by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 12.07.2023
Every now and again I get drawn back into my ancestral roots, and today is one of these days. We are celebrating the Twelfth of July, the “Glorious Twelfth” as some call it.
For those of you who are not from Ireland, the Twelfth is an Ulster Protestant celebration held each year on 12 July. It began in the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution and victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, which ensured a Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Over the years it has become a flash point of division between the two communities in Ulster – the largely Protestant group who want to remain part of the United Kingdom and the other side, mostly Catholic, who want to join with the rest of Ireland to form one country.
As a child my parent avoided being in Belfast on the Twelfth by having the annual summer holiday at that time. There was also a celebration in the small seaside town, but we children loved the marching bands, the parade, the crowd and just being part of it. As adults, we began to reflect on the meaning of the day and perhaps we were less enthusiastic.
As a more cynical adult now I ask myself – does Britain really want to be burdened with Northern Ireland? And does the Republic of Ireland really want that “sack of squalling cats” as a gift?
My dream, as Martin Luther King would say, is of a future when all the children could enjoy a ‘fun’ day. I dream of the time when sectarian placards are no more, when history becomes colourful, but past. I dream of a time when the ministry of peace and reconciliation is not needed anymore because the reality of peaceful co-existence has been achieved.
I think God encourages us to dream to urge us towards a better, more inclusive future. Certainly, God is not a great fan of division as the interconnectedness of nature shows us.
This year we are living through a war in Europe, natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, climate change effects such as wildfires and drought. Is there not enough for us to be coping with without arguing with our neighbour?
God, give us the vision to look outwards, not inwards, to the future, not the past.