The Pioneer Prayer, offered to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and featured at the top of this page, says it all. This prayer has been at the heart of the Association since the Founder, Fr Cullen, first composed and wrote it down in the presence of the Administrator of St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast on the eve of St Patrick’s Day, 1889. Since that day, it has never required further modification.
Fr Cullen later recounted the event to a priest of the Kildare and Leighlin diocese. “I asked myself, what are the highest motives for human action, any human action. I then incorporated them into this short formula and called it the ‘Heroic Offering‘.“ The late Father Fergal McGrath SJ, who was once a colleague of Fr Cullen, was convinced that he had acted under direct divine inspiration on that occasion.The subsequent marvellous, indeed miraculous, effects of the prayer in so many lives, and over so many decades, corroborate Fr McGrath’s conviction. The last line of the prayer draws attention to what Pioneers do. They “abstain for life from all intoxicating drink”. In the preceding lines, we find six reasons why they do so.
For thy greater glory: this is a borrowing from the motto of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus and the great inspiration of the life of Fr Cullen. The glory of God is not something so heavenly that it is no earthly use. For St Irenaeus the glory of God is the human person fully alive. You cannot be fully alive if you walk around in a haze of alcohol. And consolation: We cannot console God as God. But we can console the Man-God who would have welcomed some solace while in agony in the Garden. For thy sake to give good example: Giving good example is not putting on an act. It is living according to our lights, something that all parents have to give their children, teachers their pupils and priests their parishioners. To practice self-denial: This is not an optional extra in life. Jesus said unless you do penance, you will like-wise perish. To make reparation to Thee for the sins of intemperance: Pioneers try to make reparation, that is, to repair, with God’s help, the sad consequences in the Mystical Body of Christ, of their own sins of intemperance as well as those of others who seem to give very little thought to them. For the conversion of excessive drinkers: The prayerful aim here is that those trapped in the vortex of addiction with all its negative consequences, both for themselves and those dear to them will escape in a way pleasing to God.
This way of life has received the approbation and blessing of every Pope since Leo XIII, including the most recent, Pope Francis.
Bernard J McGuckian SJ, Editor