15 March 2015

Ireland again

I was mightily privileged to be able to join the Irish Confraternity of Catholic Clergy for their colloquium at Knock (about the shrine, more another day). What an agreeable band of brother priests, mostly young, all intelligent. We were joined by Cardinal Pell, who with his characteristic generosity had taken a couple of days out of his holiday to come and talk to us in a very straightforward way about our shared ministry. Important pieces of very simple advice, such as "play to your strengths". He joined in our life in his easy and unassuming way, wearing a gray cardigan, a priest among priests. We also heard a paper by a canonist member, unpacking the theological riches of Canon 1055. Yes! Because if Canon Law is not firmly and richly based on the Faith, there is, surely, something wrong?

I had flown to Dublin a day early, so as not to miss anything, and was hospitably welcomed by Fr Gerard Deighan, Classicist, Biblical scholar and OT specialist. His church, S Kevin's, which supplies both Forms of the Roman Rite, was already filling up very nicely at 7.15 in the morning, when I went down to say my own EF Mass. The previous evening, we had been invited to dinner at the Kildare Street and University Club on St Stephen's Green, as the guests of a very distinguished Irish and international jurist. Conversation did not flag. The food was not run-of-the-mill.

Over dinner, I renewed, entirely by chance, some acquaintances. Over one of the fireplaces in the dining room, Lady Lavery, painted by her husband. The remarkable wife of a remarkable artist, and a friend of Michael Collins. When Sotheby's and Christie's, back in the Celtic Tiger days, had their lavish 'Irish Sales' in London each May, I got to know her features (and his brushwork) very well. Until Modernity struck, she featured on the Free State's ten shillings up to £100 notes, rather in the same sort of way as Frances Stewart did on late Stuart halfpennies.

Another party came in ... let's not list names ... and I heard a voice saying "I see the Ordinariate is spreading its wings in Ireland". They included someone I had not met since we passed the time of day while he hacked away at the Japanese knotweed on the graves of his ancestors. That was in the years when, each summer, I headed off on the Monday after the end of term to open up (for the summer) the Church of S John the Evangelist, in Knightstown on Valentia Island in the County Kerry, which I liked to think was me presbytero the only fully Papalist church in the Church of Ireland.

No need wistfully to say "Ah, Happy Days", because the days seem just to keep getting happier.

The series on Consecration will resume shortly.

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