My silence over the last few days was due to technical difficulties on Blogger. After a hectic week I had a few minutes to blog, but I could not access my account. So I'm back, God help you all!
So much to talk about. I see the Bishops of England and Wales are restoring the Friday fast from meat - great news, and yet the abstention from meat on Fridays was never abolished - Vatican II did not do away with it, though many Catholics are under the impression that it did.
Here in Ireland the Bishops gave greater freedom with regard to a Friday penance. While abstaining from meat was traditional, people were invited to do another form of penance if they decided to eat meat on Fridays. Of course, as with lots of things in the Church, when you do this people just start eating meat and don't replace it with another penance. I remember when Pope Benedict issued his Letter to the Irish he told us (not asked, or suggested - told us) to offer our Friday penances for a year in reparation for the abuse of children. Many of those that read the Letter (very few I fear) did not understand what he meant - "What's this Friday penances thing?" I was asked. I hope the Bishops here will considering following their English and Welsh brothers.
I also see that the long awaited Instruction on the Extrarordinary Form has been released: Universae Ecclesiae. I'm sure the hearts of the Traditionalists have finally stopped beating madly. There has been wild speculation and almost fanatic fears on the blogs that the freedoms granted by Pope Benedict would be taken back or restricted. They were not. So the online rosaries to protect the Pope from the evil machinations of the Curia were not needed, though I suppose you'll find some people claiming the Rosaries worked. I just think the Curia did what Benedict told them to do.
Speaking of Rosaries, I got an email today from a group planning a Rosary Procession in Dublin to stop the visit of the Queen of England to our country. Apparently Ireland should not welcome the Queen because we already have one - Our Lady is the only Queen of Ireland. If the media get hold of this they will use it to bash the Church again. I can see the headlines; Catholics Protest Queen's Visit (minus clarifications). You know sometimes your own worst enemies are are your own people! At a time when reconciliation and peace have finally come to our country, and we are gradually developing a mature relationship with the neighbours, there are some, be they terrorists or right wing Catholic republicans, who have to make the process of peace difficult.
The Queen will visit some nationalist hotspots in our country - the Garden of Remembrance and Croke Park where the British murdered fourteen innocent people as they attended a football match - one of them was a player called Hogan (no relation). I think these visits may prove to be vital and I think we should listen carefully to what she has to say - I think there will be a gesture of reconciliation coming. That said, we should have enough confidence in our people and nation not to be threatened by the Queen's visit.
Of course all of this is ironic given most Irish people follow and support English football teams, eat English produced foods, speak the language and watch English TV - many being addicted to English soaps. And whenever we face financial crisis, many have taken the boat to England to find work. Irony of ironies.