14 March 2008

St Patricks' Day and 'liturgical schizophrenia'

Because Easter falls so early this year, 23 March - 22 March is the earliest possible date - two solemnities on the universal liturgical calendar of the Church and one on the liturgical calendar of certain countries, eg, Ireland, Australia and Nigeria, have had to be moved, since Holy Week and Easter Week take precedence over everything.

St Joseph is being celebrated today, 14 March, in Ireland whereas everywhere else his solemnity will be tomorrow, 15 March. But in Ireland the liturgical celebration is tomorrow while the civic celebrations will be on Monday, 17 March, the regular date and also Ireland's national day. The solemnity of the Annunciation has been moved to 31 March.

Not to many Irish people know that St Patrick is the Patron of Nigeria, most probably because of the great impact Irish missionaries have had there.

A couple of facts about St Patrick, none of them perhaps that important:

He wasn't Irish; we're not sure where he was from. Some say France, some Dumbarton in western Scotland. However, most scholars think he was probably from the western part of Britain.

He never drove snakes out of Ireland. I've no idea of the origin of that myth but we have no snakes in Ireland.

You can read an extract from St Patrick's Confession here.

Here's an Irish Blessing for St Patrick's Day. The Irish scenery is just so beautiful and you can hear the Irish tin whistle - the least expensive of instruments - play the traditional tune, Down by the Sally Gardens.

My own prayer is that St Patrick, surely one of the greatest of all missionaries, taken as a slave to Ireland when he was only about 16, re-discovering his faith while in captivity there, returning to bring the Gospel to the very people who had so ill-treated him, will obtain the grace of a renewal of the Catholic faith for the people of Ireland who are rapidly losing that faith.

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