As nice as it is to see Saint Patrick’s Day celebrated — not many saints are celebrated in the secular world — that’s also it’s drawback. That is to say, the day itself has been so secularized, the meaning of it is obfuscated, even trivialized, to the point that it is caricatured. It’s as if it’s only worth celebrating by drinking a lot of green beer. Worship is belittled to that of a secular god — alcohol.
Does it remind you of anything? It should. One beer company a couple of years ago even ran a nauseating series of television ads for weeks, leading up to, and equating, Saint Patrick’s Day with “secular” Christmas, complete with adults dressed like children, eagerly awaiting Saint Patrick’s Day morning, running downstairs to open their presents (of beer).
Not that I oppose a celebratory beer. But I don’t want people to lose sight of this significant saint and consign him to cartoon-like fiction.
Saint Patrick was captured (from his home in Scotland, sorry about that truth) and enslaved as a 14-year-old in then-pagan Ireland (Catholic Online). In captivity, he prayed each day. Later, he wrote:
The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.
As with all saints, there is much to learn from his life. His feast day comes at an appropriate time, during the heart of Lent, because his story is reflective of the season’s meaning — through prayer, he drew closer to Christ, who Himself drew closer to the Father through prayer the night of His Passion. It was that prayer, that closeness that sustained him and led him to freedom and greater things in his life, a life that glorified God.
A couple of notes: Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. It has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.
Unlike the raucous celebrations in his name today, Patrick was humble, pious and gentle. He had a total and devout love and trust in God. He is an example to each of us, for he feared nothing, not even death, because of his complete trust in God.
Saint Patrick: Someone to draw guidance from, not drink a beer to.