Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and to celebrate, I made the above green frosted brownie cupcakes, a lovely loaf of Irish soda bread (below), and a pitcher of lemon lime punch (Sprite, fresh lemons/limes, lemon sherbet, and for the adults, a touch of vodka… the recipe called for Irish whiskey, but I chickened out in trying it). I also picked up some corned beef, cabbage and potatoes (my first time eating red meat in a long time).
The food was good (as was that drink), just as celebrating Mardi Gras was great. But what makes these little liturgical calendar holidays so special to me is the fact they point to such great staples of the Christian faith. For example, I shared this info about St. Patrick on my blog Far Above Rubies years ago, where I picked it up from EWTN:
The field of St. Patrick’s labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands. Whether his birthplace, a village called Bannavem Taberniae, was near Dunbarton-on-the-Clyde, or in Cumberland, or at the mouth of the Severn, or even in Gaul near Boulogne, has never been determined, and indeed the matter is of no great moment. We know of a certainty that Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, for at this time no strict law of celibacy had been imposed on the Christian clergy. Patrick’s own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus.
“His brief gives us a few details of his early years. At the age of fifteen he committed some fault—what it was we are not told—which caused him much suffering for the rest of his life. At sixteen, he tells us, he still “knew not the true God.” Since he was born into a Christian family, we may take this to mean that he gave little heed to religion or to the priests. That same year Patrick and some others were seized and carried off by sea raiders to become slaves among the inhabitants of Ireland… he tells us him self that “constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love of God and His fear increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up, so that in a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly as many, and I used to stay out in the woods and on the mountain. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer, in snow and frost and rain, nor was there any such lukewarmness in me as now I feel, because then my spirit was fervent within.
“After six years in captivity, he gained his freedom and returned to his family. “When Patrick was again restored to his kinfolk, they gave him a warm welcome and urged him to stay. But he felt he must leave them. Although there is no certainty as to the order of events which followed, it seems likely that Patrick now spent many years in Gaul….stayed for three years at the monastery of Lerins… and that about fifteen years were passed at the monastery of Auxerre, where he was ordained. Patrick’s later prestige and authority indicate that he was prepared for his task with great thoroughness.
“Patrick was consecrated in 432, and departed forthwith for Ireland… in the land of his former captivity…” where he preached Christ in a land ruled by a pagan king counseled by Druid priests. In his “Confession”, he wrote “It was not any grace in me, but God who conquereth in me, and He resisted them all, so that I came to the heathen of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to bear insults from unbelievers, to hear the reproach of my going abroad and to endure many persecutions even unto bonds, the while that I was surrendering my liberty as a man of free condition for the profit of others. And if I should be found worthy, I am ready to give even my life for His name’s sake unfalteringly and gladly, and there (in Ireland) I desire to spend it until I die, if our Lord should grant it to me.“
In the final paragraph, in Patrick’s quote, I see his desire to serve God no matter what. Whether it was dealing with “insults” or “reproach” or dealing with “persecutions”, he decided to follow Jesus no matter what. That’s inspiration for Christians in Ireland and the world over. Oh, as for the title of this post, see more here.