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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Meditation: The Bell Tolls for Ireland and for Western Civilization

In 1624 John Donne wrote a short book of meditations titled Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. At the time he was dean of St. Paul's, a prestigious position in the Church of England. The meditations were inspired by a long period of illness with spotted fever when he lay in his sickbed and listened to the funeral bells ringing at a nearby church. He made this observation in Meditation XVII:
The Church is Catholike, universall, so are all her Actions; All that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns mee, for that child is thereby connected to that Head which is my Head too, and engraffed into that body, whereof I am a member … All mankinde is of one Author, and is one volume; when one Man dies, one Chapter is not torne out of the booke, but translated into a better language. [Unusual spellings are from the original.]
From there follows a poem that contains two very famous lines: "No man is an island." and "For whom the bell tolls."

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Today we hear the funeral bell ringing for Ireland. A country steeped in the Catholics faith through the missionary teaching of St. Patrick, has embraced the worst and most vile sacrament of Satan, abortion. In what I can only describe as a eulogy for dead Ireland, Pangur Bán wrote today at The Catholic Thing:
Ireland was the last major champion of a fundamental law that commanded and taught the common good according to reason, the last bargaining chip that denizens of the long-corrupted West might use to negotiate with the Lord, as Abraham did when he begged mercy for Sodom if a few righteous could be found there.

This moment also bears comparison with the fall of Rome, a process that proceeded over centuries but saw a critical milestone in the Visigoth sack of the city in 410, which prompted St. Augustine to write City of God and would shape the landscape into which, a century later, St. Benedict would introduce the monasticism that the Irish would take up, cultivate, and extend.
Rome had seen corruption and had suffered setbacks and sieges long before the sack. But the sack itself was the decisive end of Roman order. It was the “final beginning” of the disorder from which the monks of Ireland would, with painful effort, prayer, and penance, help draw a new order, not out of direct intention but simply by seeking God.
The celebrations over the "YES" vote reminds me of the Israelites orgy in the desert as they danced around the golden calf. But note as you view the scene, the faithful Israelites who refused to join the festivities of abomination. Out of the collapse of Rome came the Benedictine glory of monastic life. What glory will God bring from this latest moral calamity? There will be one for sure because where sin abounds, God's grace abounds even more. Our response to evil must always be to embrace the faith more closely and to serve God more zealously. We may be in the "final beginning" of the end times. Our Lady of Life, pray for us.