They were talking about how late Easter is this year. ‘Couldn’t be much later’ said one. ‘At least the evenings are brighter’, said another. ‘We won’t have the Easter fire in the dark’, another added.
You’d wonder what it’s all about – empty tombs and weeping women and despairing friends. I wondered too.
It’s about hope that never fades, that the most lifeless thing in creation is not dead. that means that there’s life everywhere. In failures, in shame and guilt, in illness. The life may lead to good health or to peace of mind and heart. It’s about God in Jesus taking care of everyone I worry about: And worries about children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Something that keeps me praying for people whose lives are really troubled. It’s all about prayer that’s always answered and the God that forgives us all, and helps us forgive each other. And much more besides which will unify us in the weeks to come. Easter began with creation in a garden and the garden has been replanted as a place for refreshment and peace.
Yes, couldn’t be much later and when you think of it, isn’t it worth waiting for?
Donal Neary SJ (editor Sacred Heart Messenger) found in the Parish of Ballisodare 28th April
National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu with Father Campbel after the
The National Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu last Sunday made a
rare and spectacular appearance at the Christ The King Catholic Church, Accra
as part of his 100th birthday.
Accompanied by a large entourage of top clerics and leading figures in the
Islamic community, the visit went viral within minutes as the images were being
posted particularly on social media.
DAILY GUIDE has learnt that President Akufo-Addo was also excited about the
gesture which observers say is worthy of emulation in countries where
cross-faith harmony is not a feature.
For a man whose peace overtures have earned for him a cross-faith reverence,
the visit to Christ The King on an Easter Sunday augmented an already existing
deference which found space on BBC’s African programme – Focus On Africa – with
Audrey Brown who described it as a ‘light in the dark.’
The Chief Imam was received on arrival by the Parish Priest, Rev. Father Andrew
Campbell, SVD, who led the congregation to sing a happy birthday song to his
A narration of the arrival by a member of the church, a certain Maya Musi Jata
said it all about the excitement which greeted the cleric, as he set foot on
the threshold of the church before the appointed time of 8am.
The congregation, as if the arrival had been rehearsed, commenced a ‘Happy
Birthday’ song, as a supporting organ in the background provided the sweet
notes in an appropriate pitch.
“He was supposed to arrive by 8am according to the programme, but he was there
before 8am. I was excited about that. He was welcomed to the church by Rev Fr
Campbell who told us that the Chief Imam was turning 100 and wanted to come
celebrate with us,” Musi Jata told Audrey Brown.
The lady expressed happiness with the cleric’s position that God does not say
that “we should fight those who do not belong to our faiths. There was a lot of
encouragement for the cleric as he spoke. We are the same people and so should
co-exist harmoniously. Let others outside Ghana emulate this gesture.”
Her admonition comes on the heels of an attack on churches and hotels in Sri
Lanka in which scores of Christians lost their lives on Sunday.
How It Started
Cecil Garbrah, an official of the church, said “it all started with a call on
Wednesday by a member of the Chief Imam’s team that the cleric wants to meet
the Reverends and the congregation to mark his 100 years which is on Tuesday
(today). I contacted the elders of the church and the hierarchy of the Catholic
Church in Accra. We were excited that the Chief Imam was visiting us. If there
is a red carpet let us lay it for him. We donated a pair of footwear, the kind
worn by Muslims and he made a cash donation to the church.”
Mr. Garbrah spoke about a reciprocal visit to the mosque and how football
matches, among other social activities, can enhance inter-faith harmony.
The Chief Imam, he told BBC, bemoaned the developments which have taken place
across the world in which people have lost their lives.
Many social media users who spotted the Chief Imam at the church said the move
inures to the harmonious co-existence among members of the two great faiths in
never came out of her coma after the accident.
Instead, she woke up at the Portals of Heaven, her guardian angel at her
side fondly smiling at her.
girl – for now she found herself as she was some forty years before, a girl in
her early twenties, but so much more alive, so aglow with health and beauty –
the girl was greatly startled by the sight of her guardian angel. How could one
see a spirit? But of course she was forgetting that she had by now acquired a
any rate, her eyes could see with perfect clarity the spiritual being at her
side. What did she see? She
spontaneously thought of it in terms of a Flaming Mind or a Conscious Fire – in
other words a stupendous combination of passionate love and awesome
intellectual power, of burning tenderness and piercing acumen.
am Adoniel,” he said graciously. “I have been your life-long companion on your
earthly journey. And now I have the
great joy of bringing you safely to your destination into the house of
God. But first,” he added as he threw
open the Portals, “you will meet a few of your God-mates.”
the Portals swung open, Jane caught sight of a glorious crowd of gleaming
humans. They were thousands upon tens of thousands, all greeting her with
shouts of joy.
– my God-mates?” she asked in astonishment.
beloved Jane,” Adoniel answered. “These are a few of those you have helped or
who helped you during your lifetime. You
could call them your spiritual next-of-kins, your life-sharers, your
grace-donors, your co-souls, your other selves, your – well, perhaps the term
God-mates best expresses what they are to you.
Shall I introduce some of them?”
hesitated, as if unsure about whom to choose. Then he hit on an idea.
a date at random within the past fifty years.
The first that comes to your mind.”
almost without thinking, Jane blurted out “August 24th, 1956”.
well,” Adoniel said, “this will serve as a small sample of all that you will
discover concerning your God-mates. We
will not cover the whole day, for that would take too much time for now. We
will only cover the first hour of that day.”
was at a loss about the meaning of these words but Adoniel reassured her.
not worry, you will soon understand.”
he signalled to a young man of surpassing beauty – but in truth, all the people
in the crowd were young and astonishingly beautiful. The man approached and
embraced Jane with great affection.
is Masayuki, a Japanese stone-cutter of the Fifth Century. You helped him find
the strength to tell the truth at great cost to himself on a crucial occasion.”
did?” Jane asked, bewildered, “How?”
Adoniel answered, “when you woke up on August 24th, 1956, you were
very much tempted to stay in bed for a few more minutes. Your second pregnancy
was making you feel somewhat languid. But then you heard your young son call to
you from his bedroom and you decided to tend immediately to his needs, despite
your natural reluctance. Thus your
courageous move earned Masayuki that extra grace which enabled him to do what
then called a young woman. She in turn approached Jane and embraced her warmly.
is Conchita, a Peruvian fruit-vendor of the 17th century. She helped you find the strength to smile to
your young son, when you went to dress him up for the day. Remember, he had
been very naughty the day before, and you felt little inclination to be kind to
him. But somehow you found that extra ounce of courage to do so. That was
because of Conchita’s offering for you”.
was that?” Jane asked.
one occasion Conchita caught an old beggar stealing from her small stock of
fruit. However, instead of flying in a
rage, she decided to turn a blind eye and let the matter pass, since the man
was poorer than she was. Conchita merely offered to God her act of patience
‘for whoever might need it,’ she prayed.”
was deeply touched by Conchita’s generosity on her behalf. She would have
wanted to thank her, but Conchita had already drawn away and melted into the
crowd. Then Jane had a troubling thought.
me, Adoniel,” she asked, “but how could Conchita have helped me, if she lived
three centuries before I did?”
is no time with God,” he explained. “For
God we all exist in an everlasting present. And so he can decide to have
Conchita influence your life even before you exist in created time.”
it made sense. But then, another thought came to her.
it mean that I have helped people yet to be born, Adoniel?”
angel laughed delightedly.
That is why this present crowd, which is only a small fraction of your
God-mates from the past, will be immensely increased when all your God-mates
from the future will have joined us.”
was almost staggered by the angel’s revelation. But she had no time to dwell
further on the matter, for Adoniel was resuming his introductions.
third God-mate called forth was Edward, a 20th century stock broker
from Wall Street who had helped her by refusing a bribe. The next God-mate was
Jalna, a Hindu bonze of the 4th
century, B.C., whom Jane had helped overcome a temptation against his vow of
chastity. She had helped him by
cheerfully cooking her husband’s breakfast, always on the morning of August 24th,
1956, despite an incipient nausea due to her pregnancy. Then there was Aiko, a
Camerousnese whom Jane had helped ignore a sharp remark from an in-law. Jane had done this by letting her husband
retell an old story during breakfast without interrupting him.
introductions went on in this manner for a long time. People of all
nationalities, religions, periods of history and walks of life came forth to
embrace Jane. By now the latter was feeling a wave of great love welling inside
her for all these God-mates of hers.
one point of the presentations she confided to her companion.
am amazed at the intricate way in which my life and the lives of all these
people have been interconnected.”
indeed,” he agreed. “You are all like the living cells of a human body, those
millions of small units joined in a constant exchange of nutritious elements.
So it is with the body of Christ”.
several more dozens of introductions had been made, Aloniel suddenly marked a
are far from having gone through that first hour of your day on 24th
August, 1956,” he said, “and so, you can imagine how many centuries will be
needed for you just to meet your God-mates briefly – let alone to befriend
them, as you will eventually have the joy of doing. However, for now we must
interrupt this happy occasion and prepare ourselves. For indeed, God himself
will shortly pass by and –“
But he broke off in mid-sentence. For at
that very moment all present were abruptly engulfed in a blaze of unbearable
From Running Waters – God
tales for young and old – Fr. Nil Guillemette
did not answer. He looked at the great walls, and the towers and brave banners,
and the sun in the high sky, and then at the gathering gloom in the East; and
he thought of the long fingers of that Shadow; of the orcs in the woods and the
mountains, the treason of Isengard, the birds of evil eye, and the Black Riders
even in the lanes of the Shire – and of the winged terror, the Nazgul. He
shuddered, and hope seemed to wither. And even at that moment the sun for a
second faltered and was obscured, as though a dark wing had passed across it.
Almost beyond hearing he thought he caught, high and far up in the heavens, a
cry: faint, but heart-quelling, cruel and cold. He blanched and cowered against
was that”, asked Beregond. “You also felt something?”
muttered Pippin. “It is the sign of our
fall, and the shadow of doom, a Fell Rider of the air.”
the shadow of doom”, said Beregond. “I
fear that Minas Tirith shall fall. Night
comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away.”
a time they sat together with bowed heads and did not speak. Then suddenly Pippin looked up and saw that
the sun was still shining and the banners still streaming in the breeze. He shook himself. “It is passed,” he said. “No, my heart will
not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has
returned and is with us. We may stand,
if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees”.
said!” cried Beregond, rising and striding to and fro. “Nay, though all things
must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor shall not perish yet. Not though
the walls be taken by a reckless foe that will build a hill of carrion before
them. There are still other fastnesses, and secret ways of escape into the
mountains. Hope and memory shall live still in some hidden valley where the
grass is green”.
are living in difficult times: in the world, in the Church, inside our very
selves. Darkness and gloom, gloom and
darkness all around us.
yet our Saviour Jesus Christ fell and has returned and is with us. We too may stand, if only on one leg. There are still other fastnesses for us and
secret ways of escape into a new joy and a new peace where hope and memory
shall live in the hearts of those who come after us for whom we kept our hope
and joy alive.)
“Casa Betania Sta. Martha”, the welcome
house for migrants in Salto de Agua, Chiapas, Mexico, is located about 100 Km
from the border between Guatemala. The house is located on the route where the
migrants go through. Here the cargo trains pass through this small town wherein
many migrants boarded elsewhere to proceed with their journey. They jump off
from these cargo trains at Salto de Agua and stop by Casa Betania Sta. Marta.
The Casa, run by SVD Mexico Province has already hosted around 8000 migrants
since its establishment in March 2018.
When I visited Casa Sta, Marta in November
2018, around 15 to 20 migrants were arriving in the house every day. However, I
was told that this is not a significant number for them. The maximum number of
migrants the Casa hosted in a day was 250.
In my conversation with a few of the migrants, I realized that each of them has his/her reason to leave their hometown. Some migrants are forced to leave their homes because of conflicts, persecution, disaster, and land grabbing. Some migrants are seeking a better life to improve their economic situation, for better job opportunities, education and medical treatment. Some migrants move because of family ties. Many times, for these migrants, the reason is not just one, but there are still many other complex reasons. Unfortunately, some people use these migrants for their political advantages. Also, there are experiences where people who have malicious interests use the migrants. Moreover, many people are indifferent and do not want to see such migrants.
Fr. Martín Islas, SVD, four FMM sisters and
a few lay staff work at Casa Sta. Marta. There are also some volunteers from
the SVD parish and other groups. They help like preparing beds and meals,
providing clothes and medicine, offer places to shower and a counseling
service. I saw that the migrants arriving at the Casa are often tired and some
of them injured. They worry about their journey and their family. I heard that
during the trip there are people that died by accident, killed, raped, cheated,
and trafficked. Some children were also abducted.
As religious missionaries, social commitment is often a fulfilling work, because we can see the development and growth of individuals and communities. However, in the Casa the migrants merely come and go. They pass through the house temporarily. There is no way the staff of the Casa will ever know what will happen to these migrants or what is the future that awaits them. Indeed, this must be very tough work.
May God continue to bless this work and accompany
this journey of the migrants and the staff of the Casa.
If we are to hear the
silent music beneath the noisy traffic of our thinking, we need to lern how to
leave the mind and focus on the senses. The distractions of modern life prevent
us picking up the rhythm of grace.
At a Metro station in Washington DC a man started to play the violin. It was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that rush hour it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station.
After three minutes, a middle-aged man stopped for a few
seconds and then hurried on. A minute later, the violinist received his first
dollar tip – tossed in the box by a woman without slowing her stride. A few
minutes later somone leaned against the wall to listen, but after looking at
his watch began to walk quickly on his way.
The one who paid most attention was a three-year-old boy.
His mother hurried him along but the child stopped in front of the violinist.
Reluctantly the boy was dragged away, looking back all the time.
During the 45 minutes that the musician played, only six
people stopped and stayed for a while. He collected 32 dollars. When he
finished playing and silence took over, no one applauded him or showed any sign
The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s finest
musicians. He had played some of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a
violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
The event was organised by the Washington Post as part of a
social experiment about perception, taste and the priorities of people. The
inherent questions were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour,
do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to
appreciate it? Do we recognise talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions to be drawn from this bit of
research might be put in another question. If we do not have a moment to stop
and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music
ever written, how many other things are we mission in the courses of our normal
day? Do we forget that our senses are
“the threshold of our soul”? “Listen, my
child” St Benedict wrote at the beginning of his Rule, “with the ear of your
Another railway station; another musician; another busy
mother and small son. This time in Leeds
where a wintry wind was wailing down the empty platform. Linda suddenly
realised that Iain had let go of her arm. In panic she retraced her steps. And
there he was, hunkered down in rapt attention, listening to a scruffy,
broken-down old man playing a lonely mouth organ in the cold rain.
Iain was offering the last 10p of his pocket money to his
new hero, oblivious to the man’s appearance. “How lucky he is”, he said to his
Mum, his eyes shining, “to be able to play such beautiful music.” Unlike people
in Washington, Iain was listening with the ear of his heart.
Awareness is always about presence. But how often are we
present to ourselves and to our environment in a distracted world where
electronic multi-tasking rules, even while we’re having a meal with a friend?
From both within and without, that inner sacred place is continually invaded.
Without this grace of space there will be no stillness for catching the
cadences of the unfinished symphony beneath the surface of what happens.
One Celtic evening, the mythical Fionn MacChumhail and his
warriors were having a discussion about the finest sound in the world. His son
Oisin extolled the ring of spear on shield in the din of battle. Another went
on about the fearful cries of the stags and the haying of the hounds in the
rising blood lust just before the kill.
Yet another spoke of the song of his beloved as she played
the harp to soothe her hero after a day of blood and gore. The wise warriors
nodded their approval. “And you, Fionn”, they then asked, “what do you say is
the finest sound in the world?” The
mighty hero paused. “The music of what
happens,” he said.
We need to learn how to leave the mind and come to the
senses so as to hear the silent music beneath the noisy traffic of our
thinking, to catch the divine harmony in everything human. Close to our soul,
we are called to become like human tuning forks catching the rhythm of grace.
The funeral memorial card of John Moriarty, the Kerry
mystic, carried one of his reflections. “Clear mornings bring the mountains to
my doorstep. Calm nights give the rivers
their say. Some evenings the wind puts its hand on my shoulders. I stop
thinking. I leave what I’m doing and I go the soul’s way.”
Along the soul’s way we find the only places of encounter
between our spirit and the Spirit of all life, between our emptiness and the
universal flow of energy. It is along the soul’s way that we hear and create
the unique music that only we can hear and create. It is here that we come home
to the God of harmony already within our hearts. “God is always at home,”
Meister Eckhart insisted, “it is we who take a walk.”
If the present moment is the only place we can meet the
incarnate God, will we be at home when God comes in disguise to find us? Are we
always too distracted, seduced by other transitory attractions, to gaze at and
recognise the mother of all beauty – and to hear the music she is always making
for us? There is something both funny
and lovely about a verse in John Ashbery’s “At North Farm”:
Somewhere someone is
travelling furiously towards you,
At incredible speed,
travelling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert
heat, across torrents,
Through narrow passes,
But will he know where to find
Recognise you when he sees
Give you the thing he has for
It is as though a secret smile, a whispered assurance, a
small melody lies hidden, like an impatient epiphany, in everything we
encounter in the course of each day. Everything wants to draw us into the harmony
of life. Everything is waiting to
encourage and support us as we struggle, mostly out of tune, to get the timing
right. Our monkey-minds miss the magic and the music of the moment.
There’s a Joshua Bell playing somewhere always, in the most
unlikely places. But we need to be aware. To stop running. To be here. In “Now
I Become Myself”, May Sarton writes of the time it takes to be present to one’s
true harmony after years of distraction, of panic, of waring “other people’s
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and
stop the sun!
Daniel O’Leary, a priest of the Leeds Diocese, passed away
on the 21st January 2019