Séamus Ahearne: ‘Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.’ (Mary Oliver).


We had a huge funeral last Wednesday/Thursday. Tony had to be in the church overnight (Oliver Plunkett’s) for his last vigil. He was a Holy man; a modern day Matt Talbot. He moved between Church Street (Capuchins); Rivermount (Augustinians); Ashbourne (Parish Church). But above all, he loved working in The Morning Star. He spent days there and even went in to help on Christmas Day. Tony worked for years in Glasnevin on the graves. He loved being in the ‘holy ground’ as he saw it. He organised nine pilgrimages each year including this year,  as he was dying. He went to Knock, Clonfert, Drogheda, Our Lady’s Island.


His bag of books appeared as a Symbol of his life (at the Mass): All Prayer Books, mostly in tatters from use. He had other books too which he had written. One on his wife Helen, who had died some years ago; his second book was on Matt Talbot; his third one was on Homeliness and his final effort was on Our Lady. My offer to edit, was declined! His words were sacred to him. He didn’t want anyone torpedoing his expressions. I remember his SVDP work, and then he was always present for the monthly collection. His pious face seemed to extract money from every pocket or handbag. I rather enjoyed too the added extras to his personality: his holy tattoos; his earring; his wispy beard; his rather colourful array of shirts and jackets. He was good.


My visit to the country was delayed. Tony was to blame. I got down on Thursday evening. The Comeraghs welcomed me. The Knockmealdowns waved at me. The Blackwater smiled at me. The people weren’t bad either! The family had organised a house Mass on Friday. This was in memory of those who had died 25 years ago and also to celebrate a Golden Jubilee. We gathered around the kitchen Table. Some of the family (Portlaw side) couldn’t join us; there was sickness.


We had four little ones. Mass had to be simple. Some may not be too familiar with such celebrating. My first question to the little ones was: ‘Look out the window and tell us what you see.’ They did. I then asked them to look around the room and tell us about everyone here. They did. I asked them to tell us stories about what they were thankful for and who they were grateful to. And why? The children were marvellous and quite surprising. The adults shared their stories too. The prayers then were unusual but lovely. The singing did arise as we went along. Eventually the usual ones appeared – Circle of Friends; If I were a butterfly;  Happy in the presence. Young Indi had her own songs which might never appear on a First Communion List. Rosie, Gracie and Lilly were more attuned.


The Eucharist was a real celebration. I didn’t expect it at all to evolve as it did. As I was getting ready for Tony’s funeral (above), Jim passed through the grounds of the church. The wind was strong. His observation was: “You can feel the wind but can’t see it.” “You can feel God, but can’t see him.” “You can feel love but you can’t see it.” His comments linked with those little ones – they could speak of God and speak of love and speak of friends and speak of family and speak of nature – in a very Eucharistic manner. We were fed throughout and later.


Young Indi had much to say over the days. She wasn’t pleased with the rain and the weather. ‘It is yucky and disgusting.’ After her many words at Mass and receiving praise from some adults, her response was: “I’m bright.” She was asked what did she mean, by saying she was bright. She explained to the adults lest they misunderstood:  “I’m intelligent and interesting.” Later during the days, she described in her playful way what happened at home. “Mammy does all the work. Daddy does nothing. He lies on his bed and watches his phone.” (Now that is untrue – but he teases her and she teases him and they have great fun.) However, it is incredible – to listen to the little one speak of what she saw out the window (not just her but as the youngest at 3 ½). The bushes. The hedge. The trees. The grass. The sky. The clouds. The rain. The mountains. The birds. The insects. The sheep. The  branches moving in the wind. And so it went on. How rich and enriching Eucharist might be, if we could see. If we lifted up our hearts and minds. If heaven and earth was seen to be full of God’s glory. The little ones could see. Sometimes adults are so focused that too much is missed… I walked by the Tolka this morning. The swans were back. (Missing since the babies appeared on 17th May.) The heron stood still at the centre of the pond. And so did I. I was learning from the children.

Seamus Ahearne osa    2nd October 2023.

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