Archive for February, 2021

9 FEBRUARY 2021, FIFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR 1 – International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking


When God created the world and human kind, it did not happen in a haphazard way. God formed and created every living being with the utmost attention, love and care. Every being is unique. St Paul says, ‘We are God’s work of art created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning God had meant us to live it.’ (Eph. 2: 10).

However, since the beginning of creation the uniqueness of each being in the web of life does not receive the respect and the dignity God desired. Every living thing in the web of life is interdependent and interconnected and is precious in God’s eyes. God invited human beings to be good stewards of creation.

Pope Francis writes and speaks very plainly on social degradation, the destruction of the planet, infringement of human rights and lack of dignity for the human person. In his encyclical on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Fratelli Tutti (FT), he called racism a ‘virus that quickly mutates, and instead of disappearing, goes into hiding and lurks in waiting. (no. 97).’ Pope Francis regularly denounces slavery and human trafficking and all forms of abuse, violence and denial of human rights.

This day the Church sets aside as the ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.’ Recently, Pope Francis sent a message to The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Argentina to mark the ‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’, where he described modern day slavery as ‘a scourge that wounds the dignity of our weakest brothers and sisters.’  Disturbed by the fact that human trafficking leaves people denied ‘from experiencing the fullness of their unique and unrepeatable humanity’ he condemned ‘the utilitarian perspective that views others according to the criteria of convenience and personal gain.’

The reading proclaimed at Mass today tells the familiar story of the first four days of God’s work of creation (Genesis 1:1-19).  God saw that everything that he made was good. God wanted to give God’s people the best of everything. The psalmist in Psalm 103, honours the works of the Lord and the assembly of people respond, ‘May the Lord rejoice in his works!’

How can the Lord rejoice in his works in a ‘throwaway’ culture where ‘slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person that allows him or her to be treated as an object… where persons are deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others.’? (Fratelli Tutti, no.24).

Every living thing is a work of God’s creation. God is the source of all life. God reveals Godself in the gift of life and the psalmist asks, ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?’ There are ways to give thanks to God by noticing and celebrating God’s goodness, through loving God and neighbour as brother or sister. God’s people can pray, read the psalms, praise the work of creation, be a good steward of creation and follow Jesus’ teaching on love. The readings today give many ideas of how humankind can show appreciation to God by acknowledging God’s gifts and nurturing all God created.

Let’s pray with the Pope to commit ourselves ‘to the total eradication of this scourge’ and ‘to pledge support to assist survivors and collaborate decisively in building paths that lead to the common good and the full realization of human life.’

We can ask God through St Josephine Bakhita (1868-1947) to help those who are trafficked and for those who commit this crime. We can ask her to heighten our awareness of all that is happening in the world. Josephine Bakhita is a native of Sudan. Sent as a slave to Italy, she became a Christian and later she joined the Institute of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice.

VERITAS publications gives free access to all the online resources for the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Religious Education Programme for Catholic Primary Schools including the Children’s Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book.


Email: trial@growinlove

Password: growinlove



Pray: Pope Francis Prayer


  • Read what God created in the first four days of the Creation Story. Read from your Bible, Genesis 1: 1-19, or from the Grow Love/ I nGrá Dé textbook or e-book
  • Read in your Bible from the Book of Exodus about slavery in Egypt
  • Articles from The Declaration of Human Rights are outlined in the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé, Sixth Class programme. Read Articles 1, 2, 3, 13, 17, 25, 26, and 29.


  • Find out more about St Josephine Bakhita and the country of Sudan
  • Draw some animals, flowers, trees and insects, created by God. Write a psalm, which is a prayer of thanks

Fact: Each year, around 2.5 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery.


Sr Anne Neylon



Peoples’ desires, wishes and dreams in life are different to what they were pre-Covid. What seemed important then, may not be now quite as important. People recognise the value and gift of health, so precious and fragile. The images of medical staff attending the sick in hospital ICUs,  testing and administering the vaccine, exhausted frontline workers, people wrangling and  complaining on chat shows; all paint a sombre picture.

Meanwhile, people strive to draw new life and hope from signs of spring as snowdrops, varieties of crocus; daffodils and more flowers push their way through the ground. Hope is present as light in darkness. Jesus promised to be with us always until the end of time. Now people realise is the time ‘to be content with whatever we have’, as proclaimed in the Word at Mass.

The first reading proclaimed from Hebrews (Hebrews 13:1-8) instructs God’s people to love. God teaches the people to continue to love one another and to welcome strangers, to remember those who are in prison and those who are badly treated. The Word reminds the faithful of the importance of honouring Marriage. God cautions people against greed and invites people to be ‘content with whatever we have.’ Lastly, God invites us ‘to remember your leaders who preached the word of God to you.’ In remembering, we ‘reflect on the outcome of their lives’ and ‘imitate their faith.’ We thank God.

The psalm (Psalm 26) proclaimed reinforces the instruction in the Word. Disciples believe that ‘The Lord is my light and my help’ repeated six times. Can we believe the psalmist who says, ‘The Lord is the stronghold of my life’; ‘He hides me in the shelter of his tent, on a rock he sets me safe?’ The Lord always enlightens and helps his disciples.

The Gospel (Mark 6:14-22) proclaimed reveals how a person who is jealous and fearful acts irrationally and seeks revenge. This resulted in John the Baptist’s death and St Agatha’s in later years.

The Church celebrates the memorial of St Agatha today. She was born in Catania, Sicily in the third century.  She was young, beautiful, rich and lived a life consecrated to God. The governor of Sicily, Quintian noticed her beauty and kindness. Agatha rejected his illicit advances and he sent her to prison for being a Christian and eventually her martyrdom at Catania for her loyalty to and love of Christ. In prison, they subjected Agatha to much cruelty and torture.

St Methodius from whom the Church reads in the Office of Readings described St Agatha ‘as a good woman, coming forth from God in whose goodness she shares.’ He continues, ‘“Good” is the force and meaning of her name, Agatha in Greek, for she has been granted us, given as a gift, by God himself, the very fount of goodness.’”

The Church honours St Agatha for her courage in suffering and her love for Christ. God’s people hear St Agatha’s name mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer of the Mass.

‘St Agatha is patron of diseases of the breast; of nurses; against fire and earthquakes; and of her home town of Catania, Italy.’

At this time of pandemic, let us pray for courage to do what is right. Help us never to act out of jealousy or seek revenge.

Jesus’ teachings on love are reflected throughout the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé programme at all levels in the Catholic Primary School. Resources including the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Children’s e-book for each class standard are freely available on the VERITAS Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé website. To access the website:



Password: growinlove


Read: Sicily, where St Agatha was born is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian peninsula. Officially referred to as Regione Siciliana, it has 5 million inhabitants. Its capital city is Palermo. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate.

Activity: Sicily is a popular holiday resort. Find out why this might be.

Activity: Find out some facts about St Agatha. Check out St Agatha’s Church in North William Street, Dublin 1. There you will see a statue and a stained glass window and shrine dedicated to St Agatha.

Pray: St Agatha, pray for us.


Sr Anne Neylon



People regularly count the ways in which the restrictions due to Covid 19, transforms lives and lifestyles. Some restrictions are helpful, some not so. Consider examples of restrictions related to travel, social life, family, work circumstances, leisure activities, educational opportunities, medical appointments, shopping, and those related to our spiritual lives. Human relationships and life are central to the restrictions. By default, the world and its people transitions to a new way of life. There is no return to the old.  Today a blessing God’s people will miss is the individual blessing of throats.

Yesterday, Candlemas day, the priest blessed the candles for use during the forthcoming liturgical year in the Church. Included in those candles were those that the priest uses to bless peoples’ throats on this feast.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St Blaise. Tradition states that before becoming a bishop he was a physician. The Church venerates St Blaise as patron of all who suffer from diseases of the throat. The blessing that the faithful receive in the Church today is a sign of our faith in God’s protection, love and healing for us and for the sick. In the ritual of blessing the priest uses two  blessed, crossed and unlit candles and places them on the throat of each person saying these words,

‘Through the intercession of St Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from all ailments of the throat and from every other evil [or from every disease of the throat and from any other illness]. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’

The fact that the blessing is communal and on webcam takes away from it’s personal dimension. Of course, it is good and helpful to receive the blessing in faith. The experience offers people an opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we receive from God through the priest each time we receive the sacraments. The priest or bishop administers one to one blessings in Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and The Anointing of the Sick. During the celebration, the priest blesses the bread and wine which becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. We receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion.

There are also other occasions of blessing in life. At Mass or prayer time, we pray the Sign of the Cross and when the priest proclaims the Gospel, we pray the threefold sign of the Cross. We ask God to bless the food we eat when we say Grace before Meals. The priest blesses devotional objects using holy water from time to time.  He also blesses the dead during the prayers of the funeral rite using holy water and incense. Can you recall any other time of blessing?

A blessing is a sign of love. The psalm proclaimed at Mass today is Psalm 102. In it, the psalmist invites the listener ‘never forget all his [the Lord’s] blessings.’ The psalmist also invites them to ‘give thanks and bless his [the Lord’s] holy name’.

Therefore, we learn from God’s Word that God blesses each person and each one can bless God. In addition, in Psalm 148 the psalm invites all God’s creation to praise and bless the Lord. This is a dominant theme in Laudato Si’, Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis’ letter to every person in the world.

Let us receive the blessings of the Lord and remember to give thanks. Mary, Mother of God never forgot to say thanks for the great things that God did for her. She said thanks in her ‘Magnificat’ prayer.

Families who accompany their children in faith, hope and love will find very helpful resources on the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé website including the Children’s Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book.


Email: trial@growinlove

Password: growinlove



  • The Sign of the Cross/ Comhartha na Croise
  • The ‘Magnificat’

ACTIVITY:  Write/ Draw your own prayer of thanks to God. Read it aloud.

READ: Psalm 148 from the Bible or from the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Children’s e-book

VIDEO:  Watch the video lyric of Psalm 148 (Grow in Love online resources, Fourth Class/P6) where the psalmist invites all creation to bless the Lord. How do the sun, the moon, the stars and the animals, insects and trees bless God? How can you bless God?



Sr Anne Neylon



When did you last light a candle at home, in church? In a time of celebration? A time of grief? A lighting candle can bring consolation, light and warmth to one who is grieving. A lighting candle enhances a meal, a prayer environment or an event. There are safety warnings around lighting candles. Sometimes one can only feel and see the darkness beyond the light. Lighting candles add joy to the birthday cake celebration. A candle when lit can bring hope and light.

The light on the Tower on the Hill of Allan was a beacon of hope in preparation for the feast of St Brigid. The Olympic flame is a symbol used in the Olympic movement. It is also a symbol of continuity between ancient and modern games.

Candles are a key feature of Church liturgies. The light represents Christ’s presence as the sacristan lights the candles on the altar for the celebration of Mass. The sanctuary lamp is continually alight in the sanctuary reminding God’s people of the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Children receive a Baptism candle when baptised, lit from the Paschal Candle. This light is a sign of faith for their lives, which enables and empowers them in their Baptismal call. On the first day of Creation God separated the light from the darkness.  He made the day and the night.

During this time of restriction when people cannot attend Mass or receive Holy Communion, they go to the Church to light a candle and pray privately.  People and families amble into the Church. They move from shrine to shrine and intercede with Our Lady, the Sacred Heart and the saints as they seek God’s protection and support.

On the 2 February, the Church celebrates ‘The Presentation of The Lord’. This day is also called Candlemas because the people bring their candles to the Church where the priest blesses them. It is significant that the Church celebrates this feast 40 days after the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world.  This is one of the Church’s oldest feasts, which the Jews celebrated in Jerusalem since the fourth century. This year with Covid restrictions, the Church will celebrate Candlemas differently.

The ritual that takes place generally includes a procession where the people process into the Church with blessed lighting candles. This takes place before Mass. In an antiphon, the priest invites the people to ‘welcome Christ the king’. He recalls Mary in the temple as she carried Jesus in her arms, ‘King of glory and new light’. He recalls Simeon who took the baby in his arms announcing him as ‘Lord of life and death and Saviour of the world’.

The Gospel (Luke 2:22-40) proclaimed at Mass today gives the account of Mary and Joseph as they presented Jesus in the temple. There they encountered Anna and Simeon. Simeon, on whom the Holy Spirit held up the baby, blessed God and said that Jesus was, ‘the light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

Today the Church also celebrates ‘World Day for Consecrated Life.’  The Church celebrates lives consecrated to God and prays for them. Those in religious life commit themselves to live their baptismal consecration through the practice of the vowed life. The baptism call invites people to respond to God’s love in continuing Jesus’ mission.

So today as God’s people celebrate this feast, God’s people go together to meet Jesus the light of the world. Jesus is the true light who comes ‘to enlighten the Gentiles and give glory to Israel, your [his] people’.  The Gentiles were those people who were not Jews.

Today also, the installation of Dermot Farrell as Archbishop of Dublin takes place in the Pro-Cathedral. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will rest on him as happened for Simeon and proclaimed in the Gospel (Luke 2:22-40), to guide and accompany him. In Dermot Farrell’s episcopal motto, he states that, ‘Our help is in the name of the Lord’ (Psalm 124). Let us trust in God always.

VERITAS PUBLICATIONS make the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé online resources available to the public. Access is on the Veritas Grow in Love website:


Email: trial @growinlove

Password: growinlove


Read: From the Bible or the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Children’s e-book read the Scripture of the ‘Presentation of Jesus in the Temple’ (Luke 2:22-40)

Pray: On your Rosary beads, pray the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation in the Temple. The family might like to light the online Virtual candle from the dashboard of the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé website

Chat: With your family, take time to chat about your Baptism and family Baptisms. See if you can find your Baptismal Candle at home and photographs of the celebration and ceremony

Art: Make a card for your godparents and ask them to pray for you or draw a candle and write on it, ‘Jesus is the Light of the world.’


Sr Anne Neylon



The world nationally and internationally annually recalls joyful and tragic historical events. Celebration and remembrance are important moments in life. Examples of such events are Armistice Day, Nine-Eleven, 1916 commemoration of the Easter Rising, International Holocaust Day, International Workers Day, Bloomsday.

Families also remember and celebrate events in life such as birthdays, anniversaries, the sacraments and achievements. How will people recall the pandemic?

The Church also celebrates the Liturgical Year, which begins annually on the First Sunday of Advent.  Every year, the Church publishes a Liturgical Calendar, which highlights the Liturgical seasons and marks each day as being so important in the spiritual life. The Church marks its Feast Days, Holy Days and days dedicated to different occasions and causes to remember for example, Catholic Schools Week, Day of Prayer for Temperance, Day of Prayer for Vocations, World Communications Day, World Day of Migrants and Refugees and others.

Pope Francis regularly writes about the holiness of the lives of the young saints. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, Christ is Alive (2019), the Pope writes of ‘the young saints who devoted their lives to Christ.’ He describes them ‘as precious reflections of the young Christ’ whose ‘radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy.’ (CV, no. 49).  He urges God’s people to ‘renew her spiritual ardour and her apostolic vigour’ by pointing to the lives of these young saints. (CV, no.50).

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St Brigid, born in Faughart, Dundalk in 454 and died in Kildare about 525. People identify her as Mary of the Gael. St Brigid was an Irish nun who founded a monastery for women in Kildare. With St Conleth, she also founded a monastery for men. She was renowned for her goodness and her love of God.  In Lisbon, the Church dedicated a chapel to her. God’s people also venerate St Brigid in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Many schools and churches in Ireland are dedicated to St Brigid.

We celebrate St Brigid’s life each year by recalling legends associated with her.  Her stories are appealing and inspiring.  They show clearly, how St Brigid inculcated the Gospel values in her life through her openness, generosity, respect and her desire to share the Good News. People make St Brigid’s crosses from rushes or straws, have them blessed and hang them in their houses. There is a story told about St Brigid’s cross and the dying chieftain. Brigid spoke to the chieftain who was dying about God and he asked to be baptised.  Other stories relate to St Brigid’s Cloak, and St Brigid’s Well and another tells of her power of healing.

These stories, though they may not be historically true, relate to the Word of God proclaimed at Mass for the feast of St Brigid. Today the first reading proclaimed at Mass is from the Book of Job (Job 31: 16-20, 24-25, 31-32). Job helped persons in need, persons who were hungry, naked and homeless. Brigid spent her life doing acts of kindness and caring for others. She did this for her love for Christ.

The Gospel proclaimed at Mass today from Luke (Lk 6:32-38) quotes Jesus teaching on love. He teaches that to love is to have a compassionate, non-judgemental, forgiving and generous nature.  St Brigid shows these qualities in her life. We pray for these qualities in our lives also.

Families who accompany their children in faith today can read about the life of St Brigid, the legends associated with her, sing a song and engage with the interactive activities etc. They are available from the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé online resources including the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-leabhar that are accessible on the VERITAS website accessed at:


Email: trial@growinlove

Password: growinlove



Find: The legends about St Brigid in Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e- book, (Senior Infants/P2, Second Class/P4, Fourth Class/P6, Sixth Class/P8)

Art: Draw a St Brigid’s Cross-or use straws or rushes to make one. Look at the video on the website for instructions.

Search: Search on the web or newspaper for the tower on the Hill of Allen, Co Kildare that is lit up to celebrate St Brigid’s Day


Paidir chuig Naomh Bríd

A Bhríd, a Mhuire na nGael,

A Bhríd, leathnaigh orm do bhrat,

Is coinningh faoi do threarmann mé

Go bhfaighinn bás i gcairdeas Dé.


Sr Anne Neylon