I’m in Dublin, preaching at the Novena of Hope in Mount Argus. Saint Paul’s Retreat, Mount Argus is our provincial house. Each year, in May, there is a public novena here in honour of Our Lady, Mother of Holy Hope. The novena is always linked also with the devotion to Blessed Charles (Houben) of Saint Andrew who arrived in Ireland to become a member of this community on the Feast of the Mother of Holy Hope, 9 July, 1857. Blessed Charles, who died at Mount Argus on 5 January 1893, was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 16 October 1988.
At present, a possible miracle is under examination by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. The case has already been approved by the medical commission and by a commission of theologians. If it is approved by the Congregation’s Cardinals and Bishops, then Pope Benedict will say whether (and when) Blessed Charles can be canonised. For a fuller account, click here and scroll down.
In preparation for the canonisation of Blessed Charles, the sermon themes for this year’s Novena of Hope are all related to his life and mission.
I began today with the theme “Hope is a Saintly Life”. I talked a little about Blessed Charles’ personality and about what made him attractive to people during his lifetime: his love for Jesus in his Passion, and his love for people, especially the sick and the suffering. After the Masses, I was amazed at how many people came up to me to tell me stories about Father Charles (-to the people of Dublin he is still “Father Charles”; it’s almost as if they don’t want to lose their familiarity with him). These were not stories from books, but stories from their own family, handed down by a father or mother, about how Father Charles had blessed someone in their family who was sick or dying and the person had been cured. Although he died more than a hundred years ago, he is still very much a part of people’s lives and of their family history.
If you wish to join in the novena prayers each day or have your petition included in the Novena, you should click here. If you want to hear the sermons from the novena, they are being posted each day here. (The sound is a bit faint on the first talk. I think I had the microphone too far away; I’ll try to move it closer tomorrow.)