Today is the day for the “wearing of the green!” Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrations for this day often involve public parades and festivals, traditional Irish music jamming sessions and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Until the late 20th Century, St. Patrick’s Day was often a bigger celebration among the Irish diaspora than it was in Ireland itself!
Who is Saint Patrick anyway? Here you have it – straight from Google. St. Patrick was a 5th Century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. It is believed that Patrick was born in Roman Britain into a wealthy family. Legend has it that at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. Apparently, he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. After escaping his captors, he made his way home and eventually became a priest.
Again, according to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands.” That’s what Patrick said anyway. Patrick’s efforts against the Druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland. This was a remarkable feat, of course, but just to be clear, Ireland never had any snakes!
Tradition holds that he died on March 17th, so hence the celebration date. Over the following centuries, many more legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
Quite the story, eh? Patrick has become a part of the pantheon of saints that have been lifted up by the Roman Catholic church over the centuries. So, the question becomes, why hasn’t the Protestant church been so inclined to declare sainthood for specific individuals who have inspired others by their devotion to God? The answer is really quite simple. We believe that everyone who works diligently in service to God, who exemplifies the qualities of Jesus and who tries to live with compassion and love is a saint. Not a perfect person, by any stretch, but a person who in his or her stumbling or flawed way is endeavouring to live out the commandment of God; namely, to “love God and love neighbour.”
All of us qualify for sainthood and all of us are wrapped up in a cloak of love by God. Never thought of yourself as a saint. Time to give that a second thought!