Séamus Ahearne: Churches – people – back in action; New Lectionary; Indi and Houdini, and more…




The missing Muses:

The Muses have deserted me. My fingers are lost. The feet haven’t taken me to the Tolka these past three mornings. The sciatic nerve has taken control. No heron. No river. No weeping willow. No swan. No ducks. No water-hens. No comrades of the early morning. No talking sky. I am abandoned. The fingers are listless. The keyboard is unresponsive. The mind is clueless. Lethargy has taken over. Not even a stray idea ambles onto the page. The call of the Tolka is strident, and I remain lifeless until I answer. Even my dreams have gone awry.

The hand of God:

‘God put his hand on my head today,’ according to Alisson Becker (Liverpool goalie). West Brom must be very aggrieved with God for such interference in that 95th minute of Sunday’s match. England weren’t too pleased either when Maradona claimed ‘the hand of God’ goal in the World Cup 1986. We had our own version of that ‘hand of God’ when Thierry Henry deprived us of the chance in 2009 to go forward to the World Gup. Oh how we moaned and then forever basked in victimhood! We should keep God out of football. God pokes the hand into places that would be better without such help. Unnecessary interference!

People who need people…..

The Churches opened. The weekend arrived. Rosaleen shared that she had aged by ten years in the past year. She also prayed for those who died during the year and how we could only be with the families in spirit. Ann spoke of working in the hospital and how now everything is much more relaxed as they know what to do and the vaccines have changed everything. She was full of gratitude. It was the people being present yesterday that mattered. They shared on the Feast and on the Readings. It was uplifting. It was the participation that was important. It was the realisation of how much we missed the living-faith and experiences at the Eucharist. One lady rang to say she had just watched the Mass online. She described it in this way: “The people showed that it was their Mass. They ‘owned’ the Mass. They took over. The priest was of much lesser importance. He was the coordinator. He was the facilitator. They were the celebrating ones. It was their Eucharist. It was about their lives. The Readings spoke to them. They responded with their story of the year and of the week. They brought their own gifts and their own prayers. They were full of faith.” There is a lesson in all of this.

The New Lectionary:

There is a discussion going on about a new Lectionary. The English and Welsh Bishops have opted for one version, ESV. The Irish Bishops are looking at the options. The overriding lesson has to be the chaos of the New Missal. This is crude. It is bad English. It is bad theology. It is unreadable. It is impossible to listen to. It cannot be prayed. The new translation of the Lectionary has to be one that can be listened to; can be inspirational; can be familiar; can be read. The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB) is the obvious choice. Many have raised questions on the ESV. Too often those questions have centred on the absence of inclusive language. That is a fair point and an essential issue, which has to be sorted. But there is more to the translation that this comment. We can become politically distracted on this one and also be dismissed as the usual cranks with our own noisy agenda. There are major problems with the ESV. There is a plodding literalism, quaint English and even archaic and grating phrases. Scripture has to be uplifting and memorable. (Those sentences are ‘stolen’ from Kieran O’Mahony osa). This new translation matters. The Eucharist belongs to the people. Liturgy is about the people present. The language has to be of the people. Soaring pious language which doesn’t connect, ensures the Mass becomes only the preserve of the priestly caste (even if that) and the others are excluded from the Sanctuary.

The politicised church:

Massimo Faggioli spoke well on the webinar last Wednesday. However, I found it rather sad. How can people be so divided? How can people be so polarised into the good and the bad guys? How can religion be so polluted by political divisions? Trumpism is a rather vicious philosophy. I was in touch with an academic in the US. This was his response: “Yes, Faggioli is a very perceptive observer of the Church and Society Scene in the US. Well trained at the great Canon Law/Civil Law Center in Bologna whose founder in the 1960s was very much in tune with Vatican II. I cannot now remember his name. He was frozen out by the right-wing of the Italian Episcopate. But his work was generally respected. Yes, Religion in the US has devolved into the gospel of prosperity, especially among the very rich Catholic CEOs and Founders of Great Enterprises. They are now interpreting theology for the Bishops. Very sad. People here do not know how to argue: they assert.”

Mighty women:

Thursday (13th May) was the Feast of Mother Mary Mazzarello. She was the foundress and the gracious woman, who gave birth to the Salesian Sisters. The local ladies used one word to sum up the core value from Mary: ‘Coraggio.’ It does mean courage but it means more than that. ‘Take heart. Keep going. Keep strong. Lift up your heart. Never give in.’ This is a fine profile and description of our local gang of Salesian women: Liz, Maire and Mary. We are blessed with them and are proud of them. Paul osa had said to Liz that they should be called ‘Salacious Salesians.’ Why? I have no idea. In the best sense and in other words they are Bold, Brazen, Tough, Strong, Wild, Wicked and Wonderful. The rest you can imagine. They are ancient but antiques! Beyond price. Paragons of humanity. Full of heart. They exude ‘Coraggio. ’

A very confused Indi

She was insistent. She wanted to know who Houdini was. I have no idea where she discovered Harry. She needed a plan. She had a problem. She is now walking. She has got to the door. She can open the handle. She can get out. But the parents have set up obstacles everywhere. She wants to learn some tricks to escape. She even wanted to have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948) read out to her. She had found out that I knew someone serving on the Security Council and that maybe she could do something for her. What am I going to do with this young lady?

She then flummoxed me completely. She is migrating to Waterford. She began to talk once more about her Christening. I had reassured her that Baptism wouldn’t hurt too much. And then she asked if the Knockmealdowns and the Comeraghs had something to do with Baptism? Or all those fields or those cows and those birds. I gave in and said that they were all part of this great exciting story of discovering the wonder of God. And that Baptism is an opening up of the heart to the beauty of God speaking to us. But we must then respond.


Seamus Ahearne osa.

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