The following is an extract from a well-known Irishman’s published account of his fairly recent experience of going to Mass.
“I went up to Communion and ate the bread. I couldn’t manage the Apostles’ Creed — it must be for hardcore fans only — but the Our Father and Hail Mary were no bother. The Mass was ended; we went in peace. Their faces were softer now. People were chatting; I got the kind eye.
“The font was outside in the rain. I like that; all water is holy water. I dipped the hand and blessed myself. I walked the road home and felt rooted to the parish, to my neighbours, for the first time, perhaps. I felt like going to the local for a pint and chatting about the match. I felt like having tea with someone.
“I went in the door of the house and my gorgeous daughter, hand on hip, bold as brass said, ‘Well, how was Maaaaaass?’ Cheeky little look on her face. I could tell she wasn’t interested, though. I didn’t push it.
“’Good,’ says I, and left it at that. She’ll come back for more if she wants to. At least she knows it’s there. She knows now that Mass going is a possibility in our house, in her life…
“…Now I won’t be able to go every week, travelling as I do from place to place, but I can swing into Mass anywhere. The door is always open.”
Some readers of this newspaper may be surprised to hear that the writer of the above piece is one Tommy Tiernan, a comedian who is often entertaining, sometimes outrageous and almost always irreverent!
Personally I found the article very refreshing. An unlikely source commenting on something which is very precious to us Catholics but because we are so familiar with it we take it for granted.
Tommy, perhaps unwittingly, highlights some of the central themes of Eucharist, Church and religious practice. As parish communities move up a gear in terms of preparing young people for Confirmation, Communion and Reconciliation, Tommy’s reflection might give us some pointers for talking to parents and children alike.
I was very struck that Tommy’s immediate reaction to being at Mass was feeling more connected to his neighbours and his community and he wanted to go to the local pub or at least have tea with someone. Pope Francis used different words recently to say exactly the same thing: “The Eucharist reconciles us and unites us, because it nourishes community relations and encourages attitudes of generosity, of forgiveness, of trust in our neighbour, of gratitude”
Mr Tiernan’s interaction with his daughter was also interesting. Earlier in the article he said he had asked her to attend Mass with him but she declined and he didn’t push it. But the fact that her father went to Mass was significant and it clearly had an effect on her. He senses her interest and significantly he has planted a seed of faith; “She knows now that Mass going is a possibility in our house, in her life.” She knows it because her father has allowed her to know it.
The very last line of the article is so telling…whatever the comedian’s chequered history with Faith and Church has been he knows that he can “swing into Mass anywhere…the door is always open”.
Francis could not have said it better himself! Thank you Tommy…the Catechist!
Post script to Epiphany
Three obviously reluctant young children were playing the parts of the wise men in a school nativity play. At one point they came to Mary and Joseph at the manger and in very monotone voices said the following:
Magi 1: “Here, this is gold.”
Magi 2: “This is myrrh.
Magi 3: “And Frank sent this.”
A parent blessing
When you were born our hearts were so full of happiness That there was no room in us for words.
When you were growing our hearts were so full of care for you
That we spoke soothingly, and sometimes sharply, fearful for your safety,
But always in the deepest places of our hearts we spoke lovingly.
Today, as we watch you moving forward with your friends
We marvel at all you have done and become
Our spirits sing praise to God for the gift that is you.
And, though our hearts have stretched to love others,Yet, there is a place within us that is yours, and only yours always.
For the light you shine on us, For the life you call us to, For the special gift of God you are now and will ever be, Thank you.
– Christy Kenneally