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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Is St. Patrick's Day a Christian holiday?

There are those who will dismiss this holiday as a relic of our pagan or Roman Catholic past. They will also point to the drinking and partying associated with it as further evidence that the day should not be acknowledged or celebrated by "true" Christians. They will label St. Patrick's Day as a "tradition of men" that should be avoided by those who are truly seeking to please God.

Are they right? Should Christians ignore this holiday? Should a "true" Christian's only notice of this holiday be to condemn it?

Historically, Europeans celebrated the anniversary of someone's death rather than the anniversary of their birth. Hence, it is no great wonder that the day associated with Patrick's death would eventually serve to honor this remarkable man.

Moreover, to associate Patrick with either paganism or the Roman Catholic Church is inconsistent with what we know about him and the times in which he lived. Although it is difficult to separate fact from legend at this late date, the available evidence suggests that Patrick was an ardent foe of paganism, and that his ministry predated the consolidation of the Roman Church's power over European Christianity. In other words, it would be anachronistic to suggest that Patrick was Pagan or Roman Catholic.

Consider these quotes from St. Patrick's Confession:
"My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others. We deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments. We would not listen to our priests, who advised us about how we could be saved. The Lord brought his strong anger upon us, and scattered us among many nations even to the ends of the earth. It was among foreigners that it was seen how little I was."

"This is because there is no other God, nor will there ever be, nor was there ever, except God the Father. He is the one who was not begotten, the one without a beginning, the one from whom all beginnings come, the one who holds all things in being – this is our teaching. And his son, Jesus Christ, whom we testify has always been, since before the beginning of this age, with the father in a spiritual way. He was begotten in an indescribable way before every beginning. Everything we can see, and everything beyond our sight, was made through him. He became a human being; and, having overcome death, was welcomed to the heavens to the Father. The Father gave him all power over every being, both heavenly and earthly and beneath the earth. Let every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and whom we await to come back to us in the near future, is Lord and God. He is judge of the living and of the dead; he rewards every person according to their deeds. He has generously poured on us the Holy Spirit, the gift and promise of immortality, who makes believers and those who listen to be children of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is the one we acknowledge and adore – one God in a trinity of the sacred name."

"So I’ll never stop giving thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the time of my temptation. I can today with confidence offer my soul to Christ my Lord as a living victim. He is the one who defended me in all my difficulties. I can say: Who am I, Lord, or what is my calling, that you have worked with me with such divine presence? This is how I come to praise and magnify your name among the nations all the time, wherever I am, not only in good times but in the difficult times too. Whatever comes about for me, good or bad, I ought to accept them equally and give thanks to God. He has shown me that I can put my faith in him without wavering and without end. However ignorant I am, he has heard me, so that in these late days I can dare to undertake such a holy and wonderful work. In this way I can imitate somewhat those whom the Lord foretold would announce his gospel in witness to all nations before the end of the world. This is what we see has been fulfilled. Look at us: we are witnesses that the gospel has been preached right out to where there is nobody else there!"

"I pray for those who believe in and have reverence for God. Some of them may happen to inspect or come upon this writing which Patrick, a sinner without learning, wrote in Ireland. May none of them ever say that whatever little I did or made known to please God was done through ignorance. Instead, you can judge and believe in all truth that it was a gift of God. This is my confession before I die."

** The above quotations (and the full text of Patrick's Confession) can be found at:

After reading these things, I know that there are a few folks who will zero in on Patrick's references to the trinity (or some other minor point that does not comport with their stance on doctrine); but he/she would be hard-pressed to deny that Patrick was anything other than a devoted Christian missionary. Indeed, it seems to this blogger that anyone who would condemn Patrick for such "errors" must also condemn many generations of Christians who held similar beliefs (which for anyone of European descent would include almost all of their ancestors).

Think about it folks! Patrick is not going to be in the first resurrection because some of his beliefs were flawed? What have you got wrong? Is that going to keep you out of the first resurrection?

If you can't see that Patrick's life and legend is worthy of celebration, then I feel sorry for you! And to any Christian with a drop of Irish blood in your veins, what's wrong with celebrating the introduction of Christianity into Ireland? Sadly, for some, however, it's not about faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, it's about something else - it's about whether or not you've accepted their "truth."

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