Sunday, March 17, 2024

Celebrating the Feast of Saint Patrick

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!

It's that time of the year when a Saint revered by many, especially in the Irish-Catholic community, is adopted by people of all descent. As a Catholic of Irish decent, I can find little fault with people bettering themselves. :-)

In 2024, the feast day falls on a Sunday. Therefore, throughout much of the Church the Saint's day loses out to the liturgy for the 5th Sunday in Lent. Since St. Patrick is our parish's patron saint, it's traditionally a "day off" from Lenten obligations, but this year Sunday already grants that option. 

As we typically do, we'll avoid the local pubs on the 17th. I don't drink green beer, and remain confident that neither did St. Patrick. But do as you wish. For my celebration I will stick with a dark Stout or an Irish Red Ale. And surely a wee pour or three of Irish Whiskey will be enjoyed. In our house there is always homemade Irish Soda Bread and Irish Stew served as well. 

While in the midst of your celebrations, try to give thought to the man behind the Feast Day. Whether you accept the traditions associated with St. Patrick's life or not, there can be no denying the good he did. (As much as some of these stories cannot be proven, they cannot be disproven either.) Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery in Ireland, he grew to love the Irish people. Late in his life, he was around 60 at the time, Saint Patrick returned to the Ireland to teach and convert the people he had adopted as his own. Certainly that is worthy of our respect.

Our family has long had a devotion to St. Patrick. That admiration was made all the more tangible when we were blessed to make two pilgrimages to the Emerald Isle, in 2012 and again in 2019. During those visits I was reminded just how much the Irish love Patrick. He's more than just a marketing ploy there.

Odd as it may seem, we actually have to remind people, and pubs, that St. Patrick was a man, not a woman. His name is Patrick, which comes from the Irish, Pádraig. Shorten his name to Paddy if you must. However, we do not celebrate "St. Patty's Day." Patty is a shortened version of Patricia, a girl's name. Feast-related debauchery is one thing, but transgendering our Saint is unacceptable. As much as it pains me, I refuse each year to take advantage of any "holiday discount" from businesses who attempt to lure me with discount codes of "STPATTY" and the like. It's a feeling of satisfaction when I see a local establishment has corrected their marketing after being reminded of this error.

Let's all celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Enjoy a drink or two and some good food, hopefully with friends. There's nothing wrong with bringing a little revelry into the world, we certainly need it. I like a good party as much as the next guy. And I certainly appreciate a good Irish drinking joke. Drink your green beer if you must. Dress up in silly clothes. (But, remember St. Patrick was a man, not a leprechaun.) Then remember the reason for this feast. Take a moment to honor the man and all the good he did. In our house we'll raise a drink of uisce beatha, "the water of life," and a prayer, to St. Patrick in honor of his deeds and his country.

All the children of Ireland cry out to thee:
Come, O Holy Patrick, and save us!


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