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Green Beer

posted Mar 17, 2016, 8:28 AM by Parish Administrator
Feast of St. Patrick March 17

"Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."    St. Patrick's Breastplate

I'm always confused that the way popular culture chooses to celebrate Patrick of Ireland is by drinking green beer. It seems that the story of Patrick gets lost in the tide of green.  But Patrick has such an amazing story, that I cannot let his feast go by without sharing some of it. 
Patrick grew up in a fairly well-off household in Britain.  

As a teenager, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland to be enslaved as a shepherd.  During his enslavement, Patrick began to recognize the presence of God in his life.  He gave himself to prayer and would later say that those prayers gave him the power to endure his years of captivity and that it was God's guidance that led to his eventual escape.

After returning home, Patrick had a vision calling him to back to Ireland as a servant of the Gospel.  Following that vision, he began to study for the priesthood.  He returned to Ireland as a bishop and began his missionary work.  

Using all that he knew about Druid culture and language, he began to teach Christianity using native symbols and rituals: he used shamrocks to teach about the Trinity; he used spring bonfires as symbols for Easter; he took the sun, a popular Celtic religious symbol and placed it in the center of a traditional cross, creating what we now know as the Celtic Cross.  Patrick spent 40 years of his life walking throughout Ireland teaching the people about Christ. 

Patrick displayed amazing faith.  He carried no enmity for the people who'd enslaved him, and even though as a missionary his life was often threatened, he harbored no ill will.  His life was characterized by humility, courage and abiding faith in God.  His faith, his conviction, and his compassion always humble me. 

And while this story might not have the panache of driving snakes out of the country, it is a good story.  It is a story worth raising a glass in toast, remembrance and thanksgiving.....as long as it isn't green beer.