Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Yes, yes, I know; it was the cry of the Dolcinians. But it was what came into my mind when I read the response of Cardinal Brady to the Pope's discussions with the Irish hierarchy in response to the abuse crisis.
According to Zenit:

Cardinal Brady stressed the importance of a renewal of faith in the Church in Ireland, saying the crisis of sexual abuse is also due to the crisis of faith in Ireland, in particular, among its priests.

And what does renewal of the faith mean? According to the cardinal, it means renewal of "prayer, of charity."

"We must begin this renewal tomorrow," he said, "with the beginning of Lent."

Quite Lenten: prayer, almsgiving. And yes, crisis of faith is right. But the one thing his Eminence did not mention here was PENANCE. In another place it was equated with humiliation. Humiliation the Irish Hierarchy have already got in spades, and no doubt a humble acceptance of this is a good start, but it is only a start to accept what you cannot avoid, to make a virtue of necessity. If the hierarchy really want to win back the souls of the Irish, they are going to have to go a lot further. To put their money where their mouth is.

Think back to those early days; how were the Irish, a very physical race, converted? Largely by penance. The style of the Egyptian desert Fathers was imported to Ireland and dramatically succeeded. There are those who think that Celtic Spirituality is all about mood music, candles, crystals and bogus poetry, 'deep peace of the rumbling tummy to you'. Try standing up in your neck in freezing water saying all 150 psalms, and you'll get closer.

Ireland has always admired heroism: just look at its literature. What it needs now is heroes, and the bishops are simply going to have to lead the way if they are to stand any chance of reclaiming the people before it is too late.

The people can say with honesty: 'you say you believe this stuff, virgin birth &c; well, I don't see much evidence in your privileged lives.'

The childish gestures of Willy Walsh are only that, childish gestures. Even the selling of an Episcopal residence to compensate victims is simply making a virtue of necessity.

Were the entire hierarchy to go to St Patrick's Purgatory this Lent with as many of the clergy as would join them, it would be a start. But no, I don't see it happening, somehow. That is simply for the simply superstitious laity isn't it? It'll all be gone in a generation. We've left all that stuff behind now, with the ass and sidecar, the soddy schools and the 'top of the morning to yous'.

Never mind being pilloried in the press: to do public penance would be real humiliation! To share the prayer of the poor, the simple, the saintly? Never!

Come on, your Excellencies! What about it?

Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio; jejunemus, et ploremus ante Dominum; quia multum misericors est dimittere peccata nostra Deus noster.

Apprehendite disciplinam, ne pereatis in via justa!

p.s. In the same Zenit email this morning, I see that the fact that Pope John Paul may have used corporal mortification is actually being alleged as evidence against his sanctity! What a strange world we live in!


Maurice said...

Great post. Thanks. As for 'soddy schools' ... I'm not sure what to say!

Pastor in Monte said...

Thanks, Maurice: hm: I hadn't thought of soddy schools like that!
They were also known as hedge schools; ad hoc methods of educating poor people, often illegally. The 'soddy' refers to the sod of turf (peat) that each pupil brought every day to put into the classroom stove.

berenike said...

seconding all that.

Delia said...

Loved 'deep peace of the rumbling tummy'!!

Excellent post.

Maurice said...

Ah. My apologies for being ignorant. I thought you had mistyped 'shoddy'! But I am a fool ...

GOR said...

I agree Father, that some form of penance is necessary on the part of the hierarchy. But I’m not sure that Lough Derg, Knock or Croagh Patrick would be the answer. I think it would be seen as ‘a show’ – something put on for the benefit of the laity, a ‘one-off’ thing and then back to business as usual. In addition, there’s Our Lord’s admonition in today’s Gospel about not being showy about our penances.

Remember John Profumo…? After his fall from grace, he was not heard of for many years. I think it was about 20 years later that it became known that he had spent the intervening years working with the poor in London. And his ‘worst’ offense was lying to Parliament!

There’s a lesson there somewhere…