The Mass Rocks in Ireland …

Mass-Ireland-Sacred Heart Church-Limerick
Institute of Christ the King Mass in Sacred Heart church, Limerick, Ireland. Used with permission. (Not a Mass which rocks …)

Not long ago, I experienced something unusual for me. I listened to an Irish rock, folk, blues, country band. There were two rhythm guitars, two strong male voices and several female voices, creating harmonies together.

The music was mediocre—something one might find in a bar or social function, as background music. I did not find it very pleasant, although at the end the audience gave an enthusiastic round of applause.

So where was this venue, you might ask? I am sorry to say – this was no bar or restaurant.

It was Holy Mass in a beautiful cathedral.

The band was playing in the sanctuary and the volume was high. And they lapped up the attention and the applause. It was as though they were the centre of everything. They were the reason the congregation – their audience – had come. And the people echoed this, with their loud applause.

All the while, the Lord in His tabernacle, beside them, was ignored.

I wept through much of the Mass. I wondered if I should leave, not being able to bear the indignity of it all. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t. I simply blocked my ears and wept for Our Lord, there in His tabernacle before me, before us all, Whose Divine Presence was usurped by this rock group.

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The young priest who celebrated this Mass, however, was full of vigour, encouraging the congregation to carry their faith into their everyday lives, evangelising, praying the Rosary, praying for the Holy Souls in purgatory and generally living a strong faithful life. His faith and piety seemed incongruent with the country rock music. I wondered whether he even liked it.

Many questions arise, about the incongruence here, between such awful charades and the celebration of Holy Mass, the greatest mystery enacted upon earth.

How can Holy Church allow this to happen? No wonder her churches are emptying, priests becoming fewer and fewer. The situation appears dire. And I often wonder if it is—for the modern Church.

Yet great hope is not far away. For there are groups, orders, Societies and Institutes, who are upholding traditional Catholicism in ways that inspire and enflame the faith.

For instance, Roger and I travelled down to Limerick last month, to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest there, in Sacred Heart Church.

Tradition tells that you expressed His truth of Tri-unity, by means of the three-leaved shamrock, which used to grow abundantly by the hedgerows.

And in your writings it is clear how well you knew Him, Three in One, intimately.

You bowed down before God the Father, in complete humility, offering your miserable life as you yourself wrote, sure of His mercy and strengthened by His love. Your life was entrusted in this way.

And you saw the Son of God, our Brother and Lord, rising as the sun – yet never setting.

For His love shines into eternity. He enlightened the very fabric of your being, every step, every word.

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As you walked amongst the Irish people, people of your heart, you carried this eternal light of the Son. As Bishop, you Baptised and Confirmed and Ordained, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

And the latter did constantly move you, as He worked miracles in your soul. He led you, prayed within you and transformed you. As you did say, you knew not whether He was within or without. As long as the Spirit was your guiding force, it did not matter.

And whilst I have lived with this question upon my lips, “Who art thou, Saint Patrick?” I have witnessed your fruits – the holiness of this Sacred Isle.

Whilst the faith is dwindling, it still appears strong to those, like myself, who have come from other lands. I am so touched by the prayerfulness of this island.

The people are so kind and generous, always quick to help. A total stranger in a small village, I was not a stranger for long! The heartfelt welcome I received melted any barriers.

And as I pass through this small northwestern village in which I live, it seems not one, not two, but I imagine nearly every home has a red lamp burning for His Sacred Heart.

Yet I am repeatedly told: We have lost the faith in Ireland we have lost the faith.

And sadly, there are grave indications that this is very much the case.

Yet, Saint Patrick, it is oh so sad, as you must deeply know. This Isle is taking a different path to the one you revealed.

This isle is now filled with many souls who are again worshiping the sun, which sets each night.

They no longer place their wholehearted trust in the Son, as you taught them to.

Your holy counsel is being forgotten and ignored, oh Saint Patrick.

You must be weeping as many weep here. Your heart must be breaking, as you look down from your heavenly abode.

I implore thee, we the faithful here in Ireland implore thee: pray for us sinners.

Pray, Oh Saint Patrick that the faith be restored in this blessed country.

Once you knew this unbelief yourself. For as a youth, you ignored the faith given to you.

You disobeyed the hierarchy, those clerics in whose trust you were placed.

So doing, you rejected the One Who made you, the One through Whom you were made and the One Who breathed life into you.

And you suffered for it, being taken captive, a young man of just sixteen.

It was then that you were brought to this blessed Isle and suffered great hunger and cold.

And you came to know that each and every deed was placed before the Divine judgement.

For it was through this suffering that you found your Triune God, our Lord.

He gave you the strength to endure everything. For, He gave you the great gifts of faith and perseverance.

No more were you afflicted by hunger, or thirst, or cold, or fear.

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It was absolutely beautiful, with the most sublime Gregorian chants and church décor truly fit for a King, supporting a liturgy that transported one, as though we worshipped at the heavenly altar on high.

Here, the Church was living and vibrant and without a doubt, Holy.

The comparison with the tragedy of that ‘Country and Western’ liturgy, which sadly could never be described as Holy, is staggering. How can this be the same Church?

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