Apropos of grasshopper ideas

A thought for the day:

The Eucharist by R. Voight, is often used, as a reminder of what Eucharist means. It does fit in rather well today with Holy Thursday.

“My Father, when will we learn?  You cannot talk EUCHARIST – you cannot philosophise about it. YOU DO IT. You don’t dogmatise Eucharist. Sometimes you laugh it, sometimes you cry it, often sing it. Sometimes it’s wild peace, then crying hurt, often humiliating, never deserved. “

The last vestiges of the Church in Ireland….

Sports- a staple diet for men especially, has been abandoned. Many will be suffering from malnutrition due to that. What else?  Pubs closed. Schools closed. Churches closed. Work-places closed. And then even Sports shut down. What will we talk about?  It is ‘Doomsday.’ (Film 2008).  Scotland was quarantined.  A virus called Reaperhad taken over.  It does seem prescient.  And way back in Old Time, Good Friday was a day when the pubs closed (in Ireland).  The barmen (usually men in those days) sometimes went on Retreat.  One of the last vestiges of the malign influence (!) of Church, disappeared, when the pubs opened on Good Friday. Closure ended. That of course combined with Divorce, Eight Amendment, Same Sex marriages, the leaning Tower of Pisa or the Roman Church, fell over. Supposedly.   It is ironic that the invader Covid 19,  has managed to close down pubs and everything else.  I smile too as I remember long ago on the Via Veneto (Rome,) some notices in the windows of various establishments saying   ‘Closed for the Feast.’   (Some beautiful ladies used to sell their wares from such places!).


William Wordsworth at 250

Wordsworth was born 250 years ago (7thApril).   I lived in a house in Carlisle once occupied by a close relative of William’s.  The Lake District is an extraordinary world of beauty. It deserves the word awesome.  (Usually overused).  On his birthday, I revisited his poem Above Tintern Abbey.  The idea behind the poem, spoke to me. Memory.  Being fed, revived and refreshed by memories.  Chewing the cud!

“While with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things……With many recognitions dim and faint, and somewhat of a sad perplexity, the picture of the mind revives again: While here I stand, not only with the sense of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts that in this moment there is life and food for future years. And so I dare to hope. “

Augustine had an interesting line in the ‘Office of Readings’ (Wednesday 5thweek):  “So we must recognise our voices in him (Christ) and his voices in us. “ 

Noli me tangere:

There is an Exhibition of six of Titian’s paintings in the National Gallery in London at present.  The Gallery is closed.  But one of Titian’s paintings (not on exhibition) is  – Noli me tangere. (Don’t touch me).  It does catch the moment. As one young lady said to me – yesterday at the door, ‘I can’t wait for a hug.’  She was obviously very hungry!  I don’t think she was referring to me when she said it. Another rather older woman rang me this morning and said that she had received a video of my granddaughter. I did remind her that though the video was lovely; it was my recently born grandniece, she meant. A little girl much wanted and adored. Her name is summed up in her given name:  An Angel of God.

Eavesdropping  (on a train):

The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates (in Scotland), Gordon Jackson QC has resigned. He was Alex Salmond’s barrister at a recent trial. He was overheard (on a train) saying: “This is hardly sexual … Sex Offenders Register? His behaviour (Salmond’s) was inappropriate, stupid … but sexual? Unfortunately, [he names one complainer] and [he names another complainer] say it’s sexual.”  Jackson also said of Salmond: “I don’t know much about senior politicians but he was quite an objectionable bully to work with, in a way I don’t think Nicola [Sturgeon] is. I think he was a nasty person to work for … a nightmare to work for.” He then referred to one complainer, he said: “We thought that eventually people might think she’s a flake and not like her,” and then he went on to discuss his defence tactics with another woman, saying: “All I need to do is put a smell on her.”      Alex Salmond walked free. This was very strange talk. A legal duel – is this the fight for justice?   I doubt if Jackson’s use of the word ‘smell’ would hardly tally with what Pope Francis meant by the ‘smell’ of sheep.        (Strange days too with George Pell being freed – which was no surprise).

Just a smidgen of fleeting whispers:  

There was hint of unreality.  I got a call. Would I link up through Zoom, to a home for a Funeral?  My technical ability is very limited but I tapped in the various numbers and then was in the room with the family and with the body.  It was a rich Service.  I got a video the following day of the Coffin being closed; being wheeled out of the house. It was most reverend and deeply emotional. The son did that as he couldn’t attend the burial.  He was quarantined.    We may have to learn new and different ways of celebrating Rituals.    I think the official Books don’t do it. But that is very true of much of our present Liturgies.    I have surfed the net and joined several Masses.  Some were very good. A few were very strange. I visited more churches those days than I ever did. There are different ways of celebrating Communion.  That Spiritual Communion Prayer does irk me.  If only we could wake up our creative juices.   We might help people to reach God in these times. And in the coming years.

Shed a little light – There is a hunger(James Taylor).

Hunger. For company.  For God. For a touch. For the banter of life. For being needed.  For food.  Who and what indeed feeds us?   In the busyness of life, too much of our food is unhealthy.  We rush about. We work hard. We are there, at the beck and call of everyone. We haven’t time to think. To look around.  We gather for Eucharist and how much gratitude is there?  How much awareness of the sacred?  Do we fall into a mumble of prayer?  How present are the people in the Church?  Is it a Community or a passive group letting the priest get on with it?  Do we hear Job 38?  Is 1 Kings 19 happening for us?  And my other favourite: Gen 28.17.  Is God in this place?  I think we are starving with the need for real food.   If only this time of desert, (of House Arrest) stirred the hunger within, for what really is essential to living life to the full.

Seamus Ahearne osa


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  1. Paddy Ferry says:

    Seamus, I had never come across The Eucharist by R. Voight before. However, I have, recently –over the last few years — been taking an interest in the Eucharist and what exactly we are being asked to believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation.

    This piece I am sharing below caught my eye and my attention. It appeared in La Croix International, written by Robert Michens formerly of the Tablet and someone many of us will remember meeting in the Regency a number of years ago.

    Now, I don’t think I actually agree with the main gist of his article but I do think it is worth a read. Perhaps in terms of strict theology, he has a point. But who wants to be encumbered with strict theology given where we are at the moment and the state we are in.

    I know for a fact that “virtual” masses and other forms of “virtual” worship have been very spiritually fulfilling for so many people in the last few weeks. I have mentioned, before, our PP at home, Fr. Pat who has been so creative and so many people at home and over here as well who have tuned in have got so much from his liturgies. Interestingly, some people have said to me they felt they got more from it than they would have if normal service had been possible. One person said to me they “had never felt so holy” ! However, like you, Seamus, I am not a great fan of the Spiritual Communion prayer.

    This part of the article below I found very especially interesting.

    “The liturgical lockdown has shown us that the Church is more fully cleric-centered than most of us would like to admit. It has also revealed inadequacies and even a type of schizophrenia in our theology about the Eucharist.

    It is caught somewhere between a post-Tridentine legalistic/mechanical view of the sacraments and a post-Vatican II understanding/recovery of baptism as the prime sacrament that makes one a member of, not just the Church, but also a member of the common priesthood.

    Those who are ordained to Holy Orders are more properly called presbyters. They have been ordained to organize and lead the community’s worship. But the priestly character is shared by the entire community of the baptized and is present in the worshipping assembly.
    Our theologians and pastors must discern more attentively and reflect more deeply on this reality. This will certainly lead to wider, though perhaps more subtle ramifications for how we understand and celebrate the Eucharist”

    I wonder is he veering towards the St. Augustine understanding of the Eucharist who held the view that the “holy communion” exists in those of us gathered together around the altar and that what happens on the altar is symbolic. The Augustine position was widely held until the Council of Trent when Aquinas’ transubstantiation was accepted as the official church understanding of the Eucharist.

    The Augustine understanding of the Eucharist received a new airing in the 1940s when the French Jesuit , Henri de Lubac published Corpus Mysticum which traced a line of theologians in the first millennium who drew on Augustine to provide a theory of the Eucharist opposed to transubstantiation.
    Naturally, he was stamped on mercilessly by the Vatican causing his fellow theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar –Ratzinger’s great hero and guru — to feel appalled by the treatment.

    The heading of Michens’ article included the word “abuse” which I felt misleading so I have substituted the first sentence of the piece as the new title.

    I wonder, Seamus, did you listen to the BBC Radio 4 series on William Wordsworth on weekday mornings a few weeks ago now. It was really good. I listened as I drove into work. He had fallen in love with a young French woman and had a child with whom he had little contact for many years. Marriage was unthinkable and, I think, I got the impression that part of the reason was she was a Catholic and Wordsworth was not. Of, course, there was a lot going on in France at the time.
    As a youngster I used snare rabbits with my uncle in a field on our small farm down by a lake and I always felt that “Snaring” from the Prelude was speaking to me.
    Well, Easter is all but over now. It has been a very unusual time. I joined in the Easter Vigil last night from St. Columbas, Acres in our home parish of Kincasslagh with Fr. Pat, on Facebook, and this morning we watched Mass from St. Peters in Rome on YouTube @shalomworld.org. Modern technology is great! It was really lovely this morning. The camera work was marvellous and it showed the great beauty of St. Peters.
    Two gospels –do we always have two gospels on Easter Sunday? We had St. John’s gospel in latin–or maybe Italian and then the St. Luke’s gospel in Greek. Francis looks tired but it is so good to have a Pope we can love and feel proud of. I hope we have him for a good few more years. God bless him.

    Seamus, shalom.


    The whole world is now infected.

    The whole world is now infected. The coronavirus continues to circle the globe, bringing the usual rhythms of life and commerce to an almost total standstill.
    The pandemic caught most countries and their people completely off-guard and unprepared. And many are already saying that this global crisis will force all of us to radically re-think many things about the way we live, organize our society, conduct our business, relate to one another…
    They say things will never be the same as before. We will have to change.
    That includes our Churches, too. Our faith communities were caught blind-sided just as much as any others.
    And most religious leaders – especially our Catholic priests and bishops – have been flat-footed in the way they have responded to what soon became the liturgical lockdown.
    The idea of “virtual participation” needs to be seriously re-thought
    They really have had no idea what to do, except to continue celebrating Mass all by themselves and then broadcast it on television, or live-stream it on the internet, for the rest of the Church to merely watch.
    Because that’s what this is – something to watch. And while that’s not necessarily all bad, it certainly is not participating in any essential way in the celebration of the Eucharist.
    Despite many decades of the televised or radiobroadcast Mass for Shut-ins, the last several weeks of cancelled public liturgies should make it abundantly clear that this type of “virtual participation” needs to be re-thought.
    You can’t have a virtual Mass any more than you can have a virtual Thanksgiving Dinner. The latter would be extremely weird and even absurd, just as the former is proving to be for many Catholics during these days of liturgical lockdown.
    Think about it. What if mom and dad were home alone, but wanted to prepare the huge Thanksgiving feast and share it, over TV or live-streaming, with the rest of the family?
    From absurd to cruel
    To make the analogy work, let’s say that the kids and relatives who are joining this virtual feast have no possibility of preparing their own meal. They can only watch as mom and dad perform the holiday ritual. And then they watch their parents eat, while they have nothing.
    And to further strengthen the analogy, the parents would strongly urge – if not demand – their children to play along with this charade.
    This would not only be absurd. It would be cruel.
    True and loving parents would not put their children through such a thing. But even if they dared, only those children who have grown up being abused would put up with such depravity.
    Good parents do not deprive their children. If their kids can’t eat, neither will they.
    Only those who eat can be nourished
    Obviously, the analogy is not exact because we are not talking about any normal meal when we are talking about the Eucharist. It is a sacrificial meal; a meal/sacrifice commemorated around an altar/table.
    The meal aspect of the Eucharistic celebration cannot be separated from its sacrificial aspect. But it must not be minimalized to the point of almost being completely eliminated, as it is for more than 99% of the Church’s members during these virtual Masses.
    Only those who eat can be nourished. This is how the Church has always understood the words of Jesus, “Take this all of you and eat of it.”
    Even when frequent communion was not practiced, the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) established what came to be known as the “Easter duty”, obliging Catholics to confess their sins to a priest at least once a year and receive the Eucharist during the Easter Season.
    This liturgical season continues until May 31stthis year. And, hopefully, by then Catholics in most places will have been able to begin worshipping together again.
    But in the meantime, is virtual Mass really necessary or helpful?
    Eucharist theology that’s inadequate and schizophrenic
    The liturgical lockdown has shown us that the Church is more fully cleric-centered than most of us would like to admit. It has also revealed inadequacies and even a type of schizophrenia in our theology about the Eucharist.
    It is caught somewhere between a post-Tridentine legalistic/mechanical view of the sacraments and a post-Vatican II understanding/recovery of baptism as the prime sacrament that makes one a member of, not just the Church, but also a member of the common priesthood.
    Those who are ordained to Holy Orders are more properly called presbyters. They have been ordained to organize and lead the community’s worship. But the priestly character is shared by the entire community of the baptized and is present in the worshipping assembly.
    Our theologians and pastors must discern more attentively and reflect more deeply on this reality. This will certainly lead to wider, though perhaps more subtle ramifications for how we understand and celebrate the Eucharist.
    “Extraneous props at a clerical drama”
    It was astonishing to read a document that the bishops from the Italian region of Umbria published on March 31 to justify priests celebrating Mass alone without the presence of anyone else.
    “The assembly participates in the celebration but is not a constitutive part of the sacramental action, as is the ordained minister, presbyter or bishop,” the bishops wrote.
    “This is clearly not what the People of God need to hear – that they are extraneous props at a clerical drama,” commented a friend, who happens to be a presbyter.
    It’s not clear who wrote the bishops’ document, but the author states some even more disturbing things that underline the Church’s theological (and ecclesiological) schizophrenia surrounding the Eucharist.
    No matter, the men who lead the eight dioceses located in Umbria are ultimately responsible for the content.
    A cardinal and two former top Vatican officials
    And it is alarming that one of them is the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti), while another is a former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino).
    The person who actually signed and published the text is the regional conference’s president, Archbishop Renato Boccardo.
    He’s a career papal diplomat and longtime Vatican official who rose to become the second-in-command of Vatican City State. He also worked in the papal liturgical ceremonies office for a number of years.
    Boccardo wrote to the priests of his own diocese ten days earlier, expressing similar sentiments found in the regional document.
    “I urge you not to neglect the daily offering ‘pro populo’ of the sacrifice of Christ,” he wrote.
    No need for people. The priest is offering the sacrifice on their behalf. And he’s partaking of the meal all by himself, as well…
    “Maybe that will come later”
    Catholics will have to decide on their own how they will pray and participate in the sacred mysteries of this Holy Week and Easter. There are not many priests or bishops who will be of any great help, except to do the old Mass for Shut-ins routine.
    Perhaps we can take a lesson from Edith Stein, the Jewish convert who became a Carmelite nun and was killed during the Shoah.
    She knew what it meant to go without the Eucharist.
    On August 4, 1942 she wrote these words from a Nazi transit camp in the Netherlands, just five days before she was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz:

    For All the Saints: Edith Stein
    Why I Am Catholic
    Guest Post by William “Mac” McCarthy My dormitory neighbor from 40+ years ago, who posted on the Martyrs of Comp…

    “We are very calm and cheerful. Of course, so far there has been no Mass and communion; maybe that will come later. Now we have a chance to experience a little how to live purely from within.”



  2. Eddie Finnegan says:

    About that Act of Spiritual Communion that Seamus and many of us have felt so irksome since we learnt it at school. In fact Pope Francis has been using two versions of it. The shorter one by St Alphonsus Ligouri, to which I think Seamus was referring in this and his previous piece, is just about bearable – at least not so grovelingly, toe-curlingly awful as the slightly longer one by (now) Servant of God Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. Merry he wasn’t! Pope Pius X’s Secretary of State, among other things. ‘Nuff said?

    I find a lot more Spiritual Communion in a dozen lines of Seamus Heaney, whose 81st birthday would have been today:

    “The Annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
    Were all at prayers inside the oratory
    A ship appeared above them in the air.

    The anchor dragged along behind so deep
    It hooked itself into the altar rails
    And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,

    A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
    And struggled to release it. But in vain.
    ‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown,’

    The Abbot said, ‘unless we help him.’ So
    They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
    Out of the marvellous as he had known it.”

    But neither Ligouri or Merry del Val would have understood Clonmacnoise or Heaney, or the marvellous – would they? ‘Walk on air against your better judgement.’

  3. Paddy Ferry says:

    Another interesting piece by a German bishop, this time by Bishop Georg Batzing who is the new chair of the German Bishops’ Conference. Apart from expressing his views on faithfull same sex relationships he has also said that the position of women is “an urgent question” for the church.

    Ever since I became aware of Karl Lehmann, a previous chair of the German Bishops’ Conference, sound, enlightened good sense seems to emanate frequently from German bishops, apart, of course, from the man with the expensive bathroom! And, of, course, it took John Paul II a long time to make Bishop Lehmann a cardinal. Now, I thought that confirmed my view of
    Karl Lehmann. Also, the German bishops unanimously expressed their unhappiness with the then new liturgy.

    So, my question is, how come German bishops seem to be consistantly of a higher calibre that bishops in some other countries?


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