Friday, 31 August 2018

Last Day of August - Feast of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

It must be my age! Time passes so quickly. The summer seems to be just begun and then it is over. For most of the month of August, the city of Paris seemed to be 'empty' except for the many tourists. They add so much to the city during the time that many of the locals are away. There were few cars parked in the street in front of the church where it is normally hard to find a space. All that has now changed during the past week, as people returned and shops and businesses opened again. With schools reopening on Monday it will be back to business as usual. Still, there is a great buzz around the city. This afternoon I was in Notre Dame Cathedral for a while and it was thronged with people. It is estimated that 14 million people visit the Cathedral each year. It is a magnificent place of historical interest and a busy and functioning church with regular Masses, Confessions, Evening Prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Over the years I have been privileged to preach there a few times. Security of bag searches when entering continues following sad events of recent years in Paris.

Last weekend the Papal Visit and all that went with that occasion. This weekend, Tyrone taking on the Dubs. I would like to have been in Dublin last weekend and also this weekend! What a delight it is to be in Croke Park on All Ireland Day - both Hurling and Football. At risk of tempting fate - the Dubs will keep Sam for at least another winter. Though I am a native of Co Wicklow, my support for the Dubs goes back to my childhood. If Wicklow were ever to get to an All Ireland Final against the Dubs, I don't know what I would do. Somehow, I don't see that arising any time soon.

I'm still 'home alone' as the only Passionist assigned to St Joseph's. Prayers are being offered by parishioners, and by me, that soon another priest will be assigned. It is tough on the people coming to Mass and having me each time, except for the rare occasions when a visiting priest offers one of the five weekend Masses. It is with a sense of real gratitude that I have the strength to continue fulfilling some service to the approximately 2,000 people who enter the church on a weekend. 

With these few words, I'll leave you in peace. But be warned - I'll be back soon again!    AT

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Papal Visit to Ireland

Pope Francis' visit to Ireland has come and gone. I would love to have been at Croke Park and at the Mass in the Phoenix Park. But it was not to be. The positive side was that I had a great weekend among great people here at St Joseph's in Paris. A wonderful visiting priest from USA kindly took one of the Sunday Masses, which had two positive effects:

1. people who come to Mass regularly here got a break from me! and 
2. I was able to watch Pope Francis' visit to Knock Shrine. 

Well done to RTE for such sensitive and extensive coverage of the Papal visit. Life is strange - the weather in Ireland was sunny and warm this Summer. Come the weekend of the Pope's visit and yes, you have guessed it, we had enough rain to begin filling up Irish reservoirs again! 

A little funny aside was when France 24 in Paris asked me if I would be available on Sunday last to help with commentary on the Papal Mass from the Phoenix Park. When I asked in which language it would be - French or English - the answer came back - French! My refusal was instant out of deference to the French language. Strangely when the teacher who gives me weekly French class heard this, he was not pleased! He thought I was capable of carrying this broadcast in the French language. Bless him for his confidence in me! 

Still, last night, 27 August, France 24 (English language) invited me to their studios to take part in the 'The Debate'. I did the best I could but reaction after the programme varied from criticism about some things I said to some very complementary messages. That is the best about communication - I try to learn from all shades of opinion and most of all, I admire people who go to bother to make contact.

There are so many wonderful aspects to our life of faith today alongside so many 'clouds' over the Church. As Pope Francis asked of us in his recent letter to all of us, prayer and penance are needed at this time. I hope to continue this reflection soon again. Thanks  for reading this.                           AT 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Back after a long silence!

It is impossible to come up with a good excuse for not attending to the blog since May this year! Mea culpa! I like writing the blog and some most kind people recently brought to my attention that I had gone silent and no words were to be found. Thanks to those for their interest and encouragement.

A lot has happened since May. At this moment I am thinking of the many people in Kerala, India, who have died in the worst rainfall for a century. May those who died, rest in peace. Many others have lost everything and must start all over again. At Masses this past weekend, prayers were offered for the people who have died and suffered. A man from India came along after Mass to express thanks for St Joseph's community remembering his people. The collapse of the bridge across the beautiful city of Genoa, was an appalling tragedy. Having lived in the '90's in Italy, I know Genoa well and love the beauty of Italy. May those who lost their lives in this tragedy rest in peace.

Our church is going through a time of learning more horrific details about what has happened to God's special ones - children - by sexual abuse by priests and consecrated people who not only broke the law of love but also broke the law by these crimes. It is my hope to come back to this tragedy soon again and perhaps by this blog we could examine together how we might be able to say and most of all, do something. At present, words are weak. Strong action is long overdue and more needed than ever.

This weekend, Pope Francis arrives in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin and to visit the Shrine of Our Lady in Knock. The pain of many people who have suffered at the hands of priests and religious in Ireland must be part of this visit. The Pope can't change the past. He must continue to give guarantees about the conduct of clergy and religious for the future. I hope that I can find something more to say on this in the near future.

It had been my hope to be in Dublin this weekend for the visit of Pope Francis.
However, since last week I am the only Passionist assigned to St Joseph's, Paris. It is my hope that the Passionist superiors will be able to send at least one other Passionist to join me here. There are priests, both in Ireland and here in Paris, who are always willing to help out when an urgent need arises. I have written my thoughts on this and if you wish to read my reflection, you may wish to follow the link 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

If you read this far - thank you for your perseverance! Hope to be back with you soon. AT