O Riordain traces the fortunes of Irish Catholic Spirituality from its Celtic origins, through the reforms of the late medieval period, the influences of the Reformation, and the dramatic and traumatic nineteenth-century changes that revolutionized and, in many ways, vandalized the traditional Irish approach to God. ""When the church is seen as institution only, it is difficult for people on the margins who are more attuned to traditional faith-ways to maintain comfortable links with it. Too often church membership and practice is reduced to being `all in' or `all out'. The criterion for belonging is narrowed down to only one element of the many-splendored Christian tradition. At her wise and generous best, the church has always been relaxed and generous about her boundaries.""
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