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I put on the bright green tee I bought especially for St. Patty’s day; it read “F____ Me, I’m Irish”.  I don’t have an ounce of Irish blood in me but it’s bound to get a few laughs and if I’m lucky, a bit more.  I drowned myself in cologne and put on the green beads I picked up at the Mardi Gras party a few weeks ago –still recovering from that night.  Standing in front of the mirror, I continue to repeat my mantra for the night: “Get laid, get laid, get laid.”  Right now I’m in a bit of a rush ‘cause I want to make it to O’Leary’s to meet the guys by six.  We have to get some food in our stomachs before we continue to drink all night.  I’ve already put down six Irish Reds which means I am way behind everyone who started drinking at dawn.  Those people are alcoholics though.

Patricius[1] was born a Briton, in the western periphery of the waning Roman Empire, sometime around the beginning of the fifth-century.  He was captured by a chieftain as a young teenager, and set to work as a shepherd-slave.  The years in slavery were spent in cold isolation under harsh conditions.  Patricius never quite had enough to eat or even enough to cover his naked skin.  He was among the uncivilized –the non-Romanized people in the “barbaric” territory of Ireland.  But during his six years of servitude he learned to pray, and he did this unceasingly until the subject of his prayer, this new God called Christ, pointed Patricius to freedom in a vision.  The young slave listened to the voice, escaped his slave master, and began his journey to become St. Patrick of Ireland.

When I got there the guys were already sitting at the table with appetizers and a couple empty glasses in front of them.  I sat down and swiftly ordered a tall Guinness and the corned beef dinner.  The place wasn’t too busy, but that was probably due to the pre-evening lull.  A lot of people were probably still getting ready to come out or at home catching their second wind.  There were plenty of diehard drinkers stumbling around in the outdoor tent though.  We had to hurry and eat so that we could join them, which we did.  In less than an hour I aided in finishing two samplers platters, a plate of corn beef with lots of cabbage and mashed potatoes, and two tall Guinness beers.  I shouldn’t need any food till after the bar closes.

After several years Patrick made it back home to Britain but did not stay there long.  Back among Roman citizens he was unable to relate to the relaxed and privileged way of life that his family and neighbors enjoyed.  He soon received another vision but this time it was not Christ speaking to him but the people of Ireland, pleading with him to come back and help them.  So Patrick set out for Gaul where he joined a monastery and was given a theological education.  After some time he was ordained a bishop and, like the Apostles before him, set out in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We found a table in the outdoor tent but I wasn’t really feeling the whole situation.  The male to female ratio was a joke and there were quite a few rowdy fools waltzin around the place.  I don’t know how long I wanted to stay.  I purchased a green beer at the counter and started walking back to discuss the plan for the night with everyone when some idiot bumped into me.  I spilled my beer all over my arm and he got some on his shirt.  “Watch where you’re going dumbass!” he said.  Really?  This guy is pissed at me?  I had a little buzz by this time so I was in no mood to let some jerk talk crap.  I continued to walk forward and purposely laid my shoulder into his; after I passed him he shoved me from behind.  By this time my friends were keen to what was going on so they were right by my side and shoved the guy backwards into a table.  Before I could process another thought, my head was locked in the arms of the three hundred pound bouncer.  Him and the other bouncers dragged us all to the front entrance and told us not to bother coming back tonight.  I guess we were going somewhere else.

Patrick returned to Ireland and established a Christian mission among the natives which spread throughout the countryside.  His main concern was training other bishops and setting them up at strategic locations next to the various chieftains and kings.  This was done in order to keep watch over these men who were really just the most successful raiders and pillagers[2].  The plan seemed to work and Patrick’s Christian mission very quickly began to transform the Irish people.  The Gospel message curbed the culture of violence and constant warring between the various tribes.  The slave trade, which Patrick himself was a victim of, was abolished.  The abolishment of slavery in Ireland was especially beneficial to women and their position in society increased.  Thomas Cahill says, “Patrick has become an Irishman, a man who can give far more credibility to a woman’s strength and fortitude than could any classically educated man[3].”  All of this is accomplished by Patrick by the time of his death or shortly after.

I almost wanted to go back and kiss that bouncer for kicking us out; Patrick’s Pub was bumpin and there were a large amount of intoxicated ladies all over.  We weren’t there ten minutes before a busty little blonde came up to me and complimented my shirt.  “Only if you are lucky,” she said as she tried to kiss me on the cheek but instead kind of just drooled on me.  “Don’t get your hopes up,” the guys laughed, “She won’t make it to midnight.”  I knew they were right- had to find a female who was drunk enough to leave with me but not so drunk she would puke on me.  There was definitely enough to pick from.  Maybe I’d find two; just have to trust in the luck of the Irish.

Patrick died shortly before the Roman Empire finally collapsed; the Fall of Rome sent the Western half of the Empire into darkness and chaos- i.e. the Dark Ages.  While the old Empire was at the onset of almost a thousand years of poverty and illiteracy, just outside the edges of Roman territory a candle of hope was lit.  It was not a remnant of the Romanized world but a new culture, completely its own, and built around the truth of Christianity.  Patrick left this legacy not because he gave the people Roman culture, which often happened in Western European mission work, but because he showed the people a faith that was Irish.  Patrick became Irish (remember they were the ones who enslaved him) and lived with them as an Irishman.  He showed them their vices and helped turn them into Irish virtues.  He showed this warrior culture that, “It is possible to be brave—to expect ‘every day . . . to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved’…and yet be a man of peace.”  To no longer be “afraid of any of these things, because of the promises of heaven.[4]

To be honest, the rest of the night was kind of a blur.  I can’t remember what the final bill was exactly but it was close to $100; I must have bought five different women shots.  When it came time to sign my receipt it was barely possible and all I left was a scribbled mark on the line.  At 1:55 I was getting desperate and had to choose quickly among the women who were left.  A decent girl seemed to fall into my lap and I whisked her out the door.  Somehow I managed to make it home and offered the girl a drink.  I can’t remember if she had one or not but I did –finished the whiskey that was in the cupboard.  Everything is dark after that.  I woke up in my bed with no sign of my clothes and no sign of the girl I brought home.  I rushed to the bathroom to vomit the alcohol that was left in my stomach, and chugged water from the faucet.  The night was definitely a success; as long as I didn’t accidently give that girl my number. 

Lastly, Patrick’s legacy left a mark on Western civilization that every single person in present day Western culture can see and feel; he left a legacy of knowledge and literacy which initiated the slow climb out of the Dark Ages by preserving the literature of the past.  Cahill reports that, “in a world where the old literate civilizations were sinking fast beneath successive waves of barbarism, the white Gospel page …acted as a pledge: the lonely darkness had been turned into light, and the lonely virtue of courage…had been transformed into hope.[5]”  Within a generation of Patrick’s mission to the Irish, these illiterate “barbarians” had learned Latin, Greek, and a little Hebrew; all of which were required in theological studies.  They also began copying any book they could get their hands on, not only writing down the script, but turning the literature into fantastic works of art—i.e. The Book of Kells.  Patrick’s unique mission, becoming Irish himself in order to translate the Gospel to the people he was called to help, is much like Cyril’s and Methodius’ mission to the Slavs, Father Herman’s mission to the Alaskan Aleuts, and Christ’s mission to man.  This is why we continue to venerate St. Patrick in the twenty-first century.

“(St) Patrick prayed, made peace with God, and then looked not only into his own heart but into the heart of others.  What he saw convinced him of the bright side –that even slave traders can turn into liberators, even murderers can act as peacemakers, even barbarians can take their places among the nobility of heaven.[6]

[1] All biographical and historical information summarized from: Cahill, Thomas, “How the Irish Saved Civilization”. Chapters 4-6. Anchor Books, 1995.

[2] Ibid. p. 110

[3] Ibid. p.109

[4] Ibid. p. 128

[5] Ibid. p. 163-164

[6] Ibid. p. 115