I avoided commenting on the 'Sleeman intiative' over the weekend as the press scans for comments and I didn't want to be quuoted. Now that it has been a flop I can pass my remarks. My own experience was that there were no noticeable absentees from the 9.30 here in the Friary but one woman seemed (she was at the back and I can't see much beyond six feet without my glasses) to wear a scarf over her face and dark glasses. The glasses alone would've been wierd. She didn't come up for communion and was gone before we had left the church (we wait outside to greet people - very 'protestant' but it can lead to useful conversations). I was furious and I still feel it as an insult to the Mass, the congregation and myself.
In addition I heard today that a priest in a wealthy parish in Blanchardstown welcomed anyone wearing a green armband and proceeded to speak up for women's ordination with some dodgy exegesis. It's this kind of theologically illiterate dissent that has us in the state we are in. Doesn't anyone try to find out the truth? Is no one interested in obedience and humility? No wonder there are Sleemans in the Church if there are pastors such as this doling out their opinions rather than serving the Gospel.
After Mass on Sunday I had a long conversation with one of our regulars who, despite being quite mature, is studying theology. She told me of the sacramental theology she's getting and from what she told me it does not qualify as Catholic. It seems that some theologians are too intelligent to believe in the Real Presence.
The more I see and hear the more I believe that there's a deep unseen crack in the Irish Church that could split open any day. At that point there will be great pain. I am haunted by Jesus' question 'When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?' (Lk 18:8).
The good news is that the mature student I spoke to knows the Church's teaching and can challenge those who pretend that something else will suffice. There are faithful Catholics who struggle to hand on what so many others are denying or abandoning. We live in a time of iconoclasm but there are those who still choose Christ.