Ireland and the Embers of Christendom

Post originally written for Angelico Press, publisher of my new book, The Gentle Traditionalist.

Ireland-Christendom

St. Patrick of Ireland and a citizen of Roman Christendom

 

Today, I greet you, dear Reader, from the rural northwest of Ireland. It is where, by the Grace of God, I now live ― although fifty-two years ago I started out in Los Angeles as an (unbaptised) American child of British parents.

The fact that I am now writing this for Angelico Press, who has just published The Gentle Traditionalist – my book on Catholic Apologetics – amply demonstrates that a great deal happened between my secular American upbringing and my life now in Ireland. Or I might even say: my life amidst the embers of Christendom, still present on this little island, lying at the far shores of Abendland of old . . .

That ‘great deal’ (sometimes words fail utterly!) was my conversion to the Catholic faith which began when I was thirty-four and thoroughly, thoroughly immersed in the New Age movement. Indeed, I had even lived in Findhorn, which many regard as the leading New Age centre on the planet. As the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer Of The Water Of Life tells us:

The two centres which were the initial power-houses of the New Age, and to a certain extent still are, were the Garden community at Findhorn in North-East Scotland, and the Centre for the development of human potential at Esalen in Big Sur, California, in the United States of America.

Findhorn and the New Age: I would orient my entire life to them for nearly twenty years. And to my mind that fact owes much indeed to my secular environs in America (and later England). For I inhabited a world utterly bereft of any sense of the Catholic Mystery.

And how many Americans (or English) are just like I was: hungry for spiritual mystery and seeing no other option in modern culture but the New Age movement?! And even though – after decades! – I finally discovered the Holy Church, how many of these hungry souls never do?

From Roger Buck, co-author of this site. Click to buy from Amazon worldwide!

traditionalist-catholic-210h

Alas, we have no statistics for these people, but I imagine they number tens of millions. This is because Anglophone culture, generally speaking, has rendered Catholicism either invisible or so badly stereotyped that many a spiritually sensitive soul sees nowhere else to turn but the New Age – especially as evangelical Protestant Christianity is likely to appear dull and literalist to many who feel famished for the numinous.

Historically, however, there was always one major exception to that depressing situation in the Anglosphere. I speak, of course, of the Emerald Isle. In Ireland, the Catholic Mystery was not invisible, but proclaimed everywhere!

Even very recently what existed here in Ireland would stagger the minds of my fellow Americans today. What I mean by that can be glimpsed from a national survey of the Irish Republic from as late as 1973-1974.

That survey found over ninety percent of Catholics attended Mass weekly and nearly forty-seven percent went to Confession monthly, whereas ninety-seven percent prayed daily. Seventy- five percent of those surveyed put up holy pictures or statues.

Furthermore, around a quarter of the population went to Mass more than once a week and a similar proportion confessed every week or more!

As late as 1986, a referendum for divorce in Ireland was defeated by a thumping two thirds majority. It was finally passed in 1995, although 49.7 percent still voted no. (It was around the same time that magazines like Playboy became easily available here – which they had not been before!)

Cynics try to paint this extraordinarily religious society as largely stemming from social control in a culture where Church and State had been closely linked. According to such derision, Irish Catholics simply did what they were expected to by a rigid, hierarchical system.

What this cynicism misses is how much Irish religiosity exceeded the Church’s expectations. For example, the Church certainly does not stipulate Confession every week. And yet twenty-nine percent of the Irish population confessed weekly or more! The Church imposes no obligation to put up holy images or statues. Yet seventy-five percent of the population said they did.

Today, things are very, very different.  Same-sex ‘marriage’ was voted in earlier this year and abortion was legalized in 2013 (albeit by a government acting against its electoral promises and without a referendum it clearly feared it would lose!)

From Roger Buck, co-author of this site. Click to buy from Amazon worldwide!

charles-coulombe-120h

Just forty years later, globalization has done much to render Ireland ever more like the sterile, secular America and England I grew up in. Today the Irish youth are growing up deprived. And just as I grew up deprived – robbed of the Catholic Mystery – they, too, are turning to the New Age.

That at least is true in the cities such as Dublin, Cork and Galway. But where I am, in the Donegal-Tyrone borderlands, it remains still different. I feel graced to live in a little village where most still go faithfully to Mass, where the Angelus bell still sounds, where the village school is Catholic and where my heart is deeply moved to see Irishmen and women regularly praying by their parents’ graves in our church cemetary.

Here is why I spoke of the embers of Christendom.

It is also why I am determined to do whatever I can to see that those embers are not extinguished.

But no it is more than this! For I should say: to do whatever I can to relight the fire of Christendom, brought to this land by St. Patrick 1600 years ago. (St. Patrick, it might be recalled, belonged to Christendom. His name was Patricius and he was a citizen of the Christian Roman Empire, as it then existed.)

Part of my efforts to preserve and renew Christendom involve two books I have written: The Gentle Traditionalist  and a second, bigger volume Cor Jesu Sacratissimum forthcoming from Angelico this spring.

Both books deal in their different ways with the issues invoked above: the loss of the Catholic Mystery in the Anglosphere and the rapid ascent of secular ideology and New Age-ism in its place.

Moreover, both books address the only hope I see – that the Catholic Church rediscover her traditions and reverence in her liturgy. That is to say, that she becomes unashamedly, unapologetically Catholic once again.

Now, recently I was deeply gratified that Peter Kwasniewski, author of Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, very graciously indicated that my first book has succeeded in what I set out to do:

The Gentle Traditionalist is a book with a ‘strange magic,’ like unto the Ireland it loves and mourns. With unforgettable images and a wry sense of humor, Buck unfolds a tale of whimsical fantasy, melancholy realism, and supernatural joy, ever so gently exposing the intolerance and incoherence of the New Secular Religion that is destroying Ireland today, just as it has destroyed every culture that has surrendered to it.

The remedy to this scourge is not ‘Christianity lite’ or the ‘spirit of Vatican II,’ but the real religion that raised Western civilization to its glory: the traditional Catholic Faith. Buck’s deftly-reasoned post-modern apologetic for full-blooded Catholicism—a Syllabus of Errors in narrative form, a rousing hymn to ‘meaning, grace, beauty, life’—will be salutary for those who are still wandering and for those already arrived in port.

I am not sure I am able to live up to such praise! Nevertheless, Kwasniewski has captured my aspiration in writing, at least: to show that Ireland – along with the rest of the Anglosphere of course – need not settle for the New Age Movement, nor for the ‘New Secular Religion’ (as I call it in my book).

For both, I argue, are leading – each in their different ways – to what St. John Paul II termed the ‘Culture of Death’.

Yet the embers of Christendom remain with us. In certain places in rural Ireland, they are still burning brightly. St. Patrick’s fire must be rekindled!

I say this not only for the sake of the Irish – but indeed the entire Anglosphere. For, as I say, the Anglosphere is impoverished, buried beneath five hundred years of Protestant scepticism of the Catholic Mystery, now mutated into even deeper secular scepticism.

But for countless Catholics in America, Australia, England, Canada and elsewhere, Ireland has long shone like a beacon of hope.

Were that Irish lighthouse to be extinguished, the tragedy would travel far, far beyond these shores. The unique luminosity cast by Ireland into the Anglophone darkness would no longer serve to guide and inspire English-speakers everywhere.

And, personally speaking, I have little doubt that is precisely what certain secular, revolutionary elites across the Anglosphere desire. (The same-sex ‘marriage’ campaign, for instance, received massive funding from liberal America.) That, however, is a thorny, complex topic best left aside for the moment.

My main point here is that the entire Anglosphere needs an Ireland that has not succumbed to secular ennuie and anomie. Irish Catholic culture must be sustained.

But that is no easy thing in an Ireland incessantly bombarded by English and American media, as well as an Irish Church so unsure of herself after heartbreaking scandals (a subject I cover in my book – a relevant extract of which is here).

Nonetheless, the work – spiritual, practical, intellectual – of saving Catholic Ireland must be mounted, passionately and sincerely.

I pray, then, that my new book might make a humble contribution to that immense collective task – a task that requires endeavor by every soul, whereever they may be, who cares about the Soul of Ireland.

And so, if you are such a person yourself, good reader, I ask you to stop and say a prayer once you finish reading this. Pray with me a moment, won’t you, that the sacred fire Patricius brought to the Celts long ago might be rekindled across the length and breadth of this singular island.

St. Patrick, pray for Ireland!

From Roger Buck, co-author of this site. Click to buy from Amazon worldwide!

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4 Comments

  1. Norman
    Posted 13 December 2015 at 12:48 | Permalink

    Congratulations on an excellent article. Similar sentiments about “the embers of Catholic Ireland” can be found in chapter CLXXV of the book by Jocelyn of Furness concerning the prophecies of Saint Patrick. Such happenings were prophesized long ago and not only will they come to pass but also they must come to pass.When the light of Ulydia shines those embers still glowing in the darkness will again flare up and blaze with the full vigour and zeal of times gone by. God bless you Roger.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18482?msg=welcome_stranger#chap6001

    • A
      Posted 14 December 2015 at 20:57 | Permalink

      Norman,

      Thank you for the link on that prophecy. There is a second prophecy of St Patrick that came to my attention from an American reader at Constance Cumbey’s blog named Susanna. Susanna states it was handed down orally to her from her Irish grandmother:

      That thou soughtest shall not lack consummation,
      Many a race, shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years,
      Shall cease from faith
      And shamed, though shameless sink back to its native clay
      But ever thine God shall the shadow of His Hand extend
      And through the night of centuries shall teach to her in woe that Song
      Which when the nations wake shall sound their glad deliverance.

      I could find no other references to it online but Susanna also has it in hard copy. She states:

      I have the prophecy from a very large and very old book ( late 1800’s ) entitled CATHOLIC TRUTH which bears the imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York (August 13, 1839 – May 5, 1902) who was eventually a supporter of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, M.S.C. – a.k.a. Mother Cabrini. It contains the life of St. Patrick from the Chronicles of St. Evan.

      She parses the prophecy quite thoroughly on the 22 May 2015 thread on the Cumbey website, to wit:

      1.”Many a race, shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years,

      This refers to many nations EXCLUDING Ireland. This is very likely because Ireland has never been and never will be an important secular world power.

      This prophecy, moreover, was given after a fast by St. Patrick that rivaled the fasts of Moses and Elias. In a manner similar to Abraham, St. Patrick played “let’s make a deal” with God and refused to come down from the mountain nor stay his fast until he obtained the conversion of all of Ireland. Ireland may backslide, but she will bounce back stronger than ever and will never lose the faith. Apart from that the nations that will “cease from faith” are not specified in the prophecy.

      Before her conversion, Ireland was the place where demons seemed to have their fullest liberty. The legendary snakes that St. Patrick was accredited with having driven from Ireland before converting her to Christianity were a symbol of paganism and the druids.

      Shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years shall cease from faith and shamed though shameless sink back to its native clay.

      This passage echoes Jeremiah 6:15

      They were confounded, because they commmitted abomination: yea, rather they were not confounded with confusion, and they knew not how to blush: wherefore they shall fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall fall down, saith the Lord.

      Those nations that sink back to their native clay will be apostates and bereft of sanctifying grace through their own fault.

      But ever thine God shall the shadow of His Hand extend”

      Recall that Moses saw God’s “back parts.”

      Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:23

      because …….

      No one has seen the face of God and lived. Exodus 33:20

      And finally

      “And through the night of centuries shall teach to her in woe that Song..
      Which when the nations wake shall sound their glad deliverance.”

      The “night of centuries” is the whole Christian era until the Second Coming of Christ and Judgement Day.

      We do not currently live in Paradise. We live in exile from our true home. We live in a “vale of tears.” Here we work out our faith in “fear and trembling.”

      Ergo the reference to the “night of centuries.”

      Ireland will keep the faith but at great cost and not without great suffering. The Song that is referred to is believed to be the Song of Moses ( (Deuteronomy 32:1-43) and the Song of the Lamb referred to in the Book of Revelations ( Rev.5:3 ). These are the “Songs” that sound their ( the nations’) “glad deliverance.” But the deliverance must be freely accepted. God forces salvation on no one.

      Here you have my understanding of the prophecy.

      Of course, it needs to be pointed out that like any other prophecy or private revelation, we Catholics are not required to believe in them “de fide.” Nevertheless, that does not preclude the possibility that some of them might just happen to be true.

      The third prophecy I have heard is that Patrick was promised that Ireland would be submerged in a flood 7 years prior to the return of Christ in order to spare it from the tribulation.

      There is a discussion about the flood prophecy on the site “Unveiling the Apocalypse” that you can find if you google the term along with The Prophecies of St. Patrick. The article and the comments that follow it are worth a read.

  2. A
    Posted 14 December 2015 at 22:18 | Permalink

    Norman,

    Thank you for the link on that prophecy. There is a second prophecy of St Patrick that came to my attention from an American reader at Constance Cumbey’s blog named Susanna. Susanna states it was handed down orally to her from her Irish grandmother:

    That thou soughtest shall not lack consummation,
    Many a race, shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years,
    Shall cease from faith
    And shamed, though shameless sink back to its native clay
    But ever thine God shall the shadow of His Hand extend
    And through the night of centuries shall teach to her in woe that Song
    Which when the nations wake shall sound their glad deliverance.

    I could find no other references to it online but Susanna also has it in hard copy. She states:

    I have the prophecy from a very large and very old book ( late 1800’s ) entitled CATHOLIC TRUTH which bears the imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York (August 13, 1839 – May 5, 1902) who was eventually a supporter of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, M.S.C. – a.k.a. Mother Cabrini. It contains the life of St. Patrick from the Chronicles of St. Evan.

    She parses the prophecy quite thoroughly on the 22 May 2015 thread on the Cumbey website, to wit:

    1.”Many a race, shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years,

    This refers to many nations EXCLUDING Ireland. This is very likely because Ireland has never been and never will be an important secular world power.

    This prophecy, moreover, was given after a fast by St. Patrick that rivaled the fasts of Moses and Elias. In a manner similar to Abraham, St. Patrick played “let’s make a deal” with God and refused to come down from the mountain nor stay his fast until he obtained the conversion of all of Ireland. Ireland may backslide, but she will bounce back stronger than ever and will never lose the faith. Apart from that the nations that will “cease from faith” are not specified in the prophecy.

    Before her conversion, Ireland was the place where demons seemed to have their fullest liberty. The legendary snakes that St. Patrick was accredited with having driven from Ireland before converting her to Christianity were a symbol of paganism and the druids.

    Shriveling in the sunshine of its prosperous years shall cease from faith and shamed though shameless sink back to its native clay.

    This passage echoes Jeremiah 6:15

    They were confounded, because they commmitted abomination: yea, rather they were not confounded with confusion, and they knew not how to blush: wherefore they shall fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall fall down, saith the Lord.

    Those nations that sink back to their native clay will be apostates and bereft of sanctifying grace through their own fault.

    But ever thine God shall the shadow of His Hand extend”

    Recall that Moses saw God’s “back parts.”

    Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:23

    because …….

    No one has seen the face of God and lived. Exodus 33:20

    And finally

    “And through the night of centuries shall teach to her in woe that Song..
    Which when the nations wake shall sound their glad deliverance.”

    The “night of centuries” is the whole Christian era until the Second Coming of Christ and Judgement Day.

    We do not currently live in Paradise. We live in exile from our true home. We live in a “vale of tears.” Here we work out our faith in “fear and trembling.”

    Ergo the reference to the “night of centuries.”

    Ireland will keep the faith but at great cost and not without great suffering. The Song that is referred to is believed to be the Song of Moses ( (Deuteronomy 32:1-43) and the Song of the Lamb referred to in the Book of Revelations ( Rev.5:3 ). These are the “Songs” that sound their ( the nations’) “glad deliverance.” But the deliverance must be freely accepted. God forces salvation on no one.

    Here you have my understanding of the prophecy.

    Of course, it needs to be pointed out that like any other prophecy or private revelation, we Catholics are not required to believe in them “de fide.” Nevertheless, that does not preclude the possibility that some of them might just happen to be true.

    The third prophecy I have heard is that Patrick was promised that Ireland would be submerged in a flood 7 years prior to the return of Christ in order to spare it from the tribulation.

    There is a discussion about the flood prophecy on the site “Unveiling the Apocalypse” that you can find if you google the term along with The Prophecies of St. Patrick. The article and the comments that follow it are worth a read.

  3. Norman
    Posted 15 December 2015 at 13:42 | Permalink

    Thank you Roger for your response. I have never heard that prophecy before. And thank you for, what I would call, your accurate interpretation of it. This is another e-book that I have read. It contains the prophecies of several other Irish saints that all agree that Ireland will be inundated by one wave seven years before the last day. This is to spare us of the worst tribulations of the end times and also to ensure that “no barbarian nation shall even conquer us the Scots”. Prior to the late middle ages the term Scots referred to Irish people and it was because the Irish controlled the northern part of Britain that the term gradually transferred to referring to that part of the world. But Brian Boru was referred to in his time as “Imperator Scotorum”,

    Another intriguing prophecy in this book concerns the prophecy of Saint Malachi. According to such we are now in the time of the last Pope, Peter the Roman, possibly referring to how the Jesuits have their headquarters in Rome. When this book was published several of the last Popes mentioned hadn’t yet come to pass and upon correlating their names with the relevant Popes of the order in which they are listed, similarities and accurate descriptions of them are comprehensible, such as “Religio depopulato” during World War 1 and the Spanish flu. Or “De Labor Solis” for a Pope who was born and who died during a lunar eclipse. More recent interpretations of these can be found online than from the e-book I give you now.

    Also the prophecy of Saint Cataldus is worth a mention. Now that’s one that I’d like to see happen in my lifetime. Hopefully he’s Irish and he starts his conquests from here and that the prophecy lists his exploits in order that they happen. I’ll leave that one for you to research…

    Here is the link to that other e-book that I mentioned earlier. I love these books and how they can be read in a format that suits you or the device you use. http://archive.org/stream/propheciessscol00okegoog/propheciessscol00okegoog_djvu.txt

    Happy reading. God bless you again Roger.

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