Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!! I love this day. I hope this finds you “in” great spirits and not overcome by them. Wink, wink. (did I just say “wink, wink”?) Anyway, if you know me at all you know that I am incredibly proud of my Irish heritage. If you don’t know me that well, you be surprised to know that while I am a Notre Dame fan and extremely passionate about Ireland, I am not Catholic. And despite my extreme celebratory nature around our holiday today, I don’t drink alcohol. I realize this makes me a bit of a stereotype contradiction. However, the idea of the world celebrating Irish traditions about an English Missionary is a bit contradictory as well.
While I’m giving you information you never asked for let me tell you about my frustration with the lack of knowledge as it pertains to some of the St. Patrick’s Day traditions. As I mentioned above, I’m not Catholic. The problem this presents on this holiday is something I’ve dealt with all my life. You see, not a lot of people know why the colors of green and orange are associated with Ireland; or for that matter why the flag is green, white and orange. The colors actually stand for and in opposition to one of the great conflicts of the Irish people: Catholic verses Protestant. Catholic Irish represent themselves as Green Irish and Protestant as Orange Irish. This goes in religious and political circles as well. This is where my problem is found. As a Protestant (any Christian group outside of the Catholic religion: and yes Catholicism is a religion and not a denomination) I am Orange Irish. But you try telling hundreds of people in your schools, jobs and social circles that as they try to pinch you if you’re not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. So with a defeatist attitude I wear green today. However, you’ll notice a bit of orange right along with it.
Sorry, I never explained the flag and why it stands for and in opposition to the conflict. The flag has a bar of green (Catholic), a bar of orange (Protestant), and a bar of white between them representing peace. For more on the conflict, check out wikipedia. They have a lot of information. Try searching Michael Collins or rent the movie. Another movie is coming out about Irish Republicanism called “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Now I’m not saying that I endorse the tactics or ideals of groups like the IRA. I’m just a messenger of information.
Despite all of that and what happens in the years to come, I am thankful for Patrick and his amazing compassion to come back to the country that abducted him as a boy. He is someone worth celebrating, but his heart was to see people connected with God. I don’t know of any other Missionaries who are so celebrated or remembered world wide and I’m thankful and hopeful that through the cloud of drunkenness and immaturity that people are pointed toward the beauty of Ireland and the God, whose imagination and craftsmanship created her. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Éireann go Brach!!