Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland, pray for us

From Archbishop Eamon Martin for Saint Patrick’s Day in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Ireland.

Rose at base of Mount St. Kevin on Dingle peninsula 2008, preparing to walk the Pilgrim Way.

“This Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland – like many parts of the world – is coming to terms with the Coronavirus. Many people are anxious about what lies ahead.

Like others in society, our parishes have been introducing restrictions to help keep people safe, especially those who are most vulnerable. I invite you to join me today in praying the beautiful prayer of Saint Patrick, known as his “breastplate” prayer, in which he invited Christ to surround him with love and protection:

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

The coming weeks and months are going to bring challenges and uncertainty for all of us, as we are reminded of the fragility of human life and of our dependence on one another and on God.

This is a time for an outpouring of the works of mercy towards the sick and vulnerable, and for a spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice, compassion and charity in Ireland, and across the world. It’s hard for people not to be alarmed, but it’s worth remembering that we are never completely isolated or alone.

This is also a time for prayer. Pray for the virtues of patience and perseverance and for the composure to overcome any temptation to despair. Do your best to spread calmness – not panic; serenity – not turbulence; solidarity – not selfishness. Reach out to neighbours and relatives who may feel troubled or alone. Even a simple phone call can make a huge difference. Work to ensure that hope and compassion will prevail.

In turning towards God for protection, as Saint Patrick did, I ask for your prayers in particular for our health workers and for the medical scientists who are searching for a vaccine and better treatments. Pray that government and public health authorities can make wise judgements and decisions about how to limit the impact of the virus, especially on the most vulnerable.

In Ireland we have a strong tradition that God is at our side in time of trouble. It remains important to keep reminding ourselves and others in the coming days that we are never completely isolated: Christ is beside us, before us, behind us, on our right and on our left, beneath us and above us.

Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland, pray for us.

Dia idir sinn agus an t-olc. – “God between us and all harm”.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! From Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In 2008, just before the historic U.S. elections, I was in Ireland. The Irish were crazy for “Barack O’Bama,” including the craze that developed around this song by Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys. (To read more about that Irish drive through Obama’s ancestral home in County Offaly, go here.) So enjoy the original 2008 video of “There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama.” There have been lots of variations since this one.

And here’s a little history on why everyone should be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day:

St. Patrick’s Day had occasionally been a forum for social protest prior to the famine, but strong emotions aroused by the effects of starvation and mass emigration, together with the crystallization of nationalist sentiment, engendered a situation where 17 March became a regular focus for claims about a separatist Irish identity. On St Patrick’s Day, 1846, two ships, the Thatis and the Borneo, harbored in Limerick, illegally hoisted the green flag of Ireland in ‘honor of the national festival.’ The flags were quickly removed on orders of the British war steamer, the Pinto, but not before ‘the feelings of the multittude’ watching and cheering the flag from the harbour wall, ‘were desperately excited.’ This demonstration, while illegal, was ultimately an unimportant affair but it did demonstrate how nationalist feelings could find a voice on 17 March.

During the 1850s, the expression of such sentiments become far more vocal, and, for the British authorities in Ireland, increasingly threatening. This related, largely, to the vexed issue of land ownership in Ireland. In the wake of the famine, the Tenant Right Movement emerged to champion the cause of the tenant and to campaign against high rents, insecure tenure of land and summary eviction. The movement held its key public meetings on St. Patrick’s Day: it was an occasion on which many people were granted a holiday by their employers in honor of the day’s religious significance, so were free to attend. On St Patrick’s Day in 1859 the Tenant Right Movement staged mass meetings in Donhill, County Tipperary and Castlecomber, County Kilkenny, which attracted crowds of some 30,000 and 20,000 people respectively.”– Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair (from The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day)

 

St. Patrick’s Day: ‘There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama’

I wrote earlier about The Photo Not Taken as I sped through Moneygall, Ireland, birthplace of Barack Obama’s great-great-great grandfather a few days before the historic 2008 U.S. elections.

What do you know? Canon Stephen Neill, Anglican priest in the diocese of Limerick, Killaloe who blogs at Paddy Anglican, sent me the photo that I missed!

Sign outside Moneygall, Ireland. Thanks Stephen!
Sign outside Moneygall, Ireland. Thanks Stephen!