I hope you are well and at peace.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a week on
silent retreat at a Cistercian monastery in the South
of France. It was a blessing to take time in the
presence of God without any distractions. During
that week I realised how important it is to really put
God first in our lives and the joy that comes when
we do that.
Following this I travelled to Sainte Maxime la Saint
Baume (Where there is a shrine with the relics of
St Mary Magdalene) to speak at a Eucharistic congress.
The priests who were running the conference were a
fantastic witness to me of people who try to live for
God. One of talks I heard made a deep impact on me,
the priest mentioned that the average person watches
four hours of television per day and he said that when
we stand before Jesus we will have to explain how
much time we have spent watching television and
how much time we have spent in prayer seeking his
guidance and strength.
It is so easy to lose that intimacy with God and to go
through the motions in our spiritual lives. I for one
have decided to switch off the TV and only watch
what I feel will lead me closer to God. I'm sure all
of us have some distraction or temptation which
hinders our relationship with God.
When I returned to Ireland I led a healing weekend
at Mount Melleray Abbey. About 60 people attended
and many of them shared how they had received great
grace and healing from the wounds of their past and
a new freedom and joy in their lives.
After this I set off on a six week trip, where with my
team we led three missions in Scotland and two in
England. We saw some beautiful graces and people
told how they had been to confession for the first
time in many years and had been renewed in their
relationship with God. We also met some great priests
including my old friend Fr Julian Green who we
ran a mission for in Biddulph in Staffordshire. He
is someone who is always searching to find ways
to draw people to God and has great faith. While
we were with him he consecrated his whole parish
to Our Lady knowing that she will lead them and
guide them to Jesus her son.
Also during this trip I went to speak at the Youth
2000 prayer festival in Walsingham and it was quite
an emotional time for me because Youth 2000 are
celebrating their twenty fifth anniversary of running
eucharistic centred retreats for young people. At the
retreat I met many old friends and I was reminded
how I set up the first Youth 2000 retreat at
Walsingham. Myself and my friend Niall arrived
there in February 1999 and were wondering at the
possibility of running a retreat there. We had no
money and only one contact in the local vicinity.
So we sat down in the middle of the field opposite
the shrine and we prayed a rosary asking Our Lady
that if she wanted the event she would bless and
guide all the practical details. Six months later we
sat down in the same field to pray in thanksgiving
that Our Lady had made it possible to bring 2000
young people from every corner of the country to
spend five days in prayer before the Blessed
Sacrament and there had been great miracles during
those days. The beautiful thing is that the retreat
continues annually to this day. That is the power
of Our lady's intercession!
Over the last few weeks I have spoken to thousands
of young people in schools around the country and
I would ask for your continued prayers for this
ministry that the seeds that are planted may grow
in good soil in their hearts. Like for all of us is it
so easy for the worries and distractions of this world
to stop those seeds from growing and bearing fruit.
You and all your intentions are very much in my
God bless you in his deep love