Rain, rain, go away…

I woke up this morning to my oldest son telling me that his brother (the second oldest son) had some soda (pop, coke, etc)…YESTERDAY!

And that, my dears, has set the tone of the day. I’ve run across crazy, weird, and insane all day. Maybe with a little bit (or a whole lot in one case) of ignorance. The saddest part is that I really haven’t even left the house today. I’ve been working on my manuscript all day, watching the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and attempting to figure out exactly what this holiday means to me.

The thing about St. Patrick is…I didn’t really know the guy. I mean, I know what people say about him and all…but I didn’t know him. I just really doubt his life’s mission was to encourage people to get drunk and act like fools. Isn’t that why we do that whole Mardi Gras thing anyway?

With those recurring thoughts all week, I set out to learn more about St. Patrick and investigate the origins of the holiday we celebrate today. And I really wasn’t surprised by what I found.

Our beloved shamrock saint’s birth is a bit sketchy. He was the son of a deacon, and the grandson of a priest. Evidence suggests that he lived during the fifth century and that he was taken into Ireland as a slave by some passing Irish pirates at the age of sixteen. He was enslaved long enough to become familiar with the culture, fluent in the language, and one can only suppose that after six years he had probably made a few friends along the way. Apparently, he was strengthening his relationship with God while being held as a slave in Ireland. Doesn’t surprise me. I’d probably be talking to God quite a bit if you had me herding sheep in Ireland. Then, one day he heard a voice tell him to go…so he went. He escaped from Ireland, and went home.

I bet the man was really happy. I bet he was just thrilled to be home, or maybe not. I don’t know him like that. He might have been sad to leave new friends behind. Maybe it was all strange and weird for him. I have no clue. I just know that he left and went home…and a while later had a vision.

To make an otherwise boring story short, he went back to Ireland to preach the gospel. He was converting people to Christianity, building churches, and Wikipedia paints the picture of a man that was digging into the pockets of the rich and converting them. I mean, maybe he was. I wasn’t there. Legends pop up from time to time about this guy, and they may all be true, but we will probably never know.

So, why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today? Supposedly, this is the day that St. Patrick died, and it’s the day we feast to remember him. It all began as a tradition within the Christian church to celebrate their martyrs on the day they died. It’s not a practice that I was taught growing up, so I probably can’t explain why it is practiced so widely within the community.

Now, I was raised in a church. I was raised in a very small church, but I’ve been reading and studying for weeks trying to figure out what the modern incarnation of St. Patrick’s Day has to do with the gospel message. I mean, it really doesn’t, but I think it’s interesting how so many people choose to celebrate this Christian and his work but will laugh in a Christian’s face for suggesting that there may be some truth to the message.

I love the smell of hypocrisy on St. Patrick’s Day morning. Honor the man, ignore his message.

This man poured his life into advancing that message. He was a poor man who simply traveled and taught people about God.He lived the kind of life every Christian is supposed to want, and yet we don’t talk about that. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is little more than a celebration of Irish heritage. While celebrating Irish heritage is not a bad thing, I do find it discouraging that the Irish heritage is celebrated at the cost of such an important testimony.

For the most part, the original intent of the day was (as most religious holidays) to worship and then to eat. The Irish have done this for many years, and it wasn’t until quite recently that St. Patrick’s Day began to stand for parties and green beer. It was done in the name of tourism, under the authority of revenue. Yes, my friends…you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day because someone wanted to make money off of you. In 1995, the Irish government decided to start using St. Patrick’s Day to market Ireland, along with all its admittedly wonderful charms, to the rest of the world. You don’t celebrate this day to remember the man that brought Christ to the Irish.

That man is just a story that gets tacked onto the end of the modern day celebration. His life is not celebrated on this day, and his testimony in this world (while still told) is being silenced by the corporate machine that keeps us all going here in the material world. That message though, the one he lived his life for, will never fade. It’s never going to be silenced, even to the end of the Earth. That’s the best part. They can take the Christianity out of St. Patrick’s Day, but they can’t take the Christian out of St. Patrick.

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