Pray for children

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened

January 2022 intention


A new year, full of new beginnings and new possibilities but we can never forget that all is a gift: nothing is ours because all has been given to us. This year our prayer intention for January is for children and young people who have not received or being deprived of the gift of sight; who suffer from eye disease and blindness.

I have often seen adds for children suffering from River Blindness and thought, how sad. Every day we encounter many adds for different causes and they can be overwhelming at times, especially when in the form of letters through your letter box, almost daily, pleading for donations. And yet, it is only when life jolts you that you can fully realise what others are suffering.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta said that if you want to know the poor you must first become poor. If we dig deep into our conscience, perhaps we believe that we can empathise with people who have suffered a loss of any kind. In some regards, yes, especially when we may have experienced similar losses. We often recite that well-known prayer, quietly when we hear of a terrible misfortune: there but for the grace of God go I, perhaps in that moment realising just what graces we have received. To understand what people, especially young children, with eye disease and blindness really suffer, then we too must first become blind.

For the past few months my eye-sight has deteriorated. I have gone from being short-sighted to being far-sighted, and then back to somewhere in between. My sight is constantly changing and glasses are no longer any use because the changes occur too often, sometimes daily. Being able to see clearly has always been something I enjoyed, especially when it came to taking photographs of Creation and its immense beauty; or simply gazing upon the faces of loved ones. Now everything is blurred. If I go grocery shopping, I cannot read the prices or any description on the items. When I look at people, I see outlines but not detail in their faces. It is so annoying having something that I have had since birth taken away. It is also frustrating losing your independence to a degree, and having to rely on others to perform some basic tasks. However, from my exasperation has developed reminders of those adds about children who suffer from river blindness.

Our sight like everything else we have, is a precious gift from God. God has taught me a good lesson this year and it is that everything I have, is a gift from Him; and I should never take anything for granted. River blindness is caused from black-fly bites. It is something that can be fixed but because enough people don’t think about it (myself included) or its consequences for those suffering from it, things are not changing quick enough. Sadly, it is only one example of impaired or lost sight. There are children and young people who were born with perfect sight but through accidents or illness they have become blind or partially blind. Imagine the difficult adjustments they have had to make. Then there are children and young people who were born blind and live in a world where touch becomes their eyes and hearing paints a picture for them. We cannot help everyone but we can give assistance to some. Like the three Wise Men who came to seek the Child Jesus lying in a manger and brought him gifts, we too can give a gift to children and young people by helping others, donating to a charity and by our thoughts and prayers.

This month please pray for children and young people suffering with their eyes; and please give a small donation to help those who can be helped.

Please pray for the doctors and nurses who work with all those suffering from visual impairment.

Please pray that more people will gain an understanding of what those without sight suffer.

We wait in Joyful Hope.

Another December is here thank God.  This month we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our young people.  We also pray for the protection of new life, from the unborn baby in the womb to the newborn infant.  December is a special time.  It is the time of Advent, the time for waiting.  Mothers wait for 9 long months as their unborn child develops in the womb.  Advent is the time of waiting with Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ for the anniversary of the Birth of our Lord Jesus who was born on Christmas Day.  What joy there is when a new child comes into the world.  A tiny baby so small and beautiful, and created by God.  We pray that mother's to be will cherish and care for their unborn child.  We pray for all newborn babies and little children that they will be loved. In Advent we light a candle for the four weeks.  The first candle is for hope, the second for peace, the third for joy and the fourth for love.  May God give hope, peace, joy and love to all his children this December.

Please continue to pray for God's little one's they need all your wonderful prayers.

I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me

Last month our intention was to pray for young people preparing to receive their Confirmation. We apologise for not being able to post.  

This month we will pray for the souls of children and young people who have died.  November being the month of the Holy Souls is the time to remember our dead. Though they seem to have gone and we cannot see them they are still with us.  Let us remember them all with great love in our hearts.  

We have decided also to continue to pray for young people and adults who are preparing to receive their Confirmation around the world.

Here in Spain in the our village and the neighbouring village young people and adults are busy preparing to receive this wonderful Sacrament.  We ask for your prayers that they will prepare well and that the day of Confirmation will be a holy, peaceful and joyful occasion.

Thank you for all your wonderful prayers.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Today the church celebrates this wonderful feast dedicated to our Blessed Lady, the mother of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  No one understands suffering quite like Mary.  She stood at the foot of the cross and watched her Son being put to death by crucifixion. Today let us join with our heavenly Mother and pray for all suffering mothers around the world.  Let us unite their pain to that of Mary's through our prayers.

Our Lady of Sorrows, help all mothers, guide and protect them each and every day. 

Out Of Egypt I Called My Son

Thanks to Walaa-Khaleel of unsplash for the use of the photo.

Introduction

This month we will pray for children and young people who have to flee their homes due to unsafe conditions.  The term “Refugee” has very seldom been out of the news, even during a raging pandemic, but should any human being be but into a box and given a label?  Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, was a child who had to flee the place of his birth for fear of death from a powerful ruler.  Having to run for your life, and leave all your friends and family behind to begin life in a strange country, is not a recent concept. 

Children suffering

This morning I went to the small church in a village in Spain near our home.  There was a young mother with a crying child nearby as I was entering.  I wanted to sit with Jesus in quiet prayer but the sounds of life in the busy square on which the church is built, kept interrupting my thoughts.   Among them was the sound of another crying child.  I contemplated the two little children and how fortunate that they were, in a way, having mothers to reassure them and soothe their pain; and provide them with a home, food, family and friends.  In contrast, I thought of all the children, made orphans by dreadful circumstances beyond their doing or control, cast adrift, helpless, lost, dying.  Even those who managed to survive with their parents or parent, may have had to abandon their homes, to ‘go on the road’, with only the possessions they could carry, following in the footsteps of those, who might have some vague idea where to seek refuge.  What must their cries be like?  Who soothes their pain?  

Afghanistan

The main news story of last week has been about the seizure of power, again, in Afghanistan, by the Taliban.  Running parallel with that story has been the urgent plight of people including families to flee their country, in abject fear of reprisals from an organisation with very rigid views on how people should live their lives.  Time is running out.  With a deadline looming in a matter of days, it is quite likely that many will fail in their efforts to ‘escape’ their greatest fears. 

While a war once more was creating thousands of refugees in one part of the world, Haiti suffered another catastrophic earthquake.  With the effects on that country, of the last powerful force of nature still fresh in our minds, we wondered again how would those effected, including thousands of little children, survive and somehow manage to pick up the pieces, to get on with a precarious existence. 

Children displaced

Worldwide, nearly 33 million children have been forcibly displaced at the end of 2019.  This number includes some 12.6 million child refugees (including children among Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA), almost 1.5 million asylum-seeking children and an estimated 19.4 million children displaced within their own country by violence and conflict. On top of those numbers come another 2.1 million more children living in internal displacement as a consequence of natural disasters.

Between 2005 and 2019, the global number of child refugees under UNHCR mandate more than doubled from four million to around 10 million. In the period between 2010 and 2019 alone, the number of these child refugees shot up by 118 per cent. By comparison, during the same period the total number of child migrants rose by only 20 per cent.

Children are dramatically over-represented among the world’s refugees. Children make up less than one third of the global population, but they were 50 per cent of the world’s refugees in 2019. Today, nearly 1 in 3 children living outside their countries of birth are child refugees; for adults, the proportion is less than 1 in 20.[i]

What can We do?

We feel helpless in the face of powerful forces, whether of men or nature.  There have been times in our lives [ii]when perhaps we felt cut adrift, helpless.  Even the most assured of us, have doubts occasionally.  Who are we?  Where are we going?  What is it all for?  Picture a person, alone on the streets, with some possessions in a bag, and the clothes on their back.  Up ahead is a refuge, a meal and perhaps a bed for the night.  The most basic needs will be fulfilled in the short term.  The good people in that area work tirelessly to ensure nobody goes hungry, unnoticed.  They rely on the generosity of the local community to respond, perhaps on the government to provide an annual grant.  The provision of lasting solutions needs the big boys to come on board with finance, permissions, administration and long-term shelters.  So it is when people are fleeing oppression and/or devastation.  Other countries respond, take people in, provide them with new homes, restore their dignity and a way of life.  America is famous for its mix of nationalities under the one flag.  Arguably it led the way for the rest of us to follow.  Ireland, certainly, has a greater mix of ethnic groups today, than it did fifty years ago, and it is a wonderful achievement to see 5000 people from 135 countries applying for Irish citizenship in 2020.

To escape starvation, tyranny, displacement and uncertainty, to become acceptable in the welcoming arms of a new family, a new country, might seem like a dream to most of the children fleeing from wars and disasters, their only immediate worry finding a rock to duck behind, a place to hide, a bit to eat and drink.  They need their mothers, like the children in a small village in Spain, to reassure them, take them to the bosom of their homes.  Jesus understood all of this.  He had to hide, find shelter with his family, suffer torture and a brutal death.  But his entire life was His legacy.  His parents on earth were guided by the Holy Spirit and the Angels.  Filled with the Holy Spirit and having witnessed His ministry for themselves, his apostles and disciples travelled far, to spread his word.  From their work, sprung the efforts of the missionaries, who established and revived communities, and sowed the seeds for future generations.  Even in the depts of utter despair, there will be a helping hand, a camp up ahead, a soup kitchen, a bed for the night, a plane to board, as a result, direct or otherwise, of the life and teaching of Jesus.  To achieve Jesus’s ultimate message of love for all, we must pray for the end to all wars.  If we can achieve that, there will be more than enough to assist those, who suffer as a result of natural calamities.  “God helps through his people, living here and now. 

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Cf, (Saint Teresa of Avila)

 

Prayer of a lonely child

I am sitting here all alone, I'm lonely and I'm sad. My mom has died and my dad is gone and I feel abandoned and alone. Some strangers wash and dress me and even give me food, but what I need most of all is a mighty great big hug. I need someone who will love me, just for who I am. I need a mommy and a daddy that I can call my own. I'd like a brother and a sister and we could play together. Oh God I am so lonely will you help me find a friend.

 

Prayers

  • We pray for little children, displaced, made homeless and/or orphaned as a result of wars and natural disasters
  • We pray for the provision of shelter and homes for all those displaced, especially children and young people.
  • We pray for the people working on the ground that they may have the strength to continue their great work.
  • We pray for the heads of all Governments that God will guide their decisions and choices.
  • We pray for the end of all wars, and for peace in lands riven by dissent and persecution, so that people may live as Jesus intended


[i] Statistics provided by Unicef

[ii] The Journal.ie, March 2nd, 2020

Do not quench the Spirit

August 2021

Protecting the Faith

Introduction

Praying for Children, their safety and protection, in a world full of temptation, danger and threats, is the raison d’étre of this site. Our faith and the faith of our children has suffered during the pandemic and remains under threat, not so much from a virus, but the government insistence that the “sacraments of Christian initiation” remain locked-down, while our gastro and entertainment needs are catered for. The belief that a child’s faith is instrumental in providing a shield against the loss of its very humanity, to attacks from insidious resources, is what inspires our prayers each month towards achieving the object under consideration. A child without belief in God, is a child without direction. Now, more than ever, we must not only pray for but insist on the defence of our beliefs and those of our children.

The importance of the “Sacraments of Christian Initiation”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) notes that: ‘Baptism, the Eucharist and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For ‘by the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed (CCC, 1285).’ Jesus devoted thirty years of His life to the family unit. He lived with His earthly parents until it was time to fulfil his heavenly Father’s mission to him. Imbued with a sense of family values, he understood the importance of protecting children, helping them, shaping their characters. Of course, his every action was shaped in the wishes of His Heavenly Father. He was the epitome of the obligation to “spread and defend the faith by word and deed”. When he was warmly received by children, he rebuffed attempts to dismiss them. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” In denying little children the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation, people are hindering them from inheriting the kingdom of heaven.

This Summer, our government relaxed rules on indoor and outdoor dining and drinking, sports and audience participation/attendance at various events, weddings and funerals. Communions and Confirmations, however, would continue to be locked down for the foreseeable future. Then it went on holidays.

It would appear that the government, acting on NPHET advice, is concerned about the ‘celebrations’ that take place, after the sacrament has been administered in the church. One wonders about the extent of their troubled minds, as they view members of the public queuing up for vaccinations and tests, in complete contravention of distancing guidelines; or, if they happened to drop into our local open-air hostelry, and viewed the extensive numbers in close proximity, while they cheered on further medal success for the Irish team in Japan; or considered why there are 1500 cases of Covid daily, even with three-quarters of the Irish population on double-jabs.

In our opinion, even in times when there was no pandemic, the Catholic Church in Ireland should have long distanced the religious ceremony from the very lay-oriented celebratory functions, afterwards. The church does not organise celebratory meals, or event-plan for any activities, once the sacrament is conferred, or served. These are the sole responsibility of the parents or guardians. Public masses have resumed very safely in Ireland for some months now, in the course of which holy communion is served. The Church has ably demonstrated its adherence to the strict protocols for mass attendance.

Our government is well capable of ignoring NPHET advice, when permitting indoor dining in pubs and restaurants for children, without specifying what the occasion might be. The total capacity at a table can be 15, including children of various ages. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, has stated that, ‘parents are well capable of deciding whether to bring their children into pubs and restaurants.’ Great! Minister, why not apply that way of thinking to First Communion and Confirmation celebrations?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world

…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. In the last few days, five, possibly six bishops have granted permission in their dioceses, for the resumption of preparations, for First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies. The Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, was the first to ‘not conform’. There are 26 dioceses in Ireland. Where are the other twenty? Our Taoiseach, with some exasperation, enquired if it was too much to ask, “that we wait another number of weeks, to get into a really strong protective situation”. Note that The Taoiseach wasn’t specific on the waiting time. We all know, that, later in the year, things could disimprove quite rapidly.

Do not quench the Spirit.

At worst, the facts would suggest that there are nefarious forces in play, at the highest levels of governance, to once and for all crush the Spirit of the Catholic Faith in Ireland, by continuously denying children and young persons access to the Sacraments of Initiation. At best, they would suggest a complete indifference to the wishes of parents and children, whether their faith survives this latest attack on its existence. But there have been comforting stirrings from some of our church authorities; and these might not have materialised but for genuine concerns raised by parents, children and parish priests, in their roles as protectors: protectors of the children and protectors of their children’s’ faith. Do not stop here, especially during summer months. Likeminded Parents and guardians, especially those trained as catechesists, can do so much, by getting together and organising activities for children who either will receive, or have received the Sacraments of Initiation. We stand together in faith with them. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Prayers

We pray for the protection of our children, and our children’s faith

We pray for the full restoration throughout Ireland of the Sacraments of Initiation

We pray that Government leaders will do the will of God.

References:

Matthew, 19:14
National Public Health Emergency Team on Covid-19
Newstalk, 15.7.21
Romans 12:2
RTE News, July 30, 2021
1 Thessalonians 5:19
Hebrews 4:16

 

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.

"JESUS SAID,'LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME TO ME, AND DO NOT HINDER THEM.' "

We place all children and young people in the hands of Our Blessed Lady

This July we will pray for the safety of all children and young people during the holiday season.

A Safe Summer

Introduction

We went to a popular resort today, for some fresh air, and a picnic.  While the sun failed to shine, most people there were in good spirits.  Down on the beach, small children played, their parents or minders seated on blankets or chairs, looking on.  Family dogs joined in the fun.  It was evident that the vast majority of the happy people consisted of children and young people.  A typical, idyllic, summer setting, you might say, all of us free at last to embrace nature and to enjoy a sense of freedom and release from Covid, pressures of work and school, and the usual dangers that exist in a modern society.  But I’m afraid, as recent, too numerous reports suggest, the need for vigilance and the safety of children and young persons, is especially relevant during the so-called ‘…lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer.’   

I do like to be beside the seaside

More than ever these days, people want to live by the sea.  Whether they wish to admit it or not, they are acknowledging the wonder and attraction of God’s creation.  Where they occur along our coastline, beaches are a wonderful, natural resource, especially for families.  The sea, however, is a powerful force of nature and must be treated with respect.  Just five days ago, two young girls were rescued in Wicklow, after their inflatable device took them far from the shore.[i]   In May, a teenager was rescued from the sea by a young Jet Ski rider.[ii]  These reports have good endings, but as we know, there have been tragic outcomes.  Along the east coast, there are good, long, flat, beaches which might lull you into a false sense of security.  Never lose sight of your children on the beach, especially crowded beaches, where they can so easily get lost, if not get into difficulty in the water.

Of course, some seaside resorts offer other attractions, including amusement arcades and parks, shops, tantalising takeaways and restaurants.  Perhaps it is to these, that a tiny, significant minority of our population are also lured.  A recent report in one of our local papers described a mother’s anger as her teenage son was brutally attacked by a ‘mob’ of youths on a popular beach in the area.[iii]  In another incident, posted internet footage showed a large group of young people fighting with weapons just yards from young children.[iv]  You can also read about the lawless actions of young people in France[v] and in Canada[vi] on the beaches.

Whether it be a day, a week or a holiday by the beach, parents, know where your children have been and whose company they have kept, at all times.

Covid

The vast majority of us do not have Covid, and please God, never will.  This is hopefully down to good discipline, obedience to the never-ending rules and genuine selflessness.  We do our best to pass these virtues on to our children when they are under our care.  In our schools, our teachers substitute for us, in guiding the young along the right path.  We would hope that society in general would behave as we would ourselves.   Unfortunately, especially in Summer, while some of us are at work, or otherwise occupied, our children and young people are out of our sight.  They play, as they should, with their friends, usually not too far from home, perhaps on the greens in front of our houses.  Occasionally, though, there is a temptation to stray further afield, with greater numbers of their peers, even strangers.  These times present the greatest danger, as a good upbringing and sound individual thinking, give way to ‘gang mentality’.  Now, while these situations are a breathing ground for all manner of temptations, increased socialising, without distancing and ‘masks,’ allow the pandemic to flourish, especially indoors.  Parents, know where your children have been and whose company they have kept, at all times.

Drugs and drink

As stated, socialising in increasing numbers without regard to the rules of health and safety, the law or good, common sense, can lead one up some dark alleys.  However, you don’t have to stray off the beaten path to encounter temptation.  While on holidays years ago, enjoying the ‘amusements’ in a packed outdoor park, near a well-known marina, I got a tap on the shoulder, followed by an invitation to buy some drugs.  When I declined the offer, the man moved on to his next target.  Our youngest daughter was with us; we were surrounded by families.  People were having a good time, on a balmy, summer evening.   Do not be under any delusions.  Gardai seized a record number of illegal substances in this country last year.[vii]  Despite the pandemic, some areas of ‘commerce’ mushroomed.  There is no part of any town or the country free from the curse of drugs anymore.  They will walk up to you and tap you on the shoulder; or you simply have to ask one or two questions in the right areas.  The dealers will sell to anyone with money, including our children.  They will use children and young persons to move and sell the banned substances. 

While the use of drugs is increasing, drinking and drunkenness will always be with us, even during a pandemic.  It is worrying that so many images of adults drinking in crowded streets and recreational areas, in contravention of all recommendations, designed to prevent the spread of Covid, are readily beamed into our homes each week. Even without the presence of a pandemic, this behaviour is hardly setting the right example for our children and young persons.  If you believe that there is an excuse for it, or that there is no harm in it, then read no further.   But if, like the majority of very good people in this country, you believe that this is not right; that now, more than ever, the beautiful minds of our children and young persons must be allowed to develop untainted by substance abuse and bad behaviour, you will continue to lead by good example and steer them towards a healthier, safer environment.  Parents, know where your children have been and whose company they have kept, at all times.

The need for prayer and vigilance

As the government threatens once more to deny our children the wonderful sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation, at a critical juncture in our lives and at a time of the year when most needed, parents and community must, more than ever, continue their roles as guardians and role models to our children and young persons.  If this pandemic has highlighted anything, it is that children and young people must have a safe, principled environment in which to grow and develop, protected from the worst excesses and impacts of society.  Jesus loved children.  He stayed safe with his earthly parents for 30 years before he began his ministry.  Today, he sits with his Father in Heaven.  He knows what trials and tribulations parents and children have to endure.  He is with us each step of the way.  Ask Him for his help to enjoy Summer with your children; and know where they have been and whose company they have kept, at all times.

Prayers

  • Parents, pray for a good Summer, which you can enjoy with your children, while keeping them safe from harm.
  • Communities, provide a safe environment for our children and young persons in which they can happily and safely play
  • All others, do not do anything to harm, endanger or corrupt the minds of our children and young persons while they seek to enjoy Summer with their families.

 



[i] Irish Times

[ii] Cf lifeboats rnli.org

[iii] Meath Chronicle.ie, June 4th 2021

[iv] Irish Mirror online, 31st May 2021

[v] Independent.ie, June 19th 2021

[vi] Blogto.com

[vii] Paul Reynolds, RTE News, 2.7.2021

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.

‘Soul signifies the Spiritual Principle in man.’

Introduction

This blog is about praying for the protection of children and young people.  Usually at this time of year we pray for children and young people preparing to receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation, but Covid 19 restrictions have deferred the ceremonies to a later date.  So, this month our prayer intention is for the protection of the soul of children and young people in the absence of the sacraments.

What is your Soul?

Since most of us can remember, we have been told about the ‘body and soul’; or the ‘heart and soul’ of man.  The heart exists in a physical sense – my doctor has shown me an image of my heart in action.  Seeing it and the work that it does on behalf of myself and my body, has put me even more in awe of creation.  We are also very aware of our bodies.  We see them every day.  Some of us are better at taking care of them than others, especially as they age.  They are often neglected, to our detriment.  Our lives may be shortened as a result.  The medical world can assist us in our physical well-being.  But I have also seen the power of prayer restore health to the sick.

How can we take care of the entity that is our soul?  More importantly, at this time, how can we as parents, family, priests and the community protect the souls of our children and young persons, as a raging pandemic denies them the opportunity to receive the beautiful sacraments of Communion and Confirmation?

If we could see the ‘soul’, feel it, touch it, heal it, would it make our jobs any easier?  Or would we neglect it, as we do our hearts and bodies?  In Sacred Scripture the term ‘soul’ often refers to 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’. Cf (CCC 363).

Every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not produced by the parents.  The soul is immortal: It does not perish when it separates from the body at death; and it will be reunited with the body at the final resurrection. Cf (CCC 366).  The soul belongs to God and God alone.  Something so precious must be prayed for.  It cannot be neglected, or mistreated like our bodily organs.  In fact, as the host for our soul, the body should be treated with the same high regard. 

How do we save our souls and those of our children?

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour saw the need to pray for mankind.  In His prayer to God the Father, Jesus prays that mankind will not be led into temptation. Cf. (CCC 2846) And that mankind will be protected from the evil one. Cf. (CCC 2850).  If Jesus Christ, God made man, saw the need to pray for God’s children, we as parents, family, friends, the community must follow his example.  Usually, we have the power of the sacraments to help us.  At Baptism, parents and God Parents promise God that they will nurture the faith in the newly baptised infant.  They promise to care for the soul of the newly baptised child, all through their life, by their witness in life and good example.  In fact, the whole ecclesiastical community bears some responsibility for the development and safe guarding of the grace given at Baptism. Cf. (CCC 1255).

In the sacrament of Communion, our children receive the gifts of His body and blood, given directly to us by Jesus. The preparation for this sacrament and the powerful symbolism connecting its receipt to the events of the Last Supper, instil in our children the belief that through observance, of the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion their sins will be forgiven and their souls shall be saved.  The preparation for Confirmation and the bestowing of the belief in the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them, confirms baptismal grace.  The blessing with sacred oil is the sealing with gifts of The Holy Spirit,[i] and the ceremony is a reminder of the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, from whence they proclaimed the great works of God.

Those of us fortunate to have received these wonderful gifts have the power to proclaim God’s work and to protect our children, while they await the sacraments.  When we unite our prayer to that of Christ, the Father gives “another Counsellor, to be with you for ever the spirit of truth.”  In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in Him. Cf. (CCC 2615).

In the 8th Station of the Cross, the women meet Jesus and are weeping.  Jesus’ reply to their tears is profound, in fact it is the reason this blog exists.  Jesus tells the women not to weep for Him, but for their children and their children’s children.  Jesus being God, knew the trials and temptations that children would face down through the centuries.

I love the line from Sacred Scripture, “The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God.” (Wisdom 3:1). This line is part of a reading usually used at funerals but I feel it should also apply to the living.  Children and young people should be trained to live holy and virtuous lives by our witness in life and good example; and not be permitted to suffer lives of fornication, substance abuse, lies, etc..   One way we can help our children is by praying to our Guardian Angel, asking them to go to our children’s Guardian Angels, to help them.

Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation. Cf. (CCC 332). From infancy to death human life is surrounded by the watchful care and intercession of angels. Cf. (CCC 337). With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Cf. (CCC 329).   Angels can see and go to places we cannot. St. Padre Pio had great devotion to the angels and often called upon them in times of need.

Prayers

So, this month of June, let us pray for God’s treasure of young souls.

By our witness in life and good example, may our prayers assist them in living holy and virtuous lives.

May their Angels guard and protect them at all times.  Amen.

 

 



[i] St George Holy Catholic Church

New Pages

We have added 2 new pages, called

CHILDRENS PRAYERS. This is a simple selection of prayers for children to say. We will add more prayers in time.

GOD IN CREATION. This is a series of slide shows showing the beauty of creation along with random scripture quotes.  A good way to take time out to meditate and maybe find God in ways you never saw before.

However far you may wander, He is always there, the Risen One.


This month of May, we have decided to pray and write about Youth Violence. It is something that would appear to be happening so much more in society these days. And yet, if those of us old enough can remember, locally we endured the anxiety caused by ‘Teddy’ and ‘Bovver’ boys, ‘Skinheads’ and other aggressive gangs; while on a national and international scale, we witnessed scenes of rioting, violence, arson, and gun battles, all accompanied, it seemed by a recurring theme of stone and petrol-bomb throwing youths. During the last twelve months, Covid appeared to bring a halt to these activities, but now that the world is opening up, due to a shot in the arm, old habits and hatreds have re-awoken; and children and young people are once more to the fore of the most sensational headlines.

Recent reports of youth violence

Last Summer, when a Chinese woman was subjected to racist abuse by a gang of teenagers before one of them pushed her into the canal in West Dublin, the whole incident was videoed and shared on social media. In February of this year, a Mongolian woman died following an earlier assault by a teenager in Dublin’s north inner city. Last month, a woman of Asian origin was attacked by a group of teens on Henry Street, who threw rubbish at her and used ethnic slurs. On 27th May 2020, North Dublin locals were shocked and angry after vicious attacks involving gangs of youth. On 6th March 2021, In Portrush, two young couples were attacked by a gang of youths. On Friday April 2nd 2021, fears mounted of another night of violence in Northern Ireland. On 6th April 2021, it was reported that “Sinister elements” were getting younger people to attack PSNI. These are but a few small incidents. There are so many other cases out there in the world but too many to mention. My mother used to say to us when we were young that, “Violence begets violence”. How true. So why are young people behaving in such a manner? Where does this violence stem from? Let us look at factors that may give us some answers.

Family Influences

Families appear to play multiple roles that may increase or decrease the risk of youth violence. Many of the best-established risk factors for youth violence are based in the family, including harsh and rejecting parents, interparental violence, child abuse and neglect, chaotic family life, inconsistent discipline, and poor monitoring by parents of children showing early signs of aggression. While providing an otherwise safe and accountable environment for their children, parents repeating irresponsible comments about ‘foreigners’ and those perceived to be at fault for the Covid virus in the first instance, could very well have led to some of the attacks as briefly referred to in the preceding paragraph.

Neurobiological Factors

Neurobiological risk factors have long been implicated in youth violence. These include neurocognitive deficits, perinatal complications, genetic risks, and psychophysiological differences (e.g., low resting heart rate), among others (Glenn & Raine, 2014). There is now a greater understanding about how chronic and traumatic stress resulting from adverse childhood experiences…can compromise adaptive responses to stress (Lupien, McEwen, Gunnar, & Heim, 2009

Other Factors

While parents with the best intentions may nurture their children to ‘do right’ by each other and everyone else, certain natural instincts may dominate. There again, once a child from a loving environment leaves the home, and begins to mix in a school, or on a street or in the town with other less fortunate young people, and/or gang mentality emerges over whatever ‘needs’ or ‘issues’ take hold, it takes real strength of character to resist the urge to do wrong.
In a recent article in the Sunday Independent, President Higgins, while reflecting on the current upsurge of youth violence in Northern Ireland, stated that, “part of being a youngster is self-expression, seeking esteem in some ways”. At the same time, he remarked that “anyone who takes advantage of these, has a lot to answer for.” Of course, there are many peaceful ways that a young person may express himself or herself, in order to seek self-esteem. Fortunately, most of our great children and young people, choose the right path. It is more difficult, however, especially for those who are born into, and are brought up in war-torn areas, refugee camps and in areas of deprivation, to avoid the clutches of sinister elements with incitement to violence, rebellion and insurrection on their minds.

What does the Word of God have to say about young people?

Youth, children and the young, are born to be loved, and to love in return. From there, all else springs. Youth holds a special place in the Bible, in the words of Pope Francis and in our Holy Orders.

Pope Francis proclaims that Christ is alive! “He is our hope and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you; he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope. Cf. (CHRISTUS VIVIT).

What beautiful true words from Pope Francis to our young people. The line to resonate with me is “However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One.”
With God, there is always hope and newness of life.

Let us also draw upon some of the richness of the sacred Scriptures, since they often speak of young people and of how the Lord draws near to encounter them.

In the Old Testament

In an age when young people were not highly regarded, some texts show that God sees them differently. Joseph, for example, was one of the youngest of his family (cf. Gen 37:2-3), yet God showed him great things in dreams and when about twenty years old he outshone all his brothers in important affairs (cf. Gen 37-47). Similarly, God chose Gideon, Samuel, King Saul, King David, King Solomon and Jeremiah, at very young ages, to advise, intervene, to lead, to advise, to cure and show mercy. As an insight into His thinking on this issue, God, through Samuel, picked David, (cf. 1 Sam 16:6-13), for “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (v. 7). The glory of youth is in the heart, more than in physical strength or the impression given to others.

In the New Testament

Jesus was a young man, a prophet, a healer, a teacher. Clearly, he was not who or what the Jewish elders had been expecting, when they rejected Him. One wonders who or what they might have been prepared to accept. Young people should relate to his rejection, yes, but it is His ultimate act, of taking His place at the right hand of His Father, that should resonate wholly with all of us.
Jesus’s teachings, and those of the apostles, were steeped in the values of the Old Testament, which reflected the Word of God. In many of these, there are great words of encouragement and wisdom for children and young people. In arguably the best-known of His parables, the lesson of the Prodigal Son (cf. Lk 15:11-32) is one of a father’s undying love and of a young heart that was naturally ready to change, to turn back, get up and learn from life. Jesus praises the young sinner who returned to the right path, over the brother who considered himself faithful, yet lacked the spirit of love and mercy.
Jesus had no use for adults who looked down on the young or lorded it over them. On the contrary, he insisted that “the greatest among you must become like the youngest” (Lk 22:26). For him age did not establish privileges, and being young did not imply lesser worth or dignity.
Saint Paul, no stranger to inflicting terror on people apparently, returned to the right path after putting on his “young” self (Col 3:9-10).[1] In explaining what it means to put on that youthfulness “which is being renewed” (v. 10), he mentions “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another” (Col 3:12-13.
Paul expressed his feelings on the young, in many of his letters. The word of God says that young people should be treated “as brothers” (1 Tim 5:1). He warned parents not to “provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21). Young people are not meant to become discouraged; they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better. That is why I constantly urge young people not to let themselves be robbed of hope; to each of them I repeat: “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Tim 4:12).
Yet the lesson to the young is that in taking on the world, they are urged “to accept the authority of those who are older” (1 Pet 5:5). But those who would steal the self-esteem of young people, to pursue their own selfish, criminal aims, would do well to heed the words of an ancient sage, who asks us to respect certain limits and to master our impulses: “Urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Tit 2.6). A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others. (cf. Mt 13:52).

Living in a world in crisis

The Synod Fathers have acknowledged the horrors and challenges of children and young persons, in great detail. Addressing the question of what we can do to change things, we suggest that prayer is one way to start. By asking God to come into the situation and to help, is a positive Good for young people. God can reach into the unknown, into areas he sees that we humans cannot see. Interceding in prayer is an act of charity for your neighbour and oftentimes the only way to go; after all God knows best.

Lastly, it is to you, young men and women of the world, that the Council wishes to address its final message. For it is you who are to receive the torch from the hands of your elders and to live in the world at the period of the most gigantic transformations ever realized in its history. It is you who, receiving the best of the example of the teaching of your parents and your teachers, are to form the society of tomorrow. You will either save yourselves or you will perish with it.

It is in the name of this God and of His Son, Jesus, that we exhort you to open your hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of your brothers, to place your youthful energies at their service. Fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred which beget wars and all their train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful, and sincere, and build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had.
Cf. (Message of the 11 Vatican Council to Youth.)

Prayers

Parents teach your children to love and not to hate, to be peaceful and forgiving and to not resort to violent means

Children, respect your parents and your elders, and the property of others. Be generous, pure, respectful, and sincere, and build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had. Do not listen to those who preach only hatred and intolerance

Communities, have patience and understanding. Show example to the young by shunning violence and intolerance.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.

This month of April, we will pray for the protection of children and young people against the use of and pushing of drugs.

The Threat of Drugs

Introduction

We are in the third wave of Covid-19. The majority of the citizens in Ireland have been locked down again. Children and their parents are not allowed to attend daily mass or to receive the sacraments. Most Catholics must watch mass on-line and say an act of spiritual communion, to compensate for not receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ in person. If you venture outside a 5-kilometre limit for no excepted reason, you could be stopped, fined and perhaps imprisoned. Illegal drug trafficking and taking have been outlawed, too, in this country for many years. Yet…

The Covid Crackdown on Drug Trafficking

If you chance to live by the Dublin Road in any of our larger towns, you may be struck by the constant flow of traffic throughout the day, which the pandemic lockdown does not appear to have stemmed too much. We wonder at times where all of those road users are going to or coming from, especially on Sundays. Some of them are probably drug dealers and members of their gangs. Covid-19 restrictions have forced them to come up with new ways to distribute drugs. They had to, what with pubs, clubs and other social outlets being shut down. They use rental cars instead of their own transport.

Many traffickers also turned to the internet and the postal service…to transport their drugs…they adapted in the same way as a lot of businesses. They hid drugs inside legitimate packages. On 18th December 2020, Revenue officers at Dublin Mail Centre seized 16kg of drugs in parcels declared as ‘ornaments’, ‘candy’, ‘clothing’ and ‘gifts’, bound for addresses in Dublin and Louth, with an estimated value of €117,000. But perhaps the most insidious ‘adaptation’ involved the increased exploitation of children, especially in disadvantaged areas, as mules and runners to transport drugs during the lockdown when schools were shut. Children see only the promise of money in their pockets, fancy tracksuits, bikes, a way out, perhaps a life of bling and glamour. But, for some it only results in debts they cannot pay to the gangs, threats of violence, injury and in some cases, death.

Gardai have not ceded their responsibilities in this area, despite greater demands on their time as a result of the pandemic. The Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau seized a record number of drugs during the pandemic, impounding illegal substances valued at more than €36 million in the first 11 months of 2020 – compared to €21.3 million in total in 2019. However, with the exception of some ‘guaranteed Irish cannabis crops’, the drugs are still getting through, onto this island, from destinations abroad, in through our ports or secret coves, and transported to their final markets. Take a look at just a selection of headlines from The Journal newspaper, for the first few weeks of 2021 alone: Suspected drugs and stolen power tools seized after search in Clondalkin, (20.3.21); man charged after 70,000 euro heroin seizure in Cork, (Mar 18); cocaine worth almost 3 million seized in Garda operation in northern Donegal, (Mar 17th); man arrested after 45k euro worth of suspected Xanax tablets and cocaine seized in Co Kerry, (16.3); Man due in court following seizure of 70,000 euro worth of suspected cocaine in Galway, (14.3); Cannabis worth 1.8 million found hidden inside van at Ringaskiddy in Cork, (9.3); Report finds people use psychedelic drugs to self-medicate for depression, anxiety and trauma, – Global Drug Survey (5.3); people arrested as gardai seize cash and cannabis during searches of car and house , Cork and Westmeath, (4.3); 2 men appear in court over 200,000 cannabis seizure, following searches in Dublin and Meath, (24.2); man arrested as 270,000 worth of cannabis plants seized during raid of property in co Laois, Mountrath, (19.2); Cocaine worth 12 million discovered in containers from Central America at Ringaskiddy Port, (18.2); Revenue seize 3,000,000 illegal cigarettes at Rosslare port, (15.2); Man arrested after almost 125,000 worth of cocaine and medical heroin seized in Dublin, (15.2); Third of a tonne of cannabis found by gardai in 7.4 million Kildare seizure, (12.2).21; Drugs worth 187 k seized in Portlaoise…drugs worth more than 1,000,ooo seized in Dublin…Limerick truck driver jailed for importing 1.6 million worth of drugs to Ireland…Garda drug units set up snapchat accounts to snare online drug dealers…

But if pubs, clubs, restaurants, concerts, gigs, fleadhs and other such venues have been closed, where are people now taking their drug of choice? Where is it now safe to hide away by yourself, or with a group of ‘users’, when you want to shoot-up, inhale or swallow? Considering the high numbers of community-based Covid outbreaks and the tracing of the majority of them to ‘households’, the workplace and God forbid, care and residential homes, would it be an outlandish leap of the imagination to suggest that drug-taking has been removed from the streets and car parks, and taken up residence behind the curtains of suburbia? Has the proliferation of home bars and cinemas, even shebeens, also resulted in a more sinister use for the once-harmless den?

It is no wonder then that drug-induced deaths in Ireland are three times greater than the European average, according to a study by the European Union’s drugs agency. There appears to be a growing call, using findings and statistics, to declare present policy to defeat the spread of illegal substances a failure; and to perhaps consider a different approach, like legalisation of cannabis. Is this right?

The Right Way

This blog endeavours to pray for children and young people, in order to protect them and their families. Remember, today’s traffickers and pushers, who are still quite young adults, were innocent children once. They were not conceived for a life of crime. Perhaps someone’s prayers, or a timely intervention, or a different set of circumstances and values would have prevented them from ‘breaking bad’.

By quoting some facts and figures in relation to drugs, the blog hopes to point out the incredible danger to the lives of so many, especially the young and less well off in society, that the actions of a few can represent. Nowhere in Ireland is safe and free from the scourge of drugs, as the geographical spread of those finds and detections clearly demonstrates.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offence. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law. No more than the legalisation of alcohol and tobacco did, the lives of our children, young people and their parents, will not be saved by the legalisation of yet another chemical or chemicals, to be injected, sniffed or swallowed into our sacred bodies. While well-intentioned, or perhaps self-serving interests advocate leniency towards drug-taking, it appears that the moral well-being of all humans is no longer an issue when it comes to letting people choose for themselves.

Drug trafficking is evil. Drug use except on therapeutic grounds, is a grave offence. When out of our sight, and in the absence of good guidance, our children are vulnerable to exploitation. Their family homes must be a source of comfort, safety and freedom from abuse of any kind, at all times. As never before, it is up to us as parents, to lead our children away from the wrong path, the wrong people, the wrong choices.

It would help us tremendously if we still had our churches, places where we could bring our children, to prepare for and receive the sacraments of Confession, Communion and Confirmation. If opening the schools was one way of removing the children from the clutches of those who wished to exploit them for the purposes of drug trafficking, think what re-opening the churches would do as a means of placing them back into the hands of Our Father.

Prayers

We pray:

For the safety and protection of our children and young people, from the evil of drugs;
That our children and young persons may be saved from exploitation by drug traffickers and pushers;

That our children and young persons may choose the path of life and reject the darkness and destruction of criminal activities;

That their parents and guardians may have the strength to protect them from the growing threat of substance abuse;

That our churches may be re-opened, and that parents and children may be free to receive the holy sacraments and to be placed back into the hands of Our Father.

 

God does not forget His children, He is there with them.

This month of March, we will be praying for the safe return of children and young people to schools and colleges.

 

Introduction

For the past year we have all been suffering from the effects and impact of Covid 19.  For children and young persons, it meant the loss of schooling and the loss of contact with friends and peers.  Loneliness and isolation have become part of the new norm for children.  Education has reverted to online studying, or home schooling, for those fortunate enough to avail of these facilities.  Being at home under the protection of your parents, especially for younger children, has its advantages, but as the time away from school and colleges amounted to months instead of days and weeks, children, young persons, parents and teachers grew more and more anxious for a return to the normal education system.  Jesus Christ was a teacher, as well as a preacher and a healer.  His teaching was of a heavenly nature.  He taught us obedience, fortitude and sacrifice.  All these things are vital to survival during this pandemic. 

Back to School

Today, more than 300,000 children and young persons got back to their classrooms, after an extended period of Christmas holidays, brought about by phase three of the Covid-19 pandemic.   For teachers and pupils, it was a return to “in-person learning” or face-to-face teaching and learning in safe, working environments.  As one teacher asserted; “the reason you go into teaching is for the human interaction every day.”[i] 

Schools and colleges are part of civilised structures which prepare you, are a vital aid to enable you to live and survive in the world you grow up and mature in.   Each school with its particular ethos, governance, teachers and young citizens, is very much a microcosm of the wider community into which the young person will be thrust on completion of its ‘education’.  It is an arena, a stage, a classroom, a playing-field, where one can excel and fail; a mostly safe environment but not altogether free from bullying or introductions to the forbidden fruits that society has to offer.  The child or young person is physically present to benefit from the shared experience of life at school, and not as some avatar in a computer simulation.  Even before Covid and all its variants, safeguards and protections were required for the children and young persons to pass through this learning experience, relatively unscathed.  Now, on their return to the classroom and the playground, the pandemic has required a much higher level of vigilance, to protect the health of all concerned.  Conforming to the government’s rules and guidelines, even the extended and prolonged nature of them, would be easier to accept for us as Christians, if we grasped the true nature of obedience, as stated in the story of Abraham and Isaac; and ultimately in the account of the crucifixion of God’s only son.

Obedience

To live and survive in this time of pandemic, all of society is called to obey the instructions of their governing authority.  There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God (Rom 13:1, CCC 1918).  Lockdowns have been long and upsetting, depriving us of essential freedoms, but necessary at the same time for the common good of all.  Part of the lockdown process has been the closure of schools for long periods.  Children with disabilities and special needs have probably been most put out by all of these changes.  The one thing to focus on is not what is or is not happening but on obedience to God in all matters.  Jesus gave us the example of obedience as a young boy.  He was lost for 3 days and when found in the temple he went with his parents and remained obedient to them.  Here, Mary and Joseph were the people in authority over Jesus and he did not resist them in what they said but went with them in respect.  We must not do what our friends are doing, if they are not conforming, but be formed by our own conscience and choose what is right and good for ourselves and our children.

Fortitude

Fortitude is one of the Human Virtues that make possible ease, self-mastery and joy in leading a morally good life (CCC 1804). Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.  It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life.  The virtue of Fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions.  It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice one’s life in defence of a just cause.  (CCC 1808).  Fortitude is the virtue that enables us to persevere in trials and difficulties. During this pandemic there have been many trials and difficulties for our young people and fortitude has been much needed to survive.

Sacrifice

The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation.  Jesus gave His very life for humanity.  He gave us the perfect example of sacrifice, a giving of oneself for the good of another.  Indeed we have seen this kind of example in those health staff who died of Covid 19 while caring for others.  Everyone has had to make sacrifices of one kind or another during this pandemic, for the common good.  By uniting ourselves with His sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God. (CCC 2100) All our efforts and sacrifices when united to Christ’s are not wasted but hold much merit.

Prayers

This month let us pray:

  • That our children and young people will excel in obedience; will be strengthened with the virtue of fortitude and will offer all their sacrifices to God. 
  • That our children and young people will be kept safe form this viral enemy that lurks quietly and remains hidden.
  • That our teachers and S.N.A’s will watch over and protect the young in their care.

In this Year and month of Saint Joseph we commend all children to His fatherly protection.     

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade described St. Joseph as “Saviour of his Saviour” because St. Joseph saved Jesus from death by Herod.  St. Joseph defended the Child Jesus from harm. We ask him in prayer to protect all children and young people as they return to school.



[i] Irish Times, 1.3.2021

God Hear My Cry, Listen To My Prayer.

For the month of February we will be praying for sick children and young people suffering from anxiety.

Sickness is a special kind of suffering. Why do children and young people have to live with illness, especially in this time of medicinal advancement and care?   They should be fit and healthy, a developing bedrock from which to further the cause of humanity, including advancing care for the elderly.  Not so. 

In the past, we only had to look at the lives of some of the saints to know that suffering amongst the young was prevalent, unavoidable and in many cases, untreatable.  The feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes falls on the 11th of February, so I thought it would be fitting for us to look at the sufferings of Saint Bernadette, in the context of this month’s article.   She was a small girl, born into a family that could provide for itself, and she lived a normal life.  However, family finances and circumstances declined, and she encountered much poverty and sickness, as she grew up.  She endured her sufferings selflessly; they were borne out of love for Jesus and His Holy Mother.  Her life was simple, painful but joyful. 

Bernadette was a chosen soul.  Our Blessed Lady began appearing to her at a rubbish dumpin Massabielle, near Lourdes, the small town in France, where she was living, between the 11th February, 1858, and the 16th of July in the same year.  At the exact location of the appearances, a spring was sprung and the waters flow from it, to this day.  At the request of Our Lady, a church was built near the grotto.  Many miracles have been attributed to the holy waters of Massabielle, but Saint Bernadette was chosen by God and her suffering belonged to Him.  She was not to benefit from the healing powers of the spring, dying in great pain after an agonising illness at just thirty-five years of age. 

The suffering that accompanies sickness is never wasted.  To the worldly-minded person perhaps, it is expensive, time-wasting, avoidable, self-absorbing, even irritating.  A spiritually minded person can find merit in suffering.  I grew up with a sister who was mostly bedridden for all of her short life.  She, too, was called Bernadette and suffered greatly since she was a small child.  My mother agonised with her, watching her growing weaker each day.  So many children and young people are no different.  A lot of the time, only those nearest to them are aware of their illness or sufferings.  Now with Covid 19 in the world, we have, along with wars, poverty and natural disasters, a pandemic which is the cause of great sickness and death, affecting all ages and sometimes entire members of the same family.  Who among you, does not know of anyone who has not caught it?  

Jesus Christ healed many people who were sick in mind and body.  He was a great physician and many of our hospitals, still to this day, have a strong, direct link to religious orders, carrying on His great work, and through Him, the work of God.  It is quite natural so, to gravitate towards God and his Son, when we are sick or ill, for the necessary healing and forgiveness that may accompany it.  Whether we pray in our homes, attend hospitals with strong, Catholic ethos’s, or travel on pilgrimages to Lourdes and Knock, we are seeking a cure, directly from God.

Today our children and young people everywhere, live in uncertain times.  Their world has been turned upside down.  School has been cancelled; the form of examinations and markings uncertain.  They have been isolated from their friends and exposed to the merits and considerable demerits of the internet, where all manner of dangers lurks.  With continuing unemployment and lack of security a harsh reality, the bosom of a child’s family is not the place of shelter, reassurance and comfort it once was.  A parent’s, child’s or young person’s mental health, as well as physical well-being, is at risk as the uncertainty continues.  

Let anyone who is free and willing, pray this month for all children and young people around the world who are ill and cannot get the necessary care because of covid 19; or who suffer from anxiety brought on by the uncertainty of our times. Saint Bernadette and Our Blessed Lady intercede on behalf of all sick children and young people.  Amen.