St Brendan, abbot

Today is the feast of St Brendan. He was born in AD 484 in Tralee, Co Kerry
Feast days are special occasions in the Church. They are days to celebrate those women and men who lived lives of holiness. Of course, there are many people who lived good, holy and wholesome lives who don’t have the title of saint. Pope Francis said, “It is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints” (Nov 19, 2014).
St Brendan is honoured as the patron saint of boatmen, mariners, sailors, travellers, and whales. He is considered as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland”, one of those said to have been tutored by the great teacher, Finnian of Clonard.
At the age of twenty-six, Brendan was ordained a priest by Erc. He founded a number of monasteries. He was an abbot, which meant he was leader of the monks in the monastery. Brendan’s first voyage and foundation took him to the Aran Islands. On that voyage he also visited the island of Hinba (Argyll), Wales and Brittany. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert and Shanakeel, at the foot of Mount Brandon.
From there he allegedly embarked on his famous legendary voyage to the Isle of the Blessed. Brendan built a currach, a small boat of wattle, covered it with hides tanned in oak bark and softened with butter, and set up a mast and a sail. He and a small group of monks fasted for 40 days, having prayed on the shore and embarked in the name of the Most Holy Trinity.
The journey is described in the ‘Voyage of Brendan the Abbot’ of the ninth century. Many accounts exist that describe his voyage on the Atlantic Ocean with the monks, to search for the Garden of Eden. On the journey, Brendan is claimed to have seen Saint Brendan’s Island, a blessed island covered with vegetation. He also encountered a sea monster.
The First Reading proclaimed at Mass this morning (Acts 16:1-10), can be heard via webcam or read in the New Testament, also tells of a journey. The Scripture gives an account of the disciples Paul and Timothy who travelled from town to town to deliver ‘the decisions of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey’ (Acts 16:4). It was a good time, ‘as the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day’ (Acts 15:6).
Coinciding with the feast of St Brendan is the beginning of Laudato Si’ week (16-24 May 2020). It is held to honour Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for our common home. The theme of the week is “everything is connected.” During this week Catholic everywhere will reflect and pray for action. Resources are provided online to prepare for action from 16-24 May 2020. Preparation and action made this week will be celebrated during the season of Creation, when Pope Francis has invited Catholics to pray for our common home.
We can see a connection with Laudato Si’ in the sea-related themes of which St Brendan is patron that is, boatmen, mariners, sailors, travellers, and whales. We conclude from the facts of St Brendan’s life and the times in which he lived that he spent much time outdoors, in the country side and in the ocean as he journeyed. So his livelihood was spent in dependence on God’s creation.

The idea of including Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” into the Grow in Love programme helps the home/parish/school link in understanding the Ecological Perspective informing ‘curriculum approach to content, the development of skills and the appreciation of values.’ (The Catholic Preschool and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland 2015, (CPPRECI)).
Children are taught from the Grow in Love programme beginning in Junior Infants/P1 and following the spiral curriculum, about the ‘unique and special place of God’s creation, the interconnection of all creation and are encouraged to develop affection, and care for all creation as a manifestation of the divine’ (CPPRECI, p.24).
Given that Grow in Love is designed to be used at home and in the school, it provides links with the parish community. Families are encouraged to teach their child about the faith they chose for them in Baptism, and continue to pass on every day. It is hoped that as children are formed in their faith they would become more aware of the ‘beauty and wonder of the natural world; that they begin to appreciate the love and care God has for God’s creation; and they begin to thank God for the gift of Creation.’
So this week, as the Church honours the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, the children grow in familiarity with the teaching of Pope Francis through Grow in Love. With the spiral curriculum, the work of one class level is built on a previous class level, so the Christian Morality Strand with Strand Units, ‘Human Dignity’, ‘Social Teaching of the Church‘ and ‘RSE in a Christian Context’ are built and taught on a solid foundation.
The care of the earth takes a prominent place in the curriculum and this is reflected in the Grow in Love programme. The CPPRECI states that, ‘In the Catholic school, ecological respect and concern are rooted in a scripturally- based theology of creation and related ethical considerations. God creates and gives us the gift of creation to care for and celebrate, and the Christian hope for the final renewal for all creation at the end of time encourages our commitment to cultivate and care for the earth (CCC 1042)’.
In Junior Infants/P1, the children are helped to develop a sense of wonder in the world. God is the author of creation. Children learn firstly, that God is all powerful and secondly, everything created by God is good. They are invited to take responsibility for the earth that God has created.
Grow in Love Junior Infants/P1 introduces the children to the story of Creation, from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible which is sacred to both Christians and Jews. In some parts of the Qur’an it states that the process of Creation is spaced out over six periods (cf. Surah 7:54). There are also Hindu creation stories, but Buddhists do not generally speculate on the ultimate origin of life.
At Junior Infant/P1 level children identify God as the Creator of the world. They tell the Creation story in their own words and they are invited to describe their favourite part of creation.

Resources are available including a Children’s Grow in Love e-book on the VERITAS Grow in Love website to support this theme.

Logon: www.veritas.ie
Email: trial@growinlove
Password: growinlove

The following resources may be helpful: ‘A Poster on Creation’, Vimeos on ‘Our Wonderful World’ Creation Story, Part 1,2,3, from Genesis:1, the song and lyrics ‘Quiet and Still’, ‘Reflective Music’, a colouring page on ‘Creation’, and two more songs ‘Do you know who made the world?’ and ‘Thank You God.’
The children in Junior Infants also study the theme of Water as a preparatory lesson to Baptism. They identify some of the ways water is used on a daily basis. They recognise that in some parts of the world water is not freely available. They describe ways they can conserve water and they thank God for the gift of water.
This theme links with the work of Trócaire and the Society of Missionary Children where children are taught about the poverty that is brought about by a lack of water and the hazards of dirty water.
Children are taught that they can pray for people who live in poverty and can help them. They can also pray for a generous spirit for everyone and for justice for all.
Resources are available on the website that will help conversation. Activities are available online for conserving water and caring for water and a song about Water.

PRAY with Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In ainm an Athar, agus an Mhic agus an Spioraid Naoimh. Áiméan.

God our Creator, you have given us
the earth, and the sky and the seas.
Show us how to care for the earth, not
just for today but for ages to come.
Let no plan or work of ours damage
or destroy the beauty of your creation.
Send forth your Spirit to direct us to
care for the earth and all creation. Amen.

A Dhia ár gCruthaitheoir, thug tú an
talamh, an spéir agus na farraigí dúinn.
Taispeáin dúinn conas aire a thabhairt
don domhan, ní hamháin don l atá inniu ann,
ach do na haoiseanna atá
le teacht freisin.
Ná milleadh aon phlean ná obair
againne áilleacht do chruthithe.
Seol do Spioraid chugainn chun
cabhrú linn aire a thabhairt don
domhan agus don chruthú ar fad.

SONGS RELATED TO THE THEME OF CREATION: ‘When Creation Was Begun’, ‘Grow in Love’, ‘They Care for Me’, ‘I am Special’, ‘When Jesus was a Boy’, ‘Jesus Loves Children’, ‘The Gift of Love’, ‘Water’, ‘We Give Thanks’, ‘Summertime’.
‘Christ died and came to life again to establish his dominion over the living and the dead, alleluia.’ (Benedictus antiphon)
‘I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever, alleluia.’ (Magnificat antiphon)
‘All you lands, acclaim the Lord.’ (Psalm 99:1)

St Brendan, pray for us.

Sr Anne Neylon