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March 17, 2006

Today, "Everybody's Irish!"

My name’s Kathleen, you know. Patricia is my red-headed sister whose birthday we’re celebrating this weekend. Our grandmother was Mary O’Sullivan whose own parents immigrated from County Cork. My own two sons have shocks of hair they called "orange" when they were little boys, a legacy from the O’Sullivans through by own red-headed father.

So on St. Patrick’s Day my thoughts turn to things Irish. I admit I got a chuckle out of the news, reported in the Chicago Tribune, that the archbishop granted dispensation on this Friday in Lent so that the faithful Roman Catholics of Irish descent could enjoy their corned beef-and-cabbage tonight. Another story reviewed the history of St. Patrick who, according to legend, not only drove the snakes out of Ireland but also famously plucked a shamrock to illustrate the concept of the trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—three but one.

In our city, which burned nearly to the ground in 1871 when a cow belonging to a Mrs. O’Leary purportedly knocked over a lantern in the barn, they dye the Chicago River bright green today—and the beer, too. “Everybody’s Irish!” the saying goes.

Why? Well, it’s fun, and we need a bit of fun this time of year in Chicago when, no matter that spring’s just days away, there is fresh snow on the ground.

But I think there’s something more, some yearning for the spiritual connections that just seem to come with the Irish legacy. I offer, as example, a favorite prayer written by an Irish monk named Columba who established the Christian church on the Scottish island of Iona in 563.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.

What greater blessing could we pray for one another, on St. Patrick’s Day or any other?

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