Our prayer intention this month is for Families; that they will live in the peace, love and joy, given to us by God.
This August is a special month for children and for families here in Ireland.
It is Ireland's time to celebrate the Year Of The Family and Pope Francis will attend the closing Mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin on Sunday 26th.
On the 21st August there will be an evening of prayer in each of the Deaneries throughout the country,
to launch the event. Our Parish of St. Mary's, Drogheda will be the host for this area. People from all the neighbouring Parishes will come together in prayer as one big famly in Christ.
It is an exciting time, as it will mark the opening week for the
Year of the Family events in Dublin. As a member of the local Parish Choir, I have been busy each Monday night for the past few weeks learning the new hymn, "A Joy For All The Earth" composed by Ephrem Feeley, especially for the World Meeting
of Families 2018.
When I first heard the hymn, I was not that impressed. With each practice however, and while listening to it over and over again on my MP3 player, I could see the real meaning and beauty in this wonderful composition. Each time I sang
the words, they took on a certain profundity for me.
The notes were a challenge to all of us in the choir as each verse was composed slightly differently to the previous one. However, it was the words, the powerful words that kept drawing me
in to the meaning of the hymn, which is about love and the joy it brings to all the earth, God's earth. After a little research, I discovered that the words are taken from St. Paul's Gospel and Pope Francis's Exhortation Amoris Laetitia,on love in
The opening two lines and the first verse are taken from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians.
Love bears all things, endures all things,
Love longs for all things good, love never ends.
is patient, and love is kind.
Love is not resentful; it is not rude.
Love is not arrogant, nor boastful, nor jealous,
But love rejoices, rejoices in the truth.
Just imagine hearing these words over and over again in your head and the impact that they have. As my mam would have said in the past: "If you throw enough muck,
some of it will stick." Well, these words were the 'muck' that was being 'thrown' at me and if not sticking exactly, were certainly challenging my own behaviour in relation to love. I found I was constantly asking myself if I was bearing and enduring
all things, and if I was longing for all that was good and never ending? Am I patient and kind, am I resentful or rude, arrogant, boastful or jealous, do I rejoice in the truth?
As the refrain was sung I was reaffirmed in the knowledge that there is
a joy in love and its a joy for all God's family. It transcends time and space, mirrors God the Father's love and is a joy for all the earth. The line about love transcending time and space really struck me because when a loved one dies, your love for them
and their love for you does not die with them; it really does transcend time and space, just as God's love does also.
There is an old saying that wisdom comes with age and the older I get the more clearly I see. And, the more I sing this hymn, the more
I am reminded that our love for each other is supposed to mirror God the Father's love. Being a parent to five wonderful, unique children with all their different ways and thinking, I have certainly been challenged in the art of love. My love has had to take
a bold step into unconditional love. I have learned the meaning of mirroring God the father's love. No matter what I do or how many wrong turns I make, God shows me His mercy and love when I turn back to Him and acknowledge my mistakes in an act of
sorrow. So, too,I must also behave as a loving mother to my children in this manner. As adults,they make their choices whether right or wrong, but I must give them the freedom to learn and grow; and I must love them in a non-judgemental way, with the unconditional
love that God has shown and given to me.
The second verse spoke about God's family as being a place where all find their home. All can find salvation here and troubled souls find peace. God's family is full of tenderness, compassion and justice.
God reaches down to us and touches us, His family, with grace. As I listened to and practiced singing this verse, I was a bit puzzeled; I had not found God's family to be like this. I had found human nature getting in the way - arguments, rows and power struggles
were all too obvious, but I was omitting to connect the words of the first verse with the words of the second. In order to overcome the failings of our weak human nature I needed the patience and love referred to in verse one, combined with the touch of God's
grace as explained in verse two. Family life is never straightforward or easy; it is a work always in progress, in the name of love.
The third verse speaks of Divine things. Love is our origin, our constant calling and our fulfilment, in God's
dwelling place. Love is the mystery of Father, Son and Spirit, the communion of blessed Trinity. Just imagine: We are part of this great mystery of the Blessed Trinity; we are rooted and founded in love, Divine love. Because of our origin, we are part of a
world far greater than anything this earthly world can offer us. We belong to the world of pure love, God's dwelling place where we find peace and salvation. These words and this verse for me is a verse of hope, in a world were hope can sometimes
seem to have almost disappeared. This verse says 'No', God is our hope, hold on to Him, hope and believe.
Finally verse 4 speaks to us about what God asks of us. He desires that we act with justice, that we love with tenderness, and that we
walk humbly with God. He desires that we live our lives in the service of others. This is the joy of the Gospel and the joyful love of Christ. I'm singing and at the same time thinking: "Justice, tenderness and humility - bah, hum bug! This is a hard act to
perform in a world where there is so little justice and tenderness, and no one seems to know the real meaning of humility. Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble when pride keeps getting in the way.
Love bears all things, endures all things
Love longs for all things good, love never ends.
God grant me the grace, to live a life of holy love filled with tenderness, compassion and justice. Let it be one lived in service of others; and may I bear all things, endure all things, long for all things good; and may my love never end. Amen.