Séamus Ahearne: Thoughts on The Report, Alternative Liturgies, Mr Trump and Indi…

More fidgety fingers on the keyboard

Outdoor entertainment:

The starlings come to Church when no-one else could. They joined the Choir or rather they are the Choir. They like the trees at the Church. I went to the Tolka. It was the afternoon. (An early morning funeral had changed plans). The whole Parish was in the Park. The first couple said to me: “It is the boredom that is the killer, more than the virus.” My whole insides resisted that comment.

However for many, it is too true. I continued. The lovely faces smiled at me and we chatted; always at an appropriate distance. I reached the water. It was in a hurry and was very crowded. So much water and such a rush. I moved on. The swans and ducks chattered. To each other. The heron didn’t appear. We hadn’t coordinated our timing.

Alternative Liturgy:

Another day arrives. It is now morning. (15th). The sunrise was a feast of beauty. I indulged in gratitude. The air. The park. The space. The water. The birds. The wonder. The plethora of angels. Little miracles everywhere. The gift of ministry in such a place with such beautiful people. (And some want to evict us!) The laughter. The honesty. The fun. The nonsense and banter even at Kathleen’s funeral (only 10). The marvel and genius of Máire, with her ‘rose’ and ‘survival.’ (A video on stamina). The PowerPoint Reflections and the surprise of on-air Services with the greater community. Eucharist was celebrated in Tolka Valley Park this morning.

A Promised Land:

Barack Obama’s book ‘A Promised Land,’ is worth reading. He is like Augustine, who never had an unwritten thought. Barack is close to that. I would have liked a severe edit. But his book is informative, on the process of electioneering, and of being President. The agonising between what he wanted to do, and what was possible, is portrayed. It also shouts out the question: Why would anyone go through this? The book is Confessional too, in a way most of us would shy from. There is a public display of family life; of the inner turmoil of decision-making; of the cost of public life; of his self-deprecation. I didn’t need every detail/explanation of each decision or the name of all involved. But it is impressive. I liked the little story of the Concession by John McCain in the 2008 election. (Replayed by John Bowman on Sunday 10th Jan). The dignity, warmth and humanity, was special. I was moved too, by how George W Bush immediately received the Obama family and shared the ‘home’ and the information. It was a moment of respect and real democracy.

The scandal of Trump:

Trump doesn’t compare well. The language of politics has been coarsened. Not only there, but also elsewhere. The meaning of truth has been damaged. Truth is a value which is above all. In life. In politics. In business. In Church. The words frequently used about the Capital invasion were – ‘unprecedented’ and ‘sacred.’ It happened on the Epiphany. It was a ‘demonstration’ of how fragile democracy is, and how it had been shattered. Blasphemy and sacrilege spring to mind. A later sight was the soldiers sleeping on the floor of the Capitol. Some of the security was sleeping on the 6th too. But they got the Representatives and the Senators to safety. That gets forgotten.

Indi and The Report:

Young Indi took a little time off over Christmas. She was on the phone again and expressed how intrigued she was by The Report. She wanted to know what it was about. Her immediate comment was: “I am a baby. I have a mother. I am in a home. Is this about me?” I had to say that it had nothing to do with her, but it was a very sad history about babies long ago, who had no real home like she has. None of us can explain or describe this Report to ourselves or to others. We don’t have an understanding of history. We can be very condemnatory but we can’t put ourselves back there. Part of it was the culture of the times. Part of it was the sense of morality of the time. Part of it was the sexual ignorance of the time. Part of it was the shame of the time. Part of it was the absence of contraception. Part of it was the poverty of the time. Part of it was the religion of the time.

How real are public apologies?

Embarrassment and apologies are everywhere. But where was the back-up system then? Who were the social workers? Who were the educators? Many Religious orders appeared, to do something about the problems of the time. No one else was doing it. The State wasn’t and couldn’t. We are all happy when others pick up the problems and deal with them. Only for such people; would we have the confidence now to reflect on life and do things differently? We have all benefited from the commitment of the past. ‘Eaten bread’ comes to mind. (Even though many of us have questions on our education). The sense of all of us caring and minding each other is very Christian. But being Christian isn’t a shared value. The heart of Christianity is evident now in the demands of guidance, due to Covid 19. We have to live with our history. We must learn from the past. We have to try to be better. But we must be careful about our own certainties. Now, is not perfect. I listened to Catherine Connolly; to Micheál Martin; to Michael D Higgins. Catherine was clear and calm and sharp. Those apologies on behalf of the State do nothing for me.

Then and Now:

Most of us can’t grasp why such things occurred in the name of humanity; in the name of religion. Such things occurred because of a crisis. Something had to be done and someone had to do it. We may not like how it was done, but there was a reason. This wonderful present enlightened era is deeply flawed too. Self-righteousness and present day arrogance is hardly appropriate. The ahistorical aspect is damning. Whatever we do or say has to be done with humility. Our own age will be condemned for many things in the future. And people will then wonder how we could have allowed such things happen. “The evil that men (women!) do, lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” ― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Possible future accusations:

I wouldn’t dare say it out-loud but there is a growling thought within. We worry now about the bodies of children, and how they were buried. Will we worry in the future how we discarded the aborted babies? Or how we rid ourselves of the problem of growing babies and discarded them? It is only a little thought. We may be saying now, if only there was abortion then!!! Or might we ask, are we seriously addressing the issue of pornography in our culture or addressing the pervasive viciousness on our social media? Or how we are polluting basic values in our society? Or how we have distorted truth? Or how we ridiculed religion which has left a vacuum in our culture? A society riddled with drugs, with criminality, with poverty, with anger, with entitlement, with individualism, is not the beacon of enlightenment.

Indi likes lovely things:

Indi wanted to talk to me about lovely things. She has new legs that crawl. She is curious. She wants to investigate. She harangues her Ma and Da; she considers them to be jailers. She has new teeth and is always hungry. She wants to meet more people and see people like herself but she is told that she can’t. She doesn’t like being told what she can’t do. She loves all her new clothes and all the colours of everything. She went to the country for Christmas and she met her cousins – some of them small like herself. She liked them but she wanted to do what they were doing and wasn’t able to. She didn’t like that. She got loads of presents but was more interested in the packaging and the paper.

She can’t quite make out now that she is back in Dublin where everyone has disappeared to. She tells her parents lots of stories but she feels misunderstood. Why are adults so foolish, she asks?   She is happy to ring me and knows that I will listen and will respect her views. She is a sensible girl! Then she startled me. “Why do you write?” “Do you write because you have something to say and because you can say it well?” I hesitated and then said: “I write because I should. So much has been invested in me. I owe it to that investment and to the ministry to speak/to comment/to share. Many who are much more intelligent and more articulate don’t write and that makes me angry at their laziness or lack of confidence or fear.” After that, I didn’t tell her that I never write but that my fingers are free to do what they like! They enjoy writing and aren’t concerned with who reads what they write.

Seamus Ahearne osa

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