I was very conscious of noise last night as I tried to go to sleep.

My TV viewing had already been vying with the thump-thump beat from a nearby house party — or maybe a garden party — over the hedge at a neighbour’s house. I’ve no idea what was being celebrated but it was attended by lots of young-sounding people with loud voices whose spirits were raised by an amplified DJ and whatever drinks they were consuming. Eventually, at close to 1 am, either they or I quieted down and went to sleep.

I’m fairly sure that the people who were revelling next-door to me last night were under-represented in the congregations at the two Masses I celebrated this morning! None of the people who serenely arrived for the 8.30amd and 10 am Mass had signs of being worse forĀ  a disco! In fact, I suspect that in most churches each weekend, being out late on Saturday night / Sunday morning and joining the parish community for weekly Mass on Sunday are almost mutually exclusive (of course, a some young people attend the Saturday Vigil Masses).

It just strikes me that there is a gap between the generations, the communities, the ages, the expectations.

While my lunch was cooking I took to reading the weekend’s Irish Catholic newspaper. I found the Letters pages equally noisy! It’s full of division, separation, argument and disharmony. Maybe representative of the Church! One argument is going on between two well-known missionary priests — at least priests who belong to missionary societies. In the left corner, Fr. Sean McDonagh of the Columban Missionaries, and in the right corner, Fr. Vincent Twomey, of the Divine Word Missionaries. Both challenge, argue and confront one another in print in the name of clarifying what the current priorities in mission are.

Argument number two also involves two priests: Fr. Harry Bohan from Co Clare and Fr Christopher J Byrnes from Co Galway. Again, two languages being used; two emphases being set again each other as if they were opposites.

There is something very raw, negative and nasty in the way so-called ‘church people’ seem to be shouting at one another these days. One thing is for sure, my young neighbours with lights, long-necks and gyrations don’t want any of it!

Perhaps, at a time of so many apparent uncertainties, some people just want their certainties to fill the void for the entire community we call Church!

The opening prayer of Mass today asks God to guide us in the way of peace! Amen!

Autumn sunshine is still with us, thank God. There was lovely light in the countryside yesterday. May it illumine all our hearts and minds.

Autumn sun in West Cork

View towards Nowen Hill from the road between Togher and Dunmanway, Co Cork.