I ABSOLUTELY love early February as we celebrate St Brigid’s Day.
The pagan festival of Imbolc honouring the goddess Brigit falls on the same day, 1 February, as the feast of St Brigid. Imbolc is one of the four cross-quarter days with Bealtaine, Lugnasadh and Samhain. It fell midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox of the Celtic calendar and falls on 1 February in the modern Gregorian calendar.
Imbolc coincides with the festival of St Brigid of Kildare, whose cult probably incorporated elements from the worship of the goddess Brigit, or exalted one, the daughter of the god Dagda. Brigid died on 1 February 525 and the Annals of the four masters includes this death notice.
Saint Brighit, virgin, Abbess of Cill Dara, died. It was to her Cill Dara was first granted, and by her it was founded. Brighit was she who never turned her mind or attention from the Lord for the space of one hour, but was constantly meditating and thinking of him in her heart and mind, as is evident in her own life, and in the life of St Brenainn, Bishop of Cluain Fearta. She spent her time diligently serving the Lord, performing wonders and miracles, healing every disease and every malady, as her life relates, until she resigned her spirit to heaven, the first day of the month of February; and her body was interred at Dun, in the same tomb with Patrick.
“For everything there is a season.” The truth of the matter is that all of us carry with us a sense of winter and spring. Winter is often felt in the pain, anxiety and burden that is part of our human story. So, too, it is experienced in our falls and struggles, our losses and human frailty. However, this fragile truth does not truly define who we are.
All of us have a beautiful spring, constantly being renewed in all our hearts. The spring tells the story of our resilience, courage, determination and imagination. The spring in our story is about being able to begin again. The spring marks a significant change in the year. Spring is in the air, may we take time to breathe in its hope and light.
This spring, in Portlaoise Parish, is also a time of wonderful spiritual hope. With an expectant and lively faith, we anticipate great grace and blessing as we prepare for our forthcoming Solemn Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
This nine consecutive-day novena is celebrated to give thanks for a faith community that is dynamic, alive and very active in so many ways. Every day, during the novena, different themes will reflect on the joys and struggles of life. Daily Masses will be celebrated at 7am, 10am and noon (Monday to Friday) 7.30pm and midnight. Petitions and personal prayers will be presented by all who commit for one of these novena Masses for the nine days (28 February to 8 March).
Guest Sspeakers and priests will lead the various Masses. It’s an intense nine-day programme, but God’s spirit will abundantly bless all who participate in this wonderful occasion as we embrace a new spring of hope and peace.
Please take on board this personal invitation to participate in this springtime novena.