It’s amazing how a simple change in the weather can have such an impact on people’s lives. The sunshine has not only transformed the landscape we live in but it has genuinely lit up people’s lives. Last year when I was changing my glasses I decided to invest in reaction lenses, six months later I finally had an excuse to wear them. I feel like a person who has a bought a convertible car waiting in frustration for the two weeks of our annual summer. In the end you find yourself waiting so long any excuse will do to justify your optimism. As long as it’s a dry day the roof will be folded away as you drive round in a t-shirt trying to smile even though it feels as if the temperature is -3.
In a similar manner I was using any excuse to try my new glasses although I had to give up the idea in the end. I was beginning to look like an extra from the film, ‘The Men in Black’ as the lenses darkened during the most inappropriate of occasions in church.
Last weekend I really appreciated the glasses because when you stand in the sanctuary of the Church of Immaculate Conception during the warm and sunny weather you feel as if you’re standing in a green house. If this is not bad enough the sun reflects off the pages of the missal and you struggle to make out the words. With all the new changes to the text of the Mass this can be a bit of problem considering I struggle with the new translation at the best of times, without the added problem of glare.
I remember a few years ago mentioning the problem of the sun shining through the windows above the altar to parish priest Fr Aidan Mullan and suggesting it might be a good idea to fit blinds or tinted glass. He agreed that on the rare occasion when the sun shone this indeed was a problem.
Then he told the story of a young curate moving to a new parish. The curate loved to sing, in fact he sang all the time but there was one problem, the organ was broke. Not to be put off the curate has the organ examined by a professional who quotes him a price to repair it. Filled with excitement the curate tells the parish priest how it would only cost £20,000 to have the organ fixed. The parish priest remained silent for a few moments and without looking up from his dinner highlighted the comparison - the price of a new organ, £20,000, the price of a new curate, the cost of a stamp for the letter to the bishop! For some reason after the story was told I never mentioned the windows again, generally it was agreed the price of a pair of sunglasses would be the cheaper option. Being as laid back as ever it only took me four years to get around to buying sunglasses. But I shouldn’t complain the weather has been great and the sun shines on all of us regardless of whom we are or where we come from.
A person I was speaking to recently remarked how unique it was to this country to make the weather a subject of conversation. The woman recalled how once when she arrived in Los Angeles and happened to remark to someone about the weather being beautiful the person just looked at her as if she had two heads. Yet it has always been a great Irish tradition to see the grandeur of God reflected in his creation and in the rhythm of the seasons. The things of nature so basic and necessary to supporting life remind us how we are so dependent on the grace of God. God’s presence isn’t always visible or easy to understand and discern. Yet Jesus promised to send us the gift of the Holy Spirit who would keep alive his presence and his memory. This is God’s gift to all people, ensuring we will be led in the way of truth. The Holy Spirit descends on all the baptised and strengthens all men and women as God’s children through the seal of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria wrote, ‘Though the spirit is one in nature, he uses the tongue of one person for wisdom, the soul of another for prophecy, he acts differently in different people while remaining unchanged. His approach is gentle he comes to save, to heal, to teach, to strengthen, to console, to enlighten the mind...’