I’m Irish. St. Patrick’s Day used to be a day to celebrate that fact with a lot of drinking and jokes told with phoney Irish brogues. One of the jokes I remember was:
Question: “Do you know why God invented alcohol?”
Answer: “So the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.”
The only thing I knew about St. Patrick himself was that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. I heard about the wee people and the shamrock. That about summarizes my knowledge of being Irish.
Today I know that Saint Patrick was born in Great Britain around 385. As a young man, he was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland where he had to tend sheep. Having escaped from salvery, he chose to enter the priesthood, and later, as a bishop, he tirelessly preached the gospel to the people of Ireland where he converted many to the faith and established the Church. He died at Down in 461.
A sampling of the Confession of Saint Patrick, Bishop, he wrote: “I came to the Irish peoples to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgraimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others. If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for His name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in debt, for He gave me the great grace that through me many peoples should be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation and everywhere among them clergy ordained for a people so recently coming to believe, one people gathered by the Lord from the ends of the earth.”
When I read ancient writings and realize the power of a person’s love for God, I am in awe that what was true way back then is, in fact, true today. I am moved to a deeper Catholic faith by the power of a man who lived 1700 years ago and yet believed what I believe. This is all part of what makes me A Happy Catholic.