The family returned from a ten day trip of Ireland last week. My highlight was exploring the Mourne Mountains which once inspired C. S. Lewis to dream up his tales of Narnia. The landscape was stunning and the walks invigorating. Meanwhile the children most enjoyed exploring the rock pools and pestering the Irish crabs around the rugged coastline.
During our trip we bounced between Northern Ireland and the South, visiting Hayley’s Irish family and enjoying various family excursions. On the Sunday we visited Silverstream Priory in County Meath for Mass. The children heartily approved of the quality of cake after Mass and I enjoyed catching up with the Prior on a short tour of the monastery. Some very good work is being done here.
So much so that the monks are flourishing, indeed there is a waiting list to join, with most vocations under the age of 40. Yet more proof that whilst institutional models of church continue to struggle in decline, the places where genuine encounter with the divine is encouraged are doing well. People today hunger for holiness, reverence and authenticity. Where it is found growth occurs.
Sunday it was back to parish duties in Pembury. Where we had three Masses and three different sermons from three different preachers! Congratulations to Deacon Roy who preached his first ever sermon as deacon at 9:15am. Congratulations also to Fr. Benedict Kiely who was the first preacher in my experience, possibly in history, to liken Jesus Christ to the erstwhile celebrity Jim Bowen! Father warned us that we must strive to enter the kingdom of God lest we die and look back on our life and hear that immortal catch-phrase ‘here is what you could have won!’