Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Monday, September 26, 2016
"The people 'scent' -- the People of God have God's 'scent' -- the people can 'scent' and they withdraw when they recognise narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades," the pope warned the so-called "baby bishops," who were in Rome for a training seminar.
"Don't allow yourselves to be tempted by numbers and quantity of vocations, but rather look for the quality of discipleship. … And be careful when a seminarian seeks refuge in rigidity -- because underneath this there's always something bad," Pope Francis
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Earlier this month I started a new job, chaplain in St Luke's Hospital in Dublin.
On every single occasion I have received the warmest and most gracious of welcomes, which has always included the sentiment of hoping that I will be happy in the job and how important it is to have a chaplain in the hospital. I have been genuinely impressed.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Georg Bätzig is the new bishop of Limburg. He will not be living in the infamous palace. He was not secretly appointed by a papal nuncio. The Germans don't allow such a procedure.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column
On the Monday after the All-Ireland hurling final I travelled by rail from Dublin to Banteer.
I consider myself something of a train anorak so was expecting the 11.00 Heuston Cork service to be a quiet train. Make my way up to the front coach at 10.50. Amazed. What is normally the 'semi-empty' coach was crowded. I was taken aback. What was this about?
There were still two free seats together, where I parked myself. Window seat. Within a minute a young woman is sitting down beside me. Of course it's selfish to expect to have two seats to yourself but it's a nicer way to travel.
Just as she sat down beside me the smell of drink hit me. Is there anything worse than that smell of stale drink?
Sitting on the train I felt one could get drunk on the fumes and there was enough alcohol to fuel the locomotive.
The train was filled to capacity with Tipperary supporters heading home after a weekend of revellery.
I thought I was going to be on a nice quiet train. Anything but.
The young woman beside me, decked out with her phone, purse and bottled water had less than four hours sleep but would be back at work in the early afternoon. That's what young people do.
We joked about the 'evils of drink' She assured me that she would not be in Semple Stadium or anywhere near Thulres later that day for the homecoming of the victorious hurlers. "I can't wait till 6pm when I finish work and head straight home to bed," she smiled.
Her two friends, also on the train with her, are heading back to college. Tuesday was their first day back so they were planning to go to the celebrations in Thurles later that day. But there would be no drink as both of them had lectures at 09.00 on the Tuesday.
The four men sitting in front of us seemed to have been experts on hurling. I could overhear them referring to on of Sunday's players as a 'donkey' and then all praise for someone else. I wonder who the 'donkey' was?
"My young lad plays for the under-12s in XXXXX," I could hear one of them say. The same man agreed that he was in a 'terrible condition'. I'm not too sure when he was afflicted with such a 'condition'. But all four of them had nothing but praise for the Tipperary manager, Michael Ryan.
By the time the train reached Templemore my passenger companion had changed her mind. Yes, she would go to Thurles later that day but promised me she would not be drinking.
On Saturday night she and her friend hailed a rickshaw. It was only to cost €4 but they got lost, mis-read their Google maps and ended up paying €20 each. So the rick-shaw man ended up with €40 in his pocket.
And just as the train pulled out of Thurles my friend was thinking she might call in sick.
It was a 'different' sort of train journey. But it was great fun. And what really struck me was the innate good nature of the people sitting near me. They were all good fun, nice people. Behind all the codology there was a lovely innocence about them. No big ideas about changing the world or high-faluten words about anyting.
But I was also conscious of the presence of God on that train.
Just as the train neared Limerick Junction my train companion had definitively decided she'd be back at work in the afternoon.
That's dedication. Great fun too.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Friday, September 9, 2016
The 'silent people' who slink in the background and pull the strings, especially so, when leadership is weak.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.
Last week the first school uniforms began to appear on our footpaths. For that first day or so they were a novelty. And now it's back to normal and the young people are heading to and from school as if there had been no long holidays.
For the first-timers it was and probably still is all excitement but for the regulars, one is reminded of the lines from the seven stages of man in Shakespeare's 'As You Like it': "Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel/And shining morning face, creeping like snail/Unwillingly to school."
It's that time of year when many people think about learning something new, going back to school to pick up new skills. These days there is a myriad institutions and centres of learning offering so many enjoyable possibilities. There's hardly a subject or skill that is not on offer.
Modern technology has given us the possibility of learning so much from our own homes.
Computer technology has landed learning possibilities on our doorstep. But I can imagine the same computer must be the bane of so many doctor with patients calling to their GPs and telling them what's wrong with them. Everything has its drawbacks.
Learning is a lifelong process. Albert Einstein said that intellectual growth ends only at death. The more we learn the more we realise how little we know.
In early August I was asked by The Priory Institute in Tallaght to give them some help in advertising the courses they have on offer. They felt that with my background in journalism I could point them in the right direction.
I ended up writing small pieces for regional newspapers on the courses that the institute offers. In order to do that I contacted people who were either currently doing courses at The Priory Institute or had completed studies there.
Without exception every person with whom I spoke was genuinely delighted they had done the course.
I spoke to a large cross section of people, young and not-so-young. One man I phoned explained how studying theology had given him a great insight to his faith.
Someone else said about the course: "There are times when I lift my head from the books and think, 'Why when I was growing up, did no one ever tell me about this beautiful religion of ours' ".
A woman from west Kerry said: "Weary of the shallows? Take the plunge and discover the treasure called theology."
There is so much talk, dispute, controversy, scraps and disagreements about issues concerning religion and faith in Ireland that I often wonder what exactly do we know about our religion or about faith in God. What do we know about worldwide religions and their history? I'm inclined to think very little.
Theology is an exciting discipline. It is about exploring the mystery of God and God's interaction with us. Christian theology focuses on Jesus, 2,000 years of history and scholarship. It looks at how we try to speak about God.
Ireland was known as a 'Catholic country'. That is changing at breathtaking speed.
But the Ireland that is disappearing was never renowned for its theological expertise.
Has there been an overemphasis on pious aspects of our faith, bordering on superstition?
The Priory Institute is affiliated to the Institute of Technology Tallaght and offers a wide range of courses, including degrees, diplomas and certificates.
What makes The Priory Institute special is that learning is done from home, interspersed with study days and tutorials with support from a dedicated coordinator.
For further information log on to www.prioryinstitute.com; email, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 01 - 404 8124.
Monday, September 5, 2016
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Friday, September 2, 2016
This is an excellent address and engages the reader in so many issues pertinent to the life of Christianity in the world today.
Highly recommended reading and great material for interesting discussion.
It is a privilege to publish the address on this blog.
Thank you Paul.
Coming back from Tehran one is struck by the many changes that have taken place around us in these past years. It is true that there are things that make one very concerned about the future but it is also striking to see so much positive energy and generosity of spirit.
Dominicans have been ministering to this Christian community in Mosul since 1750. Our sisters and brothers have done heroic work and have had an amazing impact across the region. The old liturgical books used by the Chaldean/Assyrian church in Tehran were printed by this Dominican community of Mosul. The present archbishop of Tehran, bishop Ramsi was educated in their school.
Today the Dominican church of Mosul is no more. In April of this year the Daesh Islamic group destroyed what remained of the church and priory. Not long before they had destroyed the great library of the house containing over a 100,000 books and manuscripts. Most of the people are now scattered across the world and some of them had made their way to Tralee.
The complex world of the Middle East is among us. For so long we were barely aware of the region and the horrors that have taken place there in recent years. Now this ancient Christian people and their Muslim country men and women have come among us. Will they be recognised? Who will talk to them? Will they be welcomed?
Among the people coming out from the 12 o’clock Mass in Holy Cross that sunny Sunday there were also many young families. They seemed so bright and cheerful, with a blessed freedom from the formality that used to go with attending Sunday Mass in years gone by. However, the majority of people emerging from the church were of an older generation. The expression “the faithful” is so aptly applied to them. An older generation who continue to come with fidelity to pray in our churches, to pray with us at Mass.
How can we in turn remain faithful to these friends who have shown such loyalty to the Lord and the Dominican Order over the years? With our changing province we cannot maintain in all our churches the kind of presence and quality of care for which we were known and loved.
How to balance our present situation with the demands of fidelity and loyalty is a great challenge for us now.
There weren’t so many young people coming out from that 12 o’clock Mass. Many no longer feel either the necessity or inclination to attend church on Sunday. Yet meeting this generation in our families and among friends, one finds a great generosity of spirit, their kindness.
The Lord is present in some new way among them. A few weeks ago at the World Youth Day in Poland there was the great gathering of young people who attended Mass with Pope Francis. He told them that he saw in them a conviction that it is possible to create something wonderful in our world of today.
We have to ask how the changes are influencing ourselves; how do we see ourselves and the work before us, what is real community apart from just living together, how can superiors keep their humanity while exercising authority, how do we relate to each other and those around us. So many questions! In the Assembly and Chapter our hearts also, must be open to the presence of the Lord who shows us how to live the life for which our hearts are yearning as we look to the road that lies before us. How are we to begin to find a way to continue our mission?
He did so in order to answer an urgent need where he saw lives being wrecked through distorted beliefs. In imitation of Christ who with his band of sisters and brothers from the lake shore of Galilee had reached out to the ends of the earth with the Gospel of God’s mercy, Dominic’s sisters and brothers set out among the people of his own time with the same mission.
Clearly our celebration of the Order’s 800 years is not an occasion for basking in glory. We give thanks to the Lord for all the sisters and brothers; those of long ago who left us their captivating story and those of more recent times whose lives we ourselves have shared. Just as we remember those whom we have known; stories about our brothers and sisters were always part of our living tradition.
From the earliest days of the Order we have “The Lives of the Brethren.” The prologue states “Our purpose is that future generations may know the dignity of their Order and may see how perfectly earlier brothers, our fathers, lived and stood for the truth." Humbert of Romans wrote “take note of the great care divine providence has had for the Order. With this in mind you will be more and more strengthened to love it.” In the same way we remember the Dominicans we have known; all those characters who lived famous or hidden lives and inspired us by their great love, dedication and sacrifice.
Each of us has our own memory and experience in the Order. I joined in 1968 and remember with such vividness people who for many today are unfamiliar names. What an extraordinary band of brothers and sisters we knew. Some of them indeed seemed giants.
In spite of their greatness, they were people of their own time and now some of their decisions seem shortsighted. This is something which should be a check on any overconfidence on our part and prompt us to listen to the other voices; the voices of those who see things from a different angle.
What do we make of the province that we have known? “By its fruits you shall know them.” Was it a good tree that produced good fruits? St Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in the letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Are these the qualities we remember? I think we all remember days when we experienced something very far from such a spirit. But really, in my memory, it is joy and kindness that stand out as the qualities that we met so often during our lives as members of the Irish Province. A joy and kindness which was not a politically motivated politeness but rather an expression of the love which is the driving force of our lives.
On entering the Order we were asked “What do you seek?” We answered “The mercy of God and yours.” Aware of our limitations we ask God’s compassion and we ask for the compassion of our brothers. This is not something we do only at the beginning of our life in the Order but continues through all our days. “Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.” When we forgive, whenever we feel compassion for those who suffer, when we care for those in need, we become more deeply aware of our own need for God’s compassion
In sending his blessing to the recent General Chapter, Pope Francis reminds us that this year is also the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
St Dominic, he tells us was a tireless apostle of grace and forgiveness, compassionate towards the poor and an ardent defender of truth. He urges us that we who are his followers must bear witness to this mercy, be signs of the nearness and tenderness of God so that people today might rediscover the urgent need for Solidarity, Love and Forgiveness.
The work brought me into contact with a world of people who normally have little connection with the Church. There were the workers, craftsmen and restorers, there were historians, architects, archeologists and government officials. St Dominic sent his brothers into the universities, into the places of learning, reflection, debate. Minds searching for understanding are today not only within the world of university but, questioning, the search for authentic life, is all around us, calling on us to be engaged, to travel with them on the road as friends who care about them.
Studying early Christianity shows how the church became incarnate in different cultures. In the West it developed in the world of late Roman civilisation. The church of the West became incarnate in the language, architecture, art, and the structures of that society. But there is and always must be, a tension if the spirit of God’s kingdom is not to be confined by the ways and structures of the earthly kingdoms. By the fourth century there were already problems of clerical power and privilege. It is no coincidence that this was the period that saw the first flowering of monasticism which was described as the movement which “stamped eternity on the imagination of the West.”
We recognise that in some areas there are different ways of seeing the way forward among the brothers. It is not something new. There were in the past deep divisions caused by different understandings about the true nature of the Dominican Vocation. There was the disagreement between groups called Conventuals and the Observants.
However through the tolerance shown by both groups, we avoided the divisions which occurred in other Orders. In the 19th century there were those who championed the rigorous reform in the Tallaght community against the life of “the Gentlemen of Denmark Street” who saw themselves in the tradition of those who ministered to an oppressed people in the penal days.
Rigidity in what constituted a Dominican vocation caused people to be hurt when they were treated as less than Dominican. This hurt often resulted in an abiding sense of low self-esteem and wounds that surfaced in other areas. Surly we do not want this to happen again.