Séamus Ahearne: Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, To have lived light in the spring, To have loved, to have thought, to have done. (Matthew Arnold)


The clock and nature are in dispute. Nature refuses to accept the changed hour. The heron protests and doesn’t appear. The swans are unsure and are reluctant to leave the nest. The darker morning, means that no-one but myself chats with the Tolka. The Weeping Willow quietly continues to splash and show off its ever greening coat. The birds have their orchestra tuning up. The frolicsome sounds and colours of the morning are a Eucharist celebrating in gratitude. It reminds me of a friend who was dying. Michael could say every day how blessed he was. He had a long life. His family were loved, lovely and lovable. The hospital people were wonderful. He was challengingly grateful for everyone and everything. Here in Finglas, we too, are blessed. With people. With nature whispering around us. With space. With a park. With a river. With those birds. With the daffodils smiling. With the waking mornings and the clean air feeding our souls.


We are hungry for News. Politics feeds that hunger. Leo Varadkar surprised everyone by resigning. Leo was articulate. He was willing to explain. There was a clarity in his speech and questions were answered. He was an able representative of the country abroad. He appeared to have the ability to work well with Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan. All of them deserve praise. Many would have wished that Paschal Donohoe or Simon Coveney might have offered themselves as leader of Fine Gael. But it didn’t happen. They have ‘gravitas.’ Simon Harris was willing. He is very young. He speaks well (and often, but needs to slow down the gush of his words). He is energetic. He may galvanise his party. He has to focus consistently on his membership of a coalition and has to defer respectfully to his partners. Some of us have a vivid recollection of his behaviour after the Referendum on the 8th. He was a total glangeen. (If you don’t know that word; do some research!) I expect he has learned a little from some of his sillier outbursts. We had another shock on the political landscape with Jeffrey Donaldson. I hope everyone stands back and lets the judicial process do its job. It is a further surprise and very praiseworthy how Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly, are presenting a united front and displaying the best in political leadership.


Holy Week has come. Life has been busy for the worshipping community. For some, it is an endurance. Liturgy always needs to be asked questions. The Seder Meal structure is a very helpful model for all of Liturgy. Those broad questions asked by the youngest person are valid. Why are you doing this? What does it mean? That speaks to all Liturgy. We carry in our Formal Liturgies a history. We respect that history. Some of that history evolved in Monasteries. We aren’t living in a Monastery. Much of Liturgy is overloaded. Palm Sunday begins with a great recall of the welcome into Jerusalem and then abruptly launched into the Passion and rejection. It is cluttered with many Readings. It is no wonder that many saw it as the Sunday of the long Gospel. It doesn’t have to be like that. I presume people sit down now or at least have a shared version of the Passion. Holy Saturday is a very special night or ‘the’ special night. But it is struggling with overweight. It is totally overwhelmed by all those Readings. The elements have to be celebrated. Fire. Light. Water. But simplify it. Then as soon as the Readings are read the Readings of the Mass have to happen. That is ridiculous. Reduce. Listen to the child. Those questions of the child at the Seder meal, have to be asked. Why are you doing this? What does it mean? Much of the meaning gets lost in the clutter. The heart of the celebration demands the Reception into the Church of the RCIA candidates. But if these aren’t there let’s reconsider every aspect of the celebration. A major task for all of us then is – declutter our Liturgies. That applies to the Mass immediately and to all the Sacraments and to every Church celebration. We need to find the child to ask the questions!


There was an anniversary recently. It was 20 years since the smoking ban came in. I believe that Civil Servant Tom Power was a major driver of that change. Micheál Martin carried it through on the political front. Who could have believed it would have worked? It was taken up by many countries after us. I am aware of my own intolerance even on the footpath, when a smoker passes by, the residual smell assaults my nostrils. I don’t like it.


Did you hear the news? That South Africa has been dethroned as World Champions in Rugby. Ireland are the newly acclaimed Champions. That was Monday’s News.


Did you read the Expose on the lifestyle of the Gourmet Gangster in The Sunday Times last weekend? Christy Kinahan is doing rather well according to the article. I was surprised that the item on the Radio: What it says in the papers, didn’t pick up that story. Those who run the financial industry in drugs need to be fed the stories of the destroyed families many of us have to deal with.


We had a Chapter (Augustinians) some weeks ago in Athlone. It was a gathering of the elders with all the problems of age and scarcity. However, we were joined by some younger members. From Pakistan. From the Philippines. From Nigeria. From India. From Kenya. They changed the dynamic. Then our brothers in the UK arrived. It was a real celebration. Some hadn’t met for forty, fifty years. The child’s questions at the Seder Meal were being asked, (or something similar) throughout the Chapter: What are you doing and why? We had the Funeral for  Richie Hughes osa yesterday in Julianstown. He had spent his life in Nigeria. He was our main builder out there and was responsible for huge developments, both physically and spiritually. His own accommodation had been very basic at times. When he was coming home unwell, he asked Michael Walsh where he was going. When Michael told him that he was coming into Dublin. His response was: “If I knew that, I wouldn’t have come.” He wanted to die in Nigeria. Michael now is the last Irish Augustinian in Nigeria. At one stage there were up to 65 Irish Augustinians out there and no Nigerian Augustinian. Now there are 160 Nigerian osa’s. Times ‘they are a’changin’.

Seamus Ahearne osa

2nd April 2024.

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