The party will be subdued this year, even more than in 2020. No parades, maybe not even any green beer, which has nothing to do with St. Patrick anyway. He may be the patron saint of Ireland, but he wasn’t even Irish.
In my corner of Germany Patrick’s presence is felt, though I would guess most living here are blissfully unaware of the fact. I see the legacy of this fifth-century saint in so many places.
Patrick’s story is an inspiring one. Kidnapped as a teenager, he was taken to Ireland where he was held as a slave. After a few years he escaped and returned to England where he became a priest. Then he felt God’s call to return to Ireland as a missionary, to establish the Christian church there.
The story doesn’t end in Ireland. Inspired by Patrick and his example of missionary service, many young Irishmen answered God’s call and themselves left he Emerald Isle for hostile territory, wanting to spread the good news of the love of Jesus Christ for all of humanity.
Among them were the seventh century saints Trudpert and Arbogast who served in this area of the Black Forest, bringing Christianity here to a people living in darkness. (I understand that description of the inhabitants of the Black Forest is not politically correct, but truth isn’t always comfortable.)
Trudpert and Arbogast were just two of the hundreds of Irish missionaries who spread across the known world in the years following Patrick’s death, to bring light and love to those who had not heard the gospel. We don’t know much about most of them. Records are a little spotty when you are going back more than a millennium.
I have no idea what Patrick would think about the wild party that is usually held to celebrate the anniversary of his death – by people who don’t even know that is why St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. He’d probably take the opportunity to preach a sermon, to tell them how much Jesus loves them – and that there is more to life than just drinking green beer until you pass out.
Everyone is hoping this time next year we will have a new “normal” that includes a St. Patrick’s Day parade and parties with lots of people not wearing face masks. Today though, why not celebrate the day with a period of reflection.
One person can have a huge impact on the world. Patrick answered God’s call and brought a people into a new life. Those who came after him traveled beyond the Irish borders, offering hope to those who heard the message.
You are one person. How are you going to change the world?
Don’t say it isn’t possible. Patrick was a teenage slave in Ireland – but that was not the end of the story.