Sunday, August 20, 2017

More poor grammar on RTE

Marian Finucane interviewed Cody Keenan on her RTE Radio 1 show yesterday.

Cody Keenan was Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama.

Keenan will be talking at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross.

It was an interesting interview and well worth a listen. During it Marian was discussing with Cody about the difference between speeches with particular reference to the President's press speech and his State of the Union address.

At one stage she asked: ".... which did you most (sic) dread?"

RTE and its grammar.

Friday, August 18, 2017

That little terrier, his master and those morning smiles

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

Michael Commane
It's always noticeable how the tiniest gesture of friendliness, a smile, a gentle word, a kind remark can be reciprocated. And it does good too.

This day last week early in the morning while cycling to Heuston Station I spotted a man out walking his dog at the junction of Marrowbone Lane and Robert Street. Both were stopped on the footpath waiting to cross the road. The little black terrier, without a lead, was sitting and as soon as the man said 'go', the dog crossed the road with him.

Seeing this I was intrigued at how obedient and well trained the dog was. I looked over at the man and complimented him on his training and went on to tell him that my dog would not do that in a million years. He began to smile and assured me that his dog was a 'fits and starts' merchant when it came to obedience. I told him that if my Tess saw a cat she'd be gone if I had not got her on a lead. The man smiled: "Ah, this thing plays with cats".

Off I cycled over to Heuston Station. And that happened sometime close to 06.30. All completely unannounced, two strangers, one on a bicycle, the other walking, a two-minute conversation and you should have seen the smile on the man's face as I cycled off. And I too felt the better for it and was even thinking how Tess would manage at home the day without me. Of course, Tess is my elderly untrained Labrador.

And so it is with our lives. Most times we are kind and friendly with people they will respond accordingly. It's the exception where a grunt is the reply to a friendly smile.

Rules and regulations, orthodoxy and observance no doubt have their roles to lay in the affairs of mankind, but the more I see of the world and its workings I'm far more inclined to come down on the side of kindness, gentleness, friendship too.

Anyone who looks at tomorrow's Gospel surely is bound to see the kindness of Jesus. The Gospel account (Matthew 15: 21 - 28) may have deep scriptural significance but to the casual reader or the person listening to it in church one can't but be struck with the fabulous and simple humanity of Jesus.

The woman pleaded with Jesus to cure her daughter. He at first explains that he "was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel". She was a Canaanite. But when he sees how she behaves he replies: "Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted." Jesus is a man of mercy and kindness.

Anywhere there are human beings there are those who will become obsessed and over-rigid about rules and regulations. For many they can become the norm. But rules, regulations, codes, and the observance of all the rules and regulations are most unlikely to be the driving force that will make us kind, gentle and good people. And surely that should be our ambition, our aim to be kind people. Can there be a possible better epitaph about a person, a better phrase to write on someone's headstone than 'She/he was a kind person'?

Wednesday, August 9 was the anniversary of the death of Edith Stein, who was gassed on that day in 1942 at Auschwitz. She said: "It has always been far from me to think that God’s mercy allows itself to be circumscribed by the visible Church’s boundaries. God is truth. All who seek truth seek God, whether this is clear to them or not.”

And so too it is with kindness and indeed, all those characteristics, attributes and yes, gestures that bring out the goodness and love of other people. During these last 12 months, I have been privileged and fortunate to see first-hand the love and kindness of people when faced with pain and suffering.

Everything else seems to fade into insignificance.

And it certainly speaks much louder than any words or orders that come from rule books or quoting clauses from doctrinaire manifestos. I'm still thinking of my friendly encounter with the man and his dog at the Marrowbone Lane-Robert Street junction.

Vanier's wise words

The current issue of The Tablet carries an interview with Jean Vanier.

It is a great read. The interviewer, Maggie Ferguson, has been working with Vanier for more than 20 years.


My life in L'Arche has taught me that everybody is beautiful. Everybody.

So to love people is to reveal to them that they are more beautiful than they dare believe.

Is anybody beyond love? People say, 'How can we love terrorists?' But most terrorists have been deeply wounded, or humiliated, living in lands where people reject their cultures. We must pray for them.


By opening ourselves to others' pain, we are drawn into the mystery that suffering and joy are symbiotic

When you begin to let people who are 'no good' into your life, you are transformed.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Burke is not alone

The nonsense of Cardinal Raymond Burke seeing Donald Trump as a 'healer' is an interesting insight into the mindset of the man.

But it also gives some idea of what can and does go on inside the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.

Burke has many followers in the Catholic Church. His disciples talk the same nonsense in every diocese, in every religious congregation around the world.

And right now it seems they are in the ascendancy.

Cardinal Raymond Burke sees Trump as a healer

The piece below has extensively used material from The National Catholic Register, which is owned by EWTN.

It appeared immediately after the election of Donald Trump. As US president.

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Donald Trump’s election on Tuesday is a sign that the United States’ political leaders need to listen more to the people and return to safeguarding life, marriage, the family and religious liberty.

In an exclusive interview with the Register on November 9 Cardinal Burke said he was confident Trump would be able to help heal divisions in the country, that he has a “great disposition” to listen to the Church’s position on the moral law, and hopes he will “follow the principles and dictates of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” 

However, aware of inevitable areas of divergence with Church teaching, Cardinal Burke stressed the importance of Catholics continuing to make objections known whenever necessary.

I think that the election of Donal Trump is a clear sign of the will of the people. 

I understand that the voter turnout was stronger than usual, and I think that the American people have awoken to the really serious situation in which the country finds itself with regard to the common good, the fundamental goods that constitute the common good, whether it be the protection of human life itself, the integrity of marriage and the family or religious liberty. 

That a candidate like Donald Trump — who was completely out of the normal system of politics — could be elected is an indication that our political leaders need to listen more carefully to the people and, in my judgment, return to those fundamental principles that safeguard the common good that were so clearly enunciated at the foundation of the country in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.

Burke said that Trump's election was a clear sign that the silent majority had spoken.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No, Mr Trump, we're not the same as the neo-Nazis

Great piece in The Guardian by Emily Gorcenski.

Trump speaks his mind

African American Mike Townes from Charlottesville tweeted yesterday on President Donald Trump:

I'm actually glad he's saying it. It is showing this country who he truly is. He represents the people who came to my community as supremacists, David Duke was right about him.

An interesting comment. At least people are getting to know who exactly Trump is. Obviously he is a nasty individual, who is right-wing.

What about his fellow journeymen, who say nothing?

And that profile is alive and well but silent and secret within Catholic priesthood.

Below is a Trump comment. It is fabulous.

I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure unlike most politicians that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement ... It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts and it’s a very, very important process to me ... You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts ... When I make a statement I like to be correct ... Before I make a statement, I need the facts ... so making the statement when I made the statement, it was excellent. In fact the young woman who I hear was a fantastic young woman ... her mother wrote me and said, through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things and I very much appreciated that ... Her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly if the press were not fake and were honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. I’d do it the same way and you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct.

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Charlottesville

Trump has built his presidency by catering to the interests and prejudices of his core base, rather than by trying to expand his field of supporters.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RTE and its past participle

On RTE's Morning Ireland today in the 'What's on in the Newspapers' section Deirdre Purcell said when reporting on the Trevor Deely story: "..... had showed ......"

Ouch, RTE and its past participle. The mistake is being regularly made and becoming more frequent.

An imperious wave of the hand from Kevin Myers

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Journalist Kevin Myers has had wall-to-wall media coverage in recent weeks. The commentariat have been talking about him and he has been talking too about himself.

His column in the Irish edition of 'The Sunday Times' crossed a line, well, two lines. The piece was deemed anti-Semitic and also misogynistic.

It's baffling how the article managed to appear in the paper. I worked as a subeditor at 'The Kerryman' newspaper and from what I know about subediting if such an article arrived on my desk my immediate reaction would be to pass it on to the editor. And if the editor wasn't happy with it she/he would seek advice. And usually newspapers err on the side of caution.

It is a mystery how the article saw the light of day.

Myers has a penchant for causing controversy but it's doubtful he realised that there would be such a furore and that he would lose his job with Murdoch as a result of what he said in the column.

The vast majority of comment has strongly condemned Myers on his reference to the highly-paid women employees at the BBC, who are of the Jewish faith.

I have been to Auschwitz, was there in 1987, saw the remains of the horror. I have also been to Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. I have seen the name plates on the footpaths in Berlin, marking the houses from which victims, including large numbers of Jews, were savagely taken to the death camps. And I have read Hans Fallada's 'Alone in Berlin'.

People of the Jewish faith have suffered far too much. And it's only right and proper that a single word, phrase or gesture, which hints at anti-Semitism is treated as it should be - banished from the face of the earth.

Nor can there be a hint of misogyny. Women have suffered far too much at the hands of men.
And we are fortunate that there are agencies/organisations out there to police all traces of anti-Semitism and misogyny.

It will be 20 years in November that Kevin Myers turned his guns on me. I had completed a post-grad course in journalism, spent three months working with 'The Irish News' newspaper in Belfast. 

And as a result of those three months I wrote 'An Irish Man's Diary' about my experience in Belfast. Within two days Kevin replied in his column.

I was a novice at writing, Kevin was a seasoned and established journalist. Ouch, did he attack me and indeed, the Dominican Order of which I am a member. It's fair to say he accused me of 'tribal sneering'.

Of course, it was all part of the 'banter' of journalism. But I felt it was a little like using a sub-machine gun to take out a fly.

Then some months later while we were both speaking at a Goldsmith Summer School I mentioned in good humour the spat that we had. Gosh did he dismiss me with a wave of his imperious hand. And that's alright too. I can fight my own corner.

But what must it be like for the really little people who have no one to speak up for them.

And that happens all the time. Isn't that why so many people feel alienated and get angry?

We can never go far enough to protect victims and support the weak and fragile.

Isn't that one of the basic mission statements of Christianity -  take care of the little person. Be kind to the weak and stranger. The day we are glib about that we have lost our moral compass.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Surely it's better and safer to live in a secular society than in a religious-run State?

Is it not true to say that many people who criticise 'secularisation',  they themselves live off the backs of everything that has to do with secularisation?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Berlin Wall

August 13, 1961 fell on a Sunday and on that Sunday morning the perople of Berlin woke to discover that their city was being divided by barberd wire.

It would later develop into the Berlin Wall that divided West Berlin from the capital city of the German Democratic Republic.

It lasted 28 years, falling as a result of peaceful means in 1989.

The German Democratic Republic referred to the Wall as an Antifaschtischen Schutzwall - an anti-fascist protection wall.

The Catholic Church was one of the few, if only, organisation that spanned the Wall. The cardinal bishop of all Berlin lived in Bebel Platz, off Unter den Linden and the diocese of Berlin included both East and West.

During the period of the Wall the German Dominicans were particularly generous to Dominicans in Warsaw Pact countries.

On a regular basis, indeed, every few weeks, a truck-load of provisions were sent from the Dominican Priory in Berlin's Oldenburger Strasse to the Dominican Priory in Cracow.

The Christian churches in the West, but specifically the German churches, gave generous financial support to countries east of the rivers Elbe and Oder.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cork-bound seagull? Hardly

Spotted on top of coach F on the 07.00 ex Heuston Cork train service today.

The seagull is hardly travelling but, if so does it have the Travel Pass?

Ah most unlikely, the train is now nearing Sallins and no footprints to be heard overhead.

Travelling in perfect comfort. The first train in the morning to Cork has to be a traveller's delight. Coach G, right behind the locomotive and the furthest up the platform.

What must it be like in a queue at Dublin Airport and then the terror of everything that is about flying, sparse legroom, crowded planes, playing a significant role in helping destroy the planet? Rail travel on the 07.00 Dublin Cork service is fit for a prince.

And along this track one can see right over to Turlough Hill. Above over the clouds not a single air passenger can even get a hint of the beauty of Ireland this morning.

Shush, not a word about the difference in price. Always vulgar to talk about money.

Flying can be a mug's game.

But not for the seagull, of course and that's probably what she/he is doing right now but closer to Dublin no doubt.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What the CDF can do

I felt, and continue even today to feel, like a broken man who can never fully recover from the suspicion, which the authority of my church - a church which I love and have served during my whole life - has thrust upon me. The joy of living has gone, perhaps never to return.

Words from the Belgian Jesuit, the late Jacques Dupuis, on the devastating impact made by the CDF's attacks on his work, and of his disgust at the way Cardinal Ratzinger defended an unjust and dishonest inquiry.

That same broken feeling has been experienced by a number of Irish theologians and writers.

And then the Catholic Church wonders 'what's gone wrong'.

So much.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

They don't do 'religion'

The cover page  of the current edition of The Tablet.

A Very British Coup

The link below is to a piece in yesterday's Guardian.

It recalls the excellent 1988 TV mini-series A Very British Coup.

Labour leader, Harry Perkins, played by Ray McAnally, is elected prime minister. He proves a great PM. The establishment decides to get rid of him.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Edith Stein was gassed on this day in1942 in Auschwitz

The Catholic Church celebrates today the feast of Edith Stein.

She was born in Breslau, then part of the German Reich, today in Poland, in 1892 into a family of the Jewish faith.

She was a philosopher, rubbed shoulders with Martin Heidegger.

Became an atheist, then a Catholic. Joined the Carmelites.

She was gassed on this day, August 9, 1942 at Auschwitz.

"God is truth. All who seek truth seek God, whether this is clear to them or not,” Edith Stein.

Just a thought on the anniversary of the day she was gassed by the Germans at Auschwitz, and on the day after United States President Trump has spoken of unleashing a “fire and fury this world has never seen”.

Clever cycling quotes

This appears in the bicycle shed at St Vincent's Hospital. Clever.

The Einstein quote is: Lif is like a bicycle - in order to keep your balance you have to keep moving.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What must Francis think of his US pro Trump bishops?

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Some weeks ago an English Catholic magazine referred to Steve Bannon as a practising Catholic. When I read that I nearly choked on my porridge. It really was hilarious. Steve Bannon has married three times and has divorced three times. Then again, these days, people are talking about ‘alternative facts’. But I have to admit that the piece confused me.

Leaving aside his marital status it’s plain to see that Mr Bannon, a trusted adviser and friend of President Trump is a right-wing zealot who wants to destroy all and every trace of anything that smacks of liberal or moderate thinking. Bannon was a founding member of far-right Breitbart News, which is racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic. It would appear Bannon does not believe in compromise.

If Steve Bannon is what Catholicism is about then it’s time for me to leave the church. It really is amazing the latitude many church people can give to extreme right-wing thinking.

We really are being battered from every side. It’s difficult to remain sane in the days that are in it.

The Trump administration is not noted for telling the truth. I’m reminded of that infamous comment from Vladimir Lenin that a lie told often enough becomes a truth. Is that what alternative facts are?

When Anthony Scaramucci, otherwise known as the Mooch, gosh please don’t confuse him with our Gooch, lost his job in the White House, it was reported that President Trump said that he had to go because of inappropriate language he had used. 

I have heard of examples of the pot calling the kettle black but this really takes the biscuit. Trump sacking someone for inappropriate language. He’s talking about pardoning himself. Maybe he needs to think about sacking himself. The language Trump has used has been every bit as inappropriate as anything Scaramucci has said, maybe even worse.

Trump and his team cleverly pandered to an American religious extreme right wing coalition and managed to garner their votes. But he also picked up a wider Christian vote. In an opinion piece in The New York Times on August 2, Ross Douthat talks about a ‘cheerfully pagan Trump’ getting the religious vote. Douthat points out that as politics in the US has grown more polarised, the Catholic position has become ‘more difficult and perplexing’.

Sometimes it might seem that the President says the first thing that comes into his head. But most likely he is far more thoughtful than we think. If you look at his team you will quickly realise they are right-wing. And he now has four army generals in his cabinet. One might be forgiven for thinking that the US has been taken over by an army coup.

Trump’s popularity is now on the floor. Yes, he still has a fanatical support base but that can’t last too much longer. When the coal mines stay idle and the factories in the rust belt remain closed even his die-hard support will begin to wobble.

History tells us that going to war boosts the popularity of a leader.

North Korean President Kim Jong-Un is proving to be the perfect bogey man for the Trump administration.

While the shenanigans in the White House may make for fun television every evening, we are living in scary times.

Trump has not shown any signs of being good at diplomacy, something that the world needs in spades in the current tension-filled atmosphere.

All the time Mother Russia and The Middle Kingdom or China watch on. And what must Pope Francis think of the alignment between Trump and some of the US bishops?

The wrong people in jobs

Two most readable pieces.

The first comes from The New Yorker and is a damning comment on the Trump administration.

The second article is from The New York Times.

It is a commenatary on how conservative Catholicism is out of kilter with the views and opinions of Pope Francis.

Alas, is the hope that Francis is offering the church too late for the Irish Catholic Church?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

False allegations

This is a link to a piece in the Irish Independent and worth a read.

Fr Tim Hazelwood is a priest of the diocese of Cloyne.


Imagine to be transfigured, to be changed, to change, to grow and develop into something better and stronger.

Imagine not to be afraid, imagine to be excited about heading out on an adventure, taking on new projects, turning our backs on the staid and failed ways.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Inspector Franey speaks wise words to church 'leaders'

There is a feature piece in The Irish Times today about Garda Inspector Paul Franey, who is one of eight gardaí taking part in today's Belfast's Pride march.

While the page-long piece is about what life is like for a gay man in the Garda it also offers exceptionally wise words on the importance of Human Relations in any organisation.

Inspector Franey writes:

HR taught me that all the problems and all the solutions in the Garda at the moment revolve around HR issues. They revolve around people. The Garda is a very people-based organisation.

And then later he writes:

I saw it in HR - you put the right sergeant on to a unit, it'll be a fantastic unit. Stick the wrong person in and the unit simply won't work.......

There are many similarities between gardaí and priests.

Is there one single Irish priest whose specific work is HR. Is there a diocese or religious congregation who gives a moment's thought to HR?

Most unlikely. Priests attempt to study many 'ologis' but it would seem there is no attention at all given to HR.

Management skills in the Irish Catholic Church are abysmal. And probably a significant reason why the church is where it is today.

Elsewhere in the piece Inspector Franey writes:

How do you show people in an organisation that's as important as ours, doing work that's as important as ours, how valuable the work that they do is for communities, for people who are victims of crime.

Inspector Franey will have no idea of the prophectic words he is writing to the Irish Cartholic Church.

When ever does a bishop or a provinical pick up the phone to say a word of support to a foot-soldier? When does a bishop or provincial drop by for a cup of tea or coffee? 

Certainly, it doesn't happen in the organistion of which I am a member.

Dominicans get mention in 'The Tablet' of July 29

A few interesting references to the Dominicans in The Tablet of July 29.

The Dominican philosopher Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges wrote in reply  Pope Benedict XV' call for peace in World War l:

Most Holy Father we cannot for an instant entertain your appeals for peace. Like the apparent rebel in the Gospel, we are sons who reply, 'No, no.

In another article in the same edition there is a profile of the new Master of Balliol College, Oxford, Dame Helen Ghosh.

While a student at Oxford along with meeting her husband, she also encountered the Dominicans at Blackfriars, who have provided her with spiritual nourishment ever since.

Oxford has been her home for many years and she has kept up links with the Dominicans, including chairing their charity, the Blackfriars Overseas Aid Trust.

She has spent most of her working life as a civil servant. As Home Office Permanent Secretary she did not manage to get on too well with her political boss, Theresa May.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Usain Bolt runs his last

God put me on this earth to run, and that's what I am going to do.

Usain Bolt, is about to run his final 100-metre race in the World Athletics in London.

He'll be missed.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Request to Brendan Walsh, new editor of 'The Tablet'

A call to Brendan Walsh, the new ediotr of The Tablet.

Is there any possibility that cirulcation of The Tablet could be improved?

On one occasion two arrive the same day, on another occasion two editions arrive within two days.

And the name of the country in the English language is Ireland and Éire in Irish. Why does The Tablet insist on printing Éire, especially since it is posted in Ireland to its Irish readers?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Social media

The social media is the coward's charter.

Maurice Manning Chancellor of the National University of Ireland.

Professor Manning made the statement in an RTE interview discussing the controversy surrounding former taoiseach Brian Cowan receiving an honorary doctorate from NUI.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

God protect us from further lurches to the right

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
US Senator John McCain cut a noble figure last Tuesday when he returned to Washington to vote in the Senate on a health bill.

The 80-year-old Republican Senator from Arizona made some powerful remarks on the floor of the US Senate just a few short days from surgery having been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

At the end of his talk he quipped that he was going home for a while to treat his illness but that he had every intention of returning to the Senate and 'giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me'.

The thrust of his speech was on the importance of cooperating and trusting one another, no matter what ones's politics or beliefs are.

'I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. 

'Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.

'Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. 

'That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary manoeuvres that requires.'

I'm sure I stated it here before that I bought myself an internet radio and came across a US station called 'Patriot Radio'. It is almost impossible to describe it. It is wall-to-wall screaming and roaring. 

A non-stop barrage at everyone and everything that is not in agreement with its right-wing  philosophy.

The night that Trump won the US presidential election I stopped listening to it but just last week I tuned in again.

According to 'Patriot Radio' everything that Trump says is correct and everyone who disagrees with him is a source of ridicule, laughter and fun. It is shocking stuff and exactly the sort of 'bombastic radio' that John McCain criticised last week.

It is sneering and nasty and has some weird ability of giving the impression that it is taking the moral high ground.

It really is crazy radio but it has high listenership ratings in the US.

Unfortunately, there seems to be something about the ultra right-wing that gives people the impression that they are talking in the name of justice and right, that they are actually the mouthpiece of all that is correct.

Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe I am being somewhat biased but I can't help but believe that extreme right-wing politics and religion express the nastiest and most insidious ideas that plague the earth.

They manage to create an atmosphere of hate and intolerance that is never matched by left-wingers or wishy-washy liberals. And they always seem to be united in a way that is the envy of any so-called left-wing or middle-of-the-road organisation.

It's a philosophy or way of thinking that is merciless.

It is a mood or a trend that is currently gaining ascendancy within different belief systems, including the Christian churches. At the best of times churches tend to be right-wing. God protect us from further lurches to the right.

It would be interesting to know exactly what Pope Francis thinks of so much of the right-wing thinking and practices that go on within the Catholic Church.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tattoos and bicycles

This week's Sunday Letter.

Michael Commane
When I was a young fella tattoos were a rarity. They were more or less the preserve of sailors and seafarers. You would see the occasional one on  an arm.

And now they are everywhere and on all body parts. Last week in St James's Hospital I saw a young woman with her legs covered in tattoos.

That same day there was a news item about  a grandfather, who was taken off a Ryanair plane allegedly for bad behaviour. He claimed he was 'fingered' because of his tattooed face, which was posted on social media.

And it seems the US Army and Navy too are now permitting its soldiers sailors to sport tattoos below the elbow.

They're everywhere.

Did the current fashion begin with the Premiership footballers? I'm inclined to think so, but I may be incorrect. 

Thinking about it, they are not too common among jockeys. Indeed are there any Irish politicians sporting tattoos?

Would it look odd if the Taoiseach turned up at a function with a tattoo on his arm or if the Catholic archbishop of Dublin arrived out on the altar, also with an arm tattoo?

And now to bicycles. Again when I was a young fella, or maybe better to say when I was in my 20s and 30s there were not too many bicycles out and about in the city. 

And even if there were, it certainly was not a fashion item. 

These mornings when I try to cross the road outside the church at 08.00 bicycles are roaring down the road, heading for town at great speed. One wrong step and it could be disaster.

A mix of speed, style, women and men, plodders, fellas and girls, some in lycra, some with cameras on their helmets, some wearing fitbits. A lot of fancy bicycles too? It's a sort of catwalk on wheels. And most of them look so serious and determined. 

I've never had a tattoo and I'm cycling a bicycle 63 years.    

I hope to keep cycling and remaining tattoo-less. A stick-in-the-mud on wheels?

Fashions constantly change. Is there anything constant?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Photographer who brought Vietnam war to homes dies

John Morris, the man who took this famous picture during the war in Viernam, died in Paris on Friday. He was 100 years old.

World Press Photo announced that 'a legend had died'.

Morris was born in Chicago in December 1916. He had been living in Paris for many years.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trump and his gang

This is the link to the famous or infamous Scaramucci interview in The New Yorker.

Earlier in the week he was interviewed by BBC 2's Emily Maitlis. His behaviour was bizarre and it was astonishing television.

This is the team running the United States of America. It  is a telling example of the nastiness of the right-wing.

And politics is not their only home.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Census Night results

The preliminary total for the population enumerated on Census Night Sunday, April 24, 2016 was 4,757,976 persons, compared with 4,588,252 persons in April 2011, an increase of 169,724 persons since 2011 or 3.7 per cent. This translates into an average increase each year of 33,945 persons or 0.7 per cent. 

Over the previous inter-censal period between 2006 and 2011 the population increased by 348,404 persons or 8.2 per cent, which equates to an annual average increase of 1.6 per cent.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lost memories encased in a Dominican church

The piece below was sent to this blog.

Interesting what Fr Coyne has to say about the now closed Dominican church in Athy.

Both Philip Hamilton Pollock and Peter Coyne were Irish Dominicans.

Philip Pollock died in Waterford in 1978 and Peter Coyne died in Athy in 1984.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Flying high

In 1992 five million passengers came through Dublin Airport. Twenty-six million passengers used the airport in 2016. 

Thirty-three million people travelled through Ireland last year.

In 1992 Knock Airport, now called Ireland West saw 105,646 passengers go through its doors. This year the airport will cater for 750,000 passengers.

Every day Ryanair operates 1,800 flights across Europe and the airline carries 120 million passengers every year.

And it is all because of the EU Open Skies policy. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

So easy to miss so much

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
By the time this appears in the newspaper the blue skies may have disappeared and been replaced with cloud and rain. That's Ireland for you. But so far this summer it's not been too bad. 

Not only that, only last week I heard someone complaining about the 'heat'. And that's Ireland for you too, and its people.

But last week was spectacular and is there anywhere in the world more beautiful than Ireland when it is covered with bright blue skies. On Monday of last week there was not a hint of a cloud to be seen anywhere in Ireland.

The following day a work colleague was chatting with friends and showing them a picture of her parents who had just arrived in Mauritius on holiday. A smart aleck quipped that they would have been better off staying at home in Ireland and basking in the Irish sun. 

They'd have saved themselves the airfare, avoided the hassle of an airport, the discomfort of sitting in an airplane seat and have done the environment a power of good by minimising their carbon footprint.

But it is striking how we can travel all over the world and yet miss what is right in front of our noses.

On the Monday of last week I took to the bicycle in the afternoon. It was just to get some exercise and get away from what I was doing. I was finishing off a book review and needed to get out. The tide was the wrong way for a swim so the bicycle was the next best thing.

The plan was to head out on a well-worn route, call to a friend and then cycle back home. In all it would have been approximately 18 to 20 kilometres. Neither wind nor rain, blue skies, perfect weather for cycling.

I had gone less than two kilometres when I decided the route I was taking was boring, nothing special about it. And just as I was toying with the idea of taking a different route I passed a small laneway. 

Earlier in the day I had been looking at a map and had spotted that there was a small lake close to school playing fields. I knew I was in the area of the playing fields, so why not cycle up the laneway? It's just what I did and to my surprise and amazement I spent the next hour being enthralled by fabulous woodland, a small stream and a lake. 

And it was the perfect day for it. What has surprised me most of all is the fact that I have cycled passed that place for so many years and never before thought of simply turning right and exploring what was at the top of the laneway.

But isn't that the story of our lives. We seem to be programmed in some strange or odd way that makes us fit into grooves and then move forward and backward. It's seldom we have the inclination or the will to look out over the parapet and see what's going on just metres away from where we are.

Of course most of us think we are adventurous, far more enlightened than the generations that went ahead of us. Alas, from my experience, there's not that much movement away from our comfort zones.

Come to think about it, isn't that exactly what a prophet is, someone who has the ability to read the signs of the times and then try to put a shape on things. The prophet, like Plato's gadfly, is never at home with the status quo.

Can a prophet ever be popular?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Japanese touch in Rathgar

A reader mailed this picture.

It is a variegated Japanese Maple on Frankfort Avenue in Rathgar, Dublin 6.

'The Tablet' editorial on the 'culture war' phenomenon

Interesting and informative editorial in The Tablet this week.

It's about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States.

A number of excerpts:

Many bishops have led the American Church into the scenario known as the 'culture wars'......

The real question the Vatican must face is why it allowed this division in the Catholic Church in America to fester for many years, why, in particular it appointed a slew of 'safe' conservative bishops, eager culture warriors, to replace faithful bishops who saw their mission as including the promotion of social justice and equal rights.

It goes on:

The Catholic hierarchy's failure to put its full weight behind healthcare reform is deeply troubling, given that those who suffer most from lack of healthcare are the poor.

It is an editorial well worth reading.

Indeed, it is not exclusively talking to or about the church in the United States.

It could well be talking to/about the Irish Catholic Church, the Irish province of the Dominican Order.

In the case of the Dominicans what has the management team in Ireland and in Rome done to prevent the polarisation and divisions that are taking place?

The answer: nothing. Indeed, it may well be that the management teams have helped bring about the difficulties.

Beauty of Bohernabreena

Stunning Bohernabreena yesterday.

And this gift of nature is 12 kilometres from Dublin city centre.


The magic of the ordinary

This week's Sunday Letter

Michael Commane OP
Some months back Mary was a patient in St Luke's Hospital. Her husband visited her every day.

We'll call them Mary and John Murphy, which are not their real names.

John is a bus driver with Dublin Bus and embarrassingly, I have to admit that I have a passing interest in buses. Sad to say, I can spot the difference between an SG and a GT Volvo, which are the newest designed buses in the fleet.

So over the weeks that Mary was a patient I had plenty of time to discuss the world of buses with John. Probably greatly annoyed and bored the man. But we had many laughs. He's good-natured and I think we enjoyed each other's company.

The 14 bus is now a cross-city route and works out of two depots, Donnybrook and Summerhill. John is based at Summerhill, which means he occasionally drives the 14.

I have been looking out for him for months, indeed, I have almost fallen off the bicycle while checking drivers on the 14.

Then three weeks ago when getting off a 14 I noticed I was on a Summerhill bus. I asked the driver did she know a John Murphy. She said she did, so I told her I knew him, gave her my name and asked her to say hello to him from me.

Within a week I received an SMS from John. The bus driver had passed on my greeting to him and he in turn sent me a text to say hello.

A tiny little episode in the scheme of things but how delightful. It put a smile on my face. And to add to the story, Mary, his wife, is in good health.

See, the little things. And all right in front of our eyes. Not in some far off exotic land but here in my own place.

Isn't it  the poet William Wordsworth who sees the extraordinary in the ordinary things right in front of us? At times so easy to miss, what a shame. But the magic when we see it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thoughts of a wise and kind 90-year-old Irish priest

A 90-year-old priest, and a good priest too, when asked what he thought of celibacy replied with one word: 'daft'.

"Indeed, I would do away with the three vows and replace them with three words; Sensitivity, Sharing, Service."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

We believe the Spirit helps us in our weakness

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

Michael Commane
In St Paul's Letter to the Romans he writes about the Spirit coming to help us in our weakness.

He goes on to say: ‘For when we cannot choose words to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.' (Romans 8: 26 - 27)

Everything to do with God is in a sense surrounded in mystery and so too is any communication that we try to have with God. It's so easy to be glib or disconnected about God and everything we try to say about God. It can be easy to rattle off formulaic prayers, sometimes never giving the slightest heed to what we are saying.

But these words of St Paul are surprisingly consoling. He knows there are times when we cannot choose the right words in which to frame our prayers, and to know that the Spirit comes to our help is reassuring for those of us for whom prayer so often is an experience of fumbling and muddling and hoping for understanding. 

It's almost a year now since I began work as chaplain in St Luke's Cancer Hospital in Dublin. The exact date was August 28, 2016. Every day I meet sick people but every day too I see wonderful examples of love, kindness and goodness. The goodness, love and kindness that I encounter helps me try to make sense to the pain, suffering and turmoil that is the reality of life in a hospital. 

Some weeks ago I was asked to review a book written by a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now in recovery. The review is for Spirituality, which is a Dominican Publications magazine.

The title of the book is Cancer - A Circle of Seasons with the sub title A way to journal and pray through life's challenges. The author is Anne Alcock and it is published by Columba Press. 

Reading the book and then writing about it complements in many ways the work I do in the hospital.

No matter who we are, how we are or what we do or think, our lives are journeys, and there is always an element of mystery, of chance, good fortune and misfortune, about how we travel through our lives. There is also a confidence that is given to those who have faith.

Anne Alcock begins by thanking all those involved in cancer research and then immediately quotes the Book of Numbers: 'May the Lord/bless and protect you,/May the Lord's face/radiate with joy because of you./May He be gracious to you,/show you His  favour/and give you his peace.' (Numbers 6: 24 - 26)

Throughout the book she dips in and out of the Bible with quotations that are so relevant to the mystery of life and suffering. Just as so often we can't put words on anything to do with God, so too it is almost impossible to put words on pain and suffering.

In her preface, the author talks about how her cancer has turned her venture with God into an adventure. Of course, cancer for many is terminal. We are all assured of death. But to believe that the Spirit helps us in our weakness is reassuring. Pie in the sky? I hope not, and most times I believe it is not. 

Reading Anne Alcock's book and working where I do, I’m inclined to believe in that Spirit, also knowing it is close to impossible to put words on that Spirit and that faith. And then on to something else, far bigger and mysterious, something far bigger than my head can ever get around - life after death, God, eternal life. In the community of grace, comforting, suffering, and – for some, healing – that is a cancer hospital, we catch glimpses of the light it casts every day. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Remembering Fr Larry Kelly

A little over a year ago Fr Larry Kelly died, on July 18, 2016 to be precise.

Larry was a special man and an oustanding priest.

The week after is death the following column appeared in Independent News and Media Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
Kilcummin is six kilometres from Killarney. It's considered more east Kerry than south Kerry. There are no tourist buses to be seen going through Kilcummin.

Last Wednesday it was a busy spot as mourners turned up for the funeral Mass of diocesan priest Fr Larry Kelly.

The modern-style church is in the centre of the village. I knew Fr Larry Kelly, more on that anon, so I was attending the funeral and arrived 25 minutes before Mass began.

Across the road from the church, probably in the most strategic spot available, was parked a large black vehicle and blazoned across the side of it was Healy-Rae.

Naturally I laughed. They don't miss a trick.

When I came out of the church after Mass there was no sign of the Healy-Rae vehicle.

It was probably sometime in 2003 when I first met Michael Healy-Rae. I was visiting my elderly father in Tralee General Hospital. Walking along a hospital corridor Michael Healy-Rae came up to me and said hello. It was Friday, I was tired and looking forward to getting home. So I turned to him and said: "Why are you saying hello to me as you don't know who I am, It's just a political stunt."

Immediately he replied: "Commane, you're as nasty in reality as you are in the paper." I found myself stuck to the floor of the hospital corridor. We got chatting. He told me why he was in the hospital. And I told him I had been with my elderly father. If I remember correctly he visited my father the next day. Michael Healy-Rae's number is in my phone and from time to time we have a chat.

The day that I saw the Healy-Rae wagon was the same day that his brother, Danny Healy-Rae TD, was on radio answering criticisms to his attendance at funerals of 'strangers'.
It brought a smile to my face.

But the Healy-Raes would have known Fr Larry Kelly as he was parish priest in Kilgarvan, the epi-centre of the Healy Rae-kingdom.

Before going to Kilgarvan Larry had been parish priest in Castlegregory, in other words he was my parish priest.

When I went to work in 'The Kerryman' newspaper in 1998 I went back to live in the old home in Castlegregory. Back then Fr Larry was in his late 60s.

Though we may have had different opinions on many subjects we became good friends. He could well have criticised me for doing what many may have seen 'unusual' work for a priest. But that's not the way Larry worked or thought.

There was never any 'double-speak' from Larry. You knew what he said he meant. There was not a scintilla of 'sleeveenery' about the man. Larry was no career priest and never an apparatchik.

He grew his own potatoes and vegetables. Those spuds were special and always my first real taste of summer.

In his late 60s he painted the outside of the church. He lived a simple frugal life, never drinking alcohol. An impressive man.

He had a great sense of humour, quirky and probably slightly eccentric. Maybe that's why we hit it off so well?

His nephew, MEP Sean Kelly put it down to "athnaíonn ciaróg ciaróg eile".

Larry was a special person. In many ways an 'old-style' Irish priest. In other ways not at all.

He was an avid GAA follower, who enjoyed being in Croke Park when Kerry were in the final.

I'm going to miss him. I knew he liked me and I treasured that.

He was a kind man. May he rest in peace.

German motor scandal

Major scandal breaking this evening in the German motor industry.

It has been revealed that VW, BMW, Audi and Porsche were all in cimmunication with one another concerning emissions. There was a cartel system working between them.

Busiest ever day at airports

Today is expected to be the busiest day in aviation history in Great Britain.

There are due to be 8,800 landings and take-offs at airports in England Scotland and Wales today.

Our carbon footprint?

From today's Guardian:

UK air traffic controllers are expecting to handle more than 8,800 flights on Friday – the busiest day on record for UK airspace – while millions take to the roads as the summer school holidays begin for many pupils.

A record 2.4 million UK holidaymakers will be heading overseas, according to the travel association Abta.

Airports in the south-east are expecting a very busy weekend with more than 500,000 passengers expected to depart from Heathrow, 335,000 from Gatwick, 136,000 from Stansted and 85,000 from Luton.

Summer in Dublin

Outside a house off Rathgar Road yesterday.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New German law to punish fake news and hate speech

Twelve million Germans have newspaper subscriptions, whereas 28 million use Facebook.

Germany has passed a new law compelling social media companies to remove 'evidently unlawful' abusive material within 24 hours. Failing to obey the law could mean fines up to €50 million.

Fake news or hate speech that isn't strictly unlawful has seven days to be assessed under the new law, which comes into effect in October for services with more than two million German users.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Martin's Würzburg lecture

Below is a link to a letter published  in The Irish Times on Monday concerning Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's Würzburg lecture.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Secular and religious side of life on Munster Final day

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's lecture in Würzburg on the feast of St Kilian makes for interesting reading.

The following excerpt gives a sense of what he was saying. Reading it one gets the impression here is a man who is trying to sense where things are and then say something about the reality.

"The sexual abuse scandals have affected the faith of many and at the same time they were an indication of an underlying crisis of faith where the self-protective institution had become in many ways decoupled from the horror which ordinary people rightly felt.  The emerging post Vatican II new religious culture, with its stress on the role of the laity, found itself once again betrayed by a culture of clerical self-protection.

"All of this indicates how Ireland needs to do much more to incorporate a broad spectrum of activity of laymen and women in the life of the Church and to be witnesses to their faith in the emerging Irish culture."

He talks about Christian faith not just being a faith of doctrines or about rules and regulations. The archbishop understands faith as involving the ability to preach and witness to the message of Jesus.

The Sunday before Diarmuid Martin gave his talk I was in West Kerry. Early that morning I was down in the local Spar shop. The young man at the till said hello but it was a second or two before I recognised him. He recognised me before I knew who he was. I had taught him English probably eight years ago. And just as I was leaving the shop I met another past pupil. They are now at university.

Two outstanding young men. They were two lovely young fellows when I taught them English. And now they are two fine young men, full of life and enthusiasm. I left the shop wondering what God means to them.

Later that morning I was on a train to Dublin. I was expecting it to be a quiet train so to my surprise I was amazed to see crowds of people at the station. The penny dropped: it was Munster Final Day in Killarney and they were hanging out of the rafters en route to Fitzgerald Stadium to watch Kerry beat Cork.

There was a crazy atmosphere on the train. Jokes, laughter, football talk, excited children running up and down the train. Great fun but I was relieved to know that they would all be getting off in Killarney.

Off the train at Heuston and back on my fold-up bicycle I called into a church on the way home. It was a short visit. Mass was on. There were two or three people in the porch with small children. I wanted to get a copy of 'The Irish Catholic'. I stayed a minute or two but in that short time I got a sense of the place and the service that was in progress. It all seemed odd and sad. The priest was preaching. It was difficult to hear what he was saying, though I did hear the word -'doctrine'. There was something profoundly dead about what was taking place.

My experience in the shop and on the train were fabulous human encounters, genuine too.  There was a sense of optimism and hope in the air. Whereas the church was uninspiring. There was something controlled about it all, so far removed from the sense of hope and enthusiasm I experienced in the shop and on the train.

Reading Diarmuid Martin's Würzburg lecture I kept thinking of my three Sunday experiences. Martin is saying something extremely important.

Monday, July 17, 2017

'Devout' Steve Bannon

Right-wing religious people and their publications never cease to amaze.

In the current issue of the Catholic Herald there is a piece by Michael Davis titled The poisoning of American Catholicism.

Davis refers to Steve Bannon as 'devoutly Catholic'.

Mr Bannon has been married and divorced three times.

A bishop who knows his priests and cycles his bicycle

Mario Enrico Delpini is the new archbishop of Milan.

He is known for cycling his bicycle through the city.

He has been an auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the diocese, where he is known to have a strong bond with the priests of the diocese.

Some months after his election as pope Francis urged his new bishops to be 'profoundly bonded' to their communities. He said: "I beg you please to stay among  your people. Avoid the scandal of being "airport bishops".

It seems Delpini fits the papal bill for archbishop of Milan.

 In 1998 Delpini published a humorous book critical of clericalism.

Might Francis extend his influence to the Irish church, to religious congregations, to the Dominicans?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fifty years of Pope Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae'

The editorial in The Tablet this week is titled 'A plea for change'.

It begins with how Melinda Gates has pointed out how access to contraception is a vital key to promoting the welfare of women and children in the poorer parts of the world.

It concludes recalling The Tablet's comment 50 years ago on the publication of Pope Paul Vl's encyclical Humanae Vitae, which labelled contraception an intrinsic evil.

The Tablet then wrote: neither joy nor hope can we derive from the encyclical.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Macron the diplomat greets Trump the bumbler

A lovely piece of writing in yesterday's Guardian.

The author Mary Dejevsky also writes in The Tablet. In the current issue she has an article on President Macron.

Within hours of Air Force One touching down in Paris there was fresh confirmation that no foreign visit by this US president comes without its risks. Betraying what the kindest interpretation would describe as an old-fashioned eye for the ladies – let’s face it, he is 71 – Donald Trump had strayed from the conventional introductions to compliment his host’s wife, Brigitte, on her figure. He then turned to her husband, the president of France, to remark: “She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful, isn’t she beautiful?”
This unfortunate sequence will, no doubt, go down in Macron family legend. It may also be replayed for new generations of French diplomats to prepare them for – how shall we say? – the unconventional and unexpected. Nor was there any disaster. It would take more than a sexist, off-colour remark by a bumbling American president to faze this smooth young French head of state and his wife.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Silly extremes

Great headline in The Tablet this week.

Headline on an article by Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard:

We have lurched from uncritical respect to knee-jerk cynicism about everything.

Brilliant and true. And a lovely piece of writing too.

A medical device a heart beat away from a Dominican

There was a report in The Irish Times yesterday about a new medical device that treats a heart complaint where a valve does not close properly.

The new device, which is minimally invasive treats the condition quickly and cost effectively, with no need for long-stay hospital care.

The device has been developed by CroíValve, whose CEO is Lucy O'Keeffe.

Lucy is the daughter of Janet and Jerry O'Keeffe.

Jerry was a Dominican priest of the Irish Province. He was ordained a priest in 1968 and resigned from ministry in 1977.

Congrats to Lucy and the family.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Diarmuid Martin talks on Kilian's Day in Würzburg

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin gave a talk in  Würzburg on Saturday, July 8, the feast of St Kilian.

Aspects of it have been quoted in the Irish media with follow-up comment.

It makes for great reading.

The full text is available on the diocesan website.

Below is just one paragraph from the text.

The separation of Church and State is not a hostile one, but it could turn into one and there is a growing number of vocal supporters of a much more hostile relationship.  Alongside hostility to the Church one can identify more integralist elements within the Church who see a Christian presence in a pluralist culture purely in terms of a negative culture war.

Kilian, who was born in Mullagh circa 640, had close links with the church in Würzburg.

There is a statue of the saint in Mullagh, Co Cavan, which was made by Dominican sculptor Henry Flanagan.

A church of many parts

Anyone who sits down and reads The Tablet, Catholic Herald and The Irish Catholic any one week is bound to wonder how the Catholic Church manages to hold together.

Australian cardinal, George Pell, old boss in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, new CDF boss Luis Ladaria are all painted with different profiles in each of the three publications.

Who's who at all?

In the Catholic Herald of July 7 there is a two-page hagiography of Gabriele Kuby, who is a member of the far-right AfD.

Below is the last sentence from the piece. It seems author Simon Caldwell is not too good on his past participles.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A rising anger

An extract from an opinion piece in Monday's Guardian by Paul Mason.

Indeed, for Trump and Vladimir Putin, there is a clear calculation: the more angry their own people are with foreign countries, products and human beings, the less likely they are to stage their own version of the Hamburg protest. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has, this week, made his own contribution to the rising anger in the world by plastering Budapest with posters depicting George Soros as an enemy of the Hungarian people.
We are at a stage in global politics where the rising anger can be directed in only two directions: upwards, at the elites themselves, or sideways – towards minorities, rival nations and the institutions we rely on to maintain the rule of law.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Timothy Radcliffe believes love will be victorious

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane
Timothy Radcliffe cuts an impressive figure. He is a tall man who has an air of gravitas about him, which he easily mixes with a sense of fun. A kind man too.

He is a 70-year-old English Dominican priest who was Master of the Dominican Order from 1992 until 2001, indeed in the 800-year history of the Order, Timothy is the only English man to have held the job.

Twelve months ago Timothy was due to give a lecture at the Priory Institute in Tallaght but unfortunately, he had to cancel due to illness. Timothy was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth.

At one stage during his treatment he was told there was the possibility that he might never talk again.

Last Tuesday evening Timothy stood in front of a crowded lecture hall to deliver his postponed talk.

The title was 'How can we hope today? The lessons of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East'.

Timothy jokingly alluded to his recent illness and how he imagined some people had hoped that he might never talk again.

While his talk had a specific interest in the work and life of the Dominican Order in the Middle East he gave a bird's eye view of what it has been like in recent years for Christians in that part of the world.

Since completing his term as Master of the Order in 2001 Timothy has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, visiting Iraq and Syria on a number of occasions.

He wonders how we can hope in these days when there are 65 million people displaced in the world, there is the prospect of ecological disaster plus a worrying development of fundamentalism and nationalism. But Timothy believes that love will have the victory on Easter Day.

And listening to the man it was evidently clear that he genuinely believes in the power of God's love, the power of love over darkness.

It's uplifting to hear someone give such vitality to the Christian message. And that's exactly what Timothy did in his lecture.

He has been amazed how people have refused to leave their homes but he completely understands why others have fled. And he has also been greatly impressed how Christians have remained.

He quoted the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who once said that one of the most powerful things we can hear is when someone tells us that they are not going to go away.

Timothy said that we see the face of the Lord in the wilderness.

"We have to learn the art of reading one another's faces," he explained, because behind every human face is a frightened child.

All during his talk he kept returning to the Eucharist and how he had seen Christians celebrate Mass within hearing distance of gunfire.

He told the story of an imam offering a mosque on Christmas Day to Christians, whose church some days earlier had been desecrated.

He believes that the Eucharist offers hope to a broken people. He readily admits that Mass can bore him, sermons annoy him and with his roguish sense of humor he told the story of the mother, who calls her son to go to Mass on Sunday. She goes back to his bedroom 10 minutes later and he is still asleep. She tells him he has to go to Mass. He replies that it is so boring. In exasperation she tells him: "You should go to Mass, besides, you are the bishop of the diocese."

Timothy Radcliffe has published a number of books. I strongly recommend you dip into some of his writings.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spelling at Kerry ETB

Notice how Kerry Education and Training Board spells the plural of CV.

Priestly ordination

Below in italics is a paragraph from a sermon preached at an ordination ceremony in St Saviour's Church, Dominick Street on Saturday.

The church is situated in Dublin's north inner city where unemployment is high and church attendance low.

The ordaining bishop and preacher at the liturgy was Augustine Di Noia, an American Dominican, living in Rome.

In this way, the Son of God continues to be in our midst in a manner adapted to our human nature – by sending His only Son who in turn commissioned the Apostles and their successors – so that we might receive His word and His grace from other human beings.  The hand of another human being blesses us, pours the water of Baptism on our heads, offers the body and blood of Christ to us in the Eucharist, and is raised in absolution unto the forgiveness of sins.  Through these visible and tangible sacramental actions,  God bestows His invisible grace on us, drawing us into a participation in the communion of love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  These are the fruits of the Paschal Mystery for whose service you have been chosen.  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”