First Holy Communion & Confirmation 2021

Recent controversy in the media about whether the Church should hold the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion, despite public health reccomendations, prompted me to take some time this week to reflect on how we celebrate these important times in the faith journey of our young people, & their families.

Here in our parish; our principals, Patrick Logue (Chairperson & Chaplain to NS Buite, Tenure), and myself took the decision in June to cancel plans for holding the Sacraments during the summer months, and just this week, we have contacted the families affected to say that this position remains unchganged. We will make arrangements to celebrate these Sacraments when it is safe to do so – but not before mid-September at the earliest.

However, despite the disappointments, difficulties and challenges this has presented to the Children and their families, there is also an opportunity here to consider how to best celebrate our Sacraments going forward, taking into consideration that a large number – indeed, the majority – of our girls and boys preparing for First Holy Communion & Confirmation, and their families, do not attend Mass regularly. 

So, while it’s looking more likely that Communion and Confirmation will be  celebrated in the Autumn across Ireland, in the meantime we should look past cultural norms & into the heart of what the Sacraments mean. 

Passing on the Faith

The Eucharist: is so much more than a reminder or symbol. It is a Sacrament, an action of the Holy Spirit which brings about the presence of Christ in our communities, families and hearts.

The Eucharist isn’t just a noun, it is a verb, a call to action. Just as the bread and wine are taken, blessed, broken and given so also may our lives, communities and world be transformed and renewed.

We need to re-think the idea that everybody receives Communion & Confirmation just as a matter of course; It is an opportunity to think about how we celebrate important rites of passage in the Faith & whether there are new ways, better ways, of doing things into the future. One possibility is that small groups of children and their families may celebrate the Sacraments during the regular Sunday Masses.

The Archdiocese has prepared resources for families in the lead up to the Sacraments;

First Holy Communion resources can be found here;

Confirmation resources can be found here;

Please continue to pray for our children, their families, and our teachers – all of whom are directly affected by how public health advice affects day-to-day living during these pandemic times. We also remember all involved in rolling out vaccines, and the medical professionals working with the sick at home or in hospitals/institutions, and their families.

World Day of Prayer for Grandparents & the Elderly

Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place for the first time on Sunday 25 July 2021 on the theme ‘I am with you always’ (Mt 28:20)

Today is a day of joy and hope for all of us in celebrating and giving thanks for our grandparents and the elderly. 

Pope Francis has also granted a plenary indulgence to grandparents, the elderly, and all those who participate in a solemn celebration of this day as well as to those who spend time (actually or virtually) with an elderly brother or sister in need on this day.

Grandparents Day Prayer

I thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your presence: even in times of loneliness, You are my hope and my confidence, You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!  I thank You for having given me a family and for  having blessed me with a long life. 

I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty, for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for those that are still ahead of me. I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You call me.  Increase, O Lord, my faith, make me a channel of your peace, teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me, to never stop dreaming & tell of your wonders to new generations. 

Protect & guide Pope Francis and the Church, that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth. Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world, 

that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed, the poor consoled & wars ended.

Sustain me in weakness & help me to live life fully in each moment that you give me, in the certainty that you’re with me, until the end of the age.  Amen.

Lent 2021

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent are approaching. This will provide renewed opportunities for reflection and conversion – albeit under very challenging pastoral circumstances.

The Congregation for Divine Worship (The Vatican in Rome) has made it clear that it will not be possible to carry out the distribution ashes in the usual manner. With the “Stay at Home” message, and continuing public health restrictions on gathering for worship, we clearly cannot call people to gather in any way for the distribution of ashes.

For this reason the Archdiocese has been concentrating on developing resources to help people at home mark the beginning of Lent and enter into the spirit of this holy season. The following link on armaghprays will bring you to resources which families can use.

https://www.armaghprays.com/lent-2021

These resources will include a prayer service foAsh Wednesday at Home, with scripture reading, prayers of the faithful and an opportunity to make Lenten promises. The link also includes an invitation to symbolically mark – both personally and as a family – the importance of this moment.

This liturgy suggests that families may make a simple cross or ribbon which can be worn on Ash Wednesday instead of the usual mark on our foreheads. Some members of the Parish Pastoral Council have made some of these and they will be available in our Churches on Ash Wednesday, after the 9.30am Mass (online, via the Parish Facebook Page)

Lent is also an opportunity to provide some additional services e.g. online holy hours; Stations of the Cross; Lenten talks or reflections/thoughts for the day; lectio divina etc. These are ways in which we can keep the three Lenten themes of prayer, charity and fasting/self-denial alive in people’s hearts and minds. Please keep an eye on this website, or the Parish Facebook Page for up to date information.