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Archbishop Viganò: A Meditation on the Passion and Death of the Lord

The Saviour reminds us that His most holy Passion must also be fulfilled in his Mystical Body - the Church.
Fri Apr 2, 2021 - 12:00 pm EST
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Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
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This is your hour; it is the reign of darkness.
Luke 22:53

The texts of the liturgy of the Sacred Triduum strike us, like the lash of a whip, for the crude brutality of the torments to which the Lord was subjected by the will of the Sanhedrin, at the order of the Roman procurator. The crowd, instigated by the high priests, invokes the innocent blood of the Son of God upon themselves and their children, denying in the space of just a few days the triumph which had been attributed to Him at His entrance into Jerusalem. The praises and cries of Hosanna turn into shouts of Crucify him, and the palm branches become whips and clubs. How much crowds can disappoint: they are capable of giving honor with the same conviction with which shortly afterwards they decree the death sentence.

Who are the protagonists and those responsible for this condemnation? Judas, one of the Twelve Apostles, a thief and a traitor, who for thirty pieces of silver hands the Master over to the ecclesiastical authority to have him arrested. The Sanhedrin, that is, the religious authority of the Old Law, which is still in force at the moment of the Passion. The false witnesses, who are either paid or else seek notoriety, who accuse Our Lord, contradicting one another. The people, or better the crowd that is ready for demonstrations in the square and lets itself be led by a few skilled manipulators. The Procurator Pontius Pilate, the representative of the Emperor in Palestine, who issues an unjust sentence but with official authority. And the whole jumble of nameless subordinates who rage with unprecedented cruelty against an innocent man, for the sole reason that this is expected of them: the Temple guards, the soldiers of the Sanhedrin, the Roman soldiers, the violent mob.

Our Lord is condemned to death despite the fact that his innocence has been recognized by the legitimate Magistrate: Accipite eum vos et crucifigite; ego enim non invenio in eo causam Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him. Pilate does not want to antagonize the high priests, nor have the crowd against him, which the priests can manipulate by leveraging hatred of the Romans, who militarily occupy Palestine. Pilate knows the contempt that the Levites and elders of the people harbor against him, considering him a pagan from whom they must keep their distance, to the point of not wanting to contaminate themselves by entering the Praetorium: they remain outside even as they ensure that the temporal power which oppresses them will become their accomplice in condemning their Messiah for blasphemy, that is, for a religious crime. Or rather: in order to send an innocent man to death without a conviction. Innocens ego sum a sanguine iusti huius, says Pilate: I am innocent of the death of this just man. Thus the civil authority, out of fearfulness in the face of arrogance and the blackmail of a riot, abandons the exercise of justice; just as the spiritual authority, in order not to lose the power which it has monopolized, hides the prophecies, insisting on not recognizing the promised Messiah despite the continuous confirmations of His divinity, and conspires to kill Jesus Christ because, speaking the truth, He has proclaimed that He is God. The princes of the priests threaten Pilate: Si hunc dimittis, non es amicus CæsarisIf you release him, you are no friend of Caesar – and they go so far as to submit themselves to the imperial power in order to put their King to death: Non habemus regem, nisi Cæsarem – We have no king but Caesar. But was it not Herod, the king of Judea?

Even on the Cross, where the Lord intones the antiphon of his own Sacrifice with the words of the Psalmist: Deus meus, Deus meus: ut quid me dereliquisti? – My God, my God: why have you abandoned me? – those who have memorized the Sacred Scriptures pretend not to recognize in that solemn cry the last warning to the Synagogue, presaging the abolition of the Levitical priesthood and the imminent destruction of the Temple, forty years later, at the hand of Titus. In Psalm 21 David foretells what the Jews had before their eyes, what they were no longer able to understand because of their blindness, and we hear that warning repeated today in the Reproaches of the liturgy of Good Friday, incredulous at the infidelity of the chosen people and broken-hearted at the no less appalling repetition of the infidelity of the new Israel, of her pontiffs, of her ministers.

There is not a single word, in the liturgy of the Paschal Triduum, that does not sound like a pained and suffering accusation: the accusation of the Lord that sees fulfilled in his betrayal by Judas and his own people the action by which the religious and civil power unite against the Lord and His Christ: Astiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum, adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum ejus – The kings of the earth rise up, and princes conspire together against the Lord and his Anointed.

Our Lord says: If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember the word that I have spoken to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. With this warning the Savior reminds us that His most holy Passion must also be fulfilled in his Mystical Body – If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you – both in individuals over the course of the centuries as well as in the Church as an institution at the end of time. And the correspondence between the Passion of Christ and the Passion of the Church is significant.

This correspondence seems to me to be even more evident in this hour of darkness, in which the power of the new unfaithful and corrupt Sanhedrin is allied with the temporal power in persecuting Our Lord and those who are faithful to Him. Today also the princes of the priests, thirsty for power and eager to please the empire that keeps them subjugated, have recourse to Pilate to have Catholics condemned, accusing them of blasphemy for not wanting to accept the betrayal of their leaders. The Apostles and martyrs of yesterday live once more in the apostles and martyrs of today, who for now are denied the privilege of a bloody martyrdom but are not denied persecution, ostracism and derision. Once again we find Judas, who sells good shepherds to the Sanhedrin; once again we find false witnesses, villains, those who instigate the crowd, the temple guards and the soldiers of the Praetorium; once again we find Caiaphas who tears his garments, Peter who denies the Lord, and the Apostles who run away and hide; once again we find those who crown the Church with thorns, who slap her face and mock her, who scourge her and expose her to ridicule; who throw upon her the Cross of the scandals of her ministers, the sins of her faithful; once again today there are those who dip the sponge in vinegar and pierce the side of the Church with a spear; once again today there is a seamless garment and those who cast lots for it. But just as on Good Friday, so also today the Mother of the Church and an Apostle will remain at the foot of the Cross, witnesses of the passio Ecclesiæ just as they were once witnesses of the passio Christi.

May each of us, in these hours of silence and recollection, examine himself. Let us ask ourselves if we want to be, in the liturgical action of the end times, among those who, even if only for the sake of conforming, looked away, shook their heads, and spat on the Lord on His journey to Calvary. Let us ask ourselves if in this sacred re-presentation we will have the courage to wipe the bloody Face of Christ in the devastated image of the Church, if like the Cyrenian we will know how to help the Church carry her Cross, if like Joseph of Arimathea we will offer a worthy place in which to lay her until she is resurrected. Let us ask ourselves how many times we have slapped Christ, taking the part of the Sanhedrin and the high priests, how many times we have placed human respect ahead of our Faith, how many times we have accepted thirty pieces of silver to betray and hand over the Savior, in His good ministers, to the princes of the priests and the elders of the people.

When the Church will cry out her Consummatum est under a black sky, while the earth will shake and the veil of the temple will be torn from top to bottom, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Col 1:24) will be accomplished in the Mystical Body. We will await the deposition from the Cross, the laying in the sepulchre, the absorbed and mute silence of nature, the descent into Hell. There will be, also in this instance, temple guards to keep watch and ensure that the pusillus grex does not rise again, and there will be those who will say that its followers have come to steal it.

Holy Saturday will also come for the Holy Church; the Exultet and the Alleluia will also come after the sorrow, death, and darkness of the tomb. Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere: we know that His Mystical Body will also rise with Him, just at the moment when his ministers will think that all is lost. And they will recognize the Church, as they have recognized the Lord, in fractione panis.

This is my wish, from the bottom of my heart, for this Holy Easter and for the times that await us.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop


Blogs

On this Good Friday as we gaze at the crucifix, may Christ’s sacrifice be a source of strength

The world, especially those with an anti-life agenda, wants the faithful to reject the cross, but instead Jesus' passion and death give us hope.
Fri Apr 2, 2021 - 8:00 am EST
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Michael Haynes Michael Haynes Follow Michael
By Michael Haynes

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April 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – “The amiable Redeemer approaches the end of life. My soul, behold those eyes grow dim; that beautiful countenance becomes pale; that heart palpitates feebly; that sacred body is abandoned to death.” So writes St. Alphonsus Ligouri in his treatise The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ

The many weeks of Septuagesima and Lent culminate on this day, wherein God Incarnate lays down His life for sinful man. The crowds who welcomed Him into the city so loudly on Palm Sunday now issue an even louder call for His death. He has not conformed to their desires and expectations, and so they have turned against Him.

Ligouri notes that the Jews were deluded about the coming of Christ, expecting earthly and temporal blessings instead of spiritual and eternal ones, and thus rejected Him. “The world-minded, who love the riches, the honors and the pleasures of earth, refuse to have Jesus Christ for their king; because as far as this earth is concerned, Jesus was but a king of poverty, shame, and sufferings.” 

His words of truth, conversion and sacrifice did not change the hearts of those who ignored truth, rejected conversion, and called only for His sacrificial death. In the minds of people such as these, both then and now, God has been defeated by death, and they have proved to the world that they are their own gods – or so they think. “His blood be upon us,” they cried and continue to cry.

The crucifixion demonstrates the true nature of those devoted to the world: They are concerned only with that which will satisfy their lower, earthly desires, they will ignore all that is true, good and beautiful in order to attain it. 

Most of all, such souls reject the notion of sacrifice. Christ presented a dilemma to these souls, as they were faced with all that they chose to reject, and asked to accept Him instead of themselves. They chose the bloody passion and death of the Redeemer. 

Thus the crucifixion shows where attachment to the world leads – it leads ultimately to a rejection and deliberate partaking in the murder of Truth Incarnate. “The wages of sin is death,” writes St. Paul, and the rejection of Christ leads ultimately to death. The Jews rejected Christ and called for His blood to be upon them; in like manner, those in the world who reject Him today can hope for no better reward than their predecessors. “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matt 12:30)

In fact, the world by necessity hates the cross and all that is associated with it. The world must do so, because if it were to cease its constant attacks on Christ and His salvific act of sacrifice, then those in the world might be allowed the chance to dwell on the truth of that awful sacrifice, which in turn might move them to a conversion of heart. This, of course, is directly against the devil’s wishes, and so he spurs on his agents to wage a relentless war against the cross and all who seek to answer the call of Christ.

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Just as Christ was tortured and killed, so should His followers expect to be. Scorn and derision directed toward the friends of the cross are the most common tools used by the world. Yet such is the hatred for faithful souls, that the children of the world – those agents of the devil – will have no qualms at enforcing bloody persecutions on any who do not conform to their rejection of Truth. The Church has been sustained by the blood of Her martyrs throughout the centuries, and in the wake of the anti-Catholic global agenda that is being ruthlessly pursued, such scenes are likely to occur again. 

As the agents of the world levy increasingly prohibitive sanctions on those who do not conform to the anti-life agenda, particularly against those who will reject the abortion-tainted injections of our time, they will seek to make the cross a thing of horror. These servants of Satan will do everything in their power to weaken the resolve of faithful souls, so that the call of Christ for men to pick up their cross and follow Him will go largely unanswered.  

Such dark souls will try to do to friends of the cross what they did to Christ – persecute, torture and kill.

And yet, even despite this terrible outlook, there is hope. Hope springs eternal from the cross, because it is that very tree that is the path to salvation. The world will seek to make it heavy, painful and arduous, yet this is precisely the suffering which Christ endured, and to which He calls all. Indeed, St. Louis-Marie de Montfort writes thus about carrying the cross: “But if, on the contrary, you suffer in the right way, the cross will become a yoke that is easy and light, since Christ Himself will carry it with you. It will give you wings, as it were, to lift you to heaven; it will become your ship’s mast, bringing you smoothly and easily to the harbor of salvation. Carry your cross patiently, and it will be a light in your spiritual darkness, for the one who has never suffered trials is ignorant.”

Contrary to the wishes and plans of the world, the cross can never be a symbol of ignominy or meaningless suffering, since our Captain has made it the means of life! We are thus called to blossom and grow with the truth of God and the abundance of grace found in the spiritual life. Faithful friends of the cross study the science of the divine, the pursuit of worldly death and spiritual abundance. In the cross, they find the source of this life, and when accepting the cross, they find divine life itself. 

The crucifix is that which shames and offends the world, but “is the abridgement of all that a Christian ought to believe (and) practice.” 

On this Good Friday then, while the world seeks to prohibit worship, let us spend time before the crucifix, gazing in love and sorrow at the wounds inflicted upon our precious Savior, counting the number of lacerations He bears and the thorns in His crown. Let us reflect upon the nails that fasten Him to the wood of the cross and recall the agony He endured while hanging there. Then let us remember that He did so for us and for our salvation in order that we might be freed from servitude to sin and join Him in heavenly felicity. The almighty and perfect God freely endured such torments and agonies in order that we, unworthy as we are, might have a share in His Divine life. 

This brief gaze at the cross is more profitable than any trumpet call or proudly flying flag on the battlefield, more delightful than any of the empty delectations that the world can offer. It should serve to remind us of our end and the means by which we are to attain it. 

The many wounds upon the body of Our Lord stand as a constant memory of the heavy price that He paid in order that we might be like unto Him. Then, moved by such love, we must heed His call, and hasten to ascend Mount Calvary in order to take His place upon the cross. We could not have received any greater proof of God’s love and so we must return such love to Him in the same way. 

Let us welcome the cross, sing for joy when we see it, and cry out to He who cannot love more perfectly – “O sweetest Jesus, who so wondrously died for me upon the cross; take me unto Thyself; allow me to draw near to the cross and fix myself there in your stead, so that I might, through faithful imitation of Thee, attain to the intimacy of Thy most Sacred Heart. On this cross Thou gavest Thy life for me: now may I give mine for Thee. Mary, my dearest Mother, hold me, so that I might not waver in my resolve, but eagerly die for love of Him.”

Thus writes St. Alphonsus in his meditation for Good Friday: 

“O my dear Redeemer, well do I recognize in these Thy wounds, and in Thy lacerated body, as it were through so many lattices, the tender affection with Thou dost retain for me. Since then, in order to pardon me, Thou hast not pardoned Thyself, oh look upon me now with the same love wherewith Thou didst one day look upon me from the cross, whilst Thou were dying for me.

Look upon me and enlighten me, and draw my whole heart to Thyself, that so, from this day forth, I may love none else but Thee. Let me not ever be unmindful of Thy death. Thou didst promise that, when raised up upon the cross, Thou wouldst draw all our hearts to Thee. Behold this heart of mine, which, made tender by Thy death, and enamoured of Thee, desires to offer no further resistance to Thy calls. Oh, do Thou draw it to Thyself and make it all Thine own.

Thou has died for me, and I desire to die for Thee; and if I continue to live, I will live for Thee alone. O pains of Jesus, O ignominies of Jesus, O death of Jesus, O love of Jesus: fix yourselves within my heart, and let the remembrance of you abide there always, to be continually smiting me and inflaming me with love. I love Thee, O infinite goodness; I love Thee, O infinite love. Thou are and shalt ever be, my one and only love. O Mary, Mother of love, do thou obtain me love.”


  crucifixion, good friday, jesus christ, passion and death, st. alphonsus ligouri

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Another Easter without Mass: What happened to Catholic Ireland?

May the blood of the Irish martyrs serve to inspire the Church, so that the Irish clergy may once more fulfill their vocation to lead souls to God instead of away from Him, and may the underground Church continue to grow in size and fervor.
Fri Apr 2, 2021 - 6:00 am EST
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Michael Haynes Michael Haynes Follow Michael
By Michael Haynes

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) –– For the second year running, the Irish government has brought about something which would have made the previous persecutors of Irish Catholics so very proud: The prohibition of public worship during Holy Week and Easter.

Yet the blame cannot fall solely at the feet of political legislators, as this occurrence is something which is due also to the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. And so, as churches will be empty once again for the most sacred time of the Church’s year, the question must be asked — what happened to Catholic Ireland?

COVID and the Church in Ireland

Ireland has a special place in Catholic history as the land of saints and scholars, the land to which St. Patrick famously came and from whence missionaries and monks left to convert the world. In parishes across the world, very often the stalwarts of daily Mass are Irish themselves, or of Irish families. The culture has for generations been steeped in the faith. Life revolved around the practice of Catholicism in a way that must have angered the increasingly secularist world.

But for the past number of decades, this happy situation has no longer been reality. Catholicism in Ireland has become watered down to little more than a folk religion, where people attend Mass infrequently at best, the faith is rarely taught, and scandal after scandal is used to undermine any remnant of authority and respect which the Church used to command.

Certainly, any church one passes will almost always be Catholic, but even this is not set to last. For many years, there has existed a faux Catholicism — an image of a Catholic country, but, in reality, one which is propped up merely on remnants of the past, and with little that is actually flourishing.

The arrival of COVID-related restrictions provided the long-awaited impetus for this projection to collapse and crumble.

The government and the Irish bishops worked in tandem to close Catholic churches across the country, so that from March 13, 2020, public worship had ceased, and for the first time since the days of Catholic persecution, which began under Henry VIII, Catholics were once again prevented by the authorities form worshipping God.

This time, there was no St. Patrick, none of the numerous priests and bishops who happily endured prison, torments, and death rather than bow to similar encroachments upon the rights of the Church as enforced by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

One by one, bishop after bishop suspended public Mass, attempting to reassure their flock that they were not abandoning their duty since Mass would still be said in private, but that the people would be barred. Clergy interpreted the government advice, which banned indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, as the excuse to demonstrate their subservience to the state, in a manner which would have made ashamed their brother clergy from previous centuries who were martyred for the faith.

As Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said: “I regret the disruption and inconvenience that this will cause to children, parents and priests, but I take this decision in the interests of public health and in the common good.”

So also spoke Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, who called the closure of churches “necessary” to “protect the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.” Sadly, Bishop Leahy did not follow the example of Hugh Lacy, bishop of Limerick, in 1578, who was driven out of his see and imprisoned twice for refusing to abandon his flock to persecution.

Days later, a Catholic priest from Archbishop Neary’s diocese allowed a Muslim imam to deliver the Islamic call to prayer in the parish church. Catholic parishioners were kept out, by order of the hierarchy.

Then, in August, the clergy abandoned the spiritual health of Irish Catholics once more, as Ireland’s national Marian shrine of Knock was closed for the feast of the Assumption, due to fears that people would flock there as in previous years. On a day that usually saw hourly Masses starting at 6am, for the 20,000 plus pilgrims, the shrine was closed, not on the order of the state, nor even in an act of Catholic persecution by officials, but by the clergy, whose duty it is to lead souls to heaven.

Ireland, a nation once so devoted to the Mother of God, thus saw its priests turn their back upon Mary — something which Oliver Cromwell himself would have welcomed.

Ireland saw its churches closed once more in October, as the government raised the alert level for the virus and ordered worship to take place online. In the spring, the bishops had demonstrated that they were willing to close the churches, and thus set the way for the state to do so a few months later.

Weeks after, images of Catholic persecution returned once more, as a new law was passed (in direct violation of the Constitution), threatening imprisonment for priests who dared to say a public Mass. A €2,500 fine or 6 months in jail were the potential punishments for a member of the clergy exercising his vocation.

It seems that at this point, the four archbishops in the country did begin to realize the dangerous precedent which was being set, and issued a half-hearted statement in an attempt to demonstrate action. They called for constructive engagement with the government in order to have access to the sacraments, but continued to “fully support the guidance of the public health authorities.”

Renewed attack on the Church

The country that once was so predominantly Catholic now appears utterly foreign to those of previous generations. While some faithful few made recent public demonstrations of piety, the state has ramped up its persecution of Catholics. In recent weeks, the attack against the Church and Catholics has rapidly gained pace, while both politicians and clergy (on the whole) avoid calling the situation as it is — namely, a persecution.

Three men were arrested while praying and broadcasting Mass outside Waterford Cathedral. Police have been gathering information of people who are merely praying outside churches, and even set up check points around Fr. P.J. Hughes’s parish in order to prevent people from going to Mass.

The brave priest welcomed what he described as “anti-Catholic and anti-Church” behavior: “In a way, I felt privileged to be persecuted by the guards because the story today in the gospel is about the Passion of Jesus Christ, how Jesus was crucified, mocked, scourged. I wasn’t scourged or mocked but I was probably insulted and persecuted by the guards.”

On that same day, Palm Sunday, the government responded to questions about the current legal status about saying Mass, insisting that priests were committing an offense if they left home to celebrate a public Mass.

Pockets of resistance

Yet the faith is by no means completely dead. Priests, mindful of their primary duty to souls, have continued to offer the sacraments to their flock.

Fr. Hughes said Mass, without turning away those parishioners who came, and was promptly threatened with prosecution by the police. In scenes directly from the 1600s, Hughes had been “reported.” Yet in scenes very different from the days of persecution, he was without the support of his bishop.

There are certainly determined groups of faithful souls up and down the country, both lay and clerical, who are imitating their martyred predecessors in the faith, and going underground.

They are, no doubt, drawing on the example of Catholics such as Sir John Burke, Fr. Patrick O’Derry, and Donough and John Olvin, all of whom were hung, drawn and quartered for their faith in the early 1600s.

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Indeed, days ago, just over one year since the bishops first closed the churches, Irish Catholics braved persecution and gathered in Dublin to hold a procession in honor of St. Patrick. Singing hymns and praying rosaries while carrying a statue of Mary, they prayed for freedom of worship once more, and conversion of the country.

Irish Catholic media outlet Catholic Arena also reported that on Palm Sunday across the country, Catholics gathered outside their churches to pray the rosary for a swift return to their churches.

Once more the faithful in Ireland are returning to the underground Church, expecting persecution from the state, a lack of support from their bishops, and an absence of the sacraments in many of their churches. The surface appears dead, but the blood of the martyrs sustains the underground Church.

A double-sided attack

In many ways then, the situation in Ireland is very comparable to penal times. With politicians readily ramping up legislation against worship, making arrests, and fining Catholics for praying, it is not hard to see the similarities.

But this time there is one crucial difference — the Catholic bishops have abandoned their flock, allowing the state to persecute Catholics freely, and sometimes adding their assistance.

Such a phrase is indeed a bold claim to make, yet it is being pronounced by clergy and laity throughout the country, and clearly evidenced by the actions of the hierarchy. For instance, the Archbishop of Dublin recently called for a swift return to worship, yet days before banned priests in his diocese from privately distributing Holy Communion, and thus from ministering to their congregation.

Rory O’Hanlon of the Irish Society for Christian Civilization spoke about this with LifeSiteNews, saying that it was “not surprising.”

“I think that the statement of Archbishop Farrell is scandalous, although perhaps not surprising. The hierarchy, to a large degree, seems to have abandoned the flock. During a previous persecution of the Church in Ireland St. Oliver Plunkett, referring to the bishops and clergy of his day, said: ‘We were resolved to die of cold and hunger rather than to abandon our flocks.’ With the exception of a small number of clergy we are not seeing the same spirit today.”

When Fr. Hughes was recently fined for continuing to offer Mass, he noted that he continued to do so (that is, to exercise his priestly duty) against the wishes of his bishop. “I will exercise my constitutional right even though people are complaining, even though I am not obeying the bishop when I go against his advice,” he wrote. “We can’t just reject Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.”

Some months ago, a priest in rural Ireland told LifeSite that the bishops had betrayed the faith by voluntarily closing the churches: “By doing so, the Church in Ireland has deemed the practice of our faith non-essential … It’s been a disaster … The Church in Ireland is a devastated vineyard.”

Anthony Murphy, Director of Lumen Fidei Institute and editor of Catholic Voice magazine, said similarly: “The bishops have handed over the sacraments for the government to control and regulate and God has been side-lined. God is being openly mocked in Ireland and the bishops do not seem to care, they stand silent while the sheep go hungry.”

Indeed, for decades, the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland has been silent, taciturn, and unconcerned, while Catholics rapidly fell away from the practice of the faith so widely that the nation of saints and scholars voted to legalize the murder of the unborn in 2018.

The bishops have nurtured such a lively practice of the faith that in 2017, the former nation of missionaries saw a record low number of seminarians in the national seminary of Maynooth. Built to house 500 seminarians, only 6 men entered in 2017, adding up to a total of 41 seminarians at the time.

The hierarchy oversaw the teaching of the faith so well that in 2015 “Catholic Ireland” became the first country in the world to approve same-sex “marriage” by a popular vote, with a reported margin of 62% to 37.9%.

Small wonder, then, that Rory O’Hanlon wrote thus: “There is no doubt that a great number of our legislators would be more than happy to see the Church permanently shut. And each day that the bishops fail to assert their rightful authority over the Church and to confront the state makes the permanent closure of the Church more likely.”

The example of the martyrs

LifeSite was recently in contact with Damien Richardson, who salvaged a book about the Irish martyrs from the rubbish. Richardson hoped that “Our Martyrs,” written by Fr. Dennis Murphy S.J. in 1896 and now reprinted thanks to Richardson, would serve as inspiration for the Irish faithful today, who could take heart from the many accounts of heroic witness to the faith by Catholics centuries earlier.

As Ireland leads the way in the anti-Catholic Great Reset, overtly persecuting the few faithful Catholics, Richardson urges his fellow countrymen to learn from the example of Fathers Mathew Lamport, John Wallis, Eneas Penny, Donough O’Reddy and scores more, who suffered torture and death for the faith.

“I also hope this generation realises that the Irish Catholics were willing to lay down their lives and risk everything just to receive the bread of life at the holy Mass,” wrote Richardson. “The Irish priests and bishops would return from studies in Europe to Ireland, knowing quite well that they were going to be hung, drawn and quartered. When they came to Ireland there was a price on their head from the priest hunters, but they loved their flock so much that they were willing to die for their flock.”

The penal times were indeed an age when numerous bishops joined the flock in defending the faith, as can be seen by the numbers of bishops listed in the pages of “Our Martyrs.”

As Ireland faces yet another Easter without access to Mass — last year due solely to the bishops, this year due both to the state and the weakness of the bishops — may the blood of the Irish martyrs serve to inspire the Church, so that the Irish clergy may once more fulfill their vocation to lead souls to God instead of away from Him, and may the underground Church continue to grow in size and fervor.


  bishops, catholic, catholic ireland