Well, back in harness, and trawling through the work that has built up since I left, and some events to prepare for, including St Genesius’s feast day which falls on the 25th August. We will have our usual feast day Mass in Drogheda, and of course the annual Online Novena. More about that later.
I have received the official letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments detailing the Indult regarding the celebration of Blessed John Paul II’s memoria. Here are the details.
Cardinal Canizares Llovera signed two decrees for the Fraternity. The first Prot. n. 394/12/L permits the following:
1. A gathering of members of the Fraternity may celebrate the memorial of Blessed John Paul II on the 22nd October. This means our priest-members may offer the Mass with our members on that day. Also granted: if no priest-member is available for our members, any priest in good standing may offer the Mass of the memorial for Fraternity members on that day. This is even more generous, we had not asked for this, but we are delighted to be granted the faculty. So, members around the world, you may gather for the Mass of Blessed John Paul and if a priest-member is not available, you can ask a priest to offer the Mass for you.
2. A gathering of members may celebrate the Mass of Blessed John Paul II (a votive Mass) on any day of the year as long as the day is free to do so in accordance with the order of precedence in the Table of Liturgical Days.
3. The Office of Blessed John Paul II may also be celebrated by members of the Fraternity either in common, or individually, on the memorial day 22nd October, and also as a votive Office on other days of the year, in accordance with the order of precedence.
4. Sacred Images of Blessed John Paul II may be displayed during these celebrations.
A second decree, Prot. n. 395/12/L, approves the liturgical texts to be used for the celebrations, both in English and in Latin. A collect and Second Reading for the Office are included.
In short, this Indult has made the memorial of Blessed John Paul II, Pope and Co-Patron of the Fraternity, proper to the Fraternity. As soon as we can, we will make the texts available to members, hopefully before the feast in October.
Other news. Well the Olympics have ended in London – what a wonderful couple of weeks. There were some remarkable performances. Ireland won five medals – one gold, one silver and three bronze. Katie Taylor, a woman boxer, won the gold. With the exception of one bronze for horse jumping, our other medals were also won by boxers. It is our best sport when it comes to the Olympics. The neighbours, Great Britain, won a right haul of medals and were placed third on the medals chart – well done to them. A number of knighthoods, damehoods and other honours are expected for the British Olympians.
That raises an issue for us in Ireland: an honours system. Our Olympians will come home to a party, a reception by the president, perhaps some civil receptions and of course, most importantly, the adulation of the people: we are very proud of them all. But should there not be some system of honours here in Ireland for those citizens who have brought great prestige to our country?
The question of an honours systems is a vexed one in Ireland – some do not like the idea because it reminds them of the days when we are part of the United Kingdom. And after all, are we not a republic? Well other republics have honours systems, like the US and Austria for example. And France still confers knighthoods. Even the Vatican has an honours system, which, by and large, functions well, although I think greater prudence is needed in conferring knighthoods and damehoods – they should not be given just because someone has made large donations to the Church or because they occupy certain positions.
Dame Katie Taylor? In Britain, an honour; in Ireland, nothing.
If Katie Taylor was British she would probably be given an OBE at least, and perhaps even made a dame given the historic nature of her win. I think it is time for the government to consider an honours system. As we have an ancient history with a nobility of its own, we could even establish an order of knights and dames. We already do something like this for our artists, the Order of Saoi: those writers and artists who have brought honour to Ireland through their work are initiated into the Order by the conferral of a torc – in fact Saoi is a title. The number of members is limited to seven, so it is like the British Order of Merit but for artists. Why not something similar for others? There was talk of reviving the Order of St Patrick, but it came to nothing. A gong for Irish living abroad is on the cards – the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad: that’s a step, but what about the people here in Ireland?
Now I realise great caution is needed: we wouldn’t want every gangster politician, businessman and ideologue receiving such honours – we have had enough with brown envelops. But there are honourable Irish men and women deserving of honour, and some of them are honoured abroad, many by Britain for their work. As Bertie Ahern once said, referring to Ireland’s hang-up in this area: “Irish people who achieve something significant in their walk of life must go to other jurisdictions to get their awards. That is wrong. An awards system should not be based on a system of monarchy or anything else. It is only an awards system.” Bertie could have brought such a system in when he was in power but didn’t, but whatever you think about him, here he has a point.