Saturday, July 16, 2016

St. Canice's Church, Finglas Village

This morning, continuing my exploration of Dublin churches, I went to 10:00 Saturday morning Mass in St. Canice's, Finglas village. (I have decided it makes more sense to go to nearby churches first and radiate outwards, rather than work from an alphabetical list.) As it happened, it was a funeral Mass. St. Canice was a medieval Irish saint who studied in Glasnevin, near Finglas. He is considered one of the 'twelve apostles of Ireland'. (I don't know much about him, to be honest.)

The church is a stone church. Its website said that its foundation stone was laid on Bloody Sunday, 1920-- the day when Michael Collins's hit squad executed many members of the British intelligence in Ireland (along with some civilians), and the British forces responded by shooting into the crowd at a GAA match in Croke Park, killing fourteen. These events are vividly (though not quite accurately) depicted in the movie Michael Collins.

As I made my way to Finglas, I found myself thinking of my late mother Patricia-- I often used to go there with her. Eternal rest grant unto her, oh Lord. May perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

The church is the kind of ornate stone church that appeals to most ordinary people with healthy tastes, but which is less interesting to me than more modern churches-- my loss, no doubt. 

It has a high vaulted roof, and two wings radiating from the altar. There is a shrine to Padre Pio and St. Joseph on the left hand wing (or is the word semi-transept?), and there is a shrine to the Little Flower St. Therese of Lisieux on the right hand wing. I noticed that there was a photo of St. Therese's parents by her shrine-- their cult seems to be ever-burgeoning. I also noticed there were portraits of St. Oliver Plunkett and Edel Quinn on the wall above the entrance.

The church has a choir balcony over the entrance, a beautiful marble altar and tabernacle, decorative tiles underfoot, globe-shaped lights hanging from the ceiling, and a stained glass window behind the altar. There is a small side chapel with a sculpture of the crucixion and a very extensive montage of photographs from parish events.

There are white marble statues of Our Lord and Our Lady (as Maria Regina) on either side of the altar.

I especially liked the symbols which decorated the wall behind the altar, in a recurring pattern, in gold-leaf. The Chi-Ro was one, but I didn't recognise all the others.

The Stations of the Cross I liked especially-- rather murky-coloured, entirely representation alnd old-fashioned. The confessionals still seemed to be in use judging from signs posted on them reading, "Welcome". There was a large photo of Pope Francis on one wall.

Before the funeral procession arrived, there were only about fifty people in the church, and most of them were middle-aged to old. As is the case in Dublin, they seemed to come in groups of friends rather than families.

Then the funeral cortege arrived. The funeral was that of a man named Eamonn, who was only in his fifites, and whose death was a surprise. He had worked as a barman in the area and had taken care of his sick mother for the last five years. He was a fan of Dublin GAA and liked to read the morning newspaper. The priest described his as a quiet, good man. Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord, and comfort those who mourn him!

Gifts of a GAA jersey and a morning newspaper were put on the coffin, along with the pall and the book of the Gospels.

The priest himself was an old, well-spoken fellow with white hair and glasses. I suspect, in fact, that he is the same priest who often celebrates the Irish language Mass in Glasnevin. The altar server from my local church was also serving the altar here, to my surprise; it's close, but not that close.

Sculpture outside the church
There were no eulogies other than the eulogy in the funeral homily, which was warm but dignified. The family read the readings, which were "not that we loved God, but that God loved us", from one of the letters of St. John, "I have fought the good fight" from the Second Letter to Timothy, and "Son, behold your mother!" from the Gospel of St. John. The priest also dwelt for a short while on today's Feast Day, that of Our Lady of Saint Carmel.

The hymns were accompanied by a guitar, and were rather bland modern hymns-- "Be Not Afraid, I Go Before You Always", and "Some Say Love It Is a River".

When the time came for Communion, the priest mentioned that a chalice would be available for anyone who could not receive the Eucharist because of a gluten allergy. Although this is entirely laudable, I found myself thinking wryly: "We've reached the stage where the only case in which someone is discouraged from receiving the Eucharist is when they have an allergy."

There were six or eight Eucharistic ministers, who came out to the pews (it is a large church, to be fair). The Eucharistic Minister closest to me was a short woman-- so short that I went to my knees in order to receive on the tongue (everybody ahead of me received in the hand) I saw a woman staring at me as I made my way back to the pews-- I did feel a little self-conscious, but it's better than letting the Host drop (a thing that has happened to me in the past).

The funeral ended, the congregation joining in with the final prayers that I don't know myself. The coffin and the procession left the church.

As I wandered around looking at the shrines, a layman (I presume) began to lead the Rosary, with which I joined. About twenty people remained. I noticed that a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was included at the end of each decade. They were still at it when I left, after the 'Oh God, whose only begotten son..." prayer. (I strongly feel that this should be the concluding prayer of the Rosary-- surely you can have too many 'trimmings'!)

God bless the soul of our brother in Christ, Eamonn, and all who mourn him!

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