March Messenger: Tough questions, strong answers

March 5, 2024 in Featured News, News

March 2024 is a month of many milestones in the Catholic Church, all of which are referenced in the March issue of The Sacred Heart Messenger, Ireland’s biggest-selling religious magazine, with a monthly circulation of over 30,000. Click here to subscribe or for more information »

This month’s edition marks the feast days of St Patrick and St Joseph and features articles on the season of Lent including a reflective walk through Holy Week and Easter Sunday with Fr Michael Hurley.

“St Patrick was kidnapped as a young boy. He was trafficked. He was a migrant.” The challenging, opening lines of ‘St Patrick: The Outsider Who Became Our Insider’ by Fr John Cullen, who goes on to say that our patron saint taught us that God is found “in the rhythms and lives of every person through hospitality, humanity and holiness.” He notes how Patrick was visited by dreams and paid attention to them as guidance from God – a theme picked up also in another article of his on St Joseph, ‘A Father in the Shadows’, whose feast day occurs 19 March, two days after Patricks.

In March also, Pope Francis asks us to pray in particular for those who, with their courage and enthusiasm for sharing the word of God, risk their lives for the Gospel. Patrick Carberry SJ writes about one such person, Stan Swamy SJ, who spent his priestly life defending those most despised in his native India and Maeve McMahon OP recalls the life of St Martin de Porres, the patron saint of social justice. Closer to home, Peter McVerry SJ argues that solidarity with those who suffer should be a defining characteristic of the Christian life.

In today’s world, when we sometimes feel like we are ‘running on empty’, Rebecca Ruiz shows how the principles of Ignatian spirituality can be a great resource and offers many ways for people to ‘refill their cups’. Elsewhere, Brian Grogan SJ slows things down as he encourages us to find God, even in the stones at our feet.

‘Shall We Talk about Dementia?’ is a question asked and answered by Anne Marie Lee, a former public health nurse who has helpful suggestions for engaging with those in various stages of brain disease: “While communicating with the person, face them and speak slowly and clearly. Give them time to answer. If they say something out of context don’t correct them, simply repeat your question.”

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ poses his own questions in his article on the recent Synod in Rome entitled ‘Where now for the Synod?’ Commenting on the photos from that Synod of Pope and Bishops mixed in with lay men and women, religious and priests, he says that the Catholic Church is visibly changing. He then goes on to speculate on what the change amounts to and how it will affect Ireland.

A final question is posed and responded to in a provocative opinion piece by Bill Toner SJ entitled ‘Mixed Motivations.’ Is there any such thing as a selfless deed? Bill’s fellow-Jesuit Tony de Mello SJ thinks not. Bill begs to differ.

The Messenger has all its regular features as well, – reflections, scripture, cookery, crosswords, children’s pages, nature focus, and RE:LINK, the supplement for young people which this month focuses on Lent. The Messenger editor Donal Neary SJ also shares with us a valuable lesson courtesy of his late mother and a long-haired youth!