Today was the feast of St. Patrick.

Husband Consuming Corned Beef Sandwich at Downtown Bar.

It falls on a Saturday this year. And here in Cleveland the weather was wonderful. So downtown was a madhouse, a circus of humanity, half a million bodies (according to the police estimate) all pressing up against each other all along the parade route.

In some ways it’s annoying that this day has been co-opted by the World. It’s “our” saint’s feast day after all. The bishop said Mass at ten at the Cathedral, three hours before the parade passed by. And the Catholic school marching bands and the Holy Name Society and the Hibernians and the various Ladies Auxiliaries all marched. But other than that, it was mostly a day about leprechauns and beads and intemperate imbibing.

The beads remind me of another Catholic-ish day stolen by the World… the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras.

And that kind of redeems the whole thing for me. I don’t enjoy seeing the obscene T Shirts or the girls from the worst neighborhoods of Cleveland with their skirts riding up an inch too high for public decency. But the fact is, nobody would ever take a Protestant holiday and fill it up this way. Catholic holidays get co-opted by the World because Catholics know how to have fun.

The World doesn’t understand this business about the Communion of Saints and the Trinity in the shamrock and killing off all the snakes.

But it does understand fun.

The green beer and the piled high corned beef sandwiches and the crazy parade and yes, even the beads. It’s the pagans trying to join in the revelry. It’s a poor try, missing heaven by a mile, but it’s a try nonetheless.

So I think Patrick, on his feast day, has to smile on them. Shake his head, but smile and redouble his prayers for them – so I’ll have to smile and pray too.

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