Years ago, on this blog, I quoted William Butler Yeats.
Here is the quotation I chose again.
“Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb
A fanatic heart.”
My experience of some Irish men in 2012 and last week has been the sad revelation of "Great hatred, little room."
In County Cork years ago, I met a man who went on a tirad regarding the English persecution of the Irish. I listened, and then I quoted Christ, Who told us to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us. He adamantly said that he would never forgive the English, never. I asked him whether he realized that no one gets into heaven with hate in their hearts. The Irishman looked shocked. I do not think he ever stopped to reflect on this point. God, I told him, is not Irish, but Father of us all.
The man walked away and that was the end of the conversation.
Last week, a similar thing happened after Holy Mass. Some of us were sitting around having coffee with the pastor. He has given a superb sermon on modesty and the American-Irishman became angry.
"We cannot tell people what to wear." He said, and then he went on to talk about how we had no right to judge the culture. Of course, STM would not let this go, so I jumped in and said that it was our duty as Catholics to change the culture. The man went on to say that Christ reached out to Mary Magdalen. Another woman chimed in and said that she converted and changed her ways and would not have kept her "prostitute clothes", but in repentance, became humble and modest.
Then, I spoke of the fact that modesty was a virtue, connected to temperance, adding that a woman would change over time and become modest if she really experienced conversion, as immodesty was pride, drawing attention to one's self and not humility.
Then, I made the comment, after four others began to take sides on the issue, that if one visited the Queen of England, (or the Pope), that there was an accepted dress code.
OMgoodness. The Irish-American man stood up and said, "Well, as an Irish-American, I do not care what the Queen thinks and would not go out of my way to respect her." He grew very angry and red in the face and literally stomped out of the cafe area. He had also changed the subject from modesty and dress codes to the "evil English".
The problem of the hatred of the Irish for the English must be addressed by those who come up against hatred. My friend was shocked at the man's heated response, and informed me that he was a prominent Democrat in the city, and an Obama supporter.
Yeat's description of the "fanatic heart", a heart full of hatred and unforgiveness, a heart full of ideologies instead of Catholic truth, was revealed over coffee. I had met this in Dublin and in County Cork, and now in the Midwest. How sad that unforgiveness keeps people from rational behavior.
That was this parish's last coffee until September, and I shall most likely not be here. But, I pray for those who hate and those who do not see that the Catholic Church can change the culture, if people change their hearts and minds themselves, becoming like Christ, even at a coffee morning.