4 Jun 2016

5th June 2016 - Lough Derg: Island of Quiet Miracles

On this weeks programme John and Shane are joined by Fr Eamonn Conway to talk about his new book "Lough Derg: Island of Quiet Miracles" and to reflect on what the tradition of pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of St Patrick has to offer modern Ireland today.

We have our regular reflection on this Sunday's gospel reading as we return to Ordinary time as well as some liturgical odds & ends including the saints of the week, Pope Francis prayer intentions for June and other notices.
You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.
Lough Derg: Island of Quiet Miracles

John and Shane are joined once more on this weeks programme by Fr Eamonn Conway who tells us about his experience of Lough Derg, what it can contribute to Ireland today and his new book about the holy island, one of Ireland’s oldest living pilgrimage sites.

You can listen to the interview with Fr Eamonn excerpted from the main programme HERE.

Saint Patrick’s Sanctuary – the pilgrimage site – is located on Station Island in Lough Derg which is four miles north of the village of Pettigo, Co Donegal.  It is often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory or simply Lough Derg.  The Diocese of Clogher has been the sole custodian of Lough Derg since 1780.  Historical records date the practice of pilgrimage on Lough Derg to the 7th century. Legend also presents the cave on the island (where the basilica now stands) as the place where Saint Patrick had his vision of Purgatory.  Saint Patrick is said to have left a disciple in the area and the foundation of one of the earliest monastic Christian settlements followed. The remnants of the monastic prayer cells remain central to the pilgrimage tradition.  Today, the Lough Derg Three Day Pilgrimage follows a pattern prayer from the Celtic monastic time and shows remarkable continuity with the earliest systematic account of the pilgrimage, which dates to the 1600s.
That tradition of pilgrimage from the 5th century is alive today with the focus on the basics, going back to being more mindful about the simple things in life with fasting and physical & strenuous activity. But it is not about the hardship it is very much a place of pilgrimage on a holy place where you are called to take off your shoes - you are walking on holy ground linking back over centuries to the time of St Patrick himself. It can be seen as a a spiritual boot camp to help us have the resilience to deal with the Lough Derg's of our daily lives once we come off the island and back into the daily grind of life. Pilgrimage to Lough Derg is not about changing God's attitude to us but rather about us changing our attitude to God.
It is described as "a pilgrimage that has the potential to transform your life: whether seeking answers to life’s questions, searching for direction or simply reflecting on life-changing decisions or giving thanks to God”.
The Three Day Pilgrimage begins on Lough Derg on Wednesday 1 June and continues until 15 August 2016.  Pilgrims can begin their pilgrimage on any day up to and including 13 August.  During the Three Day Pilgrimage, pilgrims make ‘Stations’: they walk barefoot, kneel on the hallowed beds, fast, pray and keep vigil.  14,000 pilgrims visit Lough Derg every season from May – September and since the late 1800’s the number is estimated to be over two million.  
Speaking at the promotion events for his new book Rev Prof Eamonn Conway, said, “This is first and foremost a book about Christian spirituality. It is one account of how a relationship with God might be supported and nurtured. Pilgrimage can play a key part in opening ourselves up to the mystery of God, and as pilgrimages go, Lough Derg has to be one of the most unique, and, in my view, one of the best.
Through the centuries it has been a privileged place of encounter with God, a place of healing, a place where people have battled with and defeated their demons, whatever these might be, anything that diminishes us as human beings.
“Lough Derg continues to be that place today, a sanctuary where people can go to experience in a direct and tangible way the mercy and healing of God. I hope this book will be a guide for pilgrims old and new, and perhaps also a help along the spiritual journey for those who cannot go to the holy island but journey towards God in their hearts.”
“The great strength of the book is that it is not an outsider’s perspective, or a preachy book telling pilgrims how they ‘should’ experience Lough Derg, but it is based on Father Conway’s own experiences on the island over more than 30 years and his journeying with and listening to the varied reasons that bring pilgrims to the island and keep them coming back.
“There’s something in Island of Quiet Miracles for everyone, and it explores Lough Derg as a place where great things happen, but often in small ways”.
UPDATE: Multimedia report from Catholicnew.ie on the book launch.

Gospel - Luke 7: 11-17
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, crying out
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst, “
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea

and in all the surrounding region.
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours: psalter week 2; 10th week of ordinary time
Saints of the Week

June 6th - St Jarlath
June 7th - St Colman
June 8th - Saint Melania the Elder
June 9th - St Columba (Colmcille)
June 10th - Blessed Edward Joannes Maria Poppe
June 11th - St Barnabas
Popes Intentions for June

Universal: Human Solidarity
That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices
That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.

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