Do we know who we are celebrating?
I’m writing this on the eve of St. Patricks day 2014. I could just as easily have written it around any other well know saint’s day; St. David’s day was just a few weeks ago, although St. Patrick day does seem to be the most ‘enthusiastically’ celebrated saint.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and just as St. George the patron saint of England was not actually English, neither was Patrick Irish. He had been captured at around the age of 16 and taken to Ireland to serve as a slave, probably in the latter part of the 15th century. After serving for about 6 years he escaped and returned to England, where in due course he took Holy orders. After being ordained he later returned to Ireland as a missionary, ultimately becoming a Bishop and has been credited with becoming the first bishop of Armagh.
I find myself somewhat bemused by how enthusiastically some saints days are celebrated, by people who know little more than the saint’s name and the country of which they are patron but precious little else about them. Indeed I only found what I added above about St. Patrick shortly before penning this article.
As you read above, St. Patrick was a Christian and it was because of his Christian way of life and work that he was canonised (made a saint). This seems to matter not a jot to a great many, I might even venture to suggest the majority, of the people that celebrate his or for that matter any other saint’s day. Saints days have, it seems to me, for most of the people who celebrate them become nothing more than an excuse to celebrate for celebration’s sake, usually involving drinking of significant quantities of alcohol. Those same celebrants know little and care less about the saint they are purportedly commemorating.
Even the few who know why the saints were canonised don’t seem to care much, which is arguably worse; a saints day has become just another excuse for a ‘celebration”. I am sorry to say that saints days seem to have become just another lame excuse for drinking more than usual.
Please don’t get the impression I am against celebrating the saints. I just happen to think it is appropriate to understand a little more about what, or who is being celebrated, so that it is not just an excuse.
“If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen,
even though they may despise me.” – Saint Patrick.