Rushing back to the past
Joe Schmidt and Brexit!
Rugby and the widow:
Monte Carlo (Sunday night): Johnny Sexton is the rugby player of the year. Joe Schmidt is world coach of the year. Ireland is the world team of the year. Despite being a little country with a very small rugby playing population – Ireland excelled. Despite being a most troublesome and awkward nuisance to a smooth Brexit – a united Irish Team did this together. What a most unlikely achievement? Is it any wonder then that our thoughtful Mass-goers decided that the events at Monte Carlo could be linked to the Widow’s mite story on Monday morning! Little people can do great things. The most unlikely one is sometimes the most surprising one. The unusual and the unexpected can stir the juices of life. God is definitely a God of surprises. We need big eyes. Big hearts. Big minds. Big imaginations. “Boy. I’ve got vision, while the rest of the world has got bifocals. “ (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
Hello magazine and Christ the King:
Sunday morning at Mass (Christ the king) didn’t start too well. The crowd threw around all the words from the Readings. They picked out the main sentences. They sprinkled and scattered about their notions of the Kingship of Christ. I did a twist on things. It was only right that I had some say. I had a go at the Bulletin. Liz (Parish sister) had written on how smitten she is with Hello magazine and its ilk. All the rubbish on the royal family fed her curiosity and her liking for glam. (This was her connection to the Feast!) I showed my total disdain for all of this and sharply attacked the insidious nature of Kingship/Queenship. Charlie, Elizabeth, Kate, William, Harry, Meghan and the like, I find it all repugnant to my constitution. They are decorative refugees from reality and have no place in a democratic society. (Even though there are ‘relics’ of such an age, in many of the Church institutions!) The whole congregation united against me. They were on Liz’s side. I was left isolated at a communal celebration. Communion, indeed. I was gentle, quiet and orderly. They weren’t.
We managed to turn our attention away from the three ‘pictures’ in the Readings and were distracted by the summary from the Preface. We even had Jesus wandering around with kindling; or collecting mushrooms; or even traveller Francie collecting scrap; or Maire collecting moments and memories as she purposefully goes around with her camera to catch pictures for her power-point to prepare us for Mass each weekend. We eventually preferred Christ as a ‘collector of people’ and their stories to make a ‘present’ to the Father. We paused and thought of the goodness, graciousness, and generosity of our families, neighbours and community. We looked at the November Dead List and thought of the history among us. We saw the faith that existed/exists in a simple way but in a powerful way. We even agreed that we no longer needed Hello magazine or even the Royal family or a cosmetic kingdom. We had something very precious. We saw together the real stuff of Christ’s kingdom. The end of the year. The end of the day. The end of life. The end of the world. Our living is a ‘present’ to be collected and given to the Father. There could be a real hooley in the heavens. We are proud to present ourselves to the ‘great collector.’ We may have very little. But we are very rich. Our kingdom is happy in the company of the community at the heart of the Preface.
The future is all past:
Martin O Neill and Roy Keane have gone. Mick McCarthy is back. He once was the past. Now he is the future. I am confused. Michael D completed his term of office and he was the past. Now he is the future. He should have accepted his age and trusted that he wasn’t indispensable. I find it strange that some of the young ones (ministering) in the Church (in so far as there are any youngsters) they too like to drift back to the past. They pick up the worse parts of that past with all the dressing up and all the pedantic nonsense that feasts on the so called glory days. Facing the winter of life in the present day Church is too much. There is a glamour in the trappings of the past. They create their own Hello magazine.
I was talking with a good friend of mine who is 91. He is still writing. He is still enthusiastic. He is still arguing against the scholastics. He still has a go at the CDF who can’t admit that they are wrong and say sorry to the ones they hurt. Gabriel Daly’s throw- away line was teasing. He feels that there is a theological loneliness! Why won’t priest/religious/church folk take part in robust arguing and thinking? God will never need to be protected from the sophistication of our age! He believes in wrestling with the issues of the age and the struggle to let God loose in the wilderness of today where religion is such an unwelcome guest. He loves the banter of life. He believes that ministers of religion have to become like Conor McGregor (MMA). (He didn’t say that!) I’m not sure if he knows who McGregor is and I hardly do. But the concept of fighting with argument and conviction using every possible trick in the trade is now the most delightful and fascinating challenge in ministry. That excites him. We cannot get lost in the past. The past has to be distilled. The best has to be retained. The packaging can be discarded.
The All Blacks and Brexit!
The rugby team beat the All Blacks. That surely was impossible. It couldn’t happen but it did. It wasn’t about the 15. It was the total squad even the cohesive strength of the second team who beat the Eagles, was impressive. They worked together. The coaches did the job. The team carried out the plan. When anyone dropped out; the next man came in. Everyone knows/knew what they had to/ have to do. Now if only we as Church could call on Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell. If they could be given the job of sorting out the Church in Ireland. I would ordain them immediately and possibly make them bishops. They may need a few women to add some awkwardness to the whole process. And then we could beat the whole world at anything and everything. By the way, I believe Brexit is a failure of nerve. It is also a rush back into the past. It is nostalgic. It wants to hold onto to a past that is dead. …… The Church can get lost in its own form of Brexit. I am going to get old over night. How will I cope?
Seamus Ahearne osa
I think Irish rugby has Brian O’Driscoll to thank for the unbelievable success that it is now enjoying. His decision to stay with Irish rugby and play for his home province Leinster, was in my opinion the making of Irish rugby. Who would have thought 20 years ago that an Irish team would be number one in the world, have the player of the year in Johnny Sexton and the manager of the year in Joe Schmidt. A perfect trinity achieved in 2018.
It was easy to see from the start that O’Driscoll was a special talent. His lightening pace, his ability to deliver a ball and his willingness to put his body on the line in any tackle made him stand out from the crowd. His leadership on the field was always exemplary and his post-match interviews were always delivered with eloquence and honesty. He gave credit where it was due and he was modest when talking about his own performances. He always put the team first.
I think has was a man with a vision. A man who saw what was possible if leadership was given and belief instilled. He dreamt big and delivered even bigger.
I think we can all learn a great lesson from him.