Homily on the them of “Hope” – Roscrea Novena

Homily for 8th day of Roscrea Novena to St. Therese of Liseux, Reflecting on Hope, Wednesday, 10th of April, 2019, St. Cronan’s Church, Roscrea


What a delight it is to be with you for the second last day of the Novena to St. Therese of Liseux.


Triduum and theme of Hope

The final three days or Triduum of the Novena are devoted to the virtues of faith, hope and love and my theme this evening is hope.


Virtues – Cardinal and Theological

Hope as you know is one of the three theological virtues.  Faith, hope and love are the theological virtues.  We also have Cardinal Virtues.  They are prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude.


Reflecting on Hope

What a lovely word, idea and concept hope is.


“I hope you are well”

I remember as a small child when our family lived in Tullamore.  I went away to the Gaeltacht on a three monthGael Linncourse when I was just a boy.  I was only in primary school at the time.  It was before the time of mobile phones, texting, emails, social media, skyping and regular contacting.  Every week, on Tuesday morning for the three months I would get a letter from my mother and without fail.  It always started with the words “I hope you are well”!  I hope you are well.  What a lovely greeting at the beginning of any communication dwelling on the promise of hopefulness and wellness.  I hope you are well.


Reflecting on the Christian Name – Hope

In the many ceremonies of Confirmation that I have the delight in celebrating I love taking note of the various names people chose and why.  The old Irish saints names.  Two of the children last week – chose the name Sophia the greek word for wisdom.  One little girl last week had the name Destiny.  One of our new priests from Kerala, based in the presbytery in Ennis has the lovely name Joy!  In the faith community in the Cathedral in Ennis there are many nationalities who attend Mass regularly.  There is a very dedicated and faith filled family from Africa and the children serve Mass often.  Their names interestingly Faith, Hope and Charity!


Confirmation name Hope!

Recently we had a gathering to plan some Youth Ministry in Birr and the PP there Fr. Tom Hogan who you had yesterday on the topic of faith was reflecting on the fact that one of the students in Birr parish this year chose Hopeas a Confirmation name.  Fr. Tom asked the student why and she simply said she loved the idea that was behind hope.


Hope in the Dessert Spoon!

At a Confirmation meal just over two weeks ago – one of the class teachers, a big strong athletic hurler sat down beside me and his first words as he picked up the dessert spoon at the table was – this to me is a sign of hope!  He obviously loved his desserts!  Hope springs eternal they say!


Tulips and Hyacinths

This morning in the glorious Spring sunshine I was admiring the array of spectacular tulips and hyacinths in the grounds of Carrigoran Conference centre in Newmarket-on-Fergus. My mind went back to the time of planting of those bulbs last Autumn.  When they are put in the cold dark earth of the cold Autumn days – it is a great gesture of hope and faith that they will emerge in Splendid colour in these warm and bright Spring days.


Light and Hope Story

There is an ancient tale from the Philipines.  It’s a tale of light and hope.  The story is about a King who wanted to pass on his kingdom to one of his two sons.  He decided that whichever son would best adorn the 2 great rooms of the palace best would inherit the kingdom.  One went about diligently working and filled the room with grain and produce of the harvest.  The other had nothing done.  The more diligent of the two sons wanted to claim the prize, but the father said to wait.  The second son put a small candle in the other room and lit it.  Even though the light was small, it lit up the whole room with delightful light.  The king handed over the kingdom to him because he felt that what his people needed was light and hope.


Hope as the main ingredient of any preaching

There is a very wise person I visit every now and then and love to try and absorb some of his wisdom as he is steeped in a life of prayer and reflection on the Holy Scriptures.  In reflecting on the art of preaching he often tells me that the main ingredient for any preaching is simply hope.  If we don’t have hope we have nothing.


The kernal, the central message and meaning of our faith is a most profound message of hope.  The fact that we believe in the message of the Resurrection – can and does transform us as people of faith.


The hope that the Resurrection gives us, that we long for during this marathon season of Lent is something we anticipate and hope for from the depths of our being.  The poet Yeats aptly reminds us that “too much of a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart”.  Yesterday I was at the opening of a school in East Clare.  Because it was such a joyful and special occasion I wore white vestments instead of the traditional and more liturgical purple ones for Lent.  Someone commented on social media when viewing the pictures of the occasion – that it was a welcome and hopeful sign of Resurrection hope just around the corner as we enter into Holy Week…  Hope indeed Springs eternal.


Hope simply gives light to our darkness.

That profound hope of heaven as our destiny transforms us from within and makes such a difference in our life.


Moltman – theology of Hope

It’s interesting if you do a little research and see that a whole body of theology of hopebuilt up and started to develop in Latin America in the 1960’s.  In the aftermath of the destruction and devastation of the second world war, the threat of nuclear disaster, the desapair and despondency in the philosophy of existentialism and the proposed absurdness of life, in the midst of the poverty all round in Latin America – a theology of  hope began to emerge, led by a man called Moltman and it gave great hope, faith and light to many not only in that area bue all over the world.


That Easter hope that looks beyond the darkness of holy week and the passion is the core and central tenet of our faith and may it brighten up our hearts this Easter and always.




Just before drawing these few reflections to an end – to share a brief personal reflection on St. Therese of Liseux, to whom we pray during this Novena.  No more than St. Francis, St. Patrick or your own St. Cronan so many people around the globe have great devotion to Sr. Therese of the little Flower.


In my own case I had a passing devotion to her up to a certain point.  I read her autobiography and some secondary work on her, but that was it.  Then about 12 years ago I develpmed an eye condition called Macular Degeneration quite suddenly.  MD is common enough among older people, but rare enough for 40 year olds. Life as a priest became almost impossible as I literally could not read normal print and could not do readings or basic litirgical texts.


I went to an eye specialist and was booked in for laser eye surgery.  The morning of the surgery the head nurse who was doing all the preparations – gave me an interesting lecture.  She said to me that despite all her staff could do for me in medical terms – the real person who would sort me out was St. Therese of Lisieux.  She gave me a novena to St. Therese and told me to pray that.  The surgery went ahead, the Novena was duly prayed diligently and to that day I have had the gift of sight restored.


I’m not sure how much was due to the fantastic, expert medical expertise and how much was due to the intercession of St. Therese, but in my view – it’s no harm to cover all bases and leave oneself open to the healing power of God through the intercession of our beloved saints as well as the healing power of the medical profession.


Ever since that – I have great interest and devotion to St. Therese and was delighted to get the opportunity to recommend her intercession to you highly during this novena in her honour here in St. Cronan’s Church this evening.


Through the kind intercession of St. Therese increase our hope in the the good news as we prepare for the upcoming festival of Easter during Holy Week next week.










Story of the Novena in Galway to St. Therese