The Word on the Week

St Patrick

St Patrick                         Word on the Week                     16th March 2024.

It’s tomorrow that St Patrick kisses the stone!   His kiss transforms the land from its winter hibernation to the green fertility that makes Ireland the Emerald Isle.   After this Winter’s deluges of rain, he may need to blow his warm breath over it to dry up the saturation caused, they say, by global warming.

Tradition has it that 17th March is the date to bury your seed potatoes in the ground so the warm darkness can work its magic.    Only those with access to the inside of a poly tunnel would dare to tackle planting in March this year!

But it’s not only for the potatoes that we would wish St Patrick had died during a warmer month.   Thousands of flimsy dressed marchers in the multitude of Patricks Day Parades would dream of Summer sunshine as they fight off hypothermia in the East wind.

It appears, like many of the participants who come from the US, the parades themselves are an import from the cities of the East coast of America.   We are told they originated in Boston and New York, brought there by Northern Irish immigrants in the 18th Century.   The marching, normally associated with army drills, has found its ‘raison d’etre’ on the streets of 5th Avenue!   The NYPD are out in force with bands, singers and dancers making our Parade in O’Connell Street seem like a scaled down version with many crossing the Atlantic to join in it!  

Every Parade has to have a Grand Marshal.   This year we have the new presenter of the Late Late Show, Patrick Kielty.   He assumes the responsibility of upholding the traditions and values that define our Parade.  It appears that both have been eroded in favour of a Maida Gras type of event popular in Latin America.

We know three things about St Patrick.   His written Confession, his Hymn to Jesus (Breastplate) and his letter to Coroticus, the latter’s soldiers having murdered some of Patrick’s newly baptised converts on the beach.  Apparently the soldiers came from Scotland and were seeking to capture slaves when they attacked the baptism, killed and carried off a number of the converts by boat.

In his letter Patrick quoted John’s Gospel, “Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (verse 18).  

He concludes his letter by recommending it be read in front of ‘the whole body of the people’, concealed from no one and in the presence of Coroticus himself.   He states his desire that the murderers may repent and they may set free the baptised women, that they themselves may live before God and be made well, both here and in eternity.