Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I don’t know if I have any wisdom, pearly or otherwise, to offer you.  I am still in slow recovery from my encounter with a Frenchman’s Audi on June 13th.  I have a shattered talus bone (that’s the one between your tibia or leg bone and the heel bone) not a bone you want to break.  I face six to eight months attending CUH and possible further surgery and I have only know begining to put weight on the foot.  I have pictures up on Facebook if anyone is interested!   I was looking forward to the challenge of Ards after UCC but God seems to want to pin me hear in Cork for a while.  I have certainly felt confined.  Whatever plans we may make God has His own and they take priority.  It is amazing that in what amounted to a head-on collision mine was the only injury.  I could’ve been more seriously injured or even dead but someone was praying for me.  Thank God Ford built that car.

On that day I got a lesson in the goodness of others.  I had a nurse and at least two doctors with me before the emergency services showed up.  They were very kind to me.  Looking back I can see their professionalism, charity and their generosity to me.  Thank God for Nitrous Oxide and morphine too!  The guardian and  community here have been a great support to me and very patient and kind.  They have truly mothered me.

I am also conscious of all those friars who have suffered far more than me.  At least I have the hope of a total recovery.  Thinking of my brothers I realised how many are sick or invalided in some way and could teach me much about the meaning and value of suffering.

I have learned that if you’re going to break a bone break the weaker one but if you break the stronger bone then you will have to strengthen the weaker.  So for me while I have lost my ministry I have time to work on my prayer.  I have for a long time, on and off, used a single volume english translation of the 1962 breviary just for the psalms.  I use it as a devotional and a supplement to the breviary after all what else have I to do?  It’s not easy to pray but I have the time, especially at night since my sleep patterns are shot to hell since the crash.  The psalms are like a conversation between God and His people.  All human joys and sorrows are in there.  After all weren’t they the prayers Jesus Himself used day in, day out.  Without an interior life our life is not lived.  If Christ is not at the centre of our life we are not Christians let alone Franciscans.  As getting to the choir has beyond my reach until now - steps were not an option - I only see the Lord in the Eucharist at Mass. I offer Mass in my room on a folding table - such a come down from the Honan!  That daily visit from the Lord means a lot to me.  I ask Him to fix my ankle so I can get back to work.  I ask that His will be done.  After all the Father’s will was all He cared about - ought not the same be true for me?

I had boxed most of my books before the crash.  To be honest I did that soon after I was given the news of my move to Ards.  Now that I have time to read it is really hard to get at my books - God has a sense of humour and it has both an edge and a point to it.

Not that I spend all day praying.  The hours of the old psalter break up the day and often I have to struggle to make myself pray and to keep my focus while I am praying.  Outside those times I read or use my computer.  Thank God for Youtube and Netflix.  I can watch old and new films, documentaries etc.  Sleeping so poorly means I don’t have much energy for anything demanding.

One doesn’t know what’s around the corner.  One can control how one moves through life but sometimes it’s the other idiot who does the damage.  No matter what there are too many unknowns.  As I heard in a talk online given by a layman: strive to be in a state of grace and do your best to do your duty - this is the way to heaven.  All that you or I can do is our best to do our duty and then trust in the Lord.    God rarely gives answers.  Instead He asks us to grow in faith.  Many is the night I have wanted to take a hammer to that Frenchman’s ankle.  I was furious, frustrated and mad as hell.  I got no answers.  I got here instead.  God is patience, compassion, gentleness beyond our comprehension.  Later I heard that the Frenchman’s car was a right-off too.  God forgive me but I was delighted that he didn’t go home with only a €200 fine.

We are utterly dependant on God’s Providence.  God has a plan and no you don’t get to see it.  We must let go and let God be God.  Many years ago Fr Gobbi preached in Dublin.  He and seen a sign on the bus: “Let the driver drive the bus”.  Abandon oneself to God.

My novice master taught his novices that ‘he who perseveres perseveres’.  Although a tautology it is still true - anything to do with our character, any virtue grows like muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets.  Likewise for vice.

My biggest enemy is myself.  It is the passions within, the will to be in God’s place, the drive to be at the centre that leads me to go off the rails.  This is the heart of evil, of sin: putting myself in the centre where only God belongs.  We are to orbit about Him not the other way around.  I am made to love, love God and then my neighbour - only in this self-gift do I truly draw close to Christ.  Therein lies the cross; the path I need to follow is the path I draw back from.

Monday, June 22, 2015


I was to transfer to our house in Donegal this week (yes, it was goodbye to Third level ministry and Cork!) but on my way to Tralee on Saturday, June 13th, I had a collision with another car and in the process my ankle was shattered. I left CUH on Wednesday. Thanks be to Heaven for Larry ( a pilot), Cirar (a Nurse) another Ciara (Doctor) and Peter (an Anaesthetist) as well as Dr Aidan Murphy (Emergency Response doctor) and Peter and his team on the ambulance. I was inspected, kept talking, fed sugary drinks, kept warm and reassured. It really was an example of the best in human beings. There was also the care I got in CUH both in A&E, from my surgeons and in ward 4A. A big thanks to all of them and an assurance of a lasting presence in my Masses and prayers.

In the middle of my hospitalisation one of my community, Paddy Cleary, died suddenly.  We were all fond of Paddy and will miss him.  He was buried Thursday.  The fallout from his sudden death are only just unfolding as he quietly did lots of jobs around the house.  

For myself I will miss him (he was one of the community here I would've missed the most when I moved) and I still can't think of his death as real.  I would like to help out but I am pinned here.  From the accident there are the physical consequences of not being able to put any weight on my right foot for at least three months.  There's the possiblity of future surgery on the foot and down the road of arthritis there.  Whether by the direct or indirect will of God that accident has pinned me here in Cork.  I am clamped in plaster and confined to barracks, more or less.  Unfortunately I had already packed away most of my books so that my reading options are quite curtailed.  Getting around is not easy partly because I now have to hop using my weaker knee but also because my room, part-filled with boxes and never very tidy, is something of an obstacle course.  My big question for God is why He has allowed this to happen just now and what I am to learn from this?  

At the moment these are the consequences I must live with, not the consequences of my own actions but of someone else's.  I have to relearn to forgive.  I am learning about the generosity and patience of others but also how people can react in such varied and unexpected ways.  Some handle change well and others not so well.  Myself I am struggling with frustration and boredom.  I find it hard to pray.  All I can do is take one day at a time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Since the referendum passed there has been a poster on a pole along the route I take home from work.  I only get a glance at it but it is obviously from the YES side and seeks to build on the momentum to continue their campaign against 'inequality' etc.  As I have written before this is not going to go away. Mr Voris over on ChurchMilitant has the right idea.  What begins as encouraging sensitivity about language will become a campaign against 'hate speech' (hate speech will be whatever the liberal, secularist neo-fascists will define it to be - censorship returns under the guise of respect!).

So we will have to live with the consequences of this vote.  On this feast of the Ungandan martyrs one can't help wondering how it will unfold.

As regards the Irish Church we have a lot of consequences to face.  It have heard it say that Archbishop Martin is wrong to think that the Church has failed to communicate with the young, it happened a long time before that.  We failed to communicate the Gospel to their parents and grandparents.  The Irish Church failed to effectively teach the Church's own teaching and settled for a dumbed-down, no challenge, mushy caricature of the teaching of Christ.  We taught the easy bits and left the hard bits til later (i.e. never).

What concerns me though are the priests, religious and prominent lay people who came out calling for a yes vote.  As a theologian wrote in the Irish Catholic 'what part of Jesus' clear teaching on marriage did they not get?'  Have they not read the Catechism?  How long will public dissent be tolerated?  Are there no repercussions for those who publically oppose Church teaching?  What meaning has Church discipline and unity when those who publicly support the enshrining of an intrinsic evil in the Nation's Constitution in clear opposition to the Bishops suffer no consequences for that opposition.  Have we gone entirely to the opposite extreme of an authoritarian Church (such as is alledged we once had here)?  We have a Taoiseach who, while claiming to be a practicing Catholic, has publicly professed beliefs that are in clear contradiction to that Faith.

There you have it.  Our 'Catholic' (self-described as such) Taoiseach does not believe in God but in an impersonal, indestructible force or energy that drives us all.  Jesus is an embodiment of that force.  He ducks the question of faith in the Real Presence and comes across as theologically, and philosophically, confused.  A pantheist, in fact.  Bear in mind that he would've gotten catechetical training during his studies to be a primary school teacher.  There have been, to my knowledge, no repercussions for our leader for these statements nor for his support for the introduction of abortion into Ireland.  Let's not mention that he lied to the Pro-Life movement!

He's one of many.  Frs Gabriel Daly, Iggy O'Donovan, Peter McVerry and not a few others publicly supported a Yes vote, as did Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and former President Mary McAleese.  One wonders what you have to do to get a rap on the knuckles from the Irish episcopate?  Does it always have to go to Rome before there is action?  Has the ultimate result of the formation of Epsicopal Conferences been the effective esmasculation of our shepherds?

There are many ordinary, faithful Catholics who want to see their shepherds deal with the wolves.  They want to see some real action not words, not press statements, not pastoral initiatives but an effective handling of those who are opposed to the faith but insist on remaining within the fold.  Leaving the wolves there will prove very costly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The whole world knows what happened here in Ireland on Friday last.  At least they know what the media is telling them: Ireland voted for 'Gay marriage'.

Fact: Nearly 40% didn’t vote

Fact: just over 23 % voted no (a poor result I admit).

Fact: just over 36% voted yes – a little over a third of the population have decided for the rest of us.

How did this happen? I agree with some that clericalism (and its relatives anti-clericalism and laicism) has done damage. A Presbyterian colleague (a good Ulster man) last week said the whole thing was anti-Catholic. But years of poor catechesis, acceptance of contraception, secularisation (US and British TV dominate much of Irish culture) and to top it off the damage done by the clerical abuse scandals have taken their toll. Ireland hasn’t been a Catholic country in reality for a long time. There remains a superstitious attachment to the rituals of baptism, first communion and the funeral but even the church wedding is becoming less popular.  The Catholic Faith is in poor shape above all on the East coast (i.e. Dublin).

The main reason the referendum passed is simple: CASH

The Yes side were massively funded from the US, in particular, and many corporations and big companies got actively involved (Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter etc), Ryanair offered free flights for those going home to vote. They were able to use focus groups and professional expertise to manipulate language and emotions and so to swing the younger voters behind their side. The media were entirely on the Yes side. Even the head of the Referendum Commission was publicly advocating a Yes vote!

 The No campaign won the TV debates and the Irish Bishops were balanced and careful (strong tactics having failed spectacularly in earlier referenda) but we were out gunned. The No side could not compete with the Yes as regards resources but even so the Yes side were worried it would not go their way – I think where they succeeded, apart from the young voters, was in making the waverers decide not to vote. They used emotion to bully people away from voting No. The Guards (police) were even caught tearing down No posters!

For those who were not here – who did not experience the unrelenting talk and propaganda and the pressure from family and friends, on Facebook, in conversations, signs everywhere and with the expectation that one could not possibly vote No – it’s impossible to imagine.  There was huge pressure to conform, to be with the 'in crowd' and to 'go along to get along'.  The language was perfect: 'love', 'respect', 'equality' - all undefined but packed with emotional weight.  There wasn't enough moral or spiritual fortitude to cope and sufficient numbers voted Yes or just opted out to let the Yes side win.

There will be a price for this.  This will not stop at marriage.  As long as Catholics and other Christians are around, along with those who simply recognize the objective nature of moral law,  then we will be a living sign of contradiction and we will not be tolerated.  I expect that the legal route will be taken first but I doubt they will be able to resist the temptation to go further.  The homosexual community are but the tool of darker forces and persons who wish to use them as cover for their own perversity.  There are dark days ahead but we will survive.  The Faith will not die out in Ireland.  The blood of martyrs is seedbed of the Church.

At the moment though I feel like a Jew in the early days of Nazi Germany. Pray for us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fota VIII International Liturgy Conference

St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy
Fota VIII International Liturgy Conference

10 February 2015

St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy 
is pleased to announce a provisional list of speakers and topics for the 

Fota VIII International Liturgy Conference 
to be held in Cork, Ireland, 
4-6 July 2015, 
on the subject of the priesthood of the baptized, 

A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation: 
Aspects of the Priesthood of Baptism.

1.       Professor Dieter  Böhler, Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt (Germany)
A Kingdom of Priests" (Ex 19,6). Priesthood and Royalty of God's People in the Old and New     Testament 

2.       Fr. Joseph Briody, St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, Mass. (USA)
The Priesthood of the Faithful in Sacred Scripture

3.       Fr. Sven Leo Conrad FSSP, (Germany)
Ministry as an expression of the common priesthood or of the ordained ministry?  A review of the minor orders.

4.       Fr. Jao-Paolo Mendanca Dantas, Fortaleza (Brazil)
The new movements in the service of the unity of the Church. Reflections on the charismas of laity in the light of the thought of Joseph Ratzinger.

5.       Professor Manfred Hauke, Lugano (Switzerland)
The “sensus fidei” of the laity according to John Henry Newman and contemporary theology.

6.       Professor Helmut Hoping, University of Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)
The priesthood of Christ in the baptismal and ministerial priesthood

7.       Fr. Thomas McGovern, (Ireland)
The Priesthood of the Laity and the Challenge  of the Secular

8.       Dr. Johannes Nebel FSO, Administrator of the Leo-Scheffczyk Centre in Bregenz (Austria)
Sacra potestas and the participatio actuosa of the Faithful

9.       Dr. Ann Orlando, St. John’s  Seminary, Brighton, Mass. (USA)
The Faithful’s Sacrifice as Priestly Service in St. Peter Chrysologus


Hon. Secretary: Terry Pender 
or tel: international +00353 21 4813445/ local 021 4813445


Related Posts with Thumbnails