Sunday, March 08, 2009

This Cannot Be Happening


Two die in 'barbaric' Army attack

Two military personnel have been shot dead during a gun attack at an Army base in County Antrim, police said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said two further military personnel and two civilians, all believed to be male, were were in a serious condition.

The incident took place at the Massereene Army base in Antrim, 16 miles north of Belfast, at 2140 GMT.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward condemned the shootings as "an act of criminal barbarism"...

BBC World News

 Deep peace I breathe into you

Oh weariness here, O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the living earth to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you;
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you,
Deep peace of the yellow shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the wandering shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to You.
Deep Peace of the Son of Peace to You.
Deep peace, Deep Peace. 

~ Ancient Irish Peace Blessing

It is nine days until Saint Patrick’s Day will be celebrated. That conflict has again come to Northern Ireland is unbelievable—and unacceptable.

I remember the day in the early 1970s when I first heard Richard Harris recite the words of There are too many saviours on my cross, words that were addressed to a horrible Irish civil conflict that (we thought) ended but a decade ago. The words then struck to the core of my being. That these words spoke of a civil war in a land from which some of my ancestors came, awakened in me something that I have yet to define, but which led me to a study of Ireland, its people, and its conflicts that have continued until this day.

When I read yesterday that again there is sectarian bloodsheld in Ireland, I literally cried out: This cannot be happening!

Truly, as in any war, there are too many saviors hanging from too many crosses: 

There Are Too Many Saviours on My Cross ~ Richard Harris

There are too many saviours on my cross
lending their blood to flood out my ballot-box
with needs of their own.
Who put you there? 
Who told you that that was your place?
You carry me secretly naked in your hearts, 
and clothe me publicly in armour, saying
"God is on our side,"
Yet I openly cry
"Who is on My side?  Who, tell Me who?
You who buried your sons and crippled your fathers
whilst you buried My Father in crippling His Son."
The antiquated Saxon sword, rusty in its scabbard of time,
now rises.
You gave it cause in My name, 
bringing shame to the thorned head that once bled for 
your salvation.
I hear your cries in the far-off byways, and your 
mouth pointing north and south, 
and my Calvary looms again, desperate in rebirth.
Your earth is partitioned but in contrition 
it is the partition in your hearts that you must abolish.
You nightly watchers of Gethsemane, 
who sat through my nightly trial delivering me from evil,
now, deserted, I watch you share your silver.
Your purse, rich in hate, bleeds my veins of love,
shattering my bone in the dust of the Boxside 
and the Shaghill Road.
There is no issue stronger than the tissue of love,
no need as holy as the palm outstretched in the 
run of generosity, 
no monstrosity greater than the anger you inflict.
Who gave you the right to increase your fold while
decreasing the pastures of My flock?
Who gave you the right?  Who gave it to you, who?
and in whose name do you fight?
I am not in heaven,
I am here, hear Me.
I am with you, see Me,
I am in you, feel Me,
I am of you, be Me,
I am for you, need Me.
I am all mankind, only through kindness will you reach Me.
What masked and bannered men can rock the ark 
and navigate a course to their own anointed kingdom come?
Who sailed their captain to waters that they troubled 
in My font, sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice?
There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of 
any bloody Sunday.
You children, lying in cries on Derry streets, 
pushing your innocence into the full-flushed face of Christian guns,
battling the blame on each other,
Do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking My name.
I am not your prize in your death,
you have exorcised Me in your game of politics.
Go home to your knees, and worship Me in any cloth, 
for I was never tailor-made.
And who told you I was?  Who gave you the right to think it?
Take your beads in your crippled hands.
Can you count My decades?
Take My love in your crippled hearts.
Can you count the loss?
I am not orange, I am not green,
I am a half-ripe fruit, needing both colors to grow into ripeness,
and shame on you to have withered my orchard!
I, in my poverty, alone and without trust, 
cry shame on you and shame on you again and again
for converting Me into a bullet and shooting Me into men's hearts.
The ageless legend of My trial grows old, and the youth of your pulse,
staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave, 
filing in the book of history My needless death one April,
Let Me in My betrayal lie low in My grave, 
and you in your bitterness lie low in yours,
for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, sullied be Thy Name!

ADDENDUM (because murder can't have the last word):


  1. Very powerful, Rev Saint. I have not heard those words before. They speak directly to all those who use God to justify their wars and terrorism, no matter by what name they address God.

    May peace return to Northern Ireland quickly.

  2. You know I am with you on this one.

  3. It's just terrible. I almost cried when I heard it on the news today. :(

  4. Thank you for writing this. Yes, it is hard to accept that sectarian violence has again killed people in Northern Ireland. We have believed that it was over and peace had finally come. Please pray for all of the people of Ireland and for peace.

  5. There is so much suffering everywhere. And yet, it IS a wonderful world. We live with both. Thank you for pointing that out with your addendum of Louis' soulful singing.

    I'm saddened by suffering, and I find hope and beauty in the caring, open hearts of most people I know. I am grateful, Nick, that you share your open heart with the world.

  6. You care so much Saintly one, I do hope this is a one off, and whilst ghastly for those involved not a return to the horrors of the past.

  7. I have heard that a Dublin-based newspaper has received a call supposedly from the “Real IRA” which claimed responsibility for the attack at Masserene army base. That may be a hoax.

  8. It isn't a hoax.
    The real IRA claimed responsibility and from what I remember of the 70s and 80s - the cold bloodedness is reminiscent of those times.

    It won't end the peace pact. Too much is at stake and they will do everything they can to stop this escalating. 12 years since a soldier died there. Very sad.

  9. A powerful rendering by Richard Harris. Who wrote the text? Or did I miss something?

  10. Azsonofagun: They are powerful words, Rex. I first heard them shortly after I left military active duty and was working as a social worker. I was in my car sitting at a stop sign in Louisville’s West End ghetto when the song began. I didn’t move from that spot until Richard Harris spoke the last line. And, when I did, there were tears in my eyes.

    Mimi Lenox: Yes, Mimi. Thank you.

    Akelamalu : I found myself in shock when I heard the news on the BBC. Peace in Northern Ireland took so long to bring about! And now, someone has begun the killing again. God help us all.

  11. Fiochra: You are most welcome, Fiochra. Of course, my prayers will continue. And I’ll do anything else that I can to promote peace in Northern Ireland.

    Carol: Thank you for your very kind words, Carol. No matter what the troubles, there is beauty and peace around us. Sometimes it is difficult to see, but it is there.

    mutleythedog: Thank you, Sir Dog! Yes, I, too, hope that this act of terror is not repeated; a return to the horrors of the past would be ghastly.

  12. Dashing Dydley: Yes, thank you for adding that. I heard the same thing about the “real IRA” claiming responsibility. I also heard that the police had discovered and disarmed a bomb, too.

    Cath: No, I suppose it isn’t a hoax. I rather wish it was a bad dream from which we could all awaken! No, I don’t think that it will end the peace: Orange and Green have been at peace too long for that to happen. At least, that’s part of my prayers.

    PeterAtLarge : Thank you, Peter. The late Richard Harris, an Irishman, not only read, There Are Too Many Saviours on My Cross, but he is also the author. See HERE