Next best thing to selling indulgences* is writing this:
Begging here – if anyone is looking for an alternate penance so you can have your corned beef for St. Patrick’s day, I’ve got you covered . . .
Sure is handy living in a dispensed-with-conditions diocese, when you’re in a pinch for nursery workers.
I’ll probably skip the St. Patrick’s Beast-plate myself. Reason? Compared to cheese pizza for dinner, the other prospects for penance are more annoying and less convenient. But it’s nice to have a meat-card in the pocket just in case.
If ever there were a day for Catholics to complain about “cultural appropriation” it would be today. Okay and also Christmas, Easter, St. Valentines, and Rosaries-as-Gang-Signs, but St. Patrick’s is right up there on the list of Catholic Things People Have Distorted Beyond Recognition. Hey, guys, a saint! Who nearly starved to death in slavery! Who risked his life to evangelize the people who wanted to kill him! Let’s get drunk on bad beer, that’ll show our love!
Not that Catholics are above that sort of thing, you know — weirdly slipping into mortal sin just when they meant to be doing something right for a change — but still. The word saint is right there in the title of the holiday, there’s no real hiding the part about this being a Catholic feast day.
But you know what Catholics don’t do?
We don’t go around saying, “Hey! Are you actually the slacker child of a late Roman-era British patrician Christian family, who was kidnapped by barbarians, had a conversion experience, escaped with divine aid, went to Gaul to be ordained, and returned to Ireland to fight fire with fire in overcoming the persuasive power of the druids? No? You’re not?? THEN NO GREEN BEER FOR YOU.”
Okay, so not all of us love the green beer. What is even in the green beer? Don’t drink that. But here’s how Catholics feel about our vast collection of holidays and customs and cultural traditions: The more the merrier.
That’s a doctrine.
It’s our job as Catholics not to hoard our faith but to share it with prodigious generosity.
Well, yes, if you insist on keeping the feast by breaking the faith, we’re going to have a few words about how to clean up your act. But we aren’t going to tell you to keep your grimy hands off our religion; instead, we’ll show you where the washroom is.
We don’t keep our faith by carefully guarding it for the pleasure of the select few. We keep our faith by giving it away. What we have is so good and so big and so explosively powerful that a trillion-billion people could all be in on it, and it would only be more authentic, not less.
Here are some pictures of purgatory. That’s what people used to draw when the topic of St. Patrick came up. It’s because of this place, which is the pit where we throw all the people who serve bad beer with creepy fake Irish accents.
Artwork in this post:
- Ballinasloe St. Michael’s Church, South Aisle Fifth Window, by Harry Clarke, Detail of Patrick Preaching to His Disciples. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert [CC BY-SA 3.0 de, CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
- St. Patrick’s Purgatory, author unknown, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Drawing of St. Patrick’s purgatory in the Alsacian manuscript Legenda Aurea, cpg 144 of the University Library Heidelberg, folio 338rBy Unknown artist from Strasbourg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
*PS: I don’t approve of selling indulgences and neither does the Church. That was joking.