John has a rather different idea of how to celebrate the good saint’s feast:
One must wonder how the Saint, himself, would have thought about this business of getting dispensations in order to eat Meat on his feast day? I mean it really makes you think about the Holy Men and Women who have become Saints.
Perhaps for St. Patrick’s day this year we could redouble our efforts at Fasting and Pennance? It seems a more Catholic way of celebrating rather than throwing a party and getting drunk.
Aeh. Well. Where to start.
First off… there is a reason we call these things “Feasts”. Holidays are little Sundays, and Sundays are days of joy — especially in the midst of penitential seasons like Lent. The Irish being naturally given to extremely severe penances and mortifications in their spirituality, the existence of happy feasts and holidays was sorely needed.
Secondly, we have absolutely nothing going in the US on the traditional patterans (patron saint festivals) held in Ireland back in the day. “Shillelagh law” is not the rule, for one thing. Of course, we don’t have as hard of lives, either.
However, that said… it’s true that we should make an effort to behave in a happy and friendly way which honors the saint and spreads the joy of his deeds, not in a crazy, mean, sloppy way. You should be nice to the musicians and tip your waitresses, make sure nobody drives drunk, and in general be a bright spot of brotherhood to men and service to Christ (in a fun way). A festival shouldn’t be something you regret the next day.
Also, it is an old tradition to fast on the day before great feasts of the Church, especially if you’re planning to go to Mass that day. So if you wanted to fast and do penance, the eve of St. Patrick’s Day would be when I’d do it.