When I think of my mother’s death … worn out with persecution, poverty, and, largely consequent, disease, in the effort to hand on to us small boys the Faith … I find it very hard and bitter, when my children stray away.
As I ponder the state of contemporary Ireland, these words of J. R. R. Tolkien come to mind. Tolkien’s mother suffered greatly because of her conversion to the Catholic Faith, being disowned and disinherited by her family. Having already lost her husband, and struggling to raise her two young sons, she was plunged from poverty into penury as a consequence of her adherence to the Faith. It seems to me, as I recall these lines, that they serve as a metaphor for Ireland.
Ireland, the Motherland, has suffered persecution, poverty, and, largely consequent, disease (the potato famine), in the struggle to hand on the Faith to her sons. She has stood firm for centuries, refusing to relinquish the Faith in spite of all the tyrannical efforts by foreign powers to force her to conform to foreign faiths and philosophies. She was, as a famous rebel song proclaimed, the “most distressful country” but also one of the most heroic. It is, therefore, very hard and bitter when her children stray away.
And there’s no doubt that her children have strayed.
After fighting for centuries to gain her national sovereignty, finally succeeding after decades of violent struggle culminating in a brutal civil war, her sons have given it away all too cheaply, surrendering sovereignty to the European Union, an imperial power which is as at least as hostile to the Faith as was the British Empire; and all for thirty pieces of euro-silver. In this sense, the sons have not merely strayed away from their Mother but have betrayed her with a Judas-kiss.
What was the point of the Motherland’s fighting for independence from London when her children have sold it off so cheaply to Brussels?
After the Motherland had resisted the plague of infanticide which had swept across the world, declaring abortion to be an abomination and therefore illegal, her sons have now decided that the killing of children is a constitutional right for all the Mother’s wayward and wanton daughters.
After the Motherland had fought to preserve Irish identity and the Irish way of life, including efforts to restore the ancient Gaelic tongue, the European Union’s insistence on open borders has led to levels of immigration which is making Ireland less recognizably Irish with every year that passes.
As for the six counties in the north of Ireland which are still part of the United Kingdom, we can say that the so-called “Catholics” of Northern Ireland have strayed further from the Motherland than those in the South. Sinn Fein, better known to those of my generation as “the political wing of the IRA”, is an avowedly Marxist and secular fundamentalist organization, which hates everything about the Catholic Church and which supports the killing of babies in the womb as it had once excused the killing of children by the bombs its members planted. It is the Protestant Unionist party in the north, which is avowedly and courageously pro-life, that deserves the support and the votes of bona fide Catholics. And yet most tribal “Catholics” in the north are still voting for Sinn Fein, in spite of, or dare we say because of, its anti-Catholic positions on abortion and other issues. The sad and shameful reality is that the “Catholic” tribe in the north of Ireland seem to prefer the anti-Catholic sons of terrorists to those who teach and preach the Catholic Faith in its fullness and truth. Well might Mother Ireland find it very hard and bitter when her children stray away.
And what of Saint Patrick? What would Ireland’s patron saint make of all this? The snakes that he had purged from Erin’s shores have returned. The serpents once again need vanquishing and the dragons need to be slain. Perhaps we should pray that Saint Patrick might get together with Saint George, the patron saint of England. Perhaps we should pray that these heavenly warriors might help the true sons of Erin and Albion defeat the serpents who rule their most distressful countries with forked tongues and deadly venom.
Saint Patrick and Saint George, pray for us!
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