17 March 2013

St Patrick's Day

All good wishes on this "high holy day" (well, High Irish Holy Day, anyway)! Of course, it does seem that everyone is Irish on this day, so I guess that makes it a universal high holy day! Our parish celebrated last night with a seriously delicious corned beef and cabbage dinner fixed by the Knights of Columbus. I came as the Knight's guest (they honor Religious in the parish), partly to pray for God's blessing on our dinner (especially remembering last Sunday's Gospel reading re the prodigal Son and the Father's love of a good feast/party!!) but also to enjoy the Irish step dancing, the REALLY bad jokes, the love of so many friends, and the excellent FOOD!

Phyllis McGinley captures some of the fun and seriousness of St Patrick. Enjoy.

St Patrick the Missioner, by Phyllis McGinley

Saint Patrick was a preacher
With honey in his throat.
They say he could charm away
A miser's dearest pence;
Could coax a feathered creature
To leave her nesting note
And fly from many a farm away
To hear his eloquence.

No Irishman was Patrick
According to the story.
The speech of Britain clung to him
(Or maybe it was Wales).
But, ah, for curving rhet'ric,
Angelic oratory,
What man could match a tongue to him
Among the clashing Gaels!

Let Patrick meet a Pagan
In Antrim or Wicklow,
He'd talk to him so reachingly,
So vehement would pray,
That Cul or Neall or Reagan
Would fling aside his bow
And beg the saint beseechingly
To christen him that day.

He won the Necromancers,
The Bards, the country herds.
Chief Aengus rose and went with him
To bear his staff and bowl.
For such were all his answers
To disputatious words,
Who'd parry argument with him
Would end a shriven soul.

The angry Druids muttered
A curse upon his prayers.
The sought a spell for shattering
The marvels he had done.
But Patrick merely uttered
A better spell than theirs
And sent the Druids scattering
Like mist before the sun.

They vanished like the haze on
The plume of the fountain.
But still their scaly votaries
Were venomous at hand.
So three nights and days on
Tara's stony mountain
He thundered till those coteries
Of serpents fled the land.

Grown old but little meeker
At length he took his rest,
And centuries have listened, dumb,
To tales of his renown.
For Ireland loves a speaker
So loves Saint Patrick best:
The only man in Christendom
Has talked the Irish down.