Msgr Pat, who was based in England for a good few years, is a highly intellectual man and has a great interest in society and life in general. In a recent talk to a religious community in England, Msgr Pat said the following when he was describing the state of the world as it is today:
“We have all lived and are living through the new story of an ‘Emerging Europe’ and nations which are fast throwing out their faith identity to embrace a much more relaxed and easy secularism. There are some who want to break with the old stories and the way they intertwined faith and identity, in order to live the new modern life that is on offer.
Our nations have a new confidence which comes with its well-educated and talented younger generations. But these will only last a few years. History has shown us how fragile new stories can be – as fragile and as unstable as the economic and political movements upon which they have been built.”
This led us into a wonderful discussion on the way Britain and Ireland have thrown out the Catholic and Christian faith as if it were of no value at all; confident, arrogant people, who have no belief in anything only science. What can be seen with their own eyes now rules the roost and they are quite prepared, through abortion and euthanasia, to kill anything that stands in their way of a happy life.
After a couple of hours chatting on such things Msgr Pat and I decided that enough was enough and it was time to go. On our way out my host met a couple of other friends and stopped to talk to them; I sat in the foyer and looked at the papers.
The first, and only paper, which I lifted in the foyer was a British national newspaper whose vast majority of readership comes from the ABC1C2 social range. The ABC social range is listed as follows:
AB, Higher and intermediate managerial, administrative, professional occupations. C1, Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations. C2, Skilled manual occupations.
Imagine my surprise when I saw emblazoned across the top of the front page, a full three inches deep a huge feature promoting this year’s Horoscope for 2015. Now remember the readership, professionals and intellectuals of England.
Here we have the intellectuals of England, the people who are too smart to believe in God, being encouraged to read their horoscope for the year ahead. These are the same people who mock those who believe in God as superstitious and silly, yet they are prepared to believe that their future is all set out in the stars.
Some things defy belief! How smart people, who are so sure of science and modernism, can take horoscopes seriously, defies me. Thankfully, an Englishman with a bit of wit, comes to my rescue.
Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote: “It has been said that when a man stops believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything!”
The people who own that newspaper are not stupid. They know their readership and they know that had they printed across the top of the front page, “What does God want for this year,” that no one would have lifted the paper off the shelf.
People may argue that horoscopes are only a bit of entertainment but somehow that rings a bits glib: the stupidity of men and women when they take to themselves the mantle of god, knows no bounds.
You see, everyone believes in god; the only question you have to answer is what god do you believe in?
About ten or fifteen years ago I read an article in one of those enlightened English newspapers. The article was an interview with a highly intelligent beautiful woman who was being held up as the epitome of what every woman could be.
When asked about her hobbies, this profoundly atheist woman, replied to the interviewer:
“Everything Richard Dawkins does and says.”
Now for those of you who don’t know, Richard Dawkins is the super atheist of the age. An Oxford professor, well known debater and speaker, Dawkins has succeeded in making atheism one of the fastest growing religions in the world.
The poor atheist woman in the interview could not even see that she had elevated Dawkins to the status of a god; she doesn’t believe in such things.
In 2006 Dawkins founded an institute, the Richard Dawkins Foundation, whose purpose is “to realize Richard’s vision to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy, and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief.”
Now there’s a man with a mission! He is going to take God out of society. Poor God, I bet he is quaking in his heavenly boots!
If you ever have a minute, look up the Richard Dawkins Foundation. It won’t take you long to find out that even these hardened atheists have a god of their own.
You can join the “Dawkins Circle” for $85 per month. For your $85 per month you get entrance to the “Reason Circle.” The benefits include, an ‘Invitation to Dawkins Circle member-only event with RDFRS personalities’ and ‘Member-only discount for all purchases in the richarddawkins.net store.’
(By the way, the science circle is $210 per month and the Darwin Circle is $420 per month. It’s not cheap to be an atheist.)
But for free I can receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord every day at Mass! And people say the Catholic Church is expensive!
When you read this nonsense about atheists and atheism with the slightest piece of uninterested detachment you can soon see how the poor people who follow these ‘leaders’ are making idols out of them.
No wonder the first commandment is “I am the Lord thy God, thou shall take no false gods before me.”
Whoever wrote these words, whether it was God or Moses, knew how silly we become when we begin to think that we know better than God.
But then, in humility, I have to admit that I learnt something about myself over the weekend. I’ll give you a little background.
As a believing Catholic it used to annoy me when I heard people saying that the Catholic Church had lost all its moral authority over the sex abuse scandals. I could not figure out how people could not distinguish the message the Church carried from the people who were speaking; it seemed unfair and stupid that a perfectly reasoned argument could be brushed aside because of who was saying it.
Then on Sunday morning I was reading the Northern Ireland News and I read something about a Danske (Northern) Bank official saying that ‘NI politicians should be 'more honest' about budget cuts.’
My first reaction was, “Who would listen to what the banks say, sure they have stolen from us and lied to us for years and brought the country to its knees.”
I actually do believe this, but it does not take away from the fact that I reacted to Angela McGowan, the bank economist that the article was reporting about, in the same was as many people reacted to what priests said after the sex abuse scandals.
So I had to stop for a minute and think about my reaction and acknowledge that the feelings that came up in me about the bank were real and that, like most people, I felt let down by what the banks had done.
But I also had to admit that whatever Angela McGowan was saying could well be true and that I had to go past my feelings and listen to what she said. With a good deal of facing my anger and resentment, I decided to read the article.
To my surprise, when I read the article, I found that Ms McGowan was saying much the same as I have been saying in this column for a long time, that we can’t go on living on hand-outs and expecting Westminster to pay.
“"The politicians continually shy away from decisions that need to be made," she said.
"It's being disingenuous to tell us public services will not be impacted." The grant Northern Ireland gets from Westminster has been cut by 1.6% and some Stormont departments will have to make savings of up to 11%.
Ms McGowan said the economy was at a "bit of a crossroads" and said Northern Ireland could not continue to "rely on hand-outs" from Westminster.
"There's no economy in the world can grow and provide public services with air, you know, its Mickey Mouse economics."”
On reading the article I found it a little discomforting to think that I had reacted to the headline in the way that I had. It also showed me how the Church will have to work hard to bring people back to trusting them again.
I haven’t changed my mind about what the banks do and did, but I have to say that Ms McGowan and people like her may have a well-reasoned and perfectly good argument despite where they work.
Then I remembered that I also learnt something else over the Christmas period: Santa comes in many shapes and sizes.
On Christmas Day, RTE carried a report that President Putin in Russia had ordered that the price of Vodka be brought down. Putin said that an increase in the price of vodka would lead to ‘bootleg’ spirits being made.
We don’t make bootleg spirits in Ireland, we make poteen. I actually thought that the production of poteen had come to an end until I went to visit a friend on Sunday evening. There was my friend and another man I vaguely knew, sitting having a nice glass of punch made from poteen.
“This is sloe punch,” said my friend, “It’s the best way to drink poteen.” Being a tee totaller of some standing I decided not to imbibe but I asked my friend how he made it.
“I bought this poteen from a man about a year ago. He has a good still and runs good clear stuff. Anyway, when the time came I picked a few pounds of sloes and put them in a big jar, one I have especially for the job.”
“I half-filled the jar with sloes, put in a fair drop of sugar, about half a dozen good spoonful’s, and filled her to the brim with poteen. I turned her every day for the first fortnight and then every week for the next few months.”
“It has to be the best stuff you could drink. Are you sure you don’t want to try a wee drop,” he said, knowing fine well that I never touch the stuff.
For a moment I began to think of Angela McGowan, the British Exchequer and all the money that these men and people like them were keeping from the British Government.
As they sipped and smiled, I analysed and counted all the millions of lost revenue and the good that could be down with it and I thought of all the millions that the Irish have kept from the British down the years.
Then I began to think of all the moral, ethical and political ramifications of making poteen, washing diesel and the whole black economy. In the distance I could hear my two friends laughing and having fun. It was too much for me.
I felt a momentary distaste at all this fiddling of the exchequer; but it was only momentary. Like all good Irishmen faced with the dilemma of what to do when seeing such an obvious attempt to deceive Her Majesty’s Government, I sat down, had a cup of tea and enjoyed the craic.
Well, what would you have done?
The views expressed are not necessarily those of
the editor but are the views of the writer.
Any comments, please submit to ...