Today is Saint Patrick’s Day throughout the Western world, a day to venerate and celebrate the life, death, and Christian service of Saint Patrick (the day coincides with the supposed date of St. Patrick’s death). Of course, now the holiday has devolved into a drunken festivity in which everyone pretends to be Irish for a day, downing pints of green beer and wearing green.
The real story of Saint Patrick is far more interesting than the debauched modern celebration. Patrick was the son of a wealthy family in what is now Britain in the declining years of the Roman Empire. Irish raiders captured Patrick and sold him into slavery in the Emerald Isle. Working alone as a shepherd, isolated and afraid, Patrick turned to Christ for solace and strength.
After escaping captivity, God called him back to Ireland, not as a slave, but to deliver Ireland from its spiritual bondage. After his ordination, Patrick returned and preached the Gospel to the pagan Irish, sparking a major religious revival among the people there. Ultimately, Ireland became second perhaps only to France in its dedication to the Catholic Church, and unlike its Gallic co-religionists, maintained that devotion well into the twentieth century.
While Saint Patrick was never formally canonized, he understandably became the Patron Saint of Ireland; after all, his work with the Irish—which included incorporating familiar Irish pagan symbols into his ministry, not to cheapen the Gospel, but to explain it in the cultural context of the people to whom he witnessed—Christianized the country for 1500 years. The Church did not formally canonize individuals in the late fifth century, but it’s pretty clear that Patrick surely deserves the title of “Saint.”
Sadly, Ireland has gone the way of other formerly Catholic countries, embracing secularism, anticlericalism, and—quite recently, in 2019—infanticide. Ireland is now inviting in large hordes of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East without any compelling reason to do so beyond misguided compassion. The formerly devout little island is going the way of the rest of Western Civilization, throwing away its heritage, history, faith, and customs in the name of “social justice.” The plucky little culture that once saved Western Civilization is now gleefully sacrificing it on the altar of progressivism.
On a happier note, my sweet girlfriend surprised me over the weekend with a St. Patrick’s Day gift of popcorn. I jokingly posed to her one of my many annoying “what-if” scenarios: what if I brushed off Valentine’s Day, and instead made a huge deal about St. Patrick’s Day being a gift-giving holiday? Ergo, she’d be offended at a giftless Valentine’s Day, but I’d think nothing was amiss, with the reactions reversed on St. Patrick’s Day (which is not exactly known as an occasion for gift-giving). Apparently, she remember my throwaway gag and sent me a tin of popcorn. That’s a keeper right there.
Whether you’re Irish or not, here’s to a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t go too hard on the green beer (or the celebratory popcorn). What would St. Patrick say?
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