by Sr. Sheila Devane MMM Ireland 25.08.2023
Well, sure I did! I often say: “Have a good day!” and it’s often said to me too! Can I tell you about a good day I had – recently?
It was the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend; having been to the Vigil Mass the night before I had a longish sleep in and listened to the interesting and quite global programmes on RTE radio until I tuned in online to the Conventual Mass in Glenstal Abbey at 10am knowing that Brother Oscar would be making his solemn profession. I feel connected to and enriched by our Benedictine spirituality and history with Glenstal. The ceremony was inspiring and beautiful; I liked the fact that this was the profession of one person only so we could get to see him, know something of his life and meet his family who were the readers. The fact that he comes form Donegal and had a fine gentle Donegal accent reminded me of my dear late mother and all her family, the Friels of the Fanad peninsula – always a positive, supportive memory for me.
I had another appointed this time on TV as the “Songs of Praise” at 1.15pm were coming from Barts, the wonderful 900-year-old hospital where I trained as a nurse back in the 60s. Barts had everything, including no less than two churches – Barts the Less and Barts the Great! These were catholic churches until the Reformation but now belong to the Church of England. In the course of the half hour programme, we visited both churches, crossed the lovely hospital square a few times, and visited the great hall with the Hogarth paintings. A nurse who spoke of her faith was interviewed and we were taken to parts of the cardiac and cancer units – world class, and the former is the largest in Europe. Most memorable was meeting a pair of female Siamese twins now aged 25 who were separated in Barts as babies. They spoke of their lives and of the fact that they continue to have some disabilities but are surrounded by faith and family which they appreciate. They were fabulous and we met their younger sister too – also a good singer!
Between these two inspirational programmes I went off to the World Youth Day final mass in Lisbon, courtesy of RTE TV, where it was boiling hot. The mass was underway, and the message of Pope Francis was being transmitted and translated: “a church for all” was one of the main and big messages. This was welcome and hopefully will become a reality. Like so many organisations and institutions our church had/has become very preoccupied with who didn’t/doesn’t belong as much as who did/does and thus with excluding (categories of) people. Sad, but absolutely true. May inclusion become the norm. Looking at the aerial views the huge crowd reaching out to the Ocean was really impressive and drove home the breadth and universality of our church; however up-close images at the end of the mass would have one believe that it was a place for mostly while, male, middle-aged and older clerics most of whom were bishops or cardinals. We did get one or two shots of beautiful, enthusiastic choirs being led by young people, but the majority of shots were of a male, hierarchical church. Are these the ones who truly belong? The optic was frightful for me to be honest.
In the afternoon I attended the 61st birthday party of a friend living in Wicklow; there was a gathering of about 12 friends and her daughter, daughter in law and two darling, tiny grand daughters were also there. It was chatty and happy for Liz.
On the way home I spent a few hours with my MMM friends, Pauline and Isabelle, where we told stories, had great laughs, and regaled ourselves with tales from our families, MMM days in other countries and the everyday events that can be so incredibly funny!
Driving home, Irene called on the phone – yes I had indeed a good day…..a very good day!
I have many such days with faith, family, and friends.