While carrying out these traditions, we should take time to remember Patrick - the saint that St. Patrick's Day honors.
In 387, Patrick was born in Scotland to Christian parents. He did not adopt their beliefs until his adolescence, after pirates kidnapped him and sold him as a slave to an Irish sheep farmer. While in Ireland, Patrick learned the people's language and religious customs. He grew in his love for God. Six years after his capture, he escaped and returned to Scotland.
Later, after seeing a vision of Irish children calling him to return, Patrick began studying for the priesthood. He returned to Ireland many years later and evangelized the entire nation.
It was not easy. Patrick fought spiritual forces brought on by the Irish pagan religion and had adventures along the same lines as Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament.
Today we remember Patrick for using a shamrock to explain the Trinity. This portion of St. Patrick's famous prayer called St. Patrick's Breastplate reflects his deep love for God:
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.
Written by Lisa Gossman-SteevesSources
Moran, Patrick Francis Cardinal. "St. Patrick." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 14 Mar. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm>.