All Saints. Black Coffee. A girl band and a fine song.
It's All Saints Eve and I'm drinking black coffee on the veranda of the Azur, overlooking the dark sea with a hazy moon above and a cold wind cutting over my right shoulder. I'm hatted.
There's a time for every purpose under Heaven, a season for everything. We go through them often not knowing what is the purpose - what even is the point of all we do - but God knows. God knows exactly what He is doing, what He is going to do. Knowing this is enough for me. It's the way of faith.
Coming up to 4.00pm it's as if the spirit of Radio Maria reaches out to me. Memory reminds me of that most precious season in my life.
Around this time two years ago Donal O'Sullivan invited me to present a series on prayer and my nervous, shaky start became a joy. The hour before going on air chatting with Joy, those minutes settling myself at the microphone and closing my eyes - it was like diving into the sea of unknown listener's lives.
I miss all of that and the Monday morning Masses on air. The community. The tea and chat afterwards. My own wish would have been to keep going on but God had other plans for me and better plans for Radio Maria.
There's a darkness that creeps into my mind and heart and soul. It happens every year. The five o clock darkness. Approach of Holy Souls. A kind of mystical tug at my mortality.
I become more unsure of myself at this time as if I'm a toddler again learning to walk. I lose touch with the Hand that would hold me. The Motherly, Fatherly, Godly Hand. But it slips away sometimes. So I need to be careful. I need to listen to the waves, their soft thunder below me, softening the night.
At the pier the crowds are gathering - vampires, witches, ghosts. There is no need for me to dress up in the costumes of the dark side. I can wear no mask. There are enough shadows within me - my own and those of others - ghosts to rattle my bones.
We are swimmers against the tide, in the world but not of it. We don't really belong in the culture of this time but we are here for a reason. God's reason!
I am "we" in all that I experience. My Life is not my own. It is for others. This dawned on me years ago when I had a spiritual experience in which i was profoundly touched by the Presence of God. I felt honoured and as soon as l felt that these words from Psalm 149 came to me, "this honour is for all His faithful."
As if to confirm this, when I got home from the sea tonight there was a message from Provincial Derry - boss and friend - in his newsletter. A quote from our founder St. Vincent Pallotti -
"O Priest, who are you? You do not come from yourself, but from God. You do not come from yourself, but from nothing. You are not made for yourself, rather you are made for all people in all that constitutes their relationship with God. You do not serve yourself, because you are the Bridegroom of the Church. You do not belong to yourself, because you are the Servant of all. You are not yourself, because God is you. Who are you, then? Nothing and everything, O Priest!!!”
Beyond the dark and through it I know that I am surrounded by All Saints. And I think of them dancing around the loveliness of God in ever increasing degrees of brightness.
Hynm for Evening Prayer
"For all the saints who from their labours rest, Who thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesu, be for ever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might; Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou in the darkness drear their one true Light. Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion! fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
It's now All Saints Day and I've come from Mass which was attended by all the children of Saced Heart as well as all the regulars who are delighted with the Presence of the children. Two minutes before Mass Mr. Hallett the Head Teacher called for silence and incredibly there was total silence.
This is joy at its best, most innocent beauty. And if I were to live this day as if it were my last then I know that I have lived well for 45 minutes.
Give me joy in my heart was sung with great fervour in the end - Joy, Peace, Love, the gift of Saints, the result of drawing near to Jesus.
The day is further blessed when I get on a train that carries me to a lovely lunchtime with the Donnellys.
It will be further blessed tonight when my brother Harry arrives for a couple of days.
" How good and how pleasant it is..."