5th Jubilee Mystery: Revelation in Word and Sacrament at Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35

“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” 

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Discussing the things which had happened, all seemed lost and the hope that once attracted them to be disciples appeared to have been dashed. But, we are reminded that elsewhere in the Scriptures Jesus said, “When two or three are gathered in my name there I Am in their midst.”  As they walked away from Jerusalem, Jesus “drew near and went with them.” Faith is a fragile gift – suffering from discouragement, the disciples listen as Jesus opened the scriptures to them. The flame of faith begins to be kindled once again, yet they are kept from recognising him.  “Stay with us,” they ask Him, as he motioned to go on: this is the prayer of the Christian. We no longer see Him in the flesh, yet He is no less present. They recognised him in the breaking of the bread, we too, in faith, see Him before us truly present in the Sacrament of the altar.

“They returned to Jerusalem.” Our Lord shows us that the Eucharist is the place and the moment where we now encounter him most fully. His Word and his Body feed us and nourish us for the journey. It is when we are united around Christ, as His Body the Church, celebrating the Liturgy, that we truly know him and he reveals himself to us.

One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.

Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.

Hail Holy Queen.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary

O Virgin Mary, grant that the recitation of thy Rosary for me each day, in the midst of my manifold duties a link of unity in all my actions, a tribute of filial piety, a sweet recreation and a help to walk joyously in the path of duty. Grant, especially, O Virgin Mary, that the study of thy mysteries may gradually form in my soul a pure, bright, fortifying, sweet-scented atmosphere which will penetrate my will, my memory, my understanding, my imagination and my entire being. Thus will I acquire the habit of prayer while working, without the help of formulas, by interior movements of admiration and supplication, or by aspirations of love. I ask this, O Queen of the Holy Rosary, through Dominic, Thy son of predilection, the illustrious preacher of thy mysteries, and faithful imitator of thy virtues. Amen. (Bl. Hyacinth Cormier, OP)

Prayer in honour of St. Dominic

Father, through the intercession of St. Dominic, Doctor of Truth and Light of the Church, make your love glow in our hearts. After the example of so great a saint, make us heralds of your Gospel in a world that hungers for you but often does not know its needs. Give us St. Dominic’s unswerving loyalty to the Holy Church and may we, like him, be founts of true wisdom for our weary world. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

4th Jubilee Mystery: ‘Go tell my brothers,’ Mary Magdalen, Patroness of Preachers.

John 20:11-18

“Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”

Mary Magdalen received the grace of being the first to see Our Lord after His Resurrection. At first she did not know Him, then He called her by name. She heard His voice before witnessing the glory of His resurrected countenance. Christ then commissioned her to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles, His brethren. She is the apostle to the Apostles. I am a Christian. I am united with Christ by Baptism and already participate in the life of His Resurrection. By my Confirmation I am called to be an apostle. Christ invites me to imitate Mary Magdalen and tell the world that I have seen the Lord.

Jesus wants me to share in Mary’s profound joy, a joy which stems from being close to Him and communicating His Gospel in a cheerful, generous and authentic manner.

May I follow Mary Magdalen’s example and proclaim Christ as my living Lord – by courageously defending the teachings of His Church. May I persevere in this task until the day He calls me by my name and permits me to see the glory of His resurrected body in Heaven.

Holy Mary, my Mother, you are the Queen of the Apostles. Help me to proclaim your Son’s resurrection to my family and friends – by my thoughts, words and deeds.

One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.

Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.

3rd Jubilee Mystery: The Commissioning and Sending Forth of the Seventy-Two Disciples.

Luke. 10:1-9

“Say to them, the kingdom of God has come near to you.”

While travelling toward Jerusalem, Jesus appoints, and sends out in pairs, seventy-two disciples. He sends them ahead to visit all the places he himself will visit. The disciples were sent out with very particular instructions about how they were to travel, what they were to bring with them and how they were to behave when they found a place that welcomed them.

To those who welcome them, Jesus tells his disciples to announce that the Kingdom of God is very near to them. To those who do not make them welcome, Jesus tells them again to say that the Kingdom is God is very near. Jesus makes it clear that the presence of the disciples and the kingdom that they bring with them, will be seen by some as a blessing and seen by others as something less positive.

In either case, Jesus insists that the response of the disciples should ultimately be the same. His disciples are to draw attention to the proximity of the Kingdom of God, both as something to be welcomed and something to give pause for thought. For those who welcome the representatives of the Kingdom a great peace will be imparted, whilst those who do not welcome them, will miss out on this peace.

The peace that the disciples carry with them comes from the place they start their journey from, in the presence of Jesus. They go before him to announce his coming, bringing the gifts he wishes to give. It is the job of the disciples to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, so let us pray that we may be true disciples of the Lord, realising that as he sent them, so he sends us now.

One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.

Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.

2nd Jubilee Mystery: The Epiphany of the Lord.

Matthew 2:1-12

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.”

The grace of God came to the Magi in the form of a star. Having observed this star they began their long and arduous journey in search of the Lord. The Magi followed the guiding light of the star and were rewarded by finding the divine Christ-Child.

The star which has risen in my life is the gift of faith given me at my Baptism. Faith is the kindly light and compass which leads me along the path of life. The Christian life is a pilgrimage which can encounter many dangers and obstacles. If I but follow the beaming star of faith which God has placed in my sky, I am sure to reach my destination. If I remain strong in faith, no obstacle, no Herod, can throw me off course.

The Lord Jesus bids me to journey towards him. He is my guide, my path and my destination. He has chosen me and called me to the faith. If I follow Him, I will come to behold Him in glory.

O Mary pray for me, hold my hand and help me always to follow the light of grace which will bring me to your Divine Son.

One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.

Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.

1st Jubilee Mystery: Announcement to the Shepherds of the birth of the Messiah.

Luke 2:8-20

“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

The Shepherds upon finding themselves in the presence of the angel with the glory of the Lord shining around them were filled with fear. This fear is dispelled by the words of the angel when he says, “Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you news of a great joy.” This joy comes from the knowledge that the Saviour which all Israel had been longing for had finally come to his people. Overcome by what they had witnessed and filled with expectation the shepherds “went with haste” to see the Christ child. As with the annunciation to Mary, the angelic visitation fills them with a joy that cannot be contained, and moves them to action.  The darkness of the night in which they laboured in the fields gives way to the light which they now see before their eyes, the true light of the world; the King of the Universe, in a manger.  Changed forever by this experience the shepherds become messengers of joy, making known to others what they have seen and heard.

Let us pray that we may experience anew the joy that comes with knowing Christ our Lord. Like Mary, who pondered the mystery of her Son in her heart may we by meditating on this mystery be changed by grace and become messengers of joy to all we meet.

One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.

Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.

Rosary Letter Winter 2016/2017

The New Year of 2017 brings the 800th Jubilee of the Dominican Order to a close. It has been a year of many graces and blessings for us here in Ireland with many celebrations and pilgrimages nationwide. It was a year to look back with thanksgiving in our hearts for 800 years of our family’s existence and its faithful service to the Church. The Order of Preachers was born in the heart of a man who passionately loved the Church, the mystical body of Christ on earth. Dominic de Guzman set fire to the Church of his time with zealous preaching on the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. These mysteries he studied, contemplated and preached with passion for the salvation of souls, that the world of his time would once again embrace the saving mysteries of the incarnate Saviour. Dominic brought the faithful to an understanding of the love of God for the world in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived for Jesus and his Kingdom, and like the sower going out to sow, he planted in the hearts of the faithful the seed of renewal and conversion. The mysteries Dominic preached are the mysteries we contemplate in the Rosary. Tradition states that Our Lady appeared to him and gave him the Rosary, asking him to preach the mysteries she herself contemplated in her Immaculate Heart.

A few months ago, two friars were travelling across Ireland by car to a parish mission and in a discussion about the rosary, considered its place in their spiritual life. The discussion developed into a question, ‘If you could add new mysteries to the Rosary, what Gospel mysteries would you pick?’ The mysteries chosen and agreed upon, are presented as a Jubilee Rosary in thanksgiving to God for our founder St. Dominic de Guzman and for the patronage of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. We share them with you and pray that they lead you closer to Jesus whom Dominic loved and preached with all his heart and soul.

Fr. John Hyacinth Walsh. O.P.

Director of the Rosary Apostolate.

Our Lady of Limerick

The statue of Our Lady of Limerick first came to that city in 1640 as a gift from Patrick Sarsfield and his wife Eleanor. Patrick had purchased the statue on the continent and gifted the statue in reparation for the martyrdom of Sir John Burke of Brittas, Captain of Clanwilliam.  It was Patrick’s uncle, Judge Dominic Sarsfield, who had sentence Sir John to death. Sir John was a member of the Rosary Confraternity connected with the Dominicans of Limerick City. He loved the Order and promoted the Rosary in his family and locality. Each year he invited the Dominicans to celebrate Mass in his ancestral home, Brittas Castle and for having the Holy Mass celebrated in secret, he was condemned to death and his estate confiscated in the Act of Settlement in 1653.

Patrick Sarsfield donated the Statue and a silver chalice dated 1640 to the friars of Limerick and he inscribed it with his wife’s name and his own in reparation for the sin of his Uncle, Judge Dominic Sarsfield. They were presented to Fr. Terence Albert of Brian, O.P. who would later become Bishop of Emly and die for the faith in the city of Limerick on October 30th 1651.

During the siege of Limerick in 1651, the statue of the Virgin was removed and according to tradition was buried alongside the remains of the Martyred Bishop O’Brien.

In 1780 when the days of persecution had passed the Dominicans built a small chapel in Fish Lane to replace an earlier church destroyed by anti-Catholic forces. The statue was recovered from its earthly grave and given a place of honour alongside the main altar. When the Dominicans opened St Saviour’s Church in Perry Square in 1816 the statue was brought in procession and enthroned on its own altar surrounded by images of the Dominican saints. In 1954 the Virgin and Child were crowned with a tiara of gold, pearls and diamonds all donated by the women of Limerick, with the result that rich and poor alike had some share in the graces that flow from the treasury of Our Lady of Limerick. The statue of Our Lady of Limerick is almost life-size. On her arm rests the Infant Jesus; while a long silver rosary, with an ancient tubular cross, stretches from the right hand. Our Lady of the Rosary of Limerick, a gift in reparation for the sins of man, watches over her beloved city and its people to this very day. A Mother’s love never ends, and we pray her intercession over God’s children in this modern and changing world.

Prayer to Our Lady of Limerick.

Most loving lady of Limerick, my Mother and my Queen, I thank thee from my heart for the many blessings and consolations that hast bestowed upon me. I love thee with all the fervour of my soul and promise to serve thee always and to make thee loved by all. I place my entire life with its many cares and anxieties in the tender arms of thy maternal love, knowing that thou wilt always guide and protect me. Inflame my heart with true love of Jesus Christ so that I may every accomplish His holy will. I pray thee, thou Mother of Mercy, to safeguard, as thy special heritage, thy faithful people of Limerick. Thou wert given to us in our hour of suffering to inspire and encourage us; do not leave us until thou see us safe in Heaven, there to bless thee and sing thy mercies for all eternity. Amen

Our Lady of Graces, Cork

Our Lady of Graces is a three-inch ivory plaque that depicts the seated Madonna and Christ child dating from the 14th century.

The Statue was brought from Europe to Ireland in 1304 by the Archbishop of Cashel, Maurice O’Carroll. When he died in 1316, the image, for which he had a special veneration, was buried with him in the Dominican Church in Youghal, Co. Cork. The Dominicans first came to Youghal in 1268 and dedicated their church and priory to Our Lady. For over one hundred years the statue lay buried and forgotten.  Then, at a time when religion had fallen to a very low level, Our Lady herself intervened. She appeared in a dream to one of the Dominican friars of Youghal and asked that the statue be removed from the tomb. The little statue was miraculously unearthed. Our Lady of Graces obviously did not want to stay buried. It was a miracle! The revival of fervour and the growth of devotion which followed the recovery is indicated by the changing of the title of the Dominican Church in Youghal to that of “Our Lady of Graces”. The statue became a focus a fervour, a centre of pilgrimage, an occasion of many graces. According to tradition a blind man recovered his sight, and all those who came to the shrine and venerated the statue found their prayers being answered. Youghal became a place of pilgrimage as people flocked in their hundreds to see the miraculous statue. Youghal was also close to the Shrine of St. Declan of Ardmore and so pilgrims would first visit the saint’s relics and then continue their journey to Youghal. Also from the town of Youghal, pilgrims would leave for Santiago and Rome.

With the persecution of the faith under Henry VIII in the 1500s, Sir Walter Raleigh ordered that the Abbey of Our Lady of Graces and the shrine be demolished. The demolition was dogged with bad luck where one workman fell off the roof, while another died mysteriously just after the work started.

One of the Fitzgerald family, Honoria Fitzgerald, took the statue to safety before the church was demolished. She kept it for many years and even had a special silver case made for it in 1617. In time the statue was handed over to the Dominicans in Cork, where in 1895 Our Lady of Graces found a permanent home in St Mary’s Church, Popes Quay and was placed appropriately on the Rosary altar beside the sanctuary of the church.

Today Our Lady of Graces is loved by the people of Cork and Mass is said in honour of Our Lady of Graces each Saturday in the Dominican Church which houses the shrine.

Prayer to Our Lady of Graces.

O Mary of Graces and mother of Christ, O may you direct me and guide me a right. O may you protect me from Satan’s control, and may you protect me in body and soul.  O may you protect me by land and by sea, and may you protect me from sorrows to be; A strong guard of angels above me provide; May God be before me and God at my side. Three Hail Mary’s and the Memorare.

Our Lady of Galway

The statue of Our Lady of Galway is in the Dominican Church in the Claddagh know as St Mary’s on the Hill. The Dominicans came to Galway city from Athenry in 1492 and restored an old ruined building once owned by Premonstratensian Canons dating from 1235. With similar religious houses, Cromwellian forces destroyed St. Mary’s in 1651. In thanksgiving for the first catholic mayor of Galway City in thirty years a silver crown was made for the statue of the Virgin and Child much loved by the local people in the Claddagh and was presented to the Dominicans of Galway to celebrate the opening of their new thatched church in 1669. The crown was engraved, ‘Pray for the souls of John Kirwan and his wife Mary, 1683.’ Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh described the new Dominican church in 1674 as “the best and most ornamented church in the Kingdom.”

After many years of poverty and hardship, the old thatched chapel was in need of serious attention and Fr. James Thomas French, O.P. built a new priory in 1792 and a new church in 1800 to replace the thatched chapel. The Fr. French’s church survived until 1891 when the new St. Mary’s was built, and Our Lady of Galway was enthroned on her own altar to the left of the high altar.

Each year in August around the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, crowds come to the Claddagh Pier opposite the Church for the annual Blessing of the Bay ceremony. The blessing has been an expression of the faith of the people of what was once a fishing village just outside the walls of Galway city but during the past few decades the ‘villagers’ have been joined by the crews of fishing trawlers based nearby in Galway docks.

The fishermen come seeking God’s blessing on their work as generations of fishermen have came to the Dominicans for over 500 years seeking a blessing in bringing their light hookers and currachs safely home after each voyage. Today, only a few boats remain of the once famous Claddagh fishing fleet. These boats are now joined in mid-August by the trawlers that have replaced them, and with an escort of yachts and smaller craft they sail out into Galway Bay after the blessing of nets on the quayside. In the bay, the ringing of a bell is the signal for the boats to form a wide circle around the brown-sailed hooker, or in more recent years, the fishing trawler, that carries the Dominican Priest, the altar boys and choir from the Church of St Mary on the Hill.

The Dominican friar stands at the mast of the hooker in the centre of that circle of ships, and prays: ‘Magnify, we beseech you, O Lord God, your mercy towards us and even as you multiplied five loaves and two fish to satisfy the hunger of five thousand, so now please multiply for the use of men the fish that are generated in these waters, that we, experiencing your goodness, may give you thanks and praise your holy name’. At the end of the blessing he calls on Mary, Star of the Sea, to plead for her children, and those familiar with the writings of St Bernard recall his words: ‘When you are tossed about among the storms and tempests of life, look to the star, call upon Mary’. The Magnificat is sung and the sea is sprinkled with holy water. The last action of the dramatic ceremony is a Sign of the Cross over the fishing fields, an appeal to God to bless them and the men who fish in them, their boats, their tackle and all their labours. The Rosary is recited as the boats return to the harbour. Up to the mid eighteenth century the sails for the boats were made on the floor of the Claddagh church, the only large space available to the fishermen. In the house of God these sails were sown together under the watchful eyes of Our Lady of Galway. For centuries, this annual blessing has been an expression of faith and of the need to pray, by a sea-going community. It has also been a symbol of the close friendship built up, in rough as well as in happier times, between their local Church and the people of the Claddagh and Galway.

The Blessing of the Bay has been for centuries an expression of local faith. This faith is colourfully symbolised today at the altar of Our Lady of Galway in the Claddagh church. In the centre is the ancient statue of Our Lady of Galway. The background is a sparkling mosaic showing a Claddagh hooker in full sail and with fishermen visible on board, tossed in very turbulent waters. On a cliff in the distance, as if on guard over them, is the Church of St Mary on the Hill. On their knees in prayer at the bottom corners of the mosaic are two Claddagh youths, a girl and a boy, apparently asking Mary to look after the boats at sea and bring them safely home. The mosaic and the statue of Our Lady of Galway symbolise a faith in prayer, and in Our Lady, evident for centuries, a faith that comes to special life each year in mid-August at the Blessing of the Bay.

Prayer to Our Lady of Galway. 

Fisherman’s Prayer

Star of the Sea, Light Our Way, Star of the Sea so radiant in the glory of God’s Love, your crown outshining all the stars of heaven up above, O, lovely Queen of Peace, gowned in azure’s of the sea, help us find the way to Jesus, in your wise serenity. We ask you Pearl of Grace to grant us vision, courage, will, so ‘peace on earth,’ that miracle, at last might be fulfilled! Dear Mother of the Church, blessed beacon of God’s Light, may you always guide your children on the stormy seas of life. Make our hearts into safe harbours, where dear Jesus is received, Hear our prayer, O, Spiritual Vessel, Mother of God, Star of the Sea.

Our Lady of Waterford

The Statue of Our Lady of Waterford is believed to have once held a place of honour in the ancient Dominican Abbey founded in Waterford in 1226. When the last Prior, Fr. William Martin, O.P. surrendered the Abbey of St Saviour’s to Henry VIII in 1541 special mention is made of the Lady Chapel which housed a miraculous and much loved image of the Blessed Virgin. Marian devotion was strong among the people of Waterford despite persecution, to such an extent that in 1580 the Anglican bishop of the city complained about “public wearing of beads and praying upon the same- worshipping images and setting them openly in their house doors with ornaments and decking.”

During these years of persecution and the destruction of many Catholic shrines the statue of Our Lady of Waterford survived. In 1932 three layers of paint were removed from the image, revealing a coating of wax and cement which probably hid the statue from public view during the years of persecution.

In 1815 following the death of Fr. Anthony Duane, O.P. the last Dominican friar in the city, the statue was removed for safe keeping and brought to Kilkenny and from there to Limerick City.

In 1865 the Bishop of Waterford invited the Dominican Friars to return to the City and on the 31st of March 1867 the friars opened a small oratory on Bridge Street. In 1876 the beautiful St. Saviours Church was opened and the statue of the Virgin was returned from Limerick and enthroned alongside the Rosary Altar.

In 1934 the people of Waterford in gratitude and thanksgiving for so many favours received through the intercession of Our Lady of Waterford, commissioned Messrs Egan of Cork to make two golden crowns with jewels and a sceptre for the Statue. The older crowns of silver which dated from the 1700s were replaced and are preserved in the Dominican archives.

In 2016 the Statue and its silver shrine were again restored by the National Gallery and Museum in Dublin, to commemorate the 8th Centenary of the Dominican Order. The veneration of the statue of Our Lady of Waterford continues to this day as the love of the Virgin continues for the faithful and devout children of the City of Waterford.

Prayer to Our Lady of Waterford.

O’ God who has brought us out of the dark days of persecution, from you we hope for every good gift through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, whom we venerate under the title of Our Lady of Waterford. Grant to us all through her maternal prayers, the grace to be always faithful to the teaching of her Son, and die blessing his holy will. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.