The first thing most of us think about St. Patrick’s Day is people dressed in green and celebrating their Irish heritage (or becoming “Irish” for a day.) Legends and stories about Patrick abound, making it difficult to separate myth from fact, and according to Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa, the modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man. One of the best known legends concerns his banishing snakes from Ireland… there are no snakes on the island today, and the fact that there probably never really were, doesn’t alter the fact that it makes a good story!,
Ironically, for almost its entire history, this day has been celebrated with greater fanfare in the United States than in Ireland, with marching bands, parades, and of course the wearing of green. In Ireland, the day was celebrated as a religious feast day, but the truth is that both the religious world and the secular world share a love of St. Patrick.
American Catholic Organization reminds us that Catholic saints are human people who lived extraordinary lives, honoring God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. “Legends about Patrick abound, but the truth is best served by recognizing two solid qualities in him: he was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept both suffering and success with indifference guided his mission to win most of Ireland for Christ. What distinguishes him is the durability of his efforts. He was a humble, pious, gentle man, with total love and trust in God “
If you are interested in a factual account of St. Patrick, check out the book “The Confession of St. Patrick”, translated from Latin by John Skinner, which emphasizes his total commitment to God and compassion for others .
Sometimes we need a reminder that one of the most powerful things anyone can do is spread compassion …for humans and for animals. This is a “happy ending” story (we don’t know whether it’s factual or just an inspiring story, and the author was the elusive “anonymous”), and we hope it will bring joy to your heart, and maybe inspire you to get involved when you see injustices.
When our neighbors got a puppy at Christmas, we were surprised… they just didn’t seem to be the responsible type… didn’t mow the lawn, left junk lying all over, always yelling at someone. They didn’t socialize much with any of the neighbors, and we just felt that it was best to keep our distance from them. We didn’t see much of them or the puppy, until the school vacation was over and the kids went back to school.
We could hear hollering and the puppy barking, but “it was none of our business.” Then one day, the puppy was chained outside. When he scratched at the door, someone would come out with a broom. Sometimes he would get so tangled in the chain that he was unable to move… he would sit in his own excrement all day with no protection from the bitter cold. When they came out, they would kick him out of the way, but we “looked the other way.”
On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, we attended special church service where the priest talked about St. Patrick’s dedicated compassion and concern for others. We were given a sheet of notes with highlights of his life, with quotes credited to him, including these: “I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favors and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me” and “Let anyone laugh and taunt if he so wishes. I am not keeping silent.” Father stressed that although St. Patrick suffered much opposition and mistreatment and was often criticized, he was a man of action, with a rock-like determination to do what he knew was right.
It was unusually cold with harsh north winds, and we were chilled to the bone by the time we got home from church. We noticed that it was dark and quiet at the neighbor’s house… but we could see the puppy huddled by the door. We called, but the dog didn’t move. We could no longer look the other way. Armed with blankets and left over chicken nuggets, we trespassed, and as we worked to untangle him, we realized how pitifully thin he was. We gathered him up and carried him home. He hardly moved and we were afraid he wouldn’t live through the night. We didn’t sleep much but by morning, he was able to stand and eat a little food. His body was covered with scabs and his eyes were so matted that he could hardly see, so we took him to the vet hospital where they recommended that he stay for a few days.
Our next stop at the neighbor’s house was not pleasant. Obscene threats of legal action were promised, but we had a rock-like determination, and we were not keeping silent. We would not return the dog, and would press animal cruelty charges if they tried to reclaim him. Their final response was “Good Riddance” and as they turned to go into the house, they tripped over the tangled chain and landed in dog poop. We never heard from them again, and it wasn’t long before they moved… we pray that they didn’t get another dog. OUR dog has both physical and emotional scars, but he realizes that no one will ever hurt him again… he is young and he doesn’t seem to hold grudges. He will spend the rest of his life completely adored by us. We named him Patrick and sometimes, because he is the best, most amazing dog ever, we call him St. Patrick.