Patrick’s day

Mar 17, 2022

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Most people who celebrate on St. Patrick’s day today think of wearing green and enjoying good Irish music, Guinness and perhaps dancing at an Irish pub.

But it’s easy to forget that Patrick was a robust disciple of Jesus Christ who brought the Good News of the ultimate and eternal liberation through Jesus Christ to the people of Ireland.

Today’s Office of Readings gives Patrick’s own words to communicate the whole-hearted life-or-deathness of his relationship with Christ. Patrick writes: “I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favour. I am deeply in his debt,..” 

When something is too much for us (either too bad or too generous) we often reduce it to what we can deal with easily. So we wear green, drink Guinness and go no further, forgetting what the beer and colour is helping us to remember.

We reduce the lives of the saints (as we do many truths of faith) to ideas that we then consider to be optional beliefs and which don’t require us to leave our comforts or to face our fears.

The same reduction has happened with many other saints.

We reduce the feast of St. Francis to pet day at school or animal farm at Church. Francis would be scandalised at the reduction. While Francis did have an interesting encounter with a wolf, his primary love was not the earth and the animals!  Francis loved God, and gave his life to serving God. This decision and his life of faith placed him in relationship with the poor, the lepers, the animals and all of creation.

To diminish the life of Francis by focussing on animals or on creation is the same tragic misunderstanding as reducing Patrick to beer and music.

And then there is Valentine.  Valentine’s day has become a feast of secular romantic love. We know little about the life of this saint.  Pope Gelasius I in the fifth century named  Valentine among the saints “… whose names are justly reverenced among people, but whose acts are known only to God.”    We do know that St. Valentine was a martyr. He gave his life for God.  It is reasonable to assume that Valentine is a bit upset and seeing his sacrifice remembered only in anonymous gifts of chocolate and red roses.

The reduction of the lives of these saints is the pattern of a secular world where even the feast of the Incarnation of the one true and real God is more about the mythical Santa Claus.  And the greatest feast of the passion and resurrection of our Saviour at Easter is reduced to hot cross buns and chocolate eggs.

Back to Patrick.  On the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick, let’s drink good Guinness, wear green and rollick to the Irish music. But let’s also take a moment to remember that Patrick is a forefather in faith who taught us that all the colour of dancing, beer and good music cannot begin to match the joy of living with Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Amen!

14 Comments

  1. For someone who struggles with faith and feels very allied to Doubting Thomas I found the reflection on some of the saints very thought provoking and enlightening.

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  2. ☘️

    St Patrick’s breastplate: Christ in the heart of each person

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  3. Beautiful said, we do forget that our saints gave their all for what they believed in. I enjoy the explanations that you give it reminds us of our own journey and why we to follow Christ.

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  4. How fortunate we are to have the time to reflect in relative peace & quiet on your writing today. May I have the strength & courage to commit to Christ more deeply

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  5. Amen beautiful reflection on the Saints Father John Amen

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  6. Thank you Fr John , for putting these lives back into a celebration of their Faith, reminding us all of the reason for their being Saints, with a deeper perspective than the popular one !

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  7. I re-read St Patrick’s quote several times –
    “I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favour. I am deeply in his debt,..”
    How amazing and inspiring to imagine the strength of faith he must have had!
    I pray for more faith like this in myself.

    Reply
  8. A very sobering yet realistic comment on reductionism. Thankyou for your thought provoking words and promoting us to remember and celebrate these special Feast Days for the Right reasons.

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  9. A great comment Father. Couldn’t agree with you more!

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  10. Thank you for today’s reflection. With my Irish heritage it was food for thought. So blessings to you on St Patrick’s day. I do appreciate your reflections.

    Reply
  11. So true and I have often wondered about the way ST. PATRICK’S was celebrated
    As a child when it was a special Saints day you we would have a special Mass , have the story of his live read to you at school and discuss what we could do to try to be as good the Saint
    Today I often wonder how many know (maybe outside the Irish natio) what we celebrate or is it just an excuse to have an other party even though it is the Lenten season

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  12. A wonderful reflection thank you. Reduction of the most sacred events and people, to secular observance is seldom commented on. Father, your reflection is heartening, and uplifting. Thank you.

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  13. Thank you Fr John a great reflection on three saints !!

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  14. Great reflection! Thank you Father. So often we just give-in to the culture and their values till it becomes the norm.

    Reply

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