Séamus Ahearne: I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore there is any kindness I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again. (William Penn).

The Leaving of Leo:

Leo Varadkar was on The Late Late Show last evening. I never watch the Show but tuned in to see and hear, what Leo had to say. His comments were interesting. He spoke very simply and explained himself rather well. I was reminded of a phrase from long ago during my College days. The Law of Diminishing Returns. Something of that seemed to apply to how it had become for Leo. He found that his time was up. He hadn’t lacked energy but somehow despite everything that he poured into the job; by now there were diminishing returns. Politics needed a change with someone different and someone new. His words made sense.

Up With People:

He also spoke about Newtown Mount Kennedy and that scene there. He was worried too at how many people were becoming less comfortable in Ireland due to Racism. We had a Taoiseach whose father was Indian. We had a gay man as the leader of the country. The UK has Rishi Sunak – again a man with Indian background. Scotland has a leader (for now!) Humza Yousaf whose parents were Pakistani immigrants. Gabriel Attal is the new PM in France and he is gay. Barrack Obama was black and became President (how we wish for him now). That is a great story of changing cultures and is a celebration of different peoples getting on and celebrating each other.


And yet somehow, I see two empty houses around here with graffiti scribbled on them. ‘Housing for Irish hear (yes that is the spelling). Or be burned.’ I feel sad and hurt that such a virus in spreading throughout our country. I heard one person mention that this is happening because God has got lost in this country. I don’t know. But it is worrying. Whatever else is going on, there is a coarseness in the air. There is much aggression. There is a crudity of language. There is a severe negativity. The country is rotten with moaning. I don’t blame Donald for all of it but he is such a pathetic figure and a perfect example of what shouldn’t be occurring in our public life or anywhere. There is a need for warmth. For kindness. For gratitude. For wonder. For beauty. For laughter. The banner and slogan of Christianity is Good News. We have a very much needed and marketable product! Eucharist can only happen if we truly celebrate the wonder of gratitude.

Trump has been silenced:

Poor Donald. I feel very sorry for him. There he is in Court. Silenced. Talked about and can’t talk himself. Full of Contempt for the Judiciary but somehow getting away with it. He is being stripped naked and shown that his bombast, bravado and bluster   are very empty. The Emperor definitely has no clothes. Why can’t some people help him to see, and understand that lying gets him nowhere? He clearly lacks insight. He is more to be pitied than censured.

Religion is the opium of the people (Marx):

Daniel Dennett died  on April 19th (neuro-philosopher). His answer to everything was that evolution explained life and universe. Some of his comments are rather good:  “Religious faith gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking.” He also said that religion had evolved to survive. “It has been pruned and revised and edited for thousands of years with millions of variants extinguished in the process, so it has plenty of features that appeal to people.” Another of his throw away lines is “There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.” He was savaged at one stage by Jay Gould (Palaeontologist) who used a phrase which he liked to sum up Dennett “When you have nothing to say, say it louder.” (Obituary, The Times). Dennett was combative; was outrageous; was amusing; was a formidable atheist. But I liked the cut and thrust of his argumentative style. There does appear to be fewer characters around to take part in duels with such mesmerising personalities. It seems to me that we need more leaders in church life who speak up boldly, fearlessly and with humour. Our poor official leaders (bishops)  are caught up in problems and administrations. Too many of them feed us with pious thought and homilies which get us nowhere! Francis is mighty in his ability to speak up and to speak out. The cat and the pigeons come to mind.

The season of Communions and Confirmations:

It is the season of Confirmations and First Communions. At least now, we do Confirmations locally and without a bishop being present. These are very special occasions and wonderful opportunities. However, we know really that they celebrate a moment and an event, but not a commitment. It is concerning that we continue putting so much energy into those occasions. A fundamental change has to happen. Our 17 schools (in Finglas) do great work in preparation but our young teachers are doing something that worries them as many of them too are like their equivalents in the general population. Most of us know as priests, that many of our own relatives, are not in the business of regular practice either. Another demand is the work for funerals. We had 98 funerals in the last 111 days. These are very challenging times and are privileged but we can’t keep going or doing what we always did. Again a fundamental reassessment of what Church is and what parish life ought to be is essential.

The Word made flesh in nature:

I was on my way up St Canice’s for 10 o’clock Mass this morning. (Saturday). Lyric was on in the car. A lassie was talking about poplars. She spoke of the sound of the leaves and branches. She gave us the Latin name and the Irish name which described ever so well the swish of the branches. She was concerned that the pollen wasn’t reaching its target for reproduction. But her description was beautiful. I was there thinking in the car, how little I know about all of this. Of trees. Of insects. Of the underground chatter by the roots. Of birds and their migratory habits. Of nature. How little I know of music and how little I learned despite all those years in education and those years of living. I suppose we all have to get old to realise how life has passed us by and how we have missed out on so much. I sat with a lady, a mother, during the week. She was in her nineties. She talked of her past. Of the half-door. Of the last for mending shoes. Of the dog going to Mass but not her father. Of the flash-lamp and the serious offence of being caught with no light on the bike. Of the centrality of the bike and how precious a bike was. Of the ass and cart for the shopping. Of the ‘tinkers’ fixing the pots. Of the open fire. Of the table being a shared one, for whoever came in. Of the shared companionship through that open door. We prepared for her son’s funeral and it was a privilege.

Seamus Ahearne osa

27th April 2024.

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