‘My proposal is that, at this time, the Holy Spirit is unearthing an underground cathedral in Ireland which could help to replace the pretentious, over-elaborate Irish Catholic architecture of the twentieth century. An underground cathedral is a metaphor which describes an alternative place and time of worship. At this time, the secret work of the Holy Spirit is not being done, in most countries of Western Europe, by politicians nor by church institutions. The people who are carrying the torch are mostly artists because, as Rainer Maria Rilke foretold, in destitute times we have to rely on art to show us the way forward. Now, it does not matter very much that such work goes unrecognised, that people fail to acknowledge their sources, that the Holy Spirit remains incognito. That has been the profile of the Holy Spirit since the beginning of time.’ Coupled with very incisive and honest comments on the current state of the church in Ireland, and with a reflective meditation on the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese, Abbot Hederman offers a visionary and very stimulating image of how things might be if only we all listen to the voices of artists in our midst.
Mark Patrick Hederman is a Benedictine monk of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, Ireland. Formerly headmaster of their school, he has lectured in philosophy, theology and literature in Ireland, Nigeria and the USA. A founding editor of the cultural journal The Crane Bag, he is the author of several books. His most recent book is The Opal and the Pearl.