ENTRY 1257 | March
I have written
repeatedly here throughout the years on Saint Patrick, sometimes
speaking "theologically," arguing for his designation as
a role model for Christians desiring a heart for the Lord and for
people, and the biblical source for that understanding of "saints,"
and other times writing "academically," giving thoughts
about his importance as a historical figure in church and Irish history.
I've mentioned earlier too the influence of St. Patrick on my own
thinking and my fascination with him and my strong affinity to everything
Irish despite the fact that my forebears on both Dad's and Mother's
sides were at least six generations away from their roots in Ireland
by my time. Patrick's influence had a great deal to do with my desire
to live in Ireland for an extended time, which is why I'm here in
Belfast on a one- or two-year sojourn (subject to either be cut short
or extended, depending on how I get on in my older years). And one
of the reasons I wanted to live in Ireland was to experience St. Patrick's
day here. And so I did yesterday and in all, it was the best St. Patrick's
Day I've ever experienced.
at my church, St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox, was dedicated to this
best known of many local saints (Belfast is the closest full-sized
city to both the place Patrick considered his home in Ireland, now
called Downpatrick, and his diocesan see as the bishop of all Ireland,
Armagh). Not surprisingly, Fr. Paul made a case for Patrick being
considered Orthodox rather than either Roman Catholic or Protestant,
though both of those communions, especially here where he is still
a major influence on everyone, also claim him. It's safe to say that
the Orthodox church, alone among the three communions, still teaches
everything Patrick believed and that Patrick believed everything the
Orthodox churches currently teach, whereas both Catholic and Protestant
churches have introduced serious and I believe improper innovations
in their theological teachings that he never considered.
after church was so engaging that I waited too long to make my way
downtown to see the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but I did get to see
some of the concert following the parade, in Custom House Square,
and see the many costumes and get-ups to celebrate the day and witness
some of the shenanigans in the crowd, but unfortunately the USB cable
for my video camera did not make it in my luggage, so I can't upload
any of the footage of that.
named for the husband of Queen Victoria, is Belfast's answer to
the Tower of London and Big Ben. And as it has a definite tilt,
it's also Belfast's answer to Pisa, Italy's, far more famous leaning
tower. The concert after the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade took
place in Customs House Square, adjacent to the tower..
I was told
that nationalists in Belfast (people who want the whole island of
Ireland to be one nation, over against those who want the historically
Protestant counties of Northern Ireland to remain loyal to the United
Kingdom and the Crown"loyalists") like to use St.
Patrick's Day festivities as an occasion for showing their nationalist
colors, orange, white, and green, the flag colors of the Republic
of Ireland to the south, and to generally advocate for their cause.
It was apparent that those with these sympathies were the most vocal
and probably made up the majority at the festivities.
In the evening
I went with Ward and Marda Stothers to their church, Townsend Presbyterian,
where the pastor, Jack Lamb, also preached approvingly about Patrick,
recounting the fifth-century saint's evangelization of Ireland. So
it was a treat to witness three major defenses of the saint on his
day. And after the evening service, I went with the Stothers to a
party attended mostly by evangelicals of various denominations, where
St. Patrick was also the center of our attention. I was moved by some
of the readings given about and read from his writings, and also a
recording of a massed choir singing in Belfast one of the hymns attributed
in the higher elevations (and not very much higher) and there
was cold-cold rain much of the day, but it was the best St. Patrick's
Day I ever experienced. I'm glad I got here in time to be part of
§ § §
If you missed
my earlier entry giving an overview of my new venture in Northern
Ireland, check it out here.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy