Posts Tagged ‘Pilgrimage’

Mary Queen of Heaven

In the Catholic calendar, May is a month where we pay special homage to Mary our Mother, Our Blessed Lady. Here are some ideas on how to do that throughout the month:

  1. Attend daily Mass – if you are unable to attend Mass every day, try going an extra day or two during the week.
  2. Pray the rosary every day – Our Lady of Fatima urged the seers to pray the rosary every day, during each of her six apparitions in Portugal. Are you a bit rusty when it comes to praying the rosary? Check out EWTN’s guide , install a rosary app on your smartphone, ask a friend or family member to pray it with you, or pray the rosary with Mother Angelica and her Sisters . And if you’re unable to pray the rosary, why not start with a decade a day!
  3. Put a picture of Mary in every room, and every time your eyes fall on her, offer up a little prayer.  And if you don’t have that many pictures  of Mary (I don’t!) google ‘Mother Mary’ and print off your favourites.
  4. Talking about favourite pictures of Mary, choose your top picture and use is as the wallpaper or background to your phone/ tablet/ laptop/ work computer for the month! This makes for a great starting point for evangelisation when a friend or colleague catches a glimpse of your screen!
  5. Make a pilgrimage – you don’t have to go all the way to Lourdes, Fatima or Mexico City! Plan a week-end to Knock or Walsingham, or go visit a local shrine or grotto- and invite your friends! Take a picture and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  AND Pinterest!
  6. Mary Prayer FocusCreate a prayer focus– a statue of Mary, some candles, rosary beads, a bible… and if you don’t have a statue of Mary, May is the time to get one! Veritas sell statues of Mary from e4.50 (and deliver free in Ireland!)
  7. Blue is the Marian colour, so, wear something blue every day– that way you’ll start your day by thinking about honouring our Heavenly Mother! And, if you don’t have many blue clothes, a good back up is blue nail varnish! Another opportunity to tell people about Mary when people comment on the  interesting colour of your nails!
  8. Read about Mary! Pope John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Mater, an encyclical on the blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church. Or, just look up ‘Mary’ in the index in your Catechism or YouCat, and work your way through. Also, when he was cardinal, Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote an excellent book about  Mary entitled “Mary: The Church at the Source, with Hans Urs von Balthasar.
  9. Celebrate! Share the Marian love with colleagues and bring in some celebratory cakes into work to share! @UKCatholicGirl wrote a great blog post about what happened when she decided to buy cakes to share in the law firm’s office where she worked, to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. You could do this on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (13th May) or  the Visitation (31st May), or any other day… just because its the month of Mary!
  10. Watch a film about Mary– and invite some friends round and watch The 13th Day, Lourdes, or The Story of Bernadette.
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The relic of Saint Don Bosco arrive in Ireland today, as part of a world wide pilgrimage, to celebrate the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth (1815-2015). The casket has already been to Italy, Spain, the Americas, Africa, Australia and Asia.

Saint Don Bosco was an Italian priest, an amazing man, who dedicated his life to working with under privileged youth, transforming their lives. His approach was to show them love rather than punishing them, and he taught them to do good deeds, live a disciplined Christian life, and of course, passing the Faith onto them. At his canonisation, he was given the title “Father and Teacher of the Youth”.

Remember God does not pay us for results, but for effort

Saint Don Bosco

The pilgrimage began on 31st January 2009, the anniversary of his death and continues in Ireland until 7th March 2013. You can find details of the route on the Salesians visit website- http://www.donboscorelics.ie , where they also have lots of information on the visit, resources and videos.

Itinerary of the visit of the Relic of St John Bosco to Ireland

Volunteers arriving for European meeting

Volunteers arriving for European meeting

Each year, young people from across the continent and beyond gather for Taize’s European meeting, held in a different city each year. This year, for the fourth time, the meeting was held in Rome. On Saturday evening after the period of silence during the prayer service, Br Alois, prior of the Taize community, greeted Pope Benedict. 

Greeting to the Holy Father by Brother Alois
Most Holy Father,Today a significant milestone in our “pilgrimage of trust on earth” is taking place. We have come from all over Europe and from other continents too, from various Church affiliations. What unites us is stronger than what divides us: one baptism and the same Word of God unite us. We have come here this evening to celebrate this unity around you, a unity which is real even if it is not yet fully realized. It is when we turn together towards Christ that it grows deeper.

Brother Roger left a legacy to our community—his desire to communicate the Gospel to young people in particular. He was deeply aware that the divisions between Christians are a barrier to handing on the faith. He opened paths of reconciliation that we have not yet finished exploring. Inspired by his testimony, there are very many people who want to anticipate reconciliation by their lives, to live already as people who are reconciled.Reconciled Christians can become witnesses to peace and communion, bearers of a new solidarity among human beings.

Seeking a personal relationship with God is the basis of this approach. This ecumenism of prayer does not encourage a facile tolerance. It promotes a mutual listening which is demanding, and a true dialogue.Praying here tonight, we cannot forget that the last letter written by Brother Roger, just before his violent death, was addressed to you, Holy Father, to tell you that our community wanted to walk in communion with you. Nor can we forget how, after his tragic death, your support was invaluable to encourage us to move forward. So I would like to express once again the deep affection of our hearts for your person and for your ministry.

Finally, I would like to bring the witness to hope of the many young Africans with whom we met a month ago at Kigali, Rwanda. They came from 35 countries, including Congo, North Kivu, to undertake a pilgrimage of reconciliation and peace. The great vitality of these young Christians is a promise for the future of the Church.These young Africans wanted us to bring back a sign of their hope, sorghum seeds, so that they could grow in Europe. Can I take the liberty, Holy Father, of giving you, from them, a small traditional Rwandan basket called “agaseke” with some of these seeds of hope from Africa? Perhaps they could be planted in the Vatican gardens and blossom there?

Pope Benedict then addressed the community, and the 45 000 young pilgrims, Christian, Protestant and Orthodox, who gathered in St Peter’s Square. Below is the text of his address to the young people.

 rome vigil

Thank you, dear Brother Alois, for your warm words, full of affection.

Dear young people, dear pilgrims of trust, welcome to Rome!You have come in great numbers, from all over Europe and from other continents, to pray at the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. In fact, in this city both shed their blood for Christ. The faith that motivated these two great apostles of Christ is the same that compelled you to start out on this journey. During the year that is about to begin, you are proposing to uncover the well springs of trust in God in order to live it in your everyday life. It gladdens me that in this way, you have embraced the aims of the Year of Faith which began in October.

This is the fourth European meeting to be held in Rome. On this occasion, I would like to repeat the words my predecessor, John Paul II to young people during your third Meeting in Rome: “The Pope feels deeply committed together with you all on this pilgrimage of trust on earth … I too am called to be a pilgrim of trust in the name of Christ”. (30 December 1987).

 

ENGLISH 
Just over seventy years ago, Brother Roger established the Taizé Community. Thousands of young people from all over the world continue to go there to seek meaning for their lives. The Brothers welcome them to share in their prayer and provide them with an opportunity to experience a personal relationship with God. It was to support these young people on their journey to Christ that Brother Roger had the idea of starting a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”.A tireless witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation, ardently committed to an ecumenism of holiness, Brother Roger encouraged all those who passed through Taizé to become seekers of communion. We should listen in our hearts to his spiritually lived ecumenism, and let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized. Following his example, may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians. And so this evening I greet with special affection those among you who are Orthodox or Protestants.

FRENCH

Today, Christ is asking you the same question he asked his disciples, “Who am I to you?”. Peter, at whose tomb we are gathered at this moment, replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:15-16). His whole life became a concrete answer to this question. Christ also wants to receive a response from each of you born of a deep inner freedom and not of compulsion or fear. In responding to that question your life will find its strongest meaning. The text of the Letter of St. John that we have just heard helps us understand with great simplicity how to respond: “What we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another” (3:23). Have faith and love God and others! What could be more exciting? What could be more beautiful?During these days in Rome, let this Yes to Christ grow in your hearts, above all by taking advantage of the long moments of silence that are an integral part of your community prayers, after having listened to the Word of God. This Word, says the Second Letter of Peter, is “like a lamp shining in a dark place,” which you do well to be attentive to “until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1.19). You have to understand: if the morning star must arise in your hearts it is because it is not always present there. Sometimes the evil and suffering of the innocent create doubt and confusion in you. And saying Yes to Christ can become difficult. But these doubts do not make you non-believers! Jesus did not reject the man in the Gospel who shouted: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

GERMAN
So that you do not lose faith during this battle, God never leaves you alone and isolated. He gives us all the joy and comfort of the communion of the Church. During your stay in Rome, thanks to the generous hospitality of many parishes and religious communities, you are undergoing a new experience of being Church. On your return home, to your various countries, I invite you to discover that God is making you all co-responsible for His Church, in all the variety of vocations. This communion which is the Body of Christ needs you and you all have a place in it. Starting with your gifts, from what is specific to each of you, the Holy Spirit forms and breathes life into this mystery of communion which is the Church, in order to convey the Good News of the Gospel to the world today.

POLISH
Together with silence, song has an important place in your community prayers. In these days the songs of Taizé fill the basilicas of Rome. Song is a support and incomparable expression of prayer. Singing to Christ, you open yourselves to the mystery of His hope. Do not be afraid to precede the dawn in praise of God, you will not be disappointed.Dear young friends, Christ does not remove you from the world. He sends you there where His light is missing, so that you may bring it to others. Yes, you are all called to be small lights to those around you. With your attention to a more equitable distribution of the goods of the earth, with your commitment to justice and a new human solidarity, you will help those around you to better understand how the Gospel leads us to God and at the same time to others. So, with your faith, you will contribute to uncovering the wellsprings of trust on earth.

Be full of hope. God bless you, your family and friends!

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Today, at the Invocation 2012 festival, held at Oscott College, Birmingham, young adults and religious alike welcomed the relic of the heart of St John Vianney.

But what are relics? Why venerate them? And what can we learn from St John Vianney? Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury Diocese, who was instrumental in bringing the relic from France to the UK for the first time, gave an inspiring and engaging keynote addressing these topics.

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Bishop Davies began by saying that relics of Saints were brought over by Britain’s first missionaries, as they evangelised the island. They awaken hope of holiness in people, as they provide a tangible link with the Communion of Saints. As relics had a role in the first evangelisation of the British Isles, so they should have a role in the New Evangelisation.

We were reminded that we are given our lives, in order to give them away, to serve God. Each and every person was no accident, but willed and loved by God, and everyone has a place on His team, the winning team. There are different positions- centres, forwards, wing, but God’s team is unlike a football team, as there are no mistakes in God’s team selection. By giving ourselves wholeheartedly, we can serve God.

How can St John Vianney help us to become more holy? Bishop Mark gave us a punchy summary of this inspirational saint, who battled against the odds and overcame many hurdles in order to answer God’s call for him to become a priest.

Born in France in 1786, John Vianney grew up during the French revolution, where attending Mass was illegal and priests were forced into hiding, conducting secret services. Leaving school at the age of 9, he helped his father on the family farm, where eventually, his father reluctantly let him leave to train for the priesthood. He found this challenging, as he had left school at such a young age. His studies were interrupted after he was summoned to fight in Napoleon’s army. He quickly deserted and spent time in hiding. When deserters were pardoned, he returned and was sent to a seminary, although he was kicked out for being ‘too slow’. He eventually became a priest in 1815.

As a priest, he was appointed to the parish of Ars, a small parish known for its lack of faithful. There, his day started at 1am, when he heard confession of the locals and people who travelled far and wide. He spent up to 18 hours a day in the confessional and historians estimate he heard the confessions of 20% of the French population of the day!

As an  elderly priest, unable to talk, he would simply stand on the altar and point towards the altar to the tabernacle, in which the Real Presence was enclosed.

His body was exhumed in 1904, and found to be incorrupt.Image

Saint Vianney abandoned himself to God, filling his days with prayer and service to God. His heart symbolises a heart given and consumed by divine love. How can we draw inspiration from this in our everyday lives? Bishop Davies said we do not need to start our days at 1am in prayer, but had a more practical suggestion: get up two minutes earlier than necessary, and devoting those few minutes to God at the beginning of our day.

May the heart of St John Vianney awaken our hearts and bring  us closer to God, as we hobble along the path to holiness, and may his great sacrifices throughout his life encourage us to make small sacrifices every day.

See the video below for a short clip of Bishop Mark Davies’ talk

St Nicholas' tomb stoneSaint Nicholas of Myra, is famed forfor his extraordinary generosity. As the Bishop of Lycia, he made anonymous donations to the poor. Shortly after his death in what is now Turkey in the 14th century, he was proclaimed a saint. Centuries later, his generosity inspired the modern day Santa Claus. However, where lie his earthly remains?

Some 800 years ago when war was breaking out in Europe, returning Crusaders secretly removed his relics and transported them to saftey to the corner of Europe – Ireland.

After reading an article in the Telegraph, I headed down to Jerpoint, Kilkenny, Ireland during my summer holidays. Jerpoint is a sleepy town, tucked in the winding roads of the Irish countryside. I have visited the Cistercian Abbey over the road many times, however I had failed to notice the resting place of Saint Nicholas over the road.

Understandibly so… off a winding country lane, I followed a long drive down to a country house, where the owner lead me across some fields and pointed me in the direction of a church standing in ruins… surrounded by sheep! I made my way through the gate and accross the field to the old church- the 13th century parish of St Nicholas. Next to the church lies a tombstone, marking the extraordinary saint’s final resting place.

 Gates leading to St Nicholas Parish ChurchSt Nicholas' tomb stoneSt Nicholas' parish church

A few days ago, the BBC ran a piece on Medjugorje on their Newsnight programme, reported by Alan Little. It’s a good introduction the fastest growing Catholic pilgrimage site in Earth, although it is yet to be officially recognised by the Vatican (in March 2010, the Holy See announced the formation of an investigative commission). Somewhat sceptical at times, presenting tacky shops and speculating about how the apparitions have boosted the local economy, the report not only highlights the apparitions to the Newsnight-watching public and beyond, it puts the village into its authentic political and religious context – something that can be overlooked by the enthusiastic Catholic pilgrim. This 12 minute video is well worth a watch.

Visit the BBC website to see more details about the report.

So, the world cup fever is over, what next?

For Andres Iniesta, the player and national hero that scored Spain’s winning goal, it will mean making a pilgrimage and walking the Way of St. James of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

This started out months ago when a Spanish newspaper sent envelopes to the Spanish football team, asking them to make a promise of something they would do if Spain won the world cup!

Read the full article here.

What a fantastic Catholic role model for young Catholics all over the world!