Page 2, 16th September 1960

16th September 1960
Page 2
Page 2, 16th September 1960 — THE IRISH IN BRITAIN
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Locations: Dublin, Fliieli, Westport

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THE IRISH IN BRITAIN

Drift from the Faith?

SIR,-"Sacerdos" in a recent issue, writes of the number of Irish who lose their, faith in England and states that "the rot somehow must have set in before thc trees were transplanted."

No doubt there are many rea sons for the falling-away of the lapsed ones, but may I be permitted to comment on a particular cause, as it appears to myself. an Irish Catholic layman. It is briefly that the Irish in Ireland are given very little rational instruction in their faith.

In primary schools the main emphasis is on memorisation of catechism. The amount of by-heart answers to be learned by the unfortunate pupils is quite preposterous and means in effect that the teachers have little time to ex

plain the subject-matter thoroughly. This parrot approach is much sought-after by religious examiners.

I have rarely heard (apart from an occasional retreat), any attempt to tie-up the abstract principles with every-day life or current affairs. One listens in vain for a reference to world affairs, everyday life or news, the world of science or industry or any aspect of the real world of man or nature.

Christ's manner of teaching through appealing to the daily-life experience of His listeners is rarely followed.

Plain lack of understanding of religion lies behind many lapses of Irish Catholics in England.

Thomas P. Sheeran Fairview, Dublin.

mind races back to my own youth in Ireland, and it seemed to me that many of us had said in our hearts, "I am an Irish Catholic, the salt of the earth, and a great consolation to God, who is worried about the people in other countries, who are mostly very bad?'

Now in old age, I visit Ireland frequently to my great pleasure, and am always shamed afresh by the evidence of lively faith, good living, and the flood of vocations that sends us so many splendid priests and nuns.

Yet sometimes beneath the wit and laughter, I catch a phrase which seems an echo of my own smugness. Could this be the canker in the rose for which "Sacerdos" is seeking?

Perhaps, when one lives long in a neo-pagan climate, one learns by failure that one is too weak to make the grade alone. Then one can only cling to the hem of the Robe and wait to be lifted in.

W.E.W.C.

SIR,-During my holidays in Eire I was able to move around and have chats with many interesting People, on one occasion I was speaking with a very holy and sincere parish priest and he asked me about the "strikes" in England. He said "the strikes arc all caused by people who don't want work,' and most certainly to generalise like that does not help the religion of his parishioners when they come to England and find out for themselves that such a statement is not entirely true.

Of course the materialist idea of getting something for nothing is more widely spread today but it operates not only in the working class but among those who possess wealth, social position, and political power.

When the new arrival from Eire meets people who don't believe in the existence of God, it is no use applying the label "heretic" or "pagan". Not to have the right answer ready is the sure way to becoming a -"heretic" himself. and there are very very few of the young people coming from Eire with anything beyond the catechism answer iss a language which is foreign to those outside the faith.

There are many Irish priests in England and they have experienced the atmospheres and conditions which operate in both coun

tries. Were they to return to Eire and make known the really true state of things over here, quite probably there would be a new approach in the training of young people to meet the vastly different conditions in this country.

Whilst in Eire I was happy to find, everywhere I went, hundreds of fine young men with the pioneer badge on their lapels and an enthusiastic interest in life. I saw packed churches and thousands receiving Holy Communion. I saw people taking off their hats or caps at the sound of the Angelus bell, standing with their lips moving with the prayer.

In the bus from Westport to Knock, young girls recited the Rosary with a fervour that had to be seen to be believed. At Knock itself there were thousands standing before the Shrine during the Mass and the rain pelted down upon them pitilessly. and it does make one wonder, how could anyone he tepid or lukewarm in such an atmosphere.

But the person who comes to England needs equipping with something more than the how and arrow methods of defending his Faith. A course of Canon Sheehan's "apologetics" would do more good, the argument of design, cause and effect, etc., put into a simple language, and streamlined by an up to date way of being put over.

In England, the Catholic whose faith is based merely on sentiment isn't a Catholic very long, because the sentiment is soon shocked out of him by the things he sees around, in industry, social life, and most of all by the isolation in which he finds himself, for it is this very isojation that drives him into the doubtful kind of company which usually ends up with mixed marriage and lost faith.

Edward Franey

11 Third Avenue, Woodlands, Doncaster.

SIR,-"Sacerdos" in last week's issue, blames Ireland for the falling away of Irish Catholics in England. That kind of excuse is as old as Adam. That we are not entirely complacent is shown by the recent pastoral of the Irish Bishops.

I too find it easier to see the mote than the beam. May I point to one of them? Irish people abroad, like English people abroad, are sensitive about the prestige of their country. They feel humiliated by the way English Catholics, ostensibly friends, make little of, and even ridicule, everything that is Irish.

English Catholic papers, for instance, practically exclude all Irish news. while the CATHOLIC HERALD gives great publicity to matters discreditable to Ireland, e.g., beating in schools, V.D. in Dublin.

One has heard, too. of English priests choosing the burial Mass on St. Patrick's Day in the presence of a largely Irish congregation. They explain that they are motivated by love of the Liturgy. But surely love of the neighbour should come first?

The Irish too, dislike being regimented, especially in Church. Dare I suggest that they be allowed to kneel on one knee in the porch, as many of them were accustomed to do here at home, and they might find it easier to go to Mass. They intend no disrespect and I am sure they hold Mass as devoutly as if they were herded into the seats.

I am sure the Connolly Clubs eater for Irish feelings and prejudices. If "Sacerdos" studied their methods he might learn a useful lesson. Fas eat ab hoste doceri."

"Sacerdos Hibernicus"

We welcome the letter of "Sacerdos Hibernicus" in that it puts an Irish Point of view, which we are only too glad to publicise, though this problem does not strike us as a national one, but rather a Catholic one in which both countries should cooperate (as indeed at high levels they do) to solve the religious difficulties which have arisen through Irish immigration into this country. The reason why this paper at least normally does not give Irish Catholic news is that it is readily available and at much greater length than we could possibly manage in Irish papers.-Entiott, "C.H."

Switzerland's Patron Saint

-Your correspondent's rather dogmatic statement is unfortunately wrong.

Brother Klaus was Nicholas von Flik. He was born in the village of Fliieli near Sachseln, which is south of Lucerne. The German word for a mass of rock is "Flub" and not "Fliie".

Elinor D. Rhodes 29 Abbey Street, Faversham, Kent.




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