Where to find the Garden of Eden
Storm Ciara has come and gone. Storm Dennis has come and gone. Storm Jorge is coming. A different Storm Jorge has been with us for some time. Bergolio arrived on the 13thMarch 2013. Many of us fear that he will run out of wind too soon.
A hurricane hit the airwaves last weekend. That was the breaking news on Jean Vanier. If ever ‘Santo Subito’ was felt to be appropriate; it was at the death of Vanier. He was our modern saint. His work was beautiful. His words were inspirational. He lifted our hearts (Sursum Corda indeed). He did. And now this storm broke. The work of L’Arche remains as a monument. But our lifted hearts are broken. Some of us felt inured to bad news about anyone or anything but this news was beyond imagining. It was shattering. I have never been too impressed by the artificial mechanics of cononisation. The ridiculous nature of Sainting John Paul, didn’t help my scepticism. But it seems my enthusiasm for Jean Vanier too, might have been misplaced.
Coronavirus is not the only one:
Our world is noisy at present. Covid 19 is attacking from all sides. We are not paranoid but ‘they’ are out to get us. Trump doesn’t see any problem but the rest of the world does. Face masks are the new mushroom industry. The Dow has plummeted. FTSE100 is down 13%. We are in a state of chassis. The body parts of Keane Mulready-Wood and Patricia O Connor shock us. The #Me Too movement has sharpened antennae with Harvey Weinstein being convicted. Sexual politics are becoming different and should be. The women are speaking out and have to. They have more to say in every area of life even in Church life. And in Ireland politicians are dithering.
A Government waits until after Patrick’s day:
I see the election posters are down but the Polling Station poster remains up. Are we expecting another Election? The obvious Coalition doesn’t appear to be happening. The rest of the politicians procrastinate with some arrogance. Why can’t FF and Sinn Fein get on with it? The idea may frighten some people but the electorate decides and not the elected!
Lent and Spring:
We enter Lent. The most unlikely folk want Ashes. They are willing to parade around with blackened-out foreheads. Something lingers from the distant past. I love the idea of the battling Spring, assaulting the tenacious winter. The light lengthens. The flowers appear. Despite all the storms (of life); hope emerges. We keep going. I watch the little ones appearing for Masses as they prepare for First Communion. Of course, much of it doesn’t make sense but the little ones are full of wonder. There has to be something, to mark such a significant moment in life. The Service of Light occurs. (Confirmation). The old codgers of faith (ourselves) watch in amazement as the Light is handed on. We keep Mass out of such things. Mass only complicates everything and is a foreign language. We hear the youngsters speak of light; appreciation for the past, and the challenge of facing into the future. The parents add their own wishes, hopes and ambitions for the children and this is caught up in the Celebration. It may seem to have little to do with Confirmation, but it works. Confirmation itself has little to do with their lives. The Sacraments are too tidy. The unruly nature of grace and Godliness has to be tapped into. It can happen in strange ways. Only the theological artist can see the way. The tidy constructs of the past have to be left aside.
The Garden of Eden: Where can we find it?
This weekend splashes everywhere, the story of the Garden in our faces. It is colourful. The naked ones dance their way throughout the Garden. They want what they aren’t supposed to have. We see ourselves. The serpent is prolific. We are easily distracted. We all blush and have to cover up. It isn’t only the cold that gets to us. Embarrassment is important. If we lose that, our senses deaden. We are shown a further film, on the screen of life – the temptations of Christ. (Gospel). The inclination is to say that he could cope. It was easy for him. The Story is everything. We sometimes lose the imagery of Story. The Jesus of life, is the one who understands. The Jesus of Hebrews. Jesus may seem too convenient and too glib with the responses to the devil. But the editor tidies up the story for dramatic effect. The devil or serpent, speaks into our temptations of life, which are multiple. In Church life, there is a weariness for those of us who try to keep going. To give up. To see Vanier. To feel hopeless. Francis’ words to the clergy of Rome is worth a read. (On the site). ‘Turn bitterness into the water of life.’ We have to catch hope and light and beauty and wonder and laughter anywhere and everywhere. That too is Spring. It is truly Lent.
The privilege of ministry:
The response to Spring and to Lent and to Christ is: This is a wonderful world. Life is rich each day. We are privileged to be in such a ministry (as priests). We are blessed in our communities. Hear the Refrain of the Song: ‘Don’t let life get you down. ‘ God is obvious and everywhere. We don’t have to look for a special tree in the Garden. There are fruitful trees everywhere in our gardens. If we could only see. Some fifty people turned up on Wednesday evening to enter into the wilderness and the wonder of Scripture for the weekend. They will continue for the weeks of Lent. Everyday, we are welcoming into homes and the lives of so many. Each day, we wander into school. God gives us fruit of every tree……
A Prayer: I would break your neck!
I have just got a phone call. Tony wanted to ring me. His cat had to be put down. That cat kept him going since his wife died. Rita is a fighting fit member of our Faith Community. She is only 87. Her body is giving up on her. But she never gives up. She tells me her words to God: “If I could catch a hold of you; I would break your neck. “ (Yes to God. She said that. ) Isn’t that enough to keep us going whatever happens? I am fearful of tomorrow. Too many claim to know the story of Brigid and Patrick. The 29thFebruary. What will I do if too many women ask me to marry them?
Seamus Ahearne osa