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Showing posts from September, 2019

Dives And Lazarus In Our Time

John Moriarty was a Philosopher, writer, broadcaster and sometimes hermit from County Kerry. He died in 2007 leaving behind a legacy of passion for God, for the earth and the renewal of Christianity. I liked a lot of what he had to say, liked to look at him with his wild head of woolly hair, to listen to the sound of his voice. I tried to read his autobiography ‘Nostos’, a 500-page book without paragraphs or chapters, no break of any sort. It fascinated me but wore me down half way through and gave it to my mother who read the whole lot of it. Memories of his awful depression come back to me and some wonderful wisdom. He wrote of a woman in the village where he grew up. She used to cycle past their house and always looked very happy. He asked his father why she was so happy and the reply was, “she is content not to be a tree where only a bush will grow!” Content to be a bush rather than a tree. That resonated with me, still does and it remains an ongoing challenge. I keep want


The Call of Ezekiel “I will make you a sign to them” As certain as the snow Falling in the dark Before dawn that day You are chosen Begotten  Before the world I have  Seen you  Known you Loved you Made you a sign to them Mirror of who they are Though they may not observe Though you do not understand  Knowing yourself to be The rubbish heap of the poor Hating your own frailty I have given you The soft heart of my Son To bleed and feel another’s pain Embracing its helplessness Descending to the depths of it Ankle deep Knee deep Waist deep Beyond the messy Impossibility of it To cry  Tears of the child Tears of Mercy Sobbing Clothed with Christ Clothed with His people Clothed in Mercy This is who I created You to be

Earth Has Given, Human Hands Have Made

Early in September I was concelebrating at Mass with the Pallottine community in Thurles. There were ten of us and most were struggling physically due to age and illness. When it came to the Eucharistic Prayer, I expected that they would all remain seated as they would be entitled to but, not at all. Each one made his way slowly to the altar and leaned on the altar for support. It was like a holy huddle of the humble, lives lived within this mystery, lives given, offered, surrendered. There was a clear and intense focus on the Consecration and I felt that heaven itself had come down among us, heaven and earth meeting in that moment. Our humanity in all its frailty drawn up to the altar of the Most High. It’s what happens in every Mass, except we don’t always see or feel the reality. And it’s not only that God in Christ is present – all of heaven, Mary, the angels and saints, they too gather around the altar. We are enfolded in the heavenly embrace. It happens in the most s

A SONG IN SEARCH OF A VOICE: In Memory of Father Michael Cremin SAC

Waiting beneath a weeping willow tree in the garden of Holy Redeemer while my car is being serviced up the road. Traffic roars beyond, but in here there is peace, sunshine filtering through the leaves, light and shadow falling onto the page on which I write, “a page that aches for a word” – a phrase from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Neil Diamond. And a song in search of a voice. The voice of Michael Cremin stepping out into the middle of a gathering, hands clapping, singing the kind of song that I don’t particularly like, but they were lively songs, drawing people in and out of themselves, diffusing an air of real happiness. Of course, he sang songs that I loved too and I’m trying to remember one in particular! Was it ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’ or ‘The Green Fields of France’? His voice vibrated and soared. The thought of him makes me quiver with sighs, the thought that he is dead to the world now, gone home to God. No more will we see or hear him again in the flesh


She puts her two hands on her hips and rolls her eyes to heaven. In that moment I feel like the most stupid, embarrassing man in the world and, in my awkwardness, I say something else stupid so that she rolls her eyes again. We used to have such a happy relationship. As a little girl she would jump for joy at my arrival but now there is a distance growing between us. People tell me it’s what happens with teenagers, that she will come back to me but in the meantime, there is the pain of a wound in my heart and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I did it myself in a different sort of way. As a teenager I justifiably felt that life at home was unfair, impossibly unhappy and, with my youngest sister, I used to plan my escape. It was a fantasy in which I would get out the bedroom window and she would let me down by a bedsheet. From there I would hide away in one of the ships down the docks and end up in some faraway country. Of course, I never ran away but I did e


Katie One of the lovely experiences of my time at home was being with my grandnephew who is just over three months old. The first day I arrived at their home he was restless, in need of sleep and his mother was trying to settle him. She handed him to me, so I walked around the room with him, singing to him the Swahili song Malaika , praying the Hail Mary over him in Swahili. It’s a very soothing language and, after the second Hail Mary, the child fell asleep, his head resting on my chest for about an hour. It’s one of the most tender things a man can experience, to be so trusted by a baby, to gaze upon his sleeping face, the beauty of it, to be one with him in that way and to be touched by the presence of God in such a moment. But I’m aware too that suffering has already entered into this little life of his, the suffering that comes to every baby born, the very act of coming to birth. It is sometimes written on his astonished face. His mother was telling me about his experience

A Future And A Hope

It's an incredibly beautiful day at sea. The ship sails steady on the white edged choppy waves and peace reigns now, with loneliness left behind in Dublin port. Mostly left behind. Out here I am suspended between two realities, ready to return yet slightly apprehensive. There is a tug between home and Hastings, both of which I love; a pull between Ireland and England, this world and heaven. In a meditation at the retreat in Thurles, the director asked us to be blind Bartimaeus begging, to imagine ourselves being him. It’s a meditation I have guided on retreats going back many years, so it was necessary for me not to be stuck in an established way of seeing this gospel. I wasn't blind but paralyzed, unable to walk, sitting on one of those four wheeled mobility scooters for the disabled. Disabled is a word still used in the UK. I am disabled in the meditation but my scooter takes me to Jesus at speed, the cloak flying off my back. When Jesus asks me, "what d