The Sacred Heart Messenger receives a staggering 1000 letters a month. To mark its 125th anniversary this year they have produced a calendar which features a letter for each month of the year, spanning three centuries…The letters are from people from all over Ireland and even further afield: men and women, rich and poor, old and young, country and city dwellers. All human life is represented throughout the years, by those who have felt moved to write to the office of the Sacred Heart Messenger in Leeson St, Dublin either asking for prayers or in gratitude for prayers answered.
The January letter – read it below – is a powerful account of life, death and conversion on a French battlefield in World War 1, by Irish soldier J.J. Meehan. In the July letter a mother of nine writes in thanksgiving for financial help after sturggling daily to make ends meet. Her letter is from 1953 but could have been written today. November’s letter is from an Ennistymon mother and the year is 1889. Her child had fallen off a swing – she calls it a ‘swing-swong – and was left unable to move her hands or feet. The mother acquired a Sacred Heart badge and began a Novena to the Sacred Heart. One evening the child suddenly reached out its hand to grab the Sacred Heart Badge and from then on returned to full health. All human life, pain, joy and suffering is reflected in the letters. They make for a moving and comforting read marking the months ahead. The calendar is available from the Messenger Office and costs €2.50.
1916: Baptised on the Battlefield
Dear Rev, Father,
It was after the battle. Everything was quiet except for an occasional roar of a gun or the sharp crackling of the rifles. I sat in my dugout, with a companion whom I loved. He possessed the wrong religion.
I began to think of those at home, and my poor grannie. I remembered the day I left home she gave me a Sacred Heart badge which I carried to the Front with me. ‘Well, comrade’ said my companion, ‘I cannot chum with you any longer unless you give me one of your lucky charms’ (meaning the Sacred Heart Badge). I gave him one of my Sacred Heart badges, the one that my dear old grannie gave me. God bless her! My companion wore the Badge for a week. Then came the end.
One morning when the rain was coming down in torrents, the guns were sending out their messages of death; the noise and confusion was deafening; everyone was full of excitement. it was then my companion was shot down in front of me. It nearly broke my heart to see him lying down in the mud, his life’s blood ebbing away.
However, Father Knap came up to him, looked at him, and immediately Jim, my chum, gave Father Knap the Sacred Heart Badge, saying: ‘Father my time has come; I am about to hand back to God the soul He gave me, if you make me a Christian.’ ‘A Christian I will make you,’ replied Father Knapp. We all knelt down; poor Jim was baptised, got pardon for his sins, and passed away like a faded rose.
Such deaths have I witnessed; deaths of the wicked, deaths of the just. We all have to pass away some day; and when it comes may we pass like poor Jim.
Rfm. J.J. Meehan
2326 1st Batt. R.I.R. B.E.F., France