Indi and Facebook Mass as Seamus Ahearne scans the week of news, sport and reports…

Spot the Talent

Walking and Talking:

I am shunned. The herons are lazy and stay in bed. The swans hide. There are no squawking ducks. The trees only whisper and aren’t in the humour for chatting. The sliver of a moon is skulking, behind the clouds. The rain and the river are most talkative, which is a familiar constant. The wind makes its presence felt; I can’t see it but it is definitely there and very insistent. I love the variety in every day. The darkness demands that I pay more attention to the waking life. Every morning amuses me. It stirs my antennae to notice little things.

I climb quite a hill each day on my walk. My breathing quickens as I get near the top. One morning, I was rather jealous. A group of about seven were out running. They passed me on that hill running at a great pace. For a moment, I was surprised and envious. But then I smiled. I am delighted to be able to walk every day and to see what I see, to be awakened to the wonder of each new day. I can steal a thought from Alan Sillitoe’s book: The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. The quietness of walking is special. It is not lonely. God is very good.

IICSA, McCarrick and Jean Vanier:

It was a heavy week. The IICSA published its Report on the Catholic Church. (The Church of England section, was published some weeks back). The Catholic Church’s part was bad. Vincent Nichols was savaged. The Theodore McCarrick Report was published in Rome. And that wasn’t good. An article appeared in The Tablet on Jean Vanier, which was shocking. Whatever about JP11 with Santo Subito, Jean Vanier was our modern day saint. He was our inspiration. Our hero had his halo smashed. Do we ever know much or anything about anyone?

The McCarrick Report: The detail of this Report is extraordinary. The honesty and openness was remarkable, not only on the behaviour of this man but also on the whole process of life, in the Church, and especially on ‘ambition and advancement.’ That such behaviour happened (and wasn’t picked up) is heart-breaking. That it continued for so long, is extraordinary. That such a Report could be written and published, is magnificent. That Ted McCarrick could be an excellent example of how devious and manipulative an offender can be, is informative. We can be appalled. We can fling blame everywhere. But we need to be cautious. Sexual deviance is a reality. It is a societal problem. It beggars belief for many that such behaviour could occur. But it does.

Anyone who has ever dealt with such cases, will know how impossible it is to grasp the depth of what has gone on. Or to help the offender to understand, accept the hurt and deep damage, have insight or to get others (in the immediate circle) to believe, is sometimes almost impossible. Many examples illustrate the problems. Jimmy Savile. A most prominent performer in the media and his actions were missed. Carl Beech and his allegations which reached into the political establishment, took some time to unravel. Cliff Richards, Paul Gambaccini – how these suffered. Tusla itself hasn’t always emerged with plaudits. The Garda investigations too can be exhaustive and end up in damage for all concerned. The legal system is sluggish. The easy response for everyone is to throw manure at institutions and at people in leadership. That often misses the historical context and sometimes is only looking for someone to blame. The better view is to remain humble and be amazed at how easily conned we can be; at the sad brilliance of the offenders. (Lk 16.8 might even help!)


Lewis Hamilton has done it in Turkey – both the race and the world championship. Mayo, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Clare (poor Davy), Cavan (from 10 points down), Meath, Limerick (Waterford aren’t gone yet!), Donegal have made it. Katie Taylor did it. Some are very squeamish at the thought of a woman boxing! Dustin Johnson won the Masters. Ireland won the rugby and didn’t win the soccer. Mickey Harte has stood down from the Tyrone job. He has been an extraordinary manager and a leader in so many ways. His values and the values of his family, especially touched everyone in the aftermath of his daughter Michaela’s murder on her honeymoon.

Original Blessing:

I had an email during the week. It was an article on Wisdom for a Time of Pandemic. It picked its ideas from Julian of Norwich who lived through the Bubonic plague. Julian was a champion of the divine feminine. Nature featured strongly. She was supposedly the first woman to write a book. (I haven’t a clue if that is correct). Some of her insights seem very modern. The article was written by Matthew Fox. He is a character from our past. The book of that past was Original Blessing. That struck many of us as refreshing and enlightening. Matthew disappeared for most of us. He left the Dominicans or was helped out. He works now in California. Many have now discovered as new, the ideas he was peddling way back in old God’s time.

The lady who sent me the email, was teasing me. I think she was highlighting the power of the feminine! (Wis 7.10-11). I replied by agreeing with her (rather easier to do!) I told her that she should look up Mary Wollstonecraft – the mother of feminism. The statue to her memory is causing consternation in N London. The church has indeed been slow to celebrate the feminine unless to admire the subservient role. Officially, the cultural view of the male as superior was absorbed into the theology! A humble church would now learn how we have to change and move on from the cultural rigids/constraints of the past.

The News:

Someone from Trinity has suggested that we postpone Christmas until the end of January! The media has got very concerned about Christmas. It is the shopping. It is the lights. It is the parties. It is the meeting together of families. Somehow there is an absence of God/Christ/Church in almost all of the Christmas discussion, which is interesting. The American saga goes on. It is beyond me how Donald Trump can be so blind to the obvious. I suppose he believes that he couldn’t be beaten and therefore he wasn’t! What is more concerning is that 73m voted for him and that so many stay with him despite his penchant ‘for being economical with the truth’ and having ‘a relaxed relationship with the truth.’ Dom Cummings and Lee Cain are gone. Carrie Symonds is supposedly the power behind the throne. Allegra Stratton too wasn’t best pleased with Dom. (It appears). The nonsense on Séamus Woulfe is not edifying. If the judges can’t sort out such a difficulty; it is hard to trust them in more serious business. Shane Ross did the rounds of the Studios recently. He seemed to delight in tittle-tattle. He didn’t appear to respect cabinet confidentiality. I found it disappointing. Well – there is a vaccine. Or even two. It appears to be a major breakthrough. If we paid attention to Donald we would accept that he had produced it himself. But who can trust anything he says?

Indi has her spake:

Indi will be 8 months in a five days. She is singing, dancing and bursting with enthusiasm. She is making speeches. She remains very impressed with her father’s singing and his praying. She wants more of that. She watched Mass on Facebook on Sunday. She wanted to know all about ‘the talents.’ She said that she couldn’t get it into her head, that we all come from God; that every person is special and unique; that each one is a gift; that life is about discovering that gift; that the gift is ‘the talent’ given us; that this is handed to us, for the good of others, and that we are responsible to God for who we are, and what we do and how we live. She kept saying: “Does that mean, that God really has chosen me and has given me a special job?”

She has heard talk of waste. She knows that the bin is the ‘waste bin.’ She knows that the bins go out on a certain day in the week. That there is a difference between the bins. That some bins are meant for recycling. She accepts that. But she wants to know what has that got to do with her. She had heard of people on drugs or rotting with alcohol or even smelly smokers – I had to explain to her that all of this is ‘a waste of God’s gift in a person.’

The wasted faces of a druggy and the drawl of a drug sodden voice. The family destruction. The damage in families due to drink. The gasping for breath of the smoker. But then she shouted: “I get it! It is easy to see them as wasters, but all of us can be wasters. Whoever wastes their life in any way – through drugs, through drink, through smoking, through laziness, through ingratitude, through unawareness and lack of appreciation, through not taking responsibility for the wonder of themselves – has scoffed at God and has disregarded the talent of themselves.“ Oh my God! I am not able for this heavy chatter on a nightly phone-call. I tell her to go to bed. She replies “But I won’t sleep, thinking of all those things.”

Seamus Ahearne osa

P.S. I think Máire O’Byrne does a marvellous job with the photos. She does the same for us on the online Masses. She is such a blessing.


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  1. Bernard+Whelan says:

    Kind and forgiving man that he is, Seamus Ahearne warns us against the easy response to the ongoing saga of child abuse, not “to throw manure at institutions and at people in leadership.”

    All right, many abusers are clever, far too clever, and have succeeded far too often in conning their superiors, the “people in leadership.” Some of these people just can’t appreciate that they have been conned. For example, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, recently elevated to Cardinal, displayed the most breathtaking complacency in an interview published in The Tablet on 25 January 2014, asserting that the whole saga arose because “men and women of the church” (women were as involved as men were, in the Archbishop’s view) were influenced by some vague entity known as “public culture”; far more perceptive, and openly humiliated by his experience, was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. In his memoirs he acknowledged his own part in the Michael Hill affair, and that he had been well and truly conned by Hill’s protestation that he was cured.

    But can’t these people in leadership see that we were warned about abusers right at the outset, that Jesus himself set it out uncompromisingly in the “millstone” passages in the Gospels? Matthew, 18, 6 (KJV):
    “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    OK, any bishop who takes this literally and sends an abusive priest on a one-way ticket to the middle of the Irish Sea will soon be talking to the police; but can’t our leaders, our teachers, these successors of the Apostles, see what Jesus meant when he talked about child abusers? He didn’t say forgive them, he didn’t say welcome them back like lost sheep, like repentant prodigal sons; he was saying in uncompromising and unmistakable terms that abusers have no place in a Christian community.

    Is a religious institution which can’t see this, ever to be trusted again?

  2. Sean Walsh says:

    2020. A Christmas like no other… Return to Bethlehem… The birthday of One who was born poor, lived poorly, died in utter poverty on a cross…

    2020. A Christmas like no other (in living memory.) The birthday of One who was born poor, lived poorly, died in utter poverty on a cross…

    I am rather proud of these few lines… justly so. They didn’t come easy. I had to keep at it – polishing a rough stone again and again unto ruby red…

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