TODAY IS THE "GLORIOUS TWELFTH" IN NORTHERN IRELAND - AND HERE IS YOURS TRULY WEARING A SASH AN ORANGE MAN GAVE ME OVER 30 YEARS AGO.
At the time I was writing a weekly column for the Belfast based SUNDAY NEWS. One Saturday afternoon the editor rang me in a panic. The lawyers had just pulled his front page story and he needed a story pronto.
That week an orange man had given me the present of his no longer used orange sash. So I said to the editor: "What about a story of me wearing a sash"?
We used it the following day with the heading: "THE SASH A FATHER WORE" playing on the lyrics of the song: "The Sash My Father Wore".
Incidentally, that song was the party piece of the late Cardinal Toman O'Fiaich.
I was on friendly terms with Tomas, visited him on several occasions and benefitted from his tea, sandwiches and as much Irish whiskey as I wanted.
THE ORANGE ORDER:
I do not enjoy the triumphalism of the 12th. Nor do I like the fact that their bands deliberately play loud tunes as they pass Catholic churches.
It is a "festival" I have no interest in. To me, it is an alien festival. I think it's becoming a less religious organization now, and more political, but I think that it is far from being an occasion that Catholics and Protestants can share together, Years ago, before The Troubles, Catholics did go out and watch the parade and the bands. But not now.
Over the years people have always asked me why I didn't join the Church of Ireland or one of the other Protestant churches.
I would have no interest in so doing - although I do have great admiration for the openness and tolerance of the Unitarians and the practical Christian ministry of the Salvation Army and the Quakers.
|UNITARIAN CHURCH DUBLIN|
If I had to join some church I would join the Unitarians - not because I do not believe in the Trinity - but because they have always welcomed me in when the RCs refused.
The most unpleasant lack of welcome happened when Desmond Connell, the RC arch of Dublin refused to allow me to celebrate the Funeral Mass of my nephew Christopher, who had taken his own life.
When Connell refused I went on RTE radio to appeal for a church for the funeral. The Dublin Unitarians instantly offered me the full use of their beautiful church for the funeral.
I had my Mum's Funeral Mass there too - and the Mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my ordination in 2001. I have also celebrated many wedding there.
The Unitarians certainly practice Jesus' command to welcome strangers - "I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU MADE ME WELCOME".
|REV CHRIS HUDSON|
I also now am welcome in the beautiful All Souls Unitarian Church in Belfast which sits in the shadow of Queens University. The minister there - The Rev. Chris Hudson there is a truly Christian man. He even has the Religious Service for Belfast Gay Pride week - even though he himself is a happily married man.
|ALL SOULS UNITARIAN CHURCH - BELFAST|
By inclination, spirituality, liturgically I am very happy to be a catholic (small c)
I am not a ROMAN Catholic.
I am an IRISH catholic.
I am that because I appreciate the spirituality, sacraments, liturgy etc of the catholic tradition.
The catholic church in Ireland was once very independent of Rome and was later romanized by people like Cardinal Paul Cullen.
We need to rediscover the original church that Jesus founded - the church that existed in New Testament times before the Roman Empire took it over.
We also need to rediscover the ancient Irish church and its spirituality and traditions.
*****, Of course, I anticipating today's comments about me being an orange man and a Protestant.
Of course, we should all be "protestants" in the sense of being reformers.
The sad thing is that the Reformation took place outside the RC Church.
That was the fault of the papists at the time who did not want their corruption reformed.
It was also the fault of some of the reformers who became extreme.
Maybe these days the real reformation of the organization is happening - as we see that organization being challenged in every way in every place.