Thursday, April 28, 2011

The down train on a spring evening

This time on a down train and eating raw spinach. The setting sun is spectacular. North Cork looks so peaceful. As green as it gets. Into Mallow. Gradually the lush land of North Cork gives way to the marsh land and mountains of Kerry.

Kerry driver replaces his Cork colleague.

Always a nice job but being a train driver in the Irish springtime is the best of jobs.

Alas I'm too old. I'd liked to have been a loco driver. Ah well. Another box not to be ticked

Single track to Tralee. And all in evening daylight.

All the time the controller at Connolly Station knows about us and where we are. No semaphore, no token.

Irish bishops on the new Roman Missal

In an introductory note to the new English edition of the Roman Missal, the Irish bishops write, “The style of language we will hear and pray may seem more formal to us and perhaps, in parts, more complex. But over time, with the praying of these texts, the sound of the Mass will again become familiar to us”.

How do the bishops know the future reactions of people?

At the end of the short note of introduction the bishops write, “But when we pray the Mass we do more than recite words – those words are recited in the context of all the actions, symbols and people of the liturgy.”

Do the bishops mean these words? Surely if they meant them they would have played an active and honest role in making sure that the English speaking people of Ireland would have had an input into the new translation.

There is a thread of uncertainty right through the note of introduction. It is a pity the Irish bishops did not have the courage and wisdom to tell the men in the Vatican that the way this new translation has been produced is not the way the church – the people of God should do things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bild newspaper forgets past and insults Italians

With the possible appointment of Italian banker Mario Draghi to replace Jean-Claude Trichet at the helm of the European Central Bank, German tabloid Bild newspaper has commented that 'inflation and Italians' go together 'like tomato sauce and spaghetti'. Bild is 'demanding' a German be appointed to the top job.

It's a coincidence that a German newspaper should make such an insulting 'demand' on the anniversary date of the founding in 1939 of the Gestapo.

'Tomato sauce and spaghetti' has never done to mankind what Germany's Secret Police did. And the Gestapo also 'demanded' much from far too many people. Bild talks about Italians and inflation. The Gestapo helped the Germans inflate their coffers.

It was ordinary Germans by their willingness to denounce one another who supplied the Gestapo with the information that determined whom the Gestapo arrested. The popular picture of the Gestapo with its spies everywhere terrorising German society has been firmly rejected by most historians as a myth invented after the war as a cover for German society's widespread complicity in allowing the Gestapo to work.

So please, Bild, think again, before you make your nasty comments.

Remember too that this is the week 66 years ago that the Soviet Army freed Berlin. Many of the 1,000,000 soldiers who poured into Berlin in 1945 began their long march at the Volga. They too had been gratuitously insulted by the Germans and called terrible names.

Remember? Nor can we ever forget.

Name calling is never appropriate. Is that not what the founding memebrs of the European Union had in mind?

It had been expected that the ECB job would go to the current Bundesbank chief, Axel Weber, but Mr Weber pulled out of the race. Rumour has it that he does not approve of the monetary policies of Angela Merkel.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life seems impossible without the mobile phone

Do you use a mobile phone? You probably do. Do you think you use it a lot? Do you think you could manage without it?

It seems that most people are never far away from their mobile phone. Are you ever irritated by the non-stop phone babble on trains and buses?

Do you think you are different from all those ‘other’ mobile babblers?
Can you imagine life without your mobile phone?

Yesterday afternoon I was standing on the platform at Mallow Station. I had my rail ticket in the pouch of my mobile phone. Do you know that sinking feeling of having searched every pocket over and over? There is nothing left but to admit that it’s gone. Phone and ticket. I had left my phone in a friend’s car.

It was some time before I thought of the obvious – call the number.

Through the kind help of Irish Rail the phone was back with me within two hours.

Maybe because my rail ticket was with it and because I did not have the telephone number of the owner of the car I felt so isolated.

But is seems scary how it feels without a mobile phone.

Ten, 20, 30, 40 years ago I would know by heart often dialled numbers. Today I know maybe two. Then again, the days of dialling are long gone.

What at all is ahead?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday prayers in Tallaght

Tenebrae in St Mary's Priory, Tallaght today was such wonderful moment of prayer. Simple and elegant.

People, Dominicans and parishioners praying together.

So genuine and kind too.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Looking in from the other side of the window

Looking in through the glass in the porch of St Kevin’s Church on Synge Street last evening was a lesson on many aspects of the Catholic Church in the world today.
It was Tenebrae at 19.00 – an unusual time.

The large church was less than quarter full. All adults and mainly middle-class, at least so it seemed from attire.

Far away up in the sanctuary a group of men wearing black ‘pixies’ were carrying on some activity, which included singing, profoundly bowing, running about, whispering to one another and generally in perpetual motion or else in solemn silence.

What they were saying was more or less inaudible, but remember, I was the other side of the glass partition.

In some ways it looked like some sort of secret ritual that was being performed inside closed gates.

Within an arm’s distance from me was a table with church magazines. One of the headlines on one of them speaks of the link between relativism and Satanism. Another runs a story on how anti-Catholic The Irish Times is.

It was freeing and relaxing to leave the porch and cycle away from the church and head up Rathmines Road and into Rathgar.

Is this the future of the church? It looks like it. But luckily it will have no bearing on the lives of most of ht people I passed cycling home.

Two Maters two sets of people

Visitors to Dublin's Mater Hospital are greeted on approach to the main entrance with a megaphone telling people that in the interest of patients' health, visiting hours must be adhered to and that children under 12 are prohibited from visiting.

Some 400 metres down the road is the Mater Private Hospital and no megpahone messaging.

Different private medical plans and no medical insurance.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A perfect morning in Holy Week

The early morning mist is lifting off the fields in Tipperary as if the spirits were rushing home.

The rising sun makes it almost impossible to look out the train window.

Contrails zigzagging across the sky.

It is a perfect morning no matter what lies ahead.

168 km/h to Heuston and then 15 km/h to work. Another perspective.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It is at our peril we grow lukewarm to EU

Sixty six years ago on Holy Saturday the Red Army with one million men reached Berlin. This was the culmination of the great victories at Stalingrad, Oriel and the tank battle at Kursk.

The gates at the German death camps had been opened.

The European Union was born out of the ashes of the 43,000,000 who died at the hands of Adolf Hitler and the German people.

It has taken blood and tears to create the EU. It's our life line to sanity.

Are we willing to forsake it all for lucre?

But just as the Catholic Church is growing lukewarm to the advances of the Vatican Council, so too are increasing numbers turning their backs on the EU.

Why do conservatives repeat again and again their policies to trample on progress?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Old stories and new ones ahead

Today's Irish Times carries three stories on clerical child sex abuse.

What is the hierarchical church doing about the issue of closet gay clergy?

It is obfuscating and refusing to have any open and honest discussion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Timothy Dolan and Terry Kohut

Why should Irish Catholics be asked to accept the words of Archbishop Dolan?

He is deeply connected with the Terry Kohout case.

The Vatican, its bishops, archbishops and cardinals need to be more honest, transparent and 'responIble'.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Irish pastoral letter on healing

Irish bishops' pastoral on healing and renewal offers hope.

Unfortunate the document never once talks about the cover-up.

But far more transparency needed across the church and bishops are not a people apart as might be interpreted in the pastoral.

A tastefully simple pamphlet and well worth reading.

Privilege of Seanad vote is a nonsense

This piece appears in today's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Last week I received my voting papers for the Senate election. Indeed, it was by chance I managed to get them as they had been posted to an address I left some year ago. It is an address that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Because I spent three years as an undergraduate at UCC I am entitled to vote for the candidates who are going forward for the three seats on the NUI panel. I have been voting in the Seanad election ever since I finished at UCC in 1979.

It might be my last time to have the privilege so it only sounds right and proper that I use my franchise and cast my vote.

I remember years ago my late father would receive a ballot paper from his UK based union where he was asked to vote for someone. As a child it greatly confused me because I would hear my father say he knew none of the candidates going up for election so what was the point in his voting.

And then history repeated itself. I joined the Nationalist Union of Journalists in 1998 and over the years I have received ballot papers. It is mostly voting for candidates in the UK going up for jobs in the UK so I never heard of the people. I treat it all as some sort of a game and eventually vote for people about whom I know absolutely nothing. And now here I am with my list of 27 candidates for the three NUI seats in the Seanad.

Just as there need for a change in voting for the Seanad, so also is there need for a change on how Irish people vote for candidates in UK based trade unions. It’s sort of silly if you don’t know for whom you are voting.

I have a fair idea about two of the candidates - Feargal Quinn and Rónán Mullen. Both are current senators and are in the public domain. Feargal is a past pupil of Newbridge College where I taught. I might even have taught his son Eamon. He was certainly a pupil in the school while I was there.

Feargal seems decent enough and over the years has come up with a number of good ideas. I am also aware of John Crown and read some of what he has written. He seems to be a man with good ideas. Along with that we both went to the same secondary school – more of the old parochialism!

All I know about Rónán Mullen is what I hear and see about him in the media. I don't like his politics and his right wing opinions.

I cannot abide the right wing Catholic constituency, who seems to know what God is thinking. And it always irritates me greatly when the media equates all Catholics, especially priests, with right wing thinking. We are not an amorphous group and we can think for ourselves. My skin breaks out in goose pimples when I read right wing Catholic material.

As for the other 24 candidates I know next to nothing about any of them. Linda O'Shea Farren is interested in campaigning for the rights of the disabled so I will give her a vote.

I am not at all for the abolition of the Seanad but it certainly needs restructuring and the idea that I have a vote is pure and simple nonsense. At least it is crazy that I have a vote and my cousin, who is far wiser than I, has not a vote because she went to DCU.

Would it be sort of cheeky to say everyone who has a vote for the Seanad does not deserve to have one, hence the system of voting for the House needs to be changed.

I can’t recall ever before seeing so many names on the ballot paper. And in a way this time round it might well be a little like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Come to think about it, in general elections how many of us know all that much about the candidates for whom we cast our vote? How much of it is on a hunch, how much of it depends on how our parents and friends vote? How much of it depends on what’s in it for me? Democracy.

When I have this written I will put my completed ballot paper into the ballot paper envelope, then put it along with the form of declaration of identity into the larger covering envelope and post it.

And all that, just after completing the census form and an eight page sick leave form for the Department of Social Welfare having been absent on sick leave.

At least I don’t have to pay for the stamp when posting the ballot paper. I just help pay for the salaries of the senators. Come to think of it, I’m paying for the stamp too – probably many times over.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Priest refuses to lie or recant

A distinguished American Catholic priest, Fr Roy Bourgeois, faces dismissal from the priesthood for refusing to recant by today his view that women can validly be ordained priests.

Fr Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest, said that his superiors were telling him to lie and say he did not believe that God calls both men and women to the priesthood.

“This I cannot do,” he wrote, “therefore I will not recant.

This is truly incredible, that is, if the report is accurate.

This is what dictatorships do.

How can the Archbishop of Dublin expect people to take 'responsibility' in such an organisation.

The idea of his superiors telling him to lie is the usual line of the church.

In the past convicted serial paedophiles have had difficulty resigning their priesthood.

In justice my Catholic Church cannot be allowed continue in this manner.
And what a horrible word 'recant' is.

Has it now got to the point where you can be dismissed for your views on man-made laws?
Incredible.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cloyne's day in the spotlight

And it's Cloyne this week. Of course it is to do with sex. Not really, instead unspeakable crimes committed by priests and brothers against minors. Worse the subsequent cover up.

It will be horrific 'stuff'.

Why not an inquiry in every diocese?

And to think that millions of people have been alienated from this church because of its zany perverted 'laws' on sexual morality.

Simply bizarre. And never an apology from the church for so upsetting the lives of so many good people.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poland mirrors church

Today Poland showed the division and animosity that exists within the country.

A similar division exists within the Catholic Church.

Certainly the current dishonesty cannot prevail.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Not worthy of protecting the people

Last night on RTE's main news crime cor Paul Reynolds commented that the alleged Garda rape talk case was not a sackable offence. An outrageous remark. On Morning Ireland a reporter referred to it as 'banter'.

This is an unusual republic. If those gardai said what is reported and allowed continue in their jobs then who is going to protect us.

Ireland, church and State seem to be two great brazen monsters and out of control.

All that double talk in secret tells the real soul of people.

The comment of PJ Stone is the stuff of the Keystone Cops.

His amazing comment - "Many people will be under the wrong impression rhat comments were made directly to a woman. They were not."

Really is this the best we can do?

Habermas and Fischer share Berlin platform

Yesterday in Berlin former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer said at a lecture that he believed the people who want Europe should come out and say where they want to be.

"Serious leadership failure in Berlin had stalled the EU integration motor which was now in danger of running out of steam," Fischer said.

Juergen Habermas spoke of the 'creeping death' of the EU unless Germany seizes the eurozone crisis as a chance for final European integration.

"We are currently going about sinking 50 years of European history," Habermas said.

Scary words.

Church opposes all forms of criticism

In yesterday's Irish Times the Archbishop of Dublin is reported to have said at a talk in the US that people in Ireland were and are slow to take responsibility for what has happened in the church.

The Irish bishops have made it an art form that no-one dares criticise or oppose them. The Vatican does not operate in an open and transparent fashion when it comes to opposition or criticism.

What do bishops and archbishops say in public about how bishops are appointed?

It is not at all as simple as it might seem when one reads yesterday's coverage of what the archbishop is reported to have said.

The church furthers the career of yes men and careerists. And it does it in a most brazen way.

If the hierarchical church continues to be as authoritarian as it is then it is difficult not to be angry with the words and sentiments of Archbishop Martin.

Take the Vatican investigation, which is at present taking place in Irland and observe carefully the secrecy that will surround it.

There are other serious prolems within the Irish church today but there is no platofrm for discussion or opinion.

Bishops and archbishops need to be more honest, transparent and open.

If the church speaks in secret words how then can people in the church take responsibility?

Experience and tradition tells a different story as to how the leadership of the church works.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time to say thank you for our good fortune

This column appears today in the Irish regional INM newspapers.

By Michael Commane

I work three days a week in Dublin and two in Kerry. It means I travel every Monday evening after work from Kerry to Dublin by rail and then back down again on Thursday evening after work. I have been doing it for six years. It is something I simply take for granted. After work in Dublin on Thursday I cycle three kilometres to Heuston Station to catch my train and then late on Monday night, arrive back at Heuston and cycle eight kilometres across the city.

There is something about the human makeup that allows us get accustomed to anything. And jumping on and off trains and bicycles is simply part of my weekly staple.

Two weeks ago I was banjaxed - a chest infection and I was laid low. Just the thought of getting to the station and then spending four hours on a train was nothing other than a nightmare and in the end I gave in and took to the bed.

I'm back in action again but the week or so off work, spending most of the time in bed, gave me plenty of time to think about all sorts of things.

Of course I'll break the promise but right now I am intent on appreciating my good health and the next time I jump on to a train and then later, on to my bicycle, I am going to stop for a second and thank God for my extraordinary good health.

Oh, yes, every time we are knocked out with any sort of illness we make all sorts of solemn promises to appreciate our good health.

No, none of us is going to be running about constantly shouting Alleluia at the top of our voices, thanking God for our good health. Nevertheless, it would do us all good to stop in our step from time to time and appreciate the gifts that we have.

And just at this time of year with life jumping up at us we really would want to be out of our minds not to be able to smile at how fantastic the world around us actually is.

These days the hedgerows in Kerry are alive with primroses and all sorts of flowers, whose names I donâ't know. And then cycling to and from work these days in Dublin there really is an excitement in the air. Every bud in every garden is edging out and then with the clock gone forward it means cycling home in daylight.

This time of the year means there is everything to look forward to - five to six months of life and growth even if we do have our fair share of rain.

Later this month I'll be 62 and suddenly it dawns on me how lucky I am to be able to get up on my bicycle with such ease.

What about people who are in constant pain and unable to get out and about? People who are blind and cannot see the primroses. And yet there is something in the human spirit that allows people to cope whatever their plight.

I can't imagine how I would react if I became disabled or lost a limb.

A man I know, and we are not the best of friends, indeed we have had our disagreements, was in a road accident some years back, which led to the amputation of his leg. Is it okay to say I simply don't like the man yet I have been so impressed with how he has dealt with his accident and subsequent disability. Okay, he is in a privileged position to be able to avail of the best treatment in the land, nevertheless, he has got on with it and is getting on with his life. I take off my hat to him and keep saying to myself, I doubt if I could do it.

Watching people being shot and wounded these days in Libya and what seems poor medical services available to them, makes me shudder and yet somehow or other they manage and get up again.

Anyone who has spent some time in a developing country and seen first-hand the terrible plight of the poor are always greatly impressed with the kindness and spirit of the people.

So on the one hand it seems that we with our health and our wealth need to be far more grateful for the gift of nature all around us. And yet people who are far less privileged have some sort of ability of accepting their lot and getting on with it.

I am constantly asking myself what is life all about. And just as I write these words I am forced to say to myself that one of the great gifts of the human spirit is the ability to be grateful for what we have.

Yes, to try to say a single word to people who are in pain and suffering is tantamount to being patronising. But all I can say is that in my experiences, every time I meet someone who is experiencing some great disability or suffering, I am always gob-smacked with how positive and upbeat they are.

I also know I should be given a great shaking to be put in my place and realise how extraordinarily lucky I am to be able to walk, cycle, climb mountains – anything I want to do.

I also know I deserve to cop on to myself and stop moaning about silly little things that are so unimportant and incidental to my life.

Get on with it and just shut up and be grateful for the extraordinary gifts and blessings that have come your way.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is it it's or its, me or I and what does God think?

Anyone out there willing to explain to those who use the electronic media the difference between its and it's?

Why not some classes on the redundant apostrophe? A priest writes in a current pious magazine about how the time is going bye so quickly.

And a man preaching about the intellectual life is not sure when to use me and I. It is most annoying.

Maybe what is even more annoying is how these writers and preachers can go on to explain with such 'erudition' the eternal truths.

I must confess I am greatly confused how illiteracy can mix so easily with theology or is it another hint that it really is 'spoof theology'.

God's name seems so easily trotted out without the slightest problem and yet basic rules of grammar and syntax are mangled and broken.

The piousity, the platitudes and all carefully mixed in such a pompous fashion is shocking.

How can people speak so easily about God?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Westerwelle copies Cowen

The news this evening that German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, is to resign as leader of the FDP comes as no surprise.

But he is remaining as German Foreign Minister.

Are the Germans at last learning from the Irish?

On the other hand, the people behind the scenes were never at ease with Westerwelle.

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No comment from bishop

The editorial in the current issue of Kerry's Eye.