The luck of the Irish
I grew up knowing to wear green on March 17, and sometimes you’d hear me say, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!” Other times I’d hear folks say, “The luck of the Irish to you!” as a way of greeting on March 17th.
To begin with, I don’t believe in luck, but I do like the Irish folks I know and their spirit and enthusiasm. I believe what happens as the result of our own actions has nothing to do with chance. Luck means someone’s good fortune. Luck is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” There is cause and effect, there is action and reaction, and there are consequences of choices. And those things have nothing to do with luck. There are angels who deliver and protect, and God brings circumstances into our lives that help us follow the right way – and none of these have anything to do with luck, either.
Saint Patrick was not Irish. He was born in Great Britain and, when he was sixteen, was captured by Irish marauders and enslaved for six years until he escaped. Patrick herded sheep for a local chieftain in the northern part of Ireland. Instead of being angry at God, he developed a relationship with Him, praying (according to him) as many as 100 times a day. His only company was the sheep he tended – and God.
While a slave and a sheepherder, he felt the call of God preach the Gospel to the Irish people. Even though he managed to escape and return to his parents, he did not forget that call. His parents begged him to stay, but Patrick could not deny the call he felt.
After studying to become a priest, he was ordained a bishop. Then he traveled to Ireland to preach the Gospel. Patrick recognized the work of God in his life. In his personal notes of autobiography, he said, “I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again in God and brought to full life.”
The Trinity – and “luck”.
Where does the three-or four-leaf clover come from? It is said that while trying to convert the Irish into Christians, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity with each leaf representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to stand for faith, hope and love.
The idea of “luck” comes from the fourth leaf, when there is one. I’m so grateful that my “luck” or blessing has nothing to do with finding a four-leaf clover!
After forty years of living in Ireland where he preached and built churches around the country, his life was over. Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, the same place he built his first church. Ireland has chosen to celebrate the life of this man on the anniversary of his death. Now, when I see a three-leaf clover, I will remember the Trinity and what Patrick taught as he lived and walked among the people of Ireland.
Photo credits: pixabay.com