Thought for the week


Do not go gentle into that Good Night:

Ministering as a hospital chaplain is an eye-opener. Every evening you will visit patients who are for surgery the following day. Their relatives will give way quietly for a moment while you administer the sacrament of penance. And as you raise a hand in absolution you may hear: ‘I hope to be alive for Ashling’s First Communion, Father’ or from a parent: ‘I’d like to be there when Jamie gets married’ 

And while you sign a creased forehead with the sacred oils, you are learning a profound lesson: we all (most of us) have a deep desire to live as long as we can. Dylan Thomas renders that yearning with great poetic skill:

Do not go gentle into that good night…

 Rage, rage at the dying of the light.

Does this seem all out of kilter with a traditional spirituality that urges us to want heaven and to behold the beatific vision? Perhaps. But all we have is today. A great mystic said: yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is gift. The glory of God is man fully alive! Indeed, the readings today remind us that by enjoying the moment we are preparing for heaven. So let heaven take care of itself and, what’s more, heaven can be here if we look for it.

He shall not hear the bittern cry… wrote Francis Ledwich in lament for Thomas McDonagh. Is there anything more beautiful than the song of the bittern or the curlew across a bog in November? Yes, God’s footprint is all around us.                                               

Fr William