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 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 .