a bit o' legend, a bit o' lore, a lot o' faith!

     Ah, sure n' begorrah, saints be praised, today is the wearin' o' the green. St. Patrick's Day over the years has been a source of pride for Irishmen everywhere. There's a saying that on St. Paddy's Day there's only two kinds of people - the Irish and those who wish they were Irish. Fortunately, our ancestors hail from County Mayo and this editor is third generation removed from the Olde Sod. In fact, me stepmother is first generation Irish-born from County Wicklow. Yet, truth be told, the closest this editor ever came to kissin' the ol' Blarney Stone or seeing the silent shrine of Knock was at Shannon Airport both coming and going from Rome and Medjugorje. Ah, Ireland, the stuff of legends - like the time a British immigrant who became a bishop lo many years ago returned to the Emerald Isle with one purpose in mind - to convert these beloved people to Jesus Christ and bring them into the fold of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Legend says Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Everyone knows there are no snakes in Ireland today, nor are there snakes in Hawaii, another island half way around the world. We doubt good ol' Patrick set sail for the luau isles, so there must be another explanation. There is. That is the fact there never were actual snakes across the Irish Sea from England, they could not survive in the peat moss and cold climes. So as for actual reptiles that crawl, there were none. But he did extract the serpent - the same serpent that tormented Adam and Eve and who God promised would be crushed beneath His heel through His emissary - His Blessed Mother when her Immaculate Heart triumphs. That is what Patrick strove to do, eliminate the serpent from Erin back in the fifth century where the druid spirit ruled, where superstition was the order of the day. He used as his prop, a tiny shamrock, a three leaf clover, if you will, to illustrate the unenlightened inhabitants of this tiny, craggy, verdant-carpeted isle how the Most Holy Trinity truly existed by being "Three Persons in One God." They are the eternal edition of the "Three Musketeers" - All in One, and One in All. Omnipresent is another way of putting it, Omnicient is another. And the Triune Divinity knew Patrick's goal and assisted greatly in his mission as his Confessions reveal in our three part installment on MITERS THAT MATTER - ST. PATRICK SPEAKS begun yesterday and continuing through tomorrow.

     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!

Michael Cain, editor

Daily CATHOLIC          March 17, 1998