'Whose least unworthy name is Love'. In gratitude for Michael Paul Gallagher SJ

Paul Rowan

whose least unworthy nameOver two years have passed since the death of Michael Paul Gallagher SJ. What follows are a few personal reflections from a former student and grateful friend. Paul Rowan is Assistant Head (Director of Catholic Life and Formation) at Beaulieu Convent School, Jersey, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

The Servant of Two Masters: consolation, desolation and being loved into loving
I first met Michael Paul Gallagher (MPG) in Rome in March 1991, in 'Anna's', a little Latteria (milk/coffee bar) between the Piazza Farnese and Campo de' Fiori. The occasion was the post-last night's performance party for the English College's Lent Play, Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, in which I had played Truffaldino. Seventeen years later, as I was about to undertake a new teaching position, I received an email from Michael Paul, wishing me well and discussing the doctorate I was working on under his direction. Towards the end of the email he wrote, 'Tonight I go to Murder in the Cathedral in the English College, reminding me of the first time we met! I suspected then that life was never going to be dull for you, but that is, of course, true for us all (at least those of us who are honest with themselves). I admire the courage you always find and incarnate amidst your difficulties. Trust it, it is God working on you.'

Michael Paul was the first person who ever made me aware that self-inflicted difficulties can always be used by God to save us if we face them bravely. He taught me that in the New Testament sin is hamartia, a sporting image which translates as missing the target or goal (perhaps with a spear or an arrow in Antiquity, or with a football today). We all at times miss the target of the life to which we are called, missing God's hopes for us, falling short of the fullness of our humanity, created as it is to mirror God's self-gift. However, Michael Paul was fond of pointing out that grace is found in the unlikeliest of places, and nothing is ever wasted by God in his constant desire to make us saints, 'loving us into loving'1  -  what Michael Paul referred to as the 'attitude erosion' worked on us and in us throughout our lives by the Holy Spirit.

Login for more...