Ignatian flavour to Fermanagh deacon’s book
A Fermanagh deacon’s book, Lakeland lockdown reflections (April 2021), has a distinctly Ignatian flavour, according to Brendan McManus SJ.
During lockdown, Deacon Martin Donnelly wrote a number of reflections for the website of St Michael’s Parish Enniskillen. These formed the basis of his book, which, according to Brendan, illustrates Martin’s “Ignatian ability to find and communicate with God in strange times of anxiety and uncertainty”.
Martin did his diaconate training with Alan McGuckian SJ in Belfast before Alan became Bishop of Raphoe. He also had a Jesuit Spiritual Director as part of the programme. Martin himself credits this formation for his ability to find God both in the Word in his preaching and in the beauty of creation, specifically in Fermanagh Lakelands where he lives.
The reflections are brought alive by images of lake and forest scenes photographed by Brendan McManus, himself a Fermanagh man. Brendan also wrote the foreword for the book. Martin underscores the importance of the photography, stating that the images “illustrate how the beauty of the environment becomes a stimulus for silent prayer.” He adds: “The words challenge the reader to reflect upon experiences of God in everyday life and to see God in the little things we often take for granted.”
In addition to being a good read, says Brendan, it is also a useful resource for meditation and prayer with many different methods including Ignatian contemplation. Martin, with Brendan’s help, designed the images to enable the reader to look at the ‘ordinary’ with new eyes. The reflections with stories from Martin’s life and ministry appeal to the heart and open it to wonder and awe of God’s presence.
“What is unique about this book is that Rev. Martin brings his experience of being a married deacon to bear on the reflections he wrote during Lockdown 2020,” notes Brendan. He adds: “Being a married deacon is a new ministry in the Irish Church, and Martin gives an insight into his formation, his prayer and his ministry.”
Brendan believes that in certain ways Martin Donnelly represents a bridge between clergy and laypeople. “He has a foot in both camps and shows readers the benefits of both the experience of married life, grandparenting and its demands, along with the commitment to prayer, liturgy and making the Scriptures talk to human experience.”
Lakeland lockdown reflections is published by Shanway Press, Belfast, and can be purchased through their website »