Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For Saint Patrick's Day

“Look at the Good Shepherd, my brothers. To save his sheep he endured the agony of the cross. They followed him in trials and persecutions, in ignominy, hunger, and thirst, in humiliations and temptations, and so on. And for this God rewarded them with eternal life. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves; the saints endured all that, but we who are servants of God try to win honour and glory by recounting and making known what they have done.” (Sixth Admonition, St. Francis of Assisi)

One of my favorite Jesuit writers, Father James Martin, SJ, has written a column for the Huffington Post, suggesting that we put St. Patrick back into St. Patrick’s Day. He makes a good point. Our country, our society has a record of turning religious holydays into secular holidays; Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and St. Patrick’s Day, have all been turned in days marked by parties, greeting cards and holiday themed commercials. St. Patrick’s Day has become leprechauns, green beer, Guinness, and the Irish colors. Now, I am not saying that we should stop any of this; I like a good party as the next person. But a saint is remembered for the example of his or her life, and what they teach us about being a Christian. With St. Patrick, he shows the courage needed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in a hostile land. Trusting in God, he converted thousands, laid the foundation for a strong and vibrant church.

We are now in a time, both in this country and in Ireland, where trust in the Church is being shaken. Many, with good reason, doubt that the Body of Christ can be in the Roman Catholic Church. Those of us who still love the Church, as painful as it can be at times, by our words and actions, must show that the Gospel still has power to shape people’s lives. That the Holy Spirit still enflames the Catholic community, and that Jesus Christ still brings light to a darken world.

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