Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Honor of St. Patrick!

Good morning my fellow Rotarians!  Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day and I wonder how many people really know the significance of this special day…  Had it not been for a band of Irish marauders in the fifth century, March 17 might've been plain old Maewyn's Day — because Maewyn wouldn't have changed his name to Patrick, and he likely wouldn't have become a saint. In fact, it wouldn't have been a Day at all. 

But as it happened, a certain 16-year-old Welsh lad was kidnapped by those Irish marauders, and young Maewyn was a slave sent to the mountains as a shepherd where he learned how to pray.  Six years into his bondage he had a dream, some calling it his religious awakening.   

He escaped to Europe to spend years studying in monasteries and he changed his name to Patrick.  Eventually the Pope sent him to evangelize England and then Ireland.  Amazingly, within 33 years he converted the entire country of Ireland to Christianity; Ireland became known as the Land of Saints 

He was also successful in founding schools and churches and was a great teacher.  The shamrock, a trifoliate clover, became his cleverest teaching tool.  He used it to explain the Trinity — each leaf representing the father, son and Holy Spirit while forming one union.  It was simple, powerful and very effective.

There is some blarney in the stories about St. Patrick; the most notable example being where he was delivering a sermon on a hilltop and banished the country's snakes.  This may have been symbolic to pagan practices, but it cannot be true because the island of Ireland never had any native snakes.

Saint Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD, and this date was declared a religious feast day where they waived traditional Lenten prohibitions including dancing, drinking, and eating meat.  Today in Ireland, most businesses, excluding restaurants and pubs, are closed on March 17th.   A St. Patrick's 6-day festival is celebrated in Dublin from March 13-19 and features music, theater, dance, comedy, fireworks and more - they draw more than a million spectators from around the world each year.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade did not take place in Ireland; it was in New York city in 1872 to serve as an occasion for downtrodden Irish immigrants to declare their pride in their Irish heritage.  Today St. Patrick’s Day parades take place across Europe, the Americas and in Asia.  It is the world’s largest celebration of a single nationality.  Over 34 million people in the US claim Irish heritage and yet Ireland is a country of just under 6 million people. 

So, for a moment, let's put aside the beer, corned beef and cabbage and the candy from thousands of kids we say yesterday in our parade, but rather let's lift a glass to honor that patron saint, Patrick… a man on a mission from God to save a country and who's work preserved the Irish heritage for centuries.  And that is our Bottom of the News on this Friday, March 18, 2011.  ###

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Parents Drink 

Good morning my fellow Rotarians, well today’s story kind of hit home in our house this week since it was the end of a semester for our son Logan.  After a few days of scrambling to prep for finals and a couple of late nights to finish projects it was interesting to see how he fared with his final grades. 

This story is all about the infamous ‘report card’...

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to 'Dad.'  With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter. 

Dear Dad: 

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you.  I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice. 

But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercings, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it’s not only the passion...  Dad, she's pregnant.  Stacy said that we will be very happy. 

She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.  Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. 

We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy.  In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She deserves it. 

Don't worry Dad. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.  Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren

Your Son John 

PS. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house.  I Just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than a bad report card.  It is in my center desk drawer.  I love you.  Call me when it's safe to come home.

And that is why parents drink…  It’s our Bottom of the News on this Friday, 3-11-2011!  ###