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12th Aug, 2019

athgarvan

JUST REFLECTING

Why do people fear death?
Is it because they do not know what the future has to offer?
Or is it because they are too attached to the present?

6th Aug, 2019

athgarvan

EN PLEIN AIR IN WEXFORD

I can't paint at all. But I would have liked to have tried a bit of it as I was growing up.  Yesterday I spent the afternoon at an annual exhibition of Open Air art in our town here in Wexford.

Painting outdoors was first popularised by the French Impressionists, including Monet and Renoir.

Every year our town runs a 10-day Art in the Open painting festival. It is the largest and most prestigious in Europe. Painters of all ages and ability, a mix of established and aspiring artists, gather to do still-life and landscape. Over 200, from many  parts of Europe and futher afield, take part. Different locations are chosen by the committee and all the painters gather in each location on a particular day and do their stuff.

I imagine that painting landscape outdoors can be difficult and frustrating at times but it is something people can get very passionate about.  I love to walk around when the painting is located in the streets of this little historic town and see all the painters busy at their easels. Later in the week they will submit their work for exhibition, assessment and, hopefully, for sale!


 

2nd Aug, 2019

athgarvan

CHRISTIANS

Are Christians a majority group?  In the past Christianity has been seen in the West as a rich, powerful, culture-shaping majority, so it is hard to accept now that Christians can be the victims of discrimination and persecution.
Perceiving Christians as 'a powerful majority' has little to do with contemporary reality. Emeritus Pope Benedict has described the situation facing Christianity in the West today as that of a "creative minority."

1st Aug, 2019

athgarvan

WE'VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY!

We are living in times marked by change and the uncertainty change brings with it. Change affects us all. It challenges us to face up to the many ways it affects our personal and social lives.

Climate change carries with it worry about the future - even the very existence - of the planet.
Economic change is making the poor, even poorer
Political change - procedures and processes of the past are no longer accepted by those who wish to have power.
Changes in faith - and in the sense of meaning and purpose for all existence.
Changes in social laws which open questions about human values and morality.
Changes in scientific knowledge which challenge old perceptions and lead to new explorations of meaning.
Changes in the means and speed of communication.

We live in a world in which many of the traditional certainties no longer hold for people.

30th Jul, 2019

athgarvan

AN INTERESTING INITIATIVE

The Little Sister Disciples of the Lamb live in the centre of France. They are the first (1982) contemplative community in the world to welcome into consecrated life people with Down Syndrome.

Sr. Line was on a spiritual search of her own and felt a calling to work with children. She visited several communities that would welcome people with disabilities, without success. She met a girl, a girl with Down syndrome, and this gave her the idea for a new beginning.

Canon Law and monastic rules do not provide for the admission of people with mental disabilities to religious life. It took 14 years to get the statutes of this special community, with its own original style, recognized. The status of a contemplative religious institute was obtained in 1999.

The contemplative life suits people with Down syndrome. It allows them to live at their own pace. Changes are difficult, but the contemplative life is regular and allows them to manage well.

Sr. Line says: "At a time when society lacks points of reference, no longer finding meaning in life or giving it value, our community wants to reaffirm the sacred character of life and the human person through the simple witness of our life consecrated to God".

29th Jul, 2019

athgarvan

AN ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE

Yesterday, as many as 9,000 people from the very young to those in their eighties, some in their bare feet, made the arduous climb of the 764m peak, Croagh Patrick, in Co. Mayo, in Ireland. The pilgrimage attracts over 100,000 climbers annually.

Why do so many think of doing such a thing in this modern age? They see it, obviously, as a more spiritual experience than formal religion. It's a special place. A holy place. People seem to feel in some way in touch with God, in touch with nature, in touch with themselves.

People don’t stop wanting God because they stop believing in him. And that enduring hunger marks the modern western world. It questions, suspects, argues, is dismayed, disappointed, disbelieving and yet keeps searching.

24th Jul, 2019

athgarvan

THE CONCEPT OF EVIL

I've been reflecting on what we call 'evil'. We hear and speak so much about it. Is there such a thing? Is it something real? Often when we hear the term 'evil' images spring to mind of horrible events and atrocities such as war, murder, rape, genocide and torture enacted by sinister characters. Should we simply abandon it altogether and stick with 'right' and 'wrong' 'good' and 'bad'? These are nouns, 'evil' is not.

We have moral evils - (acts of humans which are considered to be morally wrong), and natural evils - (natural disasters such earthquakes.

St. Augustine (354-430 AD) apparently is the great guru on this matter.  According to him 'evil' is not something substantial, but rather a type of non-being, a lack of some perfection that ought to be present. Evil is not a noun. It does not stand over against the good as a kind of co-equal force. It can never stand on its own. it has no real substance. It can never really 'be'. It can be attractive, and alluring but always superficial. It is nothing when naked!


Beware the Evil Eye. The symbol and superstition of the 'evil eye' is one of the strongest symbolic images in the world. You’ve probably even worn one of those symbols. They can have many forms. And it's trendy! The superstition of the evil eye holds that the malicious look is powerful enough to bring about actual disaster for the unfortunate person that is the receiver of the glare.

22nd Jul, 2019

athgarvan

OUR MODERN MATERIALISM

Our west European culture has certainly changed during the last 100-150 years. It has been marked by industrialization, mechanization, growth of huge cities, astro-physics, and the triumph of practical reason and science. It has all given rise to a more convenient and easy lifestyle. Where would we be without electricity, cars, mobile phones, aeroplanes, computers?

However our contemporary culture also has its downsides (materialism, ugliness, greed, chaos, waste, murder and mayhem) and superficiality. It seems to lack a spiritually ordered harmony and pleasing way of life.

Our modern materialistic culture, however practical and beneficial, seems not enough to satisfy the human heart or human society. It tends to make material and scientific progress the ultimate values. The beautiful Christian story has faded away. It needs a re-telling.

21st Jul, 2019

athgarvan

CAN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SURVIVE SCANDALS?

This morning, Mass in my parish was celebrated by a young newly ordained priest. I ask myself can this be a sign of a revival of the priesthood in our area after years of church scandals. More and more young American women, I understand, are being called to the religious life, after 50 straight years of decline. And the aspiring sisters aren’t like the old ones. They’re more diverse: They’re younger (the average age for taking the final step is 24). They're often high-flying and high-achieving. They're all over Instagram and You-tube. What on earth is going on?

Sometimes God raises up a person or persons who name the sins of the Church and call us to repentance and reform. In the bible we might consider Samuel (who challenged Saul), Nathen (who called David), Isaiah (who railed against the temple establishment), Jeremiah (who took the leadership of Israel to task), and Jesus himself (who spoke about 'white-washed sepulchres').  I ask myself are there any Samuels to be seen among the youth of today? Are there any young priests today who are being raised up by God to be specially dedicated to lead the renewal of the Church? Are there any who are prepared to accept the challenge?  Who can pass on the spiritual vision and find hope?

Many who brought the clergy, and some 'committed' Catholic sex offenders, to light, are not enemies of the Church; many of them can be seen as instruments of God's vengeance, who have compelled a reluctant Church to come to grips with a problem that had been, for far too long, ignored, brushed under the carpet, or handled with pathetic incompetence.

Going through the sex abuse crisis for the rest of us is like being 'beleaguered'.

20th Jul, 2019

athgarvan

JUDGES AND JUDGMENTS

An old friend of mine who was a bit simple used to say "You must not be judgemental in this place, you can only be mental". Nowadays we hear a great deal about the dangers of being judgemental and the dire effects it can have on people, especially on children.

But don't we all spend much of our time actually judging people, events and things. Many popular TV shows are based on making judgements - Judge Judy, Britain's Got Talent, Dragons' Den, Dancing With the Stars, The Antiques Roadshow. Betting shops are full each day of people making judgements. Our Dept. of Education decides the mental capacity of teenagers on the basis of final examination results.

This obsession with judging seems to go side by side with the modern stress on toleration and acceptance. We consider ourselves to be a nonjudgemental and open-minded people, who would never lower another person's self-esteem.

The greatest villains in all this scenario are, of course, God (the Supreme Judge) and his hencemen, the harsh, cruel, manipulative, domineering and demanding Catholic Church! Especially in the matters of sex and lifestyle.

But, deep down, we know that judement is indispensable to the development of a healthy person and a properly functioning society. Simon Cowell can tell terrible singers that they are terrible. His honest judgements may be met with tears, and angry words, but more often than not, he is right and may actually be to the benefit of the performer.

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