Our silliest holidays honor serious saints

Good Ole’ St. Paddy, favorite of my Irish father, is in fact, very much not Irish. He’s a Brit. And he was anything but a reveller in booze and celebration to which his name is attached, much to the pleasure of many a thankful bar owners across the country tonight.

History is a buzzkill for nights like tonight.  But somehow I doubt revelers are going to worry too much about it.

St. Patrick was a monk who endured incredible hardship and misery after being captured by Irish marauders. He spent six years in Slavery in Ireland. If you watched Twelve Years a Slave you have some sense of what life was like before Patrick escaped to return to England. Rather than head to the pub to drown his PTSD, Patrick studied for the priesthood. He had reoccurring dreams in which he realized God was calling him back to the land of his capture with the message of love and salvation. Imagine Twelve Years a Slave, Part 2, where Solomon Northup returns to the south to preach the gospel. Harder to imagine isn’t it?

This incredible act of grace is why we know of a man named St. Patrick. So what’s that have to do with green beer?

About as much as St. Valentine has to do with roses and candies. Each year on Feb. 14 I wonder if folks would feel so romantic if they realized that we honor Valentine for his love of Christ, which he refused to recant. Valentine was like many pastors today who marry gay couples, but with a lot more at stake. He married Christians in defiance of Rome. He helped them avoid persecution– think Schindler’s List. I’d like to see that movie on your next Valentine’s Day schedule.

Eventually he was caught. Valentine then tried to tell Emperor Claudius– his captor and a maniacal killer of Christians — about a God that loves him anyway. Claudius liked Valentine but took great offense (hasn’t changed much when folks talk about God, has it?). Valentine was beaten with stones, clubbed and beheaded on … drumroll… Feb. 14! Love is in the air, right? So just why do we go so gaga over these holidays that have so little to do with their namesakes and so much to do with our desire for excess?

Trust me, this is not a question I entertained during my two decades of alcoholism. It’s the question of a guy in recovery. I’m the bummer guy on a night like tonight. I’ll take it. I used to hate guys like me, so it’s only fair I take the scorn now.

Right about now I could dive into Saint Nicholas, but I think the point is made. What the point is exactly, I’m not sure. But it says something that in our culture we revere little, scorn the incredible sacrifice and martyrdom of saints yet turn them into icons of boozing, fucking and excessive buying.

Booze, sex and STUFF. Three holidays a year in their honor. That’s our sainthood.

Let’s raise a glass to honored saints.


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