Three Irish people tell ROSITA BOLANDabout their relationships with God and the Catholic Church
Fr Michael Maher
43 YEARS A MARIST PRIEST
It was after the death of my grandfather Thomas Ashe, when I was 19 years of age, that I first remember thinking, Yes, this present life will come to an end. This, I presume, led me to ask the ultimate question: What is it all about?
I always had a great love for and devotion to the mother of God, and this brought me to suss out and see if there was such a religious order called Marist, when I felt I might have a call to the priesthood. Community life is important to me. That mysterious inner voice seemed to enlighten me to be a Marist priest.
Later on, I discovered their charism is to live in the spirit of Mary. Marists bear the name of Mary; they desire to be like her and follow Jesus as she did. They see Mary as the founder and perpetual superior of the Marist Society. They try constantly to imitate her delicate responsiveness to the promptings of the holy spirit and to the needs of God’s people.
So the journey began, and I am happy to say that I am now 43 years a Marist priest. I praise God that He has sustained me with His grace all over those years. I do believe that Our Lady has been instrumental in deepening my faith, and the frequent praying of her own prayer, the holy rosary, has brought me peace and insight for the times in which we are living.
It is, of course, for me the Holy Spirit coming through her powerful intercession. I believe that it is she, the mother herself, who makes me a gift of preserving me in the integrity of the faith.
Through my own reflection I am reminded that I can do nothing by myself and that it is Jesus Christ alone who, by means of me, works and saves. I want never to forget that I am a useless servant, that I am poor, that I am a sinner.
The Eucharistic Jesus is the centre of my daily prayer, the secret of my life, the soul of my apostolic activity. I believe and I hope that, when my time comes to go forth into eternity, such a moment will be life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which I will be overwhelmed with joy. This is how Jesus expresses it in St John’s Gospel: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”