Archive for the ‘Martina Caffrey’ Category

Saint Dymphna – A Role Model for our Youth

1 Bealtaine, 2008
Author: Martina Caffrey
Issue: 25 – May 2008

Saint Dymphna – A Role Model for our Youth
Ireland was once known as the Land of Saints and Scholars.

Our Catholic faith was strong and kept alive through all difficulties over the centuries through the faith of the people. It is a source of national pride for us as Irish people to know that our country was seen as such a devoted and spiritual place for so long. Ireland spread the Good News to so many different countries bringing our Catholic faith with us wherever we went and succeeding in bringing countless numbers to the True Faith. It is true that in recent years this devotion has faded. The Ireland we live in today is but a shadow of what it once was. What a fitting time then for us to turn to those saints, those heroic Catholic martyrs and teachers who once spread the True Faith to the world and ask for their intercession and help in bringing the Catholic religion back into Ireland. We all know the more famous Irish saints such as Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid. They are our primary patron saints and we should turn to them in prayer for our country more often. However there are hundreds of other saints who are not so well known and who we should consider in our prayers. I have to admit that when I tried to think of the names of some of the other Irish saints, I struggled. We need all the help we can get in this battle to keep the Catholic faith alive in Ireland, so some knowledge and some thought towards our lesser known Irish saints might inspire and remind us just how many saints we Irish have in Heaven who are all eager to help us if we just ask them.

Saint Dymphna is one of those lesser known Irish saints. Her feast day of May 15th makes it fitting to mention her now. There are many prayers and devotions to this virgin martyr and many people will probably know or recognise her name. Saint Dymphna is the patron saint of people afflicted with nervous or mental disturbances. This makes her a fitting saint to pray to in these times as she may be able to help those in our country who are suffering the emotional or mental problems that are spreading more widely in our society. We have seen the levels of alcohol, drugs, suicide and mental health problems rise in recent times here in Ireland. By interceding with Saint Dymphna for those troubled with these problems we may be able to bring some healing to our youth and to those in need of our help. Saint Dymphna is also an example to the youth on the virtue of purity and how important it is to try and keep this virtue no matter how difficult the circumstance. She was born in the seventh century. Her father was a pagan chieftain and her mother was a very beautiful and devout Christian. Dymphna mirrored her mothers beauty and all throughout the land commented on how beautiful she was. When she was only fourteen, her mother died and her father was so heart-broken that he became inconsolable. This grief led to him suffering a mental collapse. His advisers suggested that he should find himself a second wife. The king agreed to this but only on the condition that his second wife look exactly the same as his first wife. Messengers were sent all over Ireland to try and find a noble woman who looked like the former queen. These attempts were fruitless as none could be found. It was then that his advisers had the idea that he should marry his own daughter as it was widely known that she was a living likeness of her mother. At first the king resisted but then his mental turmoil and his need for a wife drove him to agree to this scheme. He brought the subject up with Dymphna who was appalled and disgusted with the very idea. She refused and chastised him for even suggesting such an idea. She told him that she was a Christian and that she would not give in to his pagan beliefs. The king tried everything from flattery to pleading to threats to try and make her change her mind but she was firm in her faith and would not be tempted.

Saint Dymphna turned to her priest for advice and he told her that it would be best to flee from the castle. This she did along with her priest, Fr. Gerebern, and two friends. They found loyal sailors who rowed them across the sea to Antwerp in modern Belgium. The small group then settled in Gheel which was a little village near a shrine dedicated to Saint Martin de Tours. Over the next three months, Dymphna soon endeared herself to the local people through her kindness and acts of mercy. She was seen by them as an angel of mercy. Soon however spies from her fathers kingdom arrived in Gheel and as they used the same coins which Dymphna used in the local inn, the inn keeper innocently revealed to them where Dymphna lived. The king was informed and he immediately set out for Gheel. Again he pleaded and tried to coax Dymphna into agreeing to a marriage with him with the promises of riches and power and then turned to threats but it was still to no avail. She told him that she would rather die than to break the vow of virginity which she had made with her confessors guidance. In his mental affliction, an idea formed in his head that if the priest was killed, Dymphna would no longer have him there as a moral support. The king gave orders for Fr. Gerebern to be beheaded. This plan did not work as he had intended however and Dymphna remained steadfast in her faith telling her father that Nothing will induce me to offend Jesus Christ. The king had to admit defeat but he had promised vengeance if she refused him and so he carried this out. He ordered his men to kill her but they refused. They loved their princess for her gentleness of mind and heart and could not bring themselves to harm her. The king was furious and jumping up he took hold of his sword and beheaded his daughter. Saint Dymphna along with her confessor Fr. Gerebern were martyred in the year 620 when Dymphna had just turned fifteen. They were buried side by side in Gheel and over the centuries their graves have become a shrine and a place of pilgrimage for those who wish to seek Saint Dymphnas intercession for a loved one who is mentally afflicted.

Saint Dymphnas steadfastness in the face of temptation and danger should inspire us in our lives. We are often told to turn to the example of the saints for guidance in our daily lives and Saint Dymphnas story is one of those which should be used to inspire young people in their attempts to live a good Catholic life. Young people have so many distractions and temptations all clamouring for their attention and it is easy to lose their way. If we take some of our saints and use them as role models for our young people, we can give them the inspiration they need in times of trial. Saint Dymphna did not give up her beliefs and did not forsake her vow of virginity even in the face of death. How many more role models could we find if we took some time to read the life stories of our other Irish saints?


The Spiritual Wealth of Eucharistic Adoration

1 Aibreán, 2008
Author: Martina Caffrey
Issue: 24 – April 2008

The Spiritual Wealth of Eucharistic Adoration
The Eucharist is one of the greatest gifts which Our Lord has given us.

Just as we humans are distinguished from the rest of the animals by our immortal souls made in the image of God, Our Creator, so too does the Eucharist distinguish us, Catholics, from the other religions as the One True Faith. We do not just have an earthly material symbolising and reminding us of the Sacrifice of Our Saviour. We have been privileged and honoured by Our Lord to have Him descend from Heaven to our sin filled world at each and every Mass, being as truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist as He was when He was crucified on the Cross on Calvary. He deigns to perform one of the greatest miracles which can be seen in this world by transforming bread and wine, earthly and inferior materials, into His Flesh and His Blood. This miracle is just a fore-taster of the splendour and awe inspiring glory which we will see in Heaven when we join Him at the Heavenly Banquet. How good is Our God to us, mere creatures, by giving us such a gift!

It is not just in Holy Mass that we have Jesus truly present among us in the Eucharist. Another great wealth of spiritual healing and grace is drawn from the Eucharist in every church especially where the Blessed Sacrament is honoured, exposed and adored. Eucharistic adoration is one of the best ways to heal our very souls which are so often wounded and bruised by the sinful world in which we dwell. Jesus is present there just as He is in Heaven and just as He is at every Mass. He is waiting there patiently for us to come and pay Him a visit. If we do take that time out of our busy lives to just be still and be with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we open up our lives to be filled with His graces and blessings. We only have to ask Him for help and He will run to our side and give us all that we need and more. He will help carry our crosses if they get too heavy, He will soothe and console us if we feel run down, He will whisper into our hearts and souls His words of comfort reminding us that He is with us always even to the end of time. However it is up to us to make that first move. God has given us free will and with it we can choose to come near Him or to be far from Him. We can not imagine the joy it must give Our Lord when we choose freely and willingly to come before Him and ask for help. It is truly a sign of our love and faith in Jesus that we come to Him in the Blessed Sacrament and acknowledge that He is truly present there. It is in doing this that we open up our souls to Him because it takes true faith in Him to be able to see Him present there under the appearance of bread. This is the great gift and mark of our faith as Catholics which distinguishes us from all the other religions. We are able to look at the bread and wine and know and believe that they have been transformed and are no longer bread and wine but Jesus as truly present in the Blessed Sacrament as He was when He walked on this earth and as He is now in Heaven.

Since the beginning of the Catholic Church, even since the first Mass at the Last Supper, the importance and spiritual wealth to be gained from the Eucharist has been known and preached by the saints. When Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary, He told her that He had a burning desire to be honoured in the Blessed Sacrament. Saint John Vianney once said �if we really loved the good God we should make it our joy and happiness to come and spend a few moments to adore Him.� Even our more recent saints and holy people, have expressed how truly precious is the Eucharist and our need to come to Jesus there for healing and graces. Our late Holy Father John Paul II stated that �the Eucharist is our priceless treasure…Of all devotions, that of Eucharistic Adoration is the greatest after the sacraments�. Blessed Mother Teresa also emphasised this by saying, �What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in holy hours of prayer.� Archbishop Fulton Sheen would spend an hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament and longed to preach to the world and bring to all people a love and understanding of the Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In parishes and churches where Eucharistic adoration has been established and practised fervently, great graces have poured down on the people and the parish. Wherever reparation is made for all the unworthy communions and sacrilegious treatment of the Eucharist, God will not cease to bless and uphold the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by giving vocations to the religious life and priesthood, healing to our families and to our own souls and an increase in our love and belief in the Eucharist.
With the recent attacks on our faith and our Church and with the attempt by an anti-God agenda to destroy our freedom and our Catholic faith here in Ireland and around the world with laws such as the Lisbon Treaty, we have an ever greater need to turn to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. With a growing decline in the practice of our Catholic faith most notable to us here in Ireland, it is necessary now more than ever to turn to Jesus and ask for His help in bringing back His straying sheep. In God�s infinite wisdom, He has provided the means to do this. If you take a look at each family, it seems that there is at least one person who stays true to their faith and who becomes a �prayer warrior� for Jesus. This person becomes the means by which God sends His graces to our families and helps to bring back those who have strayed. Through Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary, we present ourselves and our families to Jesus and can gain so many graces and blessings for our families and for the world, which may even open their hearts to God again and bring them back to Him. If we run to Jesus there in the Blessed Sacrament and drop to our knees in adoration, we can not but know that our fervent prayers are being heard by Our Lord directly. Knowing this, how can we fail to join here on earth with all the angels and saints in Heaven, uniting them both, in worshipping Jesus truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.