I find it interesting that St. Patrick’s Day always occurs in the midst of Lent. The day celebrates his death. Historically in Ireland, Lenten restrictions against meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast, especially on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. This year was a double whammy, since St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday, the heaviest fast day during Lent.
In a way, Patrick was used to give the faithful a time out, for those who wanted to take it. Instead of making his feastday a special day of prayer and sacrifice, befitting Patrick’s life, it was turned into reason to celebrate and take a day off from the discipline Lent represents. I am not sure what Patrick would think about all this, as his pious life sought no break from discipline for himself and he challenged all those he came in contact with to exhibit the utmost in piety. It just seems out of character.
But then that is not unusual for the way things go in the life of God’s chosen people. They eventually move far away from where they started. It happened to the Jews so that by the time Jesus entered the Temple, the Court of the Gentiles had become “a den of thieves.”
The spirit of Lent is to embrace discipline, not look for ways around it. That is where I am today, asking myself am I looking for technicalities to mitigate the demands, or am I wholeheartedly embracing the quest? It is a question only each of us can answer in our hearts and only God knows the truth.
Grace and peace, my brothers and sisters. Would that we all could be Patricks to our own Irelands.