Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Honoring Saint Patrick?

As the great-grandson of Irish immigrants, Saint Patrick’s day has always been dear to my heart. It’s an opportunity to remember and celebrate my heritage and family’s lineage. Yet, after these past couple of years, I feel a cheapened by what school and American culture has taught me about such an amazing day… or better, a successful man…

Growing up, St Patrick’s day was equal to ‘green.’ Got green, life’s good. No green, endure painful pinches. I think many of us remember, or still endure, those days. Yet, my particular disappointment is that St Patrick was a man – not a color. So why do we celebrate green on his memorial day?

Do you know?

Actually the color is a symbol of Saint Patrick’s passion. No, not green eggs & ham or even a flamboyant wardrobe. His passion for sharing freedom. As a teenager, he was sold into slavery by a group of bandits who raided his village. During this difficult trial, he drew near to God and underwent a transformation in his heart. His passion became to share the freedom of Jesus Christ to everyone who would open their mind and humbly receive the gift of salvation from a power higher than themselves.

But, what about the green???

Paul stated in his letter to the Romans, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” In the same manner St Patrick used a simple clover leaf to demonstrate the truth of this verse. One of the most difficult concepts of God to grasp is how He is THREE distinct persons, yet ONE GOD. Moses said, “Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one."

A very widespread, living tradition tells ... When trying to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity to his hearers, he saw the trefoil growing on the green sod beneath his feet, and taking it up in his hand, he pointed out how the triple leaf sprang from the single stem, even as the Three Divine Persons, really distinct from each other, were yet One in the unity of the Godhead. It was, of course, an imperfect, but yet, … very apt illustration … and made St. Patrick's Shamrock the immortal symbol of Ireland's faith and nationality.’ – Taken from Harvard College, ‘The life and writings of St. Patrick"

And here are the man’s famous words, translated from Gaelic of course:

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ within me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ at my right,

Christ at my left,

Christ in the fort,

Christ in the chariot seat,

Christ in the poop deck,*

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today

The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,

I believe the Trinity in the Unity

The Creator of the Universe.

Salvation is of the Lord,

Salvation is of the Lord,

Salvation is of Christ,

May thy salvation, O Lord,

be ever with us.

* Wikipedia: AKA the Stern Deck, name originates French word for stern, la poupe. In sailing ships, an elevated position ideal for both navigation  and observation of the crew and sails..

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