Thursday, December 31, 2015
What at all is it about the Catholic Church and its priests? The number of priests/church officials who subscribe anonymously to blogs, to LinkedIn, to electronic media is staggering. The number of times the following appears in a LinkedIn account tells its own story: Someone in the Religious Institutions industry in Rome. On other occasions it appears as: Someone in the Religious Institutions industry. Some religions, some industry.
This priest's diocese has suspended him. Priests have done a lot worse and never a word from their bishops. But it's all great fun.
In der Christmette zelebrierte ein Geistlicher vom Hoverboard aus. Während seiner Fahrt durch die Kirche auf den Philippinen sang er ein Weihnachtslied - das Bistum hat ihn deswegen suspendiert.
"Die Feier der heiligen Messe verlangt höchsten Respekt und Ehrfurcht", teilte die Diözese auf Facebook mit. Es gehe nicht darum, die Aufmerksamkeit der Menschen auf sich zu ziehen, sondern darum Gott zu ehren.
Inzwischen habe sich der Geistliche entschuldigt, er werde nun Zeit haben, über den Vorfall nachzudenken. Ein Video von Pfarrer Falbert San Jose auf dem Brett jedoch macht weiterhin in den sozialen Medien die Runde, der TrendChannel hat es veröffentlicht:
Amazon has said it will donate to refugees in Germany the profits from online purchases of a track released by the far-right anti-migrant Pegida movement.
The online retailer had been criticised for making money from sales of the instrumental song Gemeinsam sind wir stark – German for “Together we are strong” – which was released over Christmas.
Pegida – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident – had said profits from the sale would be given to homeless Germans.
But Amazon placed a message on its German site saying profits it made on sales of the song would be donated to help hundreds of thousands of migrants, many fleeing the Syrian civil war, who have arrived in Germany over the last year.
“Amazon’s profits from the sale of this song will go to a non-profit-making organisation supporting refugees,” the company said.
Pegida started life over a year ago as a xenophobic Facebook group, initially drawing just a few hundred protesters to demonstrations in Dresden. The movement has survived a furore over a photograph of founder Lutz Bachmannsporting a Hitler hairstyle and moustache that went viral.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.
I attend a German literature class at the Goethe Institute every week. On Thursday there were seven of us in the class plus the teacher.
Something came up about an old German word for city trams and then someone in the class mentioned the Luas.
There was a discussion as to whether its electric power came from the tracks or from overhead cabling.
I was gobsmacked. All in the class were certain that the power came from the tracks. I on the other hand objected and explained that the electric power came from the overhead cables. One of the women in the class was so certain that there were no overhead cables she was willing to lay a wager. She lay the wager and I covered it. The teacher turned on the magic Google and within a minute or two everyone was clear that the Luas was powered through overhead electric cabling.
The German Institute is in Fitzwilliam Square and everyone in the class most likely sees or crosses the Luas tracks every day. And to add to that, they are highly intelligent group of people, who are in touch with the world around them.
How did they think people walked across the tracks if they were electrified? How had they simply not noticed the cabling? I was honestly mystified by them.
In the end the wager was not accepted and it was agreed it would be given to the St Vincent de Paul. Some good came out of it all. And it was a few moments of fun.
Cycling home after the class I kept thinking of all the things we see and all those things we pass by every day and never even notice them.
Earlier that day I noticed a street name ‘Protestant Row’, near Dublin’s Camden Street. I have passed that laneway on many occasions over many years and never noticed its name before.
How much do we know about anything? We fall into little ruts and crawl around in that space for most of our lives. From time-to-time we break out, discover something new but it seems our default position is to live in the familiar and even in that space we all seem to miss so much.
When I was a young man I genuinely believed that the bigots were the Protestants and that a Catholic bigot was indeed an oxymoron. What complete stupidity. Over 40 years of priesthood I have learned bigotry is not an exclusive Protestant phenomenon. Not at all.
The bigotry, the hostility, the closed-mindedness I have seen among my ‘own crowd’ never ceases to baffle me.
But it seems to be the way of the world.
Look at the support Donald Trump has and how it is growing the more zany his comments are.
In many ways a generation that is now nearing retirement or has already retired has lived in a privileged time. The founding visionaries of the European Union were intent on opening borders, getting people to appreciate and understand the other, cajoling societies to realise that there are more ways than one to do something. And that too was some of the driving force of the Second Vatican Council - to open windows.
But it seems now there is a new fear enveloping us - build back walls, the ‘other crowd’ are all wrong.
Maybe the clue to keeping walls away and windows wide open is for each one of us to keep our own eyes wide open and stay ever vigilant. Take nothing for granted, especially what is familiar.
Make it a New Year’s resolution?
Monday, December 28, 2015
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Thank you RTE.
Nashville Sisters to speak in St Saviour's
Friday, December 25, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Máirt Hanley, Church of Ireland rector in Baltinglass, invited me to talk at the Harvest liturgy in the parish church in September. It was an honour, a privilege but above all a lovely experience.
It was great to see how the people in the country church took part in the service.
They all had their books open and they were all singing. A lovely sense of participation. People praying together.
I lived in Germany for a number of years and was always impressed with how German Catholics sing their hymns and pray out loud the prayers at Mass. Alas, it's not exactly the same story in Ireland.
Great strides have been made in Irish Catholic churches to get people singing and participating but there's still a lot to do.
Just last summer I went on holiday to Berlin with a family from Kerry: Mum, Dad and three children.
On Sunday we went to Mass in St Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin and they were gobsmacked with the singing and prayerful response to the prayers.
I'm not too often at non-Catholic services in Ireland and shame on me, but from the few times I have been, I've been impressed with how the congregation participates.
And it's not just in the area of singing but it has struck me on many occasions that even in the response to the prayers of the Mass, people are slow to pray them out loud. I wonder why is that? Has it something to do with the tradition of the Tridentine Mass where the priest was 'away up there' and the congregation was, in a way, simply 'lookers on'.
There was/is an expression in the Catholic tradition of people 'attending Mass'. Does that mean that they are simply onlookers? But it does tell a story. Spectators attend football matches. People at Mass surely are not spectators? But it can't be as simple as that - the Germans, French and Italian Catholics sing to the rafters in their churches.
Indeed, they always get such a shock when they come to Mass in Ireland.
I actually believe that people can be cajoled into fuller participation of the Mass. But it takes time, work, patience and intelligence. Co-operation too. But never by edict or talking down to people. Are there traces of a 'patronising gene' in the DNA of Irish Catholic priests?
In the heady early days after the Second Vatican Council there was great emphasis on priests exchanging notes with one another. We in the Dominicans had far more open and interesting meetings about liturgy and preaching than we have these days. More's the pity that that enthusiasm and discussion is on the wane.
Has there ever been a forum where Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy could come together for a mix of chat and theological debate? I'm sure we'd have a lot to learn from one another.
The idea of turning up once in a blue moon to talk in one another's churches smells of tokenism.
We could all be doing so much more to get to know one another better. It might even help us make our prayer more uplifting, make it more meaningful.
How barriers can collapse when we talk to one another. How often we develop the silliest of ideas about people without ever having spoken to them. Shouldn't we, ministers of religion, be at the vanguard in breaking down barriers. And how much we could learn from one another.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Several witnesses have reported the kidnapping of young people from their homes by military and police in uniforms and their summary execution by being shot in the head or the heart.The violence is also showing an alarming tendency towards ethnic targetting.
Families are being prevented from burying their children by being denied access to their bodies, the whereabouts of which are unknown.
In short, a total disregard for human life is evident, the rule of law has disappeared, and people are living in terror with a total absence of security. In this situation, the priority is not to impose sanctions which will likely largely primarily punish the poorest people.
The urgent priority is to provide immediate protection and security to the people of Burundi.Since this cannot be provided internally at the moment, it is the responsibility and duty of the international community through the UN or the African Union urgently to step in.
A failure to do so will result in further massacres and a new genocide.Once security is provided, inclusive negotiations between all the stakeholders in the country needs to be embarked on as soon as possible, as only a just political solution can end all the violence.
There is great appreciation in Burundi for the calling of this extraordinary session of the Human Rights Council to address the current crisis in the country.
However, there is also a cynicism that it will only result in another commission of enquiry while everyone already knows what is happening and while people are dying.
Mr President, Please do not let the people of Burundi down. Please take immediate action to provide them with protection and security.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column
A former work colleague back in Ireland for a few days phoned and asked me to join her for lunch. It was an enjoyable hour and we had plenty to talk about. Just as we said our goodbyes she gave me a small bag - a Christmas gift.
I jumped on a bus and went home. Later in the evening I realised I had managed to mislay the bag. Next morning I retraced my steps. Unfortunately it was not to be found. But I had not given up.
I checked out the Dublin Bus app and emailed them details of the bus I had been on, the time I had boarded and the number of the stop.
Within three days, and that included a weekend, I received an acknowledgment with a reference number and the telephone number of their lost property office.
The following day I called into the Dublin Bus office in Dublin's O’Connell Street where I was directed to their lost property office at the back of the Clerys’ building. A difficult place to find. But at last I was there and just one person ahead of me in the queue.
My turn comes. A man appears from behind a curtain or some sort of ‘barrier’. I explain what happened, tell him about the email I received from Dublin Bus and give him the six-digit reference number.
He assures me that I could not have been given a reference with six ‘letters’. I explain they were numbers and not letters. He then asks me who sent me the email and I, before I could calm down, said ‘Santa Claus’. At that he went away and told his colleague he was refusing to serve me.
I immediately suspected that I was in for trouble and I was going to be told in no uncertain way to get lost. And in a sense it was what I deserved.
Within a minute a woman appears at the counter. Again I explain my case. She could not have been friendlier and was somewhat at sea in respect to the email I had received from Dublin Bus. It seems Dublin Bus’s IT department doesn’t have great communications with the lost property Office in Dublin’s Earl Place.
So we disregarded the email and I gave her details of the bus journey.
After a short search she arrived with a small bag. Magic, it was my gift bag. I could not believe it.
On handing over a €2 service charge my gift bag was returned to me.
Excluding the minor blip with the first man it’s difficult to believe how it all went so accident-free and that I managed to get the bag back.
I can imagine that required a lot of honesty by a number of people. Did a passenger on the bus hand it to the driver or did the driver or a cleaner come across it and hand it into an office at the bus depot? The buses on the route I was on operate out of two depots, Summerhill and Donnybrook. So a warm thank you to all those in the chain of people that saw it got back to me.
And to the man to whom I was a little smart or abrasive, mea culpa.
Two things have struck me about the episode. Isn’t it uplifting and inspiring to experience honest people? It does us all good. And the efficient system that Dublin Bus has in place when people leave items on their buses. It must happen every day of the week.
Happy Christmas to readers of the column.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Say tomorrow Dublin Bus introduced a rule requiring all its staff to be celibate? Of course, silly, outrageous.
What right has any organisation to lay such obligations on its members?
A case for the European Court?
Sunday, December 20, 2015
His comments were the first item on the news bulletin that followed at 11.30, 10.30 Irish time.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
My last day in the office.
The children of two of my colleagues. Both three and a half months old.
So, I'm in the market looking for a job. Either in PR or post primary teaching. Anyone looking for a sub-teacher, English or German? I'm registered with The Teaching Council and Garda vetted.
My father worked with Smurfit Paper Mills until he was 82. My ambition.
Also, thank you for the kind comments on Twitter.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
A new day dawns. On Friday I went to Tralee, taking the 07.00 Heuston Cork train as far as Mallow. It meant getting out of bed at 04.35, before cycling across the city to the station.
Many of the rosters of Irish Rail drivers involve early rises. A driver has to be on site an hour before the scheduled departure time of his/her train. The first train out of Tralee every Monday is 04.45. That means getting up in the middle of the night.
I left home at 06.00. Plenty of stars to be seen. And also birdsong to be heard.
There is little or no movement on the road but what traffic there is, seems to take advantage of the empty roads and travels at speed.
The real-time signs at the bus stops are indicating that the next buses are due in 30/35 minutes.
A number of people walking, probably going to work. A few cyclists and two people out running. Maybe they are running to work.
Once I cross the Grand Canal there are hints of day dawning. Cars stopped at traffic lights. But not much happening. Three large trucks parked bumper-to-bumper outside the Guinness brewery, perhaps filled with barley?
And not a vacant space at the dublinbikes stand beside it.
In an instant everything changes. As I cycle down by the side of St Patrick’s Hospital on Steevens’ Lane and arrive at the junction of Heuston Station, it feels like I have been transported into another world. There is traffic darting in every direction, there is a Luas at the Heuston stop, buses in the queue of traffic stopped at the lights.
Within 30 seconds and a 300 metre distance, life has gone from slumber to wake mode.
It strikes me how right beside the early morning hub-hub near Heuston Station, people are most likely asleep in their beds in St Patrick’s Hospital. But within a short time the breakfast trolleys would be on the move.
A new day dawns. What sort of a day was it going to bring to people? I had my day mapped out. I was going to Tralee to say thank you to the students in the CBS The Green for donations they raised for Concern.
Somewhere near the Grand Canal I had spotted a middle-aged woman. She may have been going to work. There was a look of weariness on her face. On a meagre wage? Maybe she was just managing to get by from day to day.
What must it be like for people who are constantly worried where the next cent is going to come from? It doesn’t matter where they come from or what’s the colour of their skin.
What must it be like for people who don’t know whether or not they will survive the day? People would be born, others would die during the day. For some it would be a day of great excitement, for others profound sadness and disappointment and all that among the ordinariness of everyday life.
It’s still dark, I wonder how thieves and crooks begin their day. Are they planning their next heist? Early in the morning, do they ever feel it’s a mug’s game and think of changing jobs?
There is something magical, mystical about the early morning. Cycling through a city before it gets down to business puts a whole new look on the place.
It gives me a unique sense of ownership and belonging.
A new day is about to unfold.
I think of what the Psalmist wrote: “Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn!”
Monday, December 14, 2015
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Fr John Heuston died in Rome on March 6, 1984.
Will the Irish Dominicans remember Fr Thomas Walsh, who died in Dublin On August 16, 1987? He was another Irish Dominican with links to the 1916 Rising. There may well be others.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
The builder had been recommended to her and she felt confident that he could do a good job.
Alas, that’s not what happened and she was out of pocket by a five figure sum. Eventually she had to cut her losses, call stop and go off and find herself another builder.
For starters, two absolutes, never pay ‘cash’ for a job. Be honest and pay the proper tax. It’s ethically wrong and you are leaving yourself wide open to abuse. By using a registered contractor there is the possibility that you will be able to claim back tax on the work.
A small example between right and wrong. Some weeks ago I decided to replace gutters, downpipes and facia. I went to a cash-in-hand man who gave me a price. It was somewhat cheaper than a professional who came recommended.
The professional explained to me that before he did the job I needed to contact ESB Networks so that they could lower the cable before he began his job. I did that and was most impressed with the efficiency and professionalism of ESB Networks.
It’s important that the cables are lowered, otherwise the new facia would conceal the cable and some years down the road someone might decide to drill the new facia for some reason or other. The cash-in-hand man was simply going to place the new facia over the electric cable.
Secondly, no matter how much your builder might try to coax you, never pay any money in advance.
If she or he is an established and recognised builder he/she will have an account with builder providers. If you are asked for money in advance, be merciless and sack your builder.
It’s always advisable to shop around when looking for a builder. The best recommendation is word-of-mouth. Talk to friends, colleagues and ask them if they might have someone they could recommend and then go and have a look at the job.
Doing your homework means that you have all your plans worked out before work begins. If you chop and change during the job you are adding significant sums to your final bill.
There are rules and regulations governing the building trade and no doubt the overwhelming majority of builders conform meticulously to all the rules.
It has struck me as a PAYE employee, whether working as a teacher or in the newspaper industry, both employer and employee are governed by rules and regulations. A code of conduct/behaviour is expected of the employee and likewise the employer is duty-bound to treat employees in a correct manner.
Maybe in the current rush to the bottom in a number of industries there is a need as never before for workers to have the support of a trade union.
When it comes to the self-employed much is left to the ethical behaviour of the individual person.
Without a good business ethic a trader or professional can take short cuts, ignore regulations, deliver poor quality work in order to maximise profits.
Of course bad workmanship will eventually catch up on the trader/professional but in the meantime a lot of grief can be inflicted on an unsuspecting client.
My friend has found herself out of pocket. Not nice before Christmas.
Isn’t it strange how ministers of religion can get worked up on certain moral issues and not a word from them on so many other moral topics?
As I keep saying, it’s a funny old world.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Is the author's name Chris or Christ?
And it seems 'level' has a different meaning than 'floor'. You can be on Level Four but on Floor Three.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
And the situation is seismically worse within the Irish Catholic Church - right across religious congregations and dioceses. Probably not one exception.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Within 90 minutes of leaving the hospital I was standing in torrential rain at a bus stop in the city centre. I spotted a middle-aged woman carrying two black sacks from an office. It looked as it they were rubbish sacks but certainly they seemed far too heavy for her. No doubt she is on a meagre wage.
The following day a Turkish F-16 war plane shot down a Russian Su-24. Turkish authorities alleged that the Russian plane had violated Turkey's air space.
A Russian pilot was killed. The Su-24 was probably coming from or going to a bombing sortie in Syrian skies.
The downing of a Russian plane by a Nato ally and the alleged violation by a Russian plane on Nato territory could easily spark a serious international crisis. But away from the great world scene, what about the downed pilot and his family?
What about the innocent people who had most likely died as a result of the bombs unleashed by the Su-24? And all the lives that are lost and ruined every day and night in Syria.
We have all been shocked and repulsed by what happened in Paris on Friday, November 13. But probably more worrying is what happens next. Where next will ISIS attack?
It goes on an on and has been for generation after generation. It seems violence is part of our human condition. A century ago people were talking about the war to end all wars. It never happened.
Tomorrow is the second Sunday of Advent. Christians are preparing for the incarnation - the coming into the world of the Prince of Peace.In tomorrow's first reading we are reminded that we will be blessed by God forever - "Peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness." (Baruch 5: 4)
In the Responsorial Psalm the response goes - "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126)
What's the joy in young people dying? What's the joy in looking at burning contrails across the skies of Turkey and Syria? What's the joy in working people struggling to earn a meagre wage?
In the Gospel, Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah to describe John the Baptist."A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths..... The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' " (Lk 3: 4 - 5)
The role of John the Baptist is often quoted. And it is true that he evokes the image of someone who has something to say but no one is listening to him.
We use him as a role model when it suits us.
But right now do we really want prophets who will shout stop about poverty, slavery, maiming and killing, and institutional violence?
How is it that statesmen, and they are predominantly men, gain great political and popular clout when they stand beside their warplanes?
I keep thinking of that woman who was carrying those sacks, dressed poorly and probably paid a pittance.
John the Baptist crying in the wilderness?
What at all would he have to say to the manufacturers of that F-16 and Su-24? What would he have to say to the woman with those heavy black sacks?
The knowledge that God is in our world should bring joy to us. And also, spur us on to change things.