St. Patrick’s Legacy, Irish influence and scholarship

Patrick is the best remembered Christian missionary to Ireland. His name has come to represent the many unknown clerics who worked in Ireland before and after him. The influence of the Irish missionaries, carriers of classical learning and disseminators of theological and philosophical thought cannot be overemphasized. Vast collections of Irish manuscripts are to be found in all the great libraries across Europe. I brought a theologian friend to see the amazing Book of Kells at Trinity University recently. He wasn’t disappointed.

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This Church below is the most ancient ecclesiastical site in Ireland. St. Patrick built the first Christian Church in this land right here in 432 A.D. This is the cradle of Irish Christianity. The Church has continued to worship God through the centuries, holding fast to the Faith which Patrick taught.

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Below is a picture of friends and visitors from America outside St. Patrick’s first Church in Saul County Down;

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This prayer was on a wall inside the Church:

Go forth, traveller, in the Name which is above every name: Be of good courage: Hold fast that which is good. Repay to no man evil for evil; Strengthen the faint-hearted: Support the weak; Help the afflicted: Honour all men: Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day !

Compassion – what is it and have you got it ?

The dictionary defines compassion as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. He said that Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

The picture above is of two women I met yesterday in Dublin from Iraq and Sudan. The Iraqi Irish poets event was a great bridge builder. Although not without serious content. More on that later.

In the US, I worked for Compassion International for a season. Compassion International is a child sponsorship and Christian humanitarian aid organization headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado that aims to positively impact long-term development of children living in poverty, globally. I was surprised and impressed by how efficiently this humanitarian organization was run.

Compassion is needed in all areas of life. Its a trait worthy of attention in Churches, government, leadership, the workplace. There is growing evidence that leaders can LEARN to be more compassionate. Companies are putting the “human” back into human resources and work with a renewed focus on showing care for others who are suffering.

Now you know what it is, do you think you have it?

How might you develop it more ?

Magdalene survivor takes case against Ireland to UN’s Committe Against Torture

The word “remember” appears no fewer than 169 times in the Hebrew Bible – for memory is the constant obligation of all generations.

Today I pause to remember this particular Magdalene survivor and Irish profile in courage — Elizabeth Coppin.

Read about her amazing story below;

http://www.thejournal.ie/elizabeth-coppin-un-5010344-Feb2020/

Correspondences: An Anthology to Call for an End to Direct Provision in Ireland

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

On Thursday I joined my friend Nadette and actor Stephen Rea, Jessica Traynor and Bulelani Mfaco of MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland. We gathered in Phibsborough with readers and performers to celebrate the launch of the Correspondences Anthology and listen to asylum seekers experiences.

Direct Provision (Irish: Soláthar Díreach) is a system of asylum seeker accommodation used in Ireland. The system has been in Ireland 20 years but has been criticized by human rights organizations as illegal, inhuman and degrading, while proponents argue that it ensures asylum seekers are housed and cared for, in accordance with international law.

The Correspondences Anthology gathers together writing, photography and visual art by those in direct provision and seeks to create new correspondences between these artists and Irish writers.

One presenter said the Irish are fairly good at welcoming strangers because we have been strangers in many foreign lands. However we are still a society that kicks problems under the carpet.

A MASI representative said the direct provision system is set up to silence and oppress you.

He gave four main aims for MASI :

1. Complete closure of direct provision in Ireland
2. The right to work
3. The right to education
4. Oppose Irish State Deportations

One refugee said “we need to cultivate connection amongst refugees before launching programs from the outside at them.” Refugees are traumatized and when they get here there are “unknowns” which add to their trauma. We heard how its not uncommon for whole families to share one room in direct provision for many years.

Nadette made an announcement about The Welcome Cafe. It’s open every Tuesday of the last month. Created in Dublin in 2015 (Third Space Smithfield) as a space to welcome and celebrate diversity and encourage intercultural exchange.

See Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/welcomecafedublin

All proceeds from book sales go to MASI.

Information Security Officer for Dublin or Malta

*Information Security Officer in Dublin or Malta*

A global payments provider, are looking for an Information Security Officer (ISO) to establish enterprise-wide vision, strategy for ensuring information assets protected. ISO will ensure compliance with applicable laws, directives, policies and securing of information.

Requirements:

Minimum of 3-5 years’ experience in a combination of risk management, information security and Information.

Technology positions demonstrating a progressive growth in responsibility up to working in the context of a several million Euro revenue company.

Bachelor’s Degree in business administration or a technology-related field.

Structured, logical thinker with strong problem-solving skills.

Knowledge of technological trends and developments in the area of information security and risk management including knowledge of security, risk and control frameworks, PCI and ITIL are a must, any of the following would be considered a benefit, ISO 27001 and 27002, SANS/CAG, CobiT, ISACA.

Experienced with contract and vendor negotiations.

Interested or can you recommend candidates?

For immediate interview and further information please email me at : jeanette.dean@headhuntinternational.com or call me Jeanette on +353 830702535 (0830702535)

I look forward to hearing from you !

Jeanette Dean

The shaming and torture of women in Ireland goes before the UN

This week a delegation of 21 Irish officials were part of a public hearing by the UN Committee on Torture which is reviewing the Irish State’s human rights record on Magdalene Laundries and Mother-and- baby Homes, and other aspects of Ireland’s social history. The Irish State has said there was no serious harm done to women and children in the Magdalene laundries but the UN rapporteur has said “there is a great deal of evidence that there has indeed been abuse.”

My mum, as well as many other children, was a religious prisoner of the Irish state. The treatment she received by the religious orders responsible for her care and protection has been called abuse.  This got me thinking, when does consistent and repeated abuse of a child become torture ?

The UN committee on torture wants answers. These are just a few questions ;

  1. Why has the interdepartmental committee set up to investigate the religious orders that ran the Magdalene laundries destroyed its copies of evidence from these religious congregations?
  2. What is preventing the government providing public access to the Archive?
  3. Why has Ireland not thoroughly investigated alleged abuses at mother –and- baby homes including alleged forced illegal adoptions of children born out of wedlock and without the permission of the mothers?
  4. Is the Irish state “walking back” from the famous apology by Enda Kenny to survivors of Magdalene laundries and going back to a view that the State is not liable?

The UN rapporteur also asked the Irish delegation how they could claim there was no serious harm when it made no public call for evidence. The Irish State has only investigated 18 institutions when there may be as many as 70 involved. So the UN rapporteur asked the Government if they would expand the scope of and terms of reference of the commission of investigation to identify deceased children at the sites of the mother-and- baby homes.

I’d like to end this blog on a cheerful note. This song is part of my own social history. My mum played it when I was a youngster. I dedicate to her memory this week.

 

 

My year of Jubilee

The Church is sometimes not easy to love. Ego, pride, control, competition can run rampant. My motivation for Church life and structure has taken a beaten this season. I still enjoy a good bible study. I explored a new Church this week-end Jesus Culture in Folsom High School. I needed fresh inspiration. It was my first “out of Bayside Church” experience. I was blown away by the  sermon, worship, welcome and sense of celebration in the community. Spiritual revival is happening in Northern California. It’s powerful, audacious and the primary reason I’m still here.

This year marks the 500 year anniversary of The Protestant Reformation.  Israel celebrates the 50 years after the 1967 six day war, an astonishing triumph of strategy and the reunification of Jerusalem. I was born on November 22, 1967, 50 years ago. Psalm 50 describes a God who;  “Shines forth and will not be silent, a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.” This psalm of Asaph also describes the destruction caused by wicked people, a wicked tongue and what happens to those who forget God.

My cultural adjustment back into California life has been slow and challenging. The isolation of suburban America, and lack of close bonds to thrive (I’ve lived here just under 3 years) has been a hard rain. This sense of social dislocation was not my norm growing up. After losing my mum in Ireland, I’m still journeying through a wilderness of grief.  The sense of loss that accompanies the mourning part of the journey has eased up a lot. I’m still angry at God. The Institutional Church in Ireland hurt my mum badly in her formative years. I’m struggling to let it go.

This morning I had coffee with an Irish American friend. We talked about the excavations of the mass grave of babies and children found at the Taum care home in Galway, Ireland. Excavations at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home have uncovered an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains”, the judge-led mother and baby homes commission said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/03/mass-grave-of-babies-and-children-found-at-tuam-orphanage-in-ireland

The power structures are changing in Ireland; culturally and politically. There’s a new hope amongst the younger generation. I was encouraged by this article describing the religious revolution taking place there. A bold and audacious faith is emerging unencumbered by the cruelty, dysfunction and repressiveness of the institutional church ;

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/a-religious-revolution-is-taking-place-in-ireland-1.3092198

I was comforted when I heard that many Holocaust survivors did not want to talk to God either, due to their anger. I can understand that. I’ve heard too that those who were part of Ireland’s Lost Babies describe this as a “selective mute” experience. It was their way of handling the trauma and taking control. One friend told me she was mute for 2 years, after being sent to America from Ireland for adoption, at the tender age of 3. Her only crime was she was born out of wedlock. My mum was mute for a period after being released from captivity in the Sisters of Mercy convent in Cork.

In ancient times the Hope of Israel was that they served a God who was and is full of mercy. Intellectually I know that he prefers that I speak to him, and seek his presence,  He wants to hear my heart no matter what I’m feeling. Most of the psalms of the bible are lament psalms which is foreign to today’s nice, picture perfect Instagram culture. God can handle my pain or anger. Hebrew is more physical linguistically than Greek or English and it describes a God who is “truly slow to get his nose going in anger.”

The prophet Moses understood this better than anyone. In Exodus, the most important book in the bible, God tells Moses he is sending a messenger to accompany him and Israel into a holy war; to war and to possess the land and then give them peace. Moses was to strictly obey this angel, a messenger who walks between God and the people on earth. The messenger was their heavenly protection. But Moses knowing how stiff-necked the people of Israel were warned God about their stubbornness. He said if they sin the messenger won’t forgive them. He asked God to personally accompany them because he understood the mercy nature of his God. If and when Israel disobeyed Moses knew he could call on God’s presence, grace and mercy to save them. The angel wouldn’t cut it.

Reflection:
1. If I choose to be disobedient, selectively mute, angry, stiff-necked, stubborn, God can take it. He can also use it for good purposes.
2. I can ask for what I need just as Moses did.
3. The Protestant Reformation was a catalyst within Christianity but don’t romanticize the Protestant Church. It hasn’t rid itself of its hypocrisy and capacity for cruelty.

Student Corner:
1. Moses understood the nature of Israel.
2. Moses understood the nature of God and used it to help Israel get to the Promised Land.
3. Only the Sovereign Lord can forgive our sin.
4. The Sovereign Lord has too too much mercy.

Bible Verse: Psalm 73 was Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s (German pastor martyred by the Nazi’s) favorite psalm.  The last verse of the psalm says ;

“Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

 

Survival skills in Ireland’s violent frontier

Growing up in Northern Ireland, in the midst of so much natural beauty, I took great solace in nature and the outdoors. My playful and adventurous feet covered much ground. I wandered up and over rolling hills, and through endless green fields. Woods, apple orchards, streams, lakes and rivers captured my youthful imagination. When my mind was festering with trouble or my heart was torn, I found solace and healing among the silence of hills, mountains and fields. I was born in east Belfast but my childhood began in Craigavon, a planned settlement that was named after James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon,  who was Northern Ireland’s first prime minister. The town was planned to link Lurgan and Portadown and it was close to Lough Neagh Nature Reserve.

The dynamics of terror, however, were bubbling beneath the surface of all that beauty. A ruthless campaign by the Irish Republican Army, aimed at establishing a united Ireland free of British rule, was underway in my immediate community, as it was in all six counties of Northern Ireland and in England itself.

The long-term armed struggle, pitting the most lethal and resilient insurgency in the world against the Northern Irish and British Security Forces, created a chilling, brutal and unpredictable atmosphere. By the 1980s the IRA was a very professional outfit, adept at logistical operations, training and fundraising. On the ground my province was exposed to mortars, rocket launchers, improvised explosives and indiscriminate bombings. Various tactics were employed for either military or political reasons: execution-style murders, undercover assassination units, torture, h-blocks, hunger strikes, disappearances, vague legal guidelines, punishment beatings and the butchering of bodies.

I attended the first religiously integrated primary school in the province. I was also the daughter of a religiously integrated marriage. However, trust in the province between the Catholic and Protestant communities completely broke down as the violence escalated and murder spilled out onto the streets. Trust between the civilian population and the government and its security forces broke down as well. The British army didn’t trust the police. The police didn’t trust the British army. For many years and decades there was a state of anarchy.

As you can imagine I was scarred by the violence and still run into problems today, emotionally and psychologically. From sheer necessity I developed coping skills to overcome the challenges I faced. After years of recovery meetings and counseling I now characterize these coping skills as survival skills. They served me well while I was growing up in this harsh environment. But today in North America they can work against me and stop me from thriving in life.

One “skill” I developed was an instinctive mistrust of others. If trust was given at all it was hard earned over the long haul. It’s common in a deeply sectarian and suspicious environment like Northern Ireland to share as little information about oneself as possible, especially when answering questions. Wrong answers can lead to a beating or prison or worse. This say-nothing approach to life and relationships served me well in Northern Ireland.

However the walls it erected inside my head kept me isolated in the prison of my past. In a freer and more open sharing society like North America these walls kept others out. Sharing freely about your life may be commonplace here but it went against the cultural grain for me.

Over time I’ve slowly learned that I’m responsible for my own healing. It’s my responsibility to knock down the walls. So today, using the principle of Let Go and Let God, I don’t try to force relationships into the small boxes and safety lines that I was forced to live within. Trusting others is a gift. It can be given freely. People don’t have to earn it. Today I choose to trust others.

Another survival skill, developed to counteract the negativity of my environment, was perfectionism. There was a lot of blaming, criticism and counter accusations that ultimately led nowhere. So I became a perfectionist, always on the lookout for inconsistencies in other people’s communication, or in my surroundings. It was paralyzing. I finally learned to break it down and let it go by accepting my own imperfections.

I embraced the biblical truth that perfect love casts out fear. The tyranny of perfectionism doesn’t cast out fear; love does. Love is the best healing balm for anyone coming out of an environment where the enemy has had a field day creating hatred, suspicion, discrimination and deep sectarianism. I choose to love myself and love others. I applied the spiritual truth, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as YOURSELF.

Establishing overly rigid boundaries is another defense mechanism, a survival skill if you will. It was necessary in Northern Ireland, where boundaries, both physical and emotional, were heavily exploited. The border areas of Northern Ireland were a strategic godsend to the IRA. They could commit terrorist acts in any of the six counties up north and easily escape into the safety of the 26 counties of the Irish Republic. These actual boundaries created the emotional ones in my mind.

A rich source of healing for me, aside from nature, is music. One song in particular that speaks to my own rigidity is “Oceans,” by Hillsong. They describe in song a trusting relationship between God and man as a “trust without borders.” This concept challenged me a lot. Spiritually I know that healthy, not overly rigid boundaries brings true freedom. Now, when I feel myself putting up fences against other people as a result of the fear and lack of trust in my past, I cry out to Jesus to lead me to a place where my trust is without borders.

It takes courage to refine my heart and mind. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities which guarantees all others.”  The root word for courage, from the Latin, cor means heart. Real power has nothing to do with force, control, status or money. Real power is the persistent courage to be at ease with the unsolved and the unfinished. There are many unresolved issues from the troubles in Northern Ireland today that still need to be challenged. There are more questions than answers in many areas. May I approach those unresolved issues of political conflict with the same kindness and courage I’m applying to the most broken parts of myself. May I have the courage to surrender the most broken parts of myself with open hands to the living God who restores and redeems everything and place in his perfect timing.