The above is a quote from a man I talked to on the phone the other day. He was part of an organization that had a product that would have helped with fundraising. With his sincere effort to connect with me, he made that statement. For those of you who do not know, I work at St. Patrick’s Parish in San Diego.
If you watch the St. Patrick’s Day revelry that goes on in most places in this country, you would think that the only thing the Irish have to be proud of is how drunk they get, along with how violent they get. Perhaps, it could be inferred, that people everywhere in this country get drunk out of their minds, to honor St. Patrick who was the first one to get drunk out of his mind.
There is no tradition, let alone any evidence to suggest that St. Patrick was a drunk. Ireland has been called the land of Saints and Scholars. The Pub is an important social institution, along with the Church, but I don’t think it is uniquely Irish then?
St. Patrick couldn’t be called a born again Christian in the modern sense of the word. That is, he didn’t go to a tent revival and recite a sinner’s prayer, and go to a bible Church. St. Patrick was not from Ireland, but it was there that he describes his encounter with the living God that converted his heart. So to speak, he would have been born again like most Christians who admit that their life is different after their encounter with the living God, Jesus Christ.
Patrick was from a Roman family in England. Many scholars debate whether he was Welsh or Roman, but we know Roman because his family enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizenship. He didn’t lead a Christian life, and was probably up to the normal mischief that most young men would have been upto. He does admit that God didn’t have anything to do with his life.
That came to an abrupt end when he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He was a shepherd, and spent a lot of time out in the fields with the sheep. I am sure he was homesick, as well as having a lot of time to reflect on the value of his life that should have been lost already. It was there that he encounters God. (This does naturally assume, however, that he retained some memory of the God of the Christians) He manages to escape, and get back home, yet he returns a new man.
He goes on to become a clergyman in the Roman Catholic Church. There was a tradition in the Augustinian Order that claimed St. Patrick as one of our own, although such claims are dubious at best. St. Patrick had learned the language of the Kells (Celtic/Irish) people, and perhaps realized that God had kidnapped him there to a purpose. He feels that the people of Ireland are calling him back to share the Gospel of Christ. So the Church sends him as a Missionary to Ireland.
St. Patrick is associated with the shamrock, or the three leaf clover… as he used it as a symbol for the Trinity in order to Evangelize. He is also associated with driving all the serpents from Ireland. The Irish will insist that you will not find serpents anywhere in Ireland. He is also associated with the color Green, which is also the color symbolizing Catholicism to the Irish. The Shamrock, the color Green, and the name of Patrick are still retained to this day among many who party in his honor., however, as you can see, not much else is.
Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!