Dear Editor, I am writing to respond to Jason Osborne’s article, Church leadership has to change to be seen [IC 14/01/2021]. He did provide helpful suggestions from people who have studied this crisis of faith we are facing e.g., Prof. Tom Inglis and Fr Eugene Duffy. Fr Duffy was right to emphasise the importance of a new evangelisation and faith formation programmes. However, I believe that no renewal is possible without a new Pentecost described by the late Cardinal Suenens in his classic A New Pentecost?, published in 1977. On page 1, the cardinal said that in spite of all the problems the European churches were facing: “I am a man of hope because I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.” Like him, I see the present crisis of faith in Ireland, not as a problem, but as a great opportunity for renewal in our church.
Faith results from an encounter with Christ and the person who facilitates this encounter is the Holy Spirit. Anyone who experiences the love of Christ, perhaps from prayerfully reading the Gospels, will then make a decision whether or not to believe in Jesus and become his disciple. The late Fr Michael Paul Gallagher SJ, in his seminal work Help My Unbelief, wrote that the greatest weakness of traditional Irish Catholicism was that most Catholics had never made a free decision to believe in Jesus and enjoy a personal relationship with him. Today Fr Gallagher’s wisdom is better appreciated and many are following his lead. In Dublin, we see Fr Pat Collins CM, designing online programmes for a new evangelisation, and writing very helpful books like Basic Evangelisation and Encountering Jesus which describe a way forward from the decline we are experiencing. Also, Fr Michael Hurley PP, who completed a doctorate at All Hallows on Cell Evangelisation in 2010, and last year published Inspiring Faith Communities, essential reading for anyone interested in the renewal of the Catholic Faith in Ireland today.
RTÉ should show picture of Annunciation during Angelus
Dear Editor, The news that RTÉ is to retain the broadcast of the Angelus on radio and television is to be welcomed by all Catholic people and those of other faiths. In his interview with Chai Brady [IC 22/01/21] Roger Childs, head of religious content in RTÉ, mentioned that the Angelus is “not specifically Catholic but the angelus prayer is, which RTÉ has never broadcast”.
The Angelus has its origins in the early Church when it was customary to say three Hail Marys at dawn, noon and in the evening. It was formulated over time into the Angelus as we know it today. It is a prayer of reflection on the incarnation and to secularise it does not do justice to it.
In light of the polls held on the subject I suggest that RTÉ return to showing a picture of the Annunciation to accompany the ringing of the Angelus bells.
East Wall, Dublin
Questioning public Mass risks and restrictions
Dear Editor,There are often benign reasons why individuals fail to observe the mask and social distancing rules such as simple forgetfulness. Timely reminders fix the problem. Contrary to the Epictetus assertion, people often have to relearn what they already know.
One has to be wary of claims by non-scientists put in the form of “the scientific data shows”. Whereas in fact its application may be accurate in one instance, the data can be used to uphold a particular bogus point of view relating to a different issue. This is particularly so in the context of attendance at the sacrifice of the Mass during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Priests and laity have created distancing structures within churches which facilitate observance of the prescribed social interaction at the sacrifice of the Mass. People do need to be reminded about the structures and do adhere to them. The numbers attending were small when attendance was permitted. Exit procedures were in place. Most would have observed social distancing or dispersed on exit as they had been reminded to do so. In such circumstances and if the NPHET directive is accurate then the scientific data would hardly show a cause and effect link between Sunday attendance and the spread of the virus.
There should be no onus on laity or priests to attend the public celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass during the pandemic. But those who wish to attend and who observe the rules should be facilitated. Reminders from the altar regarding essential behaviour should be the norm, as indeed should constant reminders in normal times to observe silence in the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.
Cappamore, Co. Limerick
What will people of the future say of us?
Dear Editor, We are, I’m sad to say, such a self-righteous society looking back at a time in Ireland when the people were much poorer than we are now. In the 76 years in which the commission investigated the mother and baby homes, according to official figures 9,000 babies died. We point our finger at the nuns, Garda, Government officials and parents of that time and yet we have just done away with 6,600 babies in a year, legally, for reasons that are hard to understand at a time when we live in a very rich society. What will people of the future say of us?
North Wall, Dublin
Passing the baton of cruelty to politicians
Dear Editor, The baton of cruelty and injustice now must pass from the mothers and baby homes to our modern politicians and commentators who supported the deliberate killing of unborn children and condone the practice of disposing of their bodies, without any due recognition or proper burial. The hypocrisy of these people is stunning whenever I hear or read their pious utterances.
Castleknock, Co. Dublin
Answers to prayer
Dear Editor, “He who seeks the Lord lacks no blessing”, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want , “He who asks, always receives”. These words from the Bible may prompt some readers to pray. I look forward to their telling us about the answers to their prayer.
Fr Noel Mc Keown OP
Newry, Co. Down