The Music of Mission

Gabriel’s Oboe:

Ennio Morricone has died. Those of us who are musically ignorant, are even familiar with Gabriel’s Oboe.  The scene of Fr Gabriel playing the oboe at the waterfall, in his effort to win over the Guarani people, is quite dramatic. (The Mission.)  Pope Francis (Exhortation to a Church with an Amazon face) soaked his words in roots, in memory, in poetry, in dreams. ‘The poetry of the people’ has to be respected (A missionary attitude).
This is true for the Amazon but is true everywhere, even in Ireland. Whichever musical instrument we play; all of us have to approach the ‘waterfall’ now with the music of our ministry. We have to let the song of our hearts, speak into the poetry of a new life and a very changed world. The solid structure of certainty has evaporated.  Listening can’t be talked about anymore but has to be practised.  That element has been weak in Church life.

We walk humbly into the future. We are indeed ‘tiptoeing’ with reverence into that new world, where there are hints of mystery everywhere.  We are nervous and unsure as we realise that our grasp of this new language of life, is skimpy. Ministry has to change. Parish life has to change. Church has to change. Our understanding of Sacrament has to change. Our concept of Liturgy and worship has to change. We have to change.  ‘The natives’ aren’t too easily impressed. We have to practise our own ‘oboe.’  Or whatever our musical instrument is. The ‘Ecclesial Dream’ has to be shared (Francis).

Jack Charlton:

Jack Charlton has died. He made people believe in themselves. His cap. His fishing. His pint. His long ball. His mantra – “put ‘em under pressure.” Big Jack was very different to Bobby.  The poetry of Bobby contrasted with the prosaic Jack. He would have been impressed by Southampton at present. They play with heart and guts. He also lived as if there was more to life than football.  Jack was the strong centre half.  His ‘black book’ summed up his tough and rough play.  He was a much better player than he appeared. His crude coaching was more subtle than it seemed. He became a symbol of hope and confidence in Ireland.  Nothing was now impossible. There was fun. There was the-devil-may-care outlook which was orchestrated.  He was even credited with playing a part in the birth of the Celtic Tiger.  He had come from a mining background and had gone down in the mines himself.  He spent his playing days at Leeds.  Johnny Giles is still our man from Leeds.  Lorimer. Hunter. Bremner and of course Revie.  Leeds are coming again!

Leeds played a game where no quarter was given or expected. I even had the boldness to use Jack as a Metaphor for the Readings of last weekend. (Effectiveness of God’s word) God waiting for us. Expecting the best from us. Giving us confidence.  Go play. Make the best of everyday. Make the best of yourself.  Have a go……..   Thanks for the memories Jack. You lit up the country. People who never knew anything about soccer – became fans.  Where were you during Italia 90 or when that goal in Stuttgart was scored?

The Weeping Willow:

My walking continues every morning.  The herons, the ducks, the starlings, the magpies have been my companions. I spoke to the trees this morning; Prince Charlie hasn’t affected me!  The trees have been waving at me every day. I had taken them for granted. I have hardly glanced at them or nodded.  They wave in prayer. They wave in laughter. They just wave as they do their exercises each day. The story of trees is most impressive.  They talk to each other apparently underground. They have their own language which is extraordinary.  Again we have to tiptoe with reverence.  I stopped this morning to whisper a word to the Weeping Willows.  These are beautiful trees. They speak of carelessness. Of carefreeness. Of a canopy of tears. Of abandonment.  There is something very extravagant about them.  Those two special Irish words, Fathulach and fluirseach, describe them well.  Why do I ignore them?  They are wonderful. They want to drape their embrace over all who would like a hug. They seem very cuddly. Nature is so generous and gracious. A musical instrument or just simply poetic? (Joyce Kilmer).

The News:

Srebrenica is a trauma on our memories from 25 years ago.  Some 8000 are named as killed. It is likely to be many more.  This atrocity is only a few days ago in our history. We could also recall the cellist Vedran Smailović who played during the siege of Sarajevo.  Even the Cranberries sang on the theme. We will never forget what went on in Northern Ireland, though the South can be very detached and dismissive. We do forget Syria. The refugees’ crisis has disappeared from our consciousness. We are preoccupied with our own difficulties; the virus.   Some take refuge in a world of celebrities. A few even follow the legal case where Johnny Depp is suing The Sun (whoever Johnny Depp is…)  He and his former wife Amber Heard, definitely lived a very strange life. Is this the stuff of celebrity lifestyle?  It is very empty and sad.  Or another distraction is Ghislaine Maxwell who is charged with dreadful crimes through her connection to Jeffrey Epstein.  What a world?  Hardly a wonderful world!

We only have Barry Cowen here who is deeply troubled with the repercussions from his drink-driving offence and then his sacking.  I did suggest to my journalist friend that he caused havoc for the Government! And now rather quickly Dara is the new man.  Some regional interests are satisfied. And Micheál Martin has become a strong decisive leader or has alienated many in his party.   Oh, the problems we have!
I hear on Morning Ireland too frequently that yet another Report has been published.  There is a plethora of Reports – all speaking very authoritatively. Is there a band of merry women/men somewhere and everywhere, using their energy and time, asking more and more stupid questions? How do you feel about this that and the other thing!     Such gibberish…… But the most serious news of all:  The Pubs can’t open for a few more weeks. What a crisis! And there was a little matter of 13 billion which we didn’t want from Apple.

Diaconate and Skye:

I had a phone call from Tony on Skye in Scotland yesterday.  On the 17th August, he will celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary with Pola.  I recall with much affection – the two of them on a motor bike returning from an Engaged Encounter weekend after skidding though the snow in Alva all those years ago.  They were members of our Parish in Dundee (Peter and Paul’s). Tony qualified as a doctor but wasn’t impressed by much of the carry-on in the profession. He wanted to be a joiner! We helped to persuade him to be patient! He eventually became a consultant psychiatrist.  They are a delightful couple.   Pola specialised in working at Art Therapy.  She worked with the sick and especially the dying. She helped them create the art of memories.  Pola felt privileged.  I have told her family story previously here, on her father and his time in Auschwitz. (Her wish to be rid of plaits, as a child, and then seeing the bags of hair in the concentration camp).

Tony will be ordained Deacon on the 17th as well as celebrating his wedding anniversary. I cannot attend the diaconate but would like to be there.   He has just finished his studies for diaconate. He is glad to have all of that study over. But his most precious comment was along these lines: That he loved every moment of the preparation and formation.   He learned about himself. He met God in a very new way.  He was constantly surprised.  He is very excited. I told Pola that she should be ordained too.

The whole edifice of ministry has to be changed.  It has been too rigid and inappropriate for the daily groan of ‘creation giving birth’ to a new way of living. I hope the deacons are not restricted to the formalities of being robots in the sanctuary.  I believe that the Tonys of this world of diaconate should be given full freedom to stretch the concept of ministry into the great breadth of life. They come with a very different experience of life and can play a different music before all the waterfalls.  Gabiel’s Oboe and the poetry of others is their inspiration. They have lived family relationships and its demands.  They have worked in the ‘outside world.’ They have dealt with the chaos of rearing children.  They bring a needed colour and richness to ministry.

Seamus Ahearne osa

p.s. Have some of our regular contributors gone on furlough? Is there a strike on? Our replacement benches are empty.



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One Comment

  1. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Seamus, you’ve been ringing the changes on Gabriel’s Oboe here every week for years, but why are the 1,000+ ACP Guarani so shy, so silent, so unresponsive, so invisible? It’s a bit like playing solo handball against a very wet haystack – or against a waterfall with a ball of knitting wool. Keep playing – the Oboe and the handball. Just be careful that these diocesans don’t get so embarrassed that they’ll tie you to a cross and pitch you over the falls. They’re probably even more unpredictable than the Augustinian big men.

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