Yet it's only in the last few years, as I have seen the holiday reduced to yet another reason for the world to get roaring drunk ~ this time on green beer ~ that I have tried to find out the real meaning behind St. Patrick's Day.
Rather than rehearse all the history here, feel free to spend a few minutes surfing around the internet. But these three things stand out to me:
Do you know that according to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish people? I mean, WOW.
That the story of Patrick is that of a brave missionary? This is what I read this morning in my devotional:
Finally, there is an absolutely lovely prayer attributed to Patrick. I'm going to memorize it:
Christ be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
In a recent prayer I memorized during Christmas and the New Year, once sentence hit me over and over:
"Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go."
St. Patrick is a stunning example of that, and we have collectively lost sight of that faithful, historic, world-changing witness. On this St. Patrick's Day, let's put St. Patrick back where he belongs, and look for ways to gently inform others of the meaning behind this true "holy-day."