Out of the Depths, I Cry to You, O Lord (psalm 129)

The visceral nature of the Incarnation:

“Dancing to my death” by Daniel O’ Leary, is raw. He borrows from Pope Francis the word ‘visceral.’  Every word Daniel writes, is visceral.  His understanding of the incarnation, is visceral. His faith, is visceral.  His darkness of mind and heart,  is visceral. His reflection on sickness and cancer, is visceral.  His observation on priesthood, is visceral.  His commentary on the cosmetics (accoutrements/paraphernalia)  of Church life, is visceral. His fluency (the colourfulness of his poetic spirit),  is visceral. His honesty;  taunts, teases and torments us.   The final canvas from this artist, is a challenge to all of us in every aspect of ministry.

A message from MND:

Tony Coote wrote differently – “Live while you can.”  It is warm. It is positive. It is very personal.  It is full of light and love. It is inspiring.  It brightens up our faith and priesthood.  It lifts our spirit.  It amazes us. I have a friend (Gavin in Glasgow) who lives with MND,  and has now reached the ‘locked in’ stage of the disease. He has gone beyond using devices to speak with his eyes or to communicate in any way. The faith of his family around him, astonishes me and humbles me.  Simon and Ruth Fitzmaurice wrote with humour and passion as they dealt with MND.   “It’s not yet dark.”  And “I found my tribe.”  They stirred the depths of our humanity.  Was it any wonder Ruth found freedom in skinny dipping?

The voices of the dying:

Many others have written on the journey towards death (including the following):  Emma Hannigan, John Keats, Oliver Sacks, John Diamond (Nigella Lawson), Michael Paul Gallagher.  All of them (and others) remind us of the delicacy and gentleness that is needed, as we meet with sickness, dying, funerals, bereavement and absences.   We have to be ever so careful with our Rituals and with our Religious demands.  They also ask us to think deeply of our own frailty; our own inadequacy.   We have to dredge our inner depths of understanding; of faith; of language and of humility before we dare walk on such holy ground.

A Sacrament is a smile on the face of God:

Any effort to dig into Sacramental history or historical sources might well look at the “Dance” of Daniel O Leary (and others).  His description of Sacrament is not rigid or encrusted in the statics of the past but evolves in the visceral nature of the incarnation.  Like Augustine, I think Daniel might have hundreds of sacraments! Daniel would even suggest that celibacy is dangerous and can destroy the sensitivity necessary, for real diaconate/ real ministry.   All the dying call us to life and a richer life if we allow them.

Seamus Ahearne osa



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  1. Chris McDonnell says:

    Donal O’Leary was a friend of mine. When we last parted in Liverpool, I showed him a picture of my family. He looked silently at the gathered group of children and grandchildren before telling me how lucky I was. We hugged and said goodbye.
    Now writing his final reflections during the last six months of his life, a life of teaching from the very depths of his priestly mission, Donal spoke of this conflict of our time: “…the Institution’s insistence on compulsory celibacy….this unnatural, un-incarnational and mandatory condition for becoming a loving servant of God’s people is at the root of most of the current tragedies raging in the heart of Christ’s community.” He was indeed an honest and caring man whose friendship I deeply valued.

    1. Deacon Rodolfo C. Salinas says:

      Dear Father Ahearne:
      I am at least 1O,OOO miles away from you. I do want to thank you for all the help that the
      Association has given me in my spiritual life.
      I found your website several years ago and look forward to reading it as often as I can.
      Deacon R C Salinas, Diocese of Brownsville,
      Texas USA

  2. The Rev. Dr.Henry Doherty says:

    Ireland has changed, becoming a cauldron of boiling secularism. Like most of the Western world it has become servo electronic and servo mechanistic. Dear brother priests of Ireland, genuine holiness is still respected. Eternity is still knocking at the door. It is still alive in every consecrated wafer and chalice of wine. It is not present in any cell phone. It is not present in the worship of technology. It is present every time we gather in twos and threes in His name. The greatest proof of the Resurrection is not an empty tomb, but changed lives. If priests meet in groups of ten or twenty and take a great spiritual classic like A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION, by Thomas Kelly, each priest teaching one page followed immediately by silence, lives will be changed. May the Christ within shine into your minds and souls…on Erin’s green valleys the Light of Christ will shine.Love and Blessings to you, from 6,000 miles away.

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