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My Chicago Home
How can we best live as modern, active contemplatives where prairie meets city?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Our Saint Patrick drew rave reviews from
the crowd and loved his role, in spite of
wearing a four-pound brass celtic cross
and a refurbished tablecloth.
Dressing as Irish saints and parading in 42-degree March "lion" weather past 20,000's a great way to celebrate St. Pat's Day!

For three years, my family and homeschool friends joined our Catholic Little Flowers and Blue Knights Club in Elmhurst in inviting the day's namesake into one of the Chicago area's largest Saint Patrick's Day Parades

Marchers representing Saints Dymphna and
Ceara from our "Corps of Irish Saints"
Our unit featured  "real" Saints Patrick Brigid, and a corps of Irish saints. Artistic children and parents crafted a rolling Irish church, complete with stained glass windows and garden. Tin whistle and recorder players kept us lively.

Crowds were enthusiastic. One man pointed to our unit shouting, "That's what it's all about, right there!" A cop complained we were moving too slowly. Then he looked at Saint Patrick visiting with people along the route, stepped back as if to say this was out of his jurisdiction, and made a sign of the cross. 

"May God Hold You in the Hollow of His Hand."

My kids are older now, and we haven't marched in two years. It's "not fair," grouses my 16-year-old daughter. She would still don a costume and get right out there. 

Saint Brigid was also a popular feature
of our unit

Saint Patrick's costume rests in my basement closet. Who knows? Its time may come again...After all, what's Saint Patrick's Day without Saint Patrick?

Each year, we passed out hundreds of handmade carnations featuring this "True Story of Saint Patrick":

Over the years, we distributed more than
a thousand holy cards to the crowd
Saint Patrick
The Patron Saint of IrelandFifth Century

     Patrick was born in a small town in Scotland.  As a boy, he was kidnapped by barbarians, dragged to Ireland and sold as a slave.  For years he herded sheep, going hungry and shivering in the rain and snow.  But Patrick sensed God’s presence and felt comforted.  He learned the language of the Irish people and grew to love them.
One night Patrick heard a voice in a dream saying, “Your ship is ready to take you home.”  Patrick found the ship and the captain agreed to take him to Scotland.  Reaching a monastery, Patrick stayed for two years, working and praying.  He then returned to his parents.
My brother soldered
this amazing crosier.
Oops...It should
have been a three-
leaf clover!

Patrick had another dream, full of Irish voices asking him to return to Ireland.  He traveled back to the land where he had been a slave and was made Bishop.  He traveled all over the island, turning thousands away from pagan ways. People stopped making human sacrifices to pagan gods.  Patrick ordained priests, and built many churches.  People say he used the three-leaf shamrock to teach about the Blessed Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  By the end of his life, Patrick had converted almost all of Ireland to Christianity.

St. Patrick's "Breastplate Prayer"
...Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger...

This is one translation of only a small fragment of Saint Patrick's powerful prayer, also known as the Lorica or The Deer's Cry.

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