26Nov Seamus Ahearne: So much older then, he’s younger than that now!

“Something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin.” (Kennelly B)

Ruffians or idiots:

Each day, I watch and hope that no undertaker rings. Funerals dictate how the week goes. The dead are rather demanding; they take over from what can be done with the living. Ministry is a mighty service. None of the professional classes can ever be as present on a continuous basis as we are. With the sick; with the broken; with the chaotic; with the poor; with the bereaved; with the sheer stamina of lasting the pace. Justin Welby wasn’t happy with some programmes on TV – clerics were depicted as either ruffians or idiots. He said that vicars are like everyone else – normal people working hard with compassion and commitment for those in the wider community. The extremes are more attention grabbing.

Matthew Parris wrote in praise of the Anglican Communion. (London Times – Saturday 20th November). He doesn’t believe himself but he does see the value of religious culture. He offers the opinion that most professionals in the church don’t believe either! He commented on the mighty energy and effort put in over the recent years to reach the young, while still the church rapidly dies. Rather familiar ideas? However, it was the presence and constancy of the Church as glorious architecture; as a meeting place; as a community; as a permanent back-up system which shines out in comparison to anything the State can attempt to offer, that impressed him. He is correct on this. In so many ways, we are privileged to have such opportunities. It makes every day so fulfilling.

Old age and daily miracles:

I have reached the advanced age of 75. It used to seem that anyone of that age should be doddery and definitely retired. It was a great cut-off for bishops. But doesn’t appear to apply to the popes! Joe Biden considers continuing the battle for another term. Donald Trump dangles the delightful possibility that he might go again. Michael D Higgins clearly felt he could go on then and forever. I thought it was crazy that Michael went for another term and was let go. I think Joe should conclude with this term. But now that I have reached this great age; I don’t feel like stopping either. I still feel young and energetic and mentally sharp! Some might disagree. It is a great life. It is this business of faith, which makes me nod in gratitude and in amazement. Am I unusual?

The ordinary miracles pop up everywhere. Often they are simple. Like Friday last. There was a call to a nursing home. A lady was dying. I didn’t have time as there was a funeral. But I went early morning. There was no family around but four of the staff came into the room. Their presence; their story-telling; their praying; their blessing of the lady; was very special. I left for the funeral with my heart uplifted. At the funeral, one of the sons spoke. He read out two letters – one from the husband and one from the family. The intimacy. The affection. The love. The warmth. The honesty. We weren’t just eavesdropping but were fed by the beauty and wonder of love. I went to Erin’s Isle that evening for a Mass remembering the dead of the Club over the year. Once again, the sadness of the memories; the sharing of stories; the felt-atmosphere was real Eucharist. I was fed. And humbled. The rest of the day had many more little snippets of Godliness but these were the obvious ones. Every day is sprinkled with such delights.

It is going to rain!!

The news, every morning would depress even the most upbeat person. It is dull. It is sad. Everyone is complaining about something. The Government should do this or that. It sounds as if every cry-baby in the country is let out for a rant. If I wasn’t weary when I turned on the Radio; I would be quickly consumed by the negative. It is like paradise for whingers. The Church surely should be counter-cultural. We carry the banner of ‘The Good News.’ We cannot allow the sheer drivel of bad news to corrode our business. But it often does. There is sufficient of the misery-literature at large. Why add to it? I read a review of Fintan O’Toole’s recent book. It appears to be another specimen of the same. The misery genre. Everything is/was wrong. Nothing is/was good. Now we have reached the age of enlightenment! A little of reality and some humility might better shape the narrative of life. Is there a cadre or shibboleth of group-think around, that colours everything in dullness? In a sense, I want to laugh. If some joined me for a walk by the Tolka, they might be content and cheerful.

I know that we are all infected by Covid. It has changed our lives. My beard is deeply unsettled with the mask. What a severe problem! I stand back in amazement (however) at what has been achieved in this country and generally. The schools are open. The vaccines have been rolled out. The kindness and efficiency of the staff with the vaccines, is quite incredible. I have had the Covid test. Once more the staff were brilliant. I have needed the antigen test; once more the HSE have been marvellous. I am most impressed. Let’s get on with life and appreciate what we have and more importantly who we have. We are a blessed people. How can we ever celebrate Eucharist if our demeanour isn’t one of gratitude? How can we look at God if we are obsessed with only the image in the mirror and ourselves and the immediate? That is too small a view.

The Stalwarts:

Many of the stalwarts haven’t been able to be present in church these times. The ordinary structure of regular life has somewhat collapsed. The meetings have had to be abandoned. The collectors can’t go out. The income has dropped dramatically. We had some scares with Covid. Others had to hide away in isolation. Masses had to be changed. Communion Services had to take over. I know the theological positon of some but many of our folk aren’t likely ever to be politically correct. A few who don’t feel it is ever right not to have Mass were told by Francie (an illiterate traveller): “What is wrong with you? We have the Word. We have Communion. We share and pray together. What else do we need.”

I dropped in this morning to one of the churches, after another Covid scare affecting close contacts. Rita arrived to open up and get ready. She is only 89. She led the Service. She read from Daniel and reads with total aplomb. She demands a response. The Word speaks when she reads. It is quite wonderful. Yes.

Every day is a blessing when we are surrounded by such people of faith. I had a wedding recently. I was covering for another victim of Covid. Mass was part of the arranged celebration. The couple were ever so good. The singing was lively. The congregation was good. But Mass was an untidy and unnecessary extra. The Wedding Ceremony is complete in itself. Many if not most of those present are lost at such a Service. The Wedding is coherent without Mass. We need to work on this one. The fallout from Covid may help us address such issues.

Indi was indignant with Boris:

She felt that Boris Johnson had invaded a protected area, a restricted region. How dare he use Peppa Pig to talk economics? She felt he was making a laugh of her programme. She was quite salty in her comments. She suggested that Boris should have a look around for a Jeeves to mind him. She sees him as Bertie Wooster. (PG Wodehouse). I have no idea where she got such an idea. But she has a point.

She is now very confused about Christmas. It has something to do with baby Jesus. It has something to do with Santa. How do these connect? She asks. Then she can’t quite grasp the hurry to reach Christmas. She wants to wait and be surprised and happy with it when it comes. Everyone is in hurry, she says. They wanted to have fireworks (for Halloween) and started in September. They want Christmas and begin in October. She finds every day a discovery. She doesn’t want to hurry past the moment. I must bring her to see my morning friend – the Heron who stands and waits. Today is enough.

 

Seamus Ahearne osa