St. Patrick’s Day

Ahh, ‘ Tis a Great Day for the Irish!  And since EVERYONE is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, it holds true that it’s a Great Day for Everyone!! The color GREEN is to be seen everywhere that day.  Clothing, hats, glasses, shoes and even that green beer (don’t be too alarmed at the color when it relinquishes it’s presence from your kidneys). Good cheer or as in Ireland they say Good ‘Craic’ (pronounced crack, which loosely translated means ’Fun’), is to be plentiful that day.  Of course along with that goes lively music to join in and sing along together with – ‘Ceoil Agus Craic’ (Gaelic  for ‘Music and Fun’). Just who is this St. Patrick?  March 17th is accepted as the day of St. Patrick’s death.  The only thing in question are those ‘minor’ details of the years of both his birth and death (It’s said ‘The Devil is in the details’, so since the Irish are always trying to avoid the Devil, details in a good Irish story are not always necessary!!).   Some say he was born in 387 others say it was in the early 5th Century.  The year of his death is equally disputed as being either 461 or 493.  St. Patrick is the most recognized of the Patron Saints of Ireland yet there is so much unknown about his life.  We do know he was the son of Roman citizens living in Scotland and at around the age of 14 or 16 (there we go again with those dates) he was captured by Irish marauders who took him back to Hibernia (Ireland) and forced him into the servitude of Milchu, a high Druid chief.  For 6 years he tended to his captor’s flock, allowing him the time to reflect on his Catholic faith.  In one of two known letters (Declaration – Latin: Confessio) that were actually written by St. Patrick, he states, “… each day I used to pray many times...   More and more did the Love of God and my fear of Him and faith increase.” He escaped, traveling over 200 miles by land, and nearly a month at sea back to England. He begged for passage on the ship in return for his services.  Shortly afterward he began his religious studies and after 15 years returned back to Ireland as an ordained bishop where he practiced for over 40 years. His knowledge of the aboriginal religions and the indigenous tribal languages from the time of his captivity, allowed for him to assimilate very quickly and easily with these pagan inhabitants.  This firsthand knowledge allowed him to introduce Catholicism not in the manner of learning from where he was brought up and educated, but to teach the people in ways they understood.  The Celtic Cross is a great symbol of his genius.  The Druids used the Sun as one of its’ main worshiped gods, so St. Patrick incorporated it with the Christian Cross, thus you have the circle encompassing the cross at the intersection in the middle.   The famous use of the 3 Leaf clovers to symbolize the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is known by all Catholic grade-schoolers.   Incorporating the use of bonfires for events and religious meetings, since such fires was a common practice of the Druids.  The ‘accomplishment’ of driving the snakes out of Ireland is not factually true since Ireland has never had snakes.  This mythical story relates of course to his ministry forcing out the old Druid beliefs (they believed that man was eternal and his soul just continuously moved on from one body to another) and planting the seeds of Christian faith that still holds strong and firm on the Emerald Isle to this very day. The hardships of persecution, the pain of famine, the heartbreak of families being separated, endured for centuries by the Irish, actually are universal conditions shared by many cultures, races and nationalities.  It’s the warm and cheerful Irish Spirit that shows that adversity can be overcome and the hope and faith that Happiness can still be achieved no matter what your condition.   So enjoy with family and friends the joys the day has to bring.  Don’t worry about singing off key; everyone else will have enough Guinness or green beer in them that they won’t even notice, since they’ll be doing the sameJ Irish Blessing – May the Lord Bless that your hands always have something to do, May the Lord bless that you always have in your pocket a coin or two, May the sun shine warm upon your window pane, May you find the rainbow after every rain. May the Lord Bless that the hand of a friend be always near for you, And May the Good Lord Bless that your heart be filled with joy to always cheer you.