As a kid, St. Patrick’s Day was a kind of a semi-holiday and—being Catholic—it was also a semi-holyday. Even those of us who had no Irish blood would grab some green garb (say that fast five times) and for that day, yes, we would all be a little Irish.
Legend says that St. Patrick lived to the age of 108, but he more likely died around the age of 75.
Back in 1982, one of my subordinates asked if he could come in a little later in the morning because it was his policy to attend Mass every day throughout the Lenten season. Well, we made some flex-time arrangements and everything worked out fine.
And I admired him for observing Lent in this way. So much so, that I longed to do something myself and renew that dedication that I had as a youngster when I always gave up something for Lent. So I looked around, and found out that many of the Catholics I worked with did still practice this virtue of abstaining for Lent.
One of my colleagues gave up beer, and since I liked to have an ale or two every day upon returning home from work, I adopted that practice. This year is the 31st Lenten season that I will have avoided my regular ration of grog, and in truth, it gets a little easier every year.
One year, however, I didn’t make it, and that’s understandable, because although Lent is movable, St. Patrick’s Day is not, and you need only check the calendar to discover that St. Paddy’s Day always falls within the 40-plus days of Lent.
But it wasn’t my fault. Actually, it was my wife’s fault. Just like Eve talked Adam into his apple, Barbara talked Jim into his ale.
I was at a St. Paddy’s Day banquet and one of guys at our table (who knew I liked ale, but didn’t know about my Lenten leanings) surprised me by placing a six-pack of my favorite on the table and announcing that he brought it solely for me, since he knew how much I liked a good ale, and of course, there was only beer at the banquet.
I whispered to my wife, “What am I going to do about this?”
“You can’t embarrass him,” she almost scolded. “It would be ignorant to refuse his generosity in front of everyone.”
So that year—and only that year—I deviated from my Lenten fast. All through the other intervening 30 years, I’ve held my fast faithfully. And this year, I’ve little doubt I’ll make it through another Lenten drought. Noon Holy Saturday is less than a week away.
(A lot of Catholics seem to be unfamiliar with when Lent officially ends. It ends at noon on Holy Saturday, as far as the Lenten fast is concerned—not Holy Thursday.)
As for that one unsuccessful year, I figure God—and St. Patrick—both understand. I just hope the Almighty doesn’t come down too severely on Eve…er…Barbara…for her part in all this.