I hope you are well and at peace,
I recently travelled to Verona in Italy to do talks arranged
by the Sisters of St Paul who have published my first book
From Gangland to Promised Land in Italian. I spoke in
several schools and a parish. After that I shared my story
in Amsterdam where a talk was set up by the Diocese.
It is an interesting experience to have a talk translated into
another language. It gives you time while the translator is
speaking to really listen to the Holy Spirit, and I would
often end up saying things very differently to usual.
It made me think about the importance of listening to the
promptings of the Holy Spirit in my daily life and not just
rushing around doing things without reference to God. For
many years now myself and the Community I am part of,
do a Holy hour each day, in front of the Blessed Sacrament
whenever possible. I think that the busier we are, the more
important it becomes to stop and spend quality time with
God, not just praying on the move. I am not someone who
finds prayer easy, so I always need to remind myself of this.
A friend of mine, who is a barrister, once said to me that
it is always a temptation for him to dive straight into his
work, because it seems like there is so much to do and so
little time. But he noticed that the days where he put God
first and spent time in prayer in the mornings he received a
clarity about what was important and things just seemed
to fall into place.
It is certainly easy to miss the promptings of the Holy Spirit
because he is usually very gentle, and he gives us free will.
But as Mother Teresa used to say her favourite prayer to
God was "I give you permission". Permission to take me
in a different direction than perhaps I was planning for the
day and to be open to the people he puts in my path.
About a year ago I was speaking to a girl from Slovakia in
a shop, and as we were chatting I felt inspired to give her a
copy of my first book (which really tells of how God changed
my life). Just a couple of weeks ago I met her again, and to
my amazement she told me how God had deeply touched her
life through the book and she had got Baptised, made her
confession, first Holy Communion and Confirmation.
The book is now translated into seven languages, the latest
of which is Spanish, and it is a constant source of wonder to
me what the Lord can do when we give him permission. That
is the beautiful thing about our faith, he actually chooses the
weak and uses our very weakness to reach out to others.
I had the joy of returning to the parish of Carigaline in County
Cork, to do a second mission there. Just behind the altar there
is a beautiful statue of St Therese of Lisieux (The patron Saint
of Missions) and it reminded me that the first time I came to
that Church. I had just returned from New Zealand, where I
met a Carmelite nun called Sister Dorothea. She told me that
25 years ago, while on a silent retreat, God had revealed to her
that she was to pray for a certain evangelist, and through the
intercession of St Therese, God would bring the fire of his Holy
Spirit to many lives. She never forgot this calling and had
faithfully interceded all those years. When we met at her convent
in New Zealand she knew that the person she was praying for was
myself, and she told me her story.
When I think that 25 years ago I was in the darkest lifestyle
imaginable, caught up in violence and organised crime and all
the things that entails, but God had inspired someone (who
was open enough to listen to him) to pray for me and I will
be forever grateful to him for that. The very next talk I gave
after this meeting with Sr Dorothea was in the Church at
Carigaline, with the statue of St Therese right behind me!
I had the privilege to speak at the miracle rally in London
which was arranged by Damian Staine and the Cor Lumen
Christi Community. They did a fantastic job and are people
of great faith and I know from emails that many people
received immense healing at the weekend.
Whilst I was in England I did talks in a school and confirmation
group in Bury St Edmunds, and the young people were so
open to God and hungry to know him in a more personal way
in their lives.
Just last week I met up with my good friends Emmet and Padraig
and we spent a few days together on a boat on Loch Erne, which
we like to do once a year. As always I felt uplifted and
encouraged by their friendship and faith. On the Sunday morning
we went to Mass in Enniskillen and at the end of the Mass a
man came up to me and said he had stopped going to Church
years ago, but one day his mum gave him a copy of my book.
This had lit the flame of faith in his heart once more and he has
been back at Mass for the last six months.
This showed me once again what can happen when a person is
open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. I'm sure that mother had
prayed for her son for many years, but God knew exactly when he
would be open to that message.
You are very much in my heart and prayers, please keep me in yours.
God bless you in his deep love