Torn Down, Rebuilt, As All Must Be

St. Mels Cathederal on fire. Image:
St. Mels Cathederal on fire. Image:

Longford’s St. Mel’s Cathedral burned down one Christmas morning. The rebuild, the challenge to attempt it, has many correlations to real life, indeed personally to me as a writer after my own disaster in Ballinamuck, of making character and succeeding against the odds in time.

From dust to dust, what was built by man
Time in its own way the cycle began
Renewed, destroyed, rebuilt, strong faith again
Church is not in stone but hearts of men

Plans of man to build up to the sky
To worship God, so none can deny
The faith of a people, by famine tested
Comfort granted when it in prayer requested

Completed, stones were in Gods own time
Up and down the stonemasons climb
Scaffolds, placing in place each hewn stone
As man each day does the souls their own
Upon the morning of Sabbath day
Give thanks, ask guidance, comes to pray
They, the honest sinner, genuine guilt
Is the stone of which the church is built

Pennies of the poor, built walls and aisle
Built it in times of famine, trial
Times of prosperity crashed: ended
A Ruin stood, proud, charred, blackened, splendid
The cornerstone stayed where it was placed
No fire cracked it, it was not disgraced
Came from Ardagh by time now in ruin
Stone true, reused, tested there by time, hand hewn

Rebuilding took longer than three days
But it was rebuilt, after the blaze
That greeted the town in a morning glow
Its faithful shocked at the blazing show
It was but stone, and it is but stone
It is but a building there alone
The church is the people who there they pray
Bring the faith to their lives each day
Fear not when lifes trials faith destroy
Troubles fire is what God does employ
To inspire us to rebuild again
Cathedral of the self, to be better men.


“dust to dust, what was built by man”
– the cornerstone came from the ruin of the original cathedral in Ardagh

“renewed, destroyed, rebuilt”
– the cornerstone was the old cathedral renewed, destroyed by fire, rebuilt

“church is the hearts of men”
– the trials of the abuse scandals shall change the church as a movement, but not the faith in the hearts of men. The movement, like the building, is but stones (people in positions of power and how its managed), but the faith is in the hearts of the people, and will remain true.

“plans of man to build to the sky”
– I always think of churches of splendor as akin to Babylon tower, to me they say “look how strong our faith is, how perfect out religion”… God sends a test, tears it down, and in the rebuild / final build, the true church remains. The original was stopped by the trials of the famine, still it got completed, in Gods own time, not the time planned by man.

“climb scaffolds / placing… each hewn stone”
– we all must take what is given to us in life, the stones are our opportunities, we must take the good and reject the bad (hewn stones)

“the honest sinner”
– the stone is made of the honest sinner, though great may be their sin, due to they being of the lower “nafs” they know no better, but never are guilty of “shirk”

– “nafs” is the base faith, the ego, the self, from Islamic theology, some are base and know no better, their sins are forgiven as long as they do not commit shirk, that is to deny God and His glory. Folk of higher nafs, though their sins may be less, are guilty of more as they know better.

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