Sunday, 30 August 2009

Novena: prayer for the conversion of sinners

This image shows a confessional in the Cathedral Church of St Pierre in Lisieux, where Thérèse made her first confession. This week the Diocesan Novena prays for the grace of conversion for all who have turned from God.

Intention for this week: the conversion of sinners
In early September 1887 Thérèse read an account of the execution of a murderer by the name of Pranzini. She already knew of this man and had spent much time praying that he might repent of his crime before his death. He had shown no sign of remorse until – moments before his execution - he asked for a crucifix and kissed it. Thérèse took this as a sign that her prayers had been answered, and rejoiced that a soul had been saved. In today’s first reading at Mass we hear of the value of God’s Law, and in the Gospel reading Jesus criticises those whose hearts are far from God, even when they pay Him lip service. This week let us pray for the conversion of those who have turned from God, and ask that each of us may sincerely try to follow God’s will.

Let us pray for conversion - that all of us, especially those who are far from God, may return to Him with the help of the prayers of St Thérèse.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Novena: prayer for families

This image of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse who were beatified in October 2008, is shown today as in the Diocesan Novena we begin a week of prayer for married couples and for the welfare of family life.

Intention for this week: marriage and family life
Thérèse was fortunate to be born into a loving family, but her happiness was short-lived. Her mother Zélie died on 29 August 1877 (132 years ago this week), when Thérèse was just four years old. The family home was a faith-filled environment, from which Thérèse and all four of her surviving sisters entered religious life. Her father, with whom she was very close, suffered with dementia at the end of his life, and this caused Thérèse and her sisters great pain. Last October Thérèse’s father and mother were beatified: now Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin are venerated as models of holiness in married life. As today we hear St Paul remind us that love is at the heart of both family life and the Church, let us pray that all families may grow in holiness and in love.

Let us pray for families – that by the prayers of St Thérèse and of her blessed parents, all homes may be places of holiness and love.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Novena: prayer for the Pope

In November 2007 the relics of St Thérèse visited the Vatican and the Pope had opportunity to pray before them. This week in the Diocesan Novena we pray for the Pope and his intentions.

Intention for this week: the Pope and his intentions
On a pilgrimage to Rome in 1887 Thérèse had an opportunity to meet Pope Leo XIII. She had been told in advance that she should remain silent. Unable to stop herself, however, she made her request: she wanted to become a Carmelite at 15 and asked the Pope for his permission. “If it is God’s will, you will enter”, he replied. From the desire of this individual to the pressing concerns of the whole Church, the Pope is charged with the responsibility of leading the world to Christ. Pope Benedict’s intentions for this time include prayer for refugees and displaced peoples, and for Christians suffering persecution or discrimination; we pray for him and for his intentions, as Thérèse did during her time in Carmel.

Let us pray for Pope Benedict – that by the intercession of St Thérèse he may be sustained in his task of leading the Church.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

All-night Youth Vigil

The all-night youth vigil will take place on the night of Tuesday 29th September. Although it's designed specifically for young people, anyone is welcome to attend. The Diocesan Youth Service, which is organising this part of the visit, has recently sent publicity to every parish and has launched its own webpages for the event; you can find the site here. Meanwhile, all the religious houses in the Diocese have been contacted in preparation for the all-night vigil for clergy and religious (Monday 28th September; again, all welcome). More details will follow in due course.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Novena: prayer for young people

Here Thérèse is seen at the age of 15; she has changed her hairstyle to make herself seem a little older in an attempt to win permission to enter Carmel at her young age. Prayer for young people is the theme of the Diocesan Novena this week.

Intention for this week: young people
With exam results due soon, we pray for young people. This week in 1921 Pope Benedict XV issued a decree on the ‘heroic virtues’ of St Thérèse and so made her a model for young people to follow. Thérèse was a headstrong child and from an early age was certain of the path which God had chosen for her. When she applied to enter Carmel at age 15, she was denied entry because she was too young, but Thérèse was not prepared to let her youthfulness stand in her way. After a determined struggle she obtained permission from her family, from the Prioress and from the local Bishop. Just 24 years old when she died, Thérèse became a natural patron for the youth. As we prepare for her visit we pray for young people, that – in the words of St Paul – they may imitate God and follow Christ.

Let us pray for young people, especially those who are awaiting exam results – that by the prayers of St Thérèse they may find and follow the path which God has chosen for them.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Patron of the skies

It may seem unlikely, given that she died a few years before the first flight took place, but Thérèse is the patron saint of aviators and aircrew. Presumably she was chosen on account of her desire to travel the world as a missionary. Thérèse is also a patron saint of missionaries, of the World Youth Day, of those who have lost their parents, of those with HIV/AIDS or tubercolosis, of florists, of France, of Russia and of priests. It's quite a list, and is a sign of the widespread appeal which this wonderful saint has.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Novena: prayer for priests

This mosaic in the Basilica at Lisieux is a reminder of Thérèse's desire to help priests in their life and work. Over the image of a priest the words read, "I will help the priests". Priests, and vocations to the priesthood, are the subject of the Diocesan Novena this week.

Intention for this week: priests and vocations to the priesthood
This coming Tuesday we will celebrate the feast of St John Vianney, the patron saint of priests throughout the world. It is 150 years since he died, and Pope Benedict has asked us to mark the anniversary by keeping a year of prayer for priests. During her life in Carmel St Thérèse dedicated herself to praying for two young missionary priests. In this way she supported their efforts to bring Christ to others. As we hear Jesus in the Gospel describe Himself as ‘the Bread of Life’, we thank God for the priesthood, by which the Eucharist is given to us.

Let us pray for priests and for vocations to the priesthood – that by the intercession of St Thérèse and St John Vianney the Church may always have holy and dedicated priests to serve God’s people.