Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Reflections on St. Paddy's Day
Well, another St. Patrick's Day has come and disappeared into the folds of history. Ireland really seems to be taking more pride in the day that commemorates it's national saint. In the last number of years it seems that the celebrations have been growing in number, size and quality. Good for the Irish and good for us! I've long held that St. Patrick is probably one of the best known extra-biblical saints among the Christian community and probably second only to good 'ol St. Nick (Santa Claus) in the public eye. So it's a good thing that the adopted country of such a much celebrated man do the right thing and 'big up' the day better than most.
As many of you were probably aware of (thanks to NPR, print and minor television coverage) the festive celebration always held on March 17th has collided with the Christian church's observance of Holy Week - causing more than a stir in some sectors and the leading to some getting their frocks in a bunch. In many places the celebration of St. Patrick's Day in 'Christian' circles was moved out of Holy Week and held on Saturday the 15th to avoid a conundrum of holiday (holy day) huff.
I'm amazed at how a day set aside to commemorate the coming of Christ (in force) to this land - largely through the passion and perseverance of Patrick - has degenerated into something seen by most as a day to boose it up and live recklessly. Unfortunately, the Church seems to have forgotten the origins of the day as well - or at least conceded to the views of the populous as shown in its approach to the 'unfortunate' collision on the calendar in 2008 of these two observances in question.
Would it not have communicated more to the culture-at-large if the Church had embraced St. Patrick's falling on Holy Week and attempted to capture something of the celebration Christians can partake in as direct beneficiaries of Jesus' life, death and resurrection and Patrick's service to the Irish? What if instead of making it known what we were against, we (Christians) invited the wider community into a real celebration reminiscent of the original intent of St. Patrick's Day and the life of Patrick himself in the Spirit of Christ??
We would have had an opportunity to call everyone back to a renewed understanding of the day and what life with / in Jesus Christ could look like. Instead we chose an insular action that means nothing to those who see themselves outside the Church and one that doesn't really make much of a difference to many Christians around the globe who celebrate the 'public' holiday. Where has the invitational way of life Jesus exemplified gone . . his generous life spilling out onto those who are near and far?? Maybe next time . . . next time.