More than 10,000 people are expected to gather at the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas over the coming days to take part in the 2018 Solemn Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The novena, which is now in its 36th year, began yesterday 19 February and will continue until Tuesday 27 February.
Those attending will be welcomed to the cathedral by more than 300 novena volunteers and a team of twelve Redemptorists.
Ahead of this year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin this August, the novena will reflect on the central importance of the family and home. Preachers for the novena will include three team couples from the pre-marriage weekends in Esker who will speak at the Sunday Masses on the topic, ‘You Married Me’.
Speaking ahead of the novena, Director Fr Brendan O’Rourke said, ‘We come to learn who we are in the homes of our lives, and from there we get the energy to move out and fly. The novena asks us, who is lost in our lives, in our family, among our circle of friends? Can we offer home to someone who is lost?
‘We reflect on the importance of friendship, the gift of presence. Am I trustworthy? Truthful? Faithful? Ready to say “sorry” and “I forgive you”?
‘Love is like salt. It lends flavour when things are bland. It gives traction when the road is icy. It cleans out wounds, allowing healing to start. Love is a decision, and we get better as we practice it. When we hurt or are hurt and then seek and offer forgiveness – that’s a glimpse of the divine.
‘Families and homes come in all shapes and sizes. Jesus enlarges our sense of family, a family that makes space for those hurting, suffering, hungry, thirsty, enslaved, sick or in prison.
‘By living friendship, by living family, by living love, we are witnessing to the presence of Jesus in our lives. We are now his hands, his feet. We do not so much speak about Jesus, but point to his presence through our actions.
‘At its best love lasts for ever! All of us – as we are – are accepted, loved, one family, in Christ Jesus! In the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help Mary’s eyes tells us: “You are always in God’s heart. Always in my heart. Now risk living and loving with all your might!”’
Weekday and Saturday Masses during the novena will take place at 7:45am, 11.00am, 1:10pm, 3:30pm, 7:30pm, and 9.00pm. On Sunday, Masses will be celebrated at 9.00am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm and 8.00pm.
Candlelight meditation sessions will take place at 10.00pm on Wednesday 21 February and Monday 26 February and will last about an hour. Mass and anointing of the sick will take place on Saturday 24 February at 11.00am and children will be blessed at all sessions on the Sunday. The novena will also begin a nightly candlelight mass with Taizé hymns at each 9pm session; this will finish each day of the sessions in a calm and reflective way.
For more information on this year’s novena, visit www.galwaycathedral.ie.