I'm wondering how those of you who came home for Christmas and re-
connected with the church are feeling about it today? Was it worth it or did
the experience confirm negative thoughts and memories of yesterday? Will
you stay or leave again?
The church at Christmas is not your normal Sunday mass gathering. It's
more like the Christmas dinner at home, a hyped-up occasion made for
celebration and bonhomie, a far cry from the usual run of the mill Sunday
roast effort. Yet each borrow from the other. My hope is that, as a result of
returning to the fold, you now have more questions than answers.
The crucifixion scene is a good image of church. Jesus dies between two
convicted criminals. Anyone at the time, standing around and looking at
that scene, would not have made a distinction between who was guilty
and who was innocent. There was just a shared landscape for all to see
God on a cross between two thieves. Here we have the biblical image of
church: Jackyl and Hyde, grace and sin, good and evil, holiness and
pettiness, fidelity and betrayal, all part of the same horizon.
Not many of us think of James Joyce as a theologian. But he was at his
theological best when he wrote in Finnegan's Wake, "Catholic means, here
comes everybody." The church is always God hung between two thieves.
Thus, no one should be surprised or shocked at how badly the church has
betrayed the gospel and how much it continues to do so today. It has
never done well. It struggles in its humanity to make real the dream of
At the same time nobody should deny the good the church has done and
continues to do. It has mediated the grace of God, produced saints,
morally challenged the planet, opted for the poor and made, however
imperfectly, a house for God to dwell on this earth. I have felt just as much
at home saying mass in Mountjoy prison, on the infamous Minnesota strip
on New York's West 42nd Street, as I have in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
or St. Saviour's in Waterford.
Being connected with the church means being associated with criminals,
racists, paedophiles, murderers, adulterers, hypocrites of every
description. It also identifies us with saints, the noblest and gentlest, our
finest human beings of every time, country, race and gender. To be a
member of the church founded by Jesus is to carry the mantle of both the
worst and the best because the church always looks exactly as it looked at
its beginning, God hung between thieves.
Christmas may have come and gone but we haven't forgotten the many
kindnesses over the festive season. We thank you, one and all, and
particularly those who sent greeting cards and gifts. We ask you to accept
these words as an expression of our appreciation.
¡X Community of St. Saviour's.
In the closing section of his book, I sought and I found, Carlo Carretto
addresses the church in these words:
How much I must criticize you, my church and yet how much I love you!
You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you
than to anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your
You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me
Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false,
and yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous or more
Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face ¡X
and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms.
No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely
Then too ¡X where should I go?
To build another church?
But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my
defects. And again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church,
not Christ's church.
No. I am old. I Know better.
We regret that the Christmas novena of Masses could not be offered at
the times announced. This was not possible because during those days
and times no priest was available to say the extra Mass. The novena of
Masses was celebrated by one of our Dominican priests on the appointed
We continue to be under pressure to honour the weekday schedule of
Masses. We will do our best to give adequate notice of changes in the
Mass schedule. We ask for your understanding and patience whenever
such changes occur. Rest assured that we are completely committed to the
Sunday schedule of Masses.
3rd-11th February 2001
The opening session will be at 7.30pm on Thursday 3rd Feb and there will
be two sessions each subsequent day at 10.30am and 7.30pm. On Sunday
4th February there will be Mass and anointing of the sick. The Preacher will
be: Fr. Terence McLoughlin, O.P.