I’m a Nigerian ..

My heart sank, I have to confess. This was not a card-carrying Nigerian Anglican. Just what my children would call a random Nigerian sitting in the foyer of Jury’s Hotel in Dublin. He finished talking to a random Irishman and turned his beatific smile on me. He had been hearing about how wonderful Ireland was in the past, how safe at night .. did I not agree that it was now so different because people had lost the fear of God? Having just come off the early morning flight and attempting to shake off the fear of Ryanair and the faulty Dublin airport radar, I decided that ‘No, I didn’t agree.’ And I heard myself moving into a rant about how this wonderful Ireland of the past exported its best and brightest young people because there was neither work nor dignity for them… the women trapped in loveless and violent marriages because of the constitutional prohibition on divorce .. and while I’m at it … Time for coffee.

Anyway, the consecration of Trevor as Bishop of Limerick was great. I did my usual misty-eyed thing at ordinations – is this a sign of age? But it did me the power of good anyway. I shared the peace with Madam President .. who subsequently received communion .. and the preacher was Dom Mark-Ephrem of the Rostrevor Benedictines with whom I went on retreat last year. And there were copes and mitres and candles and we don’t seem to need to be as defensively protestant as we were in that wonderful Ireland of the past when John Charles McQuaide was Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Oh .. and I didn’t mention the funeral of the first President of the Republic, Douglas Hyde – a member of the Church of Ireland – and the inglorious way in which members of the Government sat outside the Cathedral during his funeral.¬† So it looks as if this new Ireland – cosmopolitan, wealthy, unequal, secular, restless¬† – might just be more tolerantly close to the Kingdom?¬† Of which more some other time.

Worship ‘n spirituality ‘n authenticity ‘n mission

Bosco Peters dropped in from what looks like a very comprehensive liturgy website in New Zealand. He’s interested in my more-than-slightly unfocused exploring of the links between worship and spirituality. I think it goes like this.

In a secular age, the church talks only to itself. If the church tries to do more than that, it is condemned for being irrelevant or for making vane attempts to be relevant or meddling in politics or .. But the secular age is not godless. It is full of people searching for meaning and exploring spirituality. Those people may recognise authentic spirituality/holiness when they meet it but the church is the last place where they would expect to find it. The church thinks that liturgy is about ‘getting the words right’. And the words have to be right. But actually liturgy is about communicating spirituality – which is why I am increasingly interested in how we ‘do’ liturgy or how we ‘are’ in liturgy more than in the words themselves. Which is where Benedictines come in. Because they just come into church and are. And it’s hard to miss the spirituality. So the challenge is to live and worship with an authenticity such that it communicates itself. Simple.