The Irish are, what you could say, a very emotionally deliberate people. If you are at odds with them, you will know it, but if you are in agreement, they may even go so far as to call you one of their own, whether family or not. They embody through their effervescent expression, in it's proper usage, the gaiety of life; especially during this celebration. Frequently you will hear the Irish refer to those they hold dear as “Our John or Our Katie and the like. Warm, inviting and “Oh those Irish smiling eyes!”
Through my heritage our family does not gain our Irish influence, yet my wife Colleen carries some of that twinkle in her eyes, as she is partially Irish from her mothers side.
Although I lean heavily toward what is coloured Green, as it is our last name, I'd like to share some of the reality behind one of our culturally many-goings-on. That is what I'm pursuing here.
The part of reality that must be experienced on an internal, individual level, because that is it's nature. Labeled as subjective, from those on the outside, but always objective on the inside. No less real, just unattainable to scientific method, because of it's bias of dependence on the physical senses, which is much of modern culture's limitation.
Most see this celebration as a time of mirth and levity, and although I'm sure unintentional, it trivializes it's true origin. Like with the false image of the real man Saint Nicholas at Christmas promoted as a “Jolly Ol Elf”, distorting his memory as fantasy, so Saint Patrick on his day has been shared erroneously as a Leprechaun fantasy character. This attempts to hijack valuable truth of this real man's contribution to Irish civilization, and with that, and through counterparts like Saint Augustine of Canterbury and Saint Columbia, the virtual saving of our entire Western Civilization.
Yes people; without Saint Patrick and the like, we would not enjoy the freedoms we live in today!
He grew up in Britain, and around 16 years old he was captured, taken from his family home, and made to be a slave by pirates from Ireland. In this sixth century, Ireland was a polytheistic society (meaning worshiping many gods) and therefore consisted of many conflicting influences; the enemy of unity and therefore strength in a country. The power of the Roman empire was in it's collapse and recession, leaving places like Ireland devoid of direction, in great need of purpose and hope. Patrick stayed captive there for approximately six years, excelling in animal husbandry, and observing the struggles and poverty of the people. He eventually escaped, finding his way back to his family in Britain, but a burden for what he saw in Ireland held his heart.
He studied and became ordained as a priest, returning to northwestern Ireland, to minister to it's people. Challenged by the church at large, as it was believed the Irish were too primitive to except the Grace of Christ, Patrick dug in, and defended their legitimacy. After many internal church conflicts with Rome, he eventually achieved the title of Bishop and was posthumously credited with being the founder of Christianity in Ireland. This strong association with the Irish led to his later canonization as the patron Saint of Ireland, And for good reason, his commitment to Christ brought the abolishing of human sacrifice and the pulling down of many places of idol worship, leading to much greater harmony. It is hard to localize the area in which he worked because he was so active. His influence traveled farther than he himself did. Many monasteries were established, continuing to propagate the good work that was instrumental through him.
His commitment to love the Irish people, illustrated an influence from beyond the Catholic church to the selfless heart of Christ himself, and is why people from all sides of Christianity and those who identify with the Western world influence should hold him in great respect. How many of us examine our hearts and breathe up a word of gratitude for the life of this man on Saint. Patrick's Day, if you haven't yet, it might be time to add this to your goings on, on St. Patty's Day.