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Getting to the heart of the matter

Actress Angela Harding presented a well-attended talk entitled ‘Getting to the heart of the matter: Reading Scripture at Mass’ at Gardiner Street Parish in Dublin on 13 October, 2018. Her acting skills brought much drama and life to the second morning of the October Talks Series 2018.

Angela, known for her leading role in the RTE period drama Strumpet City, had a lot more people than were expected at the reader’s workshop last Saturday. More than twenty church readers turned up from inside and outside the parish (standing in the photo is Angela and sitting is parishioner Christine Halloran who reported on the first talk of the series).

The morning began with an exercise in Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospel followed by a discussion in small groups. She didn’t get a chance to work with everyone individually, but she did manage to bring clarity and life to their reading.

Some simple techniques on reading scripture helped parishioners get to the heart of the matter, for instance, ‘standing back’ after reading the text and expressing in their own words what the text says to them. And to then read that meaning out of the text when they stand up at Mass.

Like Shakespeare’s plays, sacred scripture is an ancient text; people have to approach it carefully and slowly so that it makes sense to the faithful in 2018. Vocal warm-ups and reading the text well before Mass help the reader to deliver the message most effectively.

Above all, Angela communicated the love of the written word and the power it has to move and touch hearts. The morning finished with a flourish as parishioners read one of Yeat’s poems. A suggestion for Jesuit.ie readers is to say it aloud and to notice how it makes them feel.

 

The Song of Wandering Aengus

By William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

 

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

 

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

 

The remaining talks of the October Talks Series 2018 include ‘The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis’ with Gerry O’Hanlon SJ on 20 October and ‘The Art of Spiritual Discernment’ with Brendan Comerford SJ on 27 October. See the Gardiner Street Parish website for details.