Posted March 11th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Food for Thought

Food For Thought:

Marching As Sinners with St. Patrick

I’m feeling very Irish!  Perhaps it’s because I’m finishing up a parish mission at St. Patrick’s Parish in Colorado Springs, CO.  It’s also because St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and  Cardinal Dolan’s decision to allow a “gay group” to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade has brought about a lot of criticism and a media firestorm.  But, I wanted to offer a perspective, simply because on that day, we should all be Irish.  In fact, I change my name that day to Fr. Lee O’Patalinghug!


What a great t-shirt from St. Patrick’s
Colorado Springs, CO

Kidding aside, this touchy subject requires some pastoral sensitivity.  Without trying to defend or criticize Cardinal Dolan’s decision, I must say his decision made me reflect on my pilgrimage to heaven – my personal “march” so to speak.  However you feel about the Cardinal’s decision – right or wrong – it should make us all reflect on what it means to walk in a parade named after a saint – a great Saint – like Patrick.  It can’t be limited to Irish descent, but a universal calling to holiness.


I love the fact that my parish missions draw out the young and the old. This little guy reminded me of a little leprechaun. So joyful and full of life!



We have to remember that Church and Catholic things (like a march) isn’t for perfect people who are sinless.  We’re not a “hotel for saints” but a “hospital for sinners.”  Everyone who marches in the St. Patrick’s Day parade is not showing off their holiness or virtue.  Instead, they should walk to show how they want to become saints, despite their sins – no matter how public or private their sins may be.  I realize that is not the intent of the gay group.  But it should be ours, true devotees to St. Patricks.

Walking, eating, teaching and praying with public sinners is what Jesus did.  Maybe this parade can be an opportunity for Catholics to show the world that we’re not afraid to walk with sinners. This could be an opportunity for a real conversation to occur about this topic.  We can use this moment to proclaim that no matter what our sins, the Catholic Church is trying to walk with us to become saints in heaven – as long as we’re walking in the right direction.  Who knows, by walking along side authentically joyful Irish Catholics, some of those “sinners” may find their way to heaven.  But between now and then, an opportunity to walk is really an opportunity for us to talk!


Cardinal Dolan with a group of pilgrims in NYC


Our modern world has so many ways to communicate.  But compassion, charity, forgiveness and mercy means that we have to walk the talk.   I pray this St. Patrick’s Day parade, even if it’s filled with sinful people, can be an opportunity for everyone to be less judgmental, more compassionate, and more loving as Jesus would love us.  That starts by our willingness to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.  That’s how Jesus did it.  That’s what Saints are willing to do.  This St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I pray that our feet do the talking.


Click HERE for an easy Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe!



Food for Thought


(1) How will you try and walk the path of holiness on St. Patrick’s Day?

(2) What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day meal?

(3) How do you show mercy, love and compassion to people who (by their own decisions) feel marginalized from the Church’s loving embrace?

Questions:   Please leave your comments and questions HERE. Your responses help guide us in our future email blasts.  Thanks for joining in the conversation.

Let us pray:

The Prayer of St. Patrick



I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
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 in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

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