A Battle on Good Friday

A proposed statue of Brian Boru for Dublin

An account of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru’s stirring speech given to his army before battle against the Danes on Good Friday 1014:

“Their ranks had been formed before daylight, and as the sun rose, Brian rode through the lines of his soldiers with a crucifix in one hand, and a drawn sword in the other; he reminded them of the day selected by the pagan invader to offer battle, and exhorted them to conquer or die. Standing in the centre of his army, and raising his powerful voice, his speech was worthy of so great a king and so good a man: ‘Be not dismayed my soldiers, because my son Donough is avenging our wrongs in Leinster; he will return victorious, and in the glory of his conquests you shall share.

“On your valor rests the hopes of your country today; and what surer grounds can they rest upon? Oppression now attempts to bend you down to servility; will you burst its chains and rise to the independence of Irish freemen? Your cause is one approved by Heaven. You seek not the oppression of others; you fight for your country and sacred altars. It is a cause that claims heavenly protection. In this day’s battle the interposition of that God who can give victory will be singly manifested in your favour.

“Let every heart, then, be the throne of confidence and courage. You know that the Danes are strangers to religion and humanity; they are inflamed with the desire of violating the fairest daughters of this land of beauty, and enriching themselves with the spoils of sacrilege and plunder. The barbarians have impiously fixed, for their struggle, to enslave us, upon the very day on which the Redeemer of the world was crucified. Victory they shall not have! from such brave soldiers as you they can never wrest it; for you fight in defence of honor, liberty and religion – in defence of the sacred temples of the true God, and of your sisters, wives and daughters.

“Such a holy cause must be the cause of God, who will deliver your enemies this day into your hands. Onward, then, for your country and your sacred altars!’.” (From Annals of Innisfallen, Mooney, p436)


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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24 Responses to A Battle on Good Friday

  1. toadspittle says:

    Don’t care for the colour much. Is it politically correct, or something?

    Hope Brian remembers in which hand he has what.


  2. toadspittle says:


    An Easter thought.

    Is Christianity currently being “persecuted” in the UK? I think not.
    A rather “wooly” piece here from Moore, but..
    “Ever since, in 312, the Emperor Constantine saw a cross in the sky and heard a mysterious voice say, “In this sign, conquer”, all prudent leaders have needed the mandate of heaven. “
    Right, Brian – after you with the sword!
    Off with their heads!


  3. kathleen says:

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that war is a bad thing and all efforts should be made to avoid it. However, legitimate self-defense (leading to war) is sometimes necessary, and the only way to safeguard one’s land, families and way of life. (CCC 2304 – 2311)

    “2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war. [Cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 81, 4] All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.
    However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.” [Cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 79, 4]”

    I hardly think the great Christian Irish hero, Brian Boru, would have made much headway in negotiations with the barbaric Viking invaders! Who therefore could deny him his legitimate right in taking his men into battle against them?

    (Amazing how bloodthirsty and savage the Scandinavians were 1.000+ years ago, when now they are some of the politest, law-abiding people I’ve ever met!)


  4. toadspittle says:


    Quite surprising how pacificist the Christians were for the first three hundred years as well.
    The teaching of Christ insisted on non-violence, non-resistance, and non-retaliation.
    Until the Roman emperors converted, no Christian would not have contemplated bearing arms, considering it sinful.

    Or so I have read. Might be wrong, of course..


  5. toadspittle says:

    Doh! Make that….

    Until the Roman emperors converted, no Christian would have contemplated bearing arms, considering it sinful.


  6. JabbaPapa says:

    Until the Roman emperors converted, no Christian would have contemplated bearing arms, considering it sinful.

    This is inaccurate — soldiers were not forbidden from becoming Christians, to start with, and Christianity became fairly popular in the Roman Army well before the emperors converted to it themselves.


  7. toadspittle says:

    I didn’t say it was forbidden Jab, just not done. (Like wearing brown shoes with an alb.)


  8. toadspittle says:

    Beautiful day on the Camino has me brooding on Burro’s belligerant Boru and sundry other related matters.
    It seems to me, as a sceptical agnostic, that Christ’s message is simple, austere and uncompromising:

    “Do not raise your hand against another man. Do not fight back. Do not defend yourself.
    If people want to kill you – let them.”

    If this interpretation is correct, it is one of several reasons why I cannot call myself a Christian.


  9. kathleen says:

    Do not raise your hand against another man. Do not fight back. Do not defend yourself.
    If people want to kill you – let them.”

    Rubbish Toad! Nowhere in the Gospel or in any of the Church documents does it say that. However it does say in Luke 22:36, “But now he that has a purse let him take it, in like manner also a wallet, and he that has none let him sell his garment and buy a sword.”
    Although these words of Jesus’s could be interpreted as meaning the ‘sword‘ of the Holy Spirit, they would also seem to fall in with men’s legitimate right of self-defense. (See my comment and Jabba’s above).

    Also, consider the just anger of the Lord to the presence in the Temple of the money-changers and the action He took (John 2:13-17). Provoked by this offense against His Father, Jesus formed whips and drove them from the Temple. Righteous anger, and the acts which flow from it, intend the correction of vice (both for the good of the individual sinner and the common good), the restoring of the order of justice disturbed by sin, and the restraint of further violence.


  10. kathleen says:

    ‘Turning the other cheek’ means not returning insult for insult, ill for ill. Whilst we may have a right to defend and protect ourselves, we must never go beyond the necessary measures to do so, or willingly harm anyone. It means we must pray for those that persecute and harm us, forgiving them for the hurt they do us.

    Yes, it’s tough, and without the help of the Holy Spirit it would be impossible.


  11. teresa says:

    Well said Kathleen, like always. First, we must distinguish between two things: the willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins and our conduct as Christians in everyday life. We know that the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ is an extraordinary occurrence: He asked God the Father the let the chalice of this terrible death pass him. He didn’t seek the passion but accepted it in Obedience as the Will of the Father. He is in this case an example for us that we should accept what is necessary in case of suffering and persecution. The Passion of Jesus Christ was necessary for it redeemed us from our sins. But the persecution and suppressing of Christians is not necessary, it is evoked by the evil will of men. If we can’t escape the evil or suffering, we should accept it with patience while bearing the Cross of Christ in our mind. But if we have means to protect ourselves and not to do it, we are acting against the Command of the Father. While Peter was captured, he was rescued by an angel. Why did he escape if we Christians must seek our own destruction in every case, like someone here tells us?

    Not to speak out against injustice, is even worse. In the extraordinary case of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, He pointed out the Injustice though he didn’t try to escape his fate, because it was necessary to redeem whole Humanity. But our tolerant anti-Christian friends of today tell us instead that we don’t even have the right to point out the injustice. Protesting against Abortion and Contraception is bigotry, they tell us, and Christians should keep silent because they must turn the other cheek. When Religion was mocked in the theatre, in public life, they again tell us to shut up because we are to turn the other cheek, when Christians are killed around the world, again they tell us to shut up because they say Christians should accept injustice. WRONG, IT IS NOT THE TEACHING OF OUR LORD TO CONDONE INJUSTICE.

    Christians don’t seek revenge but it doesn’t mean they are weak and “masochistic”. To restore or maintain Justice means also to protect yourself if it is the right moment to do so. To let injustice occur to you though you have the means to protect yourself or escape the evil you are injuring Justice, just like people who commit suicide have done injustice to themselves and to the general moral order as well.

    “Turn the other cheek” is too often used by people who like to mock Christians just to justify their own injustice towards Christians. They say: “you are always to turn the other cheek whatever we are going to do to you. A Good Christian is one who never dares to defend himself. If you protest, you are a bad Christian. So we are always doing the right thing by mocking and harming Christians”. I find it to be the basest hypocrisy displayed by those who think like this.

    Not to stand up against the evil and injustice towards oneself, is not only cowardice, but also an injury of morality and justice.


  12. toadspittle says:


    “Why did he (Peter) escape if we Christians must seek our own destruction in every case, like someone here tells us?”
    1: You should be telling me why Peter escaped, not asking me.
    2: Nobody’s suggesting that Christians should seek their own destruction, just not retaliate. Isn’t that how the Christians behaved 2000 years ago?
    3: “Rubbish Toad! Nowhere in the Gospel or in any of the Church documents does it say that.” I didn’t suggest that it did. Just that contemplating Christ’s actions over the holy weekend, I came to that conclusion. Not so odd, I think – don’t Quakers follow that line? And didn’t Gandhi?
    4: Seem to have hit a nerve here.


  13. Brother Burrito says:

    To turn the other cheek, you have to be alive.

    That explains self defence. Gottit?



  14. teresa says:

    We are not Quakers nor Gandhi. I am not a fan of Gandhi and I am against Pacifism. If someone sees his own country invaded but does nothing I call him a coward. And if he tries to justify his inaction and cowardice with religious or moral reasons, I call him a hypocrite.

    I was not asking you why Peter escaped, I never meant to ask you anything. It is called a “rhetoric question”. And I have already answered point 2 & 3 in my comment above.


  15. toadspittle says:

    “We are not Quakers nor Gandhi.”

    Who said you were?


  16. teresa says:

    We are not Quakers nor Gandhi, it explains why the last sentence of your point 3 above is considered irrelevant for us so not needed to be answered. And point 4: no you haven’t hit a nerve, it was just the case that I had some time to waste on comment thread but now I am returning to much more important things.


  17. toadspittle says:

    “To turn the other cheek, you have to be alive.
    That explains self defence. Gottit? “
    .. says Bro Burro Boru.

    Well, no I don’t gottit. There seems no causal connection between the two sentences.
    Except maybe in the Coliseum, the lion might say to the Christian, “Turn the other cheek please, I’ve finished this one.” And he couldn’t say that if the Christian was dead.

    Indeed in order to be passively killed, it is necessary to be alive.
    For a moment or two, anyway. As you shrewdly point out.


  18. toadspittle says:

    “I am returning to much more important things.” Sorry, Teresa. I had no idea it was hair-washing night.


  19. teresa says:

    Hair washing? No. Now bye bye.


  20. toadspittle says:


    “To turn the other cheek, you have to be alive. That explains self defence. Gottit? “… says Burrito.
    It seems to me you might just as well say, “To turn the other cheek, you have to be alive.
    That explains The Diet of Worms, The Recent Rise In Gasoline Prices, or United winning the League again. Gottit?“
    (Because they can’t win the league if they’re dead. Gottit?)

    The important thing here, it also seems to me, is that Christ’s uncomplaining and unresisting death, which was faithfully duplicated by early martyrs in the arena, was intended to demonstrate what Christians really ought to do.
    But only a few hundred years later Brother Brian Boruto was galloping about, cheerfully bashing Vikings’ heads in with a crucifix.
    Why this should be commemorated with a statue – even a rather impermanent one made of strawberrty-flavoured ice cream – is mysterious to Toad.

    But it suggests Catholics have gone off the song sheet a bit when it comes to aggression.

    Anyway I also suggest in acknowledgement of Brothe Burrito’s stakhanovite endeavours on CP&S, he be promoted to El Burrissimo. Eh, Kathleen?


  21. teresa says:

    Defending one’s country has nothing to do with aggression.

    To die willingly for one’s Faith under a Tyrant is one thing, to pick up the sword and drive away the wild hoards who are now coming to burn your house and rape your wife is just another thing. These two things are not in contradiction with each other. Toad seems to suggest that we Christians should all be cowards and pacifists who hide behind the skirt of the Nanny State and and then point their fingers to those who give their life to secure that these pacifists could live a comfortable life in a peaceful society.

    Btw. the laudable behaviour of early Christian martyrs is no moral justification for supporters of Dawkins et. co. to continue their aggression against religious people, less they see a shining moral example in Nero.

    If the supporters of Dawkins continue to play the card such as “early Christians let themselves be suppressed so now you Christians should also be suppressed without saying a word”, they will have to acknowledge that they are just as morally despicable as Nero.


  22. toadspittle says:


    “If the supporters of Dawkins continue to play the card such as “early Christians let themselves be suppressed so now you Christians should also be suppressed” ”

    Well, Teresa, the weasel word here is “if” of course – and, of course no such thing has so far happened in the cosy West, or is likely to.
    Dawkins, any more than myself, does not want Christians to be “suppressed,” that would be unfair, intolerant and undemocratic.
    Christians, like anybody else, should be free to spout whatever nonsense comes into their heads.
    If other people don’t like it, tough luck. They can always answer back.

    It’s the same old head-holding, rocking back and forth while keening, “Persecution! Suppression! The sky is falling!” hysteria yet again.


  23. teresa says:

    I don’t find it to be a hysteria by pointing out the anti-democratic tendency of the politically correct left and Dawkins. Yes he is anti-democratic because he and other atheists want to suffocate the voice of Christian in public. Like Cardinal George said, in the USSR there was a freedom of worship, but not a religion of freedom. And now we are told that we should stop “whining” because we are still “free to worship” and “spout our nonsense”. The standard argument of atheists to tell us that a democracy (in their understanding) allows religious people to worship but nothing more. Just have a look at Obama’s health reform, the ban of religious symbols in public, condoning the mocking of religious symbols, the restriction laid on home schooling parents etc…. The list is long. Even the liberal Huffington Post admitted that the atheists want to push Christians out of public life.

    The West is cosy for people like you who share the ideology of the post-modern society that the politically correct liberal modern men are the best and morally and intellectually superior, and religious people are intellectually inferior ( and also morally inferior because they dare to speak out against the Holy Cow of our modern world that is condom and pills) so whatever they say is just nonsense, but we, the best men in the world, allow these intellectually inferior Christians to “spout their nonsense” and we delight ourselves in our “tolerance” and “love” for our inferior Christian citizens, how great we are that we “Allow them to spout their nonsense” (as if Christians had no right of their own to worship but must be allowed by these intellectually and morally superior fellows). The way you mention that Christian “spout their nonsense” is already anti-democratic and anti-liberal. How could you know that they are spouting nonsense? Only because you find your own position to be superior and the absolutely true one, you are in the position to say that religious people are spouting nonsense. Very typical attitude of Dawkins’ crowd. Sorry to be so direct but I am getting tired of hearing that we Christians are not being marginalized in the cosy West because the Guru Dawkins and like minded crowds in the government still grant us gracefully to spout our nonsense on our own blog. If it is the freedom according to your understanding, it is a very poor freedom and really quite a slavish one.

    You don’t find it to be problematic only because you don’t care for Christianity too much. You don’t identify yourself with Christians so you are not ready to speak out for them. You are living a cosy life because you keep yourself out of all the troubles and keep yourself safe to the main-stream ideology. Of course there is no problem for you.


  24. toadspittle says:

    “Sorry to be so direct but I am getting tired of hearing that we Christians are not being marginalized in the cosy West because the Guru Dawkins and like minded crowds in the government still grant us gracefully to spout our nonsense on our own blog.”

    No need to be even a teeny-weeny bit sorry, Teresa. (Although if you were really being honest, you’d admit you aren’t really sorry at all, and why, in heaven’s name, should you be?)

    And if you re-read what I wrote you will see that I didn’t limit the spouting of nonsense to Catholics.
    We all do it. Even Wittgenstein admitted to doing it. I do it myself, every few minutes, like a geyser.

    Not knowing Dawkins personally, (as with Williamson) I cannot be certain that he is not in favour of “suffocating” Catholicism, but I very much doubt that he is.

    Like you, with your hair-washing, he probably has more important things, as he sees it, to do.

    I don’t know the circumstances of your own life, but venture to suggest they are reasonably “cozy.
    I would be sorry to hear that they aren’t.

    Mine certainly are. It’s good to be cosy.

    And an entirely Catholic world would be living hell. Or so I think. Not a bit cosy


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