Thursday, March 17, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, March 17, 2011 (Thursday of the First Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, March 17, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

The theme of our readings here this morning is that of prayer.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus urges us to pray and to pray with confidence that our prayers will be heard. He says, "ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

In our first reading, Queen Esther, living in the fifth century before Jesus, a Jew married to the king of Persia, was going to intercede on behalf of her people who were threatened with death. And before she went to intercede with the king, she prayed to the Lord to give her strength to accomplish the task that she had to do.

And also prayer was very much part of the life of St. Patrick whom we honor today. Patrick was a man of deep prayer. He belonged to the fifth century after Jesus. He went to Ireland two times, first time unwillingly when he was captured at the age of 16. His birthplace is not certain. But in his writings he tells us that at the age of 16 he was captured by Irish raiders, brought back to Ireland and sold as a slave, spent several years  herding sheep in the northern part of the country and suffered a great deal from hunger and cold, and spent a great deal of time praying. He prayed that God would deliver him and that he would be able to return to his home country and to his home and family again. His prayers were heard. He was told in a dream that a ship was waiting at the harbor for him. He escaped and made his way to the ship and returned home. There he continued his education and went on to be ordained a priest.

However, he again tells us that he was constantly hearing in his dreams the voices and the pleadings of the people of Ireland to return to them and to bring to them the Christian Catholic faith. Patrick was ordained a bishop and commissioned by the pope to go to Ireland as a missionary. So this was his second time coming to Ireland, this time returning willingly, bringing the faith and knowledge and love of Christ with him and spent the rest of his life in the conversion of the Irish people. He was very successful, and the Irish church became very strong and the Irish people very fervent in their faith. They sent missionaries in succeeding centuries out to convert the rest of Europe.

So the legacy of St. Patrick is great. His feast day is celebrated around the world, sometimes in ways that would not probably be very pleasing to St. Patrick, but, nevertheless, his feast day is celebrated and he is remembered. He is remembered as a great missionary. And we also need to remember him as a man who teaches us the importance of prayer.

In his teachings, he gives us the following prayer:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

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