As a child, St. Patrick's Day conjured up an odd mix of emotions. Mainly stress over the fact that I didn't have anything green enough to avoid getting pinched.
I never really understood the point behind the supposed holiday, and just sort of played along to avoid those painful fingers eager to inflict pain during the school day. However, after having lived in Ireland for a total of seven years, I enjoy a deeper understanding of the day—and the man whom it honors.
There are several reasons we continue to celebrate Paddy's Day. Among the most paramount are:
Patrick loved Jesus. Patrick enjoyed a very close relationship with Christ, and was often spoken to very clearly through dreams and visions. In fact, one such dream is how he came to return to Ireland and help shape the Ireland we know and love today. Remembering Patrick's love for the Lord, and recognizing the spiritual legacy he left behind helps keep my focused on the type of legacy I want to leave for my own family. It also is a reminder of the urgent need for genuine people to love and live out Christ's message of hope for everyone.
Patrick was all about community. We were never meant to do life alone—and we most certainly were never meant to live the Christian life alone. Christ himself set an example of living within community. Patrick followed that example closely, making sure when he shared the Gospel he did so in ways that promoted and provided community, and opportunities for each member of that community to be nurtured, and to nurture someone else in their faith journey.
Patrick put faith above fear. Throughout his life, Patrick faced trials, persecution, and slavery, yet his faith endured. He chose to obey God even when it was difficult or placed his life in danger. Doing so laid the foundation of faith that shaped and changed the course of Irish history. May we lay such a foundation of faith in our own families and communities.
I encourage you to take time to reflect on how you might celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or overly involved. Simple is often best—in fact, simple is just how Patrick would have done it.
Does your family celebrate St. Patrick's Day? If so, how? If not, would you consider adding a way to recognize the day?