Saturday, August 27, 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Paschal Tiernan was born on April 10, 1929.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Last year the German embassy in London recieved 400 applications for passports under this regulation. And since Brexit the numbers seeking German passports has increased.
(1) Unless otherwise provided by a law, a German within the meaning of this Basic Law is a person who possesses German citizenship or who has been admitted to the territory of the German Reich within the boundaries of 31 December 1937 as a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such person.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Saturday, August 20, 2016
'Thinking Anew' column in today's The Irish Times.
It's mesmerising to observe how no two people are the same. Walk down any street and notice all the different faces.
Each one of us is unique.
But our uniqueness never makes us better than others.
Far too often in history too much damage has been done in the name of superiority.
Tomorrow's Gospel gives us a timely warning:
'Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last." (Luke 13:30).
It comes naturally for people to think that they come from the best country in the world, that their team is the best team. When that sort of thinking is carried to extremes then we are in dangerous waters.
The Psalmist comes to mind: "Ordinary men are only a puff of wind,/important men delusion;/put both in the scales and up they go,/lighter than a puff of wind. (Ps 62: 9)
All forms of fanaticism are scary. There is a mindset about that inclines us to believe that we need a 'strong person' to make us 'strong again'.
In spite of people often doing it, the adjective 'unique' can never be qualified. It can never be 'truly unique'. It is an unusual adjective. We are all unique but none of us is 'truly unique'. Interesting.
Yes, the Irish are great and special people but so too are the people of the United Kingdom, citizens of Vietnam. There are great Christians, great Muslims, great Buddhists, great agnostics. We are all great and special in our own unique way. Some people are better than others. Some are strong, others are weak.
In a mysterious and marvellous way the world and its inhabitants is made up of an almost infinite variety of characteristics. Our environment, accident, tradition, luck, all play a role in making us who we are. But to talk about one group of people being by their nature better than another ends up in catastrophe. It's jingoism to talk about 'great countries' or making 'us great again'. History tells us the evil and nonsense of such thinking.
These days one seldom hears the expressions 'the one true faith' or 'outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation'. Am I a 'heretic' if I venture to say, thank God, we no longer hear such expressions?
Surely that sort of thinking cannot be helpful and how can it fit in to the thinking of tomorrow's Gospel reading?
Right now the world seems badly in need of a new type of thinking that looks around corners and recognises that life is nuanced. There are no simple answers. Our uniqueness has to be nurtured and cherished. It is only right that we should be questioning the wealth and the privileges of the 'elite classes' but it has become a sort of a catch-cry to throw it at all in sundry.
Anyone we don't like we can attack them by calling them the 'elite'. It has become a dirty word. We all need to strive to be good people, to do things well, realising that we are all in this together. It should never be a world of 'them versus us'. Instead, we should strive for a world of unique people, working for the good of all. As Christians, we believe that each one of us in her/his own particular way has something unique to give to the world.
It's not being better that makes us good. If we think by putting people down we go up, then we have got it all so wrong. The way to go up and do better is to bring others with us. We all need to see the good in others. There's so much to see and admire.
Friday, August 19, 2016
When people began to ask questions of Marcial Maciel the answer always was that the 'world' was out to get him and that it was imortant for the Church to pray for the conversion of the world. Everything in the world was evil and it must be confronted.
Where does one hear and read that sort of language today?
Just as there was something wrong with the Legionaries of Christ in the 1970s so too there is something wrong within the institutional church today.
An attitude or environment that existed in the Legionaries of Christ, certainly in the 1970s in Rome seems to have spread to many religious congregations.
And is it all linked to an attitude to sexuality that is not the norm?
Four headlines in the September issue of the free-sheet 'Alive' run as follows:
"Working to abolish Christianity in Ireland"
"Harvard students fed intellectual drivel"
"Men no longer know how to man up"
"Fairer debate in UK because no groupthink on EU"
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Out of the mouths of babes....
How school has changed and all for the better. Yes, things go wrong, there's no perfection on earth but schooling in Ireland has improved beyond belief.
That phrase 'in the good-old days' certainly did not apply to Irish schools.
Corporal punishment was banned in Irish schools in 1982 and on a personal note I can say it was the best development in education in my years of teaching.
There's hardly a person in the country over 40 who was not slapped in school and indeed many people will have been the victims of savage and cruel beatings.
In some schools the 'privilege' of slapping rested with the dean of discipline. What barbarism. The idea of physically punishing someone because she or he was not able to answer a question in sums or English sounds today so bizarre but that was the reality.
Whatever about slapping someone for bad behaviour but it really was inappropriate to hit little people for not being able to add or spell. Is it any wonder so many people suffer from varying degrees of mental illness?
School might well have been great for the bright and the well-behaved but a terrible torture for those who were weak and those students who found it difficult to behave in a way which pleased the teacher.
School could have been an angry and nasty place. Far too often it left indelible marks on people that lasted for the rest of their lives. And all this was done in an Ireland that professed strong allegiance to Christianity, where the majority of the schools were run by religious congregations.
It really is difficult to fathom. What's even more difficult to understand is how people can look back on that Ireland and see it as the halcyon days. It was anything but. In preparing this piece, an elderly woman, who is mild in character, told me about teachers who were 'vicious' in school.
Those schools and that time played a significant role in brutalising us and indeed helping make us submissive and frightened. Imagine learning a poem off by heart for the sole reason that you would not be hit if you could recite it. That can't have been healthy.
The good teachers never needed to slap pupils. They had the skills and talents to inspire her or his charges to want to learn the material that was being taught in the classroom.
Do you remember that horrible expression: 'children should be seen and not heard'? It sounds like some sort of opening line in a mission statement for bullies. How dare adults say such a thing about children.
And we all took it on the chin.
It doesn't mean that everything is perfect these days. At least today a teacher cannot give vent to her or his anger by using physical force on a pupil.
They can still use their tongue as a weapon but even with that, pupils and parents have far more recourse these days when such things happen than they had in the past.
It's back to school soon and guess what, little Seán will be in his element. And good luck to those getting their Leaving Cert results on Wednesday.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Living in that priory in the 1970s was a Fr Brenninkmeyer, whose family owned C&A.
Also in the community was a Fr Germanus Lensker, who was a young Wehrmacht soldier with the medical corps, who was on the eastern front and saw service at Stalingrad.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
The Russians were opposed to the Reichsbahn developing electric locomotives and it was only in the last years of the GDR that the Reichsbahn successfully built an electric loco. That locomotive is now extensively used across the German Rail network, particularly in and around Düsseldorf. It is generally acclaimed as a great workhorse and many drivers will say it was away ahead of its time. It was built in Henningsdorf near Berlin. Today Henningsdorf is in the State of Brandenburg.
It is ironic that the GDR continued to call their railway the Reichsbahn - Kingdom Railways. The authorities' line was that the GDR was the 'real Germany' so it made sense to call the railway 'Reichsbahn'. West Germany called its railway 'Deutsche Bundsebahn' DB. Today it is called Deutsche Bahn, still using the initials DB.
Until the fall of the Berlin Wall double-decker trains were operated exclusively by East German Railways. They are now in use right across the German rail network. It is one of the few things that the West took from the East. That and the little green man at traffic lights and the practice of turning right on red are all that's left of the GDR.
The million dollar question: who owns DB?
Friday, August 12, 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Monday, August 8, 2016
He commented how the man was generally known as 'Eddie Daly', "that's just what people called him", he said.
It's always the little things that give the telltale signs.
No name changing with episcopal appointment for this bishop.