Celebrating The Gift of the Catholic Faith in Ireland

St. Patrick

By Patrick Kenny (adapted):

I beg of God whom I love to grant me that I may shed my blood with those strangers and captives for His name’s sake, even though I be without burial itself, or my corpse be most miserably divided, limb by limb, amongst dogs and fierce beasts, or the birds of the air devour it. I think it most certain that if this happens to me, I shall have gained my soul with my body” – Saint Patrick


“Today is a great day for the Irish. But we must remember that it is NOT a day for celebrating Irishness per se. It is a day for celebrating the gift of the Catholic Faith in Ireland. It is a day of thanksgiving for the courage and fortitude of St Patrick in bringing us this priceless gift. It is also a day of thanksgiving for all of those countries who received the light of faith indirectly through St Patrick, by means of the many selfless Irish missionaries over the centuries. In particular we think of the many European countries that were evangelised by Irish monks, and in recent centuries those parts of America, Australia, Africa and Asia that were so well served by Irish missionaries, even up to this day.

Let us consider then this verse from one of the Epistles approved for use at Mass for the feast of St Patrick:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

We see these itching ears in the drift towards an aggressive secularism in some quarters and the refusal of a vocal minority to recognise any good in the Church, accompanied by a desire to see its destruction. We also see these itching ears in the growth of superstition and New Age “spirituality”. And most damningly we saw it in the moral relativism and/or cowardice that failed to recognise, or act against, the evils of abuse, preferring the advice of secular therapists rather than the advice of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. For all of this, reparation is needed.

But we should avoid pessimism, for there is still life and holiness in the Church in this country.

Let us turn to our great patron St Patrick, asking him for holiness in our land. We should also pray to him for more Irish beatifications and canonisations so that we can have modern heroes to emulate in our own lives and to aid our evangelisation. Ireland has a poor record in this regard.”


We conclude with our beloved Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer for Ireland:

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Celebrating The Gift of the Catholic Faith in Ireland

  1. J. P. says:

    Considering the many gross abuses perpetrated by Irish priests and consecrated religious on Irish people, particularly vulnerable women and children in schools, institutions and elsewhere, what in heaven’s name is there to celebrate ? An overriding amount, rather, to find reprehensible and to deplore ?

    This morning at Mass here on St Patrick’s Day our parish priest, examining the Irish identity, broadened his homily beyond the text of to-day’s readings to mention again these very abuses which as he said were the responsibility of the Irish Church.


  2. toadspittle says:

    “We also see these itching ears in the growth of superstition and New Age “spirituality”
    Very well put.
    No point in kicking out one collection of superstitions – only to replace it with another.


  3. leftfooter says:

    Tweeted and facebooked. Thank you and God bless.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m only half-way through this exciting, thoroughly documented story by Patrick Kenny. It is possibly the best thing I have ever read about the tribes of Ireland, Britain and nearby places.


  5. The Raven says:

    While we should always remember the terrible wrongs done to women and children, John, and should, in no way minimise the wrongs committed by clergy, laity and the Irish State over the last century, do you really think that things were/are better in children’s homes in protestant/secular England?

    The main reason that the Church is implicated in these awful abuses is because it was the only institution that stepped up to the plate in post-independence Ireland to undertake social work or look after unmarried women and their children (look at the Irish Times coverage of Tuam, and the unspoken but implicit acknowledgement
    that the Irish state would do nothing to help the Church care for women and babies in their care).

    If we ignore the heroic works wrought by priests and nuns in Ireland over the last two millennia because a tiny minority have behaved badly and because Irish secular society in the twenty-first century wants to define itself against the past and to have a decent scapegoat for its own failings, we will have let the abusers win.

    So fie on your piety, John. Yes, let’s remember the victims, the Church should repent, but by no means should we allow this to obscure the fact that there was and there remains much to celebrate in Irish Catholicism.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    My mother was raised in a secular orphanage (as they were then called) whilst her parents were still alive. Of course, I choose not to share her pain with the likes of John Kehoe.


  7. johnhenrycn says:

    Life is full of irony. A very close relative of mine, who had never lived in that city before, now lives on the same road as where that orphanage (since demolished) was in the early 1900s.


  8. J.P. says:

    The Raven@19:25 . I dare say things were not any better in children’s homes in Protestant secular England but two wrongs do not make a right. Furthermore, Catholic Ireland was supposed to be so much better,always occupying the high moral ground. Our Irish delusions, however, have not served us well.
    As for my piety, I am afraid I have none. I will leave that to Ireland’s other remaining Catholics, if they so chose.
    johnhenrycn @19:38 I do not understand how I could be responsible for or indifferent to the pain caused to any woman in any orphanage. The historical record now sadly laid bare here, however, shows that those in religious run homes did not fare any better,and many times they fared much worse, than those in secular run homes. Not much to celebrate either way, I am afraid.


  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Mistake by me at 18:14 – I meant to applaud the lengthy article by Charles A. Coulombe entitled The Celtic Church – Myth and Reality which appears above this one by Mr Kenny.


  10. The Raven says:

    It is not a question of “two wrongs”, John,nor is it a question of Ireland being better: in the post independence era Ireland was in a desperate plight, with, as always, the most vulnerable hardest hit. The Church is taking a hit for being the one institution that attempted to deal with deprivation and poverty; secular Ireland is attempting to salve its collective conscience by blaming the Church for all of the failings of Irish society.

    And I don’t think that record does show that those in secular-run institutions faired any better (which is the thrust of my comparison with England).


  11. toadspittle says:

    “And I don’t think that record does show that those in secular-run institutions fared any better (which is the thrust of my comparison with England).”
    In other words, Ireland was rotten, but England was not all that much better.
    Damned faint praise, I’d say.

    “..secular Ireland is attempting to salve its collective conscience by blaming the Church for all of the failings of Irish society.”
    Salve what collective conscience? Ireland may be more secular now – it certainly is – but it is also infinitely saner and happier than when it was oppressed and stifled by a bullying and blustering religion.
    And I can tell you that many Irish, both in England, and in the States to where they fled – have forcibly told me that.
    Nor do most of the Irish fear the flames of Hell any more. They have left that behind to its original function – to stupify and terrorise the ignorant and cringing credulous.
    Hell is an obscenity and is an evil concept, which no decent god could tolerate.

    (Not much chance of this getting in, I fear. Oh, well. What do you expect, Toad,you twit?)


  12. The Raven says:


    My point, insofar as I have one, is that there was no unique evil perpetrated in Ireland: the women and children of Ireland didn’t suffer because of the Church, they suffered because unmarried mothers and their children got treated abominably in those times in all societies.

    And you say “Salve what collective conscience?” and I’ll just point out to you the coverage in the Irish Times (not exactly an organ friendly to the Church), which identified how badly ordinary Irish people treated the kids at Tuam. Where was the outcry at the Magdalene Laundries when they were in operation? Or the industrial schools?

    Modern Ireland has some unsavoury things in its recent past and is looking for a scapegoat (much like modern England’s tussle with its conscience about the atrocities of empire).

    And it’s your subjective judgment that Ireland is saner: I’d say the current campaign to legalise abortion demonstrates anything but sanity. I’d also question whether Ireland is happier too: the last few years have caused a lot of people to question whether the whole edifice of modern Ireland isn’t built on sand.

    And I’d also point out that your sources, disaffected people who’ve fled the place, are not likely to be a reliable indicator of the state of the nation’s mind!

    As for your last sentiments about Hell, haven’t we done that to death and beyond? I’m sure that I’m getting time off purgatory just for having to read it yet again.


  13. toadspittle says:

    Well said, Raven. My judgements are certainly subjective.
    I’d have thought we’d done abortion, and the knavery of Pope Francis, to death and beyond as well. But somehow I doubt it.


  14. J.P. says:

    The Raven March 19@21:15. You ask ‘ Where was the outcry at the Magdelene laundries when they were in operation ? Or the industrial schools ?’ Quite so. Alas, these institutions were also run by Catholic religious in a similar dreadful way. No credit to Holy Ireland, nor anything to celebrate.


  15. toadspittle says:

    “…the Irish Times (not exactly an organ friendly to the Church), which identified how badly ordinary Irish people treated the kids at Tuam.”
    …And what religion do we assume these “…ordinary Irish people,” subscribed to?
    Lutheranism? Maybe. I don’t know.
    “… there was no unique evil perpetrated in Ireland:”
    Whoever suggested there was? Even Toad wouldn’t seriously suggest Ireland ever possessed a monopoly on evil.

    The.. “Yes, we were bad, but so were the others,” line of ‘reasoning,’ seems a bit lacking in forcefulness. (To me.)
    I’ve heard it from Muslims, “Yes we treat our women badly – beat them, and so on – but so do lots of Christians.”
    Very convincing.
    And, “Yes, our paedophile priests are bad, but no worse than Anglican ones.”

    How about, “Yes Lutherans are bad, but not as bad as Muslims.”?
    Relativism, I suppose, so therefore untrue.


  16. GC says:

    Cheer up, John. Things are looking up, it seems, in Co. Limerick, due in no small small part to the 90 million strong Irish diaspora, if we may call it so.

    That’s a blessing, as I’m sure you’ll agree. What infectious smiles.


  17. J.P. says:

    GC @18:41 And can you say that all of the 90 million Irish diaspora you speak of are all still practising Catholics which one may celebrate;or that one small community of sisters in County Limerick can reverse the spiritual ravages and injustices created by the Church abuses of the past ?


  18. GC says:

    And there I was, John, thinking that I was “on all fours” thinking you would be thrilled by any effort, even small baby steps in Co. Limerick by Irish diaspora Dominican sisters to serve in and invigorate a Limerick parish. Seems not. What have I missed here?

    Are you against reinvigorating Irish parishes, John?

    This is quite perplexing. Are you on the level, John? John, I think you owe us an explanation, which I’m sure you will forthwith provide. Please don’t be shy and don’t hold anything back, now, please. We’re not in court.


  19. J.P. says:

    GC @20:02. The bona fides of the sisters in County Limerick is not in question. This blog was, however, about celebrating the gift of the Catholic faith in Ireland. I have been suggesting that there is really not much to celebrate about. This week we had the funeral in Ireland of His Excellency Most Reverend Eamon Casey, Lord Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh who fathered a son with Annie Murphy, American divorcee. His flight from Ireland and fall from grace in 1992 is reckoned here to have accelerated the slide of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from its once prominent place in society; compounded shortly thereafter by the Church abuse revelations which are still continuing to unfold such as the recent Tuam Mother and baby scandal. An obituary written about him by history Professor Diarmaid Ferriter in The Irish Times on March 18 characterizes Casey as one combining social activism with profound hypocrisy. That is the reality of the Church in Ireland to-day.
    I am afraid that contrary nostalgic notions about Irish Catholicism are pure fantasy and delusion.
    P.S. You asked me not to hold anything back. No, what makes you think we are in court ?


  20. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, you’d have a point if I was trying to minimise the bad things done to single mothers and their children in Ireland; I’m just trying to point out to you that pretty much every human society at that time treated such people very badly (even those lovely Scandinavian ones that we always have held up to us as an example [except when they were participating in eugenics programs, sterilising the poor etc, obvs]).

    The truth of Tuam is that the Church was fulfilling the role of providing support and social services to poor people, whom the rest of Irish society was more than happy to ignore, denigrate or actively persecute. They got very little help from the Irish state institutions or from the local council and it’s not as if the sisters themselves lived luxurious lives, profiting from the exploitation of their charges. Now, seventy years and more later, we are being asked to get cross about the fact that some bodies were buried in what sounds awfully like a crypt.

    In short, the Church is in the firing line because it was the only institution, including the Irish state, willing to try to step in to support these people. To put it at its crudest, the secular opposition to the Church in modern Ireland is making a ballyhoo because the Church didn’t look after people, whom the secularists’ forebears (and in some cases, the secularists themselves) didn’t want to pay to feed or clothe, to the standards of the early 21st century bourgeoisie.

    And I do wish that you’d stop treating pedophilia as some sort of rhetorical buckshot – you seem to think that adding it into an argument means that you’ll get maximum coverage of sh1t. If you will forgive me for being both deliberately rude and direct, the subject of pedophilia is far too important for stupid little people like you and me to bandy about as a rhetorical device.


  21. toadspittle says:

    “…the subject of pedophilia is far too important for stupid little people like you and me to bandy about as a rhetorical device.”

    I must point out, Raven – that by making that statement – you are bandying the subject of pedophilia about as a rhetorical device.


  22. The Raven says:



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s