St Patrick’s cross stands again on the hill of Down
An imposing St Patrick’s cross stands once more on the hill of Down, in the grounds of Down Cathedral and against the backdrop of the Mourne mountains. It is an authentic replica of one of the oldest high crosses in Ireland, three fragments of which are on display in the entrance porch of Down cathedral.
The original dates from the late 8th century and was most likely erected alongside one of the first monasteries on the hill of Down. Drawings from the early 19th century also place part of the cross at the traditional site of St Patrick’s grave, before the large granite stone was placed there.
LEADING FOR SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
On Saturday 1st September, US Senator John McCain’s life was remembered at a service in Washington national cathedral. Amongst those who spoke at the service were two former presidents – George W. Bush and Barack Obama. However we judge John McCain’s politics, or indeed those of Bush or Obama, important principles of leadership were identified in the various contributions. They outlined some of what we might hope for – or indeed need – in leadership.
Barack Obama talked of McCain as having “a largeness of spirit. An ability to see past differences in search of common ground.” A willingness to search for common ground is vital in any leader. Without that desire, it is too easy to condemn the people you lead into the politics of trench warfare, however manifested.
Obama continued, “Some principles transcend politics. Some values transcend party. He [McCain] considered it part of his duty to uphold those principles, to uphold those values.” This seems to bring us back to the importance of working to find common ground – with the eye on the common good.
Whilst we may be unfamiliar with the intricacies of the US system of government, Obama also talked of the importance that McCain placed on
it for the outworking of the common life of their citizens – that it provided a framework for finding a common life.
He said: “John cared about the institutions of self-government, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, rule of law, separation of powers, even the arcane rules and procedures of the Senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. They give shape and order to our common life, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.”
Perhaps one of the most useful insights came in Obama’s observation that “the only way to truly make your mark on the world is to commit to something bigger than yourself.” That is true of any individual who aspires to lead, but also of political parties. Simple in principle, and difficult to work out in practice for any of us.
George W. Bush had this to say: “Whenever John passed throughout the world, people knew there was a leader in their midst.”
Leadership goes way beyond the ability to deliver soundbites or to please our own followers. Those abilities of themselves do not mark out the qualities of leadership. What does is the willingness and ability to get things done for the common good. Have we leaders in our midst?
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In perspective – Moira Thom – Defining home
Insight – The legacy of the past
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Head of mission agency to be next bishop of Truro
Letters to the editor
Christianity in Ireland
I AGREE with the last paragraph in Canon Rowley- Brooke’s letter (Gazette, 17th August), where she makes a plea for accuracy and courtesy when referring to the Republic.
It is the Republic of Ireland; not ‘the South’ or ‘Southern Ireland’. By the way, when you cross that border, you will find yourself in Northern Ireland; not ‘the North of Ireland’, or ‘the North’. Courtesy and accuracy should work both ways.
Leixlip Co. Kildare
MANY OF us have read with interest the interview with Trevor Johnston entitled ‘The Church in Ireland’ by Australian Church Record, which has gained much publicity, not least in the Republic of Ireland.
A lot of this article is autobiographical and much of it is worthy of note and is expressed in a very sincere manner. There were many worthy points which all of us could and should be open to, not least the evangelistic challenge of the age we are living in.
In a manner not unknown to Trevor, he makes a statement that the Republic of Ireland is the least evangelised part of English-speaking Europe. To his credit, he admits the shame that he and many should feel that they have “ignored this great Gospel need on our doorstep.”
Far be it from me to suggest that the initial assertion may be a little over the top, as there are a lot of sincere ministers of all denominations who are actively seeking to share the Gospel in the Republic of Ireland. There are also more believers in the ‘wee south’ than Trevor might be aware of.
There may, however, be one solution. Trevor may think of girding his loins and upping sticks from the leafy suburb of south Belfast and moving to the Republic of Ireland with his dear wife and family to start a missionary outpost, possibly in that good province of Munster!
He could then discover more accurately what the situation is. The Gospel of Christ came to the southern reaches of this island before St Patrick first arrived in Ulster, which was then a dark and heathen place. The Lord has not gone away, you know!
GAFCON has many good things about it but it does not have all the answers to the questions and challenges, and it needs to acknowledge that other parts of the Anglican church have also something significant to contribute to the mission of the Church in Ireland and beyond.
Nigel Baylor (Canon) Newtownabbey
I WONDER if any of your readers has heard of the Church of Ireland Football Leagues, which existed possibly about 100 years ago; not to be confused with the Churches leagues, an interdenominational competition which functioned more recently.
We have in our possession, here at Derriaghy, a silver trophy bearing the inscription ‘Church of Ireland Football League Challenge Cup’. It is undated and we have no information about other winners.
Presumably Derriaghy were the most recent winners of the trophy and then the competition ceased to exist – or maybe the league continued, but we forgot to return the cup, at the end of our league- winning year, but I hope not.
If there is a more appropriate custodian of this cup we should be pleased to pass it on to them. If anyone can provide me with the relevant information, I should be grateful if they would contact me at (028) 90610859.
John Budd (Canon)
THE CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF IRELAND – 4 Volumes: Vol. 1 600-1550;
Vol. 2 1550-1730;
Vol. 3 1730-1880;
Vol. 4 1880-Present
General editor: Thomas Bartlett Publisher: Cambridge University Press Price: Available individually, hardback, £100 each or as a four-volume set, £350
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