Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Padric, Dewi Sant and a few Lenten notes

Today is the liturgical memorial of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. For Roman Catholics in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. Next to St. Francis of Assisi, probably no saint is better known in the West. Patrick, however, was not Irish by birth. He first went to the Emerald Isle at age 16 after being taken captive in his native England. He was then sold as a slave. He was probably a native Welsh-speaker. He remained in Ireland six years before escaping and returning home. After being formed in monasteries at Tours and Lérins, he was ordained a priest and then a bishop before returning to Ireland as a missionary. As I mention each 17 March, Patrick is something of a pan-Celtic figure. Each entity of Great Britain has its own patron saint: St. David for Wales, St. Andrew for Scotland, and St. George for England.

Incidentally, 1 March is traditionally the memorial of St. David. His memorial remains on the Anglican calendar. I assume that with the institution of the Anglican Ordinariate, St. David’s memorial will resume, in some places, being observed by Catholics, but his feast is not on the Roman calendar, nor on the universal Orthodox calendar.

St. David of Wales

We learn in one of Patrick’s two extant letters that his mother, Conchessa, was a near relative of St. Martin of Tours. It was around AD 433 that Patrick began his mission among the Irish. The date of his death is held to be 17 March 493.

St. Patrick, along with Sts. David and George, is also venerated by Orthodox Christians, given that his life and holiness spread throughout the universal church prior to the Great Schism of AD 1054. Of course, his veneration by our Eastern sisters and brothers is most prominent among the English-speaking Orthodox, who are growing in number, many of whom convert from various Christian traditions, mostly Protestant and, at least in the U.S., many Evangelicals, and even some from Catholicism.

St. Padric of Ireland

While I’m putting up a post, I will take the chance to mention that Tuesday morning I was looking at Arthur Jones’ new Marian blog over on NCR. Given my Lent-long review of my own on-line activities, I take that I went to this webpage as providential. He expresses what I think is a healthy wariness of internet activity (i.e., Facebook, e-mail, Tweeting, etc.), namely ”that we’re all in danger of information overload”, which goes hand-in-hand with the chronic vice of our culture in this age; busyness for busyness’ sake. I say that his wariness is healthy because it doesn’t go to the extreme of dismissing such activity as wholly pointless, or even unnecessary (he starting a blog, after all); on-line activity has its place. My particular challenge is finding and focusing on what is useful for my readers. I am interested to see what fruit this insight bears over these next days and weeks.

I implore, Sts. Patrick and David pray for us. I also invoke the intercession of St. Joseph, whose feast, which is a solemnity and, in most places, but not in the United States, a holy day of obligation, we look forward to this Saturday. Last year, falling as it did on a Friday, we were able to fore go Lenten abstinence. This year, due to the vigil falling on Friday, we will be able to end it a bit early, at sunset.

I also look forward to a solemnity next Friday, 25 March, when I will commemorate and celebrate the Annunciation by having chicken for lunch and eggs for breakfast.

As you walk your Lenten path, Go n-eírí an bother leat (i.e., may road rise up to meet you).

I will end with the beginning stanzas from the Lorca of St. Patrick:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

So, here's a Welshman, Sir Tom Jones, singing a Gospel tune, a little something about another 40 days and 40 nights in the Bible- Didn't It Rain? There's a bit about cat cruelty thrown in for good measure.

Friends don't let friends drink green beer. If you're going to imbibe this evening, enjoy a nice Guinness or a Harp, or, better yet, have a glass of Irish whiskey.

Meum cum sim pulvis et cinis


  1. Mr. Coolness, Tom Jones! I still laugh when I think of you belting out a tune (unawares) at the cathedral. I caught a show featuring Tom Jones along with Eric Clapton and several other awesomely talented folks the other day. He is definitely soul-full. I was thrilled that he performed some of his new Gospel tunes, which consequently got stuck right in my bones. Imagine.

    I visited facebook and noted a large void left by many of my Catholic friends. I have taken a break from online activities this Lent as well. One of the class members at RCIA on Ash Wednesday said: "It's a good idea especially when you use the time or effort you would have spent creating a facebook update to actually connect in a more personal way with someone important in your life." I say Amen! And I am choosing carefully where I spend my online time. Hence my visits to your blog.

  2. Yes, I felt the need to pull back. It has been a blessed Lent so far for me, thanks be to God.

    Tom makes me so proud to be Welsh! I love his Gospel album on which this track appears. How about TJ singing this at Billy Grahanm Crusade? How cool would that be?


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