Is the Faith Dead in the ancient ‘Land of Saints and Scholars’?
We have great respect for the Irish and Ireland, their ancient ‘Land of Saints and Scholars.’ A warm–hearted, unpretentious people, the tenacity of the Irish is legendary. Against all odds, they brought the light of the Faith to Europe in the Dark Ages – and then spread over all the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.
But the Ireland of The Quiet Man is no longer with us. The whitewashed cottages nestled in green hills are all but gone. Modern Ireland is clean and efficient; despite the severe recession of recent years it is clear that the Celtic Tiger has prospered.
Sleek German luxury cars sweep down smooth highways. Cottages that their forebears lived in are nowadays turned into garden sheds in the back yards of American-style Mc Mansions. Dublin is awash in young people intent on living the life of hip modern Europeans – a life that does not include their ancient Faith.
Dublin is awash in young people eagerly pursuing the life of hip modern Europeans – a life that does not include their ancient Faith.
However, like the proverbial canary in the mineshaft, Ireland is a harbinger for the global Church. Though the little canary is not dead, she is sorely stricken. For underneath the veneer of prosperity and glitz, a thick cloak of spiritual darkness lies spread over Ireland today.
In the years since Vatican II, powerful prelates in the Irish Church have cruelly betrayed the trust of centuries of Catholic civilization. Rape. Pillage. Institutionalized corruption on a scale which staggers the imagination. Mortal sins of enormous gravity, committed by a clergy that has all but banned talk of ‘sin’ from their progressive pulpits.
Mortal sins of enormous gravity, committed by a clergy that has all but banned talk of ‘sin’ from their progressive pulpits.
Just how deep this betrayal of the Irish people runs can only be understood against the background of what the Faith has historically meant to the Irish. The bond between the Irish and their religious ran deep in the blood.
For it is true that Irish men would put on a priest’s cassock and undergo torture in his place during the penal times. Irish priests and nuns died in scores attending to famine and typhus-stricken Irish families. Diaspora Irish the world over gathered in their parishes to keep the light of their civilization and their Faith alive, so far from Ireland’s green shores.
Today, the Faith is dying in Ireland. Only the very elderly attend Mass. Ancient nuns clad in twinsets decline to identify themselves on hotel registers; they call themselves ‘Ms.’ Vocations are practically non-existent. Ordinary Irish people are hostile to the Faith of their forebears – or what they think that Faith is. Denied catechism for over 50 years, most of the laity know next to nothing of the Faith.
Ordinary Irish people are hostile to the Faith of their forebears – or what they think that Faith is.
Incredibly, the reaction of much of the Church’s aging hierarchy is to go deeper into denial. No one attends Mass? They want to make the Mass more ‘relevant.’ No one believes in the Real Presence? They shunt the Eucharist aside. What is the problem? It’s Rome, of course.
Meanwhile, media reports and popular films full of half-truths infuriate people all over again–and they stay away in droves. No sacraments. No grace. No vocations. A kind of spiritual death lies like a cold pall over the Emerald Isle.
A kind of spiritual death lies like a cold pall over what was once heralded as ‘the Land of Saints and Scholars.’
What will happen? Either the Faith will re-enter that culture or Ireland will lose it entirely.
Faith, however, is ultimately something in the heart, and the Faith runs deep in Ireland. Some of our writers have observed that the Faith is not dead, but in a state of suspended animation — waiting for the next St Patrick to light another fire on the Hill of Slane.
Here at Regina Magazine, we believe that we are witnessing the first stirrings of yet another turning point in Ireland’s long history. Faithful Irish priests and lay people tell us that there are small cadres of young people ardent for the Faith, in Irish cities, universities and country towns. We have visited parishes in the midst of a rebirth. We have spoken with ancient Orders, suddenly receiving young, orthodox vocations.
Faithful Irish priests and lay people tell us that there are small cadres of young people ardent for the Faith in Irish cities, universities and country towns.
For the truth is that the Faith that the real Saint Patrick – a fifth century Romanized Briton who was kidnapped by Irish slavers – brought to Ireland is not dead. It lies hidden in the Real Presence, now a flame flickering in Ireland’s green heart — as you will see in ‘The Secret Catholic Insider Guide to Ireland.’
Beverly De Soto
Editor, Regina Magazine
Dublin, May 2014
The truth is that the Faith in Ireland is not dead.
It lies hidden in the Real Presence, now a flame flickering in Ireland’s green heart
You will see this in ‘The Secret Catholic Insider Guide to Ireland.’