Monday, March 11, 2013

Celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick

The feast day of St. Patrick is right around the corner, and beyond the green beer, parades, and otherwise over the top (and often drunk) revelry, is a man who risked his life to bring the Faith to an island where he'd previously been a slave. At the age of 16 or so, Patrick, the son of a Roman nobleman, was kidnapped from his home in Britain and taken to Ireland where he was a slave. He escaped about 6 years later to return to his homeland, where he became a priest and later a bishop. In his dreams, he clearly heard the people of Ireland begging him to return to them and help them. Patrick did return, bringing with him other priests and others to aid him in his work. In his lifetime, baptized thousands of Irish people and set up churches all over the Emerald Isle. To this day, the effort he put in still shows in the people of Ireland as it is one of the most Catholic nations in the world, and one of only a handful of countries where abortion is completely illegal. 

In our culture, St. Patrick's Day, like Christmas, has been reduced to a day where the religious foundations have been smothered by a mess of materialistic celebrations. Many still choose to remember the man whom this day honors. We will be remembering him especial on this day and all that he did for the country of Ireland.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

As I said in last year's recap of our celebrations, this holiday holds a special place in my heart. Ireland is definitely my favorite place on earth - the rolling hills of green, mists that make your hair curl, beautiful churches in every town, people with giant hearts willing to help and share, dancing and music as a regular part of life, cliffs looking out to sea, tasty beer, cobblestone streets, and ancient ruins of churches where Christians worshipped over a thousand years ago. It's magical to be there. At this point it has been nearly 5 years since I was there last, and man, do I miss it.

Thus, St. Patrick's Day is a day not only for us to celebrate this great saint, but it is also a day I get to share a little of my love for Ireland with my family. Here are a few ways you, too, can celebrate and honor Saint Patrick. 

Food + Drink

We'll be celebrating with a hearty Irish stew and soda bread (recipes for Stew, soda bread recipe coming soon!) as well as a treat during our Lenten fast of a Guinness chocolate cake (recipe here).
Breakfast might well include these fancy shamrock eggs I just found today over on Catholic Cuisine. They're healthy, but are still a fun way to celebrate the day with your kiddos. Also on Catholic Cuisine, find these great recipes:
Cucumber Snakes - in remembrance of the legend in which St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland's shores
Irish Beef + Guinness Stew - not the one I usually make, but this one looks delicious as well.
Veggie Irish Flag - another fun + healthy snack - this one of the flag of Ireland made from vegetables colored orange, white, and green.

Kid-friendly Activities

These are some activities we plan to do throughout this week.
This lovely coloring page of St. Patrick sharing with the people how God as the Holy Trinity is like a shamrock.
A fun paper bag puppet of the saint from Catholic Icing - please note the great link-up featured at the bottom of this post with many other great ideas.
And a Blessed Trinity Shamrock craft courtesy of Karen's Adventures in Mommyland. Love how she connected Trinity symbols with the symbol most associated with St. Patrick and Ireland. What a simple, yet straightforward message for littles!


Of course, Tomie DePaola's book, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, is our go to for this feast day. A wonderfully told story of Patrick's life from his being taken as a slave through until his death. Mr. DePaola also includes several legends surrounding the saint in the end that you can choose to include with your telling of his life or omit. I like that it helps differentiate between known fact and possibly legend.

Others to check out:

The Story of Saint Patrick by James A. Janda + illustrated by Christopher Fay

Patrick: Saint of Ireland by Diana Mayo + illustrated by Joyce Denham

Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland by Michael McHugh

And for those interested in reading the writings that St. Patrick left behind, check out The Confession of Saint Patrick and Letter to Coroticus (translated by John Skinner).


Of course, another piece of St. Patrick left behind, as is well known to the faithful, is St. Patrick's Lorica. We will be praying this prayer as a family on St. Patrick's day. It is a beautiful (and fairly long) prayer, and in closing, here is just a part of it:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
                   St. Patrick (ca. 377AD)

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This post Celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 11 March 2013

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