Letters to the Editor

The Faith of the Irish

Dear Editor: Reflecting on The Great Irish Fair, we remember that terrible period in the past when the Catholic faith was outlawed in Ireland. For 300 years, there was persecution, subjugation and enforced poverty. Irish churches were closed and burnt to the ground. Mass was outlawed and priests were fugitives, hunted down, tortured and killed. The Irish people suffered greatly for their faith.

In 1828 largely due to the work of the great emancipator, Daniel O’Connell, Parliament permitted Catholics to worship without being assaulted, and practice their faith openly.

Catholic schools were founded and seminaries were built. For the next 150 years, the faith thrived. Vocations flourished, priests were ordained in great numbers and religious orders of men and women were founded. Ireland sent missionaries throughout the world. Many came to America to build the Church here.

During this period, Ireland was a country grounded in the Catholic faith. Everyone went to Mass each Sunday. There were morning and evening prayers, the Angelus, and reminders all day long of God’s presence in our lives. Holy Water fonts in every doorway and grace before meals. The crucifix and images of the Sacred Heart in every home.

Today, we are living in different times, both here and in Ireland. We are under much pressure to allow our faith to weaken, to practice it less strongly, to allow relativism and secularism to influence our thinking, to undermine our resolve.

This is a time when all of us should be mindful of what previous generations had to suffer to keep the faith and to hand it down to us. It is for us to reaffirm our commitment to the Church, to profess our faith with renewed enthusiasm, to live our lives in the spirit of our ancestors, to embrace our holy heritage and to practice it openly and proudly.