There is only one circle of delight in the universe. The Father loves the Son, his beloved, and in him he is utterly thrilled. “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom My soul delights” (Matthew 3: 17; 17:5). We are not to stand before such delight, and wonder how we could ever thrill the Father’s heart like Jesus does. The good news is that we are included in Jesus Christ. We have been given the gift, as Professor James Torrance says, of participation in Jesus’ very own relationship with the Father in the Spirit, and thus in the delight of the Father for His own Son. –C. Baxter Kruger
My family has only a tad of Irish blood, so growing up we rarely celebrated the day. Many years ago while home schooling my daughters we watched a movie that changed my perspective and helped me appreciate this holiday more. The movie we watched was St. Patrick: The Irish Legend. After watching this film and doing a home school research project I developed a greater appreciation for St. Patrick and had a reason to celebrate the works of one of the most popular saints.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in honor of St. Patrick, the beloved saint of Ireland. His given birth name was Maewyn Succat, born in 387 in Scotland to wealthy British parents. Around the age of 16 he was kidnaped by Irish raiders and was sold into slavery where he worked as a shepherd for six years. During this time, he learned the language, practices, and customs of his captors, as Ireland was a land of pagans and Druids. It was also during this time that he turned to God while in captivity. According to Catholic Online he wrote the following, “The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same.” “I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
After about six years of captivity, Maewyn had a dream in which he was told to flee Ireland and go to the coast. He walked almost 200 miles to the Irish coast where he found sailors who brought him back to Britain where he reunited with his family. Again an angel appeared to him in another dream encouraging him to return to Ireland as a missionary. In obedience, he prepared by studying for the priesthood and became an ordained Catholic priest, and eventually was ordained a bishop. It was during this time he changed his name to Patrick. As a bishop, he was sent to bring the Gospel to Ireland. After returning to Ireland, he faithfully served for almost 30 years spreading Christianity throughout the country. He died on March 17, 461, hence the celebration of his life on that same day.
As you can see, March 17th was originally a day dedicated to remembering the life work of St. Patrick. Today, however, this holiday is often associated with some well-known symbols. While some of these symbols have significance others are just common practice. These symbols include:
• The color green is not the color associated with St. Patrick as his color is blue. The color green is used to denote the color of spring,
Green shamrocks plus the “40 shades of green” found in Ireland. On March 17th, rest assure the color green will abound in chrysanthemums, many lakes and rivers, our clothing, and even in beer.
• Shamrocks are significant as St. Patrick used them to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity (God is three-in-one: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) to the Irish.
• Leprechauns with their pots of gold are part of Irish folklore.
• The celebration of one’s Irish heritage is what St. Patrick’s Day has slowly evolved into.
• Eating Irish meals such as corned beef and cabbage, is an American tradition as is simple Irish stew.
• The first US public celebration was held in Boston in 1737 due to the large Irish immigrant population.
• The first St. Paddies parade took place in New York City in 1762 and continues to host the largest parade.
In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday where most businesses close to honor Irelands patron saint. When Irish people immigrated to the US, they brought with them their holiday and traditions. That is why the festivities are often greater in highly Irish populated cities. These festivities include parades, Irish drinks and food, music, and fun activities for everyone. I was in Chicago on March 17th a few years ago and noticed that they dyed the river green! Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, I encourage you to take a moment to read up on the true origin of St. Patrick’s Day.
What will you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?