Novena of Hope - 20th to 29th May 2006
The Novena of Hope was celebrated from 20th to the 29th May. As usual it focused on Our Lady of Holy Hope and Blessed Charles. This year it was part of the celebration of the 150 years of Passionist Presence in Mount Argus.
As the possibility of the canonisation of Blessed Charles approaches the talks covered various aspects of the life and personality of Blessed Charles.
The preachers were the Passionist Fathers - Paul Francis Spencer, Aidan Troy, Brian D'Arcy, Ignatius Waters, Frank Keevins and Martin Coffey.
Fr. Paul Francis spoke of Blessed Charles as a man of Prayer. Witnesses spoke of how he would come to celebrate Mass with a bundle of bits of paper - full of request for prayers. But Prayer for Blessed Charles was being with God, like the old lady in Glasgow who said she just 'sits with Jesus' pointing to the statue of the Sacred Heart.
Fr. Aidan took up the theme of Suffering. Working in Ardoyne suffering in all its forms were a constant reality. But yet he was amazed at how often out of suffering brought to Jesus life and resurrection flowed. Like the father who watched his son dying for the want of a kidney, then donated one of his kidneys. The operation was nearly to kill the father, but both survived and life flowed.
Fr. Brian D'Arcy spoke of Blessed Charles as a founder and protector of Mount Argus. In his life time the monastery and Church were built. Without his presence nothing happened. In the 1980's his beatification supported the then major renovation. Today with new changes his possible canonisation will again show his protection and loyalty to Mount Argus.
150 years of healing was the theme of Fr. Frank. In Bl. Charles life time a stream of people came to Mount Argus for healing. After his death that constant trickle of people continued. Even today, before Fr. Frank preached, a sick child was at the monastery door seeking the Blessing of the Relic of Bl. Charles.
Failure and old bones was the theme of Fr. Ignatius. Jesus, the convicted criminal on the Cross, appeared a failure. Yet he saved the world. Bl. Charles appeared a failure when he found study difficult and could not speak English well. Yet he was the channel of God's forgiveness and healing to many. As Church and people we sometimes feel like 'dried bones with no life, yet the Crucified Jesus can give life to those bones.
Blessed Charles was an immigrant and an alien in a foreign country, Fr. Martin pointed out. He was Dutch man in Ireland. Yet he gave his all to the people and the people embraced him. Today Ireland is host to many different nationalities. They need the opportunity to give themselves and we need to embrace them.