In these dark times, where evil abounds, let us pray earnestly for our bishops that their eyes will be opened and that they will finally realise that we are in the midst of a persecution of the Catholic Church rather than being in the midst of a pandemic. Let us pray that they will begin to act accordingly.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Let me begin with a little story.
A weary bishop, fatigued by the continuing struggles with Covid-19 regulations, decided to climb a local mountain to see if he could converse directly with God as Moses had done in times past.
The day was overcast and the mountain was covered in mist and at times the climb was very difficult. Several times he stumbled and lost his footing on loose rocks. Finally, after a long and arduous climb, he broke through the mist and the clouds and was enveloped in warm sunshine. He cried out, ‘Oh God, where art Thou in our time of trouble?’
The Lord answered, ‘Here I am, how can I help you’.
The bishop, taken aback, stammered, ‘Lord, we are struggling, and it feels that you are very distant, that, forgive me for saying it, perhaps, that you do not care’
The Lord answered, ‘I have sent a plague among you because your people have grown distant from me. They have passed laws which offend my teaching on marriage. They have passed laws which offend the sanctity of human life. They corrupt the innocence of children, even in the Catholic schools. Therefore I have sent them a punishment in order to bring them back to me and to my ways. What have you done to show them the error of their ways?’
The bishop now prostrated himself and beat upon his breast. ‘Lord, I did not realise that this was Your doing. We have closed Your Churches. We have denied Your people access to You in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We have restricted the Sacraments and even removed the Holy Water which is blessed in Your name. We have done everything to comply with the unjust government regulations, in fact, we have gone beyond what they require in the hope that our government will allow us to return to public worship’
And Jesus wept and said to the bishop, ‘Why are you so fearful, Oh you of little faith’. ‘Have you not read of how I cleansed the Lepers of how I cast out demons and brought dead men to life? Have you not read of how I calmed the storms at sea? Have you not read my response to the disciples when they failed to cast the demon out of the boy whose father implored their help? What I said to disciples then, I say now to you. You suffer because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. Go back down to your people and believe in Me truly present in the most Holy Sacrifice of the altar. Then, open up the Churches and let My people come unto Me.’
This is just a story but I imagine that there is much truth in it. I have been looking at our bishops reactions to the Irish Government’s Statutory Instrument 171, passed on 12th April, which confirms that publicly offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is illegal in this country. Our bishops are reacting to this as if it is something new, when, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has effectively been illegal for all of the year 2021 and for much of the year 2020.
Our bishops have closed the Catholic Churches in Ireland on account of previous government Statutory Instruments and they have fully co-operated with the unjust legal restrictions that have banned Catholics from worshipping God. As I have said before, it is not the politicians who have prevented us from attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for they do not have the keys to our Catholic Churches, rather it is our bishops, through their lack of Faith in Jesus Christ, who have denied us access to the only One that matters.
We must pray for our bishops so that Christ’s words to the Pharisees will not be uttered to them.
“But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.” (Matthew 23:13)
They have denied us access to Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Do they not realise that this same Jesus is He who can cure any and all illness? Do they not believe that this same Jesus has the power to cast out demons, and that it is He who gives us eternal life? Our bishops have put the health of the body, above the health of the soul. They have concerned themselves with the things of this world and have neglected the things of Heaven.
I have been reading a book recently that some Irish people have managed to get back into print, and I am delighted to be able to offer our readers and supporters a complimentary copy of this book – ‘Ireland’s Loyalty to the Mass’ , – with any donation towards our work in The Lumen Fidei Institute. To obtain your copy, simply fill out and return the form at the end of this article with your donation. We are very grateful for your support of our mission to promote, to defend, to teach and to help Catholics to live out their great calling as Children of God and we rely on your donations to keep us going.
The book looks at the historical response of the Irish people to the continued efforts of the enemies of the Irish people who, over many years, have sought to suppress the Catholic Mass in Ireland.
Written by a Father Augustine, O.F.M.Cap., it contains the following chapters.
England’s breach with Rome
The undermining of the Mass
The Mass under Elizabeth
The Mass under James I
The Mass under Charles I
Cromwell and the Mass
The Mass after the restoration
Mass in the penal times
The Hidden saints of the Mass
It is the Mass that Matters
Still their spirit walks abroad.
The following quote from Archbishop Michael Sheehan, Coadjutor Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in Australia from 1922-1937, is included at the beginning of the book.
“The Mass is superior even to the Abiding Presence of our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament…
“The Mass is the very means He has given us to enable us to join with Him, and to share with Him in the Sacrifice of the Cross.
“The Mass…is the very life of the Church, the secret of her holiness and vitality. No wonder that the spirits of darkness should have inspired the heretic with hatred for the Mass, for they know that when they strike at the Mass, they strike at the heart of the Church.”
The suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is nothing new in Ireland, and in our day, our enemies have simply decided to use another approach, which is proving to be highly successful, in their efforts to suppress the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All previous efforts to suppress the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Ireland failed. Let us earnestly pray that, despite their current success in closing our churches, they will not be successful is destroying the Catholic Faith in Ireland. Let us pray that the current generation of Catholics in Ireland will be equally steadfast in remaining loyal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The book tells us about Sir William Drury, president of Munster, who hanged four hundred people in one year and who wrote to Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary in the year 1577 about the people of Waterford.
“In spite of all his [Drury’s] terrorism, and notwithstanding that they acknowledged Elizabeth as Head of the State, he has to admit that “Masses infinite they have in their several churches every morning.” But what seems to anger him most is that they not only have their Masses in public churches in defiance of the law, but that they seem to frequent them “without any fear” whatever. Fired with the zeal of Saul in his most fanatical days, he then glories in the fact that he had “spied them”, and being an early riser in pursuance of this lordly work, he arrived on “Sunday at five in the morning and saw them resort out of the churches by heaps.”
Let us take note of how the people of Waterford, when faced with persecution for practising their Catholic Faith, responded to the unjust laws of the past which sought to prevent them from attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Waterford people, with the support of their bishop, defied those unjust laws and attended the Holy Sacrifice even though to do so could lead to a cruel death.
Let Irish Catholics take courage and inspiration from these heroic witnesses and let us honour the Waterford and other Irish Martyrs who died because of their loyalty to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We appeal to our bishops to once again open up the Catholic Churches of Ireland so that the Catholics of Ireland can once again worship Almighty God as He Himself wishes to be worshipped.
Let our Irish Bishops contemplate the fate of the Irish bishops who went before them to see if their own current strategy of government appeasement is correct and if it will lead to a deeper love for the Catholic faith and to a deeper love for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
“In August, 1579, at Kilmallock, a strong garrison town, Dr. Patrick O’Hely of the Franciscan Order, Bishop of Mayo, and a brother Franciscan,. named Fr Conor O’Rourke, fell into the hands of the savage Drury who, tow years previously, had complained of “Masses infinite” being attended by crowds of people “without any fear”.
Having no love for priests he was well known to have a special antipathy to Friars, and on this occasion, two of the terrible tribe were brought before him. Interrogated as to their character, they confessed boldly that they had been sent by Pope Gregory XIII., and that their only business was to advance the Catholic religion and to save souls. As a result, they received the full measure of his hatred, and the frequent regard of their calling. Condemning them to the rack, he had needles thrust under their nails, and their legs and arms broken with hammers. After this, they were hanged upon a tree, where their bodies were left suspended for four days as targets for the bullets of the soldiers. But in fulfilment of the prophecy that the bishop had uttered on his way to execution, Drury died fourteen days later, in great agony, in the city of “Masses infinite without any fear.”
When we read how these brave priests and bishops stood strong in the face of such cruel tyranny and bore proud witness to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is difficult to understand the seemingly cowardly approach of the bishops and many of the priests of our day who go to great lengths, sanitising their hands before the ever present cameras and wearing face masks whilst celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in an effort to show just how willing they are to comply with unjust government restrictions on Catholic worship.
Do these men really believe that such abasement in front of the government will win them respect?
After enduring the reign of Elizabeth I, of James I and of Charles I, the Irish people were then faced with the wrath of Oliver Cromwell who had a particular hatred of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. ‘Ireland’s Loyalty to the Mass’ tells us.
“The very life-blood of the nation was ebbing fast. It seemed at last that the end was approaching, but the end was not yet! The hour of deepest gloom became the hour of greatest splendour, and the grave peril to the Faith in the Oath of Abjuration was the signal for a grand exhibition of devotion on the part of the priests.
Forth from their hiding-places they came, and went fearlessly from house to house exhorting rich and poor to despise temporal possessions, to think of eternal rewards, and to remember that “the suffering of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.” These words cheered the hearts of the people, roused their spirit of faith, and brought out the perfect Christian mentality which actuated them to such a wonderful degree, that, instead of murmuring against their hard fate, they were, like the Apostles “rejoicing.. to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.” They even declared themselves willing to face every torture rather than subscribe to the impious oath that required them to repudiate the doctrines which had been handed down to them from the days of St. Patrick, and to which their forefathers had clung with every fibre of their being.”
The book then tells us of a dramatic incident in Cork where all the Catholics of the county were summoned to the city to take the Oath of Abjuration. They were brought into one of the Churches and a young man asked the magistrates to read out the Oath in the Irish language so that the people could fully understand what they were being asked to swear.
The story is related in the book as follows, “as the awful words fell from the lips of the crier, the people were numbed with horror, and when he had finished, just for a few moments which seemed hours, all was silent as the tomb. Then rang out the vibrant voice of the radiant youth, looking towards the sanctuary: “And what is the penalty for those who refuse the oath?” “The loss of two-thirds of their goods,” replied one of the magistrates. ”Well then,” added the young man, smiling “all that I possess is six pounds. Take four of them; with the two that remain and the blessing of God, my family and myself will subsist. I reject your oath.”
The contemptuous energy injected into these last words, the angry face, the blazing eyes, the flinging gesture of the right hand — all were noticed by a poor peasant who stood quite near. Swept away with admiration, he shouted out: “Brave fellow, to reject the oath!” The words were electric. Every heart was kindled, and from rank to rank and mouth to mouth, ran the heartening cry: “Reject the oath — the impious oath.”
The church shook with the imperious order; it echoed loudly on the streets outside; and for half and hour there was no cessation to this glorious din of near 6,000 voices. The magistrates were dumb with terror, as if the building had been riven asunder. Then, recovering, they rose in their seats, ordered the assembly to disperse, and everyone of them , under pain of death, to leave the city within an hour.”
Let us take courage in this our own time of trial, from those brave Catholics who have gone before us and who risked their very lives so that they could attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us not be found wanting and let us beseech out bishops to open our Catholic Churches so that we can once again worship Almighty God as our ancestors worshipped Him, at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
May God bless you.