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The Word on the Week

Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse Word on the Week 19th March 2016.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the ‘Easter Rising’ it seems appropriate that we look at the man who perhaps more than any other has become its figurehead. From humble beginnings, born in a stonemason’s shop next door to our church premises in the street which later took his name, he became a high achiever.
His mother, a strong Catholic from Co Meath, was a powerful influence in his life. His father, a Unitarian from Birmingham, apart from providing them with a middle-class upbringing (he had 2 sons and 2 daughters) does not appear to have influenced Patrick to join the family business, despite the optimistic sign ‘Pearse and Sons’ above the door!
Patrick would have been taught the Irish language by his mother and his teachers at the nearby Christian Brothers School in Westland Row. His love for the language led to joining the Gaelic League and editing their newspaper.
He contended that the language was a vital component in national identity and founded a boy’s school along bi-lingual lines. In addition to teaching academic subjects there was an emphasis on Celtic mythology such as the heroes in the Ossian Cycle.

In March 1914 Pearse travelled to New York where his fundraising efforts were aided by a local Kill man, John Devoy. The latter worked on the principle of “England’s distraction is Ireland’s opportunity” and arranged for the Germans to equip the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood with a ship load of guns in time for the 1916 rising. The Germans kept their side of the bargain but their ship, the Aud, was intercepted and, while being escorted into Cork harbour, was scuttled by the captain.
Pearse’s ability with words led to his stamp being put on the Proclamation which, in addition to aspiring to freedom from British rule, sought to create an Ireland where all people could be free to accomplish their potential regardless of their wealth, class or religion.

There seems to have been a desire to tap into the pre-Christian myth of redemptive violence. The choice of Easter, the belief in the sanctifying power of bloodshed and the need for human sacrifice would appeal to the religious.
But there is no parallel here. Jesus did not make himself head of a Zion state. “My Kingdom is not of this world”. He did not instruct his followers to seize control of Jerusalem, killing anyone who resisted (St John Chapter 18 verse 36).
There has been a deliberate confusion between the un-mandated seizure of political power with its attendant loss of life and the death and resurrection of Jesus where the only injury was the cutting off of an ear which was promptly healed (St Luke Chapter 22 verses 50-51).

There is a total distinction between the Prince of Peace (Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6) and the bloodshed that is carried out in his name. In taking his leave of his disciples Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (St John Chapter 14 verse 27).

This peace is not merely between people but can also be between you and God. And that reconciliation takes place when we bow the knee to the one who shed his own blood that we might experience his freedom and our true potential “For in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians Chapter 1 verses 19-20).