This weekend we celebrate the great and joyful feast of St.Patrick, our national patron. He was and is still a great light of faith to us and the world. Lets confess any ways we fail in following him in faith and love and goodness..
Why is St.Patrick our national icon. Maybe because down the years he’s symbolized various great aspects of our Irish identity. Our rich spiritual faith and all the great saints it has produced since. Our great artistic tradition. Our struggle for freedom and nationhood. Yeats said early this century that the first task of our new state was to recreate the Irish soul lost through centuries of occupation. St.Patrick had a huge role in that recreation, coming to sum up our great pride in the cultural, historical and spiritual riches we have inherited.
Some may laugh at dying rivers green on Patrick’s day, but that shows ignorance of how huge “wearing of the green” was in our struggle for identity at home and abroad. Emigrants in the US marched and wore the shamrock to assert their rights when job signs read, “No or Irish need apply”. And gallant patriots, who struggled for freedom and social equality as an oppressed race, were once hanged for wearing the green. So the shamrock came to stand for cultural, spiritual and social freedom. And As such it reflects a universal human struggle for rights in the face of political and cultural repression which continues today. So our pride in Patrick’s day is as vital to others as ourselves.
So why is it mocked today. I cringe when DJs on TV with fake foreign tones mock Irish accents and call for the scrapping of the Irish language in public life, or for a new manufactured national anthem. They’d make us third-class citizens again, cut off from all our ancestors fought for. And with this often goes an imported anti-religious ideology that ignores our religious heritage. A day that should celebrate our joy and pride in being Irish and our hard-won religious freedom is often trivialized into a booze up. But maybe its inevitable that today’s real patron saints, money and economics, should squash the things of the souls we once cherished, and the freedoms we espoused.
St.Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Trinity. Since, as a historian said, the Irish have had one foot in this world and one in the next, and without his legacy would have little lasting to celebrate. The Island of Saints and Scholars after him produced learning and art the envy of the world. Round towers, high crosses, illuminated manuscripts. The Irish went out, in his vision, to dazzle the world. A new book How the Irish Saved Civilization tells how Irish monks brought culture back to Europe in dark ages. That legacy is continued by Americans and others of Irish origin who march proudly to honor him today.
So Patrick straddles the earth as well as the Irish landscape from Croagh Patrick to Garrarus oratory. Yet we see in his confessions as a very down to earth man. Brought here as a slave, it became his home and its possible he was partly Irish. The Welsh area he lived in contained settled Irish. This explains how he could blend Christianity with pagan Celtic lore. His was never a sectarian faith; faith, learning, art, music, poetry were one. His followers ornamented life with rich imagination and spiritual depth. On Sliabh Mish Patrick prayed 100 times a day for freedom. We should pray for that today for he represents all free souls. As such, Irish people, and all people, can celebrate this day, wear the shamrock and sing with pride in his heritage; “Docas linn Naomh Padraig, Aspal Mor na H’Eireann”. So as God’s people, spiritual and cultural children of Patrick and the scholars, artists and poets who have flourished under his tradition since, lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
And we pray to the father with the help of the prayers of Patrick for the things that we need.
For our Pope, and his mission, like Patrick’s, to bring Christ’s light to all, and we pray for the Irish church that in the all-embracing spirit of Patrick, it may thrive now as in his day..
For Irish people at home and abroad on this national holiday, especially youth, may they know our care and treasure along with us our land’s great spiritual and cultural heritage..
For Irish missionaries abroad that God may sustain them in their work and that they find in St.Patrick a guide and inspiration..
For peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and throughout the world through the prayers and inspiration of Patrick…
For our sick that they may know the love of the lord through our care and love and that of Patrick and all the saints..
For our dead, especially those who’ve died recently that they may be helped by the prayers of St. Patrick and all the Irish saints who have gone before them to eternal life…
And we ask all these our prayers through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns through his Irish saints forever and ever, amen.
The new pope addressed journalists recently, saying he wanted a poor church for the poor. A humble holy man, he had no palace in Rio, but an apartment where he cooked for himself and took the public bus to help the poor. St. Patrick was like that. His book, the confessions, doesn’t confess sin, but all that God did through his frail efforts. He attributes nothing to himself, all to God. It was simple love of Christ and reliance on his grace that enabled him top reach the greatness that lives on after 1500 years. Lets ask Mary to help us to be modern saints in a similar simple humble all-embracing spirit of love..Hail Mary