Monday 19 August 2019

We turn to our faith in times of trouble

Fr Brian Whelan
Fr Brian Whelan

By Fr. Brian Whelan - The Way I See It

Atheist Ireland have written to RTE to express their opposition, again, to the broadcasting if the Angelus before the news at 6pm each day.

 I imagine they oppose the Angelus at midday as well, but I can't be certain of that. RTE have written back to acknowledge the 'concerns' of Atheist Ireland.

I think it's bizarre. Why should. relatively tiny group decide that the rest of society should bow to their demands? Imagine if a small group who's beliefs prohibited blood transfusions wrote to RTE, would the State Broadcaster then be obliged to stop broadcasting ads looking for blood donors? And what about a small group of people who mightn't like the colour green? Would their dislike of green mean that RTE should censor the colour on all broadcasts?? Like I say, it's bizarre.

Like it or not though, generally speaking, we human beings are spiritual, and we have an innate sense of the divine in us. You need look no further than the recent awful tragedy in Berkeley, and how those closely involved turned to their faith to support them. Hour upon heartsick hour, we heard of Masses, vigils, prayer services and tree-planting in church grounds, all attended by vast numbers of young people finding solace, connection and meaning in old rituals.

And despite the fact that the after the recent same-sex marriage referendum, the Church was being told that people had given it a message to kindly disappear because it wasn't wanted in modern Ireland, yet we found ourselves listening to the words of bishops, chaplains and priests, who were supporting the bereaved.

We're led to believe that our young people don't know what the inside of a church is like, and yet the chapel in UCD was packed to overflowing with students for a memorial mass attended by President Higgins and his wife. This is a good thing. This is what the Church is there for.

The Church is all too well aware of suffering and pain, it has indeed been the cause of some of that in the past, but so too has it provided opportunities to feel the soothing presence and solace of God in days like these.

In his recent encyclical, Pope Francis said the following: "We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that lighthearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment."

Atheist Ireland don't get this, and that's ok too. But I think the recent tragedy in Berkeley has brought it home to us again, and with reflection, we do get this. Our need for God pops up now and again, probably when we least want it and when we least expect it. We reach for God instinctively, not because it's bred into us through our upbringing, but because it's innate. God created is, He knows us, and He's always there for us. May He be close the the families and friends of all those who've been affected by the tragedy in Berkeley.

Wexford People