By The Thinking Man, First published Nov. 15th 2016
In this centenary year of the Easter Rising I have been challenged to rethink how I look on the this seminal event in our nation’s history. Indeed the Easter Rising is really the foundation stone on which our modern Irish republic is built. Yet, among large part of the Irish population today, a certain ambivalence surrounds the event and the people who organised it and participated in it, though this year’s celebrations has certainly helped to revive our interest and our pride in what those gallant men and women achieved.
But from whence does this stream of ambivalence flow and whence that fog that rises from it that shrouds our understanding of the very conception of our nation. There is more than one tributary that supplies this stream but the first one I want to deal with is the secularist culture that has triumphed in our country today or more precisely the Masonic secularism, for this religion or if you will, an anti-religion just didn’t fall from the sky. It has been publicly espoused by freemasonry for over 150 years at least. In fact in 1884 Leo. XIII issued an encyclical letter on freemasonry titled Humanum Genus in which he states the ultimate purpose of the Freemason federation is “namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere ‘Naturalism’,”1 Again in the same encyclical he says “By a long and persevering labour, they endeavour to bring about this result – namely, that the office and authority of the Church may become of no account in the civil State; and for this same reason they declare to the people and contend that Church and State ought to be altogether disunited. By this means they reject from the laws and from the commonwealth the wholesome influence of the Catholic religion; and they consequently imagine that States ought to be constituted without any regard for laws and precepts of the Church.”2
It should be quite easy for people to recognise that particularly Masonic idea in today’s virulent secularism that is dominating our country. For those still unconvinced of the Masonic origin of our modern day secularism, I quote a Church approved apparition from Ecuador in the early 1600s. Our Mother Mary appeared to a Spanish born nun, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, who agreed to be a victim soul for our times, under the title of Our Lady of Good Success and told her that in these times, “there would be an almost total corruption of customs and Satan would rule almost completely by means of the Masonic sects.”3
Now about 60 years after receiving the freedom to worship under the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829,the Irish people who had been under constant economic exploitation since the Act of Union (1800) then endured a genocidal famine (1845-1852) that decimated her population and finally seeing an economic improvement after a devastating land war (1879-1882) started to reclaim her Irish culture, language and identity that was rapidly disappearing under British rule. In 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded to promote Irish games and then in 1893 the Gaelic League or Conradh na Gaeilge was founded to promote the speaking of the Irish language and the Abbey theatre was founded in 1904 to originally give voice to a resurging national identity.
However despite their gallant efforts Padraig Pearse would remark that much of the Catholic middle classes were seduced by the success and prosperity of British Capitalism and that Ireland was losing her soul to a materialist secular society4. Particularly the education system was moulding young Irish people to be fodder for a scientific, materialistic, evolutionist society. To be sure they were being taught their Catholic faith but it terms of shaping and forming that society Catholicism did not get a look in. Indeed great Catholic writers of the time like Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton railed against the rising tide of philosophical positivism that straddled the Darwinian model of material evolution. And in his great poem, ‘The Waste Land’, which is now considered a modern classic, T.S. Elliot lays bare the utter soullessness of modern society. Frank Sheed in his wonderful book Theology and Sanity describes the precarious situation of Catholics who are intellectually formed by the modernist world they live in.
“Now in that sense most of us have Catholic wills, but not many of us have Catholic intellects. When we look at the universe, we see pretty well what other people see, plus certain extra features taught us by our religion. For the most part, the same influences that form other people’s minds, form ours—the same habits of thought, inclinations, bodily senses, indolences, worked upon by the same newspapers, periodicals, best-sellers, films, radio programmes. So that we have not so much Catholic minds as worldly minds with Catholic patches. Intellectually, we wear our Catholicism like a badge on the lapel of the same kind of suit that everyone else is wearing.”5
The 1913 strikes commonly referred to as the ‘Lock Out’, and their very violent suppression cemented in the minds of many of the leaders of the Easter Rising the necessity of separating from Britain if Ireland was to achieve her own spiritual destiny or even save her own soul. Also those, like James Connolly, who seeking social reform for the poor and working classes were convinced that no change could be possible until we separated first from Britain, throwing off the chains of imperialism. De Valera in a speech made on the 17 May 1943 described this vision that inspired the 1916 generation: “The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit.”6
Tens of thousands of Irish men were being sacrificed on the killing fields of Belgium, France and Turkey at Redmond’s urging and promise of Home Rule, which might change the political rulers but would leave the British culture in place. It was also becoming clear to all involved that only way to reverse the nation’s absorption into the dominant British secular culture was to reawaken the national spirit through armed rebellion.
R F Foster points out in his book ‘Modern Ireland’ “An intrinsic component of the insurrection (for all the pluralist window-dressing of the Proclamation issued by Pearse) was the strain of mystic Catholicism identifying the Irish soul as Catholic and Gaelic.”7 And Roger Buck in the introduction to his book ‘The Gentle Traditionalist’, points out how different post independent Ireland was from other English speaking nations.
“Upon achieving independence, Ireland opted—with vast popular support—for a far less secular system than Britain, one in which Church and State were interwoven in ways unthinkable in other English-speaking countries. Thus, for example, new laws were passed—again with democratic support—promoting tighter censorship and restricting divorce and the sale of contraceptives, amidst other measures favoured by the Catholic morality of the vast majority of its citizens. As noted above, a new constitution was voted in, which rooted ultimate authority not simply in the “consent of the governed,” but rather in the Triune Christian God:
‘In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations, Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.’”8
To properly understand the motivations of those who fought it is important that we do not forget what they were fighting against. British society, the dominant society, was one that had progressed from the Enlightenment of the 18th century and was shaped by a individualistic, materialistic and imperialist dogma of the 19th century and bolstered by the financial success of the industrial revolution and unrestrained capitalism was by the early 20th century producing a mass urban culture that was inimical to the Catholic model of society. It was indeed a society where Masonic secular values reigned supreme and given the success of this culture propagated by the media in modern times and its eschewing of the Catholic culture that emerged after independence from the ashes of the Easter Rising it is not difficult to apprehend the wide scale ambiguity in celebrating it’s centenary.
I want to consider the Just War theory and the Rising in my next blog as our modern day attitude towards violence is undoubtedly another stream that has confused and coloured people’s understanding of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Virtue makes a nation great.
1) Pope Leo XIII. ‘The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII 178-1903’, Illinois:Tan Books and Publisher Inc. (1995) Page 89
2) Ibid: Page 90. On individual members of the Freemasons the Pope has this to say “There may be persons amongst these, and not a few, who although not free from the guilt of having entangled themselves in such associations, yet are neither themselves partners in their criminal acts, nor aware of the ultimate object which they are endeavouring to attain.” Page 89
4) “The (Irish) people had lost their souls and were being vulgarised, commercialised, anxious only to imitate the material prosperity of England.” Desmond Ryan, ‘Remembering Sion: A Chronicle of Storm and Quiet’. London: Arthur Barker. (1934) page 161 Quoted in the Gentle Traditionalist
5) Sheed Frank. ‘Theology and Sanity’, London: Sheed and Ward. (1947). (Sixth impression 1953) Pg. 4
6) Eamon De Valera, “On Language and the Irish Nation”, speech on Raidió Éireann, 17 May 1943 http://spinnet.humanities.uva.nl/images/2014-04/devalera1943.pdf Quoted in the Gentle Traditionalist
7) Forster, R. F. ‘Modern Ireland’, 1600–1972, London: Penguin Books. (1989), 479. Quoted in the Gentle Traditionalist
8) Buck, Roger. ‘The Gentle Tradionalist’, Ohio: Angelico Press. (2015) Introduction 383 of 3481 Kindle version