Séamus Ahearne: Gratitude – fly past, carers, funerals, Indi and more…

‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast.’ (Alexander Pope)

A Flypast:

I was honoured with a Fly-past this morning. For what reason? My consistency. My kindness. My gentle presence. I don’t know. Possibly, it was because I was the only one there, at the time. It may have been the heron swooping down for her breakfast with no interest in me at all. I prefer to understand it as an acknowledgement of my contribution to the Community of Tolka Valley Park every morning! The crocuses and snowdrops hadn’t reached down as far as the river. I was the only flower flourishing! The swish and the squawk of the heron, was most impressive. I smiled.

The Present Test for all of us:

Adapt or die. Learn anew or stagnate. Be creative or become detached from reality. Reach out/stretch or the familiar will evaporate. See possibilities or be blind to the obvious. Be flexible or fall apart. Be optimistic or become swamped with problems. Have faith or be self-obsessed. Be hope-filled or flounder in fatalism. We always have a choice; accept the challenge of this opportunity or dawdle in dreariness.

Tony Walsh and Brendan Smyth:

Tommy Tiernan had Brian O Driscoll, Stephen Rea and Judge Gillian Hussey on, for Saturday’s Show. His calm manner and gentle prodding, produced some remarkable sharing. On parenting; on suicide; on addiction; on the historic Dolores Price (with Marian her sister) and her damaged personality. Gillian spoke of not being religious. She was a Catholic but her experience with Tony Walsh and Brendan Smyth (in Court) was the last straw. It was a rather feeble comment. If her faith was that fragile; her logic and judgement was rather weak. She confused the particular with the general. Be that as it is. She has chosen her reasons. That is always fine.


While I was cooking on Saturday, Brendan O Connor’s programme was on the Radio. He said that listeners had been in touch with the Programme who had found that their lives had changed; they had re-discovered faith, in these vacant times. And then a lady came on (London based broadcaster), who felt the same. Her spirituality was rather different but she made a great play for Gratitude. She saw this as central. It was rather appropriate. Cooking and food. Hunger and nourishment. I also think that Gratitude is a core value. If that isn’t front and foremost; God cannot be discovered or celebrated. I think that too, is where Eucharist collapses for many into boredom. Gratitude is neglected. It does need an active participation. It isn’t something that happens us; we have to do it. (Mary Oliver has a special poem on Gratitude.)

Who cares for the carers? (1)

These days are strange. There is loneliness and aloneness, for many. There is the pain of absence. Of family; of friends; of chatter and banter; of companionship; of community. There is also the claustrophobia of small spaces in homes. How can families cope with children who are often armed with their tag for everything; being bored? I think parents are magnificent. And I wonder also about Priests and Religious. This lockdown has surfaced other issues. How is ministry happening? How is faith celebrated? Do we reach out? Or are we reached out to? Where is the solidarity of Ministry in a Diocese or in a Religious Order or Congregation? Men (especially) aren’t usually that good at talking, sharing, encouraging, affirming, appreciating or showing gratitude. How many have been left isolated? So often we are pastorally excellent for others. We are there. We will go anywhere or do anything for anyone. We console. We listen. We nurse. We help.

Carers (2)

But what about the phrase: Who counsels the counsellor? Who cares for the carer? Who listens to the listener? Who stirs the faith of the one who usually does the God-part? Who ministers to the minister? (I wonder does the effect of celibacy hinder the humanity in us, of caring for each other?) It is a passing thought. How often we casually speak of Community but it is a doing-thing and not a receiving-thing or a heart-thing. Sometimes, the very jargon in Worship is pious waffle and rather hollow. We use words cheaply but the depth of meaning is glossed over. Communion. What does it really mean? Presentation of gifts. What does it actually mean? So much of our Liturgies can be words used and muttered mechanically. Even the wonderful Pope Francis usually looks weary and disinterested when celebrating. I wonder why. Where are the carers then for this ageing body of ministers? Our calling (vocation) never ends and we need each other.

Our new Constituency:

I dabble a little for Masses and surf the internet. Some are bad. Really bad. (Sorry Tim.) This form of Worship demands serious attention and is challenging. We have to reach out to the new market (our congregation). We have to make our Liturgy prayerful. We cannot escape into ‘formulism’. There is a hunger. Many take part. A mechanical version of Eucharist won’t do. Now most of us aren’t ‘performers’ or wouldn’t see ourselves as ‘good communicators’ but we have to try seriously. I find it very difficult talking to a camera myself; I need participants. But we have to learn a new trade. (Up skill). That is our business. We don’t have an option. An obvious case in point is the Funeral. We must stretch every sinew of our minds and hearts (imaginations) to make this moment holy, appropriate, real and personal. We have a Funeral tomorrow. There are nine children in the family. This mother came from a family of eight. She was a regular parishioner in our Church. And yet only ten can be here for the Mass. The participants for the Funeral Mass will be c 1000 (on line). They have to feel involved. Something real has to happen. God has to become flesh, in some way, at this gathering. There is no room for doing things, in the same way we have always done them. It isn’t about us. It is about this family. This person. This moment. It is Gratitude for a life and is Holy.


Tokyo Olympics 2020 Yoshiro Mori has a problem. He was frustrated. He felt that women talked too much at meetings! He could think that but he actually said it. Now we know that others might have the same problem. This could be the argument against the ordination of women. I was wondering. It is as good as any of the other arguments!


Scotland beat England. Wales beat Ireland; Peter O’Mahony was overzealous. Joe Root piled on the centuries. Daniel Kinahan hit the headlines for his role in World Boxing. Even Barry McGuigan had his say on the Panorama Programme. Tom Brady got his seventh with the Buccaneers (Super Bowl). Liverpool managed a third defeat in succession at Anfield. The Australian Open has begun.

Current Politics:

Burma was in the news. Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi was under arrest. She was once the heroine of the West but the treatment of the Rohingya people made her a villain. Was there much or anything she could have done? Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi regime in Turkey and yet the West sups with that long spoon. Wuhan Central Hospital celebrated the first anniversary of Li Wenliang. He had been the whistle-blower for Corona. It didn’t go down well with the authorities. We hear regularly of the Uyghurs in concentration camps. The impeachment of Trump begins this week. He is a sad man and stupid but his followers only see his greatness. The consequences of Brexit are being felt. Alexei Navalny has been jailed. He obviously broke bail, by being in a coma after his poisoning. It is a very strange world.

Young Indi is on the phone:

She wants to know why I bother writing. I scratch my head and ask myself the same question. I then told her that it is the duty of a minister to explore and exploit every moment and every day. The Word becomes flesh not once but daily. I share my reflections. Are they useless or provocative? It doesn’t matter. I am duty bound. That is why I was educated and why I live out an active ministry. The job never stops. Indi thought I was havering.

She had more pressing problems. She has gate-fever. She wants to meet people. Her father had a birthday during the week. And what did the Ma do? She put something called a dress on her. A pink one. So she had to look nice for them. She would have preferred to get out and show herself off to the bigger world. She said that the parents moan because they can’t travel. But Indi feels she can’t move anywhere. They have cars. She only has legs that just about stand up but aren’t strong enough to let her escape. She has teeth now. And she is determined to show her teeth when she has a chance. She will then let them see who is in charge. She is planning to create total havoc. I encourage her.

Seamus Ahearne osa

PS 1. Dermot Farrell was installed on Tuesday. He spoke well. The occasion was very important but was let down by technology. The fixed camera didn’t help.

PS 2. The Jerusalema Dance is popping up all over Finglas.


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One Comment

  1. Eugene Sheehan says:

    I’m glad Indi caused you some head scratching, allowing you to reflect on why you bother. I, for one, am delighted that you do bother, as your weekly musings cause me to reflect on the little things of my every day in this lockdown world. I love your descriptions of the natural beauty of Tolka Valley Park. Sometimes your posts call to mind the best scripts of Scrap Saturday! Other posts have brought me to my knees as you reflect on painful personal and parochial experiences. Your sense of duty is a powerful gift that continues to enrich many lives. Thank God you share your gifts with us!

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