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Honouring Francis Xavier

Jesuits are taking part in the Novena of Grace in honour of Saint Francis Xavier at parishes from 4-12 March, 2018. Churches are often packed during this time where the faithful receive deep personal gifts from God through the intercession of Saint Francis, the Patron Saint of Missions. Speakers at the Masses include bishops, priests, nuns, doctors, mothers, fathers, and single people; parishes may choose to take on a particular theme; and many choirs get involved.

Fr Dermot Mansfield SJ is the preacher of Masses at SFX Gardiner Street Church in Dublin throughout the nine-day event. Fr Dermot is an Irish Jesuit, spiritual guide, retreat director and author with many years’ experience in the field of Ignatian spirituality. There are Masses at 11am, 1pm, 5.30pm, and 7.30pm during the week; at 11am, 1pm, and 6pm on Saturday; and at 11am, 12.30pm, and 3.30pm on Sundays. Note that the lunchtime Masses during the week are shorter to facilitate people coming from work and the ‘Flame of Faith Mass’ is at 7.30pm everyday during the week.

Brendan McManus SJ, Belfast-based spiritual director and author of Redemption Road and Surviving Suicide Bereavement, will present learnings and insights from his latest book Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living along with co-author Jim Deeds at St Brendan’s Church, Coolock, Dublin on Sunday, 11 March at 6.30pm. The book was written from the twin perspectives of Ignatian spirituality and a focus on the mysteries of the Rosary, and it invites readers to consider how each reflection and each image is revealing of God’s Spirit, even the messy ones. Brendan and Jim will make use of a visual presentation at the Church where they will show many of Brendan’s photographs. The Examen prayer is key to developing the contemplative attitude promoted in their book.

Many people come in trust to God that he is interested in their lives and in their needs, and in the sadness and sorrow of life. Many intentions are for loved ones – that sons and daughters may come back to the practice of faith, that someone may give up drink, drugs or crime. That someone might give up an affair, or find work. People pray for jobs for themselves and for the family. For cures from depression and illness, that family conflicts may be resolved and that loved ones may find peace in life. The petitions cover most human needs and hopes.

Kevin O’Rourke SJ, assistant director of Jesuit novices in Birmingham and former parish priest in Ballymun, is representing the Irish Jesuits at Donnycarney Church, Dublin at 12 noon Mass on Sundays and weekday Masses at 10am. He is also the preacher at Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin on Sundays at 4pm and weekdays at 3pm.

The novena brings the ordinary yet deep cares of life to God, based on the faith that God does care for people’s lives and is concerned for them and with what concerns them.