Monday, October 31, 2016

How autumn leaves can play havoc with rail timetables

People often laugh when they hear of rail delays because of leaves on the track.

This short BBC video explains why leaves can be such a nuisance on rail tracks in autumn.

If you have difficulties opening the link below, then log on to www.irishrail.ie, where you can watch the video.

New insight as to why Van Gogh cut off his ear

The Guardian carries an interesting story today on why van Gogh might have cut off his ear.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Marginalising people

Today's Gospel is another reminder that it's not a good idea to marginalise people, anyone.

It's a trick we all do with such facility.

We don't like someone and then we dismiss them.

And all the things we say and do against those who don't fit in with our ways and ideas.

What a finer world it would be if we listened to one another, respected one another, were kind to one another.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Will it be GMT, DST, UCT when the clocks go back?

Clocks go back at 02.00 tomorrow across the European Union, which means we in Ireland and the UK will be on GMT.

Daylight Saving Time or Summer Time, which is GMT plus one in Ireland and the UK, was introduced on April 30 in 1916 in Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Over the years there have been many attempts to extend DST (GMT plus one in Ireland and the UK, GMT plus two in mainland Europe) throughout the entire year.

Moscow does not observe Daylight Saving Time. It made the change some years ago.

That Ireland and the UK are always an hour behind the rest of Europe means that a number of hours are lost during the day to do business with counterparts on mainland Europe. They are at work an hour earler than we are, more time is lost during lunchtime and then at the finish of business they have gone home an hour before Irish offices close.

The term GMT has now been replaced by UCT,  Coordinated Universal Time.

Friday, October 28, 2016

What a bishop carries in boot

A story in today's Irish Times about goods stolen from the car of the bishop of Cloyne.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/district-court/woman-jailed-for-stealing-from-bishop-s-unlocked-car-1.2845581#.WBOgAnbvzkg.mailto 

Dominicans in Derry

In an interview on Radio Maria on Wednesday, October 26 Fr John Harris OP talks about the mission movement in Ireland. It was on the occasion of a group of Dominicans giving a retreat in Derry.

Fr Harris asks Fr Ciaran Dougherty OP how he would explain what he expects of a mission. He tells the listeners that Fr Ciaran "has lots of experience".

Fr Dougherty replies: "I suppose the idea of a mission is something new for a parish. Things can become a little stale, it's a time that's different.

"People get used to doing the same things every week."  Fr Dougherty goes on to explain how at a mission people have an opportunity to hear things "they have not heard in a while".

Elsewhere in the interview Fr Harris says that people attempt to "whitewash Christianity out of the public spehre" and "it is only Jesus who can truly truly heal the wounds of Northern Ireland."

On a remark made by Fr Dougherty, Fr Harris says: "It's an excellent observation because I agree with you ......."

University of St Thomas Aquinas opens its doors

On this day, October 28, 1538, the first university in the New World, in the present-day Dominican Republic, was established. It was called the University of St Thomas Aquinas.

This year the Dominican Order is marking 800 years since its foundation.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

ASTI strike

While not making any comment on today's ASTI strike it is worth noting that the Germans pay their teachers different rates for similar work.

Teachers, along with all public servants, earn more money in the west than in the east, the former German Democratic Republic.

When it comes to discrimination, the ASTI should remember that it has discriminated as to who can join join its union.

And never a word of apology.

When I began teaching the ASTI refused me membership. As a priest, they considered me management.

Then and now I have never been part of management, something to wear as a badge of honour.

Vatican ashes

The story of the Vatican document on what to do with human ashes is unfortunate.

Or is it all part of a political power game in an attempt to stall the work of Pope Francis?

Serious or just funny?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UK's Ukip inquiry makes public its brawling affair

Ukip announced this evening the results of an internal inquiry into a brawl between two of its members. Since the brawl one of the antagonists/participants has left the party.

It's interesting to observe organisations/institutions which have their members brawling with each other.

Also, it says a lot about the management of such organisations.

It's worrying that organisations, which have a public dimension, allow brawling members to remain within the fold.

At least Ukip has to be commended for holding an inquiry.

Far too much aggression on Dublin's dangerous roads

There has been a significant increase in traffic in the Dublin area in recent months.

With that increase there has been an ever-growing aggression on the roads.

The streets and roads have become a far more dangerous place. And the offenders are both drivers of cars and cyclists.

Cyclists, and cars too, crashing traffic lights.

Policing seems negligible.

Many cyclists are travelling far too fast, too close and too aggressively as are so many drivers of cars.

And this is being noted by someone who has been cycling in the city for 62 years.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lagerfeld wants to make the earth a more pleasant place

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Do you like your surroundings? Or are you even unaware of them?

It is spectacularly uplifting to walk into a home, an office or a public place and see it tastefully decorated, where form follows function.

Some weeks ago I spent a few days away from home. I arrived in my  accommodation and went straight to my room. I was instantly struck by the ugly furniture in the room. Bland, boring, a white table, wardrobe, bed post, all in a depressing plastic! And then the pictures and paintings on the walls were horrible beyond words. It was an uninviting atmosphere. Doubtful if there had been any thought or planning gone into putting the room together.

It set me thinking about how the environment around us can influence our mood and peace of mind. It also prompted me to wonder about style and fashion.

Of course people like different things. Also, fashion changes from season to season: one year green can be the colour, the following year it's blue. Trends change continuously and they are influenced by many things, including films, exhibitions, events. The Olympic Games, big football occasions, all play a part in influencing styles and fashions.

Anyone who watches RTE TV's 'Reeling in the Years' will notice how styles change over time. We look at it and are tempted to say how 'silly' people looked 'back then'. But on the other hand it's what people felt at ease in, they felt 'great' looking like that. 

Personal style never goes out of fashion.

There are those who follow trends, but surely the underlying principle should and must be that style or fashion cheers us, helps make us feel good and look good too.

Paris-based German fashion designer, artist and photographer Karl Lagerfeld says it well: “I’m a very down-to-earth person, but it is my job to make  that earth more pleasant."

I was at a meeting in a hall some weeks ago. Looking around the room I noticed the prints/pictures that were on the walls. I can't believe anyone would look at any of them and I can't imagine how they could ever possibly lift one's spirits. Why at all are they there?

Do you like your surroundings? Are they uplifting, joyous, relaxing?  Do you regularly look at the paintings on your wall? Do they help make you a happier person? Do they challenge you and inspire you?

I probably know nothing about art or design but I do know what I like and don't like.

A friend of mine, who is an artist, has been making hand cut paper collages for the past few years. The images that she creates pop with colour and energy. And immediately lift your spirits and give you great pleasure as soon as you see them. 

Last year she and a fellow artist friend of hers exhibited their work in Wexford during the Opera Festival. It was my friend's artistic debut and to her delight it proved such a success they are back exhibiting again this year during the Opera Festival. The exhibition, Phase .: 3, which opens this Wednesday, October 26 is taking place at 44 South Main Street, Wexford, opposite Penneys.

I bought three works at the exhibition last year and yes, they do enhance my home.... adding colour and elegance, and  I regularly look at them and it does me good.

There is an emotional power in shapes, forms and colour. And you don't have to 'know' about art to enjoy or appreciate objects of art that you like and admire.

Do you like your surroundings, those paintings on the wall?

Monday, October 24, 2016

A day in history

On this day in 1942 the very first hints of a defeat for Nazi Germany on the Volga began to appear. A Soviet victory on the great river was no longer seen as completely impossible.

Operations of Paulus' Sixth Army in Stalingrad slowed down considerably due to exhaustion after two weeks of intense fighting as well as the weather growing appreciably colder.

UN anniversary

The United Nations was founded on this day in 1945.

It came into being after World War ll in order to prevent such an event ever happening again.

On October 24, 1945 there were 51 member states, today there are 193.

Ireland joined on December 14, 1955.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Award for Carolin Emcke

Carolin Emcke was awarded the German Book Publishers Peace Prize (Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels) in the famous Paulskirche in Frankfurt-am-Main today.

'Stupid' Tories are going to do Brexit the hard way

Excellent piece in yesterday's The Irish Times by Stephen Collins on Brexit.

Probably 'excellent' because the writer of this blog agrees with it. But also, because it is so clear to follow, no going back and having to re-read a sentence.

The PR of the powerful versus the powerless

Today's Gospel reading (Luke 18: 9 - 14), the parable of the Pharisee telling us how great he is and then the little man down the back of the temple, who asks for mercy, is a great story.

The last line runs: For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.

Does anything ever change in state or church? Simple answer: no.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Run on Irish passports

After the Brexit vote 14,228 applications for Irish passports were received at the Irish Embassy inLondon  during the months of August and September.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Maybe it's good to hide the meaning of an acronym

Like everything in life, most things, ideas, whatever, always have some purpose.

And so it is with the acronym. It's much easier to say Nato than North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, ESB Networks, than Electricity Supply Board Networks. People work in IT.

But so often the same acronym can become a method of obfuscation. And many reasons for that.

Sometimes just as well one does not know what they mean.

There is one in St James's Hospital: it's MISA or Misa. The Mercer Institute for Successful Ageing.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Caught red-handed

On one day last week 900,000 cigarettes were seized at Dublin Port.

The cigarettes had been illegally imported into the country.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vatican watcher Politi talks in Trinity on Francis papacy

German Italian journalist and Vatican watcher Marco Politi spoke in glowing terms in Trinity College last evening on the papacy of Pope Francis. He was a guest of the Loyola Institute.

Clearly he is a fan of the pope from Argentina.

But there seems to be some sort of disjoint between what Francis is saying and what's happening in the church in Ireland.

Politi spoke at length on the type of people who are being appointed to senior positions under Francis.

What does the pope know about what's happening in Ireland and the style and type of men who are being appointed to the Irish episcopacy?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How genuine is Trump's apology after he's found out?

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
While the most sophisticated jets ever made drop their bombs over Syrian cities, particularly Aleppo, the United States of America prepares for its November elections.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton slug it out. It's not a pretty show. While they fight it out Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, does not know where Aleppo is.

The now infamous tape of the Donald telling his buddies, using foul language, what he can do with and to women, has orbited the world many times over.

What a nasty piece of work he is. But it fits. It complements a lot of the other nasty things he has been saying: Mexican thieves and rapists and Muslim undesirables.

If it weren't so sad it would be hilariously funny. To think that millions of people will vote next month to put this man in the White House is scary. At the Republican convention that elected him to be the party's presidential candidate a middle-aged woman said that she was voting for him because he was a man with great family values.

What was particularly noteworthy was how the Donald apologised for his 'locker room language'. It's an interesting term. What at all goes on in locker rooms?

The apology reminds me of an episode fadó fadó in the US soap 'Dallas'. JR Ewing was up to trickery but was caught by his wife. He apologises and she quips that the only reason he apologised was because he was caught. Of course the only reason he says he's sorry is because he was found out.

I can't imagine the Donald voluntarily apologising for a wrong-doing if we didn't already know about it.

This is the same man who wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico in order to keep out undesirables. Maybe he needs to build a high wall around himself.

It's the same story with the whole sad affair of clerical child sex abuse. If it had never become public knowledge the churches would never have uttered a word of apology. Even worse, church authorities did their damnedest to keep it all quiet. Heavens only knows how much they paid in hush-hush money and how many deals of confidentiality were drawn up between perpetrators and victims. Is all the profuse apologising a result of having been found out?

Last week in Germany there was another example of hypocrisy. The Rosenburg Report was published, which gives a tiny glimpse into how in postwar Germany so many former Nazi officials walked into top State jobs. 

The former Nazis managed to protect one another and they were in a position to keep everything under the carpet. Most were never uncovered. On the other hand, the German State has been exemplary in trying to make amends for the barbarous evil of National Socialism.

There was a line in the Gospel reading at Mass on Wednesday of last week:  "A curse is on you Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the market place."

It reminded me of the Trumps of this world. People thinking they deserve a special spot in the limelight. And then when they're caught the apology is the cure-all.

But in a way, isn't it something we all try. We do wrong, no-one hears about it so we stay stum. If we are found out we might own-up and say we are sorry. 

How genuine is our sorrow? But it is different from the carry on of the Pharisees, postwar Nazis church apparatchicks and the Trumps of this world. Or is it?

Monday, October 17, 2016

'Swaggering Trump offends even in his defence'

Powerful piece by Maureen Dowd in today's The Irish Times.

Oscar Wilde on religion

Scientologists have moved in to a new plush building in Dublin's Merrion Square. It's not far from the Oscar Wilde monument.

Oscar Wilde's take on religion: .... like a blind man looking in a black room for a black cat that isn't there, and finding it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Working pastoral bishops

Peru jouirnalist Alejandro Bermúdez says of the men Pope Francis is to give red hats to on November 19:

They aren't so interested in leading cultural battles, but more in doing pastoral work.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The power and the glory

The 'Thinking Anew' column in today's The Irish Times.

Michael Commane
 The front page headline on last week's German weekly newspaper 'Die Zeit' ran: 'The power of the insulted'. A very clever headline that tells the story of our time.

Populist politicians in the western world are tapping into the feelings of those who feel dispossessed, those who feel they have lost out.

There is a mood about that the world is tired of the status quo, that the elite have been in control for far too long and simply do not understand the plight of the 'squeezed middle' and those who 'keep things going'.

Part of the irony of the current political play is that those who claim to be on the side of the common people are quite clearly deeply ensconced in the heart of the so-called elite classes.

It's baffling how mega-wealthy privileged people can give the impression that somehow they are 'one of us'. And it seems to be working. Right across the western world, there are millions of people who are now placing their trust and indeed hope in right-wing ideologues. History, and indeed, common sense,  tell us that such people and their policies always leave the poorest people in society less well off.

There are always battles as to who should be the ruling class. There are peaceful ways to do it but such change can also happen through bloody revolution.

But it does seem that right now there is a worldwide cry for change. And that cry seems to want to swing the pendulum in a right-wing direction. It's also happening within the churches. And it seems to be inevitable that the tectonic plates are moving.

There is no doubt that our leaders need to be more answerable to us and more careful in how they use the world's resources. However, the loudest voices for change  often offer us fear, begrudgery and isolation. That can never be good.

But that's the way of the world. Power is some sort of aphrodisiac and there are those who crave to be in the top jobs. They will do anything to get to the top. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Tomorrow's Gospel throws some sort of universal wisdom on our relationship with those who hold worldly power.

A poor widow pleads with a corrupt and powerful judge to help her in her miserable plight. She is simply looking for justice to be done. She wants him to intervene on her behalf and help right the wrong that has been done to her. She is persistent and keeps asking him to do what is right.

Eventually, he comes on board. His reasoning is: "Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out." (Luke 18: 4 - 5)

Commentators use this Gospel to point out how prayer, our pleading to God ultimately works. If a corrupt judge will eventually listen to a nagging woman, how much more will a loving God, listen to our pleading. And that makes great sense.

But there is also a story in that Gospel that is telling us that all power on earth is limited, temporal and ecclesiastical. And that no matter who is in power or what ideology is prevalent, that we can never rest on our laurels and allow those in power and control to do as they wish.

Plato's gnat, who constantly asked questions of those in power, is always needed to keep us and the ruling classes on their toes.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus is always at the heels of those in power, no matter what hue they are.

Yes, we have to live by the rules, but putting all our trust in any sort of temporal power is never the full story. There is something greater to be found by looking upwards and contemplating the word of God.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The story of a Syrian family in their home of adoption

BBC 2's 'Newsnight' last evening told the story of the Badreddin family from Syria.

The family came to Britian under a programme launched by the then British prime minister, David Cameron.

On their arrival, BBC filmed their first steps in the their new country. While filming, their son, Omar Badreddin, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Leazes Park in Newcastle.

Yesterday in Newcastle Court Omar was found not guilty.

The approximately 25-minute 'Newsnight' clip is a moving story of how an innocent family suffered so much in their country of adoption.

The programme ran from 22.30 yesterday and excellent television.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A terrible insult to tramps to call him Tramp Trump

The latest Trump revelations would make it all so funny if it were not so serious, vulgar and pathetic.

Amazing a tag such as Tramp Trump has never appeared. Then again, it would be a terrible insult to tramps.

Before Hitler came to power, the management at Mercedes realised he was a moron but believed once in power they would be in a position to contorl him.

From 1933 onwards they supplied him every year with a new top-of-the range vehicle, indeed, specially built for the 'moron'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Report shows Nazi influence in postwar Germany

Piece in yesterday's The Irish Times makes for great reading.

But why should anyone be surpised? Isn't it, more or less, similar style peolpe who make their way to the top jobs in all the professions. Every now and again, someone special turns up.

At the former Stasi HQ in Berlin's Normanen Strasse there is a picture of the top brass in the organisation.

Take a trip to Wansee in the south east of the city and there too on the wall is a photo of the men who planned the 'final solution'.

Both pictures show men who look educated, knowledgeable. Most of them lawyers.

The way of the world.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Primo Levi's words put a 50-minute delay into context

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Early morning flights out of Dublin are not for the fainthearted.

It was the 07.20 Ryanair service to Berlin. It meant getting out of the bed at 04.15. The taxi fare from Dundrum to the airport was €17 short of the return Dublin Berlin ticket. We certainly live in a strange and unexplainable world.

It appears Monday mornings are the busiest in the week at the airport. 

The queue at security seems endless but it did end and everyone was on the plane shortly after 07.00. Schedule departure time is 07.20. Michael O'Leary would be delighted with the efficiency of the staff. And all done in a seamless fashion. It was a full plane. 

Monday October 3 was a national holiday in Germany. The Germans celebrate national unity every year on that date. Last year it was on a Sunday. Tough luck for the Germans. No free day on the Monday.

It seemed everyone on the plane was German, taking advantage of the free Monday.

All passengers sitting in their seats, ready for take off. The plane is pushed back from the stand. It's bye bye Dublin. Or is it?

The plane creeps along. Then sometime around 07.30 the pilot tells us we are in a queue and there would be a delay in taking off. There are 11 planes ahead of us. He keeps us well informed. It is approximately 08.10 before the wheels leave the ground. Never before experienced such a delay at Dublin Airport but one of the cabin crew tells me that is how it is every morning at that time.

We eventually arrive in Berlin Schönefeld at 11.00 German time. Ryanair must hate that sort of delay as it causes knock-on delays. They take pride in extra short turn-arounds but any hi-cough and the proverbial hits the fan.

I was sitting beside a couple from Wismar, which is in north Germany, a city in the former East German State.

They had been in Dublin for the weekend. It was their first time in Ireland and they had enjoyed themselves. They stayed in a hotel in the north inner city, found it somewhat expensive. They were generally positive about Dublin but were surprised to see so many empty and dilapidated buildings. They'd come back and would like to visit the south west of Ireland.

Wismar is not far from the former west east border. People in the east are still earning less than their fellow citizens in the west. They told me they know people who travel a 90-minute return train journey every day to Lübeck in the west where they earn significantly more money. Different rates of pay for the same job happen not just in Ireland.

I was on a five-day visit to the German capital with a friend, who had never been in the city.

Later that day we visited the Memorial to The Murdered Jews of Europe. It is in the heart of the city, near the Brandenburg Gate.

The memorial was opened on May 12, 2005 and consists of 2,711 concrete blocks over an area of 19,000 square metres. There has been controversy about the memorial. Walking through it, getting lost inside it, gives one a tiny glimpse of the terror of Nazi tyranny.

There is also an information centre which chronicles some of the horror that millions of people suffered.

Inside the main door is a quote from Primo Levi:
"It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say."

A 50-minute delay at Dublin Airport is little to worry about.

Monday, October 10, 2016

RTÉ's Chemnitz

RTÉ is badly mispronouncing the German city of Chemnitz. It's pronounced Kemnitz and not Schemnitz, as the national broadcaster is pronouncing it.

The old name of the city was much easier to get right: Karl Marx Stadt.

Very few words in German begin with a c. Maybe that explains the mispronunciation.

More Trump

Nice piece in Saturdays' Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/08/donald-trump-women-comments-groping-apology?CMP=share_btn_link

And then this in today's Guardian:

‘I did not say that … it’s locker room talk’
Trump did say that he would “grab [women] by the pussy”, and was recorded saying so in 2005 in a video published by the Washington Post on Friday.
Pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper, he did admit to having made the comment, though he then said he had never actually acted in the way. He was accused of “attempted rape” in the 1990s, though never convicted.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

That border again

The picture features in this week's German weekly newspaper 'Die Zeit'. It is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The paper gives a full page to how Brexit might or will bring back old wounds.

Journalist Jochen Bittner interviews former member of the IRA, Richard O'Rawe, who gives advice to the Europeans, especially the German government:

Be hard with the British. That' the only thing that will bring them to their senses.

The headline on the piece runs: Is that the new EU-border?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Headline catches the mood

The headline in this week's 'Die Zeit'.

Clever headline: 'The power of the insulted/offended'


Friday, October 7, 2016

Typical right-wing behaviour

From yesterday's Guardian.

Isn't this what the right-wing does? They present themselves as nice, ever so polite, but there is the nasty side: the street fighting, the drunken brawls. And on it goes.

The same behaviour within the churches.

The two Ukip members involved in an alleged brawl have, in the circumstances, unfortunate names.

The Ukip leadership favourite, Steven Woolfe, has been hospitalised after a dramatic altercation with a fellow MEP, following a meeting of the party in the European parliament.
Woolfe, who later said he was recovering well and “smiling as ever”, collapsed during a vote in Strasbourg and was taken to hospital in a serious condition. 
Earlier that morning Woolfe had allegedly been involved in a confrontation with his fellow Ukip MEP Mike Hookem after a tense meeting which was intended to “clear the air” with colleagues.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Interviews on Radio Maria

If one logs on to 'Dominican Vocations' and listens to the latest interview on Radio Maria, or indeed, any of the interviews, one may hear 'interesting' views, opinions, 'thoughts'.

Is there such a phenomenon as 'holy speak'? Do some people try out 'holy voices' when they are talking about God?

How much is real, how much is fiction? Do words lose meaning?

What Primo Levi said

One of the first quotes one sees when entering the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Information Centre in Berlin.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ukip resignation mirrors reality in other organisations

From today's Guardian:

Diane James has quit as Ukip leader after just 18 days in the job, saying she had enjoyed the support of members but not party colleagues.
In a sign of the turmoil that has engulfed Ukip since her predecessor Nigel Farage resigned, she said: “It has become clear I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of MEP colleagues and party officers to implement the changes I believe are necessary and upon which I based my campaign.”
Citing both personal and professional reasons for quitting, she also said she would continue as MEP for South East England.
She tweeted the statement along with a message of thanks to all supporters who attended her leadership speeches over the summer.
One may not support Ukip but the reality/phenomenon of not enjoying the support of party colleagues is not exclusive to Ukip.
It's a reality that becomes ever more clear right across society, maybe especially so within the churches, dioceses and religious congregations. But never a word within the dioceses or congregations. It is a taboo subject. Under no circumstances can the matter be discussed.
The anger, the hatred, the disdain makes itself ever more evident. But the subject must never be discussed.
The jealousy too.
All shocking and sad. The damage that's done, the pain people suffer. But no one dare say a word. It is a tyranny and certainly great bullying.

And then 'preaching the Good News' and talking about 'truth'. If it weren't so sad and painful it would be funny.
But it's the work and lives of the good women and men that keep the flags flying and they always outnumber the nonsense and deceit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A porter's kindness

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Monday, September 26, sometime after 6.30am it was dark and wet, at least in Dublin. I was cycling on a relatively narrow road when a car passed at speed and far too close to me. 

I caught up with the car at the traffic lights and beckoned to the driver. He opened his window. In a polite and quiet manner I suggested he was driving far too fast and came dangerously close to me. He looked at me and told me to f... off. The lights turned green and we both moved on. Not a nice early morning experience. But that's life, unfortunately.

In mid-morning I received an email informing me that a woman I know was seriously ill in hospital.

After lunch I cycled to the hospital to visit her. I walked up to the reception with my fold-up bicycle and asked the porter if I could leave the bicycle behind his desk. He graciously assented. He could so easily have told me it was no place for a bicycle and that I should take it back outside and leave it in the bicycle shed.

After some initial enquiries we discovered that the woman I was visiting was in a room close to the accident and emergency section of the hospital. It is obviously a room designated for seriously ill people. Just as the porter directed me to the room he quietly said, "God love her". 

I was touched by his comment. It was so nice of him. He's there all day every day and yet he had the sensitivity and kindness to say something so thoughtful and uplifting to me. It was impressive. A good man.

After visiting the sick woman I returned to collect my bicycle. I thanked the porter and explained to him how impressed I had been by his thoughtful comment. While I was talking to him, a colleague, who was standing nearby, overheard what I was saying to him.

A few moments later, while assembling the bicycle the colleague came over to me, explaining how he had heard what I had been saying.

" I want to tell you something about that man. He really does go that extra mile. Do you know what he did? He went off and learned sign language, all off his own batt, so that people who came to the desk who could not speak he would be in a position to explain to them where to go and what to do."
The 18th century English writer Charles Lamb wrote: "The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident." 

Certainly it was a complete accident that I bumped into that man. Had I not met his colleague I would still have been impressed but the story of his learning sign language was really the iceing on the cake. It's now over a week since it happened and I am still telling people about it.

What a joy it is to experience such acts of kindness. So much of it goes under the radar, never making the headlines. And yet it's one of those qualities or characteristics that make life so worthwhile. I'm certainly in a better place for having met that man. He'll never know the impact that short encounter had on me. 

I've placed the early morning episode to the back of my head. It's far surpassed by the kindness of the porter in the hospital.

There is an old Latin saying: bonum est diffusivum sui, which means goodness of its nature diffuses itself. So true.

Monday, October 3, 2016

OP clericalism and sexism

This picture appears on the international website of the Dominican Order. The caption under the picture reads:

The sisters visited the Convent of Santa Sabina where fr Michael Mascari, OP, the Socius for Intellectual Life offered an insightful tour of the convent and basilica. The entire meeting was an opportunity for an intercultural regeneration to which each sister brought something unique from her homeland.

Not one name of a single sister in the picture, yet we get the name of a Dominican priest, who does not feature in the picture.

Sexism and clericalism in one short paragraph.



Some headlines in October issue of free-sheet 'Alive!'

Five headlines in the October issue of the free-sheet Alive!:

Science is turning into a swamp of deciet

UN, EU imposing anti-family agenda

Award for pro-EU propaganda

Academic exposes corruption in scientific research
This piece talks about stirring up alarm about cllimate change

Marxist gender ideology tightens grip on US colleges

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The kindness of people

Walking through St Luke's Hospital in Rathgar one will not see a roman collar, immaculately starched habits, amices, albs. One will most unlikely hear God's name being mentioned. There certainly will be no pseudo holy voices 'explaining' God to people. There will be no nonsense at all.

But in every corner of the hospital one will see God at work. God's presence is made ever so real by everyone in St Luke's.

To observe the kindness and love of people is life-changing.

Real Christianity in action and nothing fraudulent about it, nothing to do with power and control.

Sowing and then reaping

An intersting line in the first reading today from the prophet Habakkuk:

How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen...

It was probably wirtten between 605 BC/CE and 597 BC/CE.

In any organistion where there is poor and dishonest management one is also reminded of the line in Paul's Letter to the Galatiants:

Where a man sows, there he reaps.

Said in modern speak: What goes around comes around.

The Irish harvest season has come to an end. Farmers say the yield is somewhat down on last year.

There are many poor harvests.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Trafficking in prejudice and talking pious words

The Clinton Trump show seems to becoming more ludicrous every day.

What's happening?

USA Today and the Arizona Republic are just two of the many Republican US newspapers that have sensationally endorsed Clinton for the upcoming election.

USA Today writes of Trump: "He is erratic.... He is ill-equipped to be commander-in-chief.... He traffics in prejudice.... He's a serial liar."

There is a 'hatred' about in the world that seems to be showing its fangs in so many places.

And it's alive and well in the churches too.

Within the churches maybe it has something to do with the reality that people simply don't talk openly and honestly with each other? Maybe it is the same reality in the world at large?

But within the churches sometimes a nonsensical pious language fills pauses or covers up cracks. But all it does is add to the fractures.

What happens when people, when Christians, end up 'trafficking in prejudice'? And that's exactly what seems to be happening in the Catholic Church today.