Séamus Ahearne: A take on the ‘Divine Comedy’…

‘Now men go forth with jests and drolleries, to preach, and if but well the people laugh, the hood puffs out, and nothing more is asked. ’           (The Divine Comedy)

The Heroes in the North:

David Trimble has died. The tributes were warm. The reminiscing was good. The characters who gave so much of their lives for peace were recalled. Bertie Ahern was remarkable in his summary of Trimble’s work. (Morning Ireland). He spoke kindly too of Daphne, David’s wife. We remembered John Hume, Mo Mowlan, Tony Blair, Martin McGuinness, David Irvine, Gerry Adams and George Mitchell. The present abstentionist policy at the sleeping Assembly, doesn’t respect those people who gave everything to the Peace Process.

Primus inter pares:

I’m not sure why but Walter Bagehot came to mind. (The English Constitution). He had flaws but he used to feature in any discussion of the unwritten constitution for the UK. Boris made such a mess of things despite his flair, and respect for this constitution was absent. But those who put themselves forward to replace him aren’t obviously impressive either. It is a very strange thing to hear of PM candidates talking as if the role of a Prime Minister was that of a President. Bagehot wouldn’t like that.  How can Truss and Sunak speak as if the job was about them; as if they could change everything, as if they forget that the PM is the first minister but a minister among ministers who supposedly work together? How can they show loyalty to the Cabinet they worked in and yet rubbish much of what it did and how it was done? Surely both of them could do with a few lessons in the Synodal pathway! I suppose not many in Church life would be capable of sharing that way of doing things (Synodal) from their own experience.

As the AA says – ‘talk the talk but then walk the walk’ (or something similar). Cabinet life is about the team and working together; sharing the job and sharing responsibility. Shane Ross (one-time Minister for Transport, Tourist and Sport) wasn’t a good example of this role when he  left the Cabinet and then began to spill his gossip even though he did some gossiping too while in the job as well.

Green Shoots on the burned out hill:

I was down at the Tolka this morning. The hill had been burning for a week or so. But today was different. The smouldering gorse had stopped. The extraordinary picture for me was seeing the green shoots springing into life in the midst of the burned out hill. It was a metaphor and a symbol of life for all of us. I could only smile and let the message taunt me. The heron was on the lookout today. There was no rat in his beak this time. That too was surprising. The heron had toyed with a rat last week. It slowly killed it by shaking it and then drowning it. It then swallowed it whole. That was some sight. But there was always more. Revelation is tantalising. The singing birds. The flowing water. The waking sky. The smells and sounds. The fresh air for the mind. The fellowship of the Tolka. All the usual walkers meet and greet and sometimes chat. If the words of the past linger for a moment: ‘prayer is a raising of the mind and heart to God’;  then surely this rambling is prayer. ‘Heaven and earth is full of your glory.’

Our new world of Ministry and of Liturgy: (1)

In our new complexion of a Parish here in Finglas – we are all learning. Some 70,000 people we think. Five Mass Centres. 300 funerals. 290 baptisms. Now as a ‘resigned pp’ and now a newly created TA (whatever that is supposed to mean), I move from Centre to Centre. I am welcomed. My way of celebrating is somewhat different. I think I am humoured or even accepted. I learn too the different ways of doing things in each place and the experience of new people. I hope that I can keep on learning. I keep on thinking of what Liturgy is. And also what it isn’t! It helps me to rethink our approach to worship. We are guests in the lives of other people. It isn’t about us. It is about them! Those who come (especially for funerals) aren’t visitors to our world; we are humbled as we are invited into their world and into the home of their lives and the life of the person.

Our new world of Ministry and of Liturgy: (2)

I cringe repeatedly at the ‘uncouth’ language of much of our formal Liturgies. The prayers are disastrous. The regular ones too – that Confiteor; the Gloria (not too bad) and that Creed. The Preface speaks a language that has little to do with the God of the Holy Ground in our daily lives. All this jumping up and down at Mass is as if to help people  stay awake. It is ridiculous. The priest doing all the talking is wrong. Liturgy is about the lives of those present. Adaptation and flexibility are essential but also difficult. It cannot rest on the whim of the celebrant. Neither can the celebrant impose his own personality on a Service. The sense of the holy; a sense of the mystery; a sense of respect and expectation has to happen. When I hear of Pope Francis flying to Canada I wonder. There is a need to admit our failings. If we can learn from them and be ever so humble. The earlier model of our Church life was riddled with such words as infallibility, indefectibility, inerrancy. The culture that followed such language doesn’t naturally lead towards humility. We need that. So in Liturgy, in Ministry, in this new Church – we become students and learners. The very failures of the past don’t weigh us down but rather call us forward.

Great Sport:

The All-Ireland. In July. It doesn’t feel right. That free, when the sides were level at 16 points, shattered the possibility of a draw on Sunday. But it was a good game. I’m not too familiar with the ‘mark’ in football but I don’t like it. This hand passing and the lateral nature of the game seems to have come in, with the dominance of Dublin. I’m not convinced by it.  But I do love the way they make spaces. Limerick had the same ability. Brian Cody has gone, at last. What leadership. What a wonderful organisation the GAA is, and what a great army of workers who create such a vibrant community. I took the odd look at the Euros. The women are very skilful. But I couldn’t watch much of it. It takes them forever to get anywhere! Or so it seems. The Tour de France. What a journey. I liked how Vingegaard waited for Pogacar when he crashed. I did hear Seán Kelly tell a little of his own history and his biking on another programme during the week. I liked it. It took me back towards Crehana National School. Sam Bennett spent some time there too.


She called to see me. She was up visiting her Dublin grandparents. She even claimed to be from Tallaght herself. (She had lived there in her earlier months). She has enjoyed seeing new places and new parks and new people. She also is very happy with all the attention. Usually she rings every evening. But visits here haven’t happened for a while. She had lots to say for herself. There are torrents of words pouring out of her. And she gives orders. I was concerned. She was rather disinclined to hug me. But as if to grig me, she took delight in hugging and kissing Liz! And then she sneaked a peak at me as if to say – see that!  Was she learning the wiles of women very quickly??? She definitely is expert at wrapping her daddy around her little finger.

Her God talk this week was limited. She hadn’t time for God. She met some more little people like herself. And she felt that God was very good to send such little people along. She isn’t convinced that adults know much but she loves the little ones who have come now to make a better fist of the world than some of the old ones. That is her conviction.


Seamus Ahearne osa        26th July 2022.

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