One of the great things about returning to America as a Catholic is that I now share in all the different Catholic ethnic groups. I’ve loved learning about the Maronites and learning to celebrate the Maronite Divine Liturgy.

A few months ago I was asked to be chaplain to our local Ancient Order of Hibernians. Living in England for twenty five years I was loaded with some anti-Irish prejudice. Tonight that was all wiped. A few of the fellows from the AOH invited me to join them for a concert of Celtic Thunder. I’d never heard of them and didn’t know if I was getting in for Irish dancing or what.
It was a great show in Greenville’s Bi-Lo Center. I know it was a show, but it really seemed to capture the indomitable spirit of the Irish. There was wit, beautiful singing, drums, fiddles, dancing and an irrepressible joie de vivre.

I was also pondering on the way home at how the Catholic countries have managed to retain a joy and poignant lust for life in their cultures which the Protestant Northern European Puritanical countries lost. 
At the Reformation out went the fiddles and dancing and singing and festivals and drama and joy. In came the dour, serious, bare and spiritless austerity. 
People used to tell me it was just because Italy, Spain and France were warm climates. I doubt it. Medieval, Catholic England had plenty of jollity. It went out when Mao Tse Tudor took over.
Anyhow, I’m on an Irish gig at the moment. I want to read the history of Ireland and come St Patrick’s Day I’ll be wearing the green as an honorary Irishman (if they’ll have me)