Seamus Ahearne’s Musings: Don & Joe, AOC, RGB, ACB & ACP… and Indi

‘A child believes that a pony should see the inside of a house.’ Patel



Donald and Joe:

A horror show, it seems. Was it a Tom and Jerry Show or a Punch and Judy Show or just two residents in a nursing home squabbling (one description)? Donald and Joe’s clash didn’t make for an edifying spectacle. Venom and vitriol. This wasn’t a debate. If children behaved like that, they would be put on the naughty step. It was a sad moment for America (another description). I expect Kamala and Mike can do better next week. They can hardly do worse. I hope none of the young ones were watching. It was too embarrassing.


Church Visitors:

I was cooking lunch yesterday. My eyes meandered, as I checked the door for post. The five of them came down the road in procession, very quietly, very orderly and very gently. They intrigued me. They went towards the Church; looked in; saw the shut gates; seemed to cry; came out and stood at the wall of the bungalow. They were so forlorn. I don’t think they were blaming me for the locked church but were in sympathy with me. They stopped as if in sad reflection, and then sauntered off down the footpath with heavy steps. I am talking about five ponies.


Open House; Vat 2; ACP:

The article by Angela Hanley (website) stirred the embers of my past. Open House was mentioned. I remember the birth of that magazine. Tony Robb and Ian Willock were members of the community at Peter and Paul’s Parish in Dundee, during my time there. Tony and Ian plus others, had a deep commitment to waking up the ideas surrounding Vatican 2. They wanted to shout to the heavens, the enthusiasm and energy of the Council. They believed that the Church had to live in the modern world. They saw the magazine (Open House) as rooted in the reforms of the Council. They were excited and exuberant back in those days. They were bold, brave and full of bravado. Open House might become The Tablet for Scotland (they dreamed)! We did what we could, back in those days, to support their adventure. It began in 1990 and its mission statement echoes very much the intent of ACP.   Open House continues. It has struggled financially and some of its earlier dreams haven’t been achieved but it has kept going. Its original purpose is still very valid and necessary. Joe Mulvaney’s article on the continuing inquisition shows how far we have to go, in moving with Vat 2. Eddie tells me that Charlie Brown has moved on, which I didn’t know. I had problems with Charlie! He wasn’t too keen on my reading of Hildegard of Bingen which connects to some of our hotly discussed issues. Vat 2 cries out for implementation. Oh Open House; The Tablet; ACP – we still need you badly.


Formidable Dames:

I had a phone call from Clare. I was asked about AOC (Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) and where her speech in The House could be found. My caller then listened to AOC as she calmly confronted the behaviour of Ted Yoho, and his treatment of her, as a woman, and the crudity of language, which was common currency or even locker-room behaviour, by men in regard to women (pace Donal Trump). Her words were measured and powerful. RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) has died. Her proposed replacement is Amy Coney Barrett. She is a practising Catholic, which obviously is dangerous. She is a member of the People of Praise which is even worse. (I know nothing of this group!) I suspect that Amy might not easily be welcomed onto Open House or even the ACP. Joe Biden saw the proposed candidate as Donald’s effort to dump The Affordable Care Act and also to be on hand, if the election result went to the Supreme Court.

Another woman was in the spotlight recently on The Late Late Show, Mary McAleese. Her memoirs are on sale. I recall years ago when Mary was mentioned as a possible female cardinal. I doubt if that would be a serious proposal nowadays. Mary has given much to our country and has been a practising Catholic! However, she has got noisy. I didn’t like her story with Ryan Tubridy when she spoke of the parish priest’s visit to her home. I cringed. Mary has much to say and is hurting and angry for good reasons but we need her at the heart of our conversation in church. Cheap jibes don’t help. Easy sneers don’t impress. I could be completely wrong but I did hear it in that way. It was fodder for Ryan too and possibly for RTÉ!


Wake up dead:

I’m worried. One of our very thoughtful and deeply committed parishioners told me that she is afraid to go to sleep at night. She fears waking up dead, due to Coronavirus. Mentioned in dispatches this week were Oliver Bond and Shop Street (Galway). This was linked to the virus. The Augustinians are based in those areas! There were major breaches of the Guidelines in these places. So far, we haven’t had incidents of such behaviour in this parish!   We are very docile in these parts……


Truth matters:

RTÉ has an advertisement. It speaks of high morality. Imagine that. ‘The truth matters. Integrity matters. Before you arrive at your opinion. Get past the rage, deception and fear and find the truth about the story. The truth matters.’ Highly honourable. It comes across like a Centre of Excellence promotion (which I find very arrogant!) It sets quite a standard. I suggest that it creates a responsibility to show that this is their truth. We should therefore be very critical of everything they do. We should check out how they live up to such a standard. I have some doubts!


Detached Religion:

I see that 2.3k watched our recent concert on Facebook from Rivermount parish. I’m not sure how that figure translates into a reality of viewing. But it is interesting. I had a call from someone in a faraway country who had watched/participated in our Masses on Facebook. I was told – “You have got very white, very bald and very old looking.” We do what we can, in celebrating Mass, in making it real. It is almost impossible to do much, as we are locked down, and haven’t a congregation. Liturgy has to be a conversation. It has to be participatory. We miss the habitual daily ritual. The awkward squad. The shared experiences. The Word becoming flesh, in the daily lives of everyone. The Communion. There is something artificial, contrived and very passive otherwise. So much of Ritual can be like that. Now and previously.

The sense of loss can motivate us to make sure that whenever we get back to some kind of normality, that our Liturgies are really alive and throbbing with the lived experiences of our community and reality. Ordinary pastoral life is very deficient at present. The exclusion from home-visiting breaks the connection and is very difficult. But we all understand the need and accept the reasons. Some people can’t still grasp why First Communion is postponed or why Baptisms can’t take place and why funerals are restricted to 25 people. But the virus is in charge. We are not in control. We accept our own inadequacy and we follow the rules. One million have died. That is a rather stark statistic. Over 200,000 have died in America. 1,800 deaths in Ireland. We have listened to some people who have had the virus and are recovering – very slowly. We know some who work on the front line. It is frightening.

The Gospel according to Indi:

Indi rang and wanted to know why I am always talking about herons. I think she is jealous. I almost whispered as I repeated my story. Each morning I stagger down to the Tolka River. Every step pains me because of my hurt foot. But it would be a greater pain not to get out. I walk too early these days (out of habit) because it is still rather dark. The light begins to surreptitiously appear. I hear the river speaking. It has its own music. My heron appears some days. The stillness. The quietness. Impresses me. It seeps into my own soul. I gather the air, the whispers of the trees, the voices of the water, the sounds and the smells. It is the stillness, the reflectiveness, the at-easeness (of the heron), that touches me especially. Indi then says that she gets the gist of my story, but then she begins to ramble.

She told me that she was stabbed. (Her injections). I was aghast. She said that everyone is talking of a vaccine but she got her second dose last week and she felt that it was an assault on her person. She is very clear that when she can walk; she will stand up for herself. She is fed up listening to all this talk of the virus and a vaccine. She doesn’t want it! Her major problem is that she is confined. She wants to be out. She wants to meet new people. She wants to see what they look like and what they sound like. She wants people to sing to her. She wants to see new places and new views and new everything every day. She wants to celebrate life. If only she could go to school. She wants to meet people like herself. She had a really muddled comment to make about babies. She wanted to know if it was true that Ireland had agreed to get rid of babies who were inconvenient? She knows how much she was wanted, and can’t believe that anyone could make a baby, and then want rid of it. She also wanted to know what was this Dying with Dignity Bill about? Was this country now going to help people to die….. ? She was very agitated on this one. She had to dump such bad images from her mind and think of all the good things and the good people and the beauty of every day. She smiled. And the phone call ended.

Seamus Ahearne osa


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