At 75 years of age I have the leisure time to sit and think about my life and about the world in general. It is very important to me to keep my mind occupied in good activity. I am not a gardener who can go outside and tend to my surroundings. I am a thinker, always have been. I love to try and understand human nature and human life.
Just lately I have been listening on YouTube to the lectures of the English historian, David Starkey. He is enormously learned and well read, and his energy for talking and communicating, at the age of 77, is impressive. He also believes passionately in the things he thinks and says, and that, in itself, is enough to attract an audience.
We have a great need to understand the world we live in, and the present conflict in Ukraine has shaken us up vigorously in our desire to grasp truly what is going on. It causes us to question not only our opponents but also ourselves. Have we got a clear grasp of realities around us? Or, do we live a life of illusions?
In order to learn about this world and to grow up into it, we need good teachers. Our parents are our first teachers and the way they live and the way they love us provide us with our first lessons in life. This is quickly followed by the experience of our school and schooling. Good teachers there can have a tremendous influence on how we begin to flourish in the world.
The lack of good parents and good teachers in our early years is something almost too horrible to contemplate, but it is a sad and common reality for many people.
The first years of my life were tremendously blessed in parents and siblings and school and friends. The small town too with its coalmines and cotton mills was a pleasant place to grow up in. Unfortunately, at the age of 11, I was persuaded by a priest, to go away to a junior college, a seminary, and that was the beginning of a long journey through the narrow fields of education into catholic priestly existence. I have survived it, but it was a mistaken path, and the Catholic Church is responsible for promoting such foolish institutions, taking young boys away from the natural blessing of home and family and local world and corralling them in enclosed
As the Lord said, in another context, ‘They will do these things and think they are doing a holy thing for God.’
I was to spend thirteen years in relative isolation in catholic seminaries from 1958 until 1971 and a further 29 years in priesthood before I found my way out into my own self.
Despite the frustration of the system and my sense of being trapped inside it, I held on to a belief that I still hold today. In my home and family, in my little church and school, and throughout my childhood days I had come to a firm conviction about Jesus of Nazareth. I have never lost it.
Today I read the scriptures for each day and I spend time in silent meditation and prayer. I am grateful to the Church for being the carrier of this message, the Gospel. I hope to keep on growing in an understanding of life and in my own way to contribute to the understanding that we can all share.
18 May 2022