Keeping the Lord’s Day

10 August 1992,

This Sunday morning I sat with the people at Mass in the Cathedral in Skibbereen, where I am on holiday with my father. This has been a really bad summer in Ireland – constant rain. That doesn’t improve out humour as holiday makers but it is catastrophic for the farmers who need some dry sunny weather to save the hay for their animals’ winter fodder.

The local parish priest said the Mass. As usual there was no singing and no one went up to read the scripture readings. So the celebrant read all three readings and the prayers of the faithful. Not very many people around me answered the responses of the Mass. I was disheartened by those things but the homily was the worst of all.

The priest said that he had been out driving on the previous Sunday and he was shocked to see farmers saving their hay on the Lord’s Day. He quoted the third commandment and insisted that it must be a day of rest and no excuse could be found for not keeping it so. Not much sympathy there for the poor farmers trying to rescue something from a rotten summer.

After Mass I met a local friend. “How does anyone continue to come to Mass here to listen to homilies like that?” I asked. “Yerra, half the people from this parish go to the next parish on Sundays because of him,” he said. “But the fellow over there is just as bad. So half of his parish comes here for Mass!”

by Fr. Frank Hoare