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29 May 2016
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And pray not to be put to the test……..

I’m afraid it’s that time of year again when many of our young people are in the throes of preparation for important exams. Whether it’s Junior Cert or the all-important Leaving Cert, or even college exams they tend to generate more than a little anxiety in the candidates. Families who have exam students in their midst know the tensions that can build up in the run up to exams and the anxieties their young people are prey to. One mother who has both a Junior Cert and a Leaving Cert in the house this year spoke to me recently and described a tense household! Anxiety need not be a bad thing – it tends to focus the mind somewhat and give us the desire to knuckle down as the days of exams are approaching; but it can also rob us of our inner sense of wellbeing which is so vital to us as we feel under pressure.

Could I make a suggestion to all of those facing exam hurdles in the coming weeks? Before you begin any study period spend a few minutes (5 is recommended) in quiet meditation. Remind yourself that the Holy Spirit given to you in Baptism and Confirmation is with you, and call upon the Spirit to bring you a sense of calm and the assurance of God’s love.

There’s an incident in the Gospels (Mark 4:35-41) where Jesus is out on a boat with his disciples and a sudden squall threatens to sink them – Jesus is asleep in the stern. Panicky disciples wake Jesus with an appeal “Lord, do you not care, we are sinking?” Jesus simply commands the wind and the waves “Quiet, be still” and the danger passes – they proceed in safety to shore, but not before Jesus reprimands them a little by asking “Why were you so afraid? Have you no faith?” Whenever we feel panicky, and over anxious perhaps it’s time to call on Jesus who is ever present to us, and appeal to his love for us; to the one who calmed the wind and the waves exam nerves are a doddle!

A Prayer at Exam Time
Lord, as I face into examination time
I turn once more to you, asking for your blessing and assistance.

I ask you to give me peace of mind with a strong sense of work at this time.
May I give myself space and time to revise and prepare to sit my examinations.

Help me to keep focused on this task and not get too distracted by other aspects of my life.
Keep me from getting into a panic and help me to do justice to all my work and preparations.

On the days of my examinations, keep me calm, help me to think clearly,
and understand what I’m being asked, and so to recall the study and work that I have put in this past year.

Above all, Lord, I ask that you will allow my efforts to bring about the life you have planned for me.
May I be open to your vision of what you wish for me and may I accomplish this now and in my future life.

Amen.

Fr Philip Curran