Like so many Christian holidays, the years have not been kind to St. Patrick's Day. Just as Easter celebrations have degenerated into egg hunts and bunny rabbits (both symbols of paganism), St. Patrick's Day is now seen as a time to pretend you're Irish, drink too much beer, wear green, and basically party like frat boys.
All of which would cause the real St. Patrick to be saddened and confused. St. Patrick wasn't really Irish, having been born in Roman Britain sometime during the fifth century, but he spent much of his life there, first as a slave and later as a Christian missionary. As a result of his efforts to spread the Gospel, he was made a patron saint of the Catholic Church in the 1600s, and his supposed death day of March 17 became his feast day.
Over time, the feast day became simply a reason for impious non-religious Catholics and non-Catholics to get boozed up and act wild while wearing goofy leprechaun hats. But St. Patrick wasn't a boozer or party hound. He was a simple man whose faith led him to drive all the snakes from Ireland.
There never were snakes in Ireland, of course, but there was paganism, and Patrick was largely responsible for driving the rank paganism out and setting up in its place orthodox Christianity. The story of the snakes was a metaphor, and the reason Patrick eventually became the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.
We like corned beef and beer as much as the next guy, but we also admire men like Patrick not for the cultural trappings appended to them by later generations, but for their piety and devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Celebrations are wonderful times to reflect on God's mercies, renew ties of family and friendship, and even quaff a Guinness or two....as long as it's all done in moderation and in deepest thankfulness to the God of our salvation who gives good gifts to his children.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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