Today I did the funeral Mass for a parishioner who was born in 1923. At the start of Mass I read out a summary of her life. One detail was that she went to a “labour fair” whilst in her early teen years and was hired as a domestic by two farmers from another county. Later she went to Scotland on the “Derry Boat” and picked potatoes (tatty-hoking) on the farms of landed gentry. In those times such workers couldn’t even use the servants’ entrance at the manor. Rather they lived in buildings like hay sheds. We have come a long ways in our standard of living in the latter half of the 20th century!
She was a woman of deep faith who was known for her humility, acceptance of her lot in life, generosity and selflessness. The family gave me the prayer (below) from her personal Prayer Book as a summary of her faith and life philosophy. I said that it was the mark of Jesus’ disciples to trust in God’s providential care rather than oneself for the necessities of life. Indeed his first/master Beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”