On Tuesday the 29th of March we had the privilege of welcoming the Eucharistic Congress Bell during its tour of Armagh Diocese in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress 2012. Below are the texts of two reflections given by our Sisters during the welcoming ceremony. The first is an short Introduction and the second is based on the icon of Our Lady of Refuge, which accompanies the Bell (see photo).

Introduction
For Christians the bell has long been associated with the invitation to gather, the sound being perceived as God’s voice, God’s call which draws people to assemble.

Our day here in this monastery is punctuated by the sound of the bell calling us to leave our work and assemble in God’s presence to sing His praises and intercede for our Church and our world – begging for His mercy on ourselves and on people everywhere.

A bell is a symbol both visible and audible. As we hear this bell being rung tonight may we respond wholeheartedly to the invitation to begin our pilgrim journey of preparation for the forthcoming Eucharistic congress. We pray that it will be a time of grace – a time of healing and renewal for all of us and for the whole Irish Church – a time when we grow in awareness of the abiding Presence of our Risen Saviour.

Speak Lord, you have the message of Eternal life and may we hear and respond following the example of Mary, your mother and ours.

Our Lady of Refuge (Reflection)
Near the Cross of Jesus stood His mother

At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful mother weeping
close to Jesus to the end.

Christ above in torment hangs
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Make me feel as thou hast felt
make my soul to grow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

To be with you Mary in this place where you are at the feet of your dying Son – to say nothing – to gaze at your face, – to say nothing, but only to sing because my heart is too full, because you are beautiful Mary even in your grief, because you are a women of courage and fortitude, a woman of such faith that did not waver in the darkness.

Dear Holy Spirit who once overshadowed Mary we ask you during this year of preparation for our Eucharistic Congress to come and brood over us and let your power overshadow once again our Irish people. Come into our hearts with fire and love and make them one with Mary’s love and Mary’s will to save the world so that we with her, His Mother, may bring Jesus to the world and to the souls who hunger for Him, so that they and we, renewed through the power of his Sacred Passion, may once again become a missionary nation. And then when the battle is won may we reign with her forever in the Glory of the Trinity.
Our Lady of Refuge we thank you.