23Mar A Rambling Note Towards Easter

The Scrum:

The Six Nations is over. We had dreams but these became nightmares. England and Wales shattered us. We were invincible. Even the All Blacks couldn’t cope with us. And then our confidence in the Guru – Joe Schmidt, fell apart. He became ordinary. We had ruled the world and our strutting on the stage of rugby achievement, had halted.

The Green Jersey:

There was a time when the Irish Culture was shaped by the Church and by Faith. It seeped into every aspect of life.   Now it is almost an embarrassment to belong to the Irish Church and to be a person of faith.
There is a demand from the Government that the Church get out of schools; that Religious emblems be taken down from hospital wards; that even Christmas cribs not go on display.   We can blush about the past but too many use that excuse to avoid thinking.

The Spire on the Annunciation:

Our local scene is interesting.  I likened the closure of the Annunciation, Finglas (on 7thOctober) to a symbol of a disappearing Church.
The Annunciation Church was a formidable icon of Godliness, as it stretched to the sky in a very bold statement – that God matters around here.  It was a loud shout of faith.

Has God gone asleep?

There is a mighty challenge for us presently. Where is God now for each of us?  Can we ignore God?  Does God matter?  How do we face the major questions of life?
It is very easy to have children Baptised; to have First Communion; to have Confirmation; to have Marriage; to have Funerals in Church where there is a Ritual for the moment.  What does it mean?

Precious Moments:

In my simple understanding – I see every baby as a little miracle. The love-making isn’t for a few moments but a life-time commitment to seeing this precious miracle flourish.  Baptism. How can God be excluded from this?
I like to see the ‘little ones’ for Communion, as an explosion of curiosity and wonder. Something marvellous happens in them.
I like to see Confirmation – as another step in the breakthrough of a youngster into independence, where parents again have to make an ‘act of faith’ that the children will be alright.
I like to see a Wedding as a supreme ‘act of faith’ in the surprises of life – that two people can trust themselves to change/grow in the surprises of love.
I like to see a Funeral as a belief in Resurrection and a sense that there is more to life than just Now.
I like to see Prayer– as each of us stopping in humility, to make room for gratitude to the God of our lives.  Where shoes are taken off; where a mountain is found; where a ladder is used; where the music of God is listened to.

Bishops find their voice:

Tom McMahon, John Crowley, Crispian Hollis have spoken out after retirement.
Diarmuid Martin must be on the cusp of retirement as he speaks out (or rather the manner of his speaking).  It is in itself a strange reality that the voices of our leaders are often stifled by the distractions (and minutiae) of administration. False deference to a collective ‘quietism’ (an historic disease!) could be a factor!
Diarmuid has been a loud/respected voice in the Public Forum during his years as Archbishop. His value as Bishop might even have been greater if he was left as a roaming Bishop/Spokesperson for the Irish Church.  His Commentary on ‘The Church of the Future’ which he spoke of, at St Michael’s Limerick (175 anniversary) was coherent, deeply reflective and very much to the point. There is a cheap niggling temptation to ask Diarmuid – why hasn’t his version of Church flourished for the past sixteen years in Dublin. That would be petty. His analysis is apt.  So where do we go from here?
As Bishops; as Ministers of Christ; as people of Faith – in the challenging culture of today?   This new era can drag out of us the best in us if we drop our natural reticence.
Our voice matters.
The voice of our leaders matters.
The voice of every person matters.
We need graced respect for every person; which hasn’t always been obvious. Spring and Easter call on us to accept the wonder and the challenge of today. It is a wonderful world.

 

Seamus Ahearne osa

 

3 Responses

  1. Paddy Ferry

    Seamus, I still believe in Joe. I am telling people over here that we were saving ourselves for the World Cup. Rugby is such a brutal game that we could not possibly have gone full pelt with the World Cup just months away. I am certain that was Joe’s thinking.

    But, I do agree, Seamus it is a shame that those bishops have to wait for retirement or pending retirement before expressing these wonderful ideas.

    I have always thought that Diarmuid was one of our more enlightened bishops.
    However, he was over here in Edinburgh a few years ago attending a conference on “Towards a Common Vision of Church” which was a joint World Council of Churches and Catholic Church project. I was one of the delegates and I knew I would have Diarmuid face to face at some stage and I knew what I most wanted to say to him. So, I introduced myself and we got on great. His mother was from Donegal. I told him about my church experience in Dublin when I was a student and in particular going to Westland Row, just around from the Dental hospital, on Holydays of Obligation when the place was overflowing with people. I had been back a few weeks before I met him and went to mass on a Sunday for old time sake and there was less than 200 people in that beautiful big church.

    Then I got to what I most wanted to say to him. I said that surely he could, given his position, or with the collaboration of other bishops, end the scandal of the mistreatment of Tony Flannery and the other persecuted priests which was such an embarrassment to us all. I also pointed out that what Tony had said about the origins of the priesthood was mild in comparison to what the historian Garry Wills has had to say and I had yet to hear anyone of note challenge Wills’ account of how our tradition of priesthood had developed. He agreed with me but obviously was not up for righting the wrongs that had been inflicted on Tony and others. I came away from that conversation very disappointed. I think I may have told this story here before.

    By the way, we had Tony over here on Wed. night at the University of Edinburgh speaking about Celibacy, Sexuality and the Crisis in the Priesthood. It was an excellent night. Tony’s honesty always so impresses me. It was great to meet up with him again.

  2. Eddie Finnegan1

    Seamus & Paddy,
    John Patrick Crowley actually found his voice on the optional celibacy issue almost fourteen years ago, two years before he persuaded Benedict to let him retire from Middlesbrough a full ten years early on, I think, grounds of nerves and fatigue. John was always a sound man. Indeed, a few years earlier as the CAFOD Bishop, he had agreed to officiate and preach the homily in Westminster on the silver jubilee of the same sex partnership of Martin Prendergast of LGBT Catholics Westminster and Julian Filochowski of CAFOD, later of The TABLET. Of course Cormac phoned John and pulled him at the last minute. John was one of the brightest Old Boys of our school in Highgate, St Aloysius’ College, and he often joined us for Mass or Prizegiving when he was secretary to Cardinal Hume and later his Vicar General. Now if our two other bright Aloysian sparks, Cork born Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff and Archbishop Malcolm Patrick McMahon OP of Liverpool would “come out” on the optional celibacy platform, that really would be news and it might give Vincent Nichols second thoughts about whether it is a “pressing issue” or not.

  3. Chris McDonnell

    I was told the other day that the Irish had given up Rugby for Lent this year…..


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