faith we would be practising in Ireland, if any. Christmas would not exist. A good deal more of us would probably be attending a pilgrimage at Newgrange, on December 21st. Perhaps some of us would still be clinging to the Jewish faith, if we would not have found our home in Israel.

I believe that Ireland would have long-since travelled the progressive route and that abortion and divorce legislation would have been well-established. Afterall, the ‘restraints’ of Christianity and its obvious influence in this country, would not have existed. You would hope that we would still have adhered to the principles of the Ten Commandments; if, that is, we ever believed in God, in the first place.

Enter then, a teenager called Mary, not necessarily from a poor family, announcing to the world that she is pregnant, not being able to name the father, her own initial reaction, and the choices that would be hammered home to her. What would have happened?

Of course, God’s will would have been fulfilled. Mary’s baby would have been born, and she would have named him Jesus. But how many of us would have realised what had just happened. And after thirty years, when this Irishman began to perform miraculous works, and claim to be the Son of God, how would we have reacted to him?

Without God’s will, Mary’s baby might not have been born. Coming back down to reality, in Ireland today, in a largely Christian country, if the mother of the unborn child wishes to do so, she may abort her baby, and with the passing of legislation, the majority of people will turn a blind eye while she does so; and the State will give her the financial backing required.

But it is God’s will that all babies be born. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.[ Jer 1:5] When God handed the ten commandments to Moses, no list of provisos, exceptions or addendums came with them. The fifth commandment is short, concise and true in its stating that: Thou shalt not kill. Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.

The ‘movers’ for a progressive society, for individual choice, unbridled freedom to choose, legislators and powerful ‘interest’ groups are intelligent human beings, whose mothers elected to give birth to them. Some are so intelligent that they ‘choose’ not to believe in God. Some of them believe in God and yet choose not to do His will. Unfortunately, they have moved and shaken the majority of people in Ireland to vote for abortion. By extension, therefore, the majority of people in Ireland have voted against the will of God. It is pointless arguing that even though you may have voted for abortion, you don’t believe in it yourself; or will never practice it; or pay for it. But, of course, you have done all of these things. It’s the law, after all, or soon will be.

The story of the Nativity in the month of December

Despite the crushing, unimaginable cruelty inherent in the decision to permit abortion, the story of Jesus prevails. And in a way, the ugly, crass, commercial approach to the Advent Season by some, does help to perpetuate the belief in the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of Mankind, and the saving of mankind. Because without the story of the conception and birth of Jesus, the ‘season’ would lose its main focus for many, still, in Ireland. As long as people continue to attend mass during the Advent Season, to pack masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas day; as long as they pay homage to the belief of baby Jesus in the depictions of stables, cribs and mangers in many churches and locations, there is hope.

And we wait in hope and expectation, especially if we are expectant mothers at this time of the year. With the knowledge that she experienced even greater hopes and expectations, the month of December is a time of waiting patiently with our Blessed Lady. It is a time where we prepare spiritually for the Birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is a time which marks new life, during which we will pray for the protection of the unborn child in its mother's womb. We will pray for all young mothers to be, that
they will choose life and will be supported by family, friends and community in their decision to keep their child. We will also pray for all who have had abortions that they may experience the healing hand of God in their lives.

Advent Prayer

With you I am awaiting the birth of your dear Son
With you I am praying that God's will may be done.

With you my soul it rests in peace and ponders on
The things to come, found only in your Blessed Son.

With you Sweet Mother my yearning grows
to see the face of God, made man.

In silence and in peace we pray,
joyfully waiting for that day.

I Believe In Life Everlasting

November is the month of the Holy Souls, and we especially pray for children and young people who have died. We remember all God's little ones who have gone back to Him and are hopefully at peace with him in Heaven. We pray this month also for family and friends who have lost a child or young person and who miss them most deeply.

Suicide is sadly a painful part of modern-day society, that is so hidden in ways. The announcement that someone has died ‘by their own hand’, inevitably shocks the wider community at first. Trains are halted, perhaps, schedules are interrupted but life gets moving again, and the tragedy becomes another statistic in the catalogue of deaths. However, for the immediate family, friends and close-knit communities, the effects are more personal and longer-lasting, a wrenching from the socket that is irreplaceable.

Then there is the other hidden part of suicide and that is the turmoil in the mind of the person who has ended their life. Whether by accident or ‘design’, deaths of children and young persons are shocking. In youth, there is beauty and in beauty there is truth (Almost paraphrasing Keats's ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’). The loss of truth in our lives may question our values. It should lead us to ask why someone might fear life or living, enough to prematurely hand back the most precious gift that they have ever received. Perhaps in their diminished responsibility, they did not fear death enough to ask themselves what might become of their souls, as a result of their actions?

As humans, we should be able to empathise with those whose loved ones have been lost. But we should question why these losses had to happen, with a view to preventing unnecessary deaths in the future. We would certainly examine all the earthly reasons why someone inflicted such an act of violence upon themselves, particularly when their lives to that point indicated that theirs were gentle, caring souls displaying anything other than a complete disregard for their safety and the safety of others. But on a higher plane, we should examine our own beliefs and know that God must be suffering at a level that we perhaps cannot understand, but should be aware of. To seek answers into a loss of life of this nature, without recourse to the very source of life, will produce an inconclusive outcome. God has given us a fundamental part, if not the essence of Himself, to cherish and to nurture and to do good with. Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him.

It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. Cf. CCC 2280. God is a God of mercy and love. The Christian who unites his own death to that of Jesus views it as a step towards him and an entrance into everlasting life. CCC 1020. Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. (Cf. CCC 1023, 1Jn 3:2, 1 Cor 13:12, Rev 22:4.

But we should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. CCC 2282, 2283. From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that this purified they may attain the beatific vision of God. CCC Council of Lyons 11 (1274): DS 856, CCC 1032.

Babies and little children have sadly died through illness, accidents or at the hands of others. These little ones who have never known sin are truly blessed. While parents do and should mourn the loss of their child which is perfectly natural, they should also rejoice in God because their little one has gone back to Him and enjoy eternal peace and Joy in heaven. Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they 'see him as he is' face to face. (Cf. CCC 1023, 1Jn 3:2, 1 Cor 13:12, Rev 22:4.  This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called 'heaven'. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. To live in heaven is 'to be with Christ'. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.  Cf. CCC 1024, 1025, 1026 8596/*98)

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. Cf. St. John Chrysostom, Hom. In 1Cor 41, 5 PG 61, 361C; cf Job 1:5.

For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.
(St. Ambrose)

 

Hope, O My Soul Hope

Fr. Fergal Cummins after his Ordination.

The newness of life is the birth of hope.

This month of October we pray for the gift of hope that is so much needed in our time. We pray that our children may know the meaning of hope in their little lives and that they too will be bundles of hope to all they meet.

Hope in Life and Death

As adults, and adults who are parents growing old, events it seems begin to overtake us. Life takes on new and different meanings; or perhaps we just see things differently. When our children were young, they were at the centre of our universe, monopolising our love, time and energy, demanding our attention, needing our support. Occasionally, they defied us, eventually left home, made their way in the world, and returned to us for special occasions – our birthdays, their birthdays, Christmas and funerals.

Photographs and memories. We have plenty of both, one usually generating the other. With modern technology and rose-tinted memories, it is possible to preserve them and remember, revive even, the hopes we had for ourselves and our children when we were young. Life was especially brimming with hope upon each birth, a fresh addition to the growing family, the community. In the middle of all the budgeting for their pressing needs, we had dreams for them; and when they got older, they developed their own aspirations and desires.

For most of last month, we waited for the arrival of our first grand-child. He was in no hurry. He missed his date, by ten days. His great grandmother-to-be wasn’t well and we were exhorting her to hang on until he arrived. He did eventually, all hale and hearty, a bonny baby. The first photographs arrived by e-mail minutes after he emerged, and he succeeded in changing the status of several people, although some of the younger, new aunties slightly flinched at their titles. And the great grandmother lived to see pictures of her great grand-child, and now our exhortation is that she must hang on, at least until she holds him in her arms.

Almost simultaneously, one of the new baby’s grand-aunts died, quite suddenly in the end, after a brief illness, which may have been short on suffering, but allowed little time for saying a final goodbye. This had been unexpected and had hidden, tucked away beneath all the other dramas in the extended family. She had time, just, to see the pictures of her great grand-nephew, which brought a smile to her emaciated but graceful features. We buried her in the family plot, on a mild Autumn day, in the last week of September. At least, it will be hard not to think of her, when the little child is foremost in our thoughts.

On the very last day of September, when the cloud almost but not quite succeeded in blotting out the sun, and the trees had almost fully donned their autumnal coats, we attended an ordination. The young man was known to us, having visited the aforementioned great-grandmother, the joy at his presence bringing some relief from her pain that day. Indeed, after her oft-repeated enquiry about the birth of her great grand-child, her second most-repeated question was about the ordination of the new priest.

The new diocesan bishop presided at his very first ordination. Standing graciously at his side was his predecessor in the role, making the occasion just a little more memorable for those whose many children he had confirmed over the years.

The sun broke free from the clasp of the clouds just as the new priest received his Holy Orders. It shone too as he was being dressed in his vestments by his proud, loving family. Warmth accompanied the light as the bishop gave thanks for the new addition to the ranks, enabling the continuation of a tradition which had had its origins with Jesus Christ, and perhaps even before that. As mass continued, the new priest took his place at the side of his bishop. Fittingly, the church choir sang about ‘The Joy of Love’.

Hope, O my soul, hope.

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Cf. (CCC 1817). The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity. Cf. (CCC 1818).

Hope springs eternal

Hope and anxiety are sometimes twinned. Certainly, they continue to preside over family events, and after a period of waiting, manifest themselves in an elatedness of spirit, expression of relief or disappointment. But it is hope which must endure, the theological virtue responding to the aspiration to happiness, whether at the arrival of the new-born child, or the passing of a loved one to eternal life with God in Heaven. (The virtue) takes up the hopes that inspired a young man to enter the priesthood, and opened his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Hope gives encouragement to the Church and its faithful congregation, sustaining each during times of challenge and abandonment. Hope preserves us from selfishness as we dedicate our lives to our children, happy in their achievements, the sacrifice worth it. Hope is forever, giving us the strength to accept the finality of our earthly existence, and to desire the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness .