That was the week (and more) that was.
Not in our name:
Lyra McKee was shot dead in Derry. The country was aghast. Her friends daubed red hands on the offices of the dissident Republicans, Saoradh. ‘Blood on their hands.’ Indeed. They have and for what? Their effrontery to march in Dublin at the GPO was wicked. They insult our history however confusing part of that can be. Young Lyra stirred the fear of many. The Good Friday agreement. The fragility of peace. The absence of the Assembly. The fraught nature of Brexit and its possible effect on peace. How can the politicians be so useless? They are juggling with a ‘treasure.’ We did expect the women in leadership to be more capable of working things out! They may drop it and ‘peace’ can be smashed into smithereens.
Comedian Zelenskiy is elected – in The Ukraine. He played the President. Now he can be the President. There is also a Clown in the White House who plays the President. Donald is blessed in having Barr (AG) to brazenly avow no obstruction. Words mean whatever we want them to mean! Trump was elected despite his crudity and simplicity. Romney was right. Donald is an embarrassment to America and to the world. Siso wants a long life in Egypt. Very strange behaviour.
Sri Lanka sees madness on Easter day. 321 so far are dead. What kind of ideology can shape such a commitment to evil? How can anyone justify such pandemonium and destruction of life? The more we observe the stupidity of humanity; the more the fabrication of ‘original sin’ makes sense. Well almost. What is happening us? There is such a need for subtleties and sensitivities of Christianity if we could show it. Despite a collective despair betimes; the quiet lives of many and the wonder of nature speaks to our hearts and hope overwhelms depression at the core of Easter time and Resurrection.
The Spires of Notre Dame and The Annunciation:
Notre Dame goes on fire. The bees are safe. The ‘crown of thorns’ is saved. The Cross glares out of the burnt building. Paris and France erupts with a downpour of tears. ‘The soul of France’ has to be rebuilt. Fascinating. The rich pledge a billion. There is a five year plan. I grasp some of this but wonder. The spire fell. The spire here in Finglas hasn’t fallen yet but it will shortly. Notre Dame did speak of God. The Spire at the Annunciation spoke of God loudly. But we are in a new age. A building can be admired. But the God of the building may be ignored. There is something incoherent here. I am never convinced by a groundswell of emotion. A Diana moment. At least the singing was good as the fire raged. Ave Maria. Yes.
Falou and Vunipola
Rugby is back. Leinster will meet Saracens in Newcastle. Munster folded. Israel Falou has caused havoc. He dared to suggest that homosexuality might not be within God’s plan. Young Billy Vunipola (Saracens) liked his comment. How about this? All hell broke loose! Those of us who are connected to the Church, know also that our own response might not be too far away from that one a few years ago. Intrinsically evil – contraception/homosexual acts? How could such language invade the heart of faith? But it did. I agree that there is a fundamentalism involved in Scriptural understanding with Israel/Billy. That remains so for many. I even heard recently that Pope Francis was inclined towards a literal reading of Scripture. However, he handled that visit of the celebrity pilgrims beautifully. Whatever about the simplicity of Israel and Billy – their willingness to stand out and say that their faith matters more than rugby is very striking. Not too many of us do that so readily. I suppose here in Ireland we are very sophisticated. A gay Taoiseach. A gay minister for children. Abortion readily available. We are great. If only the rest could learn from us………
The walkers and the talkers:
Leo walked with Diarmuid in the Phoenix Park on Good Friday for the Stations. He has swopped Conor McGregor for Diarmuid (Patrick’s Day Parade in US) . I am rather more impressed by that walk than by Leo’s walking in the Pride March in Belfast and Canada in the early days when he became Taoiseach. Our past was very bad on all sexual matters and very much so in regard to homosexuality. But let’s not overdo things. Let’s get on with living and respecting differences. We can overbalance the sensitivities. It is almost fashionable to be gay and to make noise about it!
The scrum of two popes!
Pope Benedict couldn’t maintain his silence. His Holiness – what an unfortunate title to have? Surely such titles are wrong. Benedict wrote a very strange piece re the ‘60s relativism and attributes that sexual revolution as the cause of the present chaos in church life including clerical sexual abuse. Though Kung did tell us years ago that Benedict changed utterly after the student upheaval in France in those ’60s. Many of us grew up in this Religious business in those days and even the Council was part of an outburst of hope and life and enthusiasm. Hasn’t Francis enough to put up with? Rather than a side swipe from the Emeritus? Our own Diarmuid must be leaving us soon; he is lobbing quite a few big water bombs into the midst of our lives. . His Limerick address was telling. His words at the Chrism Mass (as reported) re the Mother and Baby homes played to a media of indignation. I feel uncomfortable with the comments. I am unconvinced at the outrage. Some of it is a-historical. It is awash with the immediate. I dare say it again – what will happen the burial of the aborted babies? There is a bigger story behind this story and the sensational one is hardly the right one. But the feelings of the immediate takes over in the me/me/now/now generation. I really must be getting very old and very curmudgion/lugubrious! Some of this stuff irks me.
Tiger Roll won again. Davy and Youghal are very much back in the news. What an achievement. Davy spoke very well and certainly has ridden magnificently. Tiger Woods won again. Never say never. The mother was there. The prodigal son. There was a prodigal father too. (Earl). Everything is possible. Tiger was invincible one time and clearly felt he was in control of life. The world had to do his bidding. He came across as arrogant. He fell badly. But the come-back person, inspires everyone. Addictions are all around us. ‘There are no hopeless cases.’ That is the cant. But it hard to believe that redemption is possible. And yet Tiger has done it. Ronnie O Sullivan got beaten. Another miracle. Willie Mullins does it at last. Sport often tells us of the possibilities in life. The rise and the fall.
Cervical screening; Children’s hospital:
Young Simon Harris is in the news. Again. His generous promise of repeat smear tests after the cervical debacle, can’t be met. The demand is too much. It is rather basic and very obvious that the system can’t cope. The system was already at breaking point. Then a loud promise had to make it collapse completely. But there was glamour in the moment. Here is the man who oversaw the chaos of the budget re the Children’s Hospital. His mind was elsewhere. Surely that was his job. This man was the one too whose giddy and stupid behaviour after the result of the Referendum on the 8thwas so immature. Is it all too big for him? He is very young. But quite a few in the cabinet are very young. Which is good. If only we had young ones in our ministry. Even though we too can be very unhappy with the young ones, in the priesthood who seem lost in the simplicity of certainty. Too often they belong to the past much more than the old ones who would be expected to be products of that past.
Liturgy and the Triduum:
The Triduum is very special. So much of the Liturgy is a foreign pageant put on for monks in a language which might be English but is often latinised. But those three days are very powerful if we have any grasp of the incarnation. All Liturgy is adaptable. It has to be flexible to fit the people present. No stylised version can be taken out of the deep freeze. It is inedible. Sometimes our problems with Liturgy is due to our own lack of creativity. I found our days good. They led us into the heart of our faith and were inspirational. The great danger for a priest is that we can become so much part of the Ceremonies that it is hard for us to be reflective and prayerful. We can just do the job and be worn out by the task at hand. Too much Religion is troublesome. The priest doesn’t have to do everything. In fact the more others are involved – the better. This cannot be tokenism. One of the loveliest aspects of many celebrations is when the priest can sit down in the crowd and let others do all the leading. I buried a man today. His friend told me that he didn’t have any time for God but that during his final days, he kept on blessing himself. Somehow – even when spires are falling; when many don’t even bother coming for Christmas day or for Easter day – the funeral does something. But the funeral reaches the depths of our lives, if the Liturgy reflects the person, the family and the community. God has to be given every chance. It is the time to learn a new language; to become artists and poets; to delve into the very depths of our collective imaginations; to sharpen the sensitivities of spirit to let God loose among us. There is the challenge. It should draw out the best in us. My little cowslip has appeared again. It surprises me as it smiles at me as I go out the door.
Seamus Ahearne osa