According to television and the internet, St. Patrick’s Day was made for the 21-and-over crowd and is best celebrated with green beer. But, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve got children or grandchildren. And since you’re likely Catholic, St. Patrick’s Day means more to you than dropping food coloring into everything you eat and drink. St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of overcoming all the ways that evil has tried to take you down and praying for even the people who seek to hurt you.
St. Patrick was a brave man who returned to Ireland, where he had been kept as a slave, to help convert the people of Ireland to Christianity from paganism. He lived with constant danger to his life. Legend has it he drove away the snakes of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. This year make St. Patrick’s Day about the man and the beauty of the Catholic faith, not leprechauns and rainbows.
Start the day with a prayer
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, so you can spend the day celebrating. Kick it off with a prayer before or after Mass such as this popular one below attributed to St. Patrick. (This excerpt is from Our Catholic Prayers.)
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Teach your children like St. Patrick taught
St. Patrick taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity using the shamrock. Three leaves to one shamrock like three persons in one God — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There are multiple ways in which you can make this fun for your kids.
- For breakfast, try making fried eggs cooked in a horizontal slice of a green pepper. It will look like a shamrock.
- Go outside and hunt for shamrocks together and then talk to your children about the Holy Trinity.
- Do a shamrock craft together. This can be anything from coloring a picture to using construction paper pieces to create a shamrock.
- Plant and grow your own shamrocks.
- Our friends at Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine have fun St. Patrick’s Day printables about the saint and the Holy Trinity.
Give a history lesson
Children love having their parents and grandparents read to them, so head to the library or your local Catholic store to pick up a children’s book about St. Patrick if you don’t already have one. His story is remarkable and fascinating. You can also have a movie night and play a family-friendly movie about the saint if you have small children. CCC of America has great children’s movies.
If you’re able, spend St. Patrick’s Day volunteering as a family. There are so many ways to help other people in your community, but a simple idea is to bake St. Patrick’s Day cookies — shamrock shaped — to give to others. You can bring them to your neighbors, or to your local nursing home, homeless shelter, or pregnancy center along with other donations.
Even if you aren’t Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a reason to celebrate and to teach your children the importance of helping souls gain heaven.