Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

Today is March the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The day is celebrated in honour of Saint Patrick, the 4th Century missionary who brought Christianity to the emerald isle and according to legend he expelled all the snakes from Ireland. He also explained the concept of the Trinity to the Irish using a shamrock.

Although we had no green beer or Guinness on hand, in honour of this day, we had a bowl of Lucky Charms, read some Irish folktales, drank a mug of green-coloured Kiwi-Raspberry “smoothy” and we listened to some Irish music CDs.

This is a special day in our house because Irish blood courses through our veins. In truth, I am only partially Irish; I have a great-great-grandfather---an Ulsterman---who settled in Canada from the northern part of Ireland and my great-grandmother is the grand-niece of Irish-Canadian Thomas D’Arcy McGee.

Everyone has a relative with some claim to fame, and mine is Thomas D’Arcy McGee. He was one of the Fathers of Confederation; in addition to being a politician and founding father of this nation, he was also a poet. He published over 300 poems in his lifetime. Below is an excerpt of a poem he wrote entitled, “St. Patrick’s First Converts” and tells the story of Patrick’s initial contact with Irish natives on his missionary journey:

Upon finding Saint Patrick praying on the shores of Ireland, the Irish natives ask “Where dwells your God?”

The Saint replied, “Oh, nobly born!
Haply encounter’d here this morn;
You ask the only truth to know
That Adam’s children need below;
Your quest is God, like them of old
Who found the gravestone backward roll’d
From where they left the Saviour cold.”

Mildly to tell, the holy man
The story of our faith began---
Of Eve, of Christ, of Calvary,
The baleful and the healing tree;
Of God’s omnipotence and love,
Of sons of earth, now saints above;
Of Peter and the Twelve, of Paul,
And of his own predestined call.

“Not on the sea, not on the shore,
In solemn woods or tempest roar,
Dwelleth the God that we adore.
No! wheresoe’er His cross is raised,
And wheresoe’er His name is praised;
The pure life is His present sign,
The holy heart His favourite shrine;
The old, the poor, the sorrowful,
To them He is most bountiful;
Palace or hovel, land or sea,
God with His servants still will be!”

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