Séamus Ahearne celebrates his birthday…considers the Tango…and Indi has the last word.

Caritas Christi urget nos. (2 Cor 5.14)

For the birds:

The mornings are good. The river is hospitable. The ducks and herons sleep on. The swan- family fly in together and are raucous. The other little birds chirp away. We haven’t been introduced; I don’t know them. There is a gentle swish in the trees as they whisper that they are alive too! It is quite musical. All of this is my calming company. I began to think. It was my birthday morning. I am only 74. I thought of the birds, the paths, the air, the sky, the darkness and the quietness. I had to smile to myself. There I was, expecting the herons to appear for a chat, but refusing to change my own pattern each morning. It felt like ministry, evangelisation and liturgy.

I should adapt to the morning routine of the birds. I was entering their world. I was the visitor. Like in ministry, I have to change to the world of the birds. They shouldn’t need to change their plans for me. And so it is with the world of faith. We are inclined to live with the short-hand language of religious cant. That is foreign to the people we work with. It is a different and new world. Covid may help us to realise how much we have to change and adapt. On my birthday, I was very grateful for the old body that behaves rather well and for the gift of the wonder-world I enter daily. If Donal Trump could sulk at not being elected to be President at 74 or Joe Biden at 78 wants to begin as President; my working life at Rivermount can hardly be concluding at 74!

The News:

The Churches are re-opening tomorrow. We have to be very careful. I read that some are concerned about Confessions towards Christmas. We are very blessed in this parish; we have no sinners or sin and don’t ever need Confession. I have missed the gatherings in church. The gatherings are definitely ‘the bread of life.’ I need it. I’m rather unruly without the participating crowd, who argue and fight and challenge. My praying is weak without the crowd. The poor old Government has a rough time. They are ‘damned if they do or if they don’t.’ It is truly up to all of us to be cautious. The bad news this morning is that spuds might be scarce with Brexit. The chip shops are endangered.

Séamus Woulfe still causes problems. The crazy process of selecting judges was stripped bare in the Dáil. Some reports compared the treatment of Helen McEntee to that of Gráinne Carruth. Gráinne was thrown to the lions at the Tribunal (re Bertie) as was Helen, during the week. Her position was impossible. She had nothing to say except to show how ridiculous the whole process was. She was made to look foolish. But she wasn’t. The system is wrong. The loneliest elephant in the world (in Pakistan) Kaavan, is being moved to Cambodia where there are three Asian females waiting for him. Boris is confused between tiers and tears. His mane will go even more askew during the rigours of this week. With his MPs. With Brexit. With his own bombast.


The Halo proved its worth on Sunday. I expect you know what that is. I didn’t, until yesterday. The Halo is mandatory in F1. Apparently it did its job for Romain Grosjean when his car crashed, split and burst into flames. Our saints aren’t the only ones with a halo! Lewis Hamilton won again. Ireland didn’t impress against Georgia. Waterford did impress against Kilkenny. Limerick got there. Celtic got beaten again. By Ross County! These times, it was Diego Maradona who took over the News. His story is a reminder of George Best. England have never got over the ‘Hand of God.’ 1986 wasn’t just about football; the Falkland Islands were there too. Maradona’s second goal was poetic. I suppose England could never imagine any of their own boys doing something like handling the ball or diving. We have had our own Thierry Henry problem with the hand ball. We go on about it too. I make a final comment: The return of sport has been a great gift to so many. It has also been managed so well. Our thanks to all concerned.

The starlings and the tango:

My friends of months ago have returned. The starlings. They come to church when no one else is allowed. They are occasional visitors. Like many of our parishioners! I expect they come out of sheer bravado. When the church is locked up and everyone is locked down, they are shouting at all of us. ‘You won’t restrict us. We will do whatever we like.’ I haven’t worked it out. I don’t know if their collective noise is a tirade or a serenade. Their language and chatter is described as murmurations; I don’t think so. It is much more than that. I like to see them in the church grounds on the trees. We talk to each other.

Whatever about the music in the trees, our parish sister arrives, and she is glowing. She wanted to know if I had watched Strictly Come Dancing. I hadn’t. She is ecstatic. The movement. The song. The dance. The beauty. The poetry. I have had to call Liz back to reality. She had become a contemplative. She was soaring into the stratosphere. She reminded me of Inside I’m dancing. (That beautiful film). Her old body rather limits her own gyrations. But she takes off to the music. And then she tells me. “I love the Tango. It is so sensuous.” I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about. But then she began to wax eloquent. She described the incarnation as becoming obvious in life and in liturgy if we could take on a total immersion in the music of life. “There is the Baptism of fire. Stretch the body. Stretch the sinews. Stretch the imagination. Stretch the mind.” Oh my God, I’m too old and too innocent for this.


Young Indi:

She was very excited. She had seen a glimpse of The Toy Show on The Late Late. I think she must have seen an advance blurb for it. I don’t know. She was thrilled. All that fun. All that colour. All those youngsters. She loved it. She wanted to know why she wasn’t invited to it. She wasn’t too sure about the fox. (Ryan Tubridy). But she knew that he seemed important. Then she asked me. “Did you watch it?” She wasn’t at all too pleased with me. She couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested. She was very blunt. “You are too old in yourself, you should always stay young. The drama of imagination is very important.”


Her mother told me that Indi had rung me after her Toy Show experience. She said that Indi wasn’t at all pleased that I didn’t take up the phone immediately. I am clearly very bad at dealing with a woman who wants an answer now. Some do! She sulked for a while but then came back onto me. She told me that she has a problem with more words: ‘Absolutely. Amazing. Definitely. The time of my life. The best day of my life. A dream come true.’ I don’t know where she has been hearing such words but she has a point.

Her last word was on sad faces. She doesn’t see many people but she hears about them. She loves to laugh. She loves to giggle. She loves to kick her feet. She loves fun; especially in the middle of the night. But adults can be sad. They want to worry. They look glum. They have problems or create them if they haven’t got them. They complain. They moan and groan. They are a pain. Her world is a treasure island. Every day is a revelation. She can’t wait to wake up for a new day. She doesn’t want to sleep in case she misses something. “Why are people so negative?” She hears the Radio and the TV and everyone is on a rant about something or nothing. They are ever so sad. She doesn’t like it. Indi must have been chatting with Pope Francis. On the door of his office is the poster: ‘Vietato Lamentarsi’ – No complaining. I read this a few minutes ago (when the article above was finished) in The Tablet. (Austen Ivereigh).


Seamus Ahearne osa.

P.S. Francie called to collect his post. He wants to know about Mass. He launches into a speech. “They want to open pubs and grub-houses but won’t open the Churches. Christmas is about Jesus Christ coming down to us. There would be no Christmas without Christ. They are a crowd of cartoons and should be in Hollywood.” (Francie is a traveller friend).



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  1. Paddy+Ferry says:

    Seamus, many happy returns. How many years ago now since you were in Dundee and Balerno? You’re still a legend there.

    “We are very blessed in this parish; we have no sinners or sin and don’t ever need Confession.”

    Now that I found very amusing and very well put, Seamus. Does anybody go to confessions anymore? For most of my life I was a once a month –at least– man. In one of Garry Wills’ books, Why I am a Catholic he explains very well the genesis of confession.

    Your Augustinian brother, Kieran also put it very well in that excellent letter he wrote to the Tablet:

    “The Council of Trent, in affirming that all seven sacraments were somehow instituted by Jesus, made the mistake of accepting the way the Reformers posed the question. This was unnecessary (though understandable in pre-critical times) and brings with it insurmountable historical difficulties.”

    Insurmountable historical difficulties indeed!!

  2. JAMES MC HUGH says:


    InDi, soon ready and able to become Shaliak to the Man Himself ?

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