Dear Editor, As a stranger visiting Cork earlier last week, I was dazzled by the spectacular glow of sparkling Christmas lights, both on the skyline and in the city centre itself.
On a bitterly cold crisp Tuesday night, members of a camera club were out in force, all muffled up behind tripods, learning the tricky skills of night time photography.
A few hundred metres away, on either side of St Patrick’s Street, volunteers were also out in force, all muffled up and braving the bitter cold, this time behind ‘soup kitchen’ tables, focused on feeding the bodies and souls of hordes of homeless people.
The following night small teams of young people were making their way through narrow streets in Cork, laden down with thermal flasks and foil-wrapped food, reaching out to the homeless.
On Thursday morning, a group of primary school children were carol singing and collecting money for FOCUS.
Close by, post-primary students were collecting for the ISPCC. The Irish Cancer Society were out too, hoping for a share in the generosity of shoppers. Is this generosity of spirit unique to Ireland? I certainly have never before witnessed this level of charity work on streets, anywhere else in the world. Or is this, rather, a stark unedited picture of the ineptitude of our elected ‘representatives’ and the social justice issues which they seem to be totally incapable of solving?
This, all in the very city where Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy resigned on Tuesday night from his €96,189 salary (plus €51,600 expenses) for ‘work’ as a back bench TD.
He is to receive an actuarially calculated settlement of €500k, of taxpayers money, while he moves on to a €150k salary per annum in The European Commission.
If only our elected ‘representatives’, like Mr Murphy, on fat salaries plus expenses would dare to look through the ‘Christianity’ lens, and focus on what truly matters in this country.
Your columnist missed my main point
Dear Editor, I refer to a statement by Mary Kenny in her article ‘A new, non-clerical Church can’t be just a happy, hippy democracy’ (IC 14/12/19) in which she misquoted what I said in my letter which was published in The Irish Catholic on November 7. She stated: “Following the controversy about yoga, after Bishop Cullinan said it was “not of Christian origin” (since it is essentially Buddhist), Eileen Gaughan, from Sligo notes in our letters page that yoga and Christian Meditation can work together.”
I did not say that yoga and Christian meditation can work together. On the contrary, the main point of my letter was that “yoga exercises and a quiet still type of meditation often go together”.
Of this meditation I said it “repeatedly focuses on the breath, as in mindfulness, emanating from Buddhism, or on the sound of a sacred word as in Hinduism, to aid the closing down of mental activity”.
I quoted St Teresa of Avila, who taught that Christians should not take it upon themselves to engage in ways that close down mental activity in prayer, saying: “How is a person forgetful of self if he is so careful not to stir or even to allow his intellect or desires to to be stirred to a longing for the greater glory of God” (Interior Castle, IV 3:6).
Aontú worthy of our support
Dear Editor, I was interested to read your analysis of the recent Dáil by-elections (IC 05/12/19). As you rightly said the success of the Peadar Tóibín and his new political party Aontú is largely being ignored by the media.
Aontú are the voice of those who want values and principles and accountability from our Government, sadly lacking these days.
We need to support Peadar Tóibín and his party in every way possible before it’s too late. We may not always have a political party which represents the starved voice of one third of the population.
Let’s get behind Peadar Tóibín and Aontú!
Couldn’t families and schools work together on preparation?
Dear Editor, I’m in two minds about whether to remove sacramental preparation from schools as I really think both sides of the argument are very strong. On the one hand, spiritual formation in schools isn’t working effectively.
Parents often show no interest in the religious aspects of the event and simply use the school to tick a box. After their Confirmation, most children won’t return to Mass. On the other hand, it’s the sheer lack of interest from unwilling parents that should be the motivator for schools to prepare children. If the parents aren’t going to do it, then who will?
I think the demographic who are going to suffer the most from this potential change are the hundreds of children who will never be exposed to the grace of the sacraments. Perhaps a solution where both institutions – the family and the school – play a role in formation is the way forward.
The wonder of the nativity
Dear Editor, I’m always taken aback when I read the nativity story at this time of year. How incredible is it to think that the creator of the world became human and cried out for his mother. It’s a strange paradox acting as a reminder that the God we believe in is not far away but intimately knows, understands and loves us.
Limerick City, Co. Limerick.