Friday, October 30, 2015


'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall crush your head, and you will bruise His Heel'

The Old Testament prophesies of Mary;
Jeremiah 31;22; 'The LORD will create a new thing on earth - a woman shall encompass a man'

Isaiah 7;14; 'Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign.The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel'

Psalm 22;9-10 'Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother's breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God'

Micah 5;2-3 'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times'

Mary in the New Testament
Matthew 1;16; '...and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus Who is called the Messiah'

Luke 1;26-56. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth. He named Mary blessed, and told her the news that she would become pregnant with the Son of the Most High, Jesus.
Jesus would receive the throne of King David, his ancestor; His rule would be an eternal one.
Mary went to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, and spoke the prophetic words of Mary's song. Particularly poignant and true of Our Blessed Lady is when she proclaimed, 'From now on all generations will call me blessed' [Luke 1;48].

Luke Chapter 2; Mary went with Joseph to Bethlehem to be registered in the census. It was there that Jesus was born.
  When the time for the purification of Mary and the presentation and circumcision of Jesus, they went up to Jerusalem.
  Thereafter Jesus was presented in the Temple, and acclaimed by Simeon and Anna - prophets in the Temple.
  Naturally Jesus was in the arms and the care of his parents, Joseph and Mary. Mary his natural mother, Joseph his earthly stepfather.

Matthew 2;13-14 tells of the Angel's warning to Joseph to flee with Jesus and His mother Mary, to Egypt; thus saving their lives from the assassination plot of the then King, Herod.

Mary is spoken of again in Luke 2;41-51; when she and Joseph searched anxiously for Jesus who had - unknown to them - stayed behind at the Temple in Jerusalem.
  He was discussing theology with the teachers at the Temple. Mary discussed other things with them - such as obedience to His parents.
  Jesus had discovered His true paternity - and, as always happens, familial differences led to the ruffling of the waters of family harmony.
  Mary treasured all these occurrences in her heart - she knew her Son was destined for great things.
  She had received warning from Simeon that a sword of sorrow would pierce her soul - as occurred later at the execution of her Son.

Mary is mentioned in Luke 8;19, when she came to visit Jesus while He was at public ministry.

The people of Nazareth speak of Mary, when they question; 'Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?' in Matthew 13;55.

A woman in the crowd praised Mary as blessed to have borne Him. Luke 11;27-28.

The crowds in Capernaum mention Mary, in John 6;42. 'And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?'

Mary stood by Jesus throughout his suffering and death.
She stood at the foot of the cross on which He was crucified.
Jesus entrusted Mary into the care of His beloved disciple, John.
  From then on, Mary's home was with John. [John Chapter 19].

Mary supported the disciples of the Early Church. They were all at prayer in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit of God came down, as Jesus had promised. [Acts 1;14]

Paul spoke of Mary in the Letter to the Galatians, 4;4. 'But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.'

The Book of Revelation speaks of Mary's symbolic appearance as Empress of Heaven, conqueror with her Son over the dragon. She wears a crown of twelve stars, and is a wonder in Heaven. [Revelation 12;1-17].

Breath of Heaven

With thanks to Youtube


Sunday, October 18, 2015


St Finnian and his Pupils - inspired by Stained Glass Window St Finnian Church, Clonard

Powerful man of God
  St Finnian, known as 'The Teacher of the Saints of Ireland', was born around 470 AD.
  This powerful man of God was born at Myshal in County Carlow on the slopes of Mount Leinster.
  It is said that the birds of Ireland gathered as a portent of the holy life he would lead.
  Finnian's father was an Ulsterman of noble lineage, named Rudraigh. His mother was a lady from Leinster named Telach.
  Finnian is also known as Finian, Fionán or Fionnán in Gaelic.
His feast day is celebrated on 12th December each year.

Travelled to France 
  As a young boy Finnian was placed under the care of St Fortchern.
  Finnian eventually travelled to France during the course of his studies.

  Finnian first landed at St Martin's famous monastery at Tours. 
He continued his holy life and devout studies; eventually travelling to Wales.
  In Llancarfan in Glamorganshire, this holy man of God furthered his spiritual studies and practise in the famous Monastery of Cadoc the Wise.
Return to Eire
  Eventually Finnian returned to Ireland where he preached, taught and founded churches.
  As he travelled, Finnian spent time at St Brigid's Monastery in Kildare, where he both undertook studies and taught students. 
  Around 520 AD, it is said that Finnian was led by an Angel to Cluain Eraird (Clonard) which he was told would be the place of his resurrection.  
  Upon his departure from Brigid's monastery, she presented him with a gold ring.
  Finnian thus had made the move from official Monastery life into development of a whole new movement at Clonard.

Cell and Church
  Finnian built a little cell and church of clay and wattle in Clonard situated on the River Boyne.
  Eventually this little dwelling gave way to a sturdy and substantial stone structure, imminently suited to the shelter of many as they learned about the Gospel and the values of Jesus Christ.
  As Finnian continued his life of prayer and study, the fame of his depth of learning and sanctity spread abroad.
  Students flocked all around him, including twelve Irishman who studied at Clonard.
  These luminous disciples of Christ and students of Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland;
St Ciarán of Saighir, St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, St Brendan of Birr, St Brendan of Clonfert [Brendan the Navigator], St Columba of Terryglass, St Columba of Iona, St Mobhí of Glasnevin, St Ruadhain of Lorrha, St Senan of Iniscathay, St Ninnidh of Loch Erne, St Laisrén mac Nad Froích, St Canice of Aghaboe.

  These men carried the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ to Ireland, Britain and Europe.
Very famous among them was St Columcille or Columba. 
School at Clonard
  The famous monastic school of Finnian at Clonard - known as Clonard Abbey - was the greatest school of the time, known particularly for its biblical studies (Finian was a skilled Biblical scholar).
  The Monastery founded by Finnian flourished until the 12th Century.
  The Office of St Finnian states there were no fewer than 3 000 pupils getting instruction at one time in the green fields of Clonard.
  Finnian - holy in life and quietly humble in suffering - died at Clonard of the yellow plague in about 549-52 AD.

Birds - fact or fiction?
A flock of birds is the sign that St Finnian's spiritual influence is at work.
  Often a flock of birds will fly above the St Finnian's Well area, or above pilgrims making their way to the holy site. 
  Over the years, I have seen flocks of birds circling above the Holy Well upon each of my retreats and pilgrimages to the sacred site.
  Recently I made the trip towards St Finnian's well. As I drove towards the blessed site, I thought to myself that perhaps I had overemphasized the sign of birds I have seen on my pilgrimages to the miraculous well.
  As I finished thinking this, a flock of birds swooped over my car [in the middle of the heat of the day], and one came skimming very low over the top of the car.
  So I leave the description of the sign in this blog post after all ...

Angel's Prophecy
  On one pilgrimage to the Holy Well, I met a wise woman who has lived her whole life in the area. 
  She told me the following story, which has been handed down from generation to generation in her family.
  As a child, her mother used to take her to St Finnian's Well on pilgrimage, and then tie a cloth on the branches near the Well after they had visited and prayed.
  Her grandmother had taken her mother as a young girl; and so on through the generations.
  They had treasured the story, passing the oral tradition down.
Now she is the last of her line, and patiently told me the following tale . . . 

 An Angel attired in blindingly white apparel appeared to Finnian, and bade him follow him.
  He took Finnian to the area where - he was told - he was to build his house and school.
  Then the Angel took him to the place where the present day Well is found.
  The Angel told Finnian that people should come to the Well to ask for God's Grace, for God's blessings, and to ask for their needs and for healing of illness.
  Finnian saw no spring; at that - as a storm raged overhead, with lightning in the heavens - the Angel drove the point of the staff he carried into the ground, and a spring gushed up.
  Finnian fell to his knees, and promised to pass on the Message of God through His faithful Angel to every generation to come.
  Finnian furthermore placed the gold ring on the ground that St Brigid had given him; and the spring water flowed over the blessed metal.

Great Saint
  As the storm abated, the Angel told Finnian he would be known as a great saint and would have an everlasting influence on the people of Ireland.
  The Angel furthermore told Finnian to tell people to bless themselves with the water from the Well, especially when looking for a cure.
  When the Angel left, Finnian went and built his cell and church out of clay and wattle.
  The next time he was travelling past St Brigid's Monastery, he spent the evening telling her what had transpired.
  Finnian showed her the golden ring, and she took the rounded metal over which the spring water had flowed, and kissed the ring with tears in her eyes.
  She sent Finnian on with a blessing, for, she said, although she had wished to keep this holy man of learning and prayer to be a permanent teacher in her Monastery; the sign that had been given had shown clearly that his paths lay elsewhere - on the land where the Angel had guided his steps.

  Many people have visited St Finnian's Well seeking a cure for their ailments.
  Over the centuries many healings have taken place at this sacred site.
To this day, clear water continually refreshes the well where pilgrims make their way.
  St Finnian is a saint well known for helping people in troubled circumstances and those with health worries.

Holy Well, Place of Pilgrimage
  You can visit the well which quietly waits for pilgrims in a hedgerow.
For centuries St Finnian's Well has been regarded as a Holy Well by the people of Ireland.
  Local tradition has it that St Finnian bestowed a blessing on the people of Clonard that nobody from the area would ever be killed by lightning.
Why not visit?
  Why not go on pilgrimage to St Finian's Well if you live in Ireland, or are visiting the Holy Isle?
  The holy man of God continues his healing work from Heaven . . .

Directions to St Finian's Well 

St Finian's Well

With thanks to Southdublinlibraries
Images by Rev Catherine

Marian Wall Shrine, Bari


Marian Praise Readers, you have been remembered
in prayer before Marian Wall Shrine near
Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy

Wall Shrine near the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy

With thanks to Wikipedia