Mar 16, 2009

A no-hangover St Patrick's Day

My article today on BustedHalo

As the son of an Irish immigrant, I always found it odd that my American mother looked forward to the big holiday more than my Irish father did.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal now in Ireland,” he told me on the phone recently, “but it never used to be anything to write home about in the old days. It was mostly a religious holiday and we treated it as a solemn day, as opposed to a day to get snockered.”

Now I don’t begrudge anyone a nice pint o’ Guinness, but shouldn’t St. Patrick’s Day be about more than simply getting drunk in a random pub? Instead of heading to some insanely crowded bar why not have a few friends over for one or more of the following Irish cultural alternatives?

These include: Irish Breakfasts, Irish Music, Literature, Movies and of course Celtic Spirituality

St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday celebrating the Saint who converted much of Ireland’s pagan population to Catholicism, by highlighting the similarities between their very earth-based faith with Catholicism. Celtic spirituality developed many traditions that we can learn from and use today. The Catholic Celts were very isolated, so their religious practices often grew independent from any kind of centralized religious authority, and were based on a monastic way of life. The central tenets of Celtic spirituality include:

Pilgrimage and seeing God in all things: The Irish believe that the sacred and the secular are not that far apart — that God and the saints are personally present and are guides for people as they go through life. Nature and, more importantly, the notion of pilgrimage, are extremely important reminders of God’s gift. Ancient Celts revered the wild as sacred space — a place you journey to on pilgrimage in hopes of finding God — since God is embedded in all things.While they believed in many gods before their Christian conversion, Christian Celtic spirituality translated this into revering nature as having qualities that reveal God and are connected to God. God is found in the “thin places” — places where people feel God’s presence intimately, perhaps on a mountaintop, or a deep forest, or when sunlight reflects off the water.

Get out in the great outdoors today and take a hike or get in a boat or do something more adventurous like whitewater rafting or rockclimbing. Think of the grandeur of God’s majesty in Creation, and how we are all just small but significant parts.

Read the whole thing here

And get ready for the big day tomorrow. How do YOU celebrate the grand Saint's day?

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