Dear Editor, In Catholic circles mention the words ‘torchlight procession’ and most will think of Lourdes, southern France, where Our Lady appeared more than a dozen times to a 14-year-old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
In this little French town since then a public Torchlight Procession takes place every night, with pilgrims from all over the world walking in procession, with lighted candles, to the Grotto where Our Lady appeared. Two friends of mine from Dundalk were so impressed and overawed by this religious spectacle that they said to themselves: “If this can happen in Lourdes to honour Our Lady why not make it also happen in Faughart in honour of St Brigid?”
And so was born 44 years ago the first annual Torchlight Procession in honour of St Brigid, Patroness of Ireland, held on her feast day February 1 every year, in Faughart, north of Dundalk.
At the first Procession in Faughart there were 100 pilgrims. Now about 1,600 young and old gather atop Faughart Hill which overlooks the ancient ‘Gap of the North’ and walk in procession, with lights, for 20 minutes, carrying lighted candles or torches to the sound of music from a bugler and the amplification of the Rosary, hymns and prayers, to the Shrine and Chapel of St Brigid. Water is blessed and distributed. People are blessed with a Relic of St Brigid.
One wonders why this outdoor demanding devotion, sometimes in cold and rain, has such an appeal for people from near and far. One explanation put forward suggests that it is halfway between Christmas and Lent, and that people are ready again for a challenge to their faith. Another is that it is rural based, is not clerically controlled, is short, challenging, informal.
Perhaps people today are searching for God in less religious structures than of old. Whatever the reason Faughart Torchlight Procession seems destined to continue to be a builder of Faith and community.
‘Please reduce’ Lenten campaign waste, Trócaire
Dear Editor, Trócaire is a very good charitable organisation. Their work worldwide is a credit to all who support them and those who work on the ground.
But there is one thing that needs to change, that is their love for using huge amounts of paper each year in their Lenten campaign. For the last four years I have telephoned Trócaire’s main office in Maynooth and asked for only one box of envelopes to be sent to our parish. This year, yet again, two boxes arrived.
Also every envelope contains therein four pieces of paper and the cardboard collection box. There is only need for a quantity of collection envelopes and individual collection boxes and one or two well-presented posters with the relevant information.
Everyone knows how to contribute so please Trócaire, reduce the amount of paper and go with the essentials only. Every little helps to reduce waste and corresponding environmental costs.
Fr Ted Sheehan PP,
Parish of Glounthaune, Cork.
Don’t be fooled by Trump lies, Maria
Dear Editor, I am an admirer of Maria Steen, and thought she did very well in the pro-life debates.
However, like a lot of people here and in the US she has fallen for the Trump lies. Bob Woodward’s book Fear: Trump in the White House, a journalistic forensic work, finishes by telling us why the White House lawyer wouldn’t allow him to testify in person at the ‘Mueller inquiry’.
When asked why he wouldn’t allow him to testify in person, his answer was “because he is a…liar”. Last line in the book.
Supporting President Trump to oppose abortion
Dear Editor, It was good to read Maria Steen’s praiseworthy article on President Trump [IC 02/02/2020], while somewhat disappointing to read Brendan O’Regan’s faint praise for the president.
I wonder if Brendan is fully aware of the great good that he has done for the pro-life cause and how so many developing countries are enjoying US support at the UN against the efforts to impose abortion in their countries. Of course, his appearance at the rally in Washington, to repeat, the first by a US president, will do him no harm in the upcoming election.
However, it has to be pointed out that the Democratic Party is ensuring that all of their candidates running for the presidency must be supportive of unlimited abortion. Those considering voting for the Democratic Party, and it seems many living in Ireland do so, must be aware that in doing so they are supporting the abortion industry in the US, an industry that has resulted to date in 61 million abortions since Roe vs Wade.
I am hoping and praying that President Trump, while not necessarily agreeing with all of his policies, is re-elected. Otherwise there is no way to stop the worldwide unceasing push for abortion, financially supported by vast donations from the wealthiest people in the world.
Those opposing the slaughter of the innocents in the womb need to do all in their power to halt this dreadful genocide and stand up for the protection of all life, from conception to natural death.
Exit poll shows our Church is in meltdown
Dear Editor, The exit poll taken on Election Day makes for interesting reading. A sample of 5,300 people, one of the largest and most accurate in recent years, asked a question about religious practice. Only amongst the 65+ age group does weekly observance reach 50%. Amongst the 18-24 age group, those most recently in Catholic schools, 7% are weekly Mass goers.
As the age groups go up there is no significant change. Post-college 69% either never go to Mass or only go on the likes of Christmas. It’s time their Lordships admit that the Church is in meltdown mode and more importantly based on this data the seeds of this decline were sown in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Liam Ó Foghlú,
St Paul and celibacy question
Dear Editor, St Paul never uses the word celibacy in Titus 1: 5-7 when he says his presbyters should be well behaved. And if St Paul is not perfect in his doctrine, why are we obliged to read a part of his epistles every Sunday? Celibacy was introduced later for an administrative reason I believe. I hope Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio One) could have someone on his show to explain this. By the way, the New English Mass annoys me intensely too!