Sincere thanks to all who participated in our 2022 Novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which took place from Tuesday, August 31st to Wednesday, September 8th at the Sacred Heart Church on the Western Road, Cork.
It is with great delight that we were able to welcome friends and parishioners back to the Sacred Heart Church for this year’s Novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, after such a prolonged period of private prayer due to COVID-19 restrictions. In addition, almost 7,500 people joined us in prayer via our live stream over the course of the nine days, from all over the world, reminding us once again of the remarkable spirit of our extended Sacred Heart family, at home and across the globe. This is always a special time of year to put aside for prayer before the late Autumn and Winter seasons come upon us, and it was with grateful hearts that we celebrated the much-beloved and sacred tradition of prayer to our Blessed Mother.
The theme of our 2022 Novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was “Mary, Mother of Compassion,” and Masses were celebrated by several of our MSC priests and brothers over the nine days.
Fr John Finn opened the Novena, welcoming those present in person and via our live stream, and starting us off with a simple thought: “We begin simply by inviting Jesus to touch our hearts and our lives. We ask Mary to lead us to the heart of forgiveness, the healing love and compassion of Jesus her son.”
Having reflected on the meaning of compassion during our first Novena Masses, Br Giacomo Gelardi returned with a second sermon on Day Two, reminding us that, “We need to return to the simplicity and enthusiasm, to the beauty of realising that we are instruments of the spirit.” In essence, “Let your heart beat in harmony with God’s heart,” he told us.
Day Three saw Fr Tom Mulcahy sharing the powerful message that “God is forgiveness – it isn’t that God gives forgiveness, God is forgiveness, God is compassion, God is mercy.” Following this, Day Four saw Fr Seamus Kelly pray for us all to listen to God’s signs to us as we bring his love to others, and “for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on each and every one of us, that we too can bring the love of Christ to people throughout the world.”
On the fifth day of our Novena, Fr John Finn returned with a homily on faith, and the importance of our attitude towards our daily lives – whether we live, or simply endure. “Each day you have, each moment you live, is God’s gift, it is given to us as a gift, as something to be lived, not as a torture to be endured,” he reminded us. “Faith calls us to life. Faith calls us that when moments hit us and pierce our soul, we too would have that trust, that no matter what happens, God is present, God is there.”
Fr John Fitzgerald celebrated Mass on Day Six, with a reflection on Mary and Suffering, reminding us of the fact that Mary was human too, and “that is how we connect with her, on these days of suffering, the days when we need her”. Drawing from the theme of suffering the light of hope, Fr John prayed “that we might have patience, that we might be courageous as well, and that we might hold hope in our hearts.”
Fr John returned on Day Seven of the Novena, a special day of healing. “Our prayer today is for healing in our bodies, for healing today, physical and emotional and spiritual,” he said, along with praying for the healing power of acceptance of those things that we may not be able to change. Together, we prayed for all who are sick, suffering or in pain, for those who are healing from a broken heart in any form, for those healing through learning to walk with their past, for those suffering with anxiety, darkness or depression, addiction, and mental health issues, and for those learning to accept sickness and heal in a recovery of the soul. Fr John finished for a prayer for healers everywhere, giving thanks for the “magnificent people who are carers and healers in our world”.
Fr Joe McGee journeyed from Dublin to celebrate the final two days of the Novena, bringing a blessed nine days of prayer to a beautiful close. “My wish for all of us at the end of the Novena, for all of us here and those joining us online, that in some way this Novena will bring us closer to Mary, who brings us closer to the Lord, who helps us to ponder the mysteries of our lives,” he said.
At the closing Masses, parish priest Fr Tom Mulcahy paused to thank everyone who contributed to making this year’s Novena such a special one, particularly as it is the last Novena that he will prepare as parish priest of the Sacred Heart parish. Giving sincere thanks to everybody involved in the preparation and the celebrations, Fr Tom also prayed in gratitude for all who took part in this year’s Novena Masses, in the Sacred Heart Church and on our webcam streaming service. “We thank God for your presence,” he said. “I hope it has been a blessing for you as it has been for us.”
“May God bless you, and all your prayers that you have placed in the hands of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; she is the hope of the hopeless,” Fr Tom continued.
“The Lord knows how to work, and the mother of the Lord is always with us. God bless you all.”
Year upon year, the MSC Novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart offers great solace and comfort to all who take part, as we bring our prayers and personal intentions before our Holy Mother. Once again, we send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part in what was a truly blessed occasion this year, and for your ongoing friendship and support. God bless you all.