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Oct 08, 2022 260 Antoinette Moynihan, Ireland
Encounter

Safe in Her Care

Want to know the easiest way to Heaven?

My mother and grandmother had a great devotion to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. As children, we prayed often to Mary for the many things we needed. Even when we were trying to find a lost doll or a bike that was stolen, we turned to Our Lady. My father used to work in the construction sector. When work was scarce, which it often was, my mother prayed to Mary, and inevitably, a short time later, a contractor would call offering work for my father.

Because we thought it was too long, most of us kids ran and hid whenever we heard the word “Rosary”. But our mother would eventually find us and bring us together to pray. Unfortunately, as we got older, Our Lady became less important to us than when we were children.

Back in Mary’s Arms

In 2006, the Saint Patrick’s Community came to our parish to give a mission. Each day consisted of Holy Mass in the morning, and talks and testimonies in the evening. Towards the end of the week, I found my heart was beginning to change. A wave of childhood memories of praying to Our Lady washed over me, and I recalled the important role she played in our lives. I longed to recapture my childhood relationship with Mother Mary.

On the final day of the Mission, we celebrated a beautiful Holy Mass. Afterwards, the children of the parish gathered round lighting candles to Our Lady. We adults joined them. While we were lighting candles and praying, the children asked many questions about the Blessed Mother: “Where she is now?” they wanted to know, and “How can we talk to her?” They prayed fervently, with eyes closed and hands joined. Again, I felt the desire to recapture my childhood piety. I started speaking to Our Lady in the same way I did as a child. We adults are sometimes content to speak to her but not with her. We don’t speak to her as we would to our mothers. During the parish mission, I relearned how to relax with Our Lady and let my prayers flow out of me.

In the car one day with my young daughter Sarah, I said that I’d love to see Our Lady. She replied that it would be “so cool.” Then she said, “Hold on Mommy, we do see Our Lady. We see her every day, but nobody takes the time to really see her or speak to her.” I was so astonished by her comment that I nearly drove off the road. What Sarah said felt wise. When I turned to ask her to explain, she was back playing with her doll. I was convinced her comment was inspired by the Holy Spirit. “Although you have hidden these things from the learned and wise, you have revealed them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25).

Holding Mary’s Hands

Of course, my devotion to our Blessed Mother includes recitation of the Rosary. Though it’s an important and beautiful prayer, for many years I struggled to pray it because I hadn’t yet gotten over my childhood complaint that it was too long. But I began to recognize the importance of the Rosary when I started to meditate on the life of Jesus. Before that, the Rosary was a prayer I rushed to get over and done with. But as I reflected on the life of Jesus, Our Lady taught me that the Rosary brings us deeper into His heart. Because she is the Mother of God and our mother, too, we can rely on her taking us by the hand, and leading us into that deeper walk with Christ that only she fully understands.

As we move through life, the difficulties we encounter can cause us to doubt God’s love or distance us from Our Lady. My sister-in-law died of cancer when she was only forty-two, leaving behind a husband and three children. At such times, it’s natural to ask, “Why did this happen?” But who can understand our trials better than Mary? She stood at the foot of the Cross and watched her Son suffer and die. She can be a companion for us on any road we walk, including the road of suffering.

The Shortest Way to Christ’s Heart

It was through Our Lady that God led me to my heart’s desire. But it took some time. Through her I came to understand the importance of the Eucharist. Sometimes people’s devotion to Our Lady doesn’t lead to greater knowledge of Christ. But Our Lady is all about her Son, and about bringing us into a deeper relationship with Him. Through Our Lady I have made the total consecration to Jesus. It’s a personal journey with Mary to her Divine Son. Mary is a guide always leading us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In 2009, I went to Medjugorje after hearing that Our Lady was appearing there to six young children. It’s a simple but beautiful place where peace is tangible. There was a statue of the Sacred Heart in Medjugorje around which many pilgrims gathered to pray. When it was my turn to approach it, I drew close, closed my eyes, and prayed with my hand on the shoulder of the statue. But when I opened my eyes, I found that my hand was resting not on the shoulder but on the heart of Jesus! My simple prayer had been, “Jesus, I don’t know you as well as I know your mother.” I believe Our Lady was telling me, “Well, now it’s time. It’s time you go to my Son’s Heart.” I was unaware that the following day was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

A New Ministry Is Born

In August 2009, a visiting priest inspired me to start the Divine Mercy devotion in my parish. I had expected to do something related to the Rosary, but in hindsight I see that Our Lady was bringing me straight to her Son.

I also scheduled Divine Mercy talks throughout Ireland, and prayers for the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration. Eventually, I was invited to help plan the International Eucharistic Congress held in Ireland—all things I never imagined doing!

It was at the end of the Eucharistic Congress that the seed of my ministry was planted in my heart. Because I had found so much joy and grace flowing from the Eucharistic Congress, I asked myself, “Why does this have to end after one week of grace? Why can’t this continue?” Through God’s grace, it didn’t end. For the past ten years, I have been coordinating The Children of the Eucharist, set up under the auspices of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration in Ireland. The objective of the ministry is to enhance the faith of our children and bring them closer to Christ through Adoration. This ministry was born when I recognized the need for children to learn more about Eucharistic Adoration and to experience it regularly in a child-friendly way. After piloting the program at our local primary school, the program quickly spread to many schools throughout Ireland.

As a youngster, I had hoped eventually to pursue nursing or some other profession, but those dreams faded when I married young at 22. After starting the Children of the Eucharist Apostolate, a priest told me, “Maybe if you had become a nurse, you wouldn’t be nursing souls now. You are nursing children in Adoration, helping them, and guiding them.”

Not only did Mother Mary lead me closer to her Son, but she inspired me to help children draw closer to Him as well. When we give our fiat, our deepest “yes” to Our Lady, a journey begins. She moves within our fiat, bringing us into a deeper union with Jesus and fulfilling His plans for our lives.

 

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Antoinette Moynihan

Antoinette Moynihan is the founder and coordinator of ‘Children of the Eucharist’ Apostolate. She lives with her family in Ireland. This article is based on the testimony shared by Antoinette Moynihan for the Shalom World program ‘Mary My Mother.’

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