Just as Patrick faced many adversities during his crusade to convert the Irish, so also his beloved land has faced their share of hardships - from plague to famine they have been devastated, but yet this tiny isle remained loyal to Holy Mother Church for fifteen hundred years. However, of late there seem to be cracks in the emerald armor as abortion creeps steadily into Ireland. On top of this no one can discount the terrible conflicts and violence in Northern Ireland where the battle with the Brits continues as the lines are drawn in Belfast between Catholic and Protestant. Here in America we eat, work and play with members of other faiths and think nothing of it, but in Northern Ireland it is a culture that runs deep and both sides perceive the other is wrong. We carried the passage yesterday from Proverbs 17: 14 that says, "The start of strife is like the opening of a dam; therefore, check a quarrel before it begins." How many times have we all forgotten to plug the leaks, and let the anger swell over its banks and drown our hearts in hate and resentment because we were hurt by someone, most of the time someone close to us? It happens in marriage, it happens in parishes, it happens in the workplace and it happens in the home. It is all part of the agenda of the evil one - that pesky serpent who slithers into our minds and conjures up shadows of doubt, mistrust, jealousy, and you name it. Oh, that slippery snake is clever and we have to be ever more clever, taking the advice of Christ in Matthew 10: 16, "Be therefore wise as serpents, and guileless as doves." Now snakes are not known for their intelligence, but Jesus wasn't referring to the reptile per se, but rather to His greatest adversary for He knew the serpent was clever and would use every wile against God's children. But Jesus also knew that satan's "cleverness" could entice us to retaliate in kind and this is not His way; that is why he admonished us to be "guileless as doves" for the one weapon the demon cannot tolerate is love and kindness. No wonder Christ preached this so often, no wonder His Blessed Mother asks us to love and forgive. Satan hates forgiveness, he hates harmony. He had to hate good ol' St. Patrick and Patrick himself confirms this in the encounters the good saint had with satan. Yes, the devil truly exists, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. That is his ploy - to convince the world he doesn't exist. He's done a pretty good job of it and we have to be on our guard all the time. St. Patrick knew this and passed it on to generation after generation.
Today St. Patrick's Day is not affiliated with the accomplishments of this great Apostle of Ireland, as much as it is the secular side and an excuse for a drunken binge in the middle of Lent. Tis a sad day when the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade features only a handful of Knights of Columbus while scores of Masonic Shriners, stretching out for blocks, cavort along the parade route in procession with no clue as to why we truly celebrate this day. Tis a sad day when those who you wouldn't catch inside a church, make fools of themselves gulping down one green beer after another. Tis a sad day when abortionists and gays demand to march in a parade honoring a man who stood strongly against these vices in favor of the culture of life and God's Holy Laws. None of them have a clue who St. Patrick was and what he stood for and taught. If they did, they would realize the Most Holy Trinity is Three Persons in One God - a God Who has set down the laws of life and given us all a blueprint for following them in His Ten Commandments and in His Holy Church which the Son established when He gave the keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter in Matthew 16: 17-19 and which is guided today by the Third Member of the Holy Trinity - the Holy Spirit - the Sanctifier. We pray that more understand and accept this, including the Irish whom Patrick loved so much. So as we all celebrate this glorious day, remember to show restraint, temperance, and charity for all, and while you're at it, take a page from good ol' St. Pat and bring up the reason for celebratin' the shamrock - the Trinity. That's the best reason to celebrate and pass it on. If we can all do this in the midst of Lent, we'll be contributing to the mission that dedicated bishop began fifteen centuries ago that since has evolved into a bit o' legend, a bit o' lore, and a lot of faith!