St. Patrick’s Day
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate our family’s Irish heritage and Catholic Faith, Andrew volunteered to write an article about this universally favored saint. We are proud to present this article and introduce Andrew as our newest blogger on Holy Owned and Operated, with his first published article ever. You already know Andrew’s work from his producing On the Road to Perfection, our weekly podcast.
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!
This day is celebrated with corned beef and cabbage, Irish beer, and lots of green. But what is the day really about?
Well, first we need to learn more about the saint whose feast we are celebrating. Saint Patrick was born around 415 somewhere in the Britons. When he was 16, he was probably captured by Irish raiders and forced to be a shepherd. At some point he escaped this abusive situation to France… maybe. Notice something? Yeah, all of the above is mostly speculation and legend. However, he probably experienced a spiritual conversion during his time as a shepherd. After he escaped, he studied to become a priest, and was consecrated a bishop at the age of 43. He then chose to go back to Ireland and proclaim the faith to the Celts of Ireland.
The Celtic religion was led by a class of people called druids. Druids were the scholars, priests, and leaders of the Celts. They worshiped nature as divinity, made both animal and human sacrifices, and set up standing stones for use as anything from star charts, places for worship, places to allegedly draw power from, or some other pagan rite. The Celts were a religion and not so much a tribe. The most prominent Celts were the ones living on the island of Ireland.
So, Saint Patrick did what all good missionaries do, he used the beliefs of the people he was converting to explain his religion. After people began converting, they asked deeper questions, and they needed explanations to these questions. The Celts were used to polytheism, so when the Mystery of the Holy Trinity was discussed amongst them, they figured it was three gods. St. Patrick did what he could to explain this Mystery to them; according to legend, he pulled a shamrock out of the ground and told them something along the lines of:
“This shamrock has three leaves, but is one shamrock. My God is like the shamrock, he has three persons, like the shamrock has three leaves, but is one being, like this shamrock is one plant.”
The use of the shamrock, or three-leafed clover (two separate plants but related), is still the easiest way to explain the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. While incomplete and lacking, it is a simple start to the mystery that our human brain can comprehend.
We do not worship Saint Patrick when we celebrate his feast; we honor him, a man who led people to God, just as we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. on the third Monday of January, who truly led us to know all men are created equal. Drinking and feasting are ways to celebrate this saint, his life, and his legacy and work.
But we truly celebrate Saint Patrick when we follow his example and leading others to Christ.
Now, my corned beef and cabbage awaits me…
How does your family celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
HOO™ Contributor | Director | Catechist
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