How many of us grew up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Most of us would answer yes in one way or another. How many of us grew up knowing who St. Patrick was, what he did, or why it is that we even have a St. Patrick’s Day? Probably not many of us. Of course, we all know it has something to do with the church…with “those Catholics” most are thinking. We know there is a shamrock involved and the color green. Some of us are brave and try the food fare of corned beef and cabbage. Most of us just know it from others around us who use it as a day to party and binge drink.
It wasn’t until I started homeschooling that I really dug into the history. Two of my favorite homeschool blogs: By Sun and Candlelight with Dawn and In The Heart of the Home with Elizabeth Foss are unabashedly (and rightfully so) Catholic. It was through the testimony and daily writings of both of these upstanding Christian women of faith that the scales fell from my eyes concerning all my biases of the Catholic faith that I ignorantly grew up with (along with much prayer and seeking after God). And it was through their wonderful book lists that I discovered my first real St. Patrick’s living history book: Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola.
And it was through this wonderful book that I learned about a faith that would not be shaken in this Irish shepherd-turn-missionary. Where I learned that a man who loved Christ so much felt compelled to share Him and His grace with everyone he met and found the perfect way to illustrate to the Irish people the mystery of the Trinity through the common shamrock. A beautiful illustration of Divine three in one as he pointed to each leaflet from a single clover leaf and said, “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit… separate yet one.” And, I’ll admit, I cried the first time I read it. Then I eagerly shared the story with my children (who forgot by the next year) and eagerly explained it again the next year (who forgot by this year) and continued the story this year (we’ll see if they remember next year) and will continue to retell every year so that the world’s ways will not become their ways. So that the idea and mystery of the Holy Trinity will continue to grow inside of them as God woos them into relationship with Him.
And as Lily (my deep thinker) is continuing to ask me about holidays and what they mean and continuing to want all the stories (the more fanciful the better) about every holiday legend and myth (she is my storyteller), I will continue to indulge her in the fun, made-up stories of all the seasons and use it as the perfect springboard for discussing what truth is versus a legend or a myth and what the path of righteousness is versus the world’s way of doing holidays. I’m glad they will grow up knowing the real Saint Patrick – a man who loved God, a man who was sinful because he was human but was a saint because he was a child of God.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
A verse from the prayer on Saint Patrick’s breastplate:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.