Eamonn Campbell has died. The Dubliners have died. I can never quite understand why so many confuse me with Luke Kelly when my singing could never do justice to Hilda Moriarty O’Malley or Paddy Kavanagh. Neither do I think that Luke has done a Lazarus.
Fats Domino has died. He never wanted to move from his rambling home or his hammock until Katrina drove him out. He was at home among his own. He never asked for more. Some would say he lacked ambition. Others would say that he came from the Big Easy and he was the Big Easy. He was the King. Never mind Johnny- come- lately -Elvis. Fats throw away remark as Karina surrounded him with water, was: ‘You have to die sometime, anyway.’ His summary on life to the end was: “Keep close to the Bible.”
Thought for the day:
Giles Fraser (priest-in-charge at Newington, S London) has written “that there is a culture of sniggering contempt towards religion which is endemic within the BBC as exemplified by its condescending presenters’ attitude on the Today’s programme re Thought for the day.” Giles has done ‘Thought for the day’ regularly over the years. His view is that the presenters see Religion as for the lower classes or the stupid people who know no better. An interesting view to discuss! It couldn’t happen here. Could it or does it?
The most hated man:
Andrew Brown (The Guardian 27th October) wrote that ‘Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world.’ He goes on to say that this is not by Atheists or Muslims but among his own. Brown describes it as a war. The article is stark, strident and savage. I expect journalists to be noisy and to define arguments with deep contrasting colours. But I feel very sad at such divisions. I want to shout – isn’t it obvious that Francis is getting to the core of the Gospel and the person of Jesus? However, Francis’ version is perfectly clear to some of us. Why can’t everyone see it?? When we are in the ‘ascendancy’ – we should never be as dismissive of differing views in the way we accused others of being in regard to our views! Some of us cannot believe that the Burkes (et alia) cannot be so stupid. We cannot see how they can get caught up in what we consider to be trivialities. Or are we like the sneering BBC presenters? Communion has to mean patience with each other; humility in argument and gentle prayerfulness in everything. How can any of us be arrogant in matters of God? Job 38, 39 applies.
Katie Taylor & Conor McGregor:
Katie Taylor says she cannot wait to have Joshua on her undercard. I liked that. Katie comes across so well. She is a great marketing force for faith and God. I am caught in a dilemma. I don’t know whether it is something very deep in me or am I totally eccentric but I can’t get my head around this beautiful young woman in the middle of a ring trying to batter someone or even be battered. As for Conor McGregor and MMA – that stuff is way beyond me. No one would ever see me as passive or a push over but I can’t grasp this one. But then Andrew Brown sees the battle in the church as war which is interesting language and somewhat similar to the ring or cage.
The chattering of Nature:
I was away for a few days with the family. It was an essential time for healing. My walk to the beach each morning was balm for the soul. The waves were playful – they splashed me when I least expected it. The beach was empty – 06.30 is a special time. I stole some water in a bottle from that sea. The waves didn’t seem to appreciate my gesture. They fought me for the water. I took it to our Table for the Eucharist. It was nature’s Holy Water. We blessed each other for healing. We were blessed too by the sun and heat. By the birds. By the moods of the sky. By the beauty of shrub and flowers. By the company. By the food. We summed up then at the Presentation of Gifts: ‘What do you bring to the Table from the days in such a beautiful place’? There was fruit. There were flowers. There was an i-pad photo of a smiling couple. There was the photo of the generous one who gave us their home. There was the Holy Water of the sea. The presents of life – have to be appreciated.
Poems that make grown men cry:
I read a book while away – ‘Poems that make grown men cry.’ (Edited by Anthony and Ben Holden). It was an extraordinary collection of emotions. It stirred the depths of loss and was littered with reminders of deep moments in life. I arrived back for our annual Service for the Dead of the year and all our dead. (2nd November). The Church was packed which is seldom the case except for funerals. The whole evening went on for almost one hour and a half. There were a number of children present. All the names of the year were called out – 84. That book of poetry was one expression of emotion but the very same emotion was felt deeply across the church and in the silence. I then watched many simply come up and stare at the photos and hold each other. I was about to say like Mario Lanza ‘It was the loveliest night of the year.’ And in some ways that song applies. It was humbling for us on the Funeral Team – to reflect on the privileged access we have to homes but more importantly the experience of the intimacy of life, as stories are told. Our people are not well educated but there is an honesty, spontaneity and openness which is extraordinary. Every story is personal. Every funeral is personal. Humility and prayer is the only way to be graced by such beauty and goodness.
Church people still have a place:
Whatever about Andrew Brown’s assessment of Francis’ war – Donald Trump has a battle on hand. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker accused him of being a liar and of besmirching the office of President. The Dubia people got close to that, in their assessment of Francis. There is a sadness to the dignity of political debate and to politics and to Church when it comes to such a logjam in conversation. How can we ever become so certain of our own opinions that there is no give-and -take in robust argument/discussion? Elements of that come through for me in N Ireland. I can’t get close to accepting that it is better to allow N Ireland drift back into Direct Rule rather than compromise. I even begin to wish Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would return from the dead to bang heads together! Why are politicians/church people (and all of us) so certain and so self-righteous as to be incapable of pursuing something so worthwhile together?
Martin Luther, Gregory Baum and restlessness:
Martin Luther’s 500 anniversary of those 95 theses was celebrated on 31st October. Martin made many points that were needed and essential at the time. The Church didn’t learn.
He went his way and in some manner lost his way. But we lost our way too. (A song suggests itself: ‘When will they ever learn; when will they ever learn’?). Gabriel Daly praises Martin Luther in his Homily (some days back). Gabriel noted too that he himself was often dismissed as a Protestant. What an insult or a compliment that must have been! I wait now for his explosive or exciting article in The Tablet for his 90th birthday. Martin Luther, Gabriel Daly – these Augustinians are dangerous mavericks. How have I managed to keep my sanity and be so calm, gentle, humble and accepting?! I read last night of Gregory Baum’s death. Gregory was also an Augustinian and a star -turn among us as students and around Vatican 2. He moved a different way at a later stage. He too was an imaginative maverick, who posed awkward questions and went surely the way of Augustine – ‘our hearts are restless until we rest with you. ‘ Gregory never lost his restlessness. I think as long as we live – we are challenged to stay with that restlessness in our search for the God of our everyday life. The image has to be – The castor oil plant that God provides and takes away. Like Jonah we can be very arrogant and try to protect God from his/her stupidity. I imagine God like the playful waves mugging me on the beach during the last few days.
Seamus Ahearne osa