Brexit Day 2020

Diego Velazquez : Public Domain

Much of my childhood and adolescence was spent with the U.K. trying to become a member of what was then called the Common Market and protesting vociferously whenever General de Gaulle said ‘Non’ — which was often. Much of my adulthood has been accompanied by seemingly endless arguments about fisheries, agriculture and ‘Brussels bureaucracy,’ with several attempts by British politicians to renegotiate terms. Today, after a lot of shouting, the U.K. is leaving what we now know as the European Union. Some are waving Union flags; others are dressing in sackcloth and ashes. With my unique talent for annoying everyone, whatever ‘side’ they are on, I give my own personal view of the matter.* Today is the day the U.K. reaffirms its status as a protestant nation, distrustful of what lies across the water; and I reaffirm my catholic and Benedictine identity as a member of something bigger and more important than the modern nation state or even the E.U. itself.

Tonight, at eleven o’clock, therefore, I shall be in the monastery chapel, giving thanks for all the good things our membership of the E.U. has brought; asking forgiveness for the suffering inflicted by our choosing to exit the E.U.; and praying for wisdom and right judgement for everyone in the post-Brexit future. You will notice that sentence does not limit itself to consideration of the U.K. or E.U. alone. So much of the political and economic discussion in the last few years has been on the level of ‘what I think is best for us,’ where ‘us’ is narrowly defined. I do not think we have always done that, and I take heart from two things that we may not always do so in the future.

The first is very personal. My father’s war service made him an ardent Europeanist; the breaking-up of the British empire made him an ardent champion of democracy and freedom throughout the world. In the later years of his life he returned to the Catholicism of his forebears on the grounds that it was the only form of Christianity corresponding to his world view. It was, as he once remarked to me, ‘big enough.’ How we regain that larger vision, I do not know; but I am convinced that our interdependence as a world will eventually lead to a re-thinking of our alliances. Either that, or we shall destroy ourselves and the planet on which we live.

The second will strike many as a little recondite, even subversive. The number-plate on our car bears the E.U. symbol of a blue flag with twelve golden stars arranged in a circle. I cannot look at it without thinking of the twelve golden stars arranged in a circlet around the head of Our Lady (cf Revelation 12.1). I am convinced that God has his own way of dealing with things and is particularly good at dealing with our failures and disappointments. Our part is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be prepared to do whatever he asks. When Mary told the servants at Cana to do that, water was turned into wine. Those shedding tears of grief today may find them turned into tears of joy tomorrow. May God bless everyone, whether for or against membership of the E.U., and help us all to work for a better future for the world.

*The community has no particular view. I stress that this is my own view.

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18 thoughts on “Brexit Day 2020”

  1. I hope you get wiser and kinder comments here than I have seen elsewhere on this topic. I also hope that the UK takes the opportunity of Brexit to develop connections with the wider world and particularly our brothers and sisters in the commonwealth.

  2. I read somewhere, a little while ago, that if we only have 2 words to say to Our Lord they should be “Thank you”. This morning I repeat those 2 words to you, dear Sister Catherine. Thank you for your wise counsel and especially thank you for your words of wisdom and comfort today.

  3. The founders of the EU were Christian and the concept of ever closer union arose from their religious principles. I will be praying with you tonight.

  4. How you can imagine the euro-communists we are just about to escape, are under the beneficent watch of our Blessed Lady, all I can think is, “Your going into the realms of fantasy again Jones”.

    When We were still a sovereign nation we prayed to The Blessed Virgin Mary, to “look down in mercy upon England thy, ‘dowry'”. Here is the locus of our devotion, not some imaginary euromary.

    We will certainly “rethink our alliances” in the coming days. But now we can look to the oceans and our friends beyond.

    • My last paragraph does not say what you seem to assume it says, so I’ll try to make it clearer. (1) The Euro flag reminds me of Our Lady. (2) Thinking of Our Lady reminds me of the importance of prayer and doing what God asks of us — I cite the example of Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ (3) God knows better than we do what will be best for us. (4) I’m asking a blessing on everyone, whatever they think about Brexit/E.U., and the prayer I make is that we will all work for a better future for the whole world.

  5. The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins (affectionately known as Michael D) described the close but complex relationship between our two islands as living “in the shelter & shadow of each other”
    l think that what has been promoted as the overbearing EU shadow darkening Britain will eventually be recognised as an economic & social windbreak- sheltering those united behind it from the worst of extremism.

  6. Dear Sister Catherine, thank you so much for your intelligent words about Brexit. This is a sad day for me, I am of German -British nationality and feel so very much at home within the family of European nations. From now on the circle of stars will always remind me of the Mother of God. Thank you and God bless you .

  7. These days I am so tongue-tied, I hardly ever comment on your posts, let alone attempt to articulate any myself. But I badly needed to read something like this. So just – thank you.

  8. Thank you, dear Sister Catherine, for your words of wisdom and reconciliation upon this day we step off the cliff of European protection.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church, one Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. This commitment to peace and universal love is far greater than any one institution. For God is Love and we are all his beloved children, irrespective of our beliefs, race, creed, gender or inclination.

  9. Thank for your wise words. As an italian that love european culture, this evening I am a little sad, it’s like we’d have lost a part of us. I think at Shakespeare, Handel, Dowland…great artists that played their art without borders. I’ll pray with you this evening at 12pm, Rome time!

  10. Thank you, dear Sister. Just the fact that someone has written something along these lines is comforting. There is something very sad about the whole destructive ethos of this business, made worse by the dreadful behaviour of the MEPs in the parliament. I shall continue living in Germany, so am spared the worst excesses.
    God bless all your community.

  11. As a non-conformist Protestant I read your words with appreciation and would like to thank you for their wisdom, tolerance and vision. I too will be very sad this evening and will join you in prayer at 11 pm.

  12. Thank you very much for your comments, and for joining me in prayer. I am glad to say that comparatively few reacted to my post with overt hostility, although I did lose a lot of follows on Twitter yesterday — which may be significant. I think it’s important that we do our best to be welcoming to others, so, with your help, I shall try to do that on here, whether I agree or disagree with the views expressed. The important thing is that we try to express our views in a way that doesn’t make others feel unsafe or belittled. At a personal level, I am deeply ashamed of the behaviour of some British M.E.P.s, Diana, but I trust to others’ good will and good manners.

  13. I always come to your page knowing I shall find wisdom, and unexpected insight, in equal measure.
    My unexpected insight today was the description of Catholicism as “the only form of Christianity corresponding to his world view… ‘big enough.” And that Brexit is about returning to protestantism. There seems to be an element in the British character which relishes being the odd man out, sitting on the sidelines, relishing ‘freedom’.
    I’m afraid I think of the poem about Alexander Selkirk:
    ‘I am monarch of all I survey
    My right there is none to dispute’.

  14. Thank you for this wise perspective which goes a long way to salve the sadness I feel at the apparent wasting of caring human endeavour in The EU over the last 45 years. I pray for strength to know that God’s will will guide us to the best place.

  15. Such wise words to reflect on. I will join in to pray on this Imbolic day of crlebration. May Bridget’s torch help light the way for all of us to proceed along the path God desires us to follow, that leads to peace and justice for all.

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