Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, at the National Marian Shrine, Knock, Co Mayo
“In the Ireland of 2016 it takes real strength of character to hold to the fundamental right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby, and especially so in the face of pressure from those who wish to radically
redefine Ireland’s social agenda in the name of ‘progression’ and ‘personal choice’ above all else. But at what cost? How could anyone in the name of compassion or choice remove the right to life of an innocent unborn child?
…. We join our prayers with the thousands who are gathering in Dublin this afternoon to celebrate the equality of life that is enshrined in the eighth amendment” – Archbishop Eamon Martin
When I think about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I am drawn to some of my favourite Gospel passages – like the one where Luke describes Mary reflecting on the life of the child Jesus. Luke says (Luke 2:19): “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”.
As for Jesus, His heart was like a magnet which attracted the poor, the sick, the troubled, the lonely and the forgotten. They came in response to His words (Matthew 11:28-30): “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart”. They came because as John writes (John 7:38): “From His Heart will flow rivers of living water.”
On the reverse side of a miraculous medal you can see the Heart symbols of Jesus and Mary alongside one another. Their Feasts occur on consecutive days in the liturgical calendar. Clearly the Church wants us to meditate on the closeness of these Hearts. Pope Saint John Paul II spoke about an “admirable Alliance” of the two Hearts which are linked so intimately in the mystery of our Redemption.
At Fatima in 1982, St John Paul pointed to a moment when the Hearts of Jesus and Mary were united in love for the world – when Mary stood at the foot of His cross. As the side of Jesus was pierced with a lance, it was as if Mary too was being ‘spiritually crucified’ and the prophecy of old Simeon was being fulfilled. The children of Fatima reported that Our Lady wanted her Heart and the Heart of Jesus to be honoured together. One way to do this, as the centenary of the Fatima apparitions approaches next year, is to dedicate the First Friday of each month to the Sacred Heart, and the First Saturday of each month to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
I suggest three special intentions for our ‘Heart-filled’ prayer: let us pray for: Peace, for Family and for Life.
For Peace: We are constantly reminded how fragile is world peace. This year we are recalling the horrendous loss of life one hundred years ago during World War One. But in many parts of the modern world, tens of thousands of people are still being killed, maimed or displaced because of the violence of war and terrorism. In turning to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we ask her help to conquer the menace of evil and hatred which can so easily take root in the hearts of people today. Instead may the Sacred Heart of Jesus inspire peacemakers to melt the hearts of stone which prolong conflict across the world.
For Family: As Ireland prepares to host the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018, we place all families under the care of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Today in Knock we honour the great Servant of God, Father Patrick Peyton, who devoted his priestly life to strengthening the families of the world through prayer, especially the Rosary. May God continue to bless the members of our own families. May the motherly love and compassion of Mary find a home with us. May the merciful Heart of Jesus guide those families which are struggling because of bereavement, misunderstanding, or a breakdown in relationships.
For Life: I like to contemplate the moment when the Hearts of Jesus and Mary beat most closely together – while Mary carried Jesus in her womb. We must listen for the heartbeats of both mothers and their unborn children in today’s world. Two lives; two hearts, beating. Sadly there are those who question Ireland’s constitutional commitment to the equal life and dignity of a mother and the unborn child. May we never forget that the defenceless unborn child is a real, human person, worthy of love and protection. Equally, may we never fail to have a heart for those mothers – and indeed fathers – who sometimes feel in crisis following the conception of their child.
In the Ireland of 2016 it takes real strength of character to hold to the fundamental right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby, and especially so in the face of pressure from those who wish to radically redefine Ireland’s social agenda in the name of “progression” and “personal choice” above all else. But at what cost? How could anyone in the name of compassion or choice remove the right to life of an innocent unborn child?
We join our prayers with the thousands who are gathering in Dublin this afternoon to celebrate the equality of life that is enshrined in the eighth amendment.
In the coming months I shall be inviting people to join me in rekindling the First Friday and First Saturday devotions for the intentions of Peace, Family and Life. Each month: to go to Confession, to receive Holy Communion and to make a personal act of sacrifice or reparation – this provides a sound foundation for personal spiritual renewal. To do so for Peace, for Family and for Life recognises three essential components for the Common Good. To unite these spiritual acts with the Immaculate Heart of Mary draws upon her care and concern for each of us and for the whole world. To place all our needs and intentions before the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to draw from the inexhaustible well that is God’s love and mercy.
To Jesus, through Mary!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus we place all our trust in You. Amen.
· Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
· Schedule for the 30th anniversary of the All Ireland Rosary Rally: 2.00pm, Stations of the Cross and Rosary; 3.00pm, Celebration of the Eucharist and anointing of the sick – chief celebrant and preacher Archbishop Eamon Martin; After homily – the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Music – Father Peyton Cluster Choir; Conclusion – Eucharistic Healing Blessing.
· The story of Knock began on the 21 August 1879 when Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. This miraculous apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and was visited by Saint John Paul II as part of his 1979 papal pilgrimage to Ireland. During his visit, which coincided with the Shrine’s centenary year, the late pope celebrated Mass at the Shrine and addressed the sick, their helpers and pilgrimage directors. Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, is the custodian of the Marian Shrine and Father Richard Gibbons is parish priest of Knock and rector of the shrine. For more details please see: www.knockshrine.ie
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