There was no post yesterday because our Internet was down so today you get two! This is the bulletin letter that my friend and fellow pastor wrote for this weekend's bulletin at St. Francis de Sales in Akron. I think he loves Ireland and St. Patrick more than the Irish who actually live there. He always has something interesting to say but this I thought was timely and relevant. I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it as I did. Oh - and don't tell your friends from St. Francis about this article until after the weekend. They haven't seen it yet. And now from Fr. Bline:
One of the most frustrating things for me at this time of year is watching how most of America has no idea what Saint Patrick Day means to the real people of Ireland. It has NEVER been about outlandish parades, tacky costumes or leprechaun decor, green beer or oh-so-misguided souls that want to start this holy day with "kegs & eggs." Oh, am I upsetting some of you? Good, then join my reason for why I think it is ﬁtting for St. Patrick to celebrate his feast in the middle of Lent.
Now don't get me wrong, I rather like the fun that comes with the 17th of March. And, I can't say that my lips haven't felt the cool-warm foam of 119.5 second poured pint of Guinness (plus the top off time...not that I know anything about such things), but know what it is really all about...true freedom.
It is about Patrick's Lenten plea to return to the Lord, to ask God to create a clean heart in us, to be with family and friends at Mass at the very start of the day and to break bread at home in thanksgiving for God's love in your life. Am I too idealistic, too out of touch, and should I just go along with all the fun and stop being such a party-pooper (as some of my own friends have said)? I don't think so. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to laugh and enjoy the day with generous portions of cabbage and corned beef (or Irish bacon/ham if you're in Eire), black pudding and porridge, colcannon or parties, to lift up a foamy pint with friends, or to have a bite of our own Mary Patricia Nash Butke's perfect Irish soda bread (who by the way just got named the Hibernian's Grand Marshall for Akron's St. Patrick Day Parade). Just remember "The Bright Sadness" (as St. John Climacus loves to call this season, March 30) which is so closely linked to all the sacriﬁcial love St. Padraig embraced and shared with the very people who he was called to serve and to save.
Have holy fun and sacred celebrations this week with your friends and family, St. Patrick and St. Joseph (don't forget your St. Joseph Bread and Altar setup at home on the 19th). But however you enjoy it, remember now is the time to return to our Lenten vows and to make amends by taking care of those who are most in need. Síochána, Fr. Kieran Bline