Volume 1 Issue 4
From the Editor
Looking into our national mirror
Irish Times journalist Derek Scally suspects he’d have abandoned Catholicism entirely if he’d not left Ireland for Germany as a young man. Now in The Best Catholics in the World, he explores what it is about the sins and failures of the Church in twentieth-century Ireland that have enabled mindsets that think of the Irish Church as somehow distinct from the Irish people, and suggests that Germany may offer a way of the Irish to reintegrate their national identity, rather than denying so much of it.
Finding rest for your soul
Although some have seen Pixar’s 2020 film Soul as a vision where our souls are pure mind, Niamh White argues that on the contrary, the film is a study in the joy of incarnation, where humanity is at its fullest only when our souls have bodily form, able to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of the world that God made. Viewing it during the strange depths of the Covid pandemic brought home just how precious these small pleasures can be, and how they should be appreciated.
Distant glimmerings of Irish light
In the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries the monasteries of Ireland were beacons of learning, but little remains of them now but broken ruins. In the Swiss monastery of St Gall, however, remarkable traces of Irish monkish scholarship can still be found, writes Fr Conor McDonough. Library catalogues there list books consulted and studied by Irish monks, and while one book contains thousands of marginal notes that speak eloquently of the language and world in which such monks worked.
Truth and denialism in the Church
Recent discoveries of cemeteries in Canada’s residential schools, many of which were run by Catholic religious orders, may not be evidence of massacres, writes David Lafferty, but neither should they be drawn upon to contest the reality that Church bodies in Canada played key roles in a project of cultural genocide. It’s crucial, he argues, that we not leap at excuses or rationalisations that – even if partly true – allow us to play down or deny wrongdoing by our fellow Catholics.
Glimpses of final victory
Themes of loss and suffering abound in the elegiac poems of the Anglo-Saxons, the first English, writes Rachel Sherlock, with their surviving poems drawing both on their Germanic heritage and their Christian faith. Despite this, she observes, the poems carry in them seeds of hope, inspirational recognitions that even our losses here are losses only of passing things, and that true and lasting victory remains something for which we should hope and strive.
Not by Bread Alone: August
The readings for the feast of the Assumption present us with an image of a woman giving birth to a child who is the Messiah. Fr Columba McCann notes how the woman is often seen as a figure of the Church, which though earlier pointed to as a set of flawed communities, is here depicted gloriously dressed and crowned with stars. It can take an apocalyptic vision to recognise this reality in the Church around us, but it is worth remembering.
Round table: Synodality – listening to the Spirit together
Synodality is a buzzword in the Church nowadays but its roots go back to the Church’s beginnings. Leaven editor Greg Daly talks to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, theologian Eamonn Conway, diocesan education coordinator Maeve Mahon, and parish catechist Natalie Doherty about the nature of synodality and its links with Vatican II, what Ireland’s coming synodal process might entail, the hopes the four have for the process, and the challenges the process is likely to face.
In trying to build a ‘thick’ and ‘intentional’ Faith into her home life, Maria Connolly has been inspired by her own parents. Looking back on the sort of ways her parents sought to give their children a sense that all comes from God, and that our lives should be lived in joyful gratitude for that fact, she describes Christian seasonal delights and points to traditions both decorative and culinary that mark key days in the Catholic calendar.
Facing a Christian politics of fear
It is easy for Christians to confuse our interests and our aims, especially at a time when our interests may feel – may even be – under attack, writes Ben Conroy. This can tempt us to vote out of a sense of self-preservation, or simply to freeze as though paralysed by our situation. Despite that, we should remember that we are called to seek to build his kingdom, trusting in God and remembering how ultimate victory has already been won.