If these walls could speak.’

The Real Presence:

“I feel like a flower without water.  I can’t flourish without Mass.”  (Betty is one of our younger parishioners.)  “I love the Mass on Facebook. I know that I don’t go to Mass, but this Mass on Facebook, is very special.”  (Rosanna).  I just smiled at these comments.  They stirred a memory in me. Our own reminiscing last week, very much recalled the Corpus Christi Procession and all its accoutrements.  The Feast starkly presents the tension between a static view of Eucharist and a dynamic one. The Procession (of Corpus Christi) has to continue.  We walk together as Christ’s Body.  We de’monstrate’  that Body.  We decorate our lives in that spirit.  We brighten up our homes, houses and streets. Many years ago; we did a Reflection on ‘Babette’s Feast.’  We saw it as the ideal celebration of Eucharist.  I noticed The Tablet picked up the thought this week. This Feast (Babette’s) is worth revisiting.

If some of those elements entered our time of Reflection; we might come up with new ways of worshipping God. When the familiar is taken away (shutdown), we have to become very creative.  ‘The Real Presence’ was a serious discussion on our theological journey.  It is time then, that we made that ‘Presence’ very real today. Too often it hasn’t been real. Passive Masses have nothing to do with the ‘Real Presence.’  The reality isn’t there. The rather ‘magical’ understanding and practice of Sacrament, doesn’t respect that reality either.  I was wondering also if celibacy wasn’t an affront to Corpus Christi in its full reality?  I am only asking.

The Speaking River:

I went down to the Tolka River yesterday morning   (16th June). The birds have got so used to me, that they ignore me.  That is some kind of compliment. The two grey herons continue their contemplation.  The egret seemed to be a bystander.  They intrigue me. They stand still. They appear frozen.  They do change perch each day.  They are intent on their project – breakfast. They taunt and tease me to stand still and think. I do for a moment and then walk on quietly.
I met a lady with three bags.  She was picking up the litter. Later she climbed the hill and the bags were full. She was cleaning up the park.  I got back to see others were littering the streets. Bags of rubbish had been dumped and they were spilling out on the road at the gates of the school and church. I felt sad and disappointed for such empty people. There is a basic sickness in them to do that.  At least the woman with the plastic bags was showing how some concerned people want to make our park beautiful.

Another day passes. I go down later this morning. (17th June).  The rain had postponed my trip.  I had the park to myself (no other walkers). I could have planted a flag and declared UDI. Monarch of all I survey!  No. I felt very puny beside the speaking river. It wasn’t angry but was assertive.  The heron has moved to a quieter spot. The river was in spate. The lapping waters have much to say.  I was reminded by the Tolka, of the message from the UN and WHO. They said that Pandemics result from the destruction of nature.  There was a time when it seemed we (as humans) were invincible. We were in control. The world was given us or appeared for us – to control. To do with it whatever we liked. Use it. Destroy it. And now we know. We are very small. We don’t know.  We are lost. There is a little room for humility in the midst of Covid 19.

Stand out memories:

My heart was heavy with dates.  30 years ago, I was in a crash where two young men died. I recalled that crash on the Cahir-Clonmel road, as Ireland was playing Egypt in Italia 90.  25 years ago Jim Kiely died (he was an inspirational guru in Drogheda and a chaplain in London for the Irish).  My sister’s birthday was on Tuesday and she was 69. Rita Gibney was 88.  She is the liveliest old person in the parish with a tongue which never grows old. We call her ‘the mouth of the South’!  (Finglas South)  All this was happening on the 16th June.


Aidan O Brien directs operations from Tipperary but his horses keep winning. Sheffield United play Aston Villa  and Man City play Arsenal tonight. (Wednesday) Some kind of normality is returning.  Marcus Rashford (Number 10 for Man United) forces Boris into a climb-down.  Maggie might have said that –‘this lady is not for turning.’  But things have changed. A number 10 beats Number 10. Tyson Fury was very effusive about Daniel Kinahan and his work, in organising the fights with Anthony Joshua. Bahrain Sports Co KHK took a dim view of it all.   A very strange world that one. ‘There is something rotten in the state of Denmark ‘(Billy Shakespeare) or in some other State.


Our General Election was on the 8th February.  A document now has gone out to the FF, FG and Green parties for endorsement or rejection.   Some folk are appearing on the Media full of principles and reeking of self-righteousness.  I find it extraordinary that Southern Politicians demand that the DUP and Sinn Fein work together but FF and FG wouldn’t dare to pollute the brand or ‘dirty’ themselves by talking to Sinn Fein.  The Greens strut in principles and seething with arrogance. It appears to me that whatever about party allegiance or loyalty or principles – the Country needs a Government. There is something called the greater-good; something called working-for-the-nation; something called the bigger-picture.  Why can’t they just get on with it?   They are all floundering in their own muck.   We need people with bigger hearts and imaginations. Realpolitik is essential.

An elderly gentleman:

Some of my time is taken up in conflict resolution of all kinds. My confidence took a battering during the week.  A conflicted couple were talking of asking my help as a mediator. But this conclusion came from one side:  “Seamus is a family friend and an elderly gentleman, it isn’t fair to involve him. “ I was taken aback by the ‘elderly’ part but my friend and colleague here Paddy O Reilly, raised an eyebrow and questioned the ‘gentleman’ part of the observation.

Instructions, directions and inspirations:

We are getting lots of instructions these days.  I feel we are back in the crèche or kindergarten.  There is a sense that people shouldn’t be’ trying to teach the granny to suck eggs.’   I don’t mind directions. I don’t mind encouragement. I don’t mind being helped. But we haven’t totally lost our marbles. Even if we are elderly.  We might be in our second-childhood but aren’t utterly foolish. We do know the seriousness of the present virus. We meet it daily among our own people. We do know what the regulations are and why they are there. We also know that common sense is necessary. We cry out for some imaginative reflections on our essential business.   Some new thinking. Where are all our living and working theologians (forget about the academics) who can begin to produce new outlooks and new presentations of faith in a different era? We are now missionaries.  What then applies to us,  as we step into the future, into a new country, into a new culture?    By the way, I suggested last week that we put all over 70s in jail. There is a further solution. They can go to the Kingdom. (Kerry I mean not the other place).  Apparently there is no virus down there.

Hunger for prophets:

Archbishop Wilton D Gregory spoke rather strongly on Trump’s visit to the John Paul II Shrine.  However some of the Trump bishops  (and there are too many) apparently had a go at him afterwards.  Owen Sheehy Skeffington’s death some 50 years ago was remembered last week.   Sean O Faolain gave the oration at the graveside.  I rather liked it. .  “You won Owen.”   We need our prophetic voices.  Like Jeremiah this weekend; we all have to speak up and speak out.  Jeremiah seemed paranoid but they were all, out to get him. Skeffy spoke up and out and left a memory.  Wilton Gregory spoke up where necessary.  Jim Kiely spoke up through  the story of his life.  Roger Casement spoke up about the Belgians in the Congo. I call on our leaders and our ministers to speak up and to speak out. With a new vision of parish, church, priesthood and sacrament.    There is a new place for God and the Word,  to be heard.


Seamus Ahearne osa



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  1. Donal Dorr says:

    Dear Seamus, I love and am nourished by your reflections. But on this occasion I dearly wish that you had omitted those awfully harsh words ‘strut’ and ‘seething with arrogance’ about the Greens. Are they an unfair generalization? And do we not need deeply committed people to help protect those herons of yours?

  2. sean walsh says:

    He is out of ministry quite some time. Now in his 70’s, he is in Stay In, Stay Safe mode, as is his wife, also in her 70’s. No mass,communion… A parish life they miss, dearly; they had been daily mass goers and communicants. Video streaming of mass from one church or another? Yes, up to a point… So one day he arranges the table, suitably: candle, cloth, water, bread, wine, missal… curtains drawn, phone off the hook… He and she sit at the table… stand betimes… as together they celebrate the Eucharist…
    Bearing in mind, the document he had signed reducing him to the lay state – Reductio ad laicalem – had fobidden him ever again to celebrate mass coram populo. For fear of giving scandal, I presume? But behind closed doors in most unusual circumstances with at least one person in attendance, could that be terribly wrong? Am I missing out on something? Am I in error?!

  3. sean walsh says:

    ‘Ode to the Church’

    Carlo Carretto

    Carlo Carretto, an Italian monk who died in 1988. For many years, he lived as a hermit in the Sahara Desert.

    “How much I must criticize you, my church and yet how much I love you!
    How you have made me suffer much and yet owe much to you.
    I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence.
    You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.
    Never in this world have I seen anything more obscurantist, more compromised, more false, and yet never in this world have I touched anything more pure, more generous, and more beautiful.
    Many times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face – and yet how often I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms!
    No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even though not completely you.
    Then, too – where would I go? ‘To build another church?
    But I cannot build another without the same defects, for they are my own defects I bear within me.
    And again, if I build one, it will be my Church, and no longer Christ’s.
    No, I am old enough to know that I am no better than others.
    I shall not leave this Church, founded on so frail a rock, because I should be founding another one on an even frailer rock: myself.
    And then, what do rocks matter?
    What matters is Christ’s promise, what matters is the cement that binds the rocks into one: the Holy Spirit.
    The Holy Spirit alone can build the Church with stones as ill hewn as we.”

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