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St Patrick's Day (March 17th) is probably the most recognized of the many Feast Days, followed closely by St Valentine's Day. This was a day set aside to commemorate an individual who was instrumental in spreading the good news of Salvation to an, as yet, untapped area of the world, Ireland. Though it is, as in many cases, quite unique how God brought about this occurrence. St Patrick was born in 387 AD to a rich family living on the island of Brittania (England) back when it was still controlled by the Romans. When he was about 16 years old he was abducted by Irish raiders and taken into captivity in Ireland. According to his Confession he had a dream where God told him to escape from his captivity and go back to Brittania. He successfully escaped and eventually made it a monastery in Gaul (France) where he studied to become a priest. In 432 he had another dream where God told him to go back to Ireland and spread the Gospel to the Pagan, Polytheistic, people living there. One noteable aspect of St Patrick's teaching methods was to use the shamrock (clover) to explain the Trinity. One thing is certainly obvious when looking at this example of God's providence and mercy is how we can see God's hand throughout St Patrick's entire life and how He brought about His plan to spread His message of Salvation to another corner of the world. And as part of the observance of the feast day of St Patrick we can praise God and give Him glory for another miraculous example of faith and mercy. Of course it is not really miraculous for God, it just seems that way on a human level. But what about what this feast day has become? What started out as a commemoration of the life of St Patrick became more of a celebration of Irish culture and heritage, and ultimately another "drinking holiday." Of course how you decide to celebrate is a matter of personal preference, but it is important why you are celebrating. As a Christian really the only reason to celebrate is to bring glory, honor and praise to God for the good work He accomplished through his servant, St Patrick. If it is just another reason to drink alcohol, and possibly get drunk, then some addition consideration should be made toward celebrating at all. There is nothing wrong with imbibing in alcoholic beverages as long as it is done in moderation. After all, you get an exemption from the Catholic Church during the Lent season's requirement of abstaining from drinking alcohol, so why not take advantage of it? In regard to celebrating Irish culture, it seems rather odd that this should be celebrated on this holiday considering St Patrick was not even born in Ireland. Yes, St Patrick did become the Patron Saint of Ireland, but the focus is, arguably, in the wrong place when observing this feast day. To reiterate, the only reason for a Christian to observe this feast day is to praise God for the work He did through St Patrick, in Ireland. Any other reason would be a waste of time.
I am sure that all of the one of you who read this blog are asking yourself, "Do we really need to keep God at the center of our celebration of any holiday?" Well, here is a holiday that will allow us to explore that in a bit more detail. "Valentine's Day" (February 14th), or otherwise known as, "Saint Valentine's Day". This holiday, it should be noted, started as yet another Feast Day. Though, this is a rare occurrence where more than one person was celebrated on the day in question. There were possibly two or three different individuals that were remembered on this day. This is also a rare occurrence that all of the individuals celebrated on this day were neither born nor died on this day. However, there is very little historical record to rely on to know specifically who is being remembered. Regardless, the day eventually became what we know it as today. An arguably more secular holiday where we celebrate romantic love. The origin of which really dates back to Geoffrey Chaucer in the "High Middle Ages". Though, it is also important to mention a legend that involves at least one of the Saint Valentines the day was set aside for, where during the 3rd or 4th century AD the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, had decreed that none of the young soldiers in his army were permitted to marry under the belief that they made better soldiers than their married counterparts. Saint Valentine took it upon himself to secretly perform wedding ceremonies for those young soldiers who wished to be married. The Emperor eventually found out, of course, and had Saint Valentine thrown in prison. But should we as Christians celebrate a holiday that has become much more secular than spiritual? Well, that depends. Are we able to bring God back into the holiday in a way where, even though we have couples celebrating their love for each other, we can still bring the glory back to Him? Of course it is quite possible. It simply depends on where your focus is when you are celebrating. It is important to note, however, that what is being celebrated is romantic love, which, biblically, should only be reserved for married couples. Otherwise you are venturing into a perversion of this kind of affection. Also, even though it may seem innocent enough, should children really be participating in the celebration of this holiday? What this really raises the issue of is dating and whether or not it is biblically appropriate. Of course in today's society it is perfectly acceptable, even for children as young as ten years of age, to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. But was this something that was intended by God, and as Christians should we be endorsing it, even when considering something as seemingly benign as the celebration of a holiday? There is, arguably, no biblical support for dating, though many Christians do participate in it and in its more formal counterpart, courting. This all really comes down to personal preference, but should we really do anything if there is no biblical support for it? Personally, I see no reason to allow a child, even in their teens, to participate if, as a parent, you are not going to allow them to date since it would only incite confusion. Coming back to the main point, there is certainly nothing in the bible that speaks against celebrating the love between two people whom God has brought together and joined in holy matrimony, as long as we keep that in mind in our celebration and give God the deserved glory.