Stopping—and Marching—for Saint Patrick | George J. Galloway | CWR
Today is an international call to pause and reflect upon the life of the patron saint of Ireland. But why?
It is celebrated, world-wide, every year in more countries and continents than any other saint’s feast day. And not just in the Catholic Church, but in the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran Churches as well. Not to mention the throngs of people who revel in black beer and whiskey and lively jigs and reels, but who really have no faith at all. From New York to New Guinea, from Moscow to Montserrat, from Argentina to Australia and even throughout all of Asia, St. Patrick, who died in 461 A.D., impacts our lives today in some way or another.
March 17th is an international call to pause and reflect upon the life of the patron saint of Ireland. But why?
What is it about St. Patrick’s Day that makes the world stop on a dime every year and recognize a saint who we know little about? Whose real history is lost in obscurity and remembered in legendary tales for things which he never accomplished? He didn’t chase the snakes out of Ireland, just as George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree or pitch a dollar over the wide Potomac. And how could this Irish saint’s fame spread so far and wide across the globe that we honor his memory centuries after his death?
Think about it for a moment. There are tens, if not hundreds of millions of people on this planet who either participate in or attend parades dedicated to St. Patrick annually. They plan family get-togethers, feast on ham and bacon and cabbage, scones and tea, Irish soda bread made with baking powder as leavening instead of yeast, colcannon and corned beef and boiled potatoes which I like, as my grandfather did, smothered in mustard.
And we march.
Oh, My Aching Arms
For the past 28 years I’ve helped organize a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Buck County, Pennsylvania. There are hundreds like it across the United States, indeed across the world, except for the fact that I live in suburbia. Ethnic and religious parades, processions, and the like are normally something that occur in cities or small towns, not in fenced-in communities where people crave their privacy and live the American dream behind walls, staking out their quarter-acre of God’s green earth away from the helter-skelter of sirens and buses and smog, traffic and taxis, trolleys and overhead trains.
When we started the parade there was little chance for its success.