A Priest Of Popular Passion

If you’ve read my book, you will know I am no fan of the Catholic church’s role in Irish history. There are notable exceptions. On this 4th of July I read a booklet on a priest who played a huge role in Irish independence. Father Michael O’Flanagan has been called the father1staunchest priest who ever lived in Ireland. His actions and especially his words ring a strong truth for this day and these times. In one of many articles he wrote:

What shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? These questions always have been asked and always will be asked. They arise from the necessities of our nature. In a supply of these necessities is the mainspring of human effort. If there be in a country people who are underfed, or who are insufficiently clothed, it should be a matter of grave concern to the Government and it may be, and usually is, to some extent at least, the fault of the Government themselves.

Strong words for a priest. Especially in those times in Ireland. But he also had strong words for his Catholic brethren who actually censured him for several years, although it was to no avail.

And I say to the priests of the Irish race, you are not bound to take your politics from your Bishops…. If you do not speak your mind boldly on political questions then you have degraded your priesthood to the position of a mere job and your job is bigger than your soul. 

Today, amidst the horrendous noise of fireworks both legal and not, I celebrate the passion of a man who gladly accepted a life-work bigger than his soul.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com