Posted by: fvbcdm | March 17, 2015

Feast of Saint Patrick (17 March 2015)

It is not yet clear why God allowed hurricane Katrina and the resulting floods in the New Orleans area to take place, nor what good was accomplished thereby. However, we can be sure that He allowed it for His own benevolent purposes.

What is much clearer, though, is why God allowed the potato famine to take place in Ireland back in the 1840s. It caused much suffering to the people there, but it also caused thousands upon thousands of the Irish to leave their starving land to find food and make homes for themselves and their families elsewhere. We here in the United States benefitted particularly by the huge immigration of Irish Catholics to our shores. If you ever read a history of the Church in this country, you will be struck by the enormous influence that the Irish have had in the build-up of the Church in our country. By far, the largest number of Bishops in this country have been either Irishmen who came here from Ireland itself, or men of Irish extraction. Teaching Sisters by the thousands gave to the Catholic children in this country a solid grounding in their faith.

When I entered religious life fifty years ago this year, every single one of my superiors, from our novice master up to the Master General of the Order in Rome, were either Irish from the old sod, or men of Irish extraction. Their names betray their origin: Walsh, Connell, Kinsella, Marr, and the then Master General of the Order was a soft-spoken Irish priest named Michael Browne who was later made a Cardinal.

Today, unfortunately Ireland is falling victim to the apostasy that is plaguing much of the Church in Europe and America. An apostate is one who has been baptized and once professed and practiced the faith, but then later fell away from it and has more or less returned to either paganism or some other form of Christianity that makes few or no demands upon its adherents, except maybe financial ones. We all know former Catholics who wanted to live in a way forbidden by the Church, so they simply leave the Church to become unchurched or they join some group which forbids almost nothing, even those things which are quite clearly opposed to the moral principles of the gospel.

Recently, the president of Christendom College—an excellent little Catholic college in Virginia—spoke in a letter to the college’s supporters about the attempts of the college to form vibrant, devout Catholics and send them out into “our apostate society.” The phrase struck me because it is very true.

I would venture to say that every Catholic in America enjoys the truth and beauty of our faith because he or she has been influenced by the Irish in our midst or in our background. All of this beautiful evangelization we can trace back to the life and work of Saint Patrick, whom we honor today. It is quite possible that other than the apostles themselves, no missionary in the 2000 years of Christianity has had a more effective apostolate than the beloved Saint Patrick of Ireland. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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