The annual Clonard Novena which draws in thousands each year promises to remind us of that “we can all be saints” in our complex, modern lives.
Each year, the Novena follows a carefully worked out theme which is explored through preaching and the specially commissioned booklet with additional reflections. This year, the theme of the Novena, which takes place over nine days from June 19-27, is entitled “Called to be Saints: Living the Beatitudes.”
Fr Peter Burns, Rector at Clonard said: “This year’s theme draws on Pope Francis’s apostolic letter, entitled Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), on our call to be saints. It challenges our sometimes very narrow interpretation of what a saint is and reminds us that we all can be saints. Pope Francis is well aware that being holy is not easy and he suggests practical steps we can take to become saints. The key, he writes, is the beatitudes, which are the Christian’s identity card.
“I am confident that our preachers this year will help to make clear what an upside-downside world Jesus preached as well as inspiring audiences as we all navigate modern life which is often complex.”
The Clonard Novena is one of the largest religious events in Northern Ireland and draws over 10,000 people daily from Belfast and beyond. It is a powerful experience of faith, community and solidarity for the many thousands of people who attend. There are also increasing numbers, locally and internationally, accessing the Novena through the Clonard App and webcam, which has been enhanced this year.
Speaking about the actual Novena, Fr Peter said: “The greatest thing about the Clonard Novena is the sense of community that is created. During these days, people bring their faith, their petitions, their thanksgivings and in prayer and song it goes up in one voice to a God who is full of love. And God in return rains down blessing and grace. Here everyone is welcome. Those who believe and those who doubt. The satisfied and the broken. It is such a powerful experience of inclusion before the God who is Father and Mother to us all.”