All Together Now; reflection from Seamus Ahearne
‘All Together Now.’
Relics of old decency:
It was my father’s, sister’s and mother’s 20th anniversary. We drove down south. We went back to the clay of the past. We visited Portlaw. We went to Curraghmore. The Estate (Lord Waterford’s) looked tired. I wanted to do a tidy up job on it! My poor father would have beenunhappy with what we saw. It may have been recovering from a festival. ‘All Together Now.’ I smiled as I recalled my young life on the Estate. Our playground was huge. My Republican mind mulled over the history of the Estate and disagreed with the idea of Lords and Ladies. (William Trevor comes to mind – with the landed gentry gradually becoming dilapidated) But my mother loved the place. We almost had nothing and we had everything. And now all manner of Bands were playing over the August bank holiday weekend. Curraghmore is changing. New management meant new ideas which is good. I must live in a very different world. I had never heard of any of those bands. Incarnational how are you! If I am not up to date with the music of today’s world; how on earth can my language around God, reach the innards of modern times? (The Brochure for the Festival had the following: We found. We explored. We were enchanted. We were inspired. A setting so fruitful, so beautiful – this world of 3000 acres called for a Festival to be created. We respected the landscape’s drama, embraced its beauty, honoured its past and collaborated with its magic. This was a Festival for music lovers, passionate performers, families, artists, musicians, creators, rebels and refugees.)
The 20th Anniversary:
We gathered at ‘home’ for the anniversary. All the youngsters were there. There was excitement at the Mass. (Anniversary). This foreign Ritual was intriguing. The little ones were part of something quite strange. The stories of the past were told. Some were mesmerised. Twenty years is very little time but all the changes were noted. The family moving from Australia, were caught in the emotion of meeting a very new world. It was a home-coming for Eric but an adventure into an unfamiliar world for Tracey & Jasmine. “Will I know anyone at school?” (Little Lilly said). Young Rosie said – “I’m not going to school anymore.” Jasmine is going to big school (St Augustine’s Abbeyside -one among some 770 students). She is 14. A very different culture is facing her and she looks different. The parents worry. The six of them had stayed with me for a short while. It was amusing to see six people sleep in one room. It was mattress– on-the- floor stuff. A family of six changes a presbytery. The bins fill up very rapidly. Food is on– going. One toilet is very popular! But it was lovely. Every presbytery could do with such an onslaught! (Occasionally or ermanently).
Other visitors have arrived. One from Edinburgh (Ian). One from Hammersmith (Greg). Both Augustinians. I tell them that they come here to be re-educated. Ian was asked about Mass in Finglas. His answer was unusual: “I was at something but I don’t know if you could call it Mass.” Greg survived being a bishop by coming along to the folk in Finglas. They orientated him into some orthodoxy. He recovered his spirits. The paraphernalia of office was quickly dispensed with. Local life goes on. A deluge of school interviews. Funerals.
Fencing at Phoenix Park:
I went on a reconnaissance trip to Phoenix Park. We reached the Papal Cross. Impressive work goes on. Fencing has grown up everywhere. The Corrals are being assembled. We met some Italians. They wanted to find the deer as they negotiated the perimeter of the fencing. It was extraordinary to see the sheer volume of space enclosed for the 26th August. I am full of reservations at the visit of Pope Francis. I have concerns around the very meaning of the World Meeting of Families. I question what reality there is, in regard to family. I recall the anniversary of Humanae Vitae – those 50 years ago. I think of the concerns/damage done way back those faraway years. Jock Dalrymple wrote of his uncle and the pain of those times.I wonder at the sluggishness of our grasp on what family means and what sexuality entails. But it was good to see the Fencing. I was thinking too of the fencing and how fenced in Humanae vitae had been, and how corralled much of our thinking had been over the years. It does make for humility in us when we see how limited and limiting our grasp on the Christ of the Gospels. I thought too of how that empty space (the preparatory fencing) can define a Feast of Faith. It is good to gather, to shout, to take over the Park & the City and to shout that God matters; that despite failure and stupidities, our God and our Faith is wonderful. Jesus Christ lives. God is at home in us. We make a home for God. We give thanks. Something more important than the superficialities of life is central to living.
As we left the Phoenix Park, I thought of the Aras. I think Michael D’s decision to go forward is disappointing and ridiculous. He has done (is doing) a wonderful job but he should know when it is time to go. I wonder does the messiah complex take over! (Me and only mecan do this) I was also thinking of a former occupant of that house – Mary. The words that rolled through my mind were: ‘ Mary, Mary quite contrary, what does your garden grow?’ Mary McAleese was a great President and has been an outstanding character of faith among us. However, at present, the value of her comments and her articulacy is diluted by the stridency of her sound bites. I usually agree with what she says but not with how she says it. The scalpel is too sharp and she swings it with abandon. She has to tend to her garden of flowers – heart, grace, godliness, poetry, wonder and love. We need her but tenderised.
Is God lost in Liturgy?
Some of my visitors talk of God. We often get caught up in the worn out church now which is so prevalent. The priests are ancient. The Religious are ancient. The attendance is ancient. We can be depressed and even become sheepish, rather than just ‘smell of sheep.’ I suggest we make no apologies to anyone for our Church. The power of God in us is sufficient. Those who want to come; come. Those who don’t; can go their own way. It is an Invitation. There is no compulsion. We have to make sure that what goes on in Church is faith–filled and faith–ful. Sometimes it can seem that nothing of God happens in Church. Holy words don’t make a Eucharist. Mass is too busy. There are too many words. There isn’t enough sharing. Lumps of Scripture won’t reach the parts that need nourishing. Incarnate. The Bread of Life? Where is it? How is the hunger and thirst being fed or quenched? How real is it all?
Writing to Francis:
We have had our invitation to write some words to Francis. I understand the request and somewhat admire it. But in many ways, what we need to write or say is to direct such wordsto those who will prepare his speeches. The local church will do much of that and it will say all the pious and predictable things. I know Francis will put his gloss on it possibly in the plane! We need to be loud on what needs to be proclaimed. We don’t have to be caught up in what is wrong or dismiss our history as one long mistake. The wonder of faith and the comment of Suenens has to be held uppermost: ‘Dream dreams and be willing to pay the price to make those dreams come true.’ Where do we want to get to and how do we get there?
A Minister for clarity and obfuscation!
My last comment is this one – we need a new ministry. A very new form of ministry needs to be imagined. But before we do this, we also need a Minister for clarity and obfuscation! Somehow, someone has to be given a job to help us cut out all the drivel of bureaucracy. We are rotting away with paperwork. It is impossible to do a job now in any business or in our business. The administration is gone crazy. Strip away the nonsense. The single and severe question has to be asked: Why are we doing this? Will it help? Try it in regard to the growth industry around Safeguarding. Will this really help or is it an exercise in covering ourselves? It has become an industry for obsessives. I compare this general bureaucracy to the paint that covers so many women. Beautiful women spend hours painting themselves. Eyes and faces look so artificial and unreal and yet this is the fashion and the torn jeans are essential. Why is all this rubbish necessary? Who sets the standards? We had the same rubbish of paint in our Liturgy. We have it in the formality of religion. We have it in the administration of data protection. We have it in the keeping of accounts. We have it in the administration of justice. We have it in the Tribunals and Inquiries. It is job creation of the worse kind. We are submerged in paperwork. We need a whole workforce of ministers to strip out the nonsense and to present a clearer reality of life. If we stripped off the accretions of history in regard to priesthood – what might emerge?
Seamus Ahearne osa
Séamus, There you go again : ..”
Sometimes it can seem that nothing of God happens in Church. Holy words don’t make a Eucharist. Mass is too busy. There are too many words. There isn’t enough sharing. Lumps of Scripture won’t reach the parts that need nourishing. Incarnate. The Bread of Life? Where is it? How is the hunger and thirst being fed or quenched? How real is it all ?
Yesterday, funeral Mass for a local man, duly regarded in this parish. Full church, Blazered golfers, former priests of the parish. The engagement, the interaction took place at the cup of tea post interral. At the mass, way too many words, from the one; from the very many, whispered silences of response.
Would that I’d been present at what your visiting colleague referred to ” … I don’t know if I’d call it mass.”
Again I quote, Tom Hamill of Dún Dealgain : Do this in memory of me, translates into Jesus action as, Me for You. Sonas ortsa.