“And Judas (Machabeus) said: Gird yourselves, and be valiant men, and be ready against the morning, that you may fight with these nations that are assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary.For it is better for us to die in battle, than to see the evils of our nation, and of the holies: Nevertheless as it shall be the will of God in heaven so be it done." (First Book of Machabees 3:58-60)

The First and Second books of Machabees recount how, in 167 B.C., the priest, Mattathias,refused to worship the Greek gods, sparking a rebellion of the Jews against Antiochus IV who had tried to supplant their religion with the veneration of his own pagan gods. Judas Machabeus and his brothers, sons of Mattathias, continued the war against the subjugation of their homeland and their religion.

In 17th Century Ireland the regiment of Owen Roe ONeill identified its struggle for freedom of faith and country with that of the Holy Machabees of Old Testament Judea. ONeill referred to his followers as his Irish Machabeans.

The same war between good and evil, one that has been waged from the beginning of time until now, still rages on. Inspired by the heroism of Machabeus, of Owen Roe ONeill and their followers, the Irish Machabean is dedicated to resisting all the outrages being perpetrated against the Catholic faith and against the Irish people in our days.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Approaching the 1916 Centenary Celebrations

Today marks the beginning of the final year in the run up to the centenary of the Easter Rising, and is a good occasion to reflect on all that has passed since 1916; on the opportunities that our independence provided for us; and on whether or not we have used those opportunities to their best advantage.

We can ponder on the satisfaction or otherwise, of those who gave their lives for the freedom of future generations, regarding the fruits of their sacrifice. Would they even recognise the country that Ireland has become?

Let us try to put ourselves in the shoes of one of those heroes who sacrificed all, and who now finds himself back in the Ireland of 2015.

How would he feel about the state of the country, the culture, the economy, the government and the people?
Wouldn't he be a bit taken aback at the profound changes in the culture and way of life? Walking around the streets of Dublin he would wonder how anyone could live with the constant noise, the hustle and bustle – certainly a lot worse than in his day.

1916 rising Enda Kenny StatementAnd everyone walking around staring at the strange device in their hands, thumbs working furiously, and white cables coming out of their ears.

Maybe he would see some of the irritating sights and sounds as the inevitable price of progress, although it is to be suspected that he would prefer the calmer ambience of the streets in his own day, more conducive to reflection.

The fashions, too, might shock him. And he couldn’t avoid noticing the parallels between those fashions and some of the behaviour he might witness, especially at night. “Definitely a moral and cultural decline since my day,” he might think.

Thinking, then, about how all these changes came about, he might have a look at what influences have been exerted over Ireland in the past century. He would want to look at government, at the media, and at what ties we have to other countries.

He would probably want to read some history books and newspapers – or maybe he has been keeping an eye on all that from Heaven anyway.

Many aspects of what he would see would make him question whether we fully appreciated the sacrifice he had made on our behalf.

“I could have lived another half century,” he might think, “and perhaps had some influence on the direction of the country. But then again, fifty years would not have been enough. It was in the past fifty years that the most profound transformation of the country took place,” he would add.

1916 rising Enda Kenny Statement
He would be greatly perplexed at the way we drifted into the European Union in its present form. Perhaps he would find our entry into the EEC acceptable. Perhaps!

But the incremental loss of sovereignty since then… the sovereignty for which he and his associates had sacrificed their lives… that’s another matter.

What would leave him most perturbed, though, would be the realisation of how far we have drifted from the purity of the ideals that they had held so dear, especially in moral and social questions.

The accelerated rate of change in these fields would upset him. Some of the legislation would horrify him.
Neither he, nor any of his fellow martyrs for Ireland, would ever have been unmoved by the trauma of a woman in a crisis pregnancy and in danger of death. Yet, would they have dared to legislate for the death of the unborn infant as a solution for this situation?

Not only would they not have contemplated such a final solution, but their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters, as well as every other lady they knew, would have staunchly rejected the killing of the child, even if it could have saved their own lives.

But they were of a generation that knew the value of sacrifice. And they were also sufficiently grounded in reality to realise that killing the baby couldn't guarantee the life of the mother.

They would have left no stone unturned to find solutions, but life affirming solutions. That is how medical science has improved.

Living in a more reflective era they might have pondered the issue more carefully, with more gravity, than our leaders of today, enervated as they are with the speed of life, with so many demands on their time and attention, with so many stimuli from their iPhones.

1916 rising Enda Kenny Statement
“I pity them,” our hero might think. “But still, they are an arrogant bunch. They preen around and argue over which of them is the true heir of 1916, which of them should rule the proceedings for the centenary celebrations. They have all abandoned the path that we laid down for them.”

He might also be a bit confused at seeing a whole culture dedicated to self-gratification to such an extent that even the government is so preoccupied with sexual rights issues that it can’t focus on the real issues of the day or the real dangers for the future.

His perturbation at the state of Ireland, his confusion, his acute pain at the abandonment he would feel, was most callously condensed into a single statement by An Taoiseach who, in referring to the referendum on the redefinition of marriage, said:

“As we approach the centenary of the Rising, a Yes vote would, I believe, send out a powerful signal internationally that Ireland has evolved into a fair, compassionate and tolerant nation.”

The insinuation was clear: the leaders of ’16 were unfair, merciless and intolerant. And even worse, no party in the Oireachtas, none of those who so proudly proclaim their political lineage to the Rising, raised a voice to contradict such a contemptuous statement.

The heroes of Easter 1916 must have turned in their graves.