The Drama of Faith

Corpus Christi (1)

Joe Biden delved into his Catholic background, to find words on social justice and then spoke (via video) of God, in a most natural and easy manner. I can’t imagine Michael D or Leo speaking like that! Or any Irish politician.  Our country isn’t ready for such brazen religious emotion.
The private funeral (500 invited guests and streamed) of George Floyd, was extraordinary. (Tuesday in Houston). It was a Gospel Extravaganza.   Little Gianna had said that her daddy was going ‘to change the world’ and that does seem almost possible at present.
The Liturgy of that Funeral, was rather foreign to our sensitive and shy nature. The raw display of open faith, and the relaxed familiarity with Christ, was shocking to our reticence. The screaming , hurting, angry, ‘Body of Christ,’ was pulsating in the crowd.
‘Corpus Christi’ definitely wasn’t put away in a Tabernacle to be admired or adored.  The Benediction wasn’t paraded in a Monstrance but rather shown off in a very public and aggressive way.Corpus Christi (2)

That crowd wouldn’t do too well at some of our passive and detached Masses.
We (as ministers) wouldn’t be too acceptable to many at that funeral. I was jealous even though I wouldn’t be totally at ease with all the Amens and the ‘sharing of love.’  We could/ probably should, learn from them.  Al Sharpton (the fiery civil rights leader) said that ‘George was the rejected stone that God took and made him the cornerstone of a movement, that is going to change the whole world.’ He noted the flaws in the man and showed then what God can do, and what can happen. The unembarrassed display of faith, has to taunt and tease us.  We all need ‘to take a knee’ (in every sense. )

A man and his dog (1)

I met a man with his dog, in the Tolka Park, at 06.50 on Wednesday morning.  He wanted to walk and talk. We did. He works with youngsters who have gone wrong (badly).  He has had a long tussle with God. But sees God everywhere.
He is dismissive of the short-termism of most people.  He can’t believe or accept what values we as adults, are presently handing on to our children. They grow up too fast. They are lost in their tablets, mobiles and laptops.  They miss out on so much by being restricted to the narrow world of technology. They are easily sexualised and neglect the playfulness of childhood.  He was smelling the air as we walked.

A man and his dog (2)

George said “I can’t breathe.”
My walker-friend wanted to know why so many won’t breathe.
The wonder of life. The beauty of nature. The noise of the birds. The kestrel flying over us. The two grey herons. The sleeping ducks. The carp in the pond. The colour of the bushes. The flowing river.  The waving trees. The artist painting in the sky. The camaraderie of the morning walkers.  He even had a go at Covid and how we misuse the time.  He suggested that Covid was an opportunity to stop, to think, to listen.  People say that they are bored.  No one can be bored unless they are boring.
We part and his parting shots spewed out – Keep Breathing. God gives us the kiss of life daily for us to revive, walk, sing, dance, love, enjoy, be aware, be grateful, appreciate, notice, wake up and see.      ‘Earth is crammed with heaven.’   (Elizabeth Barrett Browning).

Jail (1)

The safest place to be, in Ireland, is prison. The most dangerous place to be, is in a Nursing Home or a Meat Factory. The high risk group is the cohort over 70 plus those who have underlying health problems.  The obvious conclusion then is to put all the over 70s in jail. Everyone else would be safe. The country could return to normal. All could get back to work.  To reduce the fear factor, social distancing could be reduced to one metre.  That all appears to be perfectly logical.  The cant over Floyd was that he “wasn’t expendable.”   All those over 70s are expendable.  They can’t be allowed to hold back the nation.

Jail (2)

I was almost forgetting that many of us have been locked in, (or up) for the past three months or in prison.  All the blanket coverage of Covid 19 with the absolute certainty that reporters can muster, is wearying.  The Nanny State and the Nanny Church is rather a pain too.  It often feels as if they think that we are all stupid. The facts are actually very simple.  Would our leaders please cool down the rhetoric?  I know the foolishness of the general population explodes, when everyone seems to think that the Government must provide money.  Who on earth is the Government?  Where is all this money to come from?  There is no free money and there is never cheap money when everyone wants it.    Common sense is essential here.


The little one who phones every night:

Indi rings me every night. She loves to chat.  She wants some privacy from her parents. She had a big complaint last Sunday.  She wanted to watch Mass and to hear her grand uncle. She really wanted to join in the singing and the music.  She told me that she was ‘special’  (which she is) and that she hasn’t been baptised yet and she wanted to get to Mass. After all she said – ‘we must thank God every day and especially on Sundays.’  She feels very grown up. She is almost 12 weeks old.  When she forced (screamed the house down) Nigel and Freda (her parents) to put on the Mass, she joined in the singing and danced her way through it all. She loved it.  ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings…’ indeed. If you think this is fanciful; you have lost the energy of mystery.   Every little child speaks of the wonder of life and God. If we can listen.  They dredge the depths of our humanity if we can only see it.


Protest for civil rights:

It was unnerving to watch all the Protest Marches across the world. Social Distancing didn’t seem to operate except in Glasgow.  Nicola must be getting her message across better than most.
It was sad to see rioting both in America and in England.  The dumping of statues was a very strong statement of historical significance but also severely off-putting. All kinds of destruction tarnishes the purity of the protest.
I found it rather telling that some commentators in the UK were clear that Britain has to look at its colonial past rather than appear arrogant and self-righteous as if racist problems were all American.  Our own Southern ignorance often surfaces too in how our politicians look on Sinn Fein. There is a huge absence of understanding of the suffering of the people in the North.  Humility is essential for all of us. We have much to learn. Some of the Biblical language at Floyd’s funeral could also find a home among us. If we can learn.

Seamus Ahearne osa.



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  1. Roy Donovan says:

    Seamus, naming experiences and in-situ situations the way you do brings us into the freedom of the children of God.

  2. Cainneach O Bradaigh says:

    Many Americans helped people in the North. For this we are grateful. However there was Racism in their own country which we in our celebrations of Liturgy chose to ignore. The Church esp. many leaders got absorbed in internal Church issues and had only an intellectual grasp of peoples problems. Very few have walked the walk of direct engagement with the reality of human suffering.
    Clericalism has isolated many from the direct engagement with people esp. the poor. This is a time for new listening and humility and for new conversations and dialogue. We all carry some responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves. We need the virtue of anger to stop things becoming back to ‘normal’ and courage to do something about it.

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