Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick, originally uploaded by homernoh.
I found this picture on a photography website I have photo's stored on. The caption under the photo from the original photographer jokingly calls him the "patron saint of hangovers every march."

To me it's all a bit ironic. I was walking through downtown Morgantown last saturday when it first struck me. There were ton's of people wearing green, and sporting shamrocks, and many were highly intoxicated. People tend to think of Saint Patrick's day as a day to get wasted. So the holiday becomes centered around these exploits, but not many know much about saint patrick.

And that's where the irony comes in. St. Patrick is the guy who brought the gospel to Ireland. And had it not been for him, many say that several of the great works of literature of Western Civilization would have been destroyed. There's a guy who wrote a book about it called How the Irish Saved Civilization. My old roommate (who is also irish), Rich Kyer, read it a few years ago, and I too have read this book.

Had it not been for Patrick, our world may have looked significantly different. Saint Patrick's day honor's the missionary Patrick whose faith led to the spread of the gospel all across Ireland and northern and western Europe. He is credited with the start of the monastic movement and is considered one of the first missionaries since the institutionalization of the church to do mission work by living in community with those from differing cultures and sharing faith both by word and deed. You see, he didn't tell people they had to change their culture and become like him, but he helped them see how God wanted to bring out all of the best aspects of every culture. He understood the concept often discussed in Christian circles called cultural relevance.

The shamrock was the tool he used to describe the doctrine of the trinity to the people of Ireland.

And every year, millions of people in the United States go out to "celebrate" Saint Patrick's Day, not realizing that some of what they do is completely antithetical to Patrick's mission and vision.

As I have discovered the history surrounding Patrick, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the holiday, for the mission of Patrick, and for the opportunity afforded us to talk about what's worth celebrating on this day with people who may have no idea.

I realize it's a little late for this year, but perhaps you will remember this blog next year as March 17th approaches.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Jason Seville said...

Wait, you mean the REAL St. Patrick didn't chug pints of green Guiness? :)

Nice post, bro. St. Patrick was a stud.

Here's a question I often argue with an Irish friend of mine over: I've always said "St. Pattys," but apparently it is "St. Paddys." ??? Who knew.

Hope you're doing well!


Dave Kelch said...

Very nice job, Billy! As an Irish Catholic that was born on St. Patty's day, I recognize very clearly that St. Patrick's Day has been hijacked by the culture. St Patrick definitely was a stud and continues to be a stud in heaven praying for us and especially for the people of Ireland!