Thursday, January 19, 2012

On the uses of religion

Ballygiblin church, Mitchelstown parish
Tonight to a special mass for John, who tomorrow is to have an operation for cancer. I gather it’s an amputation, maybe a life and death affair for all I know. I don’t know John but his brother has done some tiling for us and his sister has a florists shop in town. Ballygiblin church was full, I guess about 300 in the congregation. Canon Tim said that prayer is powerful and the most powerful prayer is when the whole community is gathered together. The gospel reading was Jesus saying take up thy bed and walk to the man who was sick of the palsy. (Except tonight Jesus said pick up your stretcher and the man was a paralytic. It’s the one where his friends lowered him through a hole in the roof. Mark ch 2.)

You can have a secular wedding or funeral, but I've never known a secular version of what happened tonight. Canon Tim was right about the whole community gathering together to pray. When John is told that 300 people have been praying in church for him, that knowledge has got to fortify his immune system, no question.

It was a moving experience to be there, all those people turning out on a cold dark night to pray that John’s operation is successful, and that God will restore him to heath. They prayed for the surgeons and nurses too.


  1. What a fantastic effort by the community! Do you ever envy people with Faith Pete?

  2. Well Noggin that’s an interesting question. The answer is no. But what makes the question interesting is that I'm not sure how many of the 300 actually had very strong faith. I think they attended from a mixture of motives. Social solidarity, it was the thing to do, comments would be passed if they were absent, all of that. As for belief in the power of prayer, I wonder how prevalent that motive was. I intend to so some research.