Another Saint in the family

Today is the Feast of the Holy Prince, Monk, and Martyr Nectan of Hartland, Devonshire, England, a member of one of the Three Holy Families of the Celtic Britons. IIRC all three holy families descend from a branch of my Irish tribe, the Decies of Munster Province (Ir. na nDeise Mumhan), that left Ireland in the 3rd century AD and became kings of several parts of South Wales, continuing to speak Irish there for several centuries, as well as retaining ties with their cousins across the Irish Sea in the region of County Waterford. (All these named places lacked these names at the times of which we speak! Though to the present West Waterford is called The Decies.)

By tradition St. Nectan and I have a common ancestor from the first couple centuries AD in Ireland… and through descendants of his branch at least two different ways, so does Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belize, etc etc. – through the Welsh King Henry VII Tudor, and through Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, from Scotland. Along with Nectan’s sainted parents and 23 siblings(!), and the other two holy families, they would also be kinsmen of St. David of Wales.

All of which is probably a good thing, ’cause I can use all the help I can get!

  1. Anonymous

    The Holy Father gone to Turkey to redeem and consecrate the Greeks,
    so don’t need no more soviet temples. Don’t need no gyro blimpie Bart
    when got a regular Pope without the diner attitude. My pop kept
    hitting momma with a skillet on the head. Friends ended up in the
    hospital after their pop beat them. Pops got drunk and ruined my
    first car. Killed two cats and a dog, thrown out the window.
    Neighbor drowned the canaries in ouzo, lit, ate them. Ma overdid
    whip so she could give less pie. All our stuff came pilfered, with
    logos. Greeks overcook all meat so no one knows is bad. Another
    banned tenants flushing toilet paper. Waiters inpune sanitation
    because “dirty is natural and healthy.” Priests just answered “behave,
    respect, tradition!” Now priest comes “no intercommunion!” Where was
    he when we needed him to protect us from our crazy parents? Don’t
    sell me “educated Greeks” because we know all them Trojan Horse
    cheated on the exams. Besides it’s just TV repair school. Remember
    all those jailed old disco Greeks, tax cheats to “protest” Jerome Ford
    stopping the Trojan Horse in Chyprious? We can’t get good jobs
    because no one trusts Greeks, because of Trojan Horse. They always
    faked reading Greek. That’s why we borrowed regular Catholic books
    instead of read Greek. Sure, we sacrifice to Greek myths three times
    a year to please yiayia, and she’s nun the wiser when we go to regular
    Catholic Mass on Sundays when she bummed from bouzaki dances. Ain’t
    need no more Bart, just the regular Pope. That’s why we all married
    regular Catholic when we grew up. So they can trust us.

  2. me

    The above comment is some kind of spam (see below). Nevertheless…


    Dear Friend,

    Thank you for visiting. Please forgive my tardiness: my computer isn’t in a well-air-conditioned space and Philadelphia’s summer has just been awful, and my health has been worse too.

    Spousal abuse, child abuse, even animal abuse, tenant abuse, drunk driving, are horrible evils, and should be worked against in Church life, pastoral counseling, Confession, Church discipline, preaching. After all, Orthodoxy is about the whole person; we’re not imprisoned or disembodied or decontextualized spirits.

    I’m kind of ignorant about the plight of the Immigrant Orthodox, how they’ve been treated here in the West, but if it’s like my Irish Catholics had it in the previous century, even up till 1960 (Kennedy’s election) – even later in many parts of the country – then it’s been pretty rough, and may still be, even after Dukakis, Stephanopoulos, Onassis. But if I may speak as a Westerner, I’m really not aware of widespread consciousness among “my people” of distrust of Greeks on account of the mythological Trojan Horse strategem; even the adage about “Beware Greeks bearing gifts,” while mentioning Greeks by name, I think is considered mostly a reference to the myth, not to actual Greeks, though of course Western friends of Greeks probably joke about it once or twice, not meaning anything malicious by it. Some of us Irish have hot tempers or like a small drop of “the creature,” but the expressions “hot Irish temper,” “drunk Irishman,” and put-downs of Irish for their traditional devout Catholicism and large families, are just throwaways: even Conan O’Brien can joke about them, arguably the ‘most Irish’ person on U.S. TV today.

    I would have no right to tell you not to be offended or concerned; I merely report my perception of it from “my side.”

    Do they treat you better now that you’re Catholic? Do you have a good job? Catholics may be the largest single religious group in the U.S., but the country is actually majority Protestant, and Catholics are still discriminated against in many places by both “liberal” and “conservative” Protestants. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I detect a strain of anti-Catholicism in the recent anti-immigrant fever, since Latin Americans are traditionally Catholic.

    It’s interesting that you refer to Catholicism as “regular,” as if Orthodoxy is ‘abnormal.’ It certainly is (for now) in the West. I grew up Catholic, but I spent the ’90s in very small denominations, the Quakers and Mennonites; I was a pacifist, a total vegetarian, devoutly religious, a seminarian…. I freely chose those things, but still, I know how it feels to belong to a ‘weird’ religion in this country. It may even be ‘worse’ because when one chooses it, s/he can’t blame anyone else for it when it draws strange looks from the crowd.

    Do you hide your Greekness? My Nanticoke Indian ancestors spent two centuries “passing” for White or Black, gave up their language and culture, quietly preserving only the word “Indian” from generation to generation, because of how this country has treated Indians. We Indians know sometimes the misbehavior you describe is part of our – yours and my – structural oppression; we take it out on each other because it’s ‘safer,’ men against our own men, men against women, parents against children, humans against animals and property… and our own bodies. It even gives a comparatively rare sense of control, importance, even sick ‘fun.’

    It’s the underside of emigration, the lack of acceptance in the new land, the pressure to conform to its dominant culture(s), even its religion(s). It shouldn’t be, but it always has been. Traditionally Orthodoxy has prided itself as “the Church of the Martyrs”: Protestantism hardly venerates the Saints at all, and the Latin Church – I speak from experience – has gotten far away from the earliest Saints and Martyrs too, elevating later ones, specifically-Latin ones, over them, at least unofficially. But the Mediterranean Orthodox – today’s Greeks and Arabs – began suffering under Islam in the 7th century, first with the Arabians, then the Turks, and still are. Maybe that’s one human reason why Orthodox still feel close to the early Martyrs. But sometimes one wants to say, “Enough already!”


    Speaking of “Enough already,” I’ve just discovered this comment has been posted at least 100 times all over the blogosphere. (That explains the odd formatting.) Not always with the same name attached, sometimes with two names attached, so I can’t tell if any of them is the originator… or if any of them is sincere. (Is there a name for this phenomenon? “Comment spam” is something else apparently.) Although one of them has apparently been espousing Hellenic Latinization for years now (Warning: Profanity).

    I feel an obligation to treat such a post sincerely myself (though not if it becomes a problem here!). Who knows what good might come of it?

    I also feel an obligation not to wade any deeper into intra-ethnic-group conflict in an ethnicity that I do not really belong to. I have a couple Christian Roman Emperors in my family tree, and even a pre-Christian Greek concubine of a Middle Eastern prince, but I was definitely not raised Greek or Orthodox! I mourn the conflict, but this too is part of emigration, Assimilation vs. Distinctiveness.

    I’ll only conclude by praying that all are drawn to the Truth, Christ… especially myself, the worst of sinners.


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