As we live a short drive from the University of Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish, it seems that everyone around here prepares for Saint Patrick’s Day beforehand. The homeschool moms I hang around with are an astute and conscientious -of -feast day kind of bunch. They all seem to know ahead of time what crafts they are going to make and videos they are going to show their children on the patron saint of Ireland’s feast day.
Some moms with whom I’ve been chatting have been planning elaborate menus of corn beef and cabbage, shamrock cakes and even petit fours with green decorations in honor of the saint and this day. They lay out their children’s (green) clothes the night before or put up cardboard decorations or a nice green centerpiece for the kitchen table.
Not me. I’m a Saint Patrick’s Day failure.
The truth is, I’ve been too busy this week to think about Saint Patrick’s Day much. I have been frantically trying to keep the family afloat as my husband has been out of town for business. This means double duty in driving four girls to and from many activities , keeping homeschool students on track and scrounging around for quick yet nutritious meals (peanut butter sandwiches and apples have sufficed just fine- even two nights in a row). Yesterday, with my husband finally home, we attended the Latin children’s choir festival and Mass in which our children participate, and which included a whole day of– let’s say interrupted regular scheduling.
It was worth it for sure but let’s further say that looking around at the state of my house this morning, I would not be in the forefront of any homemaking awards should a judge dare to enter our front door.
Actually, should anyone knock at the door I would not let him in.
And that is how Saint Patrick’s Day took me by surprise, even though I knew it was coming all month, indeed all year… Even though I noted March 16 yesterday and March 15 the day before, I still woke this morning and said, “Oh my goodness! Saint Patrick’s Day” and a sudden thought shot through my brain, what am I going to do? And then I had another thought, Maybe they won’t remember.
Oh but they did.
In fact, the first words out of my 13 year old daughter’s mouth when she came downstairs for breakfast today were, “Hey, isn’t it Saint Patrick’s Day?”
I thought of responding the way my mother who raised 13 children did one year when she inevitably “forgot” too- by telling us, “Well, we’re not Irish. Go put on something red” (the color of Poland). However, saying this to my daughter would not work. While I’m not Irish, my kids are, on account of their paternal grandmother. Besides, Saint Patrick is a Catholic saint for all. I was going to have to think of something different.
And so I told her to go find something green to wear, which stalled her sufficiently so I could search the internet. I didn’t find anything we could quickly do, but I did set aside a prayer and a biography to read with them later. When my daughter returned (She didn’t have anything green to wear but I did notice her shirt was red and white stripes) I further distracted her with breakfast and school.
I tried to think up something to do with the day quickly. We could cut out green shamrocks out of construction paper and decorate them with ancient symbols of the three persons in one God. Yes, that would do it! The older girls could spend more time on theirs; my kindergartener’s could be simple. I’d let her use the leftover Christmas glitter. I was proud of myself until I checked the supply cabinet for construction paper and found that we were out of it. Darn. But we did have markers. And cardboard. Perhaps we could construct a timeline of the history of Ireland, especially noting Saint Patrick’s contribution. But that would really cut into our school day, and would actually be more work than fun, and we were already behind on account of yesterday. One of the girls suggested making green cupcakes but we were out of both ingredients and food coloring (hey- it’s Lent) so that idea was quickly dismissed. I thought about driving through McDonalds drive-through and getting them each a shamrock shake. Then I was ashamed I was entertaining such a lame, superficial consumer-oriented thought. I could search more online to find some activities that they might like, but I realized that time was slipping away, and my daughter was standing next to me wanting help.
It was mid-morning with nary a St. Patrick’s Day celebration when my five year old who was standing by the window said, “ Look mommy! The grass is turning green! Can we go outside?” Today is warmer than it has been in months. I really couldn’t blame her.
And then, suddenly, I knew. I knew how we were going to celebrate the day. St. Patrick is the patron of the lush green Ireland. He used a plant to explain theological truths. It was then I decided to ‘go with the flow’ and let God’s green grass be the decoration for the feast today, and finish up our work and spend the afternoon outdoors. Now, you may find to be somewhat of a copout, but it is a solution which both I and my children are excited about !
And now, as I type this, having finished up our catechism lessons about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have the St. Patrick biography and prayer on the kitchen table, I realize that I haven’t failed my children—or Saint Patrick– at all. God provided the green today- in His beautiful outdoor creation. I may not have decked the house out in green or served authentic Irish food, or done elaborate crafts or sung Irish songs or danced Irish dances or even watched a saintly movie, but that is all right. The prayer, the biography, the catechism and enjoying outdoors together will suffice. After all, teaching about the Trinity while utilizing and enjoying God’s creation outdoors is what St. Patrick is known for-and did best.
As luck would have it, I did find a few green white chocolate flavored candies in the cupboard after all. Maybe the kids can nibble on those later. Is our ‘celebration’ unconventional? You bet. But hey, it works for us. I’m pretty certain that I’m not a Saint Patrick’s Day failure after all.
Here is the Saint Patrick’s prayer I found, thanks to Fisheaters.com
I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.
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.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.