This morning I read the lecture of Gabriel Daly OSA on the ACP website. I was thrilled to read it. Here is a man whose thinking and expressing of thought is rich and engaging and inspiring. His unpicking of that infamous word ‘transubstantiation’ and its obsessive and unhelpful effects on our religious understanding I found most refreshing.
I was university material in my youth but found myself corralled in a backwoods seminary and the repressed condition of being a seminarian from the age of 11, thereby blocking a healthy growing up experience and the suppression of any sexual awakening, was further encased in a deadening scholasticism that we were required to listen to and absorb.
Occasionally I would come across a writer whose words and spirit would stir life in me. I think now of John L McKenzie, the Scripture writer, of Emil Brunner, theologian, and John Macquarrie, the Scottish theologian. Reading these men gave me joy but geographical and social isolation meant that the flame quickly died again.
Here, now in these later years I love to read the writings of Ratzinger. By his own admission he was not a great administrator of the Church. But as a thinker and writer about the gospel and its meaning in human life he enthuses me. His greatest work is his writing on Death and Eternal Life in a book called Eschatology.
His books on Jesus of Nazareth, written while pope, are also my constant reading now.
In the struggles of the Church today in our lands, I think it is very important not to get downhearted and not to spend our time moaning. Instead look to the sources of inspiration and follow them.
My father went through poverty, war and ill health in the course of his life. In the war he saw many terrible things, I know, but he never spoke about them. He lived his life with spirit and determination and he came through his dark days to a place of serenity. After the horrors of war nothing could really disturb him again. He persevered in goodness and kindness through everything.
We owe it to one another, all of us in our own generations, to help each other along the road. The older we get the wiser we ought to become. We moan when we are young. We suffer in middle age. We get the message as we get older.
Energy is to be spent on everything that is good, everything that inspires us to keep going. We do not close our eyes to problems, but we do not fixate on them either.
In his old age my father asked me if I needed any money. I told him I was fine and declined. My mother explained to me afterwards. ‘Your father never had any money when he was young. Now he wants to be able to help you.’
It is our turn now to help the young ones.
28 July 2017