Reclaiming St. Patrick for Christ

St. Patrick of Ireland (d. 461AD) has  the unfortunate fate of having his name and feast day (March 17) associated with drunkenness rather than with godliness.

St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359AD) mentions that such sad displays of converting saint’s feasts into the feasts of sinners was already common in his day among Orthodox people.

When on the feasts commemorating the saints we all take a holiday from our trades and businesses, we should occupy our minds with the question of how we can distance ourselves from the sins and defilements into which each of us has fallen, and become free of them. On the other hand, if we amuse ourselves to the detriment of our souls, pay no attention and get drunk, how can we claim to be celebrating the saints, since we have made the day impure? I beg you, brethren, let us not keep the feasts like that, but let us, like the saints, present our bodies and souls as a pleasing offering to God on these days of celebration, that by the prayers of the saints we may come to share in that endless festival and joy.    (On the Saints: Sermons, Kindle Location 1231-1235)

While we may not be able to change what the world has done to St. Patrick’s reputation, we can honor the blessed saint as St. Gregory Palamas suggests – in our hearts and homes, we can use the day to turn to God even while living in a world that attempts to turn us away from God.   This is a day for us to practice sobriety in all things.