Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Living in precarious times

According to the latest IMF figures, Russia is in the process of experiencing serious recession. So far this year  $70 billion dollars has left the country and  it is expected in the full year over $100 billion will be removed. Economic growth is at 0.2 per cent.

Russian troops are on exercise close to the Ukrainian border and US troops have landed in Poland.

The May European elections will see the rise of right wing parties across the Union. Ukip in Britain is expected to cause an 'earthquake' and AfD in Germany could well win a number of seats.

Right wing parties and Independents are in the ascendancy.

In the United States the Democrats face a  hammering in the upcoming elections, which could result in a lame duck president.

The disquiet and unrest  across the Middle East is worrying.

Just over 18 months ago German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Europe and the euro was 'recovering' but she added that if the world experiences some big bad news then trouble would be on the way.

It was the rise of right wing parties and Independents that allowed Hitler come to power.

It seems we are living in precarious times.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A wheel thief who may well feel lost and marginalised

The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
Two news items caught my attention over the Easter period. On Easter Monday librarian Liz Turley received serious injuries as her car was stolen in Dublin. The woman was driving into her gated complex when a woman and a man set on her and took her car. She seemingly gave chase, she was pushed to the ground and sustained head injuries.

In Cork on Good Friday Garda Michael Twomey was knocked off his bike by a van, which had been stolen by two young men.

Ms Turley was returning from visiting relatives on Easter Monday and Garda Michael Twomey was at work on his garda bike, indeed, he was in the process of protecting motorists from the stolen van.

Both these innocent people received injuries at the hands of young criminals.

Imagine the upset and sadness that has caused their families and friends. Anyone who has been close to someone who has suffered traumatic injuries will have an inkling of how the Turley and Twomey families have now been engulfed.

And all for what? This sort of insane crime is going on every day, here and all over the world. When we read about it in the papers it is usually just a news item but when it touches us personally it is disastrous.

What’s to be done, how can we try to stop it?

There are those who will say that we must go harder on criminals, others will say it has to do with deprivation and poverty. If anything, I am inclined to think that if people are marginalised and feel alienated then they have a far greater propensity to go down the road of the criminal. No, don’t jump at me. It is not at all as simple as that.

On Monday before Easter I was coming back to my bicycle, which was locked to a lamppost, when I noticed a young man in his 20s bending down at my bicycle. I thought he was removing the other bike which was also tied to the pole. And then I saw him walking away with my front wheel.

I’m not the quietest of souls. I can get irritated. People often accuse me of being abrasive. Obviously I easily get excited. But when I saw this gent walk away with my wheel, instead of roaring and shouting at him I went up to him and suggested that he might have the wheel of my bike and if I could have it back. Maybe it was that I was frightened. But the young man uttered a few words under his breath, left the wheel down on the ground and quietly walked away. I was shocked. Shocked for all sorts of reasons.

I have since removed the quick release mechanism on the wheels and replaced them with standard nuts.

The most he would have got for the wheel was €20. Is that what his life is about? From the quick look I got of him he may well have been on drugs. What a waste of a life. Where did it begin, how did it happen?

What am I doing to prevent people from getting involved in crime? What are we all doing to make our society a safer and better place?

“Can we actually help people or will certain people always be victims of their circumstances? It’s a question I often ask as I sit in court watching the same young people come back time and time again,” words from a friend of mine when we were discussing the topic.

But I’m back thinking of Liz Turley and Michael Twomey and their family and friends.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Breda O'Brien and the 'core mission of the church'

In Saturday's Irish Times Breda O'Brien in her piece 'Predictable media narratives at odds with popes' lives', writes: "One of the most influential narratives was the idea of progressives versus conservatives, and it persists although, as a political metaphor, it completley ignores the core mission of the church."

Earlier in her piece, she says about John XXlll: "... he favoured opening up the Catholic Church to the modern world."

Has it not been intended since its foundation that the church is the people of God?

Is it not a 'core mission' of the church that that we are all made in the image and likeness of God?

The church of its nature must always be 'open to the world'. It has been the hierarchies who have made themselves 'elites'. And then basking in an aberration.

Talking about a 'predictable media' misses the point.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cold, wet at 546 metres on Wicklow's Church Mountain

Tess on the way to the top of Church Mountain yesterday.

Church Mountain lies north east of the West Wicklow village of Donard and is approximately 546 metres high.

It is said that a church once stood at the top of the mountain and there is still a larger than usual mound of stones at the peak.

Fadó fadó Dominican students would cycle from Tallaght to Donard and then go on to climb Lugnaquillia, which is the highest mountain in Leinster and south east of Church Mountain.

Down from the mountain, they would get back on their bikes and cycle back to Tallaght. All done in 24 hours.

It was unseasonally cold in West Wicklow yesterday. And heavy April showers too.

When the cloud did break it was possible to see the Blessignton Lakes.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The festival of Easter brings new life and a living hope

The piece below appears in today's Irish Times.

Michael Commane.
Easter is the defining moment in the Christian calendar. It is that time of year when Christians celebrate their belief in the risen Lord, their belief that life does not end at the grave. And this year it so happens that both western and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on the same day.

Tomorrow’s readings are a powerful mission statement about what it means being a Christian and that includes our doubts and worries and fears.

​In the Gospel (John 20: 19 – 31) we see how the disciples had locked the doors behind them. They were afraid of the Jews. And into that atmosphere of fear and foreboding Jesus arrives and greets them saying: “peace be with you”. They were as close as one gets to Jesus and yet Thomas had his doubts.

​In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2: 42 – 47) we read how the community was faithful to the teaching of the apostles. They shared their goods, broke bread together and also prayed together.

​And in the second reading from the First Letter of St Peter (1: 3 – 9) the community is advised to praise God because of the great mercy he has shown. “In raising Jesus from the dead he has given us new life and a living hope.”

​Last week, on one of those first sunny days of spring just as I approached my locked bicycle I saw a young chap, between the age of 17 and mid-20s, bent down in front of my bike and then walking away with the front wheel. It was a “quick release” wheel. I followed him and politely suggested that that might be the wheel of my bicycle. He said some words under his breath, left the wheel on the ground and walked off.

​I was surprised by my own reaction. I can be hot-headed and irascible but for reasons unknown to me I decided I was going to be polite and gentle with this man. Maybe it was that I was afraid but for whatever reasons, the man listened to me. He did not get abusive or angry, nor did he throw the wheel at me or on the ground. Indeed, he put it down in a remarkably gentle manner.

​What makes a young man on a sunny day in Dublin steal the front wheel of a bicycle? Most likely it was an attempt to feed his drug habit. Has that man ever experienced anything of the peace that Jesus offers his disciples in that locked room? Has he ever felt that he shares in the goods of the community as is suggested in the Acts of the Apostles and has he ever seen or being allowed see anything of the mercy of God?

​And really, isn’t that what the mystery of Easter is all about; peace and mercy and the willingness and ability of all of us to make sure that everyone feels part of the community. It is the belief that every single person is a daughter or son of God, who is destined to share in full communion in some way or other after the grave, a process that has already begun in the world in which we live.

​Yes, any attempt at understanding or trying to get to grips with the idea of a life after death is not easy. But there is nothing esoteric or mystery-filled about showing mercy and kindness to people. There is nothing beyond understanding in helping bringing about a peaceful society.

​Maybe when we live out the message of Jesus in our daily lives, something of the understanding of the mystery of Easter will dawn on us. As long as there are women and men left on the margins, feeling alienated and unloved, not sharing in the general good of society, then we need to be very careful in how we talk about sharing the joy of Easter.

​Talking about the resurrection of Jesus is hocus-pocus if we consider it the prerogative of an exclusive club.

​St Peter tells us:  “In raising Jesus from the dead he has given us new life and a living hope.” (1 Peter 1:3)

​All of us have been given new life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Dublin Bus explanatory leaflet that is unintelligible

Dublin Bus is withdrawing its 5 Day and 30 Day Rambler Adult tickets.

The facility will now be available on the Leap Card.

Dublin Bus is currently distibuting an explanatory leaflet on all its buses.

The leaflet is completely unintelligible.

The wonder of nature

Maybe for some the pictures below and the life they tell might be an antidote to 'evangelisation' 'canonisation' 'phials of blood'. And all the pious language that appears so tedious, indeed, worrying.

Rules about sainthood and rules about breaking rules

Fr Vincent Twomey spoke on Morning Ireland today about the rules and regulations surrounding 'sainthood'. He then gave a learned comment on how and when these rules may and can be set aside.

It was magnificent radio and an insight into certain aspects of Catholicism.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

European Union is the world's largest donor of aid

Retiring MEP Gay Mitchell gave a talk at Concern's offices in Dublin today.

He spoke about the importance of networking and how the role of the MEP is one of reaching accommodation.

The Fine Gael MEP is a member of the Development Committee of the European Parliament.

Over the last 10 years there has been a significant drop in the number of children dying as a result of malnutrition. Ten years ago 36,000 were dying every day. That figure has now been reduced to 13,000.

The European Union is the biggest donor of aid in the world.

Wars being decided by the mighty fought by the poor

Nationalism and all its forms does the soul little good, if any at all.

But just imagine if you were a Russian, reading your morning newspaper in Volgograd, Kursk or Voronezh this morning to see that US troops had landed in Poland?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Michael Harding, his mother and all her bits and pieces

Below is Michael Harding's column, which appeared in yesterday's Irish Times. A lovely piece about his mother, her bits and pieces and how she lives on in him.
I worry about everything. If I’m buying something in a shop where I can’t see the till, I worry that I’ll be overcharged. When I press my pin number at an ATM I worry someone will see me.
When I buy online, I worry that someone will steal my credit-card numbers. And when I cross the street in a wind, I’m afraid I will lose my hat. I am always forgetting where I left my phone. And regularly I end up at the toll plaza with no change, and sometimes in the theatre, when act one is very long, I worry about how far away the toilet is. Life is just one endless litany of anxieties.
It’s a trait I inherited from my mother. I know this because, as I cleaned her house after she died, I was able to decipher all her worries from every little note and memo and grocery list she left behind. Two years later and I’m still cleaning it. Last week I found an old radio under the stairs, a wireless from 1953. And a broken vacuum cleaner, five umbrellas, a bag of golf clubs and a naggin of brandy.
Two-year tidy-upIt has taken me almost two years to dismantle her life, since she died – to deconstruct the architecture of her imagination that was contained within those walls for 60 years; to empty each room in the museum of her unconscious mind, and to put it all, bit by bit, into a skip.
The broken chairs, the old sheets, the useless bed, the faded curtains, the women’s magazines from the 1950s, the delph angels, the Child of Prague, the wardrobes of dresses and jackets and suits that she wore to dinner dances, golf-club parties and the weddings of nieces and nephews.
When her good clothes, her religious books and objects of devotion had been passed on to various charities, the skip swallowed all else. It swallowed her life, her privacy, her illness and her death.
It even swallowed the vinyl recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and the crackling voice of John McCormack, which I used to hear rising through the floorboards of my childhood bedroom as I lay awake at night worrying about school homework.
And I thought the clean-up might never end. I harrowed and trawled through old boxes and presses and shelves, forcing myself to read through all the old documents, letters, small diaries and grocery lists, which revealed the enormity of her anxiety about the smallest of matters.
In fact, the task required three skips over two years, but it was all finally done by last Friday, because I really wanted to see an end to it before Easter. And on Good Friday, that last day, on the final shelf I found four cuttings from the local newspaper clipped to a faded photograph of her husband. One was a notice on the occasion of her marriage. And two were birth notices relating to her children. And the final clipping was the death notice for my father. In old age she had attached them all to a photograph of himself as a young intense man and folded it into the back of her prayer book, which is where I found them. Maybe she realised that the newspaper notices eloquently expressed the simplicity and brevity of any human life, or maybe it was just that in prayer alone she was released from anxiety.
The hardest job was trying to decide what to put in the skip and what to keep. At one point I found a box of hats, seven in all, including a feathery green cap; a white straw hat; a beret; and an extravagantly wide-brimmed blue hat, like something a young woman might wear at the races.
The hatbox was in tatters, and I wanted to throw it out. But I wanted to keep the hats. And then I found an old suitcase with my father’s initials on the lid and I wanted to keep that too, but it was empty. So I threw out the hatbox, put my mother’s headgear into my father’s suitcase, which for an instant seemed to bring them back together again.
I will probably leave the suitcase in the attic of my own house and forget about it, and maybe in the distant future someone will be surprised by the comic sight of a man’s suitcase full of ladies’ hats as they forage through all the tracks of private anxiety and trivial worries that I will leave in my wake.

Blood phials in Holy Cross Dominican church in Tralee

Phials of blood reputed to be from Sister Faustina, Popes John XXlll and John Paul ll are now on display in the Dominican church in Tralee.

Attractive politicians have their say on the poles

And suddenly poles and lampposts have come into their own.

It began at midnight, at least for those who keep the law. A Fine Gael politician had posters on view on Rathgar Road before midnight.

But now right across the country we have faces beaming down on top of us, suggesting we vote for them.

And have you noticed, whatever about their politics, all those human blemishes, spots, marks and ugly bumps have all been airbrushed?

Are politicians really so attractive as the poles show?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ukip's EU posters slammed as being morally offensive

Today across Britain politicians have referred to the latest Ukip election posters as being morally offensive.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is quoted, complete with picture and caption, in the May issue of the free sheet 'Alive'.

'Alive's' editorial line on Europe concurs with Ukip's anti European policy.

It is worth noting that in a week when European Dominican provincials meet in Dublin on discussing policy and how to preach the Gospel in a European context, 'Alive' continues with its virulent anti European ideology.

Farage with caption and quote in free sheet 'Alive'

On Sunday a piece was posted on this blog concerning an article in the free sheet 'Alive'.

Maybe the clue to the article is found on the previous page. There is a picture of Nigel Farage, leader of UKip. There is a quote from the man and his name appears in the caption under the picture.

Obsessed with policing female sexual behaviour

"He repeated a thing he'd said many times before - that most religions were obsessed with policing female sexual behaviour, that for many it was their entire raison d'être. He described the sexual herding done by male chimpanzees. 'The only difference,' he said, 'is that no chimp has ever claimed he was following God's orders.' "

From 'We are all completley beside ourselves' by Karen Joy Fowler

The dirty Irish?

Dartry Park early on Tuesday morning.

What happens when 'it' breaks down.

And then in other places in the park empty beer bottles.

The dirty Irish?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A magical walk along the Dodder under blue skies

How often do we miss what is right in front of our noses?

One can walk almost the entire length of the Dodder from Bohernabreena to the spot where the river flows into the Liffey. It's also cyclable. More than 9/10ths of it is off road.

Tess at the waterfall near Firhouse today

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taoiseach's picture without one word about the man

The May issue of the free sheet 'Alive' carries an article titled 'How we vote is a conscience issue'.

The piece includes a picture of Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The caption under the picture reads: "Political elites, safe behind large majorities and backed by the media, think they can ignore people of faith."

While the Taoiseach's picture appears in the article, Mr Kenny's name is never mentioned in the piece.

Who are the 'political elite', the 'large majorities'? And to which particular media outlets is the author referring?

The writer, Dominican priest John Harris, says: "Today our country's Christian heritage is being washed away, and we are aiding it by our silent and acquiescent attitudes at the polls."

Is Ireland any less Christian than it was 50 years ago? And who is 'aiding' the washing away?

The writer tells us that politics has become much more 'complex' since World War ll. Was Irish politics not complex before then?

Harris writes that we are largely ignorant of the importance of EU elections. How does he extrapolate this?

He also tells his readers: "We give little consideration to the policies of the various parties, except on economic issues and how this or that change would affect our pockets or our pay packets". There is not one sentence in the article to support this statement.

Elsewhere the Dominican writes: "It's amazing that after nearly 50 years in Europe we still haven't woken up to the immense importance of the EU in our lives."

He writes: "The European Parliament and the EU bureaucracy have adopted many policies that have radically influenced social thinking in this country."

But the parliament is an elected assembly. Can the Irish people not think for themselves? Are we not the beneficiaries of cultural, theological, scientific and educational positives since joining the EU.

Before Ireland joined the EU, few students, with the exception of clerics, had the opportunity to study in other European cities.

And which has done more harm/more good in Ireland, EU or Vatican bureaucracy?
Again, what evidence has Fr Harris to make his statements?

There is not one statistical fact to support any of the many 'hunches' in the piece.

The article is highly offensive, patronising too and certainly lacking in any sort of objective reality. Why the picture of the Taoiseach?

And that a writer would use vulgar or crude language in an article purported to discuss the theme of conscience is surely ironic.

According to Harris many of us still vote the way our families voted for generations.

But maybe most importantly, who are those who decide who are the 'people of faith'? A clerical elite?

Facts and thoughts about cycling in and around Dublin

The European Cycling Federation is holding its agm in Dublin this week.

The numbers cycling in Dublin has doubled in the last 10 years. Commuter cycling increased by 14 per cent in the city last year.

Last year there were 9,061 cyclists in Dublin. Twenty-five per cent of Dublin cyclists are women.

The Dublin bikes rental scheme is undergoing a threefold expansion.

The Dublin Port tunnel has made cycling in Dublin significantly safer. The silly men who have jumped out of their SUVs and up on to bicycles have made cycling in the capital far more dangerous

Bike theft in Dublin is high, with about 4,000 reported incidents every year, but crime-victim surveys suggest the rates of theft are more in the region of 25,000 bicycles a year.

The writer of this blog is cycling 60 years with the exception of two years away from a bicycle between 1974 and 1976.

The picture below is of Tess in Dartry Park today at 07.01.

Happy and holy Easter to readers of this blog.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

GAA All Ireland medalist and gambling addict

GAA legend Oisín McConville spoke on television this evening about his gambling addiction.


He spoke about how a gambling addict is also a compulsive liar.

The former Armagh and Crossmaglen forward said every addict affects 10 people directy and 30 indirectly.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin talks to Patsy McGarry

"My living quarters are smaller than [the pope's] ... My staff is half that of my predecessor. I probably cook more meals than he did. I look after myself, my own shopping."

- Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in an interview with Irish Times Religious Affairs correspondent, Patsy McGarry.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday 2014


Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who waited for him.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 'secret' Vatican survey that is not really a 'survey'

The General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference for England and Wales, Marcus Stock, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

The interviewer asked him why the bishops of England and Wales were not publishing the results of the Vatican 'survey'. Fr Stock  pointed out it was not a survey and then explained the hemenutics of what was taking place.

He went on to 'explain' to the interviewer and the great unwashed what was happening and how the 'faithful' would be informed.

The interviewer pointed out that the German bishops have published the results of the survey in Germany.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The conservative bishop who was to restore order

The article below, by Peter Cluskey, appears in today's Irish Times.
The opening paragraph has its own resonance but this pargraph is a shocking reminder to the writer of this blog: "There were many who undoubtedly knew he was lying. But his accusers say that, even in retirement, he wielded such a malign power that no one in the church was willing to stand up to him – right up until the day he died last year aged 80."
It was probably the worst-kept secret behind the closed doors of the Dutch Catholic Church: that the late Johannes Gijsen, the conservative bishop chosen to roll back the reforms of the 1960s, was a child molester – as he is now finally being described.
It is precisely because it was such a badly kept secret that last weekend’s brief and grudging admission by the church authorities that allegations against Gijsen were “well-founded” has caused as much anger as relief among victims of clerical sex abuse in the Netherlands.
As recently as 2011, Gijsen, formerly bishop of Roermond in the Catholic south of the country, not only denied one of the main accusations against him – that he had forced a young boy under his control to perform oral sex – but denied ever having met his victim.
There were many who undoubtedly knew he was lying. But his accusers say that, even in retirement, he wielded such a malign power that no one in the church was willing to stand up to him – right up until the day he died last year aged 80.

Rooting out ‘evil’
Supporters of Pope Francis may claim that the path to this belated “outing” was paved by the pontiff’s admission last Friday that the church must do more to root out “all the evil” done by criminal clergy. But the victims’ retort is blunt: Gijsen went to his grave unpunished, unashamed and utterly unrepentant.
The bishop did what he liked, as he liked, to whomever he liked (as long as they were powerless), and none of his fellow clergy had the moral fibre to stop him.
That, for many years, has been the appalling proposition of victims’ organisation Mea Culpa, and it was pooh-poohed to the end by the Catholic hierarchy.
With understandable scepticism, Mea Culpa says all that has changed today is that the church has fessed up because it is safe to do so – the bishop is dead, and a change of culture at the top means now is the best possible time to repent.

High-ranking clergyGijsen is one of the highest- ranking clergy to be accused of sex abuse.
Two cardinals – Keith O’Brien in Edinburgh and Hans Hermann Groër in Vienna – quit in disgrace amid accusations of misconduct with seminarians.
A Belgian bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, stepped down after admitting to molesting his nephew, while the Vatican has been investigating allegations against Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, its nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
Each country, of course, becomes caught up in the distressing details of its own revelations. But the story of clerical sex abuse in the Netherlands has been quite remarkable for such a small place, and puts Gijsen in the context of his times.
In 2012, the 1,100-page first report of the Deetman commission – chaired by former education minister Wim Deetman – revealed that 800 Catholic priests and monks abused as many as 20,000 children in their care between 1945 and 1985.
It said the abuse took place in boarding schools, children’s homes and orphanages, but was not acknowledged by the church authorities because of their “culture of silence” and determination “not to hang out their dirty washing”.

Bedridden boys
Not all of the abuse was sexual. Deetman uncovered one “cluster” where a Catholic brother gave fatal overdoses of medication to at least 37 disabled and bedridden young boys in a church-run residential home between 1952 and 1954.
A second Deetman report last year focused on the incidence of abuse against girls, which it said was much higher than investigators’ worst fears – “probably in the tens of thousands”, and so high that it was unlikely to be established more accurately.
In cases of sexual abuse, Deetman said, the perpetrators were almost always male clerics, often friends of their victims’ families.
In cases of violence that did not involve sexual abuse, the perpetrators were predominantly nuns working in positions of trust, such as teachers, nurses or carers.
It is a terrible litany. Faithful Catholics have been left confused and without leadership. Half-hearted apologies have made matters worse – so much so that two-thirds of Dutch Catholic churches are expected to be closed by 2025.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Attempted theft of a bicycle wheel on a Dublin street

Yesterday afternoon a man in his early to mid-20s had just undone the front wheel of a bicycle and was walking away with it when the owner of the bike approached him and in a gentle and polite tone suggested to the thief that it was his wheel. It was a quick release wheel.

The thief turned around, said a word or two under his breath and left the wheel down on the ground.

It appeared that the thief was high on drugs.

What would have happened if the bicycle owner had approached the man in an aggressive and angry fashion?

The most he would have got for the wheel would have been €20, if he was lucky. What a way to live.

It's another side of life. When one sees something like that surely one wonders and asks who is there to help that young man.

People sit around tables and in congress halls talking about 'evangelisation', naval gazing, attempting to fill a vacuum

The reality is so different

Monday, April 14, 2014

Congratulations to RTE for getting the name right

Congratulations and well done to RTE. This evening on its Nine O'Clock Evening News the station referred to next Saturday as 'Holy Saturday'.

More and more people, even some parish newsletters, are calling the day 'Easter Saturday'.

Next Saturday is 'Holy Saturday' and the following Saturday is 'Easter Saturday'.

And the new dispensation is probably due to the marketing ploy of shopping outlets.

Irish Dominican on Thomas Aquinas and the Eucharist

In the current issue of The Tablet, Irish Dominican Liam G Walsh, writes on Aquinas and the Eucharist, 'Food for the journey'.

Walsh sees the Eucharist as the culmination of Aquinas' entire theology.

"Thomas is clear that people in a state of sin should not receive the sacrament; to do so would be to profane the Eucharist and so add sin to sin.

"And yet he holds that desire for the sacrament takes away sin, and he will even allow that, in certain circumstances, serious sin is taken away by actual participation in the sacrament. The forgiving grace of God is always impelling people towards partaking of the Eucharist," Fr Walsh writes.

He sees Aquinas as placing the Eucharist not just at the heart of human spirituality and devotion but at the summit of the divine mystery that comes from God and returns to God.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fare dodger

From the Guardian

The story below is interesting but what exactly does the following sentence mean?

"Suspicions were raised last autumn when a ticket inspector at Cannon Street station in London noticed he had paid the £7.20 fare incurred by passengers who fail to tap in."

Is it possible that the journalist who wrote the story did not understand this sentence? And yet this sentence is key to the total story.

London Bridge station

A commuter who was alleged to have dodged train fares to London worth close to £43,000 has avoided prosecution after making an out-of-court-settlement with Southeastern railways.
The man, who kept his anonymity as a result of offering to make the extraordinary payment, travelled for five years from a rural station in East Sussex into London Bridge only paying £7.20 for his journey by exploiting a loophole in the Oyster card system, Southeastern discovered.
He was described as a City executive by the Sunday Times, although Southeastern could not confirm or deny that.
The commuter is said to be a senior executive and boarded the train at Stonegate station in the High Weald, close to the villages of Ticehurst, Wallcrouch and Burwash. There is no barrier at the station so he could board without being detected. Southeastern said it did not know how he managed to avoid detection by ticket inspectors on the train itself.
"There seems to be one law for the rich and one law for the poor when it comes to criminal prosecution," said Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA union which represents railway workers. "The rich seem to be able to walk away and claim secrecy while the poor get hauled up in front of the local magistrates court and publicly ridiculed. This guy can buy silence, but that isn't offered to most people who are caught fare dodging."
Suspicions were raised last autumn when a ticket inspector at Cannon Street station in London noticed he had paid the £7.20 fare incurred by passengers who fail to tap in. Further investigation revealed that he was on Southeastern's database of season ticket holders but he had stopped buying a season ticket in 2008. When he applied for a new season ticket shortly after being challenged, suspicions grew.
"It suggested to our investigators that he hadn't been buying anything," said Rupert Atterbury Thomas, a spokesman for Southeastern. "When our revenue team calculated the cost he made an offer which is the £43,000 and he settled on it. There has been no admission of any sort of guilt."
The payout was calculated on the basis of single fares. This meant the settlement cost him £20,000 more than if he had bought season tickets. The train company defended the decision not to prosecute.
"[Out-of-court settlement] is something that people have a right to do in this country," said Atterbury Thomas. "The punishment is the big amount of money. Fare dodging is something we take very seriously to protect the proceeds of everybody else's tickets. We are rigorous in making sure we catch the people who dodge the fare."
Fare evasion over a long period of time is often treated as fraud and cases are normally handed to the British Transport police. Nationwide, the crime costs train operators about £210m a year, according to conservative estimates made by the Association of Train Operating Companies.
The City manager from Sussex is not the only executive to avoid prosecution. Gray Hooper Holt, a law firm which specialises in fare evasion cases, last year acted for a "professional financier" who was accused of fare evasion and giving a false address by First Capital Connect. The case was dropped after the lawyers intervened, enabling the financier to avoid a criminal record. In another case in 2012 the firm acted for "a senior financial adviser for an international company for whom a successful prosecution for railway fare evasion or fraud would have led to the loss of his job and his career". He was accused by Greater Anglia railways but the parties reached "an informal settlement".

John Waters dismisses depression as nonsense

In an interview in today's Sunday Independent, John Waters says:

"I don't believe in depression. There's no such thing. It's an invention. It's bullsh... It's a cop out."

Mr Waters is a regular speaker at Catholic Church events.

Ice-cold and high winds on Mulaghcleevaun 849m

Tess on Mullaghcleevun, 849 metres, yesterday. In order to get to the summit she first climbed Black Hill.

Low cloud, navigation with compass and map. And just on the top hints of blue sky.

Ice-cold and high winds. On the way down Tess spotted deer, five or six.

We missed nice weather by about two hours. The luck of the draw.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dominican website hosts material from Legionaries

The international Dominican Order website, which is run from Rome, is now hosting material, which is linked to the Legionaries of Christ.

The founder of the Legionaries of Christ is the notorious trickster Marcial Maciel Degollado.

In the 1970s in Rome, young men, members of the Legionaries of Christ, were strongly recommended to have as little as possible to do with Dominicans. Dominicans were considered to be a bad influence on the men, who dressed in identical clerical attire with matching briefcases.

In the 1990s a Kerryman journalist contacted the Legionaries of Christ in Dublin with a request to ask  detailed questions about Degollado. The request was turned down and the journalist was assured of the piety of the founder of the Legionaries.

RTE's version of the flag of the Russian Federation

According to RTE News this evening, the Russian flag is red white and blue. At least so said Carole Coleman.

Russian MPs blame Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

The world is a topsy-turvy place.

A group of five Russian parliamentarians have asked the state prosecutor this week to investigate Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, for treason in connection with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

They argue that Mr Gorbachev acted in defiance of the wishes of the people, who had voted in a referendum in favour of preserving the Soviet Union.

Or is it that history just continues repeating itself?

Every generation thinks it has the real vision, knows the perfect way to go.

God help us and preserve us too. Especially from the fanatics, purists, ideologues and all those who say they have God on their side.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Brendan Gleeson comments on ridiculing Irish priests

A story in this week's Irish Catholic quotes actor Brendan Gleeson as saying that Irish priests are 'derided to a ludicrous degree'.

Indeed, the actor makes a valid point but has there not been reason for the 'ridicule'?

Below is a column from the current Castlegregory parish newsletter. The 'I Spy' column is not signed but the newsletter is the bulletin of the Catholic parish of St Mary's and St Brendan's Castlegregory/Cloghane in West Kerry.

Over a two-year period the newsletter has been of poor taste and has insulted many people, including the current Minister for Education. It has poked fun at many groups in Irish society.

The column below, which appears in this week's parish newsletter, insults President Michael D Higgins.

I Spy Column….. 
Lizzie is in her second childhood. She lives in a big house. She has an imaginary friend, Michael D who also lives in a big house. He is a fairy, the king of the Irish fairies.  She invites him over to her house. “I shall play ‘tig’ with him”, she says. Her house is big. They wander for hours around it, upstairs, downstairs and Lizzie even shows Michael D her hiding places she used when playing hide-and-seek with the duke, who by the way, no longer plays. “He shall miss Eire”, she says to herself. “so to make him feel at home, we shall get a pony and trap.  Out in it, we shall share one handbag and in it we shall keep our sweets and things. I shall show him the electricity poles and I hope he wont be hurt, if I ask him, ‘Do you have electric light in Eire? We shall hold hands – he is a little bold, you know – and looking up at the clouds, he will say, ‘In Eire the clouds are dark and over here they are white and fluffy and I would love to sleep on one’. I will reply, ‘They are as delightful as the little tufts of hair that surround your ears’. He will squeeze my hand and boast, ‘I was once, tall, dark and handsome and If I met you in Salthill in the fifties, I would have wrapped you in a Galway shawl’. Lizzie dreams on. “In the evening, I shall share with him, a colouring book.  It has four fields in it. We shall have a race.  I shall give him a green pencil and let him win, it will make him happy. I shall ask him to recite ‘Humpty Dumpty’. It will make me sleepy. It is so nice to stay up past my usual bed time…….and I do have so few friends, these days.

The story featured in the national media, The Star, The Irish Independent and The Irish Sun. It was the lead story on the front page of The Kerryman, North and West Kerry edition. It appeared in all editions of The Kerryman. Radio Kerry gave it prominence. It also featured on the review of the provinical newspapers this afternoon on RTE One's Drivetime. The digital news provider 'Broadsheet' also gave it mention.

In response to requests from media outlets, the Catholic diocese of Kerry issued the press release below.

"In relation to parish newsletters, the diocese leaves the design and content of each newsletter to the individual parish. The gathering of information, the typing and the printing of the newsletter is a considerable piece of weekly work for a parish. The aim of the parish newsletter is to communicate Mass times, deaths, church notices and parish activities to parishioners.  More than half of the parishes have their newsletter up on the diocesan website.  Many parish newsletters make a distinction between parish news and community news. Humour can be a wonderful addition to communication but the priority of the diocese is to spread the Good News and not to cause any offence in this process."

The newsletters can be viewed at

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John B Keane's Sive at Dublin's Abbey Theatre

John B Keane's Sive has played to full houses at the Abbey since March 12. Tomorrow the curtain comes down on the production.

It has been a brilliant performance, tragic too.

The local matchmaker, Thomasheen Seán Rua, played by Simon O'Gorman, is vintage 'cute Irish hoor'.

And he gets away with it - for a while.

It's interesting to note that God's name is so often heard coming from the lips of the matchmaker and might even be said in reverential tones too.

He is probably the most devious person in the play.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What can you expect from a Jesuit pope from Argentina?

'The Francis Factor - A New Departure' a compilation of essays on and about the new pope, edited by John Littleton and Eamon Maher was launched by Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry yesterday evening in St Mary's Parish Centre, Haddington Road.

Patsy McGarry spoke about his experience being present in Rome on the night of the papal election. He gave his account why he believes Francis is so well liked by the media - his humanity, his genuine interest in helping to build a church for and of the poor and his humour.

He recommended people buy the book as an Easter gift for someone, maybe even two, three, four copies and said he got that idea from Brain D'Arcy's article in 'The Sunday World' this week.

Book editors, John Littleton and Eamon Maher also spoke.

Among the contributors to the book are Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke, who attended the launch, Jesuits Jim Corkery and Peter McVerry, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Sean Brady, Dominican Timothy Radcliffe, journalist Colum Kenny, Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy and Donald Cozzens, a priest in the US.

The book is published by Columba Press.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Don't fool yourself, alcoholic drink slows us all down

The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
I came across a great blog at the weekend. It's called ‘The Sober Journalist’. I hadn’t finished the first paragraph when I was totally enthralled, captivated with the writing. Brilliant. It just read so well. Clear, simple and wise. It’s that sort of writing that would inspire anyone to sit down and write. Positive too.

No, I’m fairly sure I am not an alcoholic though there is a drink issue that runs through the DNA of one side of my family.

It will be four years in July since I last took a drink of alcohol. It happened in a sort of muddled way, maybe even annoyance but these days I simply don’t drink alcohol. And yes, it is great.

Over the years I would give it up during Lent or Advent but as soon as Easter or Christmas came I was back imbibing and enjoying that glass of whiskey or wine or beer. It was almost like waiting to get to the finishing line and being back drinking again.

I drank more in my 20s than in my teens, more in my 30s than in my 20s, more in my 40s than in my 30s and more in my 50s than in my 40s. That’s all changed now. The graph line has fallen to zero.

And as soon as I say that it does strike me that an awful lot of young people are drinking these days and consuming large quantities of alcohol. Just last week walking through a public park early in the morning I spotted over 30 empty cans of beer. They were at a spot in the park where young people tend to hang out.

Imagine Irish Rail does not allow the sale of alcohol on some of its services at weekends during college term because of incidents that have happened on its trains.

I’m not for a moment suggesting some sort of zero alcohol tolerance and I certainly do not want to be a killjoy but if this column this week made one person think about their drinking habit then I would consider it a great success.

I recommend reading the March 17 post on ‘The Sober Journalist’ blog. The author tells a simple story of sitting beside someone on a morning train, who stinks of drink. It seems as if the drink is oozing from every pore of the man.

Along with the blog I mentioned, I recommend you also log on to ‘Say Goodbye to Hangovers - and Hello to Sunday Morning’.

Spring is here, the days are getting longer. It’s a great time to get out and about. It’s a great time to climb mountains and walk along rivers and canals. Drink slows us down.

Think about it. Whatever you do, read that blog, ‘The Sober Journalist’. 

In the Christian churches next week is Holy Week followed by Easter Sunday, so I wish all Christians, who read this column prayerful and thoughtful days ahead. It's only every few years that the western and Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on the same day. In the west Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Although, ecclesiastical purists might disagree. And no need at all to drink on Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Segregated school location leads to segregated housing

Lord Kilclooney aka John Taylor writes in The Tablet:

Segregated school locations lead to segregated housing which results in segregated employment. All churches should encourage cooperation and not make decisions which will perpetuate religious and political division within Northern Ireland

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Garda chief sees value in criticism and complaint

Yesterday in Templemore the interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Mahony said:

"For those of us who manage this organisation, the imperative is to control the reflex that makes human beings want to push back against criticism.

"Everyone of us has that reflex. We're born with it. But is has to be controlled, becasue if it isn't we reject infomration that may give us the opportunity to review and renew how we work."

Great if those words were read by everyone in any sort of 'leadership' position, especially in the churhces.

Friday, April 4, 2014

'Fancy or pious words and political expediency

Words are indeed 'funny' things.

How does one square a sentiment that speaks on the one hand about 'a culture of life' and how life is a gift from God and the dignity of the person is inviolable and on the other hand act with intollerance and lack of compassion and chairty for the individual.

Are all words and actions in the end linked to political expediency?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wise words from Gay Byrne about turning off the radio

Gay Byrne once said that if people got annoyed with something on the radio then they simply could move the dial, as it was in those days, or else turn it off.

Reading many of the religious blogs and websites that appear these days it does one good to recall Gay Byrne's wise words. They are most appropriate.

The Sober Journalist

Someone recommended 'The Sober Journalist' blog.

Below is a post.

Lovely writing.

Strangers on a train

This morning I was on a packed train to work when a very large man squeezed into the seat next to me. Straight away I could smell it: the booze on his breath. It was horrible. It was worse when he looked or breathed in my direction, but I could actually smell it whichever way he faced. I think it was coming out of his pores.
Things got considerably worse when he opened his bag and pulled out a hot McDonald’s breakfast. I don’t want to sound like a food snob here, but there’s something about the smell of McDonald’s food that really turns my stomach, especially at 8.30am. The seats on the tram were so small he was practically eating the food in my lap.
I spent most of the journey staring furiously out the window, before remembering that less than a year ago this could have been me (albeit without the Maccy D’s). I thought back on all those times that I’d finished work late, maybe not getting home until 10.30pm. Despite knowing that I had to be up early in the morning I would stop by the off licence for beer and a bottle of wine, planning just to have a few glasses. Just enough to relax. That was always the plan. But hey presto, all of a sudden it’d be 3am and I’d wake up and realise that a) the bottle was empty and b) I’d been sleeping on the sofa again.
The man on the train looked so tired. I remember feeling like that, like I could sleep for a week. Going to work with a secret hangover is tough. At best you are a 50% version of yourself. And you can’t tell anyone about your hangover because that would be weird, right? So it becomes this silent thing that you have to just get through, whilst appearing to be fine. It’s hard work. It amazes me how often drinkers are painted as weak-willed, because actually you have to be quite a strong person to cope with the hangovers, turn up to work on time and then repeat the process.
When you stop drinking you notice so many benefits. For starters you sleep better. You also look better, feel better and you save money. But above all, sobriety makes life so much easier. It really does. It brings an end to the lies you tell yourself and others. You stop having to keep so many secrets. You stop feeling guilty about failing to stop. This morning, I looked at this man on the train and thought: yes, life is so much simpler now. 
A simpler life doesn’t have to be a boring one either. On a slightly different note, I wanted to share this article about Davina McCall. I’ve always been a fan of hers but I became an even bigger one during her recent Sport Relief Challenge (running, cycling and swimming from Edinburgh to London). Talk about determination! She has been very open about her drink/drug problems in the past and I particularly like what she says in the interview about being “hedonistic whilst completely sober”. I like the sound of her parties…

The two universal theories

Are you aware of the two universal theories of everything?

The conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Silly ideas of holy men

From 'A Coach's Life' by Seth Davis.

In the late 1800s, many religious scholars viewed athletics as a tool of the devil. But liberal Protestant ministers disagreed -- and launched a new movement called 'muscular Christianity.' In this spirit, it fell to young teacher at the International YMCA Training School named James Naismith to invent a new game called "basket ball," and it was the YMCA that spread this new game throughout the country:

"The organization that invented and proselytized 'basket ball', (as it was long known), the Young Men's Christian Association, or YMCA, advertised its mission as promoting a person's 'mind, body and spirit.' ... [James] Naismith grew up on a farm (in Ontario, Canada) where he learned the value of a hard day's work. He originally intended to become a minister, but upon graduating from the theological college at Montreal's McGill University, Naismith decided he could have just as much impact through athletics as he could through the ministry. In 1890, he began formally studying at the YMCA's training school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"In those days, many religious scholars viewed athletics as a tool of the devil. A group of liberal Protestant ministers rebutted that way of thinking by launching a movement called 'muscular Christianity.' In the summer of 1891, the head of the Springfield YMCA's training school's physical education department, Dr. Luther Gulick, assigned Naismith the task of creating a new game that students could play indoors during the winter. Naismith used a phys ed class as his laboratory, but his first few attempts proved futile. Gymnastics was too boring, football and rugby were too rough, and there wasn't enough space in the gymnasium to play soccer or lacrosse.

"Sitting in his office, Naismith tinkered with adapting a game he used to play as a boy in Canada called 'Duck on a Rock,' where points were scored by lofting small rocks so they would land on a bigger rock. But he was still concerned things would get too rough. That's when he experienced his eureka moment: there should be a rule against running with the ball! If the players couldn't run, they wouldn't be tackled. And if they weren't tackled, they wouldn't get hurt.

"Excited by his breakthrough, Naismith sketched out thirteen rules using just 474 words. The rules did not include dribbling, so the players were stationary, and therefore safe. He then asked the building's superintendent to fetch him a pair of eighteen-inch boxes to use as goals. The superintendent didn't have any boxes, but he offered a couple of peach baskets instead. Naismith decided these would have to do.

"The class consisted of eighteen students, and the first game featured nine men on each side. It was an instant hit.

In the months that followed, Naismith continued to develop and modify his invention in the hope that other YMCAs and athletic clubs would adopt it in coming winters.

He had two means of spreading the word. The first was the YMCA's official publication, The Triangle, which was delivered to clubs across the country. The second was the army of clergymen who came to study under Naismith at the training school in Springfield."

Mentioning God's name

Once the word 'God' is mentioned surely it is essential that everything that is said  is said with great care.

How is it possible to throw about words with such certainty when talking about God?

GAA pundit, Joe Brolly, commenting on the new Sky GAA deal said yesterday: "There is no doubt there is a growing disconnect between the people and the hierarchy. We are now doing different things."

Of course Brolly is talking about the GAA but relevant too to the Christian churches right now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Isn't it odd how we all think we have right on our side?

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

Michael Commane
Do you think you are brainwashed? Do you think that propaganda influences you? What about newspaper and television advertising? Does it play a role in what you buy?

I imagine most of us say we are not brainwashed, that propaganda does not influence us and that we are adverse to all forms of advertising. And at the same time we will be convinced the ‘other side’ are brainwashed and influenced by propaganda.

Last week Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh threw open the doors of Buckingham Palace to greet, laugh and chat with Irish guests. Everyone who went to the event came away full of praise for the Queen and thought it had been a great evening. Imelda May said she had a great night and was greatly impressed with the Queen when she came to Ireland.

Next week President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina are going on a State visit to England – the first of an Irish President. On Tuesday the presidential party will be guests of honour at Windsor Castle and that same day President Higgins will address both Houses of Parliament.

How it has all changed and changed of course for the better.

It’s not at all that long ago since Queen Elizabeth was no friend of Ireland’s. There was a time when it was not fashionable to listen to Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Day address.
I have mentioned it in this column on a previous occasion that I have been listening to a far right wing US radio station – Patriot Radio.

It is scaring me because I keep listening to it. I have heard someone on the station say that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.

A few days after the white blue and red flag was hoisted in Crimea I was speaking to a Russian who was so happy that Crimea had returned to Russia. This woman is wise, educated and knows what she is talking about.

Most of us think we are on the ‘right side’.

And the same goes for religions. Christians, or should I say, fanatical Christians, believe they have the closest ear to God but so too do Jews and Muslims.

It is most likely someone born in Dublin will be Christian, someone born in Tehran Muslim and someone in Haifa Jewish. All accidents of birth.

And yet just look around the world, look at history and observe the damage that has been done in the name of so many ‘isms’.

When I hear church people bemoan the dangers of secularism I find my heartbeat jump to a new stratosphere. I consider it a gift and great privilege to live in a state that is secular.

With all its faults and limitations a modern-day democracy has a lot to recommend it.
And even in democratic systems it is always possible that crazy brands of fundamentalism will raise their ugly heads.

I can still remember a time when I genuinely believed that Protestants, Jews and Muslims could be bigoted and never for a moment thinking that there could be such a thing as a Catholic bigot.

These days I look about and am really concerned about the levels of bigotry that are to be seen within the Catholic Church.

Isn’t it funny how we all think we have right on our side?

But maybe the more we see and learn about other cultures and religions we will begin to be wiser and more tolerant of people who think and believe differently than we do.

Featured Post

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