Posted by: meditati0n509 | May 22, 2018

5 Years To Save The Irish Church


Last Saturday (May 19) I was privileged to attend a Conference entitled “5 Years to Save The Irish Church”. In fact, I was doubly blessed in that I had left it too late to book on line and was allowed in, a little later than the start, because  my name was on a waiting list; but mainly I was blesed because of the array of speakers who all feel passionately about the Church and about its future.  These included, Fr Brian D’Arcy, Fr Joe McDonald. Sr Stanislaus Kennedy. Former President Mary McAleese (the keynote speaker), and Benedictine monk form Glenstal abbey, Fr Mark Patrick Hedderman.   This conference, which took place in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, was sponsored by Columba Books.

Here are some of my thoughts on the Conference but since I have not yet listened to the recordings of the talks or read over all my notes, there is stilll much wisdom to be gleaned from the whole day.

Many of the speakers outlined in detail how the IRISH Church has got to this place of near demise.  Then their passion and hope for the future kicked in and they gave us many suggestions for how we might bring about a resurrection of Catholicism in today’s Ireland.

The suggestions ranged over a wide range of topics which included: –

  • Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Restoring Trust – for example “the institutional church was given a higher value than that of the life of an abused child.” (Fr. Brian D’Arcy)
  • A new spiritual revolution is needed. Broken trust requires a new relationship and not a patched-up version of the old relationship.  “we cannot always wait for permission before acting because people are already working out their own relationship with God.” (Fr. Brian D’Arcy)
  • Non-judgemental listening to the people by the hierarchy. “Healing only comes with hearing.” (Fr. Brian D’Arcy)
  • Embrace the Joy of the Gospel (Fr Brian D’Arcy on Pope Francis)
  • Starting to build small communities of men and women, (mainly lay people) dedicated to reform and renewal in the Irish Church.
  • Developing the prayer life of the church outside the sacramental and the devotional.
  • Confronting the problems with the sacraments, most especially holy communion and confirmation.
  • Acknowledging the role of the local priest in the faith community and his call to serve.
  • Reform of the clergy and of priestly formation
  • Reaching out to support the poor, the homeless, the lonely, and to people who have either left the Church or who have been hurt by the Church; and also  to our priests who themselves may be either unhappy or struggling in other ways.
  • We need to educate people to develop a healthy relationship with their own sexuality. Since all our relationships involve our being who we are, whether male or female. We are all a mixture, in any case, and so we need to be aware of and integrate the masculine and feminine principles in ourselves.
  • Good Liturgy.
  • Women’s ordination to the priesthood.
  • Ministry to our Youth.

Forming a New Community

I quote from “Why the Irish Church Deserves to Die” by Fr Joe McDonald (pp84-85): –

“I am hoping to form a new community dedicated to reform and renewal in the Irish church.  It would have a core membership of six-to-eight women and men: lay, religious and cleric. This community would live and pray together.  It would be a place of hospitality, with an element of parish or pastoral outreach. It would especially be a place of welcome for those hurt by the institutional church. . .

. . . Those who live in this new community would be characterised by simplicity, prayerfulness, gospel service and passion for Jesus.  They will be imbued with a love for the church while not being blind to its ailments.”

Small Groups Taking Action

Sr. Stan encourages small groups to get active in their parishes and if necessary to seek permission (or forgiveness) afterwards!  She says it is essential to reach out to the poor, the homeless and the underprivileged.  We need to recognise, she says, the sinful structures that exist internationally and within our own country and then challenge these.  She adds that Society has the responsibility to eradicate poverty.

Her vision is of ‘a network of Light’, of people living the values of joy, love and compassion and adds that this is the work pf the Holy Spirit. She asks: –

  • What do we want?
  • How are we going to achieve it? and
  • What can we put in place now?

Concerning the sacraments the consensus was that First Communions should be integrated within the Parish Masses and  should be requested by the parents once the child is ready, and that Confirmation preparation might be offered in Transition year so that our young adults can freely apply to be confirmed once they feel a desire to become committed to Jesus in their own lives and, also be actively involved in the life of the church.

The other issues concerning the sacraments are the availability of the Eucharist to people in second relationships and to people from other Christian churches.

Good Liturgy, the Sacraments and Sexuality

Again, quoting form Fr. Joe McDonald’s book: –

 “So what is good liturgy?  When we come away from liturgy we should be conscious that we have been in the presence of God. This will lead to change in us. This change is likely to be small and gradual. The change is also likely to be evident in how we treat each other. This is the Eucharist working in and through us.   Good liturgy should assist us in our conversion and provide us with soul food. This is the work of the Lord and it is good for us to remember that.” (ibid p72).

Concerning the priesthood, none of the theological reasons given are sufficiently valid reasons for not ordaining women as priests. Also, that celibacy might be a choice for priests and not compulsory.

“I believe when celibacy is not lived healthily it will lead to unhappiness, lack of freedom and a deadening of joy.  On the other hand, when celibacy is lived healthily, something I believe is not possible outside a rich prayer life, then it frees, empowers and fulfils. “(ibid p46).

About sexuality in general: – “It seems to me in much of our approach to the God-given gift of sexuality there is both a lack of understanding and a lack of respect for what is actually involved in living our sexuality in a healthy way.” (ibid p45)

If the new way of presenting the Sacraments is adopted, we will have a corps of engaged youth coming forward for confirmation and enriching the life of the church.  Concerning our Youth, Mark Patrick Hedderman says that each generation is a ‘new country’.  That the old structures and old ways will not work for today’s youth.  They will find their own structures and own ways.  That we need not worry about their finding God because God will find them!

About Baptism, since most baptisms are performed on us as uninformed babies we need to allow young adults the choice of whether to formally embrace the church or not.  At Baptism we are offered Salvation and when we accept Baptism we accept Salvation.  However, this contract is made by the parents on behalf of the child, but we need to honour the freedom of the individual to choose.  (Mary McAleese).

She says there is a clash between Canon Law and International Human Rights Law which gives freedom of expression in thought/opinion, conscience and religion. All people thus have a right to change their religion if they choose to do so.  Being Catholic must be a free choice.

Mark Patrick Hedderman also said that we need to uncouple the Irish church from the ‘carriages’ of Irish nationalism and Rome.

These are just some of my thoughts since last Satuday.  My hope is that veryone who attended the Conference will take home the Vision of Love and be motivated in thier own locale to take action.  These are challenging yet exciting times to be Catholic in Ireland and I trust the action of the Holy Spirit in us as we implement some of these ideas.





Posted by: meditati0n509 | February 23, 2017

Tumultous First Month for the New American Administration

We Are Standing in the Tragic Gap

As I listen to and watch the daily news I am constantly being asked to trust, as the English mystic Julian of Norwich said, ‘that all will be well, all will be well; all manner of things will be well’.  Now this is not an exact quote but it certainly is the sentiment that she wished to convey to all of us.

There is much happening in America, in Britain, in the  EU and in the Middle East (to name just a few places) to give us pause.  None of the issues readily lead to a resolution. Our world is troubled and complex.  No one person has ‘the way’ to take care of everything; neither would they have the ability to convince others of ‘the way’ even if they had.  Wars, refugees, immigration, trade, jobs, poverty and health care are all complex issues. I feel that any solutions will only come about through respecting the right of every person to have an opinion.  We may not agree with some opinions but we can still work together to find common ground, and workable, practical paths to resolve some of the problems – and relieve some of the suffering.

Coming back to the trust I mentioned earlier –  Echart Tolle has often said that ‘the whole universe has brought about this situation just as it is.’  So we need to embrace ‘what is’ – the situation before us and only having accepted this moment just the way it is can we begin to see a way forward.

Standing in The Tragic Gap

Parker Palmer in his book ‘A Hidden Wholeness’ talks about ‘Standing in the Tragic Gap’  between ‘What Is’ and the ‘Way we would like things to be’: –

“The bad news is that violence is found at every level of our lives.  The good news is that we can choose nonviolence at every level as well.  But what does it mean, in specifics, to act nonviolently?  The answer depends on the situation, of course, and a thousand situations might yield a thousand answers.  Yet running through all of these answers we will find a single “habit of the heart”: to be in the world nonviolently means learning to hold the tension of the opposites, trusting that the tension itself will pull our hearts and minds open to a third way of thinking.”  

“In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge . . . 
. . . The insight at the heart of nonviolence is that we live in a tragic gap – a gap between the way things are and the way we know they might be.  It is a gap that never has been and never will be closed.  If we want to live nonviolent lives, we must learn to stand in the tragic gap, faithfully holding the tension between reality and possibility in hopes of being opened to a third way.”
(pp. 174-175;  ‘A Hidden Wholeness’ by Parker Palmer.)

An Invitation

Friends, I want to issue an Invitation.  Will you stand in the tragic gap with me?   Some of us have spoken (long distance – over SKYPE)  about forming a group of friends who will hold the tensions of these times –  with compassion and hope in meditation and prayer.  All are welcome.  The bottom line is respect for everyone in this whole world and living as Jesus taught us ‘to be in the world but not of the world’ in the sense of being engaged in our activities in the world, for the  greater good, and by not taking part in the violence- even in our thoughts or with our spoken words.   All people, all nations, all religions are worthy of respect. One friend in America suggests we might begin by meditating on the following passage from the Hebrew  Scriptures.

Today’s Headline – Tumultuous first month for the new administration

Wisdom –  Micah 6: 1-8

“Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Reflection: Loving God, we live, as always, in a time of false prophets.  Let us forsake the ways of anger, judgementalism, and despair. Help us to open our heart to your light, to hope, to right relationship to you.  Help us to stand for truth without name calling, without attack, without venting rage and hurt. Help us to reflect your light and love.  Amen.

Posted by: meditati0n509 | February 23, 2016

Finding Your Way Home in a Blizzard

Finding Your Way Home in a Blizzard

In the Prelude to his book ‘A Hidden Wholeness’, Parker Palmer tells the story about the mid-American (Great Plains) farming practice of tying a rope from the house out to the the barn at the first sign of a blizzard. The practice came about because many people had perished in dire conditions because they were unable to find their way back home in the whiteout of heavy snow. This simple safety measure has saved the lives of countless farmers, in a part of America where heavy snowfalls are a normal part of winter.

The closest to a blizzard experience that I have had was one February, about thirty years ago when my husband and I were driving on a motorway in England. Visibility was so poor that we stayed on the inside lane and drove at the minimum speed allowable. Even so we were being overtaken by trucks and lorries, which only added to our lack of visibility. It was impossible to make out the road lanes or even the edges of the road. This was rather frightening and we were delighted to be able to exit the motorway at the next service station. Our safety net was to leave the motorway as soon as it was possible and to wait until driving conditions improved before continuing our journey.

Blizzards of the World

Parker Palmer extrapolates from this simple idea of creating a safety mechanism in a blizzard to looking at the ‘blizzards’ we are encountering in modern life and which are every bit as dangerous for the human psyche or soul, as a physical blizzard. He cites “economic injustice, ecological ruin, physical and spiritual violence”  and their resulting  greed, and indifference to suffering and so on.   Indeed we have political blizzards, wars, economic blizzards and many more.   He says that his book  “is about tying a rope from the back door out to the barn so that we can find our way back home again.”

What is Your Rope?

Each of us have had experiences of being or feeling ‘lost’ or of not being able to ‘see’ which way to turn. He asks ‘What is our safety rope?’ and he encourages us to put some measures in place for those times when we need to be guided ‘home’.  In other words, what leads us to the safety of ‘home’? What does it mean for us to feel ‘at home’?  What is ‘home ’for us?  What is our anchor in stormy weather?  What is it that we need to do so that we can be restored to a state of comfort or balance in which we can function effectively?

It is good to have some activity or practice which brings us back into the moment – back to our true selves, back to our soul. It could be as simple as having a leisurely cup of tea or coffee – in a favourite cup or (mug) and allowing the situation to clarify. It could be taking a few conscious breaths before proceeding to the next activity. This is especially useful before answering the phone, or answering the doorbell. It could be mindful walking – that is walking a little more slowly, consciously lifting each foot and placing it back on the ground again.

Our safety ‘rope’ will obviously be much more effective if it is grounded in a more prolonged daily practice such as Mindfulness, Meditation or other spiritual practice. Yoga, T’ai Chi, jogging, walking and so on are all examples of such daily activities.  Have fun choosing your own and adapting your regime to suit both your needs and your schedule. However, any ‘rope’ will be effective, once you have consciously set it in place, so that you can call on it whenever you need to. Happy blizzard navigation!

[‘A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward and Undivided Life’ by Parker J. Palmer is published by Jossy Bass. The edition I have was published in 2008]

Posted by: meditati0n509 | April 20, 2014

Holy Saturday

April 19 2014

Yesterday – Good Friday – i had the privilege of participating in the ‘Way of the Cross’ which began in the Cathedral of St James in Brooklyn where we were addressed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. After the opening ceremony we processed over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, where we stopped for each of the Stations, ending in the Church of St Peter. Some 3,000 pilgrims took part. We walked in solidarity with all people in the City of New York who are suffering, whose lives need hope and healing.  There were special readings and meditations which accompanied the traditional Passion, read from the Gospel of St John. There was also beautiful choral music sung by the Communion and Liberation Choir, led by Christopher Vath. I was impressed by the respect both of pilgrims and of passers by. Overall it was a lovely ceremony.

On Holy Thursday I attended liturgies in St Mary Star of the Sea in Brooklyn, and this evening (Holy Saturday) the Easter Vigil in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also in Brooklyn. During this ceremony I witnessed 3 adult Baptisms and several Confirmations. This was a very Joyful Ceremony.

Today is Holy Saturday – that day between the Crucifixion & the Resurrection – a day of reflection and waiting. Like the disciples, most of us have had experiences of such times of waiting; waiting for news at the hospital, waiting for results of medical tests or exams; waiting to know if we got that job; waiting for a friend or family member to heal after surgery or from an illness, waiting for loved ones to arrive for a funeral. Sombre times when we need the support or companionship of others so that we can simply ‘be with’ our inner experience, while we wait.

This Holy Saturday may we, in Spirit, be with the millions of people worldwide who wait for wars to end, for rains to come, for food to grow, for floods to recede, for economies to recover . . . As well as with our loved ones who may also be waiting for something. . .

Elkhart Tolle teaches that anything we accept will bring us to peace (Stillness Speaks), so being with whatever situation we are waiting with will bring us to peace even if we can only accept that we are not at peace.

For Christians our waiting is for Resurrection – historically Jesus’ Resurrection – but now for whatever resurrection is needed in our own lives either personally, in our families or communities and indeed globally. The risen Christ is present in all situations and is working even now to bring about those resurrections; there is hope! This is the Paschal mystery that out of seeming death there is new life. Christ lives & lives in us, bringing us peace and joy. Alleluia!  So Happy Easter to everyone.  May you experience the peace and joy of this season and may you see resurrection in your lives.

Posted by: meditati0n509 | April 15, 2014

Holy Week 2014

As I write this post, I am in America – right now visiting my son & daughter-in-law – who live in Brooklyn, NY.  I also have cousins here, from both sides of the family, whom I will also visit.  It is that special week in the Catholic Calendar known as Holy Week!  So I will be attending liturgies during the week while I am here and hopefully will bring those blessings received into all my interactions with loved ones and others.

This is a new beginning for me, writing this blog, since I have not written anything here for nearly two years. My trip is in part gifted to me by my siblings who financed my flights as a gift for my big ‘O’ birthday,  coming up in July! So thanks guys, I really appreciate it.

So what is special about Holy Week? What does it mean for some event or person or time to be holy? In fact ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ share the same roots linguistically. So to be holy implies somehow that we are whole, integrated, complete – that we are grounded in the very core of our being and that we are fully expressing who we are.

In my Christian tradition that wholeness is exemplified perfectly in the historical person of Jesus who lived such a life of loving compassion to all that the religious authorities of his time were utterly challenged by him, which resulted in his execution. Yet his message was that ‘ALL IS ONE’. We are deeply connected to everyone and everything that exists and are in essence part of the great mystery at the heart of life which some call God, or the Divine. Presence, consciousness, being are other words people use. No one can fully express this reality in words, it can only be experienced, hence the many divisions that exist between people, nations and religions who have taken incomplete verbal expressions as the totality of truth which they then rigorously defend.

Jesus message was ‘Love one another’, even ‘Love your enemies!’, not ‘Go out and kill all others, in my name, because they don’t use the ‘right’ words about reality.’ So Holy Week, for me is a reminder that we humans are holy, that all that exists is holy, that time and space are holy, that the earth is holy. A reminder that people like Jesus and the Buddha lived their lives in such a way as to show us how to be at peace both with ourselves and with others.  So enjoy this week. Really appreciate that you are holy, live life and fully express the totality of who you are!

Posted by: meditati0n509 | July 17, 2012

In Memoriam

To Anthony – One Year On

I am thinking of last times –

Of days when you were with us –

Seen through a comforting haze of memory.

For you were large in Life,

Tall in stature and in Presence.

Your going seems like annihilation

To those you’ve left behind – in this domain –

This earthly plane of bodily existence.

How long will sadness be

The cloth that tailors all my days?

Your memory is wrapped in a cocoon of longing –

For Life . . .  to be . . . otherwise –

Yet . . . knowing . . . that . . . your . . . Spirit . . . flies –


Though one year on – from your demise.

Be at peace, Son.  Love always!

(July 2012)

Posted by: meditati0n509 | August 14, 2011

Anthony Conroy RIP

As I write this my youngest son has been dead for four weeks now.  His ‘Month’s Mind’ – which is today, August 14 – is a day when family, colleagues and friends are specifically mindful of him and hold cherished memories of him in their hearts or in prayer.  All I can think of, in terms of a Tribute to him is to post a link to his Funeral Mass Leaflet.  This celebratory liturgy was my tribute to him – all I can really do now.   There is nothing else I can say at this time.  There is nothing to say. . .   Nothing that will change what has happened.  Nothing to explain or help us understand. . .  Nothing!    The loss is too fresh.   We are all stunned – family, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

I sincerely thank everyone who has helped us live through these difficult days; the Gardai and emergency services, our neighbours and his many friends and work  colleagues who came to the house and shared stories about Anthony.   I thank the clergy who concelebrated his Mass and my sons and the Taize Group whose music and singing made the occasion joyful and celebratory.  I thank all who came to the house and all who participated in the Mass as well as those who phoned from long distance, who wrote or who lit candles and held us in prayer.   I thank family members who travelled from England and America and Galway and my late husband’s family and other relations who came from Counties Kildare and Clare.  I thank my other sons, his bereft brothers who, with his uncle and friends carried his coffin. I thank my daughters-in-law for their support of my sons and for bringing food and also, along with friends, made endless cups of tea and coffee.  I thank the funeral directors for their kindness and compassion and I thank especially my siblings some of whom brought me here, on vacation  – in France – so  that I am with people who care and support me while I process what has happened and ground myself in love and peace.

The only way I can write of him is through this liturgy whch includes a poem by the late John O’Donohue.  Here I can stay grounded –  in meditation and in the deeper, mystical truths of my faith.  So, it is with joy that I include the link here for his Funeral Mass Leaflet.

Mass booklet for Anthony’s Funeral MassIAN

For those of you who are on facebook there is a page there called ‘Anthony Conroy R.I.P.’ where his brothers and friends have posted photographs.

There are other websites some containing his music – he was a singer songwriter, among other things – and tributes on the Ballyroan library site and photos of him at work reading to children, and also a site with some of his writing.   He loved children and will be missed by those who visited his library and also by his nephews and niece.  Anthony had an eccentric and often flamboyant way of dressing which included wearing a Top Hat when hosting his story telling workshops.  Indeed many of his friends came to the funeral Mass wearing Top Hats as a sign of affection.

Suffice it to say that Anthony was, as one friend described him, ‘Larger than life with his over six foot frame and size 14 shoes.’  He was creative, warm, loving, witty, intelligent and incredibly frustrating at times, precisely because he was ‘uncontainable’.  Indeed there are many stories of times when we had ‘lost’ him, from the age of two and a half.  He would simply slip away and wander off leaving family members each thinking he was with one of the others.  At six he went into Dublin city on the DART while I was at the checkout at the local supermarket.  He had been running around the shop with other childreen and I had assumed he would come to me when I was finished loading up the grocery trolley but he didn’t.  He had slipped out the back door and followed other families to the train station and onto the train.  Naturally I was frantic and even called my late husband to tell him I had lost Anthony!  My husband came straight home.  All the neighbours and local shopkeepers were out looking for him as were the Gardai – who found him two hours later walking back up through Dalkey carrying flowers, bananas and a newspaper that he had taken outside shops – because he thought they were free.  He had, with the help of a map drawn by a shopkeeper in the city, found his way back to the train station and boarded the train from the right platform and got off at the right station to come home.  He had been trying to visit his eldest brother who worked in the city.  He and I had done this a couple of weeks previously – it was shortly after his brother had moved out of the family home.

My last memories of him include his reading to his niece and nephew at his niece’s birthday party early in July and of he and I eating steak and salad, accompanied by a glass of wine at a restaurant not too far from his apartment on the Sunday before he died.  This was our ‘Last Supper’ where we talked of many things and enjoyed each other’s company.  He and I were planning to meet up again in a week’s time and also maybe go for a short holiday break together somewhere in Ireland.  Indeed he had left everyone with plans to meet up for some activity or other.  He had a wide circle of creative friends some of whom were in his band and others in his book club.  He reviewed books on the library website and even had his own section at the library called something like ‘Weird and Oddities!’

We can only accept that we had him for 26 years and that for whatever reason known to himself  – that he is now gone.  We can come to some peace eventually.  This was his choice and we need to accept that.  We need to trust that he is at peace now; that he came into this world for a brief time and that now he has gone home; and that he is also once again with his earthly as well as his heavenly father. I conclude with an extract from John O’Donohue:

An extract from John O’Donohue’s  ‘On the Death of the Beloved’

‘Though we need to weep your loss,

You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,

Where no storm or might or pain can reach you. . .

. . . Whatever you enfolded in your gaze

Quickened in the joy of its being;

You placed smiles like flowers

On the altar of the heart.

Your mind always sparkled

With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,

Your spirit was alive, awake, complete. . .

. . . Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,

We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,

Smiling back at us from within everything

To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory. . .

. . .You would want us to find you in presence. . .

. . . May this dark grief flower with hope

In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.

To serve the call of courage and love

Until we see your beautiful face again

In that land where there is no more separation,

Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

And where we will never lose you again.’

Anthony, May you be at peace. 

Love Always!


Posted by: meditati0n509 | May 24, 2011

Nunc Dimittis

Nunc Dimittis

“Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.”

“Now, Lord, you can you can let your servant go in peace according to your promise.”


Presidential and Royal Visits

In a week in which tremendous things happened in Ireland I am revisiting a reflection I wrote about Holy Week and the central truths of my own faith.  On Monday May 23 I was part of a huge crowd in Dame Street, facing College Green, for the public address given by President Obama.  He told us he had visited the whereabouts of the ‘lost apostrophe’ in Obama (O’Bama) and had found it in the home of his ancestor in Moneygall .  Near  the end of his speech he  said “Is féidir linn” which means that ‘ Yes, we can’  come through our current and future difficulties!   It was a joyful day in Dublin City and there was an atmosphere of celebration here – a celebration of ‘Irishness’ and of the many links between Ireland and America.   May you be blest with wisdom, President Obama, as you continue to hold the tensions of difficult situations and ideoligies both at home in the US and internationally. 

Last week we had the State Visit (to Ireland) of Queen Elizabeth II. I am grateful to her Majesty for coming here and acknowledging our past troubles, for honouring our fallen heroes and for expressing her appreciation of the new relationship between our two peoples.  It was powerful to see the Queen and President Mary Mc Aleese both laying wreaths in the Garden of Remembrance and at the ‘Great War Memorial’ in Iveagh Gardens. Here the sacrifices of Irishmen who fought for Irish freedom and the sacrifices of Irishmen who fought for wider freedom in both World Wars were honoured. 

Every place that the Queen visited must have held many layers of significance and emotion for her and I admire her strength of purpose and character for undertaking this visit which many see as the culmination of work begun many years ago in the peace process in Northern Ireland.  I am deeply gratified by the Royal Visit and know that this symbolises a maturing of the friendships between our two nations.

Nunc Dimittis Garrett Fitzgerald

While the Queen was here the death occurred of a beloved Irishman, Dr Garrett Fitzgerald.  He was an intellectual, a university lecturer, a politician and a journalist, among other things.  A person of great love and great integrity; he had a great love for his family and friends, for the people of Ireland and for the wider world.   He was Taoiseach ( pronounced ‘theeshuck’ meaning ‘chief’  or ‘prime minister’) twice during the 80’s.  It is a tribute to him that his work in laying the foundations of the Northern Ireland Peace Process has reached this new level.  

We were privileged to pay our respects to him as he lay in State in Dublin’s Mansion House on Saturday May 21st and later our Government granted him the highest honour accorded to a distinguished citizen by giving him a State Funeral.  This took place on Sunday May 22 2011.  

Thank you Garrett.  You are an inspiration to us!  It seems a fitting tribute to pray, on your behalf , this canticle of Simeon:  

 “Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.”

“Now, Lord, you can you can let your servant go in peace according to your promise.”


Nunc Dimittis – A Reflection


esus, these words were spoken, by Simeon, to your mother when as a newly born infant you were presented in the Temple.  O surely, this must have been your prayer too from that last Passover Meal with your disciples. Then you spoke intimately with each of us as you lovingly tended our feet – carefully pouring water over them and drying them with the towel around your waist.  We felt such connection, such communion with you that even time stood still.  During the meal you continued to teach us though we were far from understanding your message and then led us while we joyfully sang hymns and processed out into the garden.  Later you took three of us a little further on, the same three who had witnessed your glory on Mount Tabor, and going away further into the night you left us to watch with you but we were lazy and sleepy and did not see the urgency. 

Such loneliness, such agony; you were alone, on our behalf. Your life’s work was to show us who we are; that we share kinship and essence with each other and with you and the Father.  How urgently you tried to tell us.   “I go to prepare a place for you”.  “I am the way . . .  The Father and I are One.  If you see me you see the Father.’’ We are all One!  But we failed to understand.

Then later your betrayer ‘Judas’ – who is ‘everyman’, because each of us is capable of doing anything – led the soldiers into the garden to arrest you.    You were taken away in bondage like a slave. What a long night that must have seemed going from Annas to Ciaphas and then to Pilate.  You were tortured as a traitor – whipped like a criminal and then executed on Golgotha Hill. Yet you never complained.  You bore it all courageously and held compassion in your heart for everyone even for your executioners.   By your Acceptance, while grounded in your infinite love for unawakened   humanity you showed us how to be with everything that happens.  Lord we had mostly fled by now.  Only Mary, your mother, and John and Mary Magdalen showed the love you needed from us.   They stayed with you and enabled you to bear your pain, your suffering. 

You forgave your executioners for their unawareness then, just as now, twenty one centuries later, you continue to forgive humankind for wars and greed and terror yet holding your heart open with compassion for all the sufferings of humanity. “O Happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam” – our unawareness – “that brought for us so great a redeemer”. You even experienced, as we often feel, the apparent abandonment of God, of love and of all meaning. O surely then you must have wanted to pray like Simeon had when you cried out ‘It is accomplished’.

Lord there is so much suffering in the world and we still do not understand.  Help us to experience Being – your being and ours – Oneness with all that is.  You give us precious moments when we contemplate your creation and your life and your sufferings. Be with us in our steps towards being fully human for we, unlike you, still live in two worlds, the world of the temporal and ephemeral everyday while knowing dimly that we belong to eternity – to the Now – to the Cosmos – to Life itself.  “Turn to me, O man, and be saved, says the Lord, for I am God.  There is no other – none beside me – I call your name”.  You meant even here, in this psalm, to teach us that ‘everything is God’ and so, “I thank you, Lord for the wonder of my being”.

O Lord, what a wondrous universe you have created, what wondrous stars and galaxies and planets. What beauty and power and diversity of creatures inhabit our home, this Earth.  What marvellous flowers and trees and lakes and mountains. Such varieties of animals and peoples – all of these manifestations of your divinity! O Lord, how perfect a human being is when he or she is aligned with you and conscious of your presence in all things.  Jesus – we are eternally grateful for your life and work and healing and teaching yet without the events of Holy Week we would not have received the truth of your teachings, or know for sure that death is not the end.   Thank you for your Cross and Resurrection so that we may experience our coming home to you within – to our own Resurrection!

“Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.”

Posted by: meditati0n509 | October 23, 2010

Eckhart Tolle in Dublin

Eckhart Tolle in the RDS – Oct 19 2010

It is four days now since I was in the presence of Spiritual Teacher Eckhart Tolle in the RDS, Dublin (Ireland).  Since then I am living in an ocean of Stillness –  partly because of this talk and partly because of the wonderful Eckhart books, CDs, and DVDs which I am privileged to own and be able to read, to listen to and  to watch.  Eckhart Tolle is the author of ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’ among other books.

So what is this Stillness?  What is Eckhart’s teaching? What draws  thousands of people to Tuesday evening’s venue and holds them mostly silent and enthralled for the duration of his talk? I will try to summarise the essence of this teaching in so far as I see and understand it.

Stillness is Alert Attention

Eckhart begins by explaining that the evening is about becoming still – becoming present here and now – and that we are either meeting this for the first time or we are deepening this in ourselves.

He asks “Is it joyful to be here?” or is it more like “I wish I were somewhere else?”, and then explains that it is this dimension (of stillness) within us which makes the talk enjoyable.   He uses other words to describe Stillness, which is really indescribable – such as Consciousness, Alert Awareness, Being, or Transcendence,  and he tells us that it is ‘being conscious without thought’.

What is Transcended?

He says there is a transformational shift in human consciousness occurring on our planet and asks “What is it that is transcended?” and “How does that happen?”  He says there are two levels of consciousness which he calls Mind or Object Consciousness and Space Consciousness. Objects are any of the myriad things that make up our daily lives such as our houses, cars, jobs or careers, finances, health, relationships, families, colleagues, friends and so on, and also our thoughts and emotions, our hopes and our fears about these.  All of these he calls Things or ‘Objects’ of Consciouness  – even our thoughts and emotions are objects in Consciouness and says that most people on the planet are caught up in this personalised egoic level of Consciousness, which is a necessary stage in human development.

Stillness is Space Consciouness
Space Consciousness on the other hand is a deeper consciousness in us and all around us; it is our essence, which is aware of, and is present in, and underlies all of the above.  This is the realisation of the ‘I-Amness’ that experiences objects in our everyday lives.  Our ‘awareness of awareness’ is another description he gives, all the time noting that words are only pointers to a reality that is wordless; but says that it is characterised by deep peace and joy.

So Awareness or Space Consciousness creates space in ourselves, space in our relationships, and space around our experiences.  Just as it is outer space which contains the galaxies, stars and planets so too it is inner space which contains the ‘objects’ which make up our life experiences or ‘life situation’. Our Life is this Inner Space, Stillness, this Awareness, this ‘I-Amness’, this Consciousness.  

Not believing or realising that there is a deeper level of Life –  present in and giving rise to all of the above – people feel trapped by the limitations inherent in things and so are largely frustrated with their lives. This he calls suffering, which prompts the search for more possessions, more relationships or more experiences because we hope to find happiness in them, or completeness in them or to find ourselves in them.

The Now

Our greatest enemy is perceived to be the present moment, the Now.  We don’t like our current situation and so we strive constantly for a time in the future when things will be better and we will feel complete and happy.  We can even bring our ego state into our Spirituality and strive to become more spiritual, more realised or more enlightened.  This can become a trap for it is no different to wanting to own a BMW or to succeed in our career or to become famous.   All of these things are good in themselves but not when we seek to find ourselves in them.

Everything happens in the Now.  Nothing can happen except now.  ‘It is always Now!’, so we need to befriend ‘what is’ because it already is. It is the ‘ Isness’ or ‘suchness’ (A Buddhist word)  of this moment.  ‘There is only one moment!’ It is the form of this moment which continually changes.

How does Transcendence Happen?
The process of Transcendence happens gradually for most people.  The steps, though he stresses that this is not a technique, but rather his observations of what occurs as Stillness arises in us, are:

  • ‘First, realise that there is a compulsive thinker in you.   A voice in the head that is largely complaining, comparing, judging, analysing and so on.’ He says that 90% of all thought is of this type.
  • ‘Become aware of the nature of the thoughts it thinks – the conditioning in us.’  (Our conditioning is familial, experiential, religious, cultural and so on.  . . )
  • Notice the gaps in between thoughts which arise spontaneously – maybe just for 3 seconds at a time – which are characterised by Joyfulness, Aliveness, Love, and deep Peace.
  • Consciously use Visual perception in the way you do when seeing something new, seeing something for the first time.  That is, really look at things without ‘the veil of thought’, not looking ‘at the present through the lens of the past.’
  • Similarly any of the modes of perception, such as listening to sounds, or feeling the roughness or smoothness of an object, feeling the energy of the inner body, can be doors to stillness.  Becoming aware of the silence between sounds is another example just as being aware both of the words he is speaking and of the silence underlying and in between the words – is leading us there now. He says ‘silence is the great teacher.’
  • Acceptance of ‘what is’ is the most powerful practice when there is no resistance whatever.

Acceptance is Letting Go  

Transcendence is letting go of things, letting go of the ‘mental images of who you are’ of ‘the box of my life’.  It is a disidentification with thought, a realisation that we are not the thinker – not the voice in our head.   All things, ‘Objects in consciousness’ are really Forms which by their very nature are temporary and have limitations.  Who we really are, our Essence, on the other hand is complete and eternal.  Everything that happens – the manifest – has its origins in Consciousness, in ‘the unconditioned’, in ‘the unmanifest.’  As we slowly begin to be still for longer periods and are able to carry Stillness into our everyday activities then we create space around all of these.  Inner space allows inspired thought. 

  • We are more creative because ‘Life is an intelligence which can move through you’.   
  •  ‘You work with whatever life gives you.’
  • ‘You begin to realise who you are in Essence’ which cannot be named but can be known by being – being yourself.’  This is liberation from an illusory identity.
  • ‘Awareness knows Itself’.
  • ‘You are Life expressing itself in human form.’
  • There is deep peace even in difficult situations.

Stillness is Transformative

When asked whether we can reconcile Accepting ‘what is’ with our concern, say for a sick family member or friend he suggests holding an image of the person or the concern in Stillness for a moment.  He says a state of deep Stillness is healing.   Then to let go of the conscious image or intention and simply be in the Stillness.  He says that Stillness is transformative; that Love is the recognition of the essence, the formless Being in the other and that the ultimate reality of that person does not need healing.  We have the same essence as the other. Jesus’ saying ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ ‘ is a statement that we are the other.  So any situation to which we bring Presence / Stillness is healing because it is Love.  (This is the essence of prayer.)   There is one Whole, one Consciousness (for me, personally, this is God) so Stillness is a unitive experience.

He says “It is how you do what you do”  that is the key to any transformation either in ourselves or in others.  When we live Now as conscious awakened human beings our very presence will be transformative; he adds that this is our primary purpose.  Great  power flows through us then and great peace and joy.  We do not devalue forms; in Stillness we honour all forms because we are recognising and honouring the essence of them which is also our essence.  We are not so ‘heavy’; we can play with forms.  We no longer regard the present moment as a means to an end.  Our secondary purposes are in the Objects sphere and once we in Stillness we bring pesence and  wisdom into these also.

Our Institutions may Dissolve or may be Transformed

Bringing Stillness into situations and Institutions can enable these to be transformed.  He says that all our existing structures, political, medical, educational (and religious) are still rooted in the old thought dominated, egoic, Object Consciousness and that the old egoic ways of thinking are being intensified in them.  Many of these are crumbling or will dissolve or disintegrate but some may be transformed by people within them who bring the New Consciousness. Being an aware practitioner in any field has the potential to transform an institution.  He says the survival of humanity depends on this. 

In his DVD ‘The Deepest Truth of Human Existence’,  he teaches that “knowing yourself at the depest level and knowing God are one and the same” and that surrendering to (Acccepting) ‘what is’ is surrendering to God.  He uses the word ‘God’ sparingly because like Stillness, and Consciousness, and Presence, the word ‘God’ is incomprehensible from a conceptual point of view.  He uses other words like Being or Stillness or Consciouness; so his teachings are accessible to many with differing belief Systems simply because in essence what he teaches is experiential.  Also the word ‘God’ can alienate many who might otherwise benefit from his teachings or who may have had bad experiences with organised religions.  Hence his teachings on the ‘Power of Now’ are inter-spiritual  wherein lies their strength. He regularly cites sayings from the Bible and sayings of the Buddha, (and other sages) – to illustrate points  – with the result that people can benefit from experiencing Stillness  which they can then incorporate into their own beliefs sytems.

With such thoughts as these but mainly because of the experience of Stillness on Tuesday evening and since, I have tried to write something which in part captures this experience.  He says that challenges are good for us.   We live in a time of great change, great challenge, great crises yet Eckhart brings us joy and hope.  Thank you, Eckhart Tolle and the many other Spiritual Teachers who accompany me on this path.  


My Life


Posted by: meditati0n509 | September 29, 2010


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