Séamus Ahearne: ‘HOW MANY MYSTERIES HAVE YOU SEEN IN YOUR LIFETIME? AND WHAT CAN YOU SAY?’ (Mary Oliver’s On thy Wondrous Works, I will meditate).


I had a problem in St Margaret’s (Finglas) at 10 o’clock Mass on Sunday. We had continued the stories on what the Kingdom was like – a treasure; a discovered pearl; a net of fishes; seeds; weeds; leaven; mustard plant. A man asked me afterwards: “Are you a Kerryman – with all that talk of the Kingdom?” I stupidly hadn’t even realised the obvious, and  had missed out on playing with that notion of the kingdom! The Dubs did it on Sunday. Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey and Stephen Cluxton returned to the panel and justified the presence of the old codgers. James McCarthy, Mick Fitzsimons and Stephen Cluxton won their ninth All Ireland medal. The old timers with the nine medals were brilliant on the day. Both teams served up a feast of a display which followed the poetic wonder of the Limerick/Kilkenny game.

Aren’t we all blessed with the sheer beauty of our games? Commitment. Artistry. Stamina. Conviction. As Suenens once said that we had to be: ‘Willing to pay the price to make dreams come true.’ They pay the price. They continue to dream. Might that be the kingdom? To stretch ourselves. To put in the long slog. To aim at the music of life. To see possibilities. To reach for the stars. To dream. To see the ‘more.’ To be a believer in the wonder of life. To sing. To work as a collective. To banish the ‘me’ and find our place in the Community. (ICor12).


The women tried. Australia and Canada were too much. Nigeria made their visit respectable. Then there were echoes of Saipan. That was unfortunate. Katie and Vera shouldn’t have happened. We had too much of Roy and Mick. The code has to obtain. What is said inside a team, stays there. That allows for emotions to explode. That and the earlier absence of a handshake, added a sour note. However, let’s accentuate the positive. The team lifted the hearts of many and stimulated an interest in football for girls. That is great.


That young man from Rome has joined the 400,000 in Lisbon. Some blogs appeared. These were rich in appreciation at the reception received from the locals. The welcome has made it for many, even before the main event began. Isn’t that young lad from Rome, mighty? How does he keep going? He has heart. He has boldness. He has courage. He has toughness. The hope surely is that his ‘project’ of the Synodal pathway will introduce a new culture in the Church. The essence of that Synodal pathway is quite wonderful. The listening. The sharing. The respect. The tolerance. The discernment. The travelling together. The conviction of the presence of the Spirit in everyone. The learning. The tapestry of differing views. All of this will stir a youthfulness in everyone if allowed prevail. Our Liturgy can become a celebration of the life in us all with God dancing among us.


How could it have happened? That Boris was elected. That Liz was elected. That Donald was elected. That Vladimir was elected. How is it possible that the Republican Party (USA) are likely so select Trump as their candidate for the Presidential election? Everything he says and does makes him a danger to Democracy. And yet nothing seems to diminish his popularity. Every word that comes from his mouth declares his unsuitability. Every case (where he is the defendant) before the Courts cries out that this man lacks insight; lacks honesty; lack basic humanity. How can it be that Contempt of Court doesn’t seem to apply to him? And still the crowds are on his side. Leadership of the Free World is a very dangerous concept in these terms. How can anyone trust him? But they do. I almost despair of those supporters. Now I will say also that Joe Biden is hardly an appropriate candidate either. His time is past. Why doesn’t the political system have the gumption or the ability to ask him to complete his term and settle into his deserved retirement?    


Elections are happening. We value and treasure democracy. And yet are worried. The management in Church life too can come under scrutiny. The cultural change demanded now by the Synodal pathway describes our leadership in a new way. Leadership isn’t just about Rome or about the various offices in Rome or about bishops. It is local. What are our Parishes like? Is there listening? Is there respect? Is there room for the Spirit? Is there belief of God speaking in each person? We have a system which has accumulated a culture from our history. Much of it is excellent and does reveal Christ.

However the definition of Sacrament; the definition of priesthood; the definition of Eucharist has to change. What happens now in a Synodal culture in how a bishop is selected? How do we begin to describe how we can unburden bishops and our priests from administration? If being a bishop or a priest is about being with people and listening and working together how can their minds and hearts ever be free enough to do much of it? The administration weighs down on them. They cannot escape the burden. The load. The demands of every day. It is impossible. New thinking needed. A new office of Administration is now essential. It doesn’t need the grace or the anointing of ordination. By the way,  I have great regard for Bob who is now the gaffer in charge of ‘selecting’ and ‘proposing’  new bishops! 


I was in a van with two men on Wednesday and Thursday. We were doing a house clearance. Francie and Derek drove out to Clontarf. On the way, their eyes were on the road but also on every side of the road. They could see skips everywhere. Many a time the van stopped. They jumped out. Various things were picked up. I was amazed at the sharpness of their eyes and the alertness of their minds. It was further education for me. What they could see and I would miss! I even thought of the Transfiguration. We can all go to a higher place where we have a better view. We can see more. Be aware of something different and bigger. Be humbled into a gracious moment.

Jack told us at Mass that when you find someone that you want to spend your life with, that is treasure. When he comes to Church and hears the Word speaking differently to everyone and then something new of God is heard, that is treasure. Dermot said that when he looks at a piece of wood and can see a bowl emerging from it or look out and see his tomatoes, that is treasure. Or look at the birds or think of the Amur Falcon migrating 22,000km or the Monarch butterfly travelling 2500 miles, that is wonder. Or hear of a granny talk of meeting the birth mother of her son and speaking of being handed a baby bundle of mystery and saying that one can never get over the sacredness of being thus trusted, this is treasure and this is transfiguration.    I propose that Francie and Derek should take all of us out in the van to see a little more of what is there and what the rest of us miss. God is very big and we too often miss the whispers. Liturgy. Priesthood. Bishophood. Popehood. Has to help us see. To create moments. To wake up the dead parts of our imaginations and minds. Be artists. Be poets. Be awake and alive. Be amazing and amazed.

Seamus Ahearne osa

4th August 23.

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One Comment

  1. Dermot Quigley says:

    Thank you, Fr. Seamus for your thought provoking Article.
    The definition of what a priest is, in relation to conferring the Sacraments is settled teaching. It cannot change.
    However, I agree that all parish tasks not requiring Holy Orders, should be immediately reallocated to lay people. This will free up the priest to administer the Sacraments, visit the housebound, those in prison or hospital, etc.

    One thing that can change with regard to priesthood, is to immediately allow a married male diocesan priesthood. I know some good men in that situation, who could be reinstated immediately. There is no doctrinal issue here. The marital status of a priest does not impact the validity of his Sacraments.

    The Eucharist and other Sacraments can never be redefined. The teaching here is part of the perennial public binding revelation of our Church. The Mass is the sacrifice of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ; his sacrifice on Mount Calvary being made present.

    This is my greatest hope. Instead of seeing my sins, God the Father is well pleased with the infinite merits of the sacrifice of his Son. Forgiveness flows to Sinners like me from this e.g. in confession.
    When one is seriously ill and in a Hospice, one realises how critical the unchanging nature of the sacraments are; especially extreme unction.
    On my bedside locker, I have a copy of Fr. Martin von Cochem’s book ‘The Incredible Catholic Mass’ and of course my Rosary beads. These have always travelled everywhere with me. Back to basics. A simple Faith. A Roman Catholic Faith. Not a synodal pathway of undermining the faith, but the faith of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, passed on from the Apostles via the Holy Ghost and According to the principle ‘Tradidi Quod et Accepi’.

    Transfigured Lord, have Mercy on us.

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