November is a month when many people like to reflect, pause and remember beloved family members and friends who have died. The month begins with the Feast of All Saints. It was instituted to honour all of the saints, both known and unknown, and, according to Pope Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year. The Feast of All the Saints of Ireland was instituted in 1921, by Pope Benedict XV.
My eldest son Kieran was a bit mystified when I told him I was going on silent retreat for a week. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “Good question”, I replied. And my youngest son Sean was surprised (pleasantly, I think) when I phoned him a day into the retreat. “I thought you weren’t allowed to speak!” he said. “It’s your birthday”, I explained.
There were two impressive cycling achievements at this year’s Barmouth gathering: one of the group travelling there by bike from Liverpool (Paul Devlin: 91 miles); and somebody (me!) making a successful ascent of what has been officially declared this year as the steepest road in the world. Continue Reading
The evening of June 23, St John’s Eve, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of St John the Baptist. The bible states that John was born about six months before Jesus, therefore the feast of John the Baptist was fixed on June 24, six months before Christmas. St John the Baptist, like Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of very few persons to have the anniversary of the birth commemorated.
The Feast of St John coincides with the June solstice also referred to as Midsummer. The feast is celebrated in many countries throughout the Christian world. In Ireland this was the traditional night for the Bonfire. In this celebratory bonfire old bones were burned. In the Irish language the bonfire is called “Tine Cnáimh” which literally means fire of bones. Another name for the fire was “Tine Féil Eóin”.
We are blessed at the Irish Chaplaincy with some wonderful volunteers and it was not easy to have to choose just one of them to nominate for the Irish in Britain Volunteer Awards. We did in the end nominate somebody and I was saying to Paul, our Seniors Manager “if that person gets the award it’s good for everyone at the Chaplaincy”, and I added, “everyone’s a winner”. I thought for a few moments, then said “but not in the Champion’s League final!” Continue Reading