Séamus Ahearne: ‘And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, that one small head could carry all he knew.’ (Goldsmith)(And Indi’s back!)

The young ones:

Jacinda Ardern is resigning as PM New Zealand and as leader of the Labour Party. Her explanation is: ‘There was nothing left in the tank. There is no other reason. I am human.’ Robert Byrne resigned as bishop in Newcastle (England). He couldn’t take the pressure and felt the Diocese and Church needed more than he could give. Stephen Robson (Dunkeld, Scotland) requested to resign but he was left for a long time before it was accepted recently. His health is not good and his request should have been acceded to immediately. These men are human like Jacinda. Benedict resigned because he couldn’t face the storms of life in his role as pope. Jacinda is in her early forties! Is Joe Biden intending to continue? Why did Michael D remain as President? It is madness. Now in regard to Francis… it is ridiculous but I don’t want him to stop!!!!  What would I know?


I sat at table some weeks ago. Someone mentioned that nothing had been heard from Diarmuid Martin for a long time. Diarmuid was never short of a word or three! He hadn’t been well at some stage but he was probably right to be silent as Dermot Farrell settled in. However, the next comment I heard was that he had spoken about Blackrock College and expressed his incredulity that people didn’t know there what was going on. It is a very common observation. The exasperation is reasonable. But David Carrick went on for almost two decades in the Met and only in the weeks gone by did everyone realise the story. Jimmy Savile was the darling of the airways at the BBC and Jim was going to fix everything, especially the ratings, and no one knew anything. In families and in communities – no-one knows anything until the explosion happens and then everyone puts the bits and pieces together. Often it is impossible to explain to a family even when the evidence is obvious. This is too big for many to take in and who can believe that anyone we know could do such thin. So let’s always remember the deviousness and conniving involved, and never rush to dump blame on those who don’t see what is happening. It is never simple. Have you tried to explain to a partner/wife that this was being done …… ? It borders on the impossible. We can put up policies and notices everywhere, it can never reach the depths of depravity. What do any of us know? 

Titian and Van Dyck:

BBC 4 did a programme on Britain’s lost masterpieces. I was flicking through the stations looking for something to tease me. Petworth House came up. The discussion was on ‘a young cardinal’ (portrait) over the fireplace. After much investigation, the ‘experts’ concluded that it was a Titian. I really enjoyed the unveiling of the painting. The cleaning. The x-raying. The stripping off the centuries of dirt. And then finally the revelation. There was also a discussion on Anthony Van Dyck and how his work linked with Titian. Some of his work was in the house at Petworth. Van Dyck travelled widely and almost obsessively to see and learn from Titian. But this man from Venice did have a few failures. He painted frescoes in Venice which the air/water managed to steal from the walls. It was intriguing to see these painters and their painstaking efforts to catch light and shadow. To direct the eye towards the real focus of their work. The more I see; the more I realise I don’t know. I’m not stupid but my ignorance looms larger as I get older. I know nothing. How did I miss out on so much?

Indi is back:

She was indignant that some missed her and hadn’t asked for an explanation. She wanted to tell her story. Christmas was lovely. She had the elders near her  (grandmothers, grandfather). She was surrounded by presents. She had wanted to take the baby Jesus home and give him a proper bed and shelter. She wasn’t convinced that those parents (Mary and Joseph)  knew anything about a baby. She thought Mary was flighty and too giddy. She has a thing about cleanliness and couldn’t accept that animals would be let so close to the child. And then more problems started for her.

Her father got sick. Her mother got sick. She had to look after both of them. They were very awkward and very grumpy. She washed them. She changed the bed. She got food ready but all they could do was moan. It was the end of the world. Nobody ever was as sick as they were. She lost patience with the patients. They wanted food. Whatever, she brought to them; they didn’t want. They were impossible. Indi concluded that adults are foolish. They feel everything has to be right always and immediately. They accept it when things go wrong. They have no long term view. A little pain means they are dying. She did what she could. And then she got sick herself.

They were getting better. They wanted back to work. They blamed her for being sick and stopping their return to work. She lashed out at them. She was thrilled to get rid of them and go back to her school and her pals. The end of all this was – she looked around. She was sick but she took it as normal. Things happen. It will pass and it did. She didn’t moan. She delights in being alive. She got out. She saw the cold frost. She didn’t grumble. It was something new again. She saw the bright days. She was happy. She met her pals. Life was good. She met her minder and she loved Jasmine.

Her prayer is simple: Every day has its surprises. Good and bad. Dark and bright. Thanks be to God. She is a searcher for the colours of the day. She sees God dancing with her through the wonder of each day. She heard this quotation and liked it. She doesn’t know where it comes from. It goes something like this: ‘Look around and wonder. Wonder is the beginning of understanding.’ She still thinks that Joseph and Mary weren’t fit parents for Jesus. She is sorry that she didn’t take him home herself. He grew up well, she said, despite his bad start.

Gender Identity:

There is a constitutional crisis in Britain. The Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Identity Bill. The UK Government will block it. It is a problem. The Bishops of England and Wales can’t agree on the marriage of same sex couples. They try to fudge the issue. How is it that so many of the footballers (women) are gay? They have declared their couple-hood. It doesn’t happen for the men! Or else they are too shy. Now Gareth Thomas (Welsh rugby player) came out which was a big moment. So what is the question: Are there more gays among the women than among the men? Anyway. The UK Government has a problem. The Church of England has a problem. The Catholic Church hasn’t a problem (yet) but it will and should.

Seamus Ahearne osa   19th January 2023.

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