Tomorrow: Ireland to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for protection against the corona virus

 

Over the last nine days, since Saint Patrick’s Day, many people have been joined in a novena in preparation for the moment of Consecration which includes the Prayer of Consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Bishops and priests will lead the Consecration from their homes, cathedrals and churches across the country.  The faithful are invited to join their local priest or bishop from their home, via webcam, to prayerfully participate in this Act of Consecration during these unprecedented and worrying days for us all.

Archbishop Eamon said, “Now, more than ever, we are committed to offering prayer, solidarity and compassion in our society.  Social distancing cannot be allowed to create social isolation and, through prayer, as Pope Francis said on Sunday, we can overcome: ‘In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven.’

“Tomorrow, at midday, to mark the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, as we consecrate Ireland and our people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for protection against the coronavirus, Pope Francis has asked ‘all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us’, – the Our Father.  Pope Francis prayerfully said, ‘may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.’

The webcam of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, can be viewed on http://armaghparish.net/cathedral-webcam/

The act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can be found here: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2020/03/24/order-of-service-for-act-of-consecration-of-ireland-to-immaculate-heart-of-mary/

Urgent prayer request

Eloise-Azélie Holt in utero

 

Please pray NOW for little Eloise-Azélie Holt. Many of us have been praying for her over recent weeks – she is a gravely ill unborn baby. The latest update is that she is likely to be born very soon, and is quite premature. Her parents have asked for prayers through Fr Doyle’s intercession that she may survive long enough to be baptised.

O Jesus, who has given us the example of Your servant, Father William Doyle, graciously grant us the favours we ask You through his intercession…[Pray here that Eloise Azélie Holt may survive, or at least that she can be baptised]

Teach us to imitate his love for You, his heroic devotion to Your service, his zeal for repairing the outrages done to Your Sacred Heart. And, for Your greater glory and the salvation of souls, hear our prayer and grant that the credit we believe He enjoys in Heaven may be recognised solemnly by the Church, so that we may soon be able to venerate him in public worship.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Thoughts in a time of pandemic

God sometimes seems to ask the impossible, a sorrow, a cross. Oh! it would crush me! How can this be! How? Lord, I do not know, but You do. I will trust you always.

COMMENT: The world seems to be going through unprecedented times. If you think this is all hype, all I can say is please prepare and wait a few weeks until you see what happens when there is a big outbreak in your area. It appears that about 20% of confirmed cases require hospitalisation and 5% of cases require ventilation in intensive care. No country in the world can sustain the burden of a large outbreak of this disease. 

Many face possible illness, possible death and/or bereavement; almost certain restriction of our freedoms, and probable loss of access to the sacraments for some period of time. We all watched the sufferings of China, and Wuhan in particular. Now we see what has happened to Europe, and in particular to beautiful Italy. Now the crisis is just starting to bite elsewhere, including here in Ireland. 

What would Fr Doyle say to us if he were to speak to us today?

I think he would base his advice to us along the lines of his prayer above. Fr Doyle lived through an awful crisis of his own in World War 1. He lived with death day after day. He too had to go sometimes without the sacraments. Through it all he remained strong and peaceful. Soldiers flocked to him, as he was a source of reassurance. Whenever he wrote about troubles he always wrote about trusting in God, and abandoning ourselves into His loving arms. God is our loving Father, and we can trust in Him.

Some further quotes on this theme:

Take O Lord and receive my liberty, my health and strength, my limbs, my flesh, my blood, my very life. Do with me just as You wish, I embrace all lovingly – sufferings, wounds, death – if only it will glorify You one tiny bit.

 

“Let him act” much be your motto. Jesus will bring all things right in the end. The more I get to know God, the more inclined I feel to let Him work out things in His own way and time, and go on peacefully not troubling about anything.

To trust in God we must get to know God, and to do this we must pray. If we have spent more time preparing physically, by gathering food and supplies, than we have by preparing spiritually through prayer and “stockpiling” grace, we may need to reorient ourselves a little. 

I think Fr Doyle would also speak to us about the spiritual opportunities that this pandemic presents to us. In every crisis there are opportunities for holiness, for self-denial, for reparation, and perhaps in some cases for heroism. Fr Doyle often wrote about how the soldiers embraced their hardships with a spirit of faith and cheerfulness. We may even see martyrs of charity emerge from this pandemic. We may not be called to such heroism, but we are certainly called to embrace this period of self-denial and gain graces from it. 

There is a lot of other advice I could give that is beyond our scope here, except for this one, last crucial thing which I think Fr Doyle would give us: pray for priests. Pray that they may be protected. In Bergamo in Italy just this past week 6 priests have died from the virus and 20 more have been hospitalised. Given the age profile of priests, especially in Europe, we all may have much reduced access to the sacraments in the coming years if the virus is not stamped out. So please, pray for your priests and do not put them at unnecessary risk of infection. 

We will conclude today with Fr Doyle’s prayer for priests:

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.

The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” grant them to apply to themselves: “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another.”

O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.

Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

 

Thoughts for March 6 from Fr Willie Doyle

Passion of Christ, comfort me! Comfort me, for the day is long and weary; comfort me as I fight my way up the path of life safe to the haven of Thy Sacred Heart, comfort me in sorrow, in pain, in sickness. Comfort me when temptation rages around me and every hope seems lost, and when the last dread hour has sounded and my eyes are closing on this world of sin, Oh, Passion of Christ! comfort me then, and lead me gently to Thy wounded Sacred Feet above.

Pray the Novena of Grace from 4-12 March for the cessation of the corona virus

The Miracles of St Francis Xavier by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1617.
On the left hand side you can see plague victims being blessed by St Francis.

 

The Novena of Grace, to the great Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier starts on March 4 and runs until March 12. This novena has a long history. It originated in Naples, Italy in 1643, when a Jesuit, Matteo Mastrilli, was cured through the intercession of St Francis Xavier, who promised that those who made the nine days of prayer in preparation for the anniversary of his canonisation would receive many graces and favours.

St Francis is the patron of the missions, and greatly loved Asia. He especially loved China and longed to reach that land to bring the light of the Gospel, though he died before got there.

St Francis was also a miracle worker, both during his life and after his death. One area where there are reported miracles relates to the plague. In his early life St Francis worked with plague victims in Venice, working intimately with them and yet never becoming infected; his contemporaries viewed his ongoing heath as a sign of Divine protection. After his death off the coast of China, his body was brought Malacca (Malaysia). At that time the city was in the grip of a deadly plague, with many people dying on a daily basis. Apparently the plague – and the deaths – stopped instantly when his body arrived.

The Novena of Grace is very timely this year as our 21st century plague – the corona virus – is spreading rapidly around the world. Of particular note is that China and so many Asian countries are afflicted, as is Venice and surrounding areas where Francis worked with plague victims in 1537. His concern for the sick of these areas, and indeed worldwide, is surely even greater now that he is in Heaven.

Let us all pray to St Francis Xavier for the cessation of this pestilence, for healing of the sick, for comfort for the bereaved and for protection for those of us who are as yet unaffected.

O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favours with which God blessed you during life, and of your glory after death, fills me with joy;
and I unite with you in offering to Him
my humble tribute of thanksgiving and of praise,
I implore of you to secure for me through your powerful intercession
the all-important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace.
I also beseech you to obtain the favour I ask in this Novena
(here ask for the favour you wish to obtain),
but if what I ask is not for the glory of God or for the good of my soul, obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Let us pray,
O God, who was pleased to gather into your Church the peoples of the East by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis,
mercifully grant that we, who honour his glorious merits,
may also imitate the example of his virtues,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father)

 

Thoughts for February 25 from Fr Willie Doyle

A habit of ejaculatory prayer is a sign of nearness to God, for our own holiness will be in proportion to our love and thought of Him all day long.

COMMENT: St Paul tells us to pray always. The great saints and mystics lived constantly in God’s presence, almost unconsciously making everything they did a prayer. Yet, unless they have received many graces, it is unlikely that they started out with this constant presence of God. For many, it required much effort and discipline to overcome their natural human tendency towards dissipation.

One technique for living more completely in God’s presence is the use of aspirations – short prayers interspersed throughout the day to help remind us that we are in the presence of God.

If we love someone with a human passion, it is normal that we think about them throughout the day. Can we really say that we love God as we ought if we only think of Him during our times of formal prayer, or when we want His help with something?

Thoughts for February 10 from Fr Willie Doyle

You seem to be a little troubled at finding yourself cold at prayer and as if our Lord had abandoned you. Were it otherwise I should feel uneasy; for this is one of the best signs that you are really pleasing to God, since He puts your fidelity to the test by sending desolation. There is no happiness to be compared to the sweets one tastes at times in prayer; but this, the greatest of all sacrifices, He will ask from you at times.

Hence in darkness and dryness, when weariness and disgust come on you, when the thousand petty worries of every day crowd upon you, raise your eyes with a glad smile to the face of Jesus, for all is well and He is sanctifying you.

COMMENT: Context is important, and Fr Doyle’s words for today take on entirely different meanings depending on their context. Fr Doyle was presumably writing to somebody who was faithfully living their spiritual life and who was undergoing a period of spiritual darkness. Sometimes God does indeed test us in these situations. We have to show that we love the God of consolations, not the consolations of God.

But there are times when we go through coldness and repugnance for spiritual things, and it is entirely our own fault. Our negligence and laziness and sinfulness bring about this coldness. It is not God who has abandoned us, but we who have abandoned Him. But the remedy is always near – contrition, the sacraments and a more ardent renewal and fidelity are the medicine we need to rekindle the love of God in our hearts.