ST Patrick’s Day is commemorated on March 17, not only in Ireland but across the globe with much fanfare and celebration.
It is viewed as a very special day by many, but I don’t know what Patrick himself would make of the day being held in his honour. Patrick is known for introducing Christianity into Ireland, the land of saints and scholars. Myths of banishing snakes are attributed to him and sometimes we have to separate what is legend and what is historical fact.
Patrick was an adherent to Celtic Christianity, which preceded the Roman traditions that followed the Synod of Whitby in 664AD when the Roman observance of ‘Easter’ was introduced in place of the Biblical Passover, which although observed by Jesus and the Apostles, was deemed as too ‘Jewish’ to be popular among the increasingly non-Jewish adherents to Christianity.
The writings of the early Church Fathers attest to this paradigm shift in attitude to the Jews, some of which were outrightly anti-Semitic in tone and use of language.
The same thing took place concerning keeping Sunday as a holy day over the observation of the Saturday Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.
Celtic Christianity is often viewed as a desirable format and style that enriches the way of Christian worship for a large number of Christians today, but certain aspects of that observance are for the most part overlooked. In the case of Patrick and his co-religionists within the Celtic Church in the British Isles, the observance of Passover on Nisan 14th (as opposed to ‘Easter’) and the adherence to the Fourth Commandment concerning the Sabbath being on the seventh day, Saturday, (as opposed to ‘Sun’-day, the first day of the working week) were the standard practices based on the churches founded by the Apostle John in Asia Minor.
The Celtic monks were allowed to marry and they kept the Jewish/Biblical Feasts such as Tabernacles and Shavuot (Pentecost) plus did not eat unclean meats in accordance with the proscriptions in Holy Writ which was also the practice of the early Jewish Church in Jerusalem.
Patrick didn’t wear a mitre or have a need for jewel-encrusted croziers as he often depicted in pictures. He wasn’t even Irish.
However, his message of the Gospel was of the pure form that emanated from the New Testament Church. That may have been viewed as being too Hebraic, but we must remember that the Church originally was a Jewish organ and that Jesus, named ‘Yeshua’ by the Angel of the Lord, was Himself a full-blooded Jew, and so Christianity was very much a Jewish-related revelation.
This year when going through the motions of St Patrick’s Day, it would be worth considering what really was the day that Patrick revered as his ‘special’ day, and that was the Biblical Sabbath, on Saturday, and not Sunday, which was named after the worship of the sun.
Happy St Patrick’s Day and Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath peace).