A Tide Turns In Ireland?


I have just returned from an angry Ireland which today votes in a new government. It has little confidence that any political party can cure the root of its malaise. It is even more disillusioned with its Church. The wide abuse, systemic lack of transparency, and failure to trust and consult with its members, its allies, and in particular with women has led to a steep decline in regular church-going. Some people have become anti-God and others explore non-Christian spiritualities. But there is good news. Growing numbers of committed Christians are moving beyond the 'boxes' manufactured by the top-down elements of the church, and are following the hunches of the Spirit. They meet in educational institutions not owned by the hierarchy. They restore joyful habits of praise, free-spirited pilgrim ways, intuitive wisdoms, and reconnect with Ireland's spiritual DNA which once made it 'a land of saints and scholars.' This new stirring is being called 'a new monasticism'. It is led by women, and some men who have left traditional orders or who are new recruits. They give news of courses, gatherings and groups on www.newmonasticismsireland.ie

On Saturday a hundred keenly interested people gathered at Dublin's Milltown Institute for a day I led on 'New Celtic Monasticism for Everyday People'. Veteran Presentation Sister Maire B de Paor, author of books on Saints Patrick, Moling, and the Gaelic Church published by the Columba Press said: 'Everything I have heard fills me with joy'. Bernadette Flanagan of All Hallows College, City of Dublin University, facilitates these and other events. A professional CD rom of the entire day may be ordered from Eist Audio Productions An order form may be downloaded from www.eist.ie.. On Sunday some forty people came to the new Drogheder centre of An Croi, a group which trains about fourteen people in soul friendship each year, and which sustains this network with meditational meetings and Carmel Boyle's beautiful Celtic chants (www.ancroi.ie). On Monday I spoke at Ennis Cathedral, near the Shannon, at a meeting called by Rosemary Power, of Pioneer Methodist Ministries. People wanted to know about Aidan, the Community and their Irish roots, and how they could take practical steps to follow the Way of Life. I hope we can translate a special Irish introductory leaflet into Gaelic.

When water is blocked, it builds up until it finds a way around the blockage. It is like that in Ireland now. Centuries ago Patrick listened to 'the voice of the Irish'. We must listen attentively now, too. For a tide is on the turn, and praying, sensitive people need to go with this tide.

Posted at 02:37am on 25th February 2011
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