It's St. Patrick's Day.
In a few hours, downtown Springfield will fill up with green-clad visitors, making their boozy processions from pub to pub to pub....which will be good news for the bars, taverns, and restaurants, and the city's sales tax revenue, but bad news to the revelers tomorrow morning.
Ouch! My aching head.
I wonder what St. Patrick would think about what his feast day has become.
Being zealous in prayer--he writes in his Confessions about how he'd pray a hundred times or more a night as a teenage shepherd/slave--and being passionate about the Good News of God's love in Jesus Christ, he'd rise from knee-bent prayer, I imagine, and take to the wet and dreary streets of center city tonight.
As he did on the green, sheep-trodden hills and in the poor villages of Ireland during the 5th century, he'd share with anyone who'd listen not a harangue about demon alcohol (including green beer), but a passionate and compassionate message about the Lord of Love.
He'd tell of the God who loves, forgives, welcomes, and blesses his beloved with eternal, overflowing life--life that foams--up, up, up--until it runs over, like that beer stein under the tap at the local pub.
Blessed Patrick knew God's love personally, thanks to his rich devotional life, and God's love overflowed from inside him in the proclamation of the Good News and in deeds of love of the Irish people.
Patrick is known in church history as "the apostle to the Irish." He spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and converted not only the five great Irish chieftans, but also the whole island. In doing so, as God's representative, he drove out evil, sin, and death, but probably not snakes.
At my Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church as a grade-schooler, I chose Patrick's name as my special confirmation name--I thought the snake legend was cool; and this saint of the church has inspired me ever since.
Patrick has made me want to draw closer and closer to God in prayer and worsip and study and to reach out to others with the Good News of God who loves us all and in whose love we find life in all its richness.
St. Patrick's feast day, for me, doesn't celebrate the pub crawl, but a saint of prayer and proclamation.
And if you're making the pub crawl tonight, enjoy your revelry--but be safe--and how about raising a pint to the saint and answering God's call, telling someone about how you've known the God of love?