Friday 22 May 2015

A Dream about the Irish Referendum

Nota bene: another dream.

Last night I dreamed I was in Ireland on the eve of the s*me-s*x m*rriage referendum. I was there as part of a travelling Catholic group, though whether this was mainly from my Canadian past (Jesuit profs, bless them) or from my British present, I am not sure. I think it may have been a mix.

I had taken a break from regular business to look for a dress. On the way back to a likely shop, I had three encounters concerning the Referendum. The first was with a group of schoolboys. A gang of schoolboys, including one black boy, were taunting and questioning another boy for not supporting the Yes side. He ran away shouting, "Because it's my FAITH."

"What is going on here?" I demanded. "How dare you gang up on that boy for supporting what is right!?"

The only one brave enough to address me was the black boy, although I can't remember our conversation.

The next encounter was with a young woman, a teacher I think, in her 20s, standing at the doors of a church as early evening Mass let out.
It's not MY job to advise Catholics on marriage!!!

"It's terrible," she grumbled. "The other schools have g*y activists coming in, of course, telling everyone to support Yes,  but in our schools, the nuns are just telling us to be nice."

"Why don't they just teach the Catholic faith?" I wailed.

"I don't know," said the young woman. "It's terrible."

"But this is Ireland," I kept thinking. "Ireland."

It was almost time for the Mass I was supposed to be at, I thought, so I went back to where my friends were, and obviously this was a dream, for one of them was Berenike, who couldn't be in Ireland, for she is in a cloistered convent. But it seemed I still had time to buy the dress I fancied, so I rushed off, Benenike and our Glasgow friend Thomas ambling behind.

Evening was well advanced now, and the sky was dark. And suddenly, as we walked along the dark pavements, and under an urban railway bridge, Our Lord appeared in the sky. He looked grim.

I fell on my knees, shouting "It is the Lord", and Berenike and Thomas were down on their knees so fast, I assumed they could see him too.

It was a very short vision. He was thin, dark, with large dark eyes--very much like an icon, and He was holding a folded up piece of paper. And after about six seconds, He was gone.

I told Berenike and Thomas was I had seen, and we scurried off to Mass, I forgetting all about that dress. I angrily told someone that it wasn't true anymore that in the last days Ireland would be permitted to drown when the rest of the world went up in flames. (A legend I heard in real life decades ago, and heaven knows where it came from.)

Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.

*  *   *   *   *

Waking life:

In the 1990s, a visiting Irish archbishop harangued mass-goers at Toronto's cathedral with a stirring Irish sermon, including the proud declaration that Ireland would never, ever, betray the Faith.

My ex-husband-to-be, who increasingly loathed Catholicism as the years went on, sighed, sneered and rolled his eyes. But I was happy and comforted at the thought that Ireland, dear old Ireland, was still the great rock of Western Catholicism, a wonderful happy pious Catholic land where perhaps one day I might actually be able to live.

It never occurred to me then that with Celtic Tiger money coming in the door, the Faith would fly out the window, or that Ireland's historical abuse scandal (of which there would be hints in the 1997 Irish film The Butcher Boy) would harden Irish hearts against their current priests and bishops. Indeed, I did not know until I saw The Butcher Boy that Ireland, too, had a problem with "clerical sexual misconduct", as it was called in my 2003 "Introduction to Ministry" class. In fact, I knew next to nothing about contemporary Ireland, despite ticking off the "Irish" box whenever presented with an ethnicity survey.

I know very little about Ireland now although at least I have dropped the "Kiss me I'm Irish" sentimentality common to North American descendants of Irish Potato Famine refugees.

Well, most of it. After all, my Scots-Canadian mother and my father's German-American mother were converts. The Catholicism of my family comes from the Irish part, unbroken through the male line, from the Famine Irish to their American sons to their sons and so on to my Canadian brothers and sisters and me.

Also  the English-speaking Catholic community in Toronto from the mid-19th century to 1950 was heavily Irish, and annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations lasted at my elementary school until the 1980s, by which time the Italian immigrant parents (et  probably alia) were thoroughly disgusted. So when trads, resentful of the Anglo-Irish Magic Circle, make remarks about "Irish Catholics", I always rise up and announce that I am an Irish Catholic ("...and so are YOU, X, with your Irish Catholic grandfather!")

At any rate, the Irish referendum is not really "my" fight, but I see that my psyche chose to dwell on it all the same, and as far as I can recall, this is the first time I have dreamed about the Second Person in the Trinity. Ten years ago or so, I dreamed about the Third.


  1. Oh Seraphic, what a dream. Poor Our Lord. I think that flooding promise is from St. Patrick's Confessions. I have cast my vote, walking under an urban railway bridge to get there! There are apparently piles of young people travelling home from abroad to vote yes. Nasty insults of homophobia and mocking tones towards the No side have shown me a side of Ireland I never thought I would see. I think litigation-wise and socially at least this country will become like Lord of the Flies towards Christians and No voters. There is a palpable hatred towards us in the press and social media and a smugness/bide-your-time in the Yes camp. A young Donegal priest has already been in the papers for advocating a yes vote, ditto Medj loving Catholic Daniel O' Donnell (our Gerard Lenorman) - the old ladies love him and Sr. Stan. It'll be vicious, but God chose us for this time, so if this is a time to show whether I'm a sheep or a goat, so be it. Let the dead bury the dead, I'm honestly at that stage now. It's intimidating.


  2. Sinéad, I'm so terribly sorry to hear it. I so wish I had visited Ireland when it was still so faithful, it never occurred to anyone that this could ever end.

    I remember how very shocked two young visiting Slovak women religious were when they heard about gay marriage about to be forced on Canada (no referendum for us). Usually they were incredibly cheerful, happy and friendly women, but on this occasion their eyes were huge and they said, "God is not mocked."

    The mocking...Well, all I can say is that every TV show and film promoting gay sexual relationships has led to this moment. Before "Philadelphia" (and before the American gay "Catholic" writer Andrew Sullivan began to demand it), nobody ever thought same-sex marriage was a possibility, let alone a "right".

    The "Yes" side is just doing what television has been telling them to do since "Will and Grace," and the youngest won't even remember "Will and Grace."

  3. Yes absolutely, God will not be mocked. Add in Graham Norton, that sidekick from Dr. Who who got his own show, the writer of Dr. Who who now writes shows for Channel 4 called Cucumber and Banana. The g*y writers of Corrie et al. who have introduced so many g*y characters to normalise it all. Without tv and the internet this would be a non-starter, so few people leading the sheeple off a cliff.

    You know what's getting to me is I don't feel at home anymore. Most of my friends, most of my Irish colleagues and all but older members of my family are voting yes. So many visitors coming in to work with Yes badges, kids at Mass in their school uniforms with Yes badges, my local launderette and hairdresser with Yes to Equality signs stuck/painted on their windows. In town, the same is happening, huge images on the sides of buildings with 2 young men embracing, stands with free Ben & Jerry Icecream for yes voters, a story in the paper about no voters receiving one less sausage in their Irish breakfast in a certain café (no sausages but 2 eggs available for l*sbians so yay equality). I know this all sounds stupid because Salvation - vs - Neighbourhoods is dumb. But it's intimidating. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978) used to be one of my favourite films, cuts too close to home now.

    Why are we Irish such self-haters? We were Catholic and it's in our DNA, Our Lady of Knock visited to comfort us clearly so God loves us very much. Now being Catholic and voting no is like being in the tripleK. You can be Catholic, as long as you condemn parts of it that *they* tell you to condemn. And people do it, they do it and bend to the bullies. This is a referendum so we have our say, can't blame it on the Dáil this time, God have mercy on us. We're a Ship of Fools.


    1. To me it feels like a total betrayal. It's cafeteria Catholicism on a national scale. All those Catholics betraying the family--man, woman, child, grandchildren--with great glee, rewarded with free American ice-cream, and feeling like they're still wonderful Catholics, patted on the head by "Yes" voting priests and weak bishops. I have never been so horrified by an entire national Catholic church in all my life. In the UK and Canada, gay marriage was forced on us. But in Ireland soi-disant Catholics are actually voting for it. How long before Irish women are hired as 9 month incubators to produce children for male couples? I am not an "end times" kind of person, but tonight I'm just heartsick. I have to keep telling myself that the sacrament itself cannot be hurt, and no matter what people want to do to it, knowing or unknowing, the sacrament itself cannot be hurt.

    2. Same-sex "marriage" is not legal in Australia (it is in NZ). If it went to a referendum I'm not sure what would happen. It could go either way, but you better believe that the media and the intellectual elites are fighting tooth and nail for SS"M".

      Those priests and bishops urging for a yes vote? They will have some serious questions to answer when they meet the Creator.

    3. (By "those priests and bishops", I mean the ones Sinead and Seraphic have mentioned. I don't think I've actually heard an Aussie priest or bishop advocate same-sex "marriage".)

    4. My sweet Irish Mother-in-law is so sad today. She told me she will never go back there again. My father-in-law has said that he was always proud to be Irish but today he is ashamed. Here in NZ it was forced on us too. It is a sad, sad day today. And no, nothing was said about it at our Mass today but then nothing was said when it was legalised here either.
      Aussie girl in NZ

  4. Just the 'equality' part confuses me. By myself, I have a complete respiratory system, a complete nervous system, a complete digestive system, etc, however, it takes my husband to complete our reproductive system (and vice versa). So, on even this most basic of issues, I don't understand how two males or two females could 'equal' a heterosexual couple.
    Remember a couple of decades ago, when marriage wasn't important, it was just a piece of paper? And people didn't need a piece of paper to prove their love. Funny how it seems dreadful important now.

  5. Expat Housewife23 May 2015 at 07:59

    My stomach is in a knot over this, and I have no links to Ireland. Except that I'm Catholic. It feels personal and I can't help it, and am dreading the results.


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