Thursday, December 24, 2015
It has been Christmas Day in Ireland for more than an hour, and following my recent tradition (because-- although I rarely mention it-- I am rather keen on tradition), here are my Christmas prayers.
First for lovely and long-suffering Michelle, to whom all my writings are dedicated.
Next (but just as importantly) for our lost children, Ruadhán Padraig and Sadbh Treasa, precious souls who were lost before birth, and mourned every single day. So often I wonder what they would have looked like, whether they would have loved poetry, whether they would have loved or hated mathematics, all the million and one ways their own uniqueness would have unfolded. But they are with God; their lives, short as they were, had as much significance and dignity as any others.
I pray for, and want to give thanks to, all the readers and commenters-- let me just say, friends-- on my blog (NOT in order of importance); Dominic, Sinéad, Fr. Levi, Molly, TMR, Antaine, Mick, Paul, Tomas, Roger, Michele, GoldRush Apple, Winnie, Fr. Sean, Jackie, Rusty Shackleford, Angelo, Robert, and anyone I have left out! And I also wonder about Johnny Stephens, and pray for you, if you're still out there! Not to forget my friend Stephen, my friend Marcia, my friend Ryan, and my friend Anthony H. And for Hilary, who sent me such a nice email some months ago. I appreciate your comments and encouragement and prayers SO much. I pray especially for TMR's new married life, and for Roger Buck's book The Gentle Traditionalist (buy it!).
I pray a special prayer for my friend Sonya, whose loss during the year is still a shock I haven't really absorbed. She was far too young. May perpetual light shine upon her.
I pray for the Church in Ireland, for all the brave seminarians preparing to be labourers in a daunting vineyard, for all the directors of vocations seeking young men and young women who will give their lives to God in a special way, and for all the priests and religious who are themselves labouring in the vineyard at such a difficult time. Your exertions and your labours are VERY much appreciated. We are sheep with so few shepherds; send us shepherds, Lord! May our guardian angels remind us to pray for vocations every day!
I pray for our dear Pope, Francis, the 'sweet Christ on earth', in the unimaginable pressures he faces, seeking to combine mercy to lost sheep with fidelity to orthodoxy. May all Catholics and Christians show the Holy Father the love and respect he deserves, and may any criticism they direct towards him be filial and measured!
I pray for all cardinals, bishops and theologians-- may God protect them from the guile and traps of the Evil One. In their necessary efforts to meet the spiritual challenges of the modern world, may they never overlook St. Paul's warning: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! (Galatians 1:8). I give God thanks for Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Cardinal George Pell, and all the modern-day successors of Saint Athanasius, who so dauntlessly defend the truths of the Catholic faith.
As always, I pray for all artists, poets, filmmakers, and other creators, that their work will reflect the beautiful and holy and noble, rather than the ugly and unholy and base. And I pray that those creators seeking to celebrate noble things will meet with success.
I give thanks for my father's recovery this year, and for the prayers offered him. I give thanks for all my family and friends who are healthy and alive this Christmas, and prayers for all those who have gone to their rest-- special mention for my cousin Billy, who died all too soon not so long ago. I pray especially for my dear mother Patricia.
I pray for peace and understanding amongst all religions, especially Islam and Christianity. I pray for peace in the Middle East, in the Ukraine, and all over the world.
I pray for Ireland, for England, for America, and all nations. Scripture suggests that nations have guardian angels (Daniel 10:3). May these angels foster a healthy patriotism, and a tenderness for national traditions, in every nation. May the 1916 centenary in Ireland lead the Irish people to a sober and mature assessment of this difficult but important moment in Irish history.
I pray for the Church of England, for which I have great hope under the stewardship of Archbishop Justin Welby, much as I disagree with him on some issues. I pray for greater closeness between all Christians, and progress towards ultimate unification.
I pray for all the unborn and yet-to-conceived children in danger of abortion, and especially that the life of the unborn is protected in ireland, where forces who seek to undermine it are preparing for a great push this year.
I pray for everyone in danger of suicide, in all the forms it comes. Let them know they are loved and precious.
I offer prayers of thanksgiving for my overworked guardian angel, for my patron saint St. Seachnaill, for the great G.K. Chesterton-- may his cause for sainthood progress!-- for St. Josemaria Escriva, for St. Maximilian Kolbe, for my confirmation saint St. Finbarr, and for all the saints in heaven-- most especially, for our Blessed Mother ("Mother of God and our mother", as St. Josemaria so often called her).
I pray for my editor at The Catholic Voice, Anthony Murphy, who has now been publishing my 'View from the Pew' column for two years, as well as his family. I pray The Catholic Voice, which does very valuable work, thrives. I pray for the editors at The Open Door magazine, Annals Australasia magazine, and the producers at Radio Maria Ireland which have kindly let me talk about Chesterton on the airwaves.
Finally, I pray to God that nothing I write here or elsewhere ever goes against the truth of the Catholic faith, and-- if it were possible-- that it might attract souls to Christ, and edify my fellow believers.
Happy Christmas everybody! Nollaig Shona Daoibh!