Top o' the mornin to ya!
This day, this fine Spring day is one of my favorites. Not because of the excuse to drink Guinness....who needs an excuse? Not because you get to pinch people not wearing green....but I will pinch you. No, St. Patrick's Day is a favorite of mine because it is a day when everyone you meet is Irish....how could life get better than that?
And now, some St. Patty's history:
Saint Patrick was not Irish by birth. He was in fact from Britain. As a teenager (16 I believe) he was kidnapped by Irish slave traders who took him back to Ireland. There we was enslaved for 6 years before he escaped and made his way back to Britain. In his writings he wrote about God speaking to him and telling him it was time to leave Ireland. He traveled 200 miles to the Irish coast and hopped a ship back home.
No sooner had he returned to his homeland than God began to call him back to Ireland, but this time to spread God's love. He spent at least fifteen years becoming a priest, and then back to Ireland he went. There he began to introduce a mostly pagan people to Christianity. He was a very smart and capable teacher, and he used the belief system already in place in Ireland to explain the wonder of God. He used bonfires at Easter, because they were already a large part of the Spring Equinox celebration. He is credited with the "invention" of the Celtic Cross, imposing the sun, a pagan symbol, onto the cross.
The man's life was fantastic. He left a legacy of love and God's power that still holds much of Ireland today. Even the stories that are most likely not absolutely true show the power of God he portrayed. There is a legend that he, using God's power, ordered all of the snakes in Ireland to cast themselves into the sea. And, there are no snakes in Ireland to this day. While he gets the credit for coming up with running the snakes out, it is God who receives the glory for having the power to do so. There is also a legend that St. Patrick used the Shamrock to describe the trinity (3 leaves connected as one). Historians can show no evidence of this, but it highlights his ability to use the land and customs that the Irish people were used to to explain the wonder of God to them.
So this St. Patrick's day, while you are toasting the Luck of the Irish, reflect a bit on the actual man, and what we can truly learn from him. He was a man who was abused, but rather than hold a grudge against the people who entrapped him, he used the experience to better serve God. He was a man who listened to God's voice. Hearing God say to leave Ireland could not have been that difficult to stomach, but then being called back? And away he went. But it took fifteen years to reach that goal. I am struggling with the thought that I may have to go to school for three years to go where God wants me. From St. Patrick we can learn that in serving the Lord we are on His time, not ours, and it may be better to be prepared to serve fully than to just rush into a situation "In the name of the Lord".
So go, drink you Guinness- I know I will-, but remember today who we are actually celebrating, and send up a toast to him, and a thanks to God.
And now, a St. Patty's day quiz. No Cheating by looking up answers or looking at others' responses!:
1. Where and what year was the first St. Patrick's Day Parade held?
2. Up until the 1970s, where could you find most Irish on St. Patrick's Day?
3. Which American city is famous for dying its river green every year on St. Patrick's Day?
4. What year was Guinness first brewed?
5. Name three famous Irish authors
6. Today, we love the Irish, but what famous sign might an Irishman looking for work have found hanging in windows on the east coast in the mid 1800s?
7. What does the phrase "Erin Go Bragh" mean?
8. Where is the Blarney Stone found?
9. Name the three colors on the Irish Flag
10. What was the tower in the picture below used for?
Bonus: Name the four states in the United States with towns that have Shamrock in their name.
Alrighty my friends, enjoy the day!