Irish Papist

Irish Papist

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Saw Twelve Candles Shining

(If you like the words of this hymn, and you are a musician and would like to try putting an air to it, please contact me.)

I saw twelve candles shining by Our Blessed Lady's Shrine
Twelve candles shining in the gloom, and one of them was mine,
And I knew that in God's Heaven they would still more brightly shine
And I knelt and prayed beside their holy light.

I knelt before that holy light, I looked into that holy light
I felt God's grace upon me by those candles' holy light.
Outside the evening gathered in, and I was tired from woe and sin,
But Jesus came to meet me in those candles' holy light.

I saw twelve angels carrying twelve prayers before the throne
Twelve prayers made to the Triune God, and one prayer was my own.
I looked into Our Lady's face, our Saviour's flesh and bone,
And her smile was gentle in that holy light.

Her smile was gentle in the light, her eyes were shining in the light
Mary our Mother held me by those candles' holy light.
The rain began to fall outside, and I was cold from all my pride
But the Holy Spirit warmed me in those candles' holy light.

I saw twelve candles flickering, so sad a sight to see,
Twelve spirits troubled by the world, and one of them was me.
But our Blessed Mother whispered: "There is peace eternally
In the land that lies beyond this holy light."

"The way is lit by holy light, the beacon is this holy light,
God's Kingdom is more peaceful than these holy candles' light.
This world is passing like a dream, but look and see the dawn's first gleam,
Your Father's Kingdom shining from these candles' holy light."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thoughts on All Saints' Day

Here is a piece I wrote last All Saints' Day, and which got a better reception than almost anything else I've written.

And today, on All Saints Day, I pray for all my intentions, and all my readers' intentions, to my usual roll-call of saints; Saint Patrick, who is (believe it or not) rather neglected by the Irish except on one day of the year; Saint John Paul the Second, who shines all the brighter the more time goes by since his pontificate; Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, the great lion of orthodoxy; Blessed John Henry Newman, not officially a saint yet but one in my eyes; St. Secundius, first bishop of Armagh (Maolsheachlann means 'follower of St. Secundius'); St. Padre Pio, of course; Our Lady, the greatest of all the saints; the twelve disciples; St. Augustine; St. Oliver Plunkett, another Bishop of Armagh, and the last Catholic martyr in Britain or Ireland.

And there are others, too. That's the great thing about the saints. There are so many!

I have often asked my readers to pray for me, or for particular intentions. Today (and indeed every day), if there are any intentions you would like me to pray for, or would like to ask other readers of this blog to pray for, you are welcome to leave them in the comments.

(Incidentally, I've heard that some comments get 'eaten' when readers try to submit them. This also happens to me on other blogs. I don't know how to correct it, but I've taken to copying my comment before I submit it, in case it goes into the the great digital limbo.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Poems from the Past

It's been a while since I posted any poetry. Here are some more of my old ones, from 2005. I haven't written any poetry in months. I must get back to it.


Squeezing the last bit out, she realizes
She bought this tube the morning that he died.
An hour before the worst of all surprises
Life had to throw at her. His face was twisted.
As he lay dying, she tried to decide
On regular or minty, unassisted.

They shopped so differently. She bought the cheapest
Of everything. He paid no heed to cost.
Of all the darks she'd known, this was the deepest;
But morning birds still sang exultantly.
How could they understand what she had lost?
She'd need new toothpaste. Toilet paper. Tea.


When everyone else is braving the rush hour roads
She sits and scans report after report.
We live such hours like camels bearing loads
But still distort

The record, memory, so they don't appear--
It emphasizes mornings by the Seine
Blackberry-picking, some far-distant year,
The moon in a country lane.

But lying in hospital beds, standing in queues,
And traffic jams all vanish in life's stream.
We battle time with what poor arms we can--
With memory and dream.

On an Old Man Who Didn't

When you begin to reminisce
About your 'good old days'
I squirm at your invented bliss
And advertiser's praise.
But still I listen just to please
And why should I condemn?
I know the doors, I have the keys,
But I will not open them.

I will not turn the lock to show
Your treasury's a hoax--
Extinguishing your eyes' soft glow
With cruelly called-for jokes.
I finger with fake ecstasies
The glass you call a gem.
I know the doors, I have the keys,
But I will not open them.

Twelve Dozen Men Bad and True

The plaintiff and defendant look the same.
They even share a name.
He stands accused of failure, cowardice
And ratting on his friend in second year.
But there is much to set against all this--
An inner certainty of righteousness
And being vaguely special.

Brought to hear
His case, twelve dozen men both good and true
(Men meaning women, too).
Blood relatives, blood brothers, bloody cows
And goddesses and cards-at-Christmas friends.
Consider his unpalatable spouse;
His four failed driving tests, and how he tends
To fumble the baton of conversation.
In mitigation
His parents loved his sister more than him.
His daughter thinks he's God Himself (she's ten).
He knows all about wine
And still calls on his senile Uncle Jim.

The jury find
The accused not innocent. He is consigned
To endless years of wondering the real
Opinion we have of him.

No appeal.

The Doll's House

Holly has seen the Aurora Borealis,
The Parthenon, and tigers in the wild
But thrilled to none of them the way she thrilled
To find a doll's house standing by her bed
One Christmas morning when she was a child.
That hour was Eden, Paradise unspoiled;
Inside that perfectly proportioned palace
Were tables set, and bedrooms carpeted
And that elusive beauty only shared
With Wendy houses, ships in bottles, and
Toy train stations. What furniture compared
In beauty, with these pygmy plates and chairs?

All raw reality is barren till
The soul has worked it, ordered, loved, distilled--
The real world is raw material
Only a shadow to the world we build.

Two Hundred Thousand Visitors!

To my surprise, I noticed today that my all-time visitor statistic has just broken the two hundred thousand mark-- two hundred thousand and seventy-nine, to be accurate. (I wouldn't want the seventy-nine to feel left out.)

I knew that this was coming up, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon. It caught me on the hop.

So today I thank every single person who has visited my little corner of cyberspace. And I thank the Holy Spirit for blessing this blog and ask Him to watch over it into the future.

To be honest, I'm not mad about the title of this blog, after a fifth of a million visits. I wish I'd picked something different. 'Irish Papist' is very bland. I might change it. Or I might not.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some Model Essays. At least, MY Idea of Some Model Essays.

I took down my recent (and incomplete) series on the pleasures of the essay, because nobody seemed to be reading it. However, a reader was kind enough to contact me about it and to ask me what essays I had been planning to write about.

So I hunted them up for her and sent her the list, and I thought I may as well reproduce it here. Yes, there's no Hazlitt, Montaigne, Belloc, Addison, Samuel Johnson, or any of those other venerable names. And yes, that is Dirk Benedict, AKA Face-man from the A-Team. This is my list.

Nor is it a My Favourite Essays list. If I were to compile such a list, I would have to include G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. I can't think of one particular essay that I would pluck from Chesterton's work, and most of Lewis's are not available on the internet. This is just a list of some of my favourite essays, using a broad definition of the term 'essay'.

Edward Feser: Why are Universities Dominated by the Left?

Edward Feser: The Metaphysics of Conservatism (There's some pretty dense philosophizing in this one-- nothing too difficult, but if you don't like philosophy you might give it a miss.)

Dr William Lane Craig: The Absurdity of Life Without God

Dirk Benedict: Lost in Castration

John Stuart Mill: Mental Breakdown, and Poetry (technically, an extract from his Autobiography, but what the heck)

Barbara Mikkelson: New Coke

Mark Shea: What's the Matter With Me, Anyway?

George Orwell: Can Socialists Be Happy?

Peter Hitchens: How I Found Faith

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Wit and Wisdom from Mr. Chesterton

I've posted the latest five instalments of my Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton column from the Open Door magazine on the blog of The G.K. Chesterton Society of Ireland, here.

They may only be 420 words each, but I try to make them filling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Should We Have Scientific Proof that Prayer Works?

Here is an answer in the negative by the Oxford philosopher of religion Richard Swinburne. It's a response to a scientific study of prayer on behalf of hospital patients, which showed no correlation between prayer and recovery. This passage is especially well-put:

"Suppose that I am a rich man who sometimes gives sums of money to worthy causes, and that I am very well informed and I know just how useful (or not) different gifts would be. I receive many letters asking me to give such gifts. Some foundation wants to know if there is any point in people writing such letters to me - do they make any difference to whether I give money to this cause or that? So the foundation commissions a study. Many people are enrolled to write letters to me on behalf of several causes rather than others in order to see whether subsequently I give more to those causes rather than to the other causes. In fact, let us suppose, I am normally moved by such letters; I think that the fact that many people take the trouble to write to me on behalf of some cause about which they care a lot is a reason for giving to that cause. But I now discover why I am suddenly bombarded with a stream of letters on behalf of certain causes; and I realise that on this occasion, unlike on other occasions, the letter writers have no deep concern for the causes for which they write. So of course on this occasion I pay no attention to the letters."