Summertime and the living is easy (Gershwin)
The female saints who become New Men:
Bridget became ‘a new man’ today. (23rdJuly). God bless her. That is Bridget of Sweden. It only shows how prescient our translators were, in the renewal of the Liturgical books. Or was gender- fluid in, before most of us became aware of it? The 15thSunday (15thJuly) Collect appeared too, with a thud – it was beautifully arranged with the subject, tossed to the end, of the long-winded sentence in proper latin format. In Summertime – who cares? Such minor amusements are utterly unimportant. The foolish quirks of solemn people, deserve a smile, rather than irritation. In the great scheme of things we can sidestep the nonsense of pedants.
A Regional Meeting in DCU:
Some of us got lost in the jungle of the buildings. Or maybe the symbolic (of being lost and searching) spoke a truth. We are lost. I believe some 150 turned up. Between 40 and 50 spoke. There was a very broad church. If we as ACP ask for openness; we have to swing up the doors of minds and hearts. We listened. What was said, will be printed and sent to Francis. What happens then, is not too important. The idea of sharing, matters. Some form of Communion occurred. I was the one, on the end of the wandering microphone. I should get travelling expense! Running up and down the theatre was a challenge. My summertime-mind at times laughed at the seriousness of the passionate convictions. I had left that day four funerals whose stories could have, out–sensationalised the most strident Tabloid. Why can I never tell such stories?
I quietly wondered if the World Meeting of Families or Francis’ coming, mattered so deeply. A few (at the meeting) were very impatient when I didn’t catch their ‘hands in the air’ immediately. They couldn’t wait to ‘inform Francis.’ I obviously wasn’t fast enough. I think I did rather well! Everyone got a chance. It was all good. Above all, it showed, how diverse we are, and how difficult it is, to draw together the Community of faith. We are indeed a catholic church. I am glad that we, as the ACP, define ourselves clearly, on what kind of Church we struggle to create. We cannot bring everyone together. Once more – summertime and the living is easy (if we don’t expect too much).
Eavesdropping on the chatter before morning Mass (and elsewhere):
“Oh my God. I had forgotten what it was like. To hold a baby. This little miracle. This demanding precious little bundle.” The old granny is flabbergasted. The baby has arrived by a very circuitous route. Granny is overwhelmed. The ma and da are out of their minds with love. It has happened at last. Long waiting is over. Prayer does get a response. How could anyone ever stop a baby growing? Granny and parents know the extraordinary history of this special little baby. She is overcome and she is wonderful. Our little community bask in the warmth of her faith and delight. The dog is not quite so happy with this intruder! This is just another story, I can’t tell. Why am I so deprived? But I must say, it was easier listening to this chatter than the rattle of a Rosary being splashed around before Mass! Some days ago, I stood at the gate of the school. A car arrived. A pregnant mother got out. She had just had her 12 week scan. She said: “I can’t believe it. This is a miracle. A heart -beat. Little fingers. Little toes. Oh my God. It is beautiful. It is wonderful. I never thought it would happen for me. I am overcome. How could anyone ever think of…..“
Celibacy takes a battering:
It gets blamed for everything. If only it was dropped. The link to priesthood is unnecessary. That is obvious and will be accepted eventually. Not because of a shortage of priests but because it makes sense. There is of course the curse of history and the prurience of our past in sexual matters which distorts the thinking. Anyway, I was fascinated some time ago, when I half- dropped into a recent conversation on celibacy. The usual things were said. It supposedly creates a freedom in the ranks of the ministers. No married person could have the time or the energy to be as full time and as long term in the business as priests/religious have to be. That is clear. This is an understandable argument. However, this very singlemindedness (of celibacy which is a value) sometimes can lead to many of our ministers being totally self-absorbed. Health can be a real preoccupation. ‘Me-Me’ can take over. ’My little world’ is all that matters! The door is closed. No one will intrude etc. In thinking. In living. In concerns. So the drifting argument went.
In the marital state; there are always others, who take over. Children or grandchildren. The very mess of life and the helplessness of life with family, can be a real teacher of acceptance and understanding. Nothing works as we expect it to or think it should. The tidiness of faith in times past, probably reflected an organised mind and a simple structure. Life isn’t like that. Pastoral life isn’t like that either. The chaos around us and among us, shatters us. We can’t cope. We really are lost. An interesting observation. A thought. I listened and wondered. In my own mind (unfairly) I linked some of these comments to the meeting in August. (World Meeting of families). I only hope that the reality of families, as we know them, will have the chance, to scuttle the tidiness of orderly families which might predominate. Some of us are only used to disorderly families and utter chaos.
We are fed regularly by Croatians, Romanians, Brazilians, Russians, Mexicans, Argentinians, Germans, Czech. I find it delightful to meet this league- of- nations. It is remarkable how fluent they are, and how adventurous they have been. They bring a richness to us all. The Croatians demanded prayers for the World Cup Final. After that Sunday, I was thanked. Apparently my praying worked. I wasn’t sure how. But in a lovely throw- away line: “France won the world cup; Croatia won the hearts of the world.” I agree. They were wonderful. Such a small little country. Such big hearts. Such determination. It almost says – anyone can do anything. I like the catholicity of it all. The little ones. From nowhere with such a history. Powerful. I then watch the UK tear itself apart. I see John Major recalling the problems he had in cabinet and now seeing the same scene played out. The same isolationism. The same arrogance. The same narrowmindedness. And still it can be a message for ourselves not just as a country but as a Church. If we claim to be catholic; we have to be humble; have big minds; big hearts; big imaginations. ‘What I want from you is: Act justly. Love tenderly. Walk humbly with your God.’ Indeed.
We need open heart surgery:
Hamilton (Lewis) came from nowhere on the grid (14) and won (22ndJuly in Germany). Molinari didn’t feature among the headlines but won. (Carnoustie Open). The unexpected has to happen or we have to believe in the surprises of life. The unlikely does occur. ‘Summertime and the living is easy.’ That may not be so always. But in faith and with God, there is always a summertime. The life of grace. The life of wonder. The life of love. It is there. Our church cannot be dour. We cannot be too solemn. Even with a drop of rain, the grass begins to speak in green. In the midst of negativity, Church people have to shout with fun and laughter. In so many ways, we cannot live lives of faith, unless we are outrageous. Anything and anyone who limits the beauty of humanity and the greatness of God is not a spoilsport but is smashing the very fabric of faith.
Depression and paranoia:
Not only individuals can become depressed or paranoid but so can institutions. Our own culture/society/church can become obsessed with negativity and see only what is wrong and then become incapable of seeing the good, the light and the sunshine. We can easily point out episodes of darkness but our history is not all dull and pain. We had Hosea last week. The failing and failed love affair; the prostitution of love and then the coming- home. Life isn’t always something glamorous or romantic but the wonder of it all, is the surprise of hope. Hosea shows up the crazy love affair of God and ourselves. The anti-politics which led to Trump or Macron or the Italian election shows the rejection (and despair) in regard to all leadership in every aspect. What is that can lift our spirits? Summertime…..
The spewing lava (from the volcano of distrust) falls on us too as Church, and burns us up. The anti –Church strain of this virus is dumped on all of us but it has its origin, in individuals that abused or in institutions where strange things happened. And sometimes it is found in the sheer forgetfulness and ingratitude of many. There is much more to life and to our rich history than sadness and failure. All such focus on the wrong and the negative is a symptom of a sick society (and those who enjoy bad health!) and we are all polluted.
We are bigger than any bad moment or event. There is more. The slovenly liturgy that distances itself from real living and gets caught up in rigidity, murders celebration for everyone. But there is more. Everywhere there are people who are full of God. Anyone with eyes can see grace. The poetry of God is the very music of life. Redemption is necessary and constant. The original sin can better be described by our inclination to watch the clouds and see the rain that is coming or even to curse the summer weather. We have to go for the more and the better. And shout it out. If Church is problem ridden; I don’t think there can be any evidence of the Spirit among us. Summertime and the living is easy. A friend of mine has died. He used to read what I wrote which I found amusing. My way of seeing things would be drastically different to his. But he always encouraged me. May he now enjoy a permanent summertime.
Seamus Ahearne osa