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Shamrock Shocker: Suggesting Beer for St. Patrick

Irish rode with text suggesting beer for St. Patrick's feast day

Shamrock Shocker: Suggesting Beer for St. Patrick

My Appreciation for a Legendary Saint

Every month I create an all in one calendar for my liturgical living friends to see the feasts, fasts, activities, prayers, and meal suggestions for the month ahead. In February I created the March calendar and March is a month jam-packed with feasting and fasting. We are in the thick of Lent but there are also major saints to be praised like St. Patrick and St. Joseph. I am particularly fond of St. Patrick, I have a lot of Irish heritage from my dad's side and I've always been drawn to St. Patrick's story and the lore that has developed around him. When I was writing my book last Fall I finally took the opportunity to read the Confession of St. Patrick, a fascinating autobiography of his bold faith and how he converted Ireland. His feast day is steeped in tradition and while modern day Ireland might not be the practicing Catholic country that it was after the great efforts of St. Patrick, there are still a lot of cultural ties to their legendary patron.

St. Patrick's face digital art

Sometimes I Rile Someone Up

One of the things I suggested to do was to use his feast day as an opportunity to pray and perhaps share a beer. And as my family says when I've upset someone, "I went and riled 'em up." My suggestion was labeled "shameful," and I was told that this was a horrible way of honoring a saint that made some tremendous efforts for God. This really got me thinking about the impacts a simple feast day gesture like sharing a beer can accomplish. But first, and as you know, my mission is to share authentic expressions of tradition in a meaningful and attainable way. In Ireland, it's common and customary to share a beer for the feast of St. Patrick, along with a list of other things you can do which you can find in a separate post. I really strive to behold what cultures and communities do for days of feasting and fasting while breathing new life into it. And I also like encouraging you to partake in traditions that are within your reach.

Big Dreams Made Achievable

Of course in my big dreams of liturgical living as a parish and as a community we would all come together for the feast of St. Patrick to joyfully celebrate as Catholics with music, food, drinks, dancing, praying, and sharing tales of St. Patrick. I want more than anything for our liturgical living efforts to correspond to the tremendous efforts of the saints, and I often share that if we celebrated together then we probably could do more. The more people that are involved the more we can offer. Yet, my dreams have not yet been realized, and I may never get to see the fruits of what I believe is my life's purpose; to bring true festivity (festivity that honors God and life) back to the world and our communities. So in the meantime, liturgical living is coming to life by the individual efforts of one or two people within a household and because that is the case things need to be made achievable.

Irish blessing text across a background of Ireland

I Am but a Mere Mortal

For the feast of St. Patrick, you can honor him by going to Mass and then coming home to spend time in prayer, and sip a beer while reading the Confession of St. Patrick, wearing green, sharing the lore of the clover with your household, or eating traditional Irish soda bread. These are things that you are completely capable of doing and each one of those expresses liturgical and cultural tradition. Sure, these may seem like measly expressions of celebration in comparison to a saint that was captured by pirates and enslaved for many years, then sought out the priesthood, became a bishop, rebuked a corrupt culture of druids, and converted an entire country. My mind is blown just reading back that list of events. I can't even get some parishes to live the liturgical year; a significantly smaller leap than converting pagans to Catholicism! 😜 St. Patrick received his reward for those extraordinary efforts from God, a God who can reciprocate love for His children in an extraordinary way. God's affirmation completely corresponds and even surpasses the tremendous efforts of a saint. I am but a mere mortal, with mere mortal means of celebrating. In my human way of celebrating, God provides me with the means. It is God that provides the ingredients for a feast day meal, for beer, for gatherings, for the day, etc. I simply use what God has offered me to return praise to Him. And isn't that so profound to consider that even our own efforts to live liturgically are truly only possible because God provides what is needed. This very idea probably needs to be its own separate post.

A "Corresponding" Form of Praise

And so the question came to me, what is the highest and greatest form of praise that I can offer on a feast day? The answer to that is simple, the Mass, and not so ironically the only reason for that is because we don't solely offer the work of the Mass by our own efforts. The liturgy is not only, "the work of the people," as many will singularly define it. It is also the work of God in which we, the Church, participate. And that is because we cannot accomplish our own salvation, we will always need God to make the perfect offering. Then, we take this ritual celebration which we experience in the Mass and the sacraments and we try to pull that into our daily life, hence liturgical living.

Beer on a table with a green clover on top of it

And Then There's Beer

I suppose the best suggestion I could give for every saint's feast day is for you to live liturgically by going to Mass, but that would make for an easily predictable newsfeed wouldn't it? 😉 Of course the Mass should be a part of any good Catholic celebration, but we can also honor God and the saints by utilizing what God has given us and what we delight in. In fact, most traditions associated with a feast day are expressions of people partaking in the things they enjoyed as a whole community. The Irish like to celebrate special occasions with a beer, so it is only natural that if they are marking the feast of St. Patrick that they share in something they enjoy. Many practicing Irish Catholics will tell you that they will have a beer for the feast of St. Patrick, and this goes without saying but of course in moderation, don't get drunk, do the right thing, etc.

It is good to participate in festivities with things you enjoy because it is human. It is human to celebrate! Celebration is an expression of joy, connection, and cultural belonging. As humans we have a natural inclination to mark significant events and milestones whether personal, communal, or in our faith life. These days of feasting and fasting bring us together and give us an experience to express our emotions, bind us together as a Church, and create lasting memories. When we celebrate together we are connecting not only to one another but to God, and in this way life is given meaning! This is what a beer accomplishes on the feast of St. Patrick, it's what fish accomplishes for the Italian community on Christmas Eve, and it's what molding a lamb out of butter does for the Polish community on Easter.

How can sharing a beer correlate to the greatness of a world renowned saint like St. Patrick? By, hopefully, drawing us out of our mundane, ordinary lives to be with other people in Christian community so that we can express some real emotion for the saints and be reminded that our lives have greater meaning when joyfully lived together in faith.

I pray that you will spend this feast day trying to go to Mass, saying a prayer in your home with your loved ones, and sharing a dang beer with your friends for goodness sake! Get out of the house and rejoice over the saints. These small forms of celebration can draw us to show our faith to a world that desperately needs God and the profound example of St. Patrick.

see you in the eucharist text on white background

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