Monday, March 2, 2015

Still Throwing Patrick Under the Lorry

Around 400 A.D., a 16 year old of Roman heritage was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Though he escaped six years later, a love for the people of his captive land was planted in his heart.  A few decades later, Patrick returned as a bishop to Ireland - to what was then considered the outskirts of Western Civilization - intent on converting her to Catholicism.  He left a lasting impression.  Soon after Patrick, Anita McSorley tells us that Ireland saw an end to the slave trade and an end to human sacrifice; Patrick followed Christ's great commission to bring the Gospel to what was then considered the ends of the earth.
Fast forward through Catholic Ireland's hay day of monasteries and shrines (cf, Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, 1996), through the suppression of Catholicism after King Henry VII (cf., Christopher Check, The Great Divorce: The Evil Fruits of Henry VIII's Adultery, 2007), and to the early 19th century, we find that religious practice in Ireland had greatly waned.  Center City's Irish Memorial also reminds us of "Ireland's Great Hunger of 1845 - 1850 when more than one million Irish were starved to death and another million forced to emigrate" (So many of the "sons and daughters" of Saint Patrick now call America their home.). 

Less well known than Patrick or the Great Hunger is Cardinal Paul Cullen's mid to late 19th century religious revival, returning Irish religious practice to what was intended by Saint Patrick.  In 1972, University of Chicago historian Emmet Larkin coined the term, "Devotional Revolution," to explain this Cullen-led revival, which resulted in the vast majority of Catholic Ireland going to Sunday Mass for more than 100 years!
Fast forward through mid 20th Century Ireland, we find that religious practice has again greatly waned in the early 21st Century.  Going from 90% Sunday Mass attendance in the 1970s, it was closer to 25% in the earliest years of the 21st Century.  Different from the early 19th century wane in religious practice, however, there is now an anti-Catholicism frequently exhibited by people of Catholic heritage.  Early 19th Century apathy has been replaced by early 21st Century hostility.

Ireland saw an economic hay day in the 1990s, which seemed to usher in a secularization of the society.  At the same time, it is undeniable that scandals of clerical sexual abuse and institutional abuse have also led to diminished religious practice among Irish Catholics and their Irish-American Catholic cousins (cf, How Catholicism Fell from Grace in Ireland, Chicago Tribune, 7/9/06; John P. McCarthy, What Happened to Catholic Ireland, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 3/6/14).  Father Tom Forde, OFM Cap suggests that what has happened goes deeper than rejecting miscreants and hypocrites.  He points to the earlier beginnings of a rejection of moral teaching, which was to result in a loosening of Ireland's restrictions on contraception (and later to divorce and abortion): "faith does not thrive under disobedience."

There is a legend that Saint Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  With Catholic moral teaching now being chased out of Ireland (as well as out of the lives of so many of Irish Catholic heritage on this side of the Atlantic), isn't it hypocritical to pretend to  "celebrate" Saint Patrick's Day with activities that have either nothing to do with the saint or which run counter to that for which he stood?  For example: For many, inebriation is what first comes to mind, when Saint Patrick's Day is mentioned.  How can adults think that Saint Patrick is honored by lifting far too many pints of Guiness? 

If we are not embracing (or trying to embrace) that for which Saint Patrick stood, shouldn't we be more honest than to claim to be "celebrating" Saint Patrick's Day.  Wouldn't it be more honest to just choose a different name, if we are celebrating things opposed to that for which Patrick stood?

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Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010

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