It’s Paddy! Not Patty!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone.  This post really has nothing to do with Lent but it’s a good day to show off my Irishness.

First, like the title says, today is NOT Saint Patty’s Day.  Patty is the familiar form of the female name Patricia.  The male form, at least in Ireland, is Padraig.  And the short form of Padraig is Paddy.

If you doubt the truth of this bit of history, in New York City the Paddy Wagon used to go around picking up our drunken ancestors.  They were called Paddy so the horse-drawn police vehicle was called a Paddy Wagon.  For more on the name Padraig, check this article on Wikipedia including a list of famous Paddys.paddy-irish-whiskey-40-07-l-puszka

Currently the most famous Padraig is Padraig Harrington, the Irish golfer.

Need more proof?  Paddy is a very popular whiskey in Ireland.  It’s Paddy, not Patty.

paddypowerLast, but not least, off-track betting is legal on the Emerald Isle, and the biggest legal bookie in the land is a company called Paddy Power.  They’re huge and have betting parlors all over the country and in Great Britain.

As much as we hate to admit it, Saint Patrick (Padraig) wasn’t Irish at all.  He was born in England and kidnapped by pirates who held him in Ireland.  He escaped but returned later to bring Christianity to the country.  Today he is the patron saint of the Irish (and those who wish they were Irish) and his feast day is celebrated all over the world.  How important was he?  Even today many bishops dispense their subjects from abstaining from meat today.

So, if you live in a diocgreen chicago riverese where it’s permitted, enjoy your corned beef and cabbage (something the Irish never eat), drink your green beer, and dance a jig or two, but keep in mind that is is a feast day for one of the most revered saints in history.  (FYI, there never were any snakes in Ireland).

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

Believe it or not, TODAY is the actual date of the feast of Corpus Christi.  For centuries it was celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and still is in many parts of the world.  Pope Francis will celebrate the feast this evening at the Vatican.  But like so many things Catholic, here in the United States, we insist on dumbing down the faith.  Even the name of the feast is now the “Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ”.  We can’t have too much of that old-fashioned Latin stuff, now can we?

We’ve moved many of the Holy Days to Sunday because that’s easier than trying to get “Catholics” into church on a week day.  Where confession (such a negative term) used to be a regular event, now it’s ok if you receive the “sacrament of reconciliation”  once a year.  (And most of us don’t even do that!)

Many of us who wear the collar are afraid to preach on any controversial topic.  We don’t want to offend anyone or, God forbid, cause someone to stop giving money!  Then we’re shocked when things like abortion and gay marriage become the law of the land.  Here at Saint John Nepomuk we have a lot of weddings.  Frankly, I’m surprised when I meet with an engaged couple to do the prenuptial paperwork and they give me two different addresses!  Cohabitation, or what we old people used to call “shacking up” or “living in sin” has become the norm, not the exception.  Again, cohabitation is a much nicer word.

I don’t want to get off on a big rant here, but sometimes I just shake my head at how we’ve let our faith, the faith founded by Jesus Christ Himself, get so watered down.  We Christians like to say that the Church is under attack, but the problem doesn’t lie outside the Church, it’s right here, on the inside.  We’re letting it happen every day.  Recently Ireland, once a devout Catholic country, legalized gay marriage.  Church attendance on the Emerald Isle has fallen off to a pathetic low.  How a country where the people have been fighting and killing each other over religion for centuries, can become so apathetic about the Lord is a mystery.  Unfortunately, the United States is headed in the same direction.

OK, I guess I’m done venting, but I hope and pray that Catholics and other Christians will wake up before it’s too late.  It’s proves how infinite God’s love is for us that He puts up with our foolishness.

40 Reason’s Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #20 Saint Patrick

I arise todayThrough God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save meFrom snares of devils,

From temptations of vices,

rom everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,Alone and in multitude.

From the Breastplate of Saint Patrick

Surprisingly we don’t know a whole lot about the patron Saint of Ireland.  We know he died on March 17, around the year 460.  Patrick was not Irish.  He was English.  His father was a deacon, but according to the History Channel, he probably assumed the role of deacon to obtain certain tax breaks.  (Click on the History Channel link for links to some other cool Saint Patrick sites.)

As a teenager Patrick was taken prisoner by the Irish and spent six years in Ireland herding sheep.  During his captivity he became a devout Christian.  (He could talk to God or he could talk to sheep.  Clearly he made the right choice.)  He escaped his captors and returned to England where a voice told him to return to Ireland and convert the Irish to Christianity.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Since the natives tended to worship the sun, Patrick combined the symbol of the sun with the Christian cross, creating the famous Celtic Cross.   (That’s a Celtic cross in the right hand column of the blog–>).  Using his knowledge of the Irish language and local customs, he was able to convert huge numbers of Irish.

Today, Irish and would-be Irish all over the world celebrate March 17.  Some even celebrate the day as a Catholic holy day.  No doubt Patrick would be scandalized to see what some people do to celebrate his feast day.  Drinking, especially Guinness and Irish whiskey, carousing, overeating “Irish” food (Corned-beef and cabbage is an American invention), and other activities many people associate with the Saint would cause Patrick to shake his head in disbelief.

But I guess the fact that a saint who passed from this world more than 1,500 years ago gains so much attention, some of it possibly religious in nature, can’t be all bad.  Personally, I’ll go to the Paddy’s Day parade, raise a glass or two, and enjoy the other trappings of the day.  I’ll also bow my head and give thanks to the young man who converted an entire nation to Catholicism.  I’ll enjoy my Irish heritage knowing that few other men in history have left a legacy that’s lasted so long, and makes so many people pretend to be Irish, no matter where they come from.

In fact, if you read yesterday’s post, you know that Catholicism would have faded away during the Dark Ages if it hadn’t been for Irish monks.  Consider this:  If it hadn’t been for Saint Patrick there would have been no Irish monks.  No Irish monks—no European civilization.  Ne European civilization–no Catholic Church.

Saint Patrick was a cool guy, no matter what your ethnic heritage.

NOT Saint Patrick