Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pope Got Pull for Patrick

Our 20-year-old daughter, Emily, is home on college break. "Hey Dad" she begins, "did you know the Pope changed St. Patrick's Day this year to keep it out of Holy Week." "Is that right" I respond, quite dubious since the fixed date for St. Patrick's Day is March 17th. I should have known she had it right. Sure enough, the Vatican has declared that this year St. Paddy will be honoured this Saturday the 15th, breaking with tradition.

I can understand why. While the Celtic saint, Patrick, deserves to be recognized, the occasion has become an excuse for raucous parades and revelry. No, he did not invent green beer. Holy Week is the most solemn time of the Christian year and an ill-disguises frat party just isn't a great fit. As best we know, Patrick was a Welsh slave in Ireland during the fourth century. He escaped, only to return years later as a Christian evangelist. He cleverly honoured the "earthy" Druidic traditions in the Christianity he preached and modelled. His most famous prayer might not have been his, but here is a sampling of the Deer's Cry.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. . .

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven;

light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendor of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
tability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me...

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