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30th Sep, 2016



We hear so much about Human Rights nowadays. The word is bandied about and very often confused with Civil Rights.

We have Human Rights because we are human beings. Basically they are very few and can be summed us as: A right to life, integrity, dignity, liberty, food, water and shelter. 

Other human rights are derived from these and have been set out in detail in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948.

Civil Rights are given to us, or removed from us, by the State.

The State has no function in regard to Human Rights except to recognize and protect them.

29th Sep, 2016



The march was demanding the Repeal of Amendment 8 of the Irish Constitution which reads:

Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1983 [Acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.]

Just two of the Pro-choice slogans used in the march.
These images are from Facebook Abortion Rights Campaign  page. An organisation whom George Soros is funding.

How sad and pitiful to see women portray such vulgarity especially with children present.

Sitting members of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) sporting REPEAL T-Shirts!

28th Sep, 2016



The death of a confrere of mine recently has me thinking. Like myself, he was in his eighties. I ask myself what does the present generation of young people think of the elderly. In the past they were respected and valued. Their death was like the loss of a library. Their wisdom and lived experience were considered priceless treasures.

Today we experience the stereotyping and demeaning of the elderly in a culture besotted with youth, sexual attractiveness, status and productivity. We use the word “old” pejoratively: “old codger”, “old woman”, “old fool”. Of course, if we live long enough we’ll all become old fools, but we have a choice about what kind of “old fool” we become. We can become a “pathetic old fool”, an embittered “old fool”, or a “contented and happy old fool” who accepts one’s age and diminishment without pathetically clinging to the past without bitterness. It’s not how old I am but how I am old.

We all seem to want a long life but don’t want to become old. We fear old age because of what it may entail. People say they will never allow themselves to reach that point. They say, half-jokingly, “just give me the end-it-all pill”. As I do, they quake at the thought of loss of control, total dependence, incontinence, a ravaged body and a lost memory. And none of us wants to be a burden on others. It takes incredible courage to let go, to be vulnerable, to allow my weaknesses of body and mind to be exposed, to be dependent.

In old age gratitude takes on a new importance. Morris West, in his own old age, said: “Once you reach a certain age there should be only one phrase left in your vocabulary: Thank-you”! With every birthday, gratitude should deepen until it colours every aspect of life”. To always live in the “now”. The future is not important anymore and the past cannot be remembered. Any fixation on the past or the future prevents me from giving my full attention to the ‘now’. It is so hard to live in the ‘now’. It takes humility not to be jealous and resentful of the young and, unfortunately, many of us don’t age well.

All his life St. Paul struggled with some physical, psychological or moral brokenness. I take comfort in Christ’s reassurance to Paul that it’s actually OK that we never fully get our act together. “My grace is all you need; My power comes to its full strength in your weakness". (2 Cor 12:9).

26th Sep, 2016



A hundred yards from where I'm sitting is (was) Pierce's Iron Foundry, part of which was used for the manifacture of  bicycles in the early 20th century. I must admit I never did, or had an opportunity to, cycle much myself. 

About 1880 John Boyd Dunlop in Belfast re-discovered the pneumatic tyre which revoluntionized the use of the bicycle, the  'High Nelly'  as it came to be known in Ireland. People were able to visit and get to know, and often marry, their neighbours in the next parish.

For many women the bicycle of the 1890s enabled escape. Escape from kith and kin, escape from the strictures of late Victorian society, escape from tight corsets and voluminous dresses and, in many cases, escape from chaperones. It was the bicycle that gave women their first true taste of freedom. Bicycles required no fare, no feed; bicycles didn’t have timetables; bicycles could go – almost – anywhere. Women could ride alone, and many did, but it was pushing the boundaries!

In 1896 a US womens' rights advocate, said: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.”

Of course many in Victorian society were scandalised by the behaviour of bicycling women, and severely disliked the free-flowing costumes many of them wore, but it changed society in more ways than one. On bicycle or in cars,  women have come a long way since the late 19th century!

24th Sep, 2016



Can blogs presume to be ‘journalism’? Wikipedia says journalism means “the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the ‘news of the day’." I’m afraid journalists haven’t a good name at the moment.

I was reading this morning some of the Pope's thoughts on journalists and journalism.  He holds that there are few professions that have so much influence on society. They write the ‘first draft of history’, construct the agenda of the news, and introduce people to the interpretation of events. In spite of the new digital world – especially among young people – when journalists have professionalism, they remain an important and fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralist society.

We all need times to reflect on what we are doing and how we are doing it. This is not easy for the journalist who lives with constant ‘dead lines'. But Francis suggests that there are three essential ‘pillars’ that the journalist must always understand as important in their profession: to love the truth (to affirm it and to live it), to live with professionalism (to understand the profound meaning of one’s work), and to respect human dignity (to be aware that behind every simple report of an event there are also sentiments, emotions, and the lives of individuals). 

23rd Sep, 2016



Christians are now being encouraged to reflect again on the whole theme of on-going Creation and on the role we humans can and must play in it. Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ says that all of us can co-operate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents. Are we playing our fair share in caring for the universe in this time of climate change?

The story of the universe suggests that all life, including human life, comes from the same source. So all creation is part of a single community of life and is inter-connected in profound ways. This opens up the possibility of a new consciousness about what it means to be human within a cosmic community.

Wasn’t it Nietzsche who likened creativity of any kind to an experience from God or some other almighty power? He held that inspiration was given and could not just be found; it is just to be accepted and harnessed. Fashion designers, artists, writers, scientists, etc. are looked upon as the geniuses of our time. Kant believed that ‘genius’ was a natural endowment given to a select few but to be truly creative it must remain relevant to society and a culture. Each one of us can be creative in some form or other. What is created must influence and challenge a culture and our own individual lives.

Fashion designers with their catwalks have come a long way from Eve’s fig leaf! Scientists have given us a huge amount of knowledge about the universe. Writers and doctors have given us so much knowledge about our own bodies and minds. May we appreciate them and their creative work.

21st Sep, 2016



We are reminded every day of the dreadful tragedy that is the plight of the poor people of Syria and the Mediterranean for years now. It was brought home to me again yesterday as I was taking my afternoon walk through a business park close by.
In 2001 a group of eight Turkish and Kurdish emigrants - three men, one woman and four children - died from suffocation as they tried to gain entry to the country inside a 12m airless metal container being transported from Belgium to Rosslare Europort a few miles from where I am at the moment.

They were fleeing economic depression but found themselves at the mercy of Albanian human trafficking gangs.

A small garden of remembrance with water feature is all that is left to remind us of their tragic deaths. May they now find the peace they so much desired and died for.

20th Sep, 2016



A month ago a confrére and good friend of mine passed away. May he find peace in the Lord. Longfellow in a poem called A Psalm of Life - What the heart of a young man said to the Psalmist,  wrote:

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken to the soul.

The death of a friend is a time of reflection on life's meaning and on the departed-one's significance. Poems like this may be considered religiously bland or piously irrelevant to the modern science-thinking man's down-to-earthness, but, it recalls an age of gentler faith and contains an eternal essence of truth about human life.

Longfellow in the same poem says:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Wasn't it Mae West who said: "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough".

19th Sep, 2016



The reading in church yesterday was the short parable about a wealthy man's treasurer who stole from the boss and was sacked. He asked himself what was he to do now because he was too old to get another job. He got a bright idea. He went to the boss's debtors and told them to pay only half of what they owed to the new treasurer and slip the other half to him.

Jesus actually praised him because he was shrewd enough to look after his own interest rather than the boss's.  Jesus was teaching us that many do that. They look after their own interests rather than those of God.

Yesterday too, Pope Francis said: "Jesus invites us to reflect on two opposing ways of life: the way of the world and that of the Gospel.” Worldliness is manifested by attitudes of corruption, deception, and abuse of power.

Ireland is often seen as the most corrupt country in the European Union. Recently we had the example of a man who founded a society called Console to comfort those touched by suicide. Contributions flooded in for the cause. Your man started creaming off much of it for his own good life. Some years ago we were cursed by a depression. Businesses could not pay their taxes, families could not pay their mortgages. The State set up a company to take over their properties or houses and sell them off. We're now told that managers of the company may have been looking after themselves. Cartels are importing drugs and cigarettes and selling them to young addicts. Lots of people are taking backhanders.

Cute Hoors? We know all about them.

Sermon over for today!

18th Sep, 2016



Nowadays we see more and more parades carrying posters on our streets. We can so easily fall into the trap of using slogans and think we are engaging in meaningful debate. Using slogans allows us to think we are debating when in fact we’re not engaging in debate, or even listening to what others are saying. We might hear what they say but not actually listen to the contributions they are trying to make to a complex debate.

Slogans always indicate that I believe I am right and above criticism. And they say to the other person that while I may hear what you are saying, I’m not listening to the point of being able to modify, let along change, my mind because of what they are saying.
Slogans, and a refusal to listen, seem to be the hallmarks of what passes as political debate nowadays. Political ‘debate’ is so often now reduced to pantomime.

"Guns do not kill people, people kill people". Does this slogan just beg the question,  does it not oversimplify the issue? Does it not require real debate? The argument has no context, no stated conclusion.

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