Saturday, June 30, 2012

Church sides with well dressed right wing

The Vatican has appointed Greg Burke from Fox News to its press office.

Fox News is owned by Murdoch Corp, which has been found to have behaved in a most dishonourable and illegal fashion in the UK.

The Vatican is the first foreign state to recognise Federico Franco as President of Paraguay.

Vatican appointed Cardinal Dolan on reporting on the state of the Irish church criticises the 'sloppy dress' of clerics and clerical students in the Irish College in Rome.

It would seem the Vatican puts great importance on style and dress.

Sad days and the future looks bleak.

Irish Dominican Larry Kelly has to be a flicker of light in these dark days in the church.

In the current issue of The Tablet Fr Kelly has a letter standing in solidarity with the deposed legitimately elected President of Paraguay Fernando Lugo.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dominicans oppose 'coup' in Paraguay

The piece below is a letter from the Dominicans in Paraguay about current political developments in the country.

International newspapers carried a photograph last week of the new man in Paraguay being embraced by a bishop!

The Dominicans are to be commended.

​​​​​​​​Asunción June 22nd, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Dominican Family,

I write to you from Asunción, where the brothers of the Vicariate Council are meeting.

As you probably all know, the meeting coincides with something which has happened here, a ´coup ´disguised as a political trial, against the President, Fernando Lugo. Not only has this one person been put through this process in a lamentable and unjust way, but above all a democratic process, which has tried to revert the history of Paraguay in favor of the excluded and the poorest of its society, has suffered the consequences. We have had nearly four years in which the dreams of many men and women have begun to be realized. They are dreams of justice and equality in a country where health, education, land, work - human dignity - were not to be empty words but concrete realities which made for a more dignified life for the whole Paraguayan people.

Many of our Dominican brothers – Jorge, Pedro, Toni, Leo, Ramón, Gabriel, Rubén, Francisco and Pedro are committed to the realization of these dreams. They are Friars who live and work in places like the Bañado, Roque, María Antonia, La Crucita, and the University; who accompany married people, and other people on their personal journeys. In the same way, some of our Paraguayan brothers in Uruguay and Argentina – Cristino, Edgar, Felipe, Edgar Rubén, Cirilo and Felix – accompany their compatriots who have emigrated to these countries, through their pastoral work.

We are filled by a great sense of frustration and powerlessness after so many efforts made by the brothers so that the Kingdom would become a reality. Once more, the politicians who defend the interests of the wealthy, seize the heritage of the weak. With an unjust judgement, Ahab and Jezebel seized the vineyard of Naboth, and ended up killing him (1 Kings 21) Today in the Senate, history is repeated. The words of God through the prophet Elijah could be repeated to the members of the Senate : ¨In the very place that the dogs licked up Naboth´s blood, they will lick up your blood ! ¨ No one can hold back the process of the Kingdom. We believe in it, and we live for it, as preachers.

Our brothers of Paraguay will continue to be committed to it. We pray to the Lord for all of them, and also for the lay men and women of the Lay Fraternities, and for the Sisters of the Dominican Congregations who work in Paraguay. We pray that they do not fall away from their commitment to the poorest and the most needy of their society. May they be able to sense our solidarity and close fraternal support in these difficult moments.

Your brother,

Rafael Colome Angelats

There is little 'mystery' about being nasty and petty

Pope Benedict in his address to the pilgrms at Croke Park used the word 'mystery' when referring to the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

It is difficult to know what he meant.

But the entire issue has been clouded by the institutional church.

There may well be a problem within priesthood that has played a role in all that has happened. But the basic and primary issue is the cover up that the institutional church has perpetrated.

It's the nastiness, jealousy, the petiness, the stupidity of elements within the hierarchical church that has alienated so many people from the church.

And there is no process in place to try to change things. And all the time more good people say adieu to the church they wish to love and serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just how important is clerical dress?

This column appears in this week's Independent News and Media Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel with Pope John Paul ll
It must have been sometime in the winter that I took a bus out to the Dominican Priory in Tallaght to meet two of the Roman ‘Visitators’.

It was part of the Roman examination into the Irish church. We were told it was an attempt to get some sort of understanding of what had gone wrong.

The two people who interviewed me were polite. I felt they listened to me and I certainly was impressed with them. One was a priest from the US and the other person was a religious sister from Ireland.

I had less than ten minutes with them. On leaving the room I commented that I was sure nothing I said would be taken seriously. They assured me it would and that they had taken note of everything I said.

So far I have not seen or heard a word of the report except what I have read in the newspapers.

I would think that if I take part in an investigation, then the least I might expect would be that I’d see the finished report.

And then on the Friday of the International Eucharistic Congress I read in the Irish Times that Cardinal Dolan is concerned about the ‘sloppy’ dress of priests and seminarians in the Irish College in Rome.

Really, what an amazing comment. Imagine if there were an examination of Irish universities and the report commented on the dress of teachers and students. We would all laugh.

I’d like to laugh at what I read but I’m much more inclined to cry and let me try to explain why.

In all my years as a Dominican I have found the clerical dress business, interesting, to say the least.

I certainly am much happier to see a priest dressed in a ‘sloppy’ way than like a mannequin, perfectly groomed.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with a person wearing clerical garb, especially older men, who grew up in that world.

Yes, a priest can wear his collar and be the finest of men and an inspiring spiritual leader. But that is because of the man that he is, not the collar he is wearing.

Clothing is neither here nor there. It certainly shouldn't be important now, just as it won't be important in the end: “for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. (Luke 12:15), nor - I feel - in the appearance of one’s attire.

And why anyway, the Roman collar? Why should a priest dress in such a way to separate himself at once from other people? Why prance around looking so different from other people. What in God's name has it got to do with the mercy and love of God?

Is it clever trick for people to set themselves apart, especially people who are scared of their own personal identities?

I went to the Eucharistic Congress on the Thursday. I went primarily to hear the English Dominican, Fr Timothy Radcliffe.

That same day I saw so many men prancing about in habits as if screaming out –‘here I am, am I not wonderful, I’m different, I have a great message to convey’. I did not know whether to cry or laugh. And mind you, clerical accessories can be very expensive brands.

That same day I met Bishop Willie Walsh, walking about, dressed like a ‘normal man’. He was so gentle, unassuming, funny too. Apart from Fr Radcliffe's words on being present to the sick, Willie Walsh was the one who left me with some sanity, some purpose in being a priest in times which seem to be getting very worrying.

And then I'm reminded of living in Rome in the mid 1970s and observing the clothing of young men who were members of the Legionaries of Christ. They were dressed so perfectly and all in similar style suits. They all carried similar briefcases. They looked so ‘clerical’. Quite silly too.

I imagine Cardinal Dolan would consider them a great example of how to dress. And just at that time the congregation was led by Fr Marcial Maciel. He founded the congregation. He and his congregation were much praised by the Vatican. Maybe their clothes impressed the people in the Vatican.

Since then the Reverend Maciel, who had the ear of popes, cardinals, the entire panoply of the Vatican bureaucracy, has been discovered for what he was.

And in the meantime I’d like to see the full Vatican report on the Irish Catholic Church.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The hand of the Lord is with us

The piece below is the 'Thinking Anew' column in today's Irish Times.

My father was 95 when he died. He was swimming in the sea until he was 92 and it was only in the last five months or so of his life that his mind began to falter.

Any time I asked him what were the best years of his life, he always gave
me the same answer; "When you were all small".

It is something I never forget. When I am in the company of young people
with children I always quote my late father's comment about the best years
of his life.

Next month I am baptising a new-born baby and I'm sure I'll quote my Dad to

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the one who prepared
the way for Jesus, the incarnate Son of God.

Luke's gospel tells us of the events surrounding John's birth, how his
father's speech is returned to him on giving his child the name of John,
“And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned
and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and
the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judea."
(Luke 1: 63 - 65)

Christians believe that everything surrounding the incarnation involves an
extraordinary divine intervention. God touches the world in a unique way.

There is always the temptation to over-concentrate on the spectacular, and
when we do that there is the possibility that we might take our attention
off the daily routine, the life and world around us, the things we do,
experience and see every day.
Scripture tells us that the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by
extraordinary events.

But John the Baptist's birth, the birth of Jesus, we believe have lifted
all human reality to a new and really spectacular level. Those events have
made even more extraordinary everything to do with life, birth and living.

It's easy to take the everyday for granted, almost to pass it by as if
there were nothing extraordinary about it. But when out of the ordinary
events happen, unexpected personal tragedy happens, we suddenly ask why and certainly we are forced to ask what at all is life about.

It is also the case when some great event happens we stand back and wonder at the mystery of it all. The astonishing joy the birth of a child gives is one of those special moments that lift our souls to great joy. But far too
often the great dreams at birth do not translate into reality. Far too many
children are the first to suffer in war, economic downturn, family
disharmony. And every time we help improve the life of a child we are
acknowledging the miracle of the birth of John the Baptist. We are helping
fulfil his mission of preparing the way for the presence of God in the

If only we could allow ourselves to be surprised by the wonder of the world
that is around us. Of course it is not always easy. But there is something
in the human spirit that challenges us to see the wonder, the mystery, and
the sadness and the pain – that too is part of our fate.

We get on with it. We have an astonishing ability to cope. We call on God's name to help us. We listen to God's word and try to live it.

There are good times and bad times. And I can well see why my father said
the best years were when we were small. Birth is sensational. It's the
beginning of an astonishing adventure, an adventure of which we should
never get tired.

By living it to the full, in all its strange and mysterious ways, we are
acknowledging that the hand of the Lord is with us.

Michael Commane OP

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Neither excessive formalism or extreme casualness

Bruno Cadoré

Below is a letter from the Master of the Dominican Order, Bruno Cadoré, to Dominicans around the world.

This medium is probably not the place for such a long letter, nevertheless, some readers may find it interesting. It has not been edited to house style. 'Zs' insttead of 'Ss', upper case letters where this blog would normally use lower case. Apologies.

"Where are you going, Sir Henry?" "I am going to the house of Bethany, he replied."

As Blessed Jordan of Saxony recounts: When Brother Henry left his lodgings and one of his companions asked him where he was going he answered, "To Bethany." He did not understand Henry's reply after posing this question to him. Only later on did he understand, when he saw Henry enter Bethany, which means "the house of obedience." It was Ash Wednesday and Brothers Henry, Leo and Jordan were entering the Order, the "house of obedience."

At that moment and in that place, while the brethren were chanting, they presented themselves before them, much to their surprise, and putting off the old man, they put on the new, thus fitting their actions to what the friars were singing. (Libellus 75) In this way, our brothers situated their vocation as Friars Preachers within the Paschal mystery and
the journey towards Easter and rooted it in the common celebration of the liturgy.

I am writing this letter to you about our common celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (ACG Rome 2010 n° 79). In so doing, I am mindful of this moment in the life of our first brothers and of our own experience as we begin that part of "Ordinary Time" which follows the great Feasts of Easter and Pentecost. I shall neither dwell upon the necessity of our celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours together, nor upon our promise to do so.

Each of us knows the Constitutions of the Order and the Letters of Promulgation for the different liturgical books of the Proprium OP. What is more, each of us is aware of what it means when there is a lack of commitment to our common prayer. It is by building our regular life, personally and communally, upon this common celebration that we choose patiently to build the unity of our communities rather than to submit to the arbitrary subjectivism of the individual. Also, I have no wish to dictate the form of this celebration.

Travelling around the Order the last year and a half, I can see how our customs differ. And yet, I can also see how much the unity of a community and a province can be fostered when care is given to our liturgical prayer. There is no doubt that we need well-prepared celebrations. We all know the delight of a beautiful liturgy, even when it is simple. At the same time, we all are painfully
aware of the exhaustion, disappointment and tension that arise when our prayer is celebrated
with excessive formalism or extreme casualness. At such times, the heart and reason for our
celebration risks being displaced, causing us to turn our focus away from Christ and toward

Instead, I would like to make two simple, yet radical points. The first is that our common celebration of the Hours is like a series of landmarks that direct our lives as we seek to give them over to our mission of preaching. Our prayer orients us on our journey of conversion, from Ash Wednesday to the Light of the Resurrection where we pass from the "old man to a man born anew" through the grace of that Breath of Life given by the Risen Lord. The second point recalls the expression used by Blessed Jordan: our common celebration of the liturgy allows us to encounter the source of our obedience and to draw from it.

This obedience is to the mystery of the Word who comes to "configure himself' to humanity, so that humanity might become configured to God. Our common celebration unites us in obedience to the Word to whom we have prayed for the grace of consecration ("Consecrate them in the Truth. Your Word is truth"). The liturgical celebration thus clearly leads us to the source of our obedience to the One who calls us to preach the Word of God and to participate in the work of evangelisation.

As a "house of obedience", our liturgical celebration invites us again and again to approach this call to unity, which I wish to consider from three points of view.

Celebration of unity in the Word
No doubt when each of us was moved by the deep conviction that we wanted to give our life over to preaching in the Order, we were also delighted by the joy of being able to pray with brothers and sisters. Together in listening to the Word of God, we become aware that this Word gradually comes to live in our own words. We bless and praise Him who unceasingl enters into the heart of humanity. Most often we pray in the choir which is arranged around a central empty and open space, open specifically to receive the One who comes. We do not go to the choir primarily to fulfil an obligation which we have assumed; but rrather we assemble in choir to await together Him who comes, to welcome Him and, above all, to learn to recognise Him.

The liturgical celebration of the Hours, repeated several times a day in community, must be a time when the Word of God, and not ourselves, comes to be our center. It is when we allow the Word to seize us, to take hold of our desire to give our life and enable this desire to do far more that we could ever do ourselves. This celebration repeated each day and in each liturgical Hour gives us the courage to expose ourselves to the Word; to listen to the words of Scripture and the prayers of the tradition; to become accustomed to the familiarity that the Word wants to have with us; to discern through the words of Scripture the face of the Son that is revealed and who is the very source of obedience. We need constantly to regain our strength, to take heart. It is in this mystery of the liturgy that we learn how to do this, or better, in the liturgy we can implore the Lord to do it in us.

What is the work of grace that operates in us, both individually and communally, through the liturgy? I would venture to say first of all, that each celebration of the Office leads us once more to anchor our lives in those gestures of our profession. "What do you seek?" "God's mercy and yours." Who among us has not been touched to the core at the beginning of Compline, when placing ourselves in the presence of God, we echo that question and response by which we announced our desire to make profession? In the presence of our brothers, each of us is helped once again to receive assurance of that mercy and forgiveness which gives us the courage to raise our eyes.

Each of the other Hours begins with the cry for assistance to Him who alone can support our life, our fraternity and our preaching. We all know those days of which we are least proud; the days when we would have liked to have been more just, more caring, more attentive, less complacent; those days in which we no longer expected anything from the Lord; those days when our enthusiasm to begin anew, the radicalism of response and the generosity of the gift of self were not brought to this daily encounter with Him.

The Daily Office, the "sanctification of the hours", is an act of faith for us that, despite our failings, brings us always into the Presence of God. It is this promise that we celebrate, doxology after doxology, bow after bow. "Rise, brothers", is the response to us on the day of profession. "Rise", heard Blessed Jordan, "and put off the old man in order to be clothed in that new man."

The intuition of these young men going to the house at Bethany shows us the way that opened on the day of our profession, a way that leads to Easter. The liturgical celebration of the Hours writes this mystery of Easter on our heart even in the most ordinary part of our day.

It envelops our own personal histories into a time that goes beyond us, and yet brings us into our true selves. It is the time of the promised covenant, heard in Scripture and sung in the Psalms, which gives us the words to tame and to be tamed by this Presence in every issue that confronts us and so enables us to respond to this call. It is the time of Christ present and recognised by those who were the first witnesses of his Presence and his mystery. It is the time of humanity who, recognising the Risen One, dares with the brothers of Emmaus to implore Him to stay with them. If we celebrate the liturgy of the Hours day after day and throughout the course of each day, it is so that our time is really, strongly, seized by this Presence and becomes a place to recall this mystery. To be clothed in the new man, it is best to let the mystery of Christ take the place of the clothes of the old man.

We know that the tradition of the Order stresses (and the Constitutions ask) that, at the heart of this celebration of the Hours, the brothers celebrate the Eucharist and that they do so together in the Conventual Mass. We must consider once more the strength of this demand, which many of us would emphasise in our retreat talks for religious communities. Fraternal communion is rooted and finds its vigour and joy in the communal Eucharistic celebration.

On account of their ministry it may well be that brothers must offer Mass in their parishes or for particular groups. Nevertheless the communal Eucharistic celebration must not remain for us merely an occasion for each priest to celebrate Mass when he has not already said his Masssomewhere else. Rather, it should be a pressing invitation to each brother, priest or not, to
receive the Lord's life in the Eucharistic sharing among his brothers. "Stay with us Lord ... "
we say together like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, and make our hearts bum,
impatient to follow you in our apostolic journey! Our communal celebration of the Eucharist
should make us impatient to live truly together, rooting our preaching in the unity of our
community of brothers. This we receive day after day in the broken Bread and the shared

Celebration of unity in fraternity
The liturgical celebration of the Hours must be a fraternal event. With the passing years
and centuries, perhaps the liturgical celebration has gradually taken on the appearance of an
observance, an aspect of the regular life in which we are engaged, a formal rite that we must
fulfil like ticking off an item on our daily check-list. But, if when celebrating the Hours we
celebrate the approach to Easter, then we are far from formalism or an obligation to fulfil a
rite, to 'say our office'. (Think of when we place the body of a brother who has died among
us in the choir until his funeral. We do this less to indicate that the brother is still with us,
than to return this brother, precisely because he is no longer with us, to Him who comes into
our midst in order that He might bring this brother into His Easter.) It is Easter that urges us
to hurry to the Office. It is the mystery of life always newly given that must make us
impatient for this encounter. It is the joy of fraternity, sealed by the Eucharistic sharing, that
unites us to celebrate together the hope of the coming of the Word of salvation.

Fundamentally, we celebrate the coming of the Word as that unseen source and foundation of our fraternity. Does not our coming together in choir several times a day give us the opportunity to recall the unfathomable mystery of grace? He comes to speak to the world and to us, giving us the strength and the words to dare to speak in our tum to Him. We let go of our own discourse and wisdom and everything we think we know in order to let Him speak.

Several times a day we should ponder the joyful mystery of the Finding of Jesus in the Temple: He alone is the teacher who opens the meaning of Scripture! Liturgical celebration is a constant thread running through our days so that we might be woven in our 'consecration to the truth, which is the Word'. It is a consecration that we recall together, by which we are sustained together, and through which we are offered together. The liturgy of the Hours, tradition says, sanctifies our chronological time to God; in its repetition and duration, the liturgy consecrates our own interior "duration" to the truth that is the Word who comes.

It is in this perspective that our Constitutions invite us to base our communities around the common celebration of the Eucharistic mystery (LCO 3). We might have been particularly generous at the first or the sixth hour; we could have confronted apostolic or personal discouragement at the third or the ninth hour. But there is one hour, always favourable, when it is the right time to draw strength and joy from the source of life. There is the favourable hour to give in our turn the life that we have received with a firm heartfelt desire for the salvation of the world.

Once again, of course, one can raise objections, such as the number of masses to be celebrated in certain apostolic and pastoral places, or the question of the rite one would like to celebrate. The Order is based upon the communal celebration of the mystery at the heart of all mystery and must lead us to renounce, absolutely, all temptation to relativism, which would favour our own work, choices or preferences over and above the One who is the source of our unity and the foundation of our community.

There is a single unity between the celebration of the Liturgy that sanctifies the Hours and the Eucharistic celebration that brings communion. In the same way, when we live the apostolic life, there is a unity between our preaching about the issues we encounter in the world and the service of charity we give to the world. There is a single, profound unity that enables us to live within
the liturgical celebration of the Hours our apostolic work and patient study. For it is always a
question of our being ready to recognise and welcome the Word that comes. By seeking to
live together in this unity, we celebrate the presence among us of Him in whose name we
offer as the hope of salvation.

Celebration of a unity received for the salvation of the world
Into the heart of the community gathered for and through the celebration, it is not only
Christ who comes, but also the world. The celebration is in fact the moment when love for
the world is nourished in fraternity. We say of Dominic that he spoke either of God or to
God; speaking of people to God or of God to people. We say of him, that he never ceased to
intercede for the world. The liturgical celebration of the Hours is the place par excellence
where our communities bring into the presence of God our aspirations for the world to which we are sent as Preachers.

We already bring these aspirations to Him by proclaiming the words of the Psalms that express man's desires with so much insistence, his longings for salvation, and his frequent incomprehension at what makes up his story. We bring these aspirations for the world when,
by singing the Psalms, we make the story of the people chosen by God our own story. It is in
being in the world in this way that we are a sign of the promise that the world can become a
'world for God'. Dare we say that, by singing the story of a people for God in the midst of
the world, we can open a breach in our contemporary history? A breach that allows us to
raise our eyes beyond what seems to be the limits of our destiny and beyond what appears as a
'dead end' or an absurd barrier from a worldly perspective? We sing of the promise of a
Presence and a Coming that does not accept 'dead ends' from a human point of view, but on
the contrary, projects the Light of a promise of eternity onto ordinary situations.

To sing the liturgy hour after hour calls us to be convinced that the world is saved and heard even in the midst of its own noise. For Preachers, therefore, the world is placed hour after hour under that sign which enlivens our consecration to the Word, namely, our desire for its salvation.

Of course, we again bring these aspirations for the world into the prayers of intercession, which are so important in our tradition. Since Dominic first cried "what will become of sinners" intercession has been a specific aspect of our spiritual tradition. The choice of the apostolic life brings with it as a consequence our acceptance of the sorrows and the joys of the world: its hopes and fears, certainties and doubts. Just as consecration to the Word invites us to let the Word take our lives, transform them and raise them up to the Father so our shared destiny with the world must dwell in us and constantly invite us to new understandings of the Promise. It must teach us to raise our eyes to the Father, presenting him with the needs and concerns of the world. 'I do not pray for them only, but for all those who have believed through them'.

This is a double movement: the Word takes hold of us and in tum we speak a human word to God which recalls Christ's concern for the world. This double movement "conforms" us to Him who has opened the way to apostolic life. It is one and the same thing to speak to the world the Word of God in which we want it to be consecrated and to speak to God the words of the world with its hopes and fears.

Sometimes we are fairly timid in our intercessory prayer, or even quite formal. We should dare to engage more fully in intercessory prayer which is an essential aspect of the spiritual school of
Dominic, because it was the prayer of the Lord whom Dominic wished to follow as a preacher.

Dominic asked his friars to celebrate the Hours publically. During the course of each day our communities are invited to open their prayer to the world. We recall in the presence of God the joys, hopes, pains and fears of the world. Liturgical celebration is thus a compelling part of our mission of evangelisation (to spread the Church to the ends of the earth). It is an aspect of our office of preaching.

Glorify God and give thanks for the extraordinary love that He gave the world and by which, without ceasing, He sustains Creation. Humbly receive the grace God gives us to intercede with Him for the world and to speak to him of those whom we commend in our prayer. Accept as well that grace by which God touches our lives when we ask Him for the world's salvation. Dare to believe that day after day through intercessory prayer the Spirit conforms us to the true image of the Son's praying to the Father, despite the clumsiness and indignity of our words. 'Father I desire also that those whom you have given me may be with me where I am.'

By our ordinary work being interrupted, by our 'leaving' the world to break into prayer, we give thanks for the sanctifying Presence of God who broke into our world. Are we not established as a
community of preachers through the Spirit who patiently conforms us to the image of Him who is the only Preacher? Do we not allow Him to bring our awkward prayer to the Father and place in us that desire for salvation for which He gave his life and for which we wish in our tum to be preachers?

And so, with Him, let us proceed further each day towards Easter and let us ask for the Spirit, in order to preach.

On the Feast of the Visitation
Fr Bruno Cadore, op
Master of the Order of Preachers

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Even Jesus is worried about those who 'parade'

Surely today's Gospel reading is some sort of 'Beware' notice concerning people who, prance about in clerical gear.

Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men's admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

'When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,8 so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

German team plays in 'Danzig' on Friday

Gdansk, Lviv, Poznan .....
This Friday the Germans will play the Greeks in 'Danzig'.

On Saturday German television told its viewers that the German team won in 'Lemberg'.

The team is staying in 'Danzig' in an old 'East Prussian' villa.

And on the Wednesday evening before the game in 'Lemberg' German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in her sleek limousine flanked by German secret service (Bundesnachrichten Dienst - BND) to meet and greet the team.

And then to cap it all, a team assistant trainer used the term (Stahlhelm) 'steel helmet' when talking about tactics for Saturday's game in 'Lemberg'. But the media did think that was a step too far and manager Joachim Löw apologised.

Imagine if there were some major European tournament in Ireland and the British media referred to Kingstown, Queenstown and Maryborough, what at all would we think?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Popular rising on June 17 1953 in GDR

On June 17 1953 there were popular uprisings across the former GDR. Magdeburg, Halle, Görlitz, Leipzig. In Leipzig the crowds tried to dismantle the Stalin statue.

In Halle the crowds overran the prison.
In the afternoon the frist tanks of the Soviet Army appeared on the streets of Halle.

Nearby Jena the Soviet Army was on summer manoeuvre and in mid-afternoon tanks were negotiating the narrow streets of Jena.

The biggest demonstrations took place in East Berlin.

Early on June 18 all was quiet. Soviet tanks had saved the day for the SED regime.

Radio and television announced that the putsch was the result of provocation from West Berlin and a small number of dissidents and hooligans.

That evening on GDR television Soviet soldiers were seen dancing with 'happy' East Germans.

In the following weeks 'investigtions' and show trials took place. People received long jail sentences. All done in secret. No question of due proceess. Human rights forgotten. And done in the name of the people.

Next time you are in Berlin take a walk down Straße der 17 Juni.


It took another 36 years to open the windows, knock down the wall and rid the people of nasty leaders.

A parable for our time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Roman investigators give their story

Anyyone who reads today's Irish Times' report on the Vatican investigation into the Irish College in Rome will realise that the institutional church is simply at sea when it comes to matters of priestly formation and human sexuality.

Of course nothing is simple.
Cardinal Dolan refers to the dress of some seminarians.

What would the 'investigators' say about the 'dress' of those 'prancing' around at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin this week?

They are terribly neat and tidy, indeed, 'immaculate'.

The 'investigators' comment on 'sloppy dress' sets a tone for an attitude that is most unhealthy in today's church.

Any attempt at linking a so-called liberal agenda with a 'gay culture' is trickery.

Surely there is a far greater link between a crazy conservative agenda, focused on ritual and 'incense' and a 'gay culture'.

Does a reading of history and an examination of the facts not tell a very different story than the one the 'investiigators' might like to disseminate.

Much coud be told that would tell a very different story.

Is it not as clear as day that a obsessive interest in clothing and ritual is a most worrying tendency, so visible and real among groups within the clerical state today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Above all a church of service

The second last post on this blog quotes an Australian archbishop who spoke at the International Eucharist Congress in Dublin yesterday.

I asked two work colleagues to comment on the quote. One said that he completlely disagreed with it and the other said that she would never take into consideration anything the Catholic Church had to say on human sexuality.

It is the mission of the church to bear witness to the Word of God, to convince people about God and God's love for mankind.

The church is always mandated to live and speak God's Word in love, in justice, in kindness.

The church surely can never sound arrogant or pompous.

Above all else the Church's mission is one of service.

RTE destroys German parliament

Why is RTE going out of its way to mispronounce the German word 'Bundestag'?

It is pronounced as it looks. There is no 'h' in the word.

RTE is being simply silly.

Archbishop says contraception is act of defiance

IEC Dublin 2012
Archbishop Emeritus of Perth in Western Australia James Hickey said yesterday at the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin:  "Truth is not respected when couples defy church teaching on contraception. Such defiance sets up an inner conflict which undermines faith and causes mistrust of Christ’s mandate to teach on matters of human sexuality”.

Surely topics for a great discussion.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fr Ted creators had prophetic insight

Fr Ted creator had insight.
Channel 4 is currently showing a Fr Ted series.

The similarities between the show and the 'real thing' are scary.

Co-writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews clearly had an insight into priesthood that was uncanny.

The drink, the arrogance, the pomposity, the weird attitude towards human sexuality, all those creepy priests, the voyeurism, the attitude to work - Morgan seems to have really been prophetic.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Christianity is a good life lived

All week the Irish Times has carried a series on the Catholic Church in Ireland.

In one report it quoted an Irish Times/IpsosMRBI survey that 26 per cent of Catholics believe in transubstantion.

Does that mean that 74 per cent have no devotion to the Eucharist? Hardly.

Christ is not in place in the Eucharist in the same way that I am stiting in this chair. And to say anything about place, an understanding of Aristotilian categories is necessary.

Theologian Gina Menzies gets it right when she says, " The ultimate test pf Christianity is how we live our lives, rather than what we claim to believe".

'Stahlhelms' in 'Lemberg'

At a press conference today a German assistant trainer used the word 'Stahlhelm' when referring to tomorrow's game in 'Lemberg'.

It is causing controversy in Germany and in the German media. Joachim Löwe has explained it away but admitted the use of such a militaristic term was inappropriate.

Irish Dominicans elect new provincial

The Irish Dominicans elected today Gregory Carroll as provincial. The 64-year-old is from Naas in Co. Kildare. The term is for four years.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

State cars park outside 'East Prussian' villa

There is something 'ironic' about everything to do with the German team playing in this month's Euro2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

The German team is staying in a luxury villa near 'Danzig'.

On Wednesday evening Angela Merkel arrived in the old 'East Prussian' villa to meet and greet the team

German television keeps talking about 'Danzig'. 'Breslau' 'Krakau' and 'Lemberg', today called Lviv.

There was something errie watching the German Chancellor arrive in her sleek limousine, flanked by BND personnel, at the 'East Prussian' villa last evening.

It gives an extra resonance to the current EU crisis joke: What the Germans failed to do with their tanks, they are now doing with their banks.

Of course, just a joke.

Dominican provincial election tomorrow

The Irish Dominicans are due to elect a new provinical tomorrow. The term lasts four years.

Every four years a 'chapter' convenes and along with electing a provinical it plans policy for the next four years.

The chapter lasts approximately two weeks. In the two days before the chapter all memebrs of the province were invited to attend open sessions.

Yesterday Sister Helen Mary Harmey spoke to the assembled Dominicans, women and men.

She spoke courageously of her understanding of Dominican life. She thanked the men for their support and cooperation, was saddened by the criminal behaviour of the few. She was grateful for the fine preaching of many but was concerned about a clericalism that she felt did damage to the Domiican charism.

Invited representatives spoke of their stewardship, hopes and plans for the Dominican Order.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cahersiveen canon fires limp cannon

The letter below appears in today's INM Kerryman newspaper.

It is unfortunate that William Crean did not read the piece with a keener eye.

Sir, It is with regret and considerable sadness that I am obliged to address some issues raised by your columnist, Michael Commane OP in the May 9 edition of The Kerryman.

He speaks of not being familiar with the world of the diocesan priesthood.

I write as one who served as parish priest in the Parish of Castlegreghory/Cloghane for seven years, where Michael Commane resided for all of that time. During those years I sought to work co-operatively with him.

Michael has been a priest for all of 40 years, as he stated in his column. Is it not extraordinary that a man who has had the privilege of formation in the Dominican theological tradition, not just in Ireland but also in the Angelicum University of Rome, run by the Dominican Order, should expect a 'Mommy' or 'Daddy' religious person to engage with him personally on the great Christian Mystery of the Resurrection and other religious questions?

Surely, he, intelligent and gifted as he is, ought to be reaching out and assisting others to grapple with the issues of faith and spirituality rather than bemoaning his personal concerns.

I particularly take issue with his perpetual criticism of the diocesan priesthood. The men who serve in our parishes are genuine men, imperfect as we all are, who serve according to their best lights. It is deeply offensive and unfair for someone in priestly ministry to criticise so severely those who have committed themselves to communities to which they were asked to serve and said 'Yes'.

William Crean,
Diocesan Priest,

Church Street,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paintings can really enhance our homes

Paintings can delight the eye
The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
I cannot draw a straight line - another of the many things I cannot do. I know nothing about painting. Of course I have heard the names of Renoir, Chagall, Van Gogh. I have been to galleries, walked around and come back out again. Indeed, it can be an amazingly therapeutic experience to spend some time in a gallery. At one stage I made a decision not to run around from painting to painting and instead visit just one painter per visit.

When have you last visited an art gallery? And entry is free. If tomorrow the Government slapped an entry fee on art galleries, we would all be up in arms. We take so much for granted.

Some weeks back I heard an art dealer comment that 'cash was trash' and in these days of economic uncertainty the place to put your  money was in paintings.

Have you paintings and pictures around your house? And if you do, do you regularly look at them, do you genuinely like them?

Some weeks back I was in a dining room of a religious community and I was shocked with the 'stuff' that was up on the walls. They were all holy pictures, prints of course, in gaudy frames. And did it all look so depressing and dull. It seemed to me that someone in charge decided these were what should be here and up they go. Style and taste are difficult to explain.

Three years ago I moved into the house where I am now living. The walls were bare. It's probably a work in progress but over the last three years I have been putting up paintings around the small house. I'm chuffed with the idea that the paintings that are up on my walls have been painted by people I know or else depict places with which I am associated. I have one reproduction hanging. It is an Metsu print, which my mother had. It was in a terrible frame. I had it reframed and now I think it looks great and
every time I look at it I think of my late mother. There is a painting hanging over the fire place, which is a landscape of a place near Urlingford, where we went on holidays as children. And it's painted by someone I know.

Because I have no technical training in art I cannot make any discerning comment on the 'quality' or 'artistic worth' of a painting. But I am able to say that the paintings I have around my house certainly please my eye and my mind.

Over the years I have had the good fortune to know a number of people who paint. The 97-year-old mother of a Dominican colleague was painting into her early 90s. Indeed, only in the last few days have I asked her would she get back to it. Some years back she did a painting for me, which is now hanging in my home.

Back in March I attended an exhibition of paintings by a man who had died the previous year. He was in his 90s when he died. He had studied painting at evening class at Dublin's College of Art and on retirement went back painting.

I started by saying I know nothing about art but to turn up at an exhibition like that is good for one's soul. Neighbours, friends, and relatives turned up. It was a great opportunity to remember the man and
also admire his work.

Right now I'm looking at a painting on the wall in front of me. I am familiar with the landscape. Suddenly my mind is filled with thoughts about the place.   
It's a pity that there's some sort of 'aloofness' about art and art exhibitions. I have often found myself at an exhibition, knowing nothing on a technical level about the paintings and as a result, afraid to ask anyone any questions. We never want to make fools of ourselves. As a teacher I have always said, there is no such thing as a stupid question. It's a pity I don't listen to my own advice.

Paintings, in all their forms and styles, can delight the eye, even for those, like me, who can't draw a straight line.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Podolski in team that arrives in Gdansk

The German football team arrived in 'Danzig' today - on the birthday of Lukas Podolski, who playes for Germany and speaks Polish.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Making another Lidice impossible

On May 27, 1942 Reinhard Heyrich was killed by Czech freedom fighters.

Heydrich, the hangman from Halle, was one of Hiter's top murderers.

In revenge for the death of Hydrich the Germans committed unspeakable crimes

After the war the Czech authorities sentenced his wife in absentia to life in prison.

She lived out her life in Germany receiving a German war pension.

On Saturday there was a neo-Nazi demonstration in Hamburg. Television coverage of the event showed worrying pictures of neo-Nazis on the march.

It was one of the biggest police operations in Germany in recent years.

In these days, 70 years ago the Germans obliterated the Czech village of Lidice in revenge for Hydrich's death.
The few surviving children were given to German families so that they could be 'Germanised'.

The founding of the European Union was to make sure there could never be another Lidice.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New leadership for German Left Party

Die Linke, the German Left Party, have elected 34-year-old Katja Kipping as their new leader at their party conference in Göttingen today.

Son father team win at Epsom

Camelot has won the Epsom Derby. The first time a father son team has been triumphant in the blue riband classic.

Nineteen-year-old Joseph O'Brien steered the horse trained by his father, Aidan to victory.

His mother, having difficulty holding back tears, said that she had been talking to Lester Pigott earlier in the week and he told them to take their time. Camelot was at the back of the field with three furlongs to go.

It is the first time since Nijinsky in 1970 that a horse won both the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. Nijinsky was also trained in Ballydoyle and ridden by Lester Pigott.

So far this year Aidan O'Brien has won the English Thousand Guineas Two Thousand Guines, The Epsom Oaks and now the Derby.

A little note to add: when we were novices in the Dominican Order, if I recall correclty, we had to get 'special permission' to watch the race.

What at all was it all for? Was it something to do with a most spurious understanding of the world? A superiority, a hatred, a madness that in the end created a monster?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Heaven, God and priesthood

The late John O'Gorman was a Dominican. He died of a heart attack in 2002. John taught mathematics in Newbridge Collge before going on to teach computer science at Bolton Street, Maynooth College and UL.
John resigned his priesthood in the mid-1980s having spent over 30 years a priest. He remained a Dominican friar. He was someone of great scholarship. John was a man of integrity, who had a keen sense of what it meant to be a Dominican.

A Google search on John will find inspiring comments made by his students at University of Limerick.

Often asked what heaven was he would always reply that heaven was 'a place' for those who wanted to be there.

What's below is a piece this bloger came upon - heaven, God and priesthood. It makes for good reading.

Heaven is all about God and being in God's presence. If you don't believe in God ... well if you go with the mystics then the language about God becomes radically negative (even 'he is not', Ps.Dionysius), they are also great critics of spoof and holy stuff and the deceptions of theological language ... I don't know that you can believe a little, though, I think you either believe or you don't because the will is involved, you decide to believe or not to believe, but faith is always a darkness for the mind and people try to make it 'certain' in ways that it cannot be by definition ... hence fundamentalism, sectarianism, faith that persecutes others ... my parents were people of integrity, obedient to the Church though wondering about it, whether they had been 'had' ... I think 'mystification' of the priesthood needs to be challenged ... people seem to forget very easily that it only has meaning within the sacramental order and is no guarantee of moral or spiritual 'superiority' ...

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No comment from bishop

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