Bishop of Ireland
By Rev. Gerry Creedon
St. Patrick’s Day 2016 anticipates the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Cork is 200 miles from Dublin, thank God. At a GAA gathering in the rebel city to commemorate the Insurrection a man got up to boast; “My father was in the GPO for the first shot!” Well then’ said a teammate, “He was back in Cork by the second shot.” So much for that boast.
It was a bloody protest for a glorious thing. In hindsight, faith and violence are strange bedmates. We have heard the withering critique: “Pearse saw the Rising as a Passion Play with real blood.”
I spoke last week to my friend Johnny Buckley, Bishop of Cork, about his approach to this Easter. He said, “Given the tender nature of relationships in the North, the focus on blood sacrifice needs to be tamped down.”
We have begun slowly to leave aside the cult of the gun, at least in some quarters.
Yet we need to remember and honor the willingness of our 1916 leaders to sacrifice themselves for the cause of freedom and the common good.” I have squandered the splendid years the Lord God gave to my youth in attempting impossible things, deeming them alone worth the toil.”
The lawyers have sat in council, the men with the keen, long faces, and said, ‘This man is a fool,’ and others have said, ‘He blasphemeth;’ and the wise have pitied the fool that hath striven to give a life in the world of time and space among the bulks of actual things, to a dream that was dreamed in the heart, and that only the heart could hold.
Whatever their methods, their dream was rooted in a gospel vision. The nation they would form would guarantee religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declare its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally (From the Declaration of Independence). “What if the dream come true and if millions unborn shall dwell in the house I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?” All of the children of Ireland still wait to be cherished equally. The Vision still remains a dream for too many left behind in what Pope Francis describes as a trickle down economy that trickles all too slowly.
Jesus proclaimed God’s dream in Luke Four; “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”
As their faith motivated our leaders a century ago to search for freedom and equality, may that same search for a freer and more equal society never lose its moorings. To allow a cynically secularized ideology to rob us of our faith is to risk the vision that sustains.
That journey to the fullness of freedom is as old as the story of Patrick. He left his slavery, his time tending pigs on Sliabh Mish, and spent his time as a freed slave liberating the people of Ireland with the fire and light of Easter from the hill of Tara.
He left us his prayer as a breastplate, not armor for battle, but as inner strength for the long road to freedom.
Christ be with
me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.