This photo has featured many times since the day the two popes met and spent a bit of time in prayer. Quite humorously, it was used in recent days to show the two men praying for different results in the World Cup. We now know which way that one fell!
Yesterday I was reading some Patrick Kavanagh poetry (he’s still in my head and I intend learning a bit more about him in some way or other) and I came across a lovely poem called “FR MATT”. It’s long and involved and seems to touch on the life of the priest in the parish. In fairness, he’s a good man who seems to fit in well – as Kavanagh says, “like a round stone in a field”. I had the feeling Kavanagh liked him.
There’s a part of the poem about people waiting in church to go to confessions and the prayers being said. There’s a lovely piece about two people praying within kneeling board distance of each other but their prayers are for a different outcome …
In the dim
Corners in the side seats faces gather,
Lit up now and then by a guttering candle
And the ghost of day at the window.
A secret lover is saying
Three Hail Marys that she who knows
The ways of women will bring
Cathleen O’Hara (he names her) home to him.
Ironic fate! Cathleen herself is saying
Three Hail Marys to her who knows
The ways of men to bring
Somebody else home to her –
‘O may he love me.’
What is the Virgin Mary now to do?
(From “Fr Matt” by Patrick Kavanagh)
It begs the question whose prayers should be answered. Pope Francis said that he wasn’t going to pray for any team in the World Cup but rather that the sport would be enjoyed, bring people together and leave it at that. I heard of a Priest President of a diocesan college who used train the football team and he’d tell the team clearly that he wasn’t going to pray for victory as the other team would be doing the same and might be better “pray-ers”!! Same idea.
So what happened Cathleen O’Hara (he named her) and the man in the next seat. Was prayer answered?
They say it’s always answered but maybe we don’t recognise the answer or understand it.
Any thoughts on this …. maybe we could get a discussion going!!