St Patrick had a vision of Ireland where he was shown the state of the Church in Ireland. At first he saw the whole land like a great furnace whose flames reached to the sky and he heard the voice of an Angel declare “such is now – the state of Ireland in the eyes of the Lord’ As the vision continued he saw it change as the centuries rolled by until eventually all that remained were a few live coals buried and burning deep in the earth. Patrick wept at the sight.
I am told that my maternal grandfather, at the end of each day, assembled his family in the living room of their farmhouse in Leitrim and they all knelt down and prayed the rosary together.
Whilst it is likely that this devotion was alloyed to some degree with obligation and perhaps fear; the discipline of that daily prayer, together as a family, kept them at peace with one another and on the straight and narrow. The house and each one in it was bathed in prayer and returning grace. Somehow, in those days this was enough to carry that generation through life and to eternity.
The effect of that daily family prayer may not have been obvious as to its effect ; it only becomes obvious when it’s gone as in our day where families are splintered with misunderstanding, argument, separation, and divorce. Correlation between decline in family prayer and the faith underpinning it and an increase in broken families is clear enough. As most of the First World is in a similar condition perhaps we have seen enough to know it’s time to return to God and to prayer.
St Patrick’s vision did not end in unhappy defeat, in his vision after the darkness; a light arose and began to grow again until Ireland returned to its ‘first state of all-pervading fire’