On July 19-25, the Irish Society for Christian Civilisation hosted its third Summer Program for fathers and sons. The program was held once again on the grounds of the beautiful and majestic Mount St. Joseph’s Cistercian Abbey in Roscrea. As in previous programs, the course entailed outings to historic places of Christian civilization, wholesome recreation and talks on doctrinal and historical topics.
During the course of the program, we were honored to have the sacraments regularly. Mass was almost daily and the camp ended with a magnificent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Fortified by the Eucharist, the tone of the camp was always elevated with a good deal of camaraderie among its participants. An official brown scapular enrollment ceremony was held for those who had not been enrolled in this ancient devotion. Having Our Lady at the center of all our endeavors, the daily rosary was also part of the schedule near the end of each day with the singing of the Salve Regina as part of the boy’s final prayers before retiring.
The daily schedule was quite full. The talks given were on a variety of topics. The camp began on Sunday night with a talk by Mr. Byron Whitcraft, who had traveled from the United States. It dealt with a call to chivalry and an explanation of the Ten Commandments of Chivalry. During the talk, the participants were convoked to a crusade not of arms, as in the past, but of ideas to confront the neo-pagan tendencies of today’s secular and materialistic world. Taking the principles of medieval knighthood, Mr. Whitcraft explained how a young man today could be courageous in standing up for Catholic principles. In addition, Mr. Whitcraft used a lecture given by the Catholic leader, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, to illustrate these points in the person of Charlemagne. The following days Mr. Whitcraft gave talks on good manners, the principles of dress, true piety and the fight between good and evil throughout history.
Mr. Julio Loredo, who had traveled from Italy for the course, also gave several meetings. Mr. Loredo gave an analysis of the centuries-old Revolutionary process that aims to destroy Christian civilization. He showed in a clear and precise way how the God-centered Christian society of the Middle Ages progressively declined, reaching its worst phase in our troubled times. He proved this through a series of quotations, video clips and pictures which made the meetings both interesting and highly convincing. The quotations were from different authors but principally taken from the work Revolution and Counter Revolution by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. The presentation clearly showed a tendency within man to start looking to this world too much and no longer at his final destiny with God. The meetings were very informative and gave the participants good tools to fight the modern crisis and protect themselves from the same.
The camp was also pleased to have the presence of Mr. Neil McKay, who had traveled from Scotland. Mr. McKay gave a power-point presentation, which analyzed the Christian spirit of the medieval society in contrast with our culture today. He proved how the thought of great thinkers like Saint Thomas Aquinas were prevalent in all aspects of the medieval world. His presentation included pictures of medieval art in contrast with some so called art and architecture of our modern times. His meeting was a fine conclusion to the series of meetings given during the camp.
During the camp the participants traveled to places of historic interest. One of these was the ancient site of the ruins of a monastery founded by St. Ciaran in the sixth century. The site, known as Clonmacnoise, includes the ruins of several churches as well as two round towers and three Celtic high crosses. One could imagine the ancient monks bringing Christianity to the pagan tribes of Ireland. We also visited Bir Castle with its majestic gardens. Even though the castle is privately owned and cannot be toured, just the view of it and its extensive gardens made it worthwhile to visit. The garden includes a variety of trees from around the world and what was the largest telescope in the world for over seventy years. The third Earl of Rosse constructed the telescope in the 1840’s. Other outings included visits to Portumna Castle, Portumna Abbey and Redwood Castle.
If what was mentioned above was not enough to fill the five and a half days, the camp also included outdoor games, a treasure hunt and board games. The last day of the program held the customary medieval games and banquet. In spite of the heavy rain, the games went ahead as scheduled.
After the games, the medieval banquet was held in the monastery guesthouse. The honored guest was newly elected Abbot Richard, who led the prayers. During the meal, slides from the camp were shown much to the delight of the parents who were present.
A fine letter opener in the shape of a Medieval Crusader’s sword was given to all the participants of the 2009 Irish Summer Camp. To end the day a beautiful rosary procession with torches was held in the honor of the Blessed Mother followed by an Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which was held with great splendor.
The next morning the participants traveled back to their homes. Even though it was sad to see them go, the atmosphere was filled with gratitude for the blessings that God had bestowed upon the camp. Each one left with solid principles to help him in the fight for Christian civilization. When thinking about the blessings of the camp, a quote from the great Marian saint, Saint Louis de Montfort, comes to mind in this quest for a truly Christian society:
“And we, great God! Although there is so much glory and profit, so much sweetness and so many advantages to be gained by serving Thee, shall there be so few to take up Thy cause? Hardly any soldiers under Thy banner! Hardly a Saint Michael to proclaim among Thy brethren in zeal for Thy glory: Who is like unto God?”