Catholic Online’s 10 Things to Know About St. Patrick

Actually they list eleven things. I respectfully take issue, however, with the way the website news’ editor describes the Trinity in item number 7, where he notes that Saint Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock to demonstrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

I quote: “Many claim the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love, or any number of other things but it was actually used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how three things, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit could be separate entities, yet one in the same.”

The three-ness in the Holy Trinity is one of Persons not “entities.” The word “entity” in Websters is defined according to the common understanding of the term as “being, existence; especially : independent, separate, or self-contained existence.” The “Being” in the Trinity is One; the Existence is One Being; the Substance is One, the essence or nature is One. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord.” (Deut. 6:4) Thus we have it in the Nicene Creed: I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,  the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Substance with the Father. 

What is plural are the three Persons: The Unbegotten Father (Begetter), the Begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, breathed forth as Love from the Father and the Son as one Principle. This is the inner Eternal Life of God: The Knower, the Known, the Knowing; the Lover, the Beloved, the Loving, as Father Feeney used to say by way of poetic reduction.

So, we have this august doctrine beautifully expressed in the Athanasian Creed, which says in part: And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

Under item four where the editor writes about Irish immigration and the potato famine and the wretched poverty that caused millions to leave their native Erin, I would also add that, like Saint Patrick (only in far worse conditions), many Irish were taken by the English as slaves to Bermuda and the Bahamas. The vast majority of these slaves were women who, under the penal laws, were reduced to starvation and forced to do the lowest services for food and shelter. They were taken bound by ropes and dragged aboard vessels heading for the British West Indies. (See Seamus McManus, History of the Irish Race)

I was glad to read in item six that the editor does not flatly deny that Saint Patrick kicked the snakes out of Ireland, but that he puts a question mark on it. It “probably” didn’t happen, he says. It’s rare these days to read any article that does not ridicule the “legend.” (Father Feeney used to challenge the skeptics by telling them to start a “legend” of their own and see how far they get. In other words, “legends” [i.e., things that must be read, literally] have to be based on some true story or they’d have never survived a day.]

Well, I got tired of reading year after year that Saint Patrick could not have kicked the snakes out of Ireland because there were no snakes in Ireland to kick out. That just irked me — not because I am Irish (so were the skeptics) — but more because of the intellectual hubris of the illuminati. I remember some years ago a certain young one in my family instructing my mother about how silly it was for her to put cotton on the roof over the holy manger because, “grandma it doesn’t snow in Bethlehem.” When I informed this expert that it is not that unusual for it to snow in Bethlehem (as we have just seen last week), all I got was one of those horrid grins — I think you know the kind I mean.

In any event, here is my refutation of the skeptics. I first posted it on our website in February, 2009. It is titled “Snakes Be Gone.” Feel free to send it to your local paper before the 17th.

In item two the editor posted an interesting fact that ought to be better known. He said that from 1903 to 1970 Irish Law honored Saint Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. That meant that businesses were closed for the day, including pubs. Read the full article from Catholic Online here.