Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patricks Day

It was difficult for an Irish-American such as myself to go through the entire day of March 17 and not even have a single pint of Guinness. But I don't think too many of my compatriots suffered today. Driving into my town of West Chester, PA, tonight, I witnessed the spectacle of people of all ages dressed like leprechauns struggling to walk...or struggling to walk, they were dressed like leprechauns. I suppose they forgot that this year, March 17 was not St. Patrick's Day (or St. Paddy's Day...and it's never St. Patty's Day: It's Patrick not Patricia), but rather Monday of Holy Week. All feasts are canceled or translated to a different day during Holy Week and Easter Week; I guess Easter's kind of a big deal in the Church.
I began to realize that most folks would forget this fact this morning when I visited und.com and was greeted by an advertisement for "Irish baseball on St. Patrick's Day." Of course, I wouldn't expect a school that commemorates Easter Monday with the V-Monologues to take Holy Week all that seriously. It's pretty hard, you know, to stand apart from the culture; better to be a peer institution. And most of the local bishops did a heck of a job not reminding people about the solemnity of holy week--but, with all of the exigencies of modern life, how could we be expected to restrain ourselves?

Last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer, someone involved in organizing a St. Pat's parade (the NYC one, I think; this is what's great about blogs--I actually don't have to look up facts when I can't remember them or when I am too lazy to go to Google--someone will supply them); anyway, this idiot was complaining that the Church had canceled St. Pat's, effectively. "I was baptized Catholic, but I was born Irish," he said, noting defiantly that he would celebrate regardless of what the Church said. Of course, as might be suggested by the "Saint" in "Saint Patrick," March 17 sort of began as a religious--Catholic, in fact--holiday. And in the USA, the only calender where it's official is that of the Roman Catholic Church. So without the Church this amadan, to use the Irish, wouldn't have even been baptized and wouldn't have a St. Pat's Day to celebrate, even when there is actually a St. Pat's.

That's all I've got.



Darragh said...

HOORAY! Welcome to the blog, Mr. Lindsley

Anonymous said...


Pretty damning, considering how restrained your language is. Campus-wide Stations of the Cross is tonight; the weather will be ugly. I guess a little public penance is appropriate.

Ben said...

Walker Percy talked about this phenomenon when he said the purpose of alcohol at parties these days is not, as it once was, to celebrate the festival but instead to "anesthetize the failure" of the festival. In other words, take away the real meaning of St. Patrick's day, which is celebrating Ireland's religious and cultural heritage and the feast of its patron saint, and its not much fun--unless of course you're trashed. Hence the rise of drunken "celebration" of the holiday in proportion with the decrease of any kind of religious observance of it.

Don't get me wrong, I love knocking back a few pints of Guinness in a pub on St. Paddy's day, but the holiday seems to be quickly joining the ranks of former religious holidays--along with Mardi Gras and Halloween--which are becoming increasingly secularized and debauched.

Joseph Lawler said...


I read that Walker Percy line once and then went back to find it and couldn't. I looked everywhere. Do you know where he said it? It's in Lost in the Cosmos, right?