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?
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