Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Eve of St. Patrick’s Day

Guest post by husband:

“There was a pear-tree close to our vineyard, heavily laden with fruit…some of us wanton young fellows went late one night…and carried away great loads...My enjoyment was not in those pears, it was in the crime itself, which the company of my fellow-sinners produced.” (St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II)  
“I turned with all my heart to the Lord my God, and he looked down on my lowliness and had mercy on my youthful ignorance….That is why I cannot be silent…about such great blessings…the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity. This is how we can repay such blessings: praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven.” (St. Patrick, Confessions, Paragraph 2-3) 

In Omaha, there are not so many pear trees and vineyards as there are beer and garages... However, there are plenty of sinful and ignorant youth as I used to be. Though still sinful and ignorant, I strive to repay God’s blessings of mercy on my youthful ignorance one beer at a time. 

The delivery of Guinness on the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day is a tradition stemming back to before I knew Cecily, but which now defines how we celebrate the Apostle of Ireland every year as a family. On that Eve, having decorated the beer with green ribbon and shamrocks:

a passage from St. Patrick’s Confessions,

and sometimes a holy card. We bless the beer with the following blessing from the Rituale Romanum (a beautiful blessing even if not efficacious in the same way as if a priest were to bless the beer): 
Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, which Thou hast deigned to produce from kernels of grain, that it may be a salutary remedy to mankind, and grant through the invocation of Thy holy name, that whoever shall drink it may gain health in body and peace in soul, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Guinness is then delivered to the porches of houses in the neighborhood, the dwellers thereof being as unknown to us as we are to them. We go to sleep dreaming of their bewildered joy to be and musing that its origin will always be a mystery to them.

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