October 1 – Friday
laughed at me at the Review Meeting when I said what happens if I get the
proverbial heart attack. No, it was
me that laughed the loudest. Not
that I would laugh in the face of fate, more that if you’ve got to go you’ve
got to go. Supraventricular
tachycardia. Not only had I heard
of that before, but I was tested for it. It
is one of the heart conditions my brother suffers from, and the men in the
family had to be tested, given how we’ve discovered how genetic things can be
these days. I had one of those
ultrasonic heart scans. It was
quite an experience lying there watching your heart pump on the screen.
I resisted asking whether it was a boy or girl.
Now that Tony Blair has had ST we all know about it.
But he had it six months ago and we’d already forgotten what it was
called. In ten years time will
anyone remember what a metatarsal is?
we be joking at such matters? They
remind us of our mortality: “Sic transit gloria mundi”.
They can also make us grateful for our own health and encourage us to
make the best of what God has given us. There
was a great photograph of the British Prime Minister in the Guardian on Monday.
He was coming out of Mass on Sunday and he looked a picture of health, so
I emailed the editor: “Tony Blair coming out of Church on Sunday looks five
years younger. What’s his
secret?” They didn’t print it.
But they say that those who attend Church are on average happier and in
better health than their non Church-going equivalent.
We’ve all felt the benefit of that time of prayer and worship.
For Tony Blair it must be one of the few times in the week when he gets
some space for himself.
who knew me well once said to me that, given my pace, they thought I would be
one of the last people to get a heart attack.
Who knows? But today was one
of those days when I would come nearest.
off to Portugal tomorrow, so trying to clear the desk and tie down things that
were still hanging over, eg:
all I can remember about yesterday as I write, but it still took me till late.
The heart attack did not come.
October 2 – Saturday
to Portugal with Chris and Mary for the European Meeting till Wednesday.
Full report when we get back.
October 3 – Sunday
LISBON – FATIMA – 30 CENTIGRADE
An early start after
a late evening in Lisbon. Last
night we had a party and an opportunity to be introduced to the other
representatives from European countries. Besides
the three of us, there were priests and delegates from Portugal, Spain, France,
North and South Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Poland, about thirty of us
in total. They all came from
Dehonian parishes or communities and the groups for younger Catholics in those
areas. About a third of us had been
at the gathering in Malpas in August and others had been in Germany the year
before. Besides introducing
ourselves we had to sing a song. They
had the words of some golden oldies. We
chose to do ‘Let it be’ by the Beatles and got a good chorus support.
The early start today
was to get us on the road to Fatima in time for the main Mass of the morning.
Fatima is where Our Lady appeared to three children on 13 May 1917 and on
the 13th of the following five months.
It’s the national shrine of Portugal (hundreds of thousands can turn up
for the 13th of the month). I
had been here twice before midweek and it had been quiet.
Today it was quite busy. We
joined in the Rosary at the shrine and the priests concelebrated the Mass.
There were over 70 priests and 3 bishops – just a normal Sunday.
A picnic lunch had
been driven the 100 miles up from Lisbon. After
some more time around the shrine the bus took us on a tour of the area including
Batalha where there is a monastery built to commemorate a battle in the 14th
Century, which signalled the end of Muslim domination of Portugal.
The temperature was a pleasant 30 degrees Centigrade again.
We felt even better when we heard the weather was pretty miserable back
October 4 – Monday
– HOW THE OTHER GROUPS WORK – BEATIFICATION OF LEO DEHON
first of two days of meetings. One
of the first points on the agenda was an assessment of the gathering at Malpas
in August. People had enjoyed it
but a few had reservations about the way anyone could suggest ideas for
discussion in workshops. They would
have preferred if everyone could have followed the same programme. People got a lot out of the experience personally, but
because we were doing different topics we did not build up a sense of unity in
the overall group. It could have
been also that the groups from Europe were used to deeper discussions about
their faith. It was certainly a
success from our point of view, in the way it opened us up to the experiences of
other countries and the ways in which they benefited from Dehonian Spirituality.
groups then gave some input on how they operated. Many had had a chance to say something on this on Saturday
evening, so Chris did the honours today. They
were impressed when he gave out copies of the magazine which he had edited, so
much so that the Chairperson had to tell people to stop reading it because
no-one was listening to the next report. The other groups in general are more serious than ours and
concentrate strongly on Leo John Dehon and the spirituality he passed on through
the priests of the Sacred Heart. The
Poles would seem to be the closest to our model of Project 2030 in the way they
put on events that are open to all younger Catholics.
If I understood them correctly the camp we didn’t go to in July had
almost a thousand at it. I can’t see us ever doing that, but there might be a way
that we could organise a larger gathering for people to chill out with one
another in the summer. Certainly
not next year.
other groups certainly know how to enjoy themselves. At the party on Saturday and on the bus on Sunday we would
live up to their impression of us as being more introverted.
The Portuguese are great hosts. The
group soon builds up a strong spirit and there are people playing guitars and
singing at every opportunity.
main point on the agenda today is preparation for the Beatification of Leo John
Dehon, which we expect to be announced in a few weeks and to take place on April
10 next year. There will be a
prayer vigil on the Saturday afternoon, followed by a festival and party in one
of Rome’s piazzas in the evening. The
ceremony begins at 9.00am in St Peter’s Square on the Sunday.
After that there will be plenty of time for sightseeing.
We were asked to estimate how many might go from Project 2030.
We guessed about 20, given the attraction of a long weekend in Rome and
the chance to be part of a once in a lifetime event.
October 5 – Tuesday
MEETINGS – WORLD YOUTH DAY – LISBON BY NIGHT
main topic today was the World Youth Day in Cologne, 11 – 22 August.
It looks as though we’ll get our preferred area to stay in Germany for
the preparatory days up till the 15th.
The Dehonian Centre at Martental, near Kaisersesch (Koblenz) is not far
from Frankfurt Hahn airport which has cheap Ryanair flights from London Stansted
and Glasgow. Around Martental we will be staying in twos and threes with
German families. Two years ago in
Toronto staying with the families was for many of us the highlight of the
experience, and some are still in touch with the people we stayed with.
One of the days we’ll meet up with the dehonian groups from other
countries who are staying in our area. Another
day we will join all the groups from across the world who are being hosted in
the Diocese of Trier, and the third day we will be with our families, bringing
them to a Mass and party in the evening.
the 15th we move to Bonn where we will be billeted in a school or
centre within easy reach of Cologne. That’s
when we will need our sleeping bags. With a million people to put up they expect to run out of
five star accommodation pretty quickly. Where
exactly we will be staying in Bonn depends on how many will be coming from the
Dehonian groups in Europe and across the world.
We will be staying together and doing some things together, but mostly
travelling into Cologne each day to take part in the different World Youth Day
events. Not everybody has to do the
same thing. There is a wide choice
of things to do. In Toronto in 2002 there was only half a million of us, but we
took over the city and sang our way by bus and train.
This time we will have a coach to take us everywhere.
The main focus of the week in Cologne is a vigil with the Pope on the
Saturday evening. Then we sleep out
overnight wherever it is - in Toronto it was an old airfield.
On the Sunday morning the Pope comes back for the final Mass.
afternoon we visited a couple of Dehonian parishes in Lisbon, both in new areas
of the city. After our final
meetings we went out to see the city by night.
We ended up in an Irish pub in the Expo 98 area.
The band was playing mostly ballads, but when they saw that some of us
wanted to dance they obliged with something more lively which spilled out into
October 6 – Wednesday
HOME – THE BEST AND WORST OF MEETINGS
we had to leave for the airport at midday we did not have time to go with the
others to visit Lisbon by day. This
gave the three of us a chance to sit in the sun and reflect on the meeting and
on life in general. Mary and Chris
will be doing a report which will go out to everyone by email.
For me it was the best of meetings and the worst of meetings.
What was good was the chance to be together with a group of Dehonian
priests and younger people who were exploring ways of getting together and
supporting one another. Many of the
group I knew already and there was a great sense of unity and common purpose.
I love all the languages and the chance to stay in a fine place with
sessions of the meeting, however, were a disappointment.
So much experience and expertise together yet we hardly had a chance to
talk to one another. ( There were so many things I wanted to ask people and
discuss – or to hear more about how some had been as lay volunteers to
Mozambique or do a summer project helping the poor in Albania).
Our visitors at the gathering in August had found it difficult that we
split up into small groups to explore different topics.
In Lisbon we mostly stayed together as one big group of 30+.
Once we split up into two groups to discuss something that had basically
already been decided or could have been worked out by a small sub-committee in
half and hour.
was the main language and I was translating all the time for Chris and Mary.
The good thing was that this enabled us to be like a continuous buzz
group, sharing our views on things as they were brought up.
In general we felt that there was a lot that we could learn from the
other groups, and there is a whole European dimension that could give another
flavour to Project 2030. We got
invitations to use the French chalet in the Alps (sleeps 20), join the Spanish
on the way to Santiago, and we sorted out more details for the Polish trip next
September. The dates for this will need to be changed as it clashes with
the next European meeting in September. We
will be meeting in France next year to visit some of the places associated with
Leo John Dehon.
usual I didn’t write my diary while the event was going on in Lisbon (if you
write it can take you away from the experience of the moment, and as ever, the
days were very full. Thank heavens
for trains and stations to catch up). When
I was back in Heathrow there was quite a long wait for the connection to
Manchester, I got busy writing. It
reminded me of what the guy said to Tom Hanks in The Terminal: “Ever feel like
you’re just living in an airport?” There
is a prize for whoever can add up the number of nuns that appear in The
October 7 – Thursday
OFF - REFLECTION ON BEING A ‘CATHOLIC’ GROUP
Portugal this week it struck me how much I feel at home when I meet up with
other members of the Dehonian community or stay in our houses.
There is a common bond which is hard to put your finger on exactly, but
is definitely there.
some degree it is the same for the 2030 groups. A number of people have remarked how they went into the group
as a stranger but quickly felt as though they belonged. It’s not quite tribal, but someone commented on the
similarities we have because of our Catholic upbringing.
And it’s not as if we talk about it.
It’s just there. For some
people it is almost an ethnic thing, but I think it goes much deeper than that.
There’s a certain approach to life, even though there can be many
different ways in which we reflect this. Our
faith can be something that we almost take for granted, but I think that is
because it is so much part of us that we don’t notice it.
have noticed how inclusive 2030 is and that people look out for each other.
In London the other week a few got detached from the group (as we were
walking back from the party to St Athans) and everyone wanted to wait and make
sure they were okay. Would this
happen so easily with other groups, someone asked?
As it was we didn’t find the lost sheep.
When we got back to the hotel it turned out they had gone back by another
route and were enjoying a cup of tea. But
noticed particularly the way people with special needs were integrated into the
group. Two people rang me today
because they had heard that someone was not well and they wanted information and
an address to send a card.
few people got in touch recently wanting help to set up a group for young
professionals in their city. My
reply was yes, we can help, but Project 2030 groups are open to all Catholics in
the age groups. ‘Catholic’
means wide, universal. That can lead to tensions as we try and cater for all
tastes and outlooks, but that is part of the challenge of being a Catholic.
We can learn from other Churches and other groups, but we believe that
everything necessary can be found in the Catholic Church, even if at times some
aspects might be more highlighted than others.
come to the group for different reasons. But
everyone is welcome as long as they respect the others.
No-one should feel pressurised into anything, nor should anyone feel held
back in developing their faith. The
poor child in a shanty town in Brazil is just as much a Catholic as the Bishop
working in the Vatican. No-one is
necessarily better than the other. Keeping
that kind of balance is the challenge that faces Project 2030 if it wants to be
October 8 –
ON THE WEB PAGE – HITS
the web counter for the diary. In
July we had gone down to 150 hits a month.
This went up to 165 in August and 183 in October.
At least the trend is in the right direction.
And then there are those who receive the diary by email every week.
suggested that we try and get some of the diary published as a book, then
admitted that they rarely had time to check it out on the net.
I am always surprised what people pick up from it, yet conscious that a
lot don’t have time etc, to read it, or it’s not their scene.
Another expressed their disappointment that more people did not read the
diary. But that’s not a problem
for me. Only 2% of the population
read The Times of London, but it is still an influential paper.
The diary helps me to clarify my thoughts on the group.
I started on the diary I had considered doing a regular news update magazine
instead, but I thought that would be too heavy. People don’t want to be getting emails all the time, so if
news and views were on a web page people could look it up if they wanted.
Now I realise that there’s lots of news items that most won’t hear
about as they are just slipped into the diary.
now I’m considering doing a newsletter occasionally (at least by email) with
the information that has come out in the diary and other updates on main events.
Reactions on this welcome.
few contributions have come in for the diary while I’m on a study break, 20-27
October. It’s still not too late.
See diary entry for September 27th.
Also if there are any questions or areas you would like me to say more
about then don’t hesitate to send to email@example.com
CONTRIBUTIONS ARE WELCOME FOR THE DIARY FOR 20-27 OCTOBER WHILE HUGH IS ON A STUDY BREAK. SEND TO firstname.lastname@example.org
October 9 – Saturday
AND ANSWERS – LONDON 30S
July there was a question and answer session with the Glasgow 20s.
The questions were given in the diary and I said I would give answers to
some of them as a Thursday/day off reflection.
But that didn’t happen, so I’m going to give some of the answers to
the London 30s questions that came up today.
The session lasted 90 minutes. People
wrote out their questions anonymously. I shuffled them and answered them as they
came. Here they are as they came
from the pile:
Question) Why have so many people fallen away from the Church since the
Answer) As in the history of the Church, there has often
been a falling away after a Council. We
had the Vatican Council 1962-65. While
changes were necessary they caused confusion for some people, and where faith
was not very strong it gave people an excuse to stop going to church.
There are also the social pressures today on people to conform to the
predominant secular/atheistic ‘religion’ in our country.
In other parts of the world the Church is thriving.
Question) Why not have Confirmation at a later age, e.g. in your
Answer) The Church has experimented with different ages.
The Orthodox Churches confirm at baptism.
There was a lively discussion in the group about us having a kind of
‘Confirmation’ for people in the groups who wanted to make a more adult
commitment. There could be some
Question) How should young Catholics go about telling their sceptical
mates that they are Catholic?
Answer) People are different.
Some can be more up front about being Catholic.
Some people are even afraid today to say to their Catholic friends that
they still go to Church, or are involved with a Catholic group.
There is what we call ‘The Jeremy Principle’.
When he is positive and says how much he gets out of being a Catholic
then people respond with the likes of “Aren’t you lucky”, but not everyone
can pull that off.
Question) What’s the difference between Catholics and the Church of
Answer) Some Anglicans are more Catholic than the Pope,
whereas others are strongly Protestant. In
the 16th Century there was the Reformation.
Luther got trapped in the politics of his day. He didn’t set out to split the Church, and recently the
Lutherans and Rome agreed that there was no fundamental difference on the
doctrine of Justification, which caused the original division. King Henry VIII attacked Luther, but then broke away from
Rome so that he could divorce his wife. Many
Anglicans could accept the Pope as the Head of the Church, but they would find
it difficult to accept his say in the internal running of the dioceses.
Question) Why does God seem to take a while to answer our
Answer) Jesus tells us to keep praying insistently for
what we need, and that God will always answer our prayers.
But the answer might not come as we are expecting.
God knows better than us what we really need.
We say “Give us this day our daily bread”.
God has given us each day of our life, so far what we’ve really needed,
because here we are… even though it might have seemed some times that he was
starving us or just throwing us an old crust.
will be more of these questions and answers when I’m away for a study week,
October 10 – Sunday
AND ANSWERS – LONDON 20S
it was the turn of the 20s in London to put the questions.
Some of them were the same as yesterday.
I felt like a boxer taking all comers, but I enjoyed it.
Each day some of the questions came twice, or had already been
‘answered’ by the time we got there. Inevitably
the answers are brief here and might raise more questions.
Please send these and any other questions in to email@example.com
Is there a way to bring loved ones back into the Catholic Church?
Answer) I gave the example of St Monica praying for her son, St Augustine, and eventually he came back and said: “Late have I loved thee, a beauty so ancient and so new”. That was after he said: “God makes me chaste, but not yet”. We can help people by prayer and example, but faith is a gift and we must respect people where they are at.
Question) It was alleged in a recent BBC3 documentary that the ‘Resurrection’ stories were only added to the Gospels about 200 years after the main parts were written. How does that affect the theology of the Resurrection?
Answer) Anybody can make a documentary about anything if they can spin a few things together (just as people will write a book like the Da Vinci Code). This documentary did not have any established Christian scholars on it. Right from the day of Pentecost the Church proclaimed the Resurrection. St Paul said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are the most despised of all people, etc. The Gospels started appearing in written form about 30-40- years after Jesus, but it was the living Gospel and the faith in the Resurrection that impelled the spread of the Good News after Pentecost.
Question) How do you cope in a relationship when your partner is not
that religiously inclined?
Answer) Knowing a wide variety of couples and married people, sometimes it can work out very well if the other person is not that anti. If they respect your faith then there is a good basis. But many have said that it can become a source of friction later when it comes to baptisms, first communions, going to church, etc. This can also apply to an ethnic Catholic who is not very Gospel greedy.
Question) How do Catholics cope with people making them feel guilty about their faith/how they are?
Answer) People accuse Catholics of having guilt complexes. They’re wrong. Guilt is a Protestant thing. Do Brazil, France, Italy, Ireland and other ‘Catholic’ countries appear to you as cultures that are full of guilt? In fact it’s the opposite. Forty years ago Catholics were congratulated for having little sense of guilt. They could go to confession and make a fresh start. It’s ironic that the very people who accuse us today of feeling guilt are the very people who try and make us feel guilty for the simple fact of being Catholic.
It’s easier for a priest in today’s society. There is a certain respect for your position. I asked the group to share how they dealt with it. Some were quite able to be open and strong about being a Catholic. The example of Jeremy was quoted again. Others found it more difficult to stand up to the pressure.
society does not owe us anything. If
we follow Jesus we can expect to be crucified.
St Ignatius in the three levels of humility says we might even come to
desire to be despised and ridiculed as Jesus was.
Question) Is there salvation outside the Church. Discuss…
Answer) It depends on what model we have of the Church,
which perspective we see it from When
we look at the Church as the Body of Christ, then there is no salvation outside
of Christ, for everything has been entrusted to him by the Father and everything
will be taken up in him at the end of time.
If others who are not believers follow their own lights then they too can
receive salvation, but always in Christ and within the context of the Church in
its widest sense.
There were a few other questions on the Saturday and Sunday that related to me personally and my idea and vision for the group. These have already been discussed in the diary in the past or will be taken up in the future.
October 11 – Monday
FURTHER QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE LONDON 20S
Question) If someone practices Reiki, which is a non-religious practice, are they in danger of excommunication?
Answer) I know Sisters who practice Reiki, which is a way of healing through energies. The person who invented Reiki did so as a result of teaching in a Catholic school and reacting to the scepticism of his pupils when he spoke about the healing miracles of Jesus. With all these kind of practices there is the danger that people use it according to the teachings of another faith or a humanist philosophy. That is where it could be dangerous. Christians would naturally use it according to the healing tradition of Jesus who said that we could perform even greater miracles than he did. I don’t know enough about Reiki to say to someone not to get involved in it. Nor would I likewise be able to recommend it.
Question) How can one be sure one is following God’s will?
Answer) It’s not always easy. Sometimes we have to make decisions when we are not sure if it is the right thing or not. But afterwards we can often tell by our own internal reaction. The body proves itself very sensitive when it is subject to a lie detector, even over trivial questions. We know what is true and what is not and it is hard for us to deceive ourselves. Likewise the body knows what is right and wrong. We need to listen to our reactions after the event. We need also to pray and ask advice. St Ignatius tells us that it is not God’s will if we are feeling very high or very low about something. God nudges us in the right direction when we are feeling a bit up or a bit down about a decision or a direction we are thinking of taking.
Question) Why doesn’t the Church allow anybody to receive the Host or the bread of Christ when Jesus was non-specific about it?
Answer) Jesus was welcoming to all, but he tells the story of
the person who refused to wear the correct garment to a wedding and was thrown out. Catholics have a high faith in the Eucharist. We do not normally allow other Christians whose faith is similar to ours to receive communion except in special circumstances. If someone joins the Catholic Church the last step they take is receiving communion after a long preparation. It would be a scandal to allow people who had no understanding of what the Eucharist was about to receive the host. Every group has their rules and their limits. If a 60 year old started coming to the 20s we would soon tell them.
October 12 – Tuesday
LOSING BAGS ON TRAIN – MEETING WITH THE BISHOP OF LANCASTER
Message to all train users. Be careful of your bags. Not that they might be stolen. We know that already. Not that they might be removed or destroyed if you leave them unattended. No, the warning is don’t go to the toilet on the train, your bags might be taken off by the rail staff at the next station. That’s what happened to me today.
I was heading to Glasgow to see the 20s tomorrow and stopping off at Lancaster to see the Bishop. My holdall and poly bag I left on the seat when I went to the toilet. At Salford Crescent someone told the staff that the bags were lying there, unattended or forgotten, I don’t know. When I came back the bags were gone, and I was told they had been removed. At the next station I told the guard who spoke to the platform manager and they promised to send them on to Lancaster later. I was not a happy bunny. Where was the notice about not going to the toilet? Didn’t the staff think to knock the door? The main thing was I got them back in the end, but there were a few things I had wanted to show the Bishop. It was when I sent him copies of the magazine that he got in touch asking to see me and pick my brain, but I also wanted to give him copies of the North-West newsletters.
I had delayed the train, but I was still in time to meet the Bishop at 11.00. I had checked up the Bishop’s appointments in the Catholic Times and saw that he had a meeting down for 11.00 today. I wondered if I was going to be ambushed with a wider meeting with people involved in ministry to younger Catholics, but it was just the Bishop and myself. He wanted to talk about things generally and in particular about an idea he was going to publish in next month’s diocesan newspaper – to set up a residential community of young people in the Diocese based on the promotion of social justice and personal formation. He said I could print his article in the diary next week while I’m away and off diary duty.
He asked me what I would do if I was starting from scratch. I said that’s more or less what I did five years ago when I first sent out questionnaires asking people in their 20s what they needed and what they would like to do. His time is short. He’s only been Bishop a few years and he is already 70. My vision was for the long haul – where do we hope to be in 2030 – and I didn’t want to begin with my plans and ideas but to wait and see what emerged from the group. By coincidence some people in our group are talking about their need for a closer community, not necessarily residential. There is a weekend booked at Malpas in February which we’ll use for those who are looking for something more, whatever that might be.
I felt privileged to spend two hours with the Bishop. I feel strongly how a Bishop is a direct successor of the Apostles, with responsibility not only for the local Church but the whole world. It was refreshing to hear his ideas and he was open to listening to my views and experience. I obviously spoke about the needs of younger Catholics and the recognition of those who are single. I told him about the quality of the people in the groups and the surprise to me that they did not have the same hang-ups about the Church that older generations have. There are not many younger people around, but there is a good future for the Church in their hands. I encouraged him to keep thinking outside the box with initiatives like this young community. He would be open if there were applications from outside the diocese for it. Watch this space next week.
October 13 – Wednesday
THE GLASGOW THIRTYSOMETHINGS
The Glasgow Thirtysomethings are not a Project 2030 group. They started up at the same time as us, and some of them have come to joint events in Malpas or even Rome and Germany. They are at a bit of a crossroads at the moment, and have asked me for ideas and the possibility of meeting up with some of them. This was the email I sent today:
“I'm next in Glasgow for the weekend of 29-31 October when about
40 from the other groups are coming for a ceilidh etc. See details below.
I could meet with some of the Glasgow 30s either formally or informally on
Friday or Saturday if you wanted. I hope people from the Glasgow 30s will
be able to come along to some of the things over the weekend like they did last
year. The other groups enjoy meeting up with the locals when we have these
Let's know how your own meetings go. As you said, groups
often come to a natural end but there was so much enthusiasm in your group at
the beginning at the pub talks. There is still a lot of mileage there, and
new people are always coming into their 30s who are looking for something like
You mentioned the problem that only a few folk have taken any real
ownership or responsibility for the group. That has surprised me also with
the Project 2030 groups, but in some ways that has turned out to be a strength.
Where groups wanted to set up a committee or where there were enthusiastic
individuals willing to do most of the work, then too many other people sat back.
There was the danger that the committee took on too much importance and there
developed a kind of 'them and us' mentality. Also, where there is a strong
individual the group can go too much in their direction and take on their image
The London 30s have come up with a format recently which could
prove to be a good solution. Besides the annual review meeting (a kind of
AGM) they have a 'Think Tank' every 2 or 3 months. Everyone is invited to
these meetings. You get the ones who are keenest turning up and there they
often take on roles within the group or organise specific events.
In Project 2030 the groups in the different areas have different
identities. The Glasgow 20s, like yourselves, have more enthusiasm
for talks and input than the other groups, but people still enjoy the social
side. In England the emphasis is more on the social side, with a good
sprinkling of spiritual events, whereas in Dublin the emphasis is almost
entirely social (they have some quite strong religious groups in Ireland for 20s
and 30s and our people are afraid of that intensity). I hope to start soon
in Belfast and that will be an entirely different kettle of fish.
The Glasgow 20s have only just recently started travelling to visit
the other groups in England and Ireland. That has added a new dimension to
them, and it's something that the Glasgow 20s have missed, even though we've had
one or two going to things in Malpas or to Germany and Rome.
Another dimension which the other 30s groups have had has been the joint events with the 20s. That has been better for the 30s groups as some of the 20s have felt smothered by it and they don't all necessarily want to hang out with people older than them, so we're going to cut back on the joint 20s and 30s events.
A difficult factor for the 30s groups is the ageing process.
The 20s can move into the 30s, but where do the 30s go? Eventually we'll
need to start the Fortysomethings. That will be hard on those in their 40s
who would like to stay with the 30s, but if the age average is too old many
younger 30s will not stay in the group. The 40s can then arrange events to
which they invite the 30s and keep up the connection.
I hope this has been helpful. Let me
know how things develop. Sending this to some of the other Glasgow 30s
whose email addresses I have.
October 14 – Thursday
FAMILY – GOLF – DIFFERENT KINDS OF RINGS
Spending Tuesday to Friday in Scotland. In June I have to come back a few days early from my holidays
to a meeting so had been looking since then for a few days to stay with the
family, even though there was a meeting with the Glasgow 20s last night, and I
was also hoping to meet the Thirtysomethings.
Yesterday I had a game of golf with my brother, the first time I
have swung a club in anger since March. A
friend of his was playing with us who is just getting back into the game, so he
was trying to instruct him in all the etiquette so he wouldn’t embarrass
himself when he began playing competitions. I was being reminded of a few things myself, and feeling that
I had to be on my best behaviour when my brother’s mobile started ringing on
the 4th hole. Very bad
form. I laughed because he had been
caught out. He laughed back when
the call turned out to be for me.
It was Michael Walshe my Provincial Superior ringing from Malpas.
My name had appeared on the short list of 8 from which 4 will eventually
be chosen to be on our Provincial Council advising the Provincial.
Was I okay with this? No
problem. I was amused at the irony
of the situation. You have your
first game of golf for seven months and your boss rings you up in the middle of
it. I even forgot to ask him who
had been appointed as Provincial. I’ve
since found that he has been appointed for a third term of 3 years.
My brother and I disagreed over who had been hoisted by their own
petard as a result of the phone call. Our
level of golf is just about the same, so our rivalry on the course can get quite
intense. The German word
‘schadenfreude’ might have been invented for this situation.
At least the emphasis on etiquette today allowed me to innocently enquire
whether it was permitted to keep clunking along with your clubs when someone is
about to hit their shot, or crunch your crisp packet on their backswing.
I’m very lucky in my family and it is quite a tonic to spend some
time being refreshed at your roots. Besides
two nights at my brother’s I also spent a night at my sister’s.
Her two daughters and son came for their tea, as well as the
grandchildren. It was the first
time I’d seen my niece since I had to tell her that I couldn’t do her
wedding next August as I had to be in Germany for the World Youth Day.
I had told her this when she’d rung me coming back from the Edinburgh
Festival with our Italian visitors in the summer.
Their rendition of ‘Congratulations’ had made her go bright red, even
though she was on her own when she phoned.
When my sister rang her a few weeks ago to tell her that the Parish
Priest was moving she said: “Fr X won’t be doing your wedding now”.
She eagerly replied: “Does that mean Uncle Hugh can do it?”
Alas, no. After the
Engagement I sent them a small voucher from Beaverbrooks the Jewellers.
I was very touched when they said that they’d decided to put that
towards their wedding rings so that I would still be part of the ceremony, and
that they wanted me to bless their rings the next time I was at home after the
PS: I won the golf.
15 – Friday
GROWING UP IN A CATHOLIC FAMILY – RE-COMMITMENT – FANATICS
Louise gave a talk this week to the Glasgow 20s on “Challenges
growing up in a Catholic family”. I
didn’t ask her if she wanted to write it out for distribution by email.
It would create echoes in a lot of people. It was more about being a
Catholic in general than about her own family, but if wouldn’t be fair to go
into too much detail. Others
responded with their own stories so I don’t need to say who said what.
We heard good examples of how God can break into your life when you
are at your lowest, especially when we ask God to help us in a difficult
situation or something comes along out of the blue. We heard how sometimes you have to make a decision not to
feel guilty. At this stage the
discussion was similar to the London 20s Questions and Answers. I was trying not to say anything, but felt I had to stress
that very often it is not when we do wrong that is the problem, but the fact
that we cannot accept forgiveness and make a fresh start. “As far as the East if from the West, so far does God
remove our sins”, the Bible tells us. For
God sin as an issue was over when Jesus died on the cross. I’ve been thinking since that we should make a new
commandment. “Then shalt accept
that God loves you, that you are lovable, lovely and loved”, though some
people would see that as another rule that they couldn’t keep and just make
themselves feel more guilty.
Another question that came up similar to last week was the link
between confirmation and commitment. When
I passed on the London suggestion of some kind of re-commitment in your 20s it
surprised me to see some vigorous nods of agreement.
We could have opened a can of angels here.
It is so mind-blowing that I don’t really want to think about it at the
moment. It’s something that would need the backing of a higher
authority. Not everyone in the
group would want to go down that road and it could create a ‘them and us’
situation. But it would certainly
be consistent with one of the original principles behind project 2030 that
no-one should be pressed into anything and no-one should be held back.
Another surprise was when people said that they got more sympathy
and respect from non-Catholics when they said they were going to Mass than they
got from other Catholics who were no longer practicing.
There was a discussion about ethnic and tribal Catholics.
This has a particular flavour to it in the West of Scotland where in
places more than half the population would call themselves Catholic, but
sometimes it is not much more than saying that they are not Protestants or
Rangers supporters. When the priest
met Jimmy outside Celtic Park one Saturday he said to him: “I’ve not seen
you at Mass for a long while, Jimmy”. He
replied: “I’m still proud to be Catholic, Father.
I go and see Celtic every week, but I’m not a fanatic”.
PS: Have been thinking for a while about adding a quote at the end of some days/each day, whether they are relevant or not. The Evening Prayer of the Church had this short reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verse 12 (8:12). “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death”.
October 16 – Saturday
20S IN SHEFFIELD? - NOT A MEMBER OF THE IRA
Hannah and David came from Sheffield today to talk about the
possibility of starting up a 20s group in the area. Hannah had tried something in her parish but it hasn’t
worked. Her family come from
Lancashire. They’d seen the
notice about Project 2030 in their church and passed on details.
She got in touch a while ago to see if we could help.
Sheffield is quite a big place, but you need quite a population to
start off a group, when you think of the size of London, etc.
We looked at a map and decided to go as far south as Derby and
Nottingham, but not as far north as Leeds.
At the end of January we hope to have initial meetings in the three main
cities and take it from there. Instead
of inviting people to come and join a group, as we’ve done in other places,
the invitation will likely be to people who want to set up a group, i.e. put
more onus on them from the beginning for the organisation of the group within
the ethos of Project 2030. We first
need to get the go-ahead from the Diocese of Hallam and of Nottingham.
I know both Bishops from a previous life, but the Church is not an
old-boys network. It depends what
the diocesan policy is. Bishops are
usually supportive, though we’ve only heard back from one of the three
Dioceses we wrote to in Northern Ireland.
As it’s a while since any new groups have started, it was an
interesting exercise for me to speak about the ideas behind the group and how
things have developed. David and
Hannah might have got more than they bargained for.
You can get too much information. But
I told them not to feel too much responsibility for the groups at this stage.
Enough good people will come forward to help organise things.
The group does not belong to any individuals or group.
One of them might end up moving jobs to somewhere like Bristol before we
get started. That’s the way it
It turned out that I had been working in Hannah’s parish in
Lancashire as a student for the priesthood.
I might have known her parents. It
reminded me of the night the police stopped us doing a survey round houses in
that parish. It was at the height
of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and there was an IRA trial going on in
Preston, just up the road. And here
we were, myself and another student from Ulster, going round knocking doors in
the village asking: “Are there any Catholics here?” I didn’t see anyone dive under the bed, but phones started
ringing at the police station and the presbytery as people called to complain
and express their fears. I was
picked up by the parish priest. The
other man had the pleasure of being stopped by the police.
Over the years my accent has often been taken for Northern Irish.
I remember once walking near a defence establishment in Cheshire and
naughtily thinking that if I got stopped I would reply in my best Ulster accent:
“I’m just out for a wee walk”, and see what happened.
October 17 – Sunday
RETREATS - GOD IS LOVE
Some groups are still a bit self-conscious about the religious side
of things, a bit like the Farmers Club that doesn’t want to get into anything
too agricultural or the Fitness Club that frowns on anyone who wants to do
anything too strenuous. In the
North-West some went yesterday to see Jesus Christ Superstar, today there is a
day of recollection for the groups linked to the monthly Taize Prayer at Loyola
Hall near Liverpool, and tomorrow is the monthly prayer group in Manchester.
It’s just not an issue in the North-West.
Whatever people want to try, we try.
If it works, it works. No-one
has even suggested that the group might be too Catholic.
When preparing a retreat day the temptation is to fill it with too
much, too many different talks or prayer services. In the end what people say they appreciate most is the chance
to have some quality time on their own with God or with their own thoughts.
Loyola Hall has lovely grounds, and today they are at their autumn best.
The leaves are well on the turn, too good an opportunity not to look at
the theme of dying and rising to new life.
When trees are cut down it is fascinating to look at the growth rings and
pick out years of drought or frost or flood.
As we look over the past year what has been our growth? What kind of fruit have we produced? Were our flowers as good as previous years?
Do we believe there is a spring around the corner?
Life is full of little deaths.
We can’t remember what it must have been like to leave the comfort of
the womb. Maybe we can recall the
first time we had to leave our teddy bear behind.
At some stage we need to learn to let go so that we can go forward and
grow. In fact it’s when we refuse
to let go that we begin to ‘die’. What
have we let go of in the past year? What
choices are we facing at the moment? Jesus said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground
and dies it remains only a single grain, but if it dies it yields a rich
harvest. Anyone who loves their
life loses it” (John 12: 24-25).
As a child and as an adult it is easier to let go if we know that
we are loved. Today I mentioned my
surprise at one of the Q & A last week in London when people asked: “But
how can you be loved by God, how can you know that and feel that?”
The invention of email makes it easier for me think how God is interested
in everyone. We can receive
messages from anywhere in the world. If
we living on the third rock from the sun can do this to one another, how much
can God get in touch with us. All
we need to do is to learn how to get on line.
The connection is not somewhere out there.
It is within us. Happiness
is an inside job. God has
broadband. He is continually on line.
But neither is he a soulless computer.
He planned us in his creation. He
built us and knows all the potential viruses, but above all he has made us in
his own image and likeness. And he
doesn’t just love us for who we are, which he does, but also because he sees
himself in us. God is love.
There is not much else you can say.
October 18 – Monday
Most months there is a 2030 prayer group at the University
Chaplaincy in Manchester. I was
asked to lead it tonight. There was
nobody who was at the retreat yesterday so I thought I could use some of the
same material based on Sunday’s Mass readings, but it turned out different.
I find it much easier to pray and feel God’s presence in a group so I
was inspired to other ideas as we went along.
You could use some of these ideas for your own prayer.
Go on, don’t be shy, nobody else is looking and God is waiting all the
time ‘on line’ hoping you’ll get in touch.
Imagine God wondering why the love of his life (that’s you) does not
want link up.
We began by singing ‘Be still and know that I am God’.
Let’s be quiet and aware of God’s presence within us.
God has promised to come and make his home with us.
Behold I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone opens I will come in and eat with them and they with me.
As we breathe in be aware of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are temples of the Holy Spirit. St
Paul says that the Spirit within us is always in touch with God’s spirit.
Sometimes we cannot put our prayers into words, but the Spirit translates
our deepest needs into a way that God understands.
As we breathe out let that be a release of our prayer.
Don’t hold on to our prayer, let it go as we breathe out and let the
Spirit fill us in a new way every time we breathe in.
John the Baptist told us that Jesus baptises with the Spirit and
with fire. The candles on the table
were a reminder of God’s presence in the flame. As we look to the centre we have a sense of God’s presence
in the group. Jesus said: “Where
there are two or three gathered in my name I will be there in their midst”.
Jesus came to bring fire on the earth and, fanned by the wind of the
Spirit, we are called to spread the flame of Pentecost throughout the world.
Moses encountered God in the burning bush.
Sunday’s first reading described how Moses’ prayer was heard when he
kept his hands raised. We spend
some time with our arms open. After
a while it gets tiring and difficult. (Do
it now). As it gets more difficult
we become aware of pleading. Make
that kind of desperation coincide with our deepest prayer, our greatest need.
We can use our body in prayer without words and it can bring a deep
sense of peace and joy. Candles can
help us and incense. Lift up your
eyes to God. That simple action
makes us more aware of God’s presence. Kneel
down (we didn’t do this, but you can), and we become more in touch with our
prayer centre. Join your hands
together and feel more centered and aware of the unity of your body and soul.
This shows us how we can ‘dial up’ and get in touch with God-mail.
God is on something better than broadband.
If we in our weakness and humanity can come up with a system that can
keep us in contact with anyone and everyone in the world, how much more can God
be in touch and in love with us all. God
is no more than a click away.
October 19 – Tuesday
WORLD YOUTH DAYS COLOGNE 10-22 AUGUST 2005
This is the email that was sent out today for the World Youth Days
next August in Germany. Toronto
2003 accepted people up to 35. This
time you have to be 30 or under.
World Youth Days, Cologne, Germany: 10 - 22 August 2005
Please send the following details with your deposit:
It's not meant to be a holiday, but it will be great fun.
Toronto was an amazing experience as we took over the city. The highlight
for many was staying with the families. We'll have time to get to know
them. Normally we'll be in twos with them. The Germans all speak
English. In Bonn we'll be staying with the groups linked to Dehonian
communities throughout the world.
October 20 – Wednesday
OFF FOR A STUDY WEEK
For the next week I’ve got a study break at St Deiniol’s
Library, Hawarden, North Wales. Each
year the Priests of the Sacred Heart can take two weeks for their annual
retreat, do a course and /or some time for reading.
I won’t be writing the diary each day.
October 21 – Thursday
MORE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE LONDON 30S
On Saturday 9 October the London 30s grilled me with some questions about our faith, the Church, life, etc. Here are some more of the answers.
Question) Why don’t
people go to Confession nowadays?
the early Church people rarely went to Confession.
Regular Confession came in only in the 19th Century when
people started going more regularly to Communion. Previously many only went to Confession and Communion once a
year. We are only obliged to go to
Confession if we have committed a grave sin.
But it can be very helpful for us to go regularly.
People often get stuck in sin and feeling guilty.
Our biggest problem often is not the sin but the fact that we cannot
accept forgiveness or forgive ourselves and make a fresh start.
This was one of the things that inspired Leo Dehon, the Founder of the
Sacred Heart Fathers. He wanted to
let people who were trapped by their personal sins, or because of the weight of
society’s sins (e.g. the poor) that they were loved and could be forgiven.
Someone said that if they had known this 15 years ago it would have made
a big difference to their lives.
Question) Why should
Holy Days be obligatory?
still call them Holy Days of Obligation. They
are obligatory, but it is not something the Church pushes very hard.
Some have been moved to the Sunday.
It doesn’t do any harm to make some things in a group obligatory.
The danger is that the Church can become too soft and people lost their
sense of identity. We need to get
together to worship God of these days and Sundays as well.
October 22 – Friday
MORE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE LONDON 30S
Question) Why does the
Church focus on marriage and family life at the exclusion of other vocations?
question was prompted by the recent pastoral letters on ‘Listening’ to the
family. I commented on this a few
months ago and the way single people can feel marginalized in the Church.
But in Westminster last year the ‘Listening’ process involved younger
people and Project 2030 was invited to take part.
Previously the Church emphasized more the vocation to priesthood and
religious life. Marriage is very
important and under threat today. I
said I would say something about the needs of single people the next time I
write to the 14 Bishops whose diocese we mail regularly.
Question) Why do
Christians say that their faith is the chosen one and discard the others?
Is it about power and not about love?
the Moslems and the Jews, we believe we have the true revelation from God.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
No other faith makes this kind of claim.
We respect other faiths, but we are true to the message of Jesus.
Power is a necessary ingredient of any situation.
It is important that it does not get out of hand.
It is love that counts above all. Faiths
can be true to themselves and still love.
23 – Saturday
WISH YOU ENOUGH
this from a member of the group:
I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.
They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they
hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough."
kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I
was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I
tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking,
"Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be
community will be under the wing of the Bishop and so at the very heart of
the life and ministry of the local church, working for and promoting Social
personal formation in prayer and in living this kind of life should have, at
a later stage, a profound influence on their marriages, family life, work
experience of the brokenness in our society should forever influence their
attitude to the marginalized.|
among the poor, coupled with a study of the social teaching of the Church,
should enrich their contribution to the life of parishes, diocese and,
If you are a young person, and you feel attracted to the aims and
spirit of the project, then write immediately to me at: The Bishop’s
Apartment, Cathedral House, Balmoral Rd, Lancaster, LA1 3BT
+Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster (Article for ‘The
STUDY WEEK – GERMAN –MICHAEL OWEN – FIVE A SIDE
The head can only take so much.
Do the West Highland Way and you find your legs getting stronger as you
go along, but try and read/study every day when you are not used to it and the
brain cells start to complain. At
least that was my experience last week at St Deiniol’s Library, Hawarden,
North Wales. When I was at school I
always enjoyed exam time as you could study so much more and stretch the mind.
If I can keep this up next term I’ll be a genius, but we never can.
The mistake might have been trying to do German at the same time.
Last year was the least language study I’ve done for years.
I did a month of Polish in the autumn because of the camp we never went
to. The head struggled again.
I put that down to the big difference (for us) between the way Polish is
written and pronounced, but maybe it is just that language is something that
cannot be learned by studying. The
children show us that. Next year it
is the World Youth Day in Cologne. Ploughing
through German Theological Encyclopedias when I only understand a quarter of it
was possibly not a good idea.
The most interesting aspect of St Deiniol’s is the people you
meet. There are good residential
rates for clergy and those who are writing theology.
There were Methodists, Congregationalists, Anglicans, Church of Scotland
– people writing books, novels, finishing degrees on subjects like St Francis,
John Wesley, Extreme Unction. It’s
enlightening being able to talk to people who are the same yet different.
I’ve always had a weakness for ecumenism, but don’t get much chance
to indulge it. This time there were
no other Catholics. In the past a few visitors have been caught out presuming
that there were no Catholics around, but in general people are very friendly.
Their reaction to the idea of Project 2030 is always positive.
Hawarden’s other claim to fame is as the place where Michael Owen grew up and still has a house. In fact he bought half the street for the family. An American pastor played golf with some of the locals. He thought he was on safe ground talking about their famous son, but had to change the subject quickly when he discovered that they would rather he played football for Wales.
During the week I got in some good long walks, including climbing
Moel Famau which is a favourite in the North West. This stood me in good stead when I had the chance this
evening to play five-a-side with Duncan and some people from his work.
Fortunately for me there was a double booking and we only played for half
an hour, and most of that I was in goal. Still,
the pace was fairly gentle and I won’t be so afraid the next time.
Heading by train north of the border for the Glasgow weekend. Catching up on emails on the train. These are some of the topics that are being raised.
Chris and Bernadette have prepared an email thanking people who have already
sent in contributions but saying that they could still do with more reports,
photographs, quotations, etc.|
It looks as though the best date to launch a 20s sub-group there is 4 Dec,
but I can’t make it.|
The report looks ready to go out.|
The quality of the jokes being sent around has got better.
There’s a good one about the Pope.
It’s stretched out not quite to shaggy dog proportions, but
basically the Pope asks his chauffeur if he can drive for a change.
When a policeman stops him for speeding he rings back to HQ for
advice on whether he should give this VIP a ticket.
How important can he be, his chief asks?
The Mayor? The Governor? No, God. What
makes you think it is God? He’s
got the Pope as a driver.|
thank the BBC for dropping Popetown, the comedy that skits the Pope, because
they are going to bring it out as a DVD and it will likely make more money
because it was banned.|
Diana from Jerusalem puts the case for why we should visit there soon.
Despite efforts to have less main events next year it looks as though
there could be more, and the situation in the Holy Land looks even more
uncertain with the illness of Yasser Arafat.
I suggest she consider setting up a group like Project 2030 in
Israel. This would give us an
added incentive to visit when things quieten down.|
There is a definite proposal about going there next year, but I’m still
nervous about encouraging an official pilgrimage there.
The Church will not encourage this until the visions have stopped and
there has been a full investigation. And
I could get a free place as well. This was something I discussed with the Bishop of
Another idea still on the table as a follow up to the gathering in August.
The Italians would prefer if we joined in with their walk from Loreto
to Assisi in August. This is to
commemorate the beatification of Leo Dehon.
The idea of founding a new community first came to him in Loreto in
1877. We still have not
received a definite date for the beatification.
It could be 10 April. London
have moved their Mediaeval Banquet from 10 to 23 April.|
Matt has offered to help get this together. Still not sure how it works. Got a web address to check up last week.
Will also do a balance sheet of how much it costs to keep the groups
and me on the road. Gift aid
allows us to claim back tax on donations.
We’ll get an envelope done to send out as well as a form that can
be emailed. I was going to send
it out with the magazine, but Matt suggests people might pay it more
attention if it comes with the newsletter.
We can do both. People
continue to ask how they can help contribute to the expense of running and
advertising the groups. At
present all our funding comes directly from the Dehonians.|
20S TO 30S: someone writes about the decision to move on up to the 30s.
I thank them for their contribution to the 20s|
|NORTH WEST NEWSLETTERS: In the North West Nick is also moving up to the 30s and will begin immediately doing the newsletter. He is handing over the 20s newsletter to Gavin. Our thanks to Elizabeth who has done the 30s newsletter for the past couple of years.|
GLASGOW WEEKEND – THE CEILIDH – THE COBBLER
Friday evening the first contingents for the Glasgow weekend began turning up at
Wetherspoons, Bothwell St, Glasgow. I
give the street because although we gave the street, various groups went to or
were brought to other Wetherspoons around the city.
In all we are expecting 9 from Dublin, 18 from the North-West of England,
and 20 from London. Glasgow in October is the highest attended event from groups
outside the area. It was difficult
getting a table at first but we soon carved out quite a large area.
centre-piece of the weekend is the ceilidh this evening.
A ceilidh (pronounced KAY-LEE) is a wild Scottish dance.
Ireland has its own version, England has its barn dance, but the
Caledonian version is something else. No,
they don’t dance around swords. That’s
Scottish country dancing. Yes, some
of the men will be wearing kilts. No,
I won’t be. Never on a Saturday.
If any of the ladies don’t realise by now that I don’t dance I ask
them the time. 9.20?
Ah, just too late. I never
dance after 9.15. If this doesn’t
work then I tell them that I was rejected from the Primary School Scottish
Dancing Team for being too heavy and I’ve never fully recovered.
are other highlights offered to the visitors during the day.
7 of us opted to climb Ben Arthur, better known as the Cobbler because
its jagged peaks could be taken for someone mending a shoe.
5 of us had done the West Highland Way in August so there were oohs and
aahs as we drove along Loch Lomond and saw where we had walked.
The Cobbler is 851 metres, not quite a Munroe (hills over 3000 feet), but
there are few summits that give such an attractive view as you wend your way to
the top. Just as well, for the mist
came down as we neared the top and we saw no panoramas. 5 hours up and down, and then a dash back to Glasgow for the
had met at 10.30 am to go and visit Stirling, famous for its Castle and the
nearby site of Bannockburn (don’t ask). Some
met at the Central Station at 12.00 to do the bus tour of the city or go
shopping. A few went to the
Motherwell v Celtic game (2-3).
had a table booked at La Piazzetta for 6.30pm for 55. A good guesstimate. 56
ate and a few turned up late to watch. Others
went directly to the ceilidh, especially people from the Glasgow groups.
The hall was busier than usual. The
band realised there were quite a few beginners and gave good instructions for
the various dances. Arms were soon
in full swing. Someone, not from
our group, got hit in the face by a flailing hand.
Blood on the dance floor. Our
visitors were highly amused to see how quickly staff came rushing out and mopped
up as if it were an everyday occurrence.
FOR MASS – GIGGLING AT THE OUR FATHER – EDINBURGH
simple, obvious obligation for a priest is not to be late for Mass.
We had a Mass for the group at 10.00 am at the Convent of Mercy in the
centre of Glasgow. I was staying at
our community in Kilwinning about 25 miles out of the city.
Only this morning did I realise that the first train to the city was at
10.10 and the first bus didn’t arrive there till 10.20.
The bus was quicker than expected. We
were only half an hour late starting Mass.
Fortunately it was just for ourselves.
There were about 70 of us.
the second reading St Paul tells the people not to get too excited about the
prospect of eternal life. The
Gospel was about Zacchaeus (Matthew), the cheating tax collector who climbed the
sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus and ended up giving away most of his
money and following Jesus. How keen
are we to see Jesus? Do we go out
of our way to meet him? Some people
read the Gospels and feel they have to make the same decision as the disciples,
but God deals with each of us individually.
The rich young man went to Jesus and asked what he had to do to inherit
eternal life. When he said he kept
the commandments Jesus looked on him with love and told him there was one thing
he lacked. Go and sell all you have
and come follow me. He couldn’t
do it because of his riches and went away sad.
Jesus is not asking us to do the same, but each of us has to ask him the
question: “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life?”
don’t imagine most of us would get too excited, like St Paul’s audience,
about the prospect of meeting our Maker just yet, but if there isn’t a part of
us as Christians that sometimes looks forward to heaven then there is something
missing. I reminded people that the
2030 in the group’s title was not just an age thing but was also meant to pose
the question where would we like to be in 2030 AD. More to the point with the theme of the Mass was where would
we like to be in 2030 AD. If you
can’t do maths ask a friend.
the introduction to the Our Father I was trying to get people to concentrate on
the initial phrase “Our Father who art in heaven”, but as soon as I said it
people continued with the prayer “hallowed be thy name”.
No, this is still my introduction. Despite
the laughs, at the second attempt to highlight the introductory phrase some
belted on with the prayer again. By
this time the giggles had got me and I had to ask for someone else to start the
After Mass came the obligatory photograph. Looks a good one for the front of the magazine again. Where to next? Some are heading for trains and planes, but Stirling proved so popular yesterday that a few are going back for a second time. A group of us go to Edinburgh. The Castle costs a bomb, but most parts are accessible for free if you ask at the ticket office to visit the National War Museum. We also walk the Royal Mile. The recently opened Parliament Building is closed. Was it worth £430 million? Eddie Reader of Fairground Attraction, who was a member of our parish in Irvine, sang at the opening. (She once did a tape of hymns for us). Did people know her? I forgot I was talking to 80s teeny boppers. Her “It’s got to be perfect” was one of the songs we sang in the car on the way back to Glasgow, arriving in time to meet up with the others who were gathering at the Irish pub in St Vincent’s Street.
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