Exam prayers: God bless and good luck

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Junior and Leaving Certificate students are the focus of prayers during the Sacred Heart Novena at Sacred Heart Church, Western Road, Cork.

The annual novena runs this year from 3-11 June and prays with and for the young people sitting exams, as do other church services throughout the country with special prayers at daily and Sunday Masses.

At the Cork Novena a ceremonial candle burns throughout the nine-day novena with sessions at 10am and 8pm daily. Additionally, a special Triduum of Masses is offered for these students at 10am on 6 June and at 8am on the two following days.

Fr. John Fitzgerald, parish priest at Western Road, says that not only do several hundred people attend each day, but many thousands from around Ireland and Britain join in prayer having already posted in their petitions. “We pray for loved ones – living and deceased, for healing for those inflicted by illness or worry, for those enrolled in the Golden Book of the Sacred Heart, those enduring financial problems or loss of jobs, as well as for Junior and Leaving Cert students doing their exams” he said.

The novena is being preached by Fr. Joe McGee, Deputy Provincial of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), Fr. John Fitzgerald MSC, and Fr Brendan Hanley from the MSC Retreat Centre at Myross Wood in west Cork. On 10 June there is an all-day vigil of prayer and reflection especially for the sick.

MSC has issued a Prayer for Success in Exams sheet  invoking St Joseph of Cupertino, who himself prayed to God that he be asked only what he knew in his exams. At the age of seventeen he was refused entry into the Friars Minor because of his ignorance.

But he lived the virtues, humility, obedience, and love of penance to such an extent that he was admitted to the clerical state in 1625, and became a priest.

Joseph had a poor grasp of human knowledge, and limited reading abilities, yet with supernatural light he not only surpassed ordinary men in the learning of the schools but could solve the most intricate questions. He was also known as patron saint as pilots because of his gift to levitate.

Other groups, parishes and diocese have also published prayers for exams. Many secondary schools have special Masses or point their students to the relevant parish services. In Kildare and Leighlin prayers for Students Taking Exams are available and published on the website and aimed particularly at exam stress.

The internet is full of blogs with young people seeking and offering prayers for exams. On one student posted a prayer to St Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of schools. The responses include a comment from one student suggesting to pray to St Jude is the saint for lost causes. Another student’s neighbour lit a candle for them and prayed to St Jude. In response someone stated they are unsure about prayers nevertheless reassured others they will be fine in their exams and signed off “God bless and good luck”.

by Ann Marie Foley