Thought for the week

 ‘Those wasters…’

There was a time – not too long ago – when priests dutifully visited the homes of the parish, filled in a register – called a status animarum – and listened to their complaints about the government (much of it justified) The parishioners were positively disposed to this brief visit; they welcomed the opportunity to chat and have a cup of tea. Priests had trustworthy bladders in those days! Now read on…

   One such pastoral visit stands out in the memory. It happened back in the early 80s, a time of recession, when love-on-the-dole was a grim prospect. Over forty percent of the parish were without permanent jobs.  It was the time when ‘the van’ (a caravan on concrete blocks) was the convenience store and Jack Charleton’s Yorkshire smile adorned every sideboard.

   In one well-kept home where the children went to the convent school, Mom and Dad treated me to a lecture on the how unfair it was that they should both be working hard and ‘the shower around here who spend their time in the boozer, and are getting money for dossing around from the government.’

   ‘Wasters, that’s what they are,’ Dad chipped in, and he indicated the house next door. He, by the way, was a steward at the 10 o’clock Sunday Mass.

   Next door a woman looking older than her years sat by an almost empty fireplace. A lighted candle in a jam jar stood crookedly on the table. She had been to Mountjoy to see her husband that day; three of her children were in care; her eldest son was in St Patrick’s Reformatory.

   How quickly we judge and criticise without a drop of mercy or compassion. And that is what the Prodigal Father’s eldest son did in today’s Gospel.             

Fr William