What is one to say about the tragic vote in Ireland last Friday, on the day of the three saints (not one of whom was Irish, which may in some way be a small mercy), with a two-thirds majority voting to legally sanction the murder of the unborn child. To its credit, the only county that voted ‘no’ to repealing the 8th amendment protecting the life of the unborn was Donegal, albeit by the slimmest of margins, perhaps now the most Catholic part of the Emerald Isle, a rugged region in the northeast, with the fierce breakers of the Atlantic crashing onto its rocky shores, around which my Dad and I cycled many moons ago. On a side note, this is also where my own ancestors are from, on my Dad’s side at least, whence his Mum and my own dear grandmother, Kathleen O’Brien, hailed. It is also where the great Saint Columbkille, whose feast is coming up on June 9th, was born and raised, the fierce and rather imposing monk who brought Catholicism over to Scotland, setting up the great abbey on the isle of Iona; from this tranquil place of prayer, Columbkille and his disciples in turn evangelized a once-pagan Europe, now slipping back into a much worse neo-paganism, one which has infected even Ireland itself, a demonic religion with a visceral disdain, even hatred, for the Catholic Church and all she stands for.
John Waters has a rather descriptive piece on what has happened in Ireland, an obituary as he puts it, well worth perusing.
Yet what should one have expected? As Saint Thomas reasoned (I-II, 97.3), custom, all those mores and manners of the people, ‘has the force of law, abolishes law and is the interpreter of law’. And custom itself follows religion, that which is the ‘master of our affections’, as Thomas puts it earlier on.
Once upon a time, not that long ago, God, Christ and His Church, Our Lady and the saints, the sacraments and the moral life, had a strong hold on the affection of the Irish, but it seems no longer. Now they profess a rather grotesque pastiche of morality, dancing in the streets to celebrate abortion, a posturing on certain moral vagaries, environmentalism, feminism, saving the planet, or just plain old hedonism, me-first, striving for an eternal hold upon youth.
The life of prayer, contemplation, sacrifice, family, tradition, all more or less gone, except in a few pockets here and there, like Donegal. In God’s good time, and by His grace, something can rise from the ashes of what was Saint Patrick’s Ireland, but hard lessons will have to be learned first, that one cannot reject God, His Church, and put to death the least of his little ones, without rather grave consequences. There is some hope therein, that the Irish will convert once again.
Saint Patrick and all the saints of Ireland, orate pro nobis!