Starting with a blank screen and an open mind

Starting with a blank screen and an open mind

Dear Notebookers!

I am not exactly sure who you are. Well, that is not altogether accurate, since I spoke with a priest friend in Raphoe last week with whom I had not been in contact for a while. “The only place I see you”, he told me “is on the back page of The Irish Catholic!”  It was a connection.  We chatted about other days and it was good to catch up.  We chatted about these days too – these days of uncertainty that must be mixed with hope or we are going nowhere.

Back to you though! I just want to say thanks for reading these words and the other words that I have put on a blank page, roughly once a month now for the past few years. I remain thankful to the editor and the team at The Irish Catholic for putting the trust in me and the others who share this space each week. I enjoy doing this. There is something that is, at once, both frightening and wonderful in an empty screen and fingers searching for letters on a keyboard. That is usually where I start – a blank page, an empty screen, and an open mind.


It is not a bad place to start, whatever about the blank page, there is opportunity in the open mind. I believe we need to be open-minded. There is so much we can do from there. We can reach out to people, welcome them, and allow people to be people. With an open mind, we can allow for change and hope for the very best in us.

I try to express myself and my own few thoughts in the language that I best understand. Given the chance, I would love to be more at home with Irish since it has so much wonder in its expressions. A priest in Derry diocese told me that he once went to anoint an old woman who was dying. Her sister went ahead of the priest and announced that he had come to see her and was going to anoint her with Ola an bhisigh – which literally translated as ‘the oil of improvement’.  The priest who shared this with me, a fluent speaker and deeply rooted in his love of the language, took the time to share this story with me though sadly the language is not one I speak freely or easily understand. The openness to take time to explain and to share are at the heart of our Faith and the belief that there is a message to be remembered.


Recently Pope Francis spoke around the issue of divides in the Church – traditionalist at odds with modernist, liberal at odds with conservative, right at odds with left and so on. He was asking, hoping and praying that there might be less of this and, in its place, a togetherness in faith and a willingness to work as one for the promotion of the Gospel. These divides are very real and very damaging. We do not all need to be clones and there is always room for variety, but we must be wrapped in the one ‘white garment’ of Baptism and, as I heard my own bishop recently remark in an online message to the Confirmation classes of the diocese, know that in that garment we are wrapped in Christ.

So, back to the priest in Raphoe and our conversation around where we are going – the reality is we cannot stand still – our Church is called to be open, and the key is in our hands.

Blessings, peace, strength, joy and a sense of humour to you all!


The Sacred Heart

My brother had a car for sale many years ago, it was a Citroen 2CV and was in great shape. A lady came to look at it, really liked it but was unsure. My brother told her to have a think about it and if she wanted it fine, if not, he would look for something else that might suit her. He left her to look at the car and she continued to wonder. There was another man there – a character for sure – and she looked to him for advice. “What do you think of it?”, she asked “I really like it but it is not the nicest looking car, but they tell me that the 2CV is very economical.  Do you think it is?” He looked at her, smiled and said, “It would be cheaper to run than a Sacred Heart lamp!” Just thought of that again, after all these years so, in the month of June, maybe we might consider “running the Sacred Heart lamp”.