St. Patrick’s Day Parade

I suspect that some of you clicked on the link when you saw the headline because you want to read my predictable rant about the “gay” thing in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York and the local archbishop’s involvement in the same.

I suspect you know what I would say, were I to rant, so let’s let it go at that.

However, there is something to say about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.   As a matter of fact a very smart guy, Msgr. Charles Pope, who is pastor of a couple parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington DC, said it well on his blog.  He tackled the issue of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC.  Alas, his post has been “disappeared”.  So, you can’t read it at his blog.

However, someone preserved its text HERE, if you are interested in everything that he wrote.

This, however, is the section I want to underscore.  Thus, Msgr. Pope:

Now the St. Patrick’s Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let’s be honest: St. Patrick’s Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

In New York City in particular, the “parade” is devolving into a farcical and hateful ridicule of the faith that St. Patrick preached.  [Can anyone doubt that what occurs on the Feast of Patrick is entirely antithetical to what the feast stands for?]

It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.


And as for St Patrick’s Day, it’s time to stop wearin’ the green and instead take up the purple of Lent and mean it. Enough of the celebration of stupidity, frivolity, and drunkenness that St Paddy’s day has become. We need penance now, not foolishness. We don’t need parades and dinner with people who scoff at our teachings, insist we compromise, use us for publicity, and make money off of us. We’re being played for (and are?) fools.

End the St Patrick’s parade. End the Al Smith Dinner and all other such compromised events. Enough now, back to Church! Wear the purple of Lent and if there is going to be a procession, let it be Eucharistic and penitential for the sins of this age.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

I think Msgr. Pope hit this one squarely on the head.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. vox borealis says:

    And not just the post, from what I can tell the entire blog has been disappeared! Nevertheless, a smart piece from Msgr. Pope, who usually writes smart things.

  2. frahobbit says:

    He hit it out of the park! I want a purple t-shirt with the words “I’m wearing penance-purple instead of Green on St Patricks day” that I can wear around on the day.

  3. MariaKap says:

    vox borealis, the whole ADW website is back up minus Msgr. Pope’s post. His blog is still there though. He has a few comments in the comment section of his most recent post. He is one classy and faithful priest.

  4. Singing Mum says:

    Since it is adults acting like idiots, why not start a children’s parade? The children should be able to celebrate. Then again, adults responsible for them might slide into silliness by how they structure things. Sigh.

    If it were my community, and the parade had gotten out of hand, I’d start one out of my homeschool community. And better, ask our bishop or a prominent pastor if he’d be willing to lead a procession. It’d be small and sweet. But it would give my sons fond memories of the day.

    St. Patrick is well loved in my house, so we are constantly looking for wholesome festivities that honor his sacrifice and life’s work of bringing the gospel to our ancestors.

  5. Art says:

    I think a revival of Celtic Christianity is in order: i.e. fasting and prayer at places like Skellig Michael and the evangelization of Europe. Things I’m fairly sure St. Patrick would approve.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Why parades in Lent? The medievals suspended miracle and morality plays and processions during Lent. We should as well.

    Secondly, can you imagine St. Patrick putting up with this decadence? He would call fire down from heaven on them all.

  7. Uxixu says:

    The contrarian in me does not want to surrender our traditions and practices to the secularists. We should nudge our fellow Catholics who participate in such towards more pious exercise instead of debauched corruption: I like the idea of Eucharistic Processions or public processions to and/or from Holy Mass. All are welcome, though you can bet none of the hedonists will try to genuinely participate in the religious aspect (and there are ample laws on the books to deal with those that would disrupt a religious service).

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    Can you imagine a crowd of the faithful solemnly and reverently marching down Fifth Avenue, following a priest or Bishop who is holding a monstrance held high? Wouldn’t THAT be awesome? Wow!

  9. MarylandBill says:

    I like the idea of an alternate St. Patrick’s Day parade that restores the notion that this is a Catholic Religious Feast. Being that both of my parents were from Ireland, I grew up listening to the music and marching in the local St. Patrick’s day parade and indeed, I play the music myself. Being a good Catholic, I understand there is nothing wrong with a tune and a drink when done in moderation, but at the same time, its been a long time since the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and moderation has gone together. Even when I was single and playing regularly in sessions, St. Patrick’s Day was the one day you would not see me in an Irish Pub. May God forgive us for all the sins that have become associated with the feast day of this great Saint.

  10. Priam1184 says:

    Thank you Monsignor Pope. Saint Patrick’s Day, as presently observed, has absolutely nothing to do with Saint Patrick. It would be better observed as a day of penance.

  11. THREEHEARTS says:

    Brought up in the 1940 and 50’s in a catholic parish in the UK we had a very good parish priest Canon William Percival Hayes, as Irish as Paddy’s pig, as he was wont to say. He was the Vicar General of the Diocese. He never distributed Holy Communion at the High Mass on Sundays. I, being a nosy questioning altar boy, asked why? “I am as Irish as many of those who come and I know their habits, they drink until the early hours, they sin often against purity and they are not in a fit state to receive”, and they loved him.

  12. acricketchirps says:

    Supertradmum is right, but I like LarryW2LJ and MarylandBill’s ideas too. Let’s have the procession on Feast of Annunciation (d1Cl) instead.

  13. Scott Woltze says:

    If you want to puke, go read John Allen’s interview with Dolan on the new Crux website. Allen keeps referring to the hardliner bishops appointed in the previous pontificate. Dolan doesn’t take the bait, but the interview shows which way the wind is blowing.

  14. SteelBiretta says:

    “I was brought up in Savannah where there was a colony of the Over-Irish. They have the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade anywhere around and generally go nutty on the subject. Thos. Kilroy said the South more than any other part of this country reminded him of Ireland–but he wasn’t talking of places like Savannah.” — Flannery O’Connor

  15. Michael in NoVA says:

    MariaKap referred to it, but Msgn. Pope posted this comment in today’s blog post:

    Msgr. Charles Pope says:
    September 4, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Bless you all for your prayers and encouragement. I hope you will understand if I cannot continue to post your comments on the parade article here. I will read them but cannot post them, I will send you an e-mail gratitude.

    I ask your charity and understanding for the Archdiocese of Washington which has always generously sponsored this blog and been supportive of our conversations.

    I also hope you will understand if I cannot explain why it was removed.

    I am a loyal son of the Church and I love my Archdiocese.


    He is a very gracious priest. While God will reward his loyalty, I wish he had an Archdiocese that loved him back and did not have a track history of persecuting those who dared to criticize the modern culture and hedonistic lifestyles.

  16. Sonshine135 says:

    The Knights of Columbus in Charlotte, NC have been an integral part of the St. Patrick’s Day parade here since its inception. It is a great opportunity to show the public that we Catholics still exist and are not afraid to show our love for the church. Last year, we were also attacked by the local newspaper, because we did not allow the “gay pride” group to carry a “gay pride” banner. The truth is, no organization is allowed to carry a banner with political statements in the Charlotte parade. The parade is a family event that is supposed to celebrate St. Patrick. We have maintained that all along.

    If the issue becomes a problem again this year, and our hand is forced, you will not see the Knights of Columbus marching in such a parade again. I am inclined to say this is an issue in New York precisely because of the likes of Cardinal Dolan and his tendency to look the other way when Holy Mother Church is assaulted. How he continues in his position without reprimanding is one of the great mysteries of modern Catholicism, or shall I say Modernist Catholicism.

  17. Michael in NoVA says:

    SteelBiretta, It’s funny you mention Savannah. I grew up in the Diocese of Savannah, which for the longest time had many priests (and bishops) imported from Ireland. One now-deceased priest, frustrated by the (successful) petition to have the abstinence-from-meat discipline waived when the Feast of St. Patrick fell on a Friday in Lent and knowing the debauchery that usually occurs, remarked to my mother:

    “St. Patrick was indeed a great and holy man, but he got the message mixed up. He was supposed to keep the snakes and drive the Irish into the sea!”

  18. msc says:

    I strongly agree with the sentiments and the suggestion. I love the idea of a penitential procession led by a magnificent monstrance. Of course, as a person of predominantly Anglo-Scots ancestry, I also politely begrudge the Irish the attention they have managed to get themselves on St. Patrick’s day when there is nothing like it on St. George’s or St. Andrew’s (or St. David’s) days. Or if we’re going to celebrate Patrick as the apostle to Ireland, then there’s also Ninian, Columba, Kentigern, Augustine of Canterbury, et al.

  19. Mr. Screwtape says:

    This one happily growing event that tries in its own corner to bring balance to the festivities surrounding the seventeenth of March:

  20. Gaetano says:

    Having marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC more than 10 times, I object to the characterization of the Parade. I will grant you that there are the inevitable knuckleheads at the Parade, but the NYPD has been cracking down on such conduct with the Giuliani Administration.

    Those who march in the Parade take it seriously. There is a sense of celebration, but I have yet to see disrespect from any marcher, much less public drunkeness. As for after the Parade, must of us have be up since 5 or 6 AM, and there is little motivation to spent the rest of the day with a bunch of drunk amateurs and wanna-bes.

  21. yatzer says:

    I have been thinking about it, and re-read the post, and still don’t see what would be the motivation for having the post removed. Baffling, to me anyway.

  22. Andrew says:

    S. Hieronymus, epistula 31 ad Eustochium:

    Sollicitius providendum est, ut solemnem diem, non tam ciborum abundantia, quam spiritus exultatione celebremus. Quia valde absurdum est, nimia saturitate velle honorare [Sanctum], quem scias Deo placuisse jejuniis.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    First off, it was always the Irish tradition to have a penitential procession (“doing the stations”) on every patron saint of a parish’s feastday (“patteran”). If it was an Irish saint who actually had lived in that parish, it was an occasion for pilgrimage, and all the stations were sites connected with the saint (usually holy wells and springs, old monastery remains, graveyards, ancient roads, etc.). You walked around barefoot or on rough ground, saying specific prayers as you circled around specific things, and it was quite a workout. After the procession, then there’d be a party and fair (open if it wasn’t Lent or Advent, on the way home or in a convenient field if not) basically to keep cold, damp people from dying of pneumonia.

    The English outlawed all gathering of the Irish except at weddings and funerals. People continued going to Mass and on pilgrimages on the sly, and to celebrate on the sly.

    Then it became legal to go to patterans, and the situation exploded. There was a lot of drunkenness and fighting and bad stuff. After a while, the Church did a big crackdown on patteran celebration and a lot of support for the teetotal pledge, which is why St. Patrick’s Day is very sober in Ireland, but it’s also part of why some Catholic priests in Ireland got the reputation of not liking any ancient native devotions, because some of them didn’t; and they were thinking it was all like the drunken patterans like when they were young. (It didn’t help that Irish seminaries back in the day were inhumanly rough, and they turned out some notoriously unsympathetic priests. Hating your flock is a bad sign.) Patteran processions have made a good comeback in a sober way, but now it’s the neopagans claiming every historical saint site for some pagan god and trying to ruin things.

    Meanwhile, the US immigrant Catholic Irish basically funneled all possible patteran feasts into just St. Patrick. There wasn’t anyplace to go for a barefoot penitential procession in a big city like New York. Turning the stations into just a parade through the neighborhood was pretty much bound to happen. It was also a show of strength to discourage harassment of the Irish, and it was seen as okay in Lent because it strengthened people’s faith and identity in a country full of Protestants.

    But when Catholics being persecuted stopped being so much of a problem, I think the Irish organizations (particularly in NY) were trying to show that they weren’t like the crazy people in Belfast by letting all sorts of organizations march. That’s what opened it up for forcing them to let the various gay groups march.

    It also seems to me that St. Patrick’s Day used to be a nice day for a few green beers or a whiskey, but not for getting totally drunk out of your mind. (Except for people who got drunk every day.) Only college kids partied like that. Now everybody wants to do it, and the Celtic bands have to live through the day with tons of drunks, instead of just that guy in the corner whose friends keep shushing him.

    So basically, we need more physical exertion and more prayers and hymns. Since most US towns still are not amply provided with holy places, I guess you could do a really long walk that goes point to point to various parishes. And then if you needed _a little_ beer or whisky for medicinal purposes after freezing your butt off in March damp and cold, using it for medicine wouldn’t break any Lenten regulations.

  24. vox borealis says:

    MariaKap, et al–something weird is going on. I cannot access ANY part of the site. All I get are error messages. Whatever they did has fouled up my browser, or something. It’s too bad that it seems as Msgr. Pope is getting the “period of quiet contemplation” treatment, at least in smaller form.

  25. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Okay, I did a little research and found an old book by John Daniel Crimmins: St. Patrick’s Day in America: Its Celebration in New York and Other American Places.

    It turns out that, thanks to all the Protestant Irish not wanting to stick around, and the more favorable laws for them, the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration known in America was in 1737 in Boston, and it was a secular pub party in honor of their various Protestant Christian heritages.

    So it’s actually the Episcopalians who brought in the drinking, in the US.

    Faith and begorra! I have been totally misled.

  26. Elodie says:

    Beware going too far and being puritanical. We are Catholic. We should have a healthy balance of fasting and feasting. How about those who celebrate St. Patrick’s Feast Day participate in a March 16 fasting in anticipation of the Feast. Pray for the Irish and how they’ve tossed the Faith for progressivism. Go to Mass for the Feast – if you live in a place with a Eucharistic Procession, by all means, go. Then enjoy your Irish stew and Guinness in moderation. Play the music; dance the dances. I celebrate that the Faith was brought to my ancestors. THAT is the Catholic way of doing things.

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It does seem that a lot of the American celebrations having drinking was due to it being a holiday for soldiers, single male immigrants far from home, etc. But there were a lot of nice dinners with open invitations to every Irishman in town, too, and most of the Irish organizations used the proceeds to help the poor, especially Irish immigrants.

    So alms is probably something else missing from contemporary St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

    The first recorded American church celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was in Boston in 1789, when Boston’s first resident priest, the Abbe Claudius Florent Bouchard de la Poterie, put an ad in the newspaper inviting “all persons and especially Catholics” to a sung High Mass at 11 AM, with the intention being for “the propagation of the faith.” There seem to have been a lot of High Masses sung on St. Patrick’s Day afterward!

  28. brhenry says:

    Pope for Pope!

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If anybody is traveling in March, it turns out that the Caribbean island of Montserrat celebrates St. Patrick’s Day for a week! A lot of the slaveholders were Irish (to their shame), so the (Irish-speaking) slaves tried a revolt on the saint’s day. It didn’t work, but it’s still a national holiday. And there’s Afro-Irish calypso.

    Here’s an article about it, if you’re tired of being cold and wet in March. But all the Catholic churches are relatively new and small, because all the old big ones got destroyed by the volcanic eruptions.

  30. Imrahil says:

    Dear Banshee,

    very informative, thank you!

    Just the one, because in a way you asked for it… and do forgive me if that was meant to be a joke and I’ll take it seriously, it’s nothing against you anyway

    And then if you needed _a little_ beer or whisky for medicinal purposes after freezing your butt off in March damp and cold, using it for medicine wouldn’t break any Lenten regulations.

    Whereas Chesterton, The one genuinely dangerous and immoral way of drinking wine is to drink it as a medicine. I should think that applies for beer and whisky too (although I guess that there may be some actually medicinal use, as in “prescribed by doctors”, for hard liquor, I doubt it would be whisky that would be used).

    If you want to drink, cheers. If that’s a problem with Lent, then don’t – though at the moment, there is no law to forbid Lenten use of alcohol. But just let’s omit excursory talk about “medicinal purposes”, will we? Those who drink, let us drink with the joy of Catholics, not the furtiveness of philistine morality.

    [And of course the only kind of alcohol that helps, for a time, against chill is mulled wine – because the drink is warm; warming up beer or whisky doesn’t seem too delicious… Otherwise, it makes you more cold, not less.]

  31. rodin says:

    Our Lady of Fatima warned of “diabolical disorientation.” Are we there yet? Seems like we are.

  32. excalibur says:

    From a Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of New York:

    John Cardinal O’Connor, sermon on 17 March 1993:

    “Neither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles’ Creed.”

  33. benedetta says:

    I am going to ask our local Gay Pride Parade to permit our prolife organizations to prayerfully be represented. I am tired of prolife being shouted down by angry intolerant and bigoted people. I am sick of innocent children being slaughtered into the closet of death without any possibility of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day one day.

  34. StJude says:

    I was listening to Catholic radio and this subject came up……. I was so glad to get home and see this post.

  35. ckdexterhaven says:

    Monsignor Pope’s wonderful essay will probably be read by even more people, now that it has been banned.

    Father Z (and now Monsignor Pope) have been nagging us about our Catholic identity. And they are right! I wish Cardinal Dolan would not have agreed to be in the St. Patrick’s parade. There are Christians who are having to close their businesses down because they choose to follow their conscience. The photographer in New Mexico,the bakers in Colorado and Oregon were persecuted by their own government over gay marriage. I don’t think it is too much to ask of a Cardinal to be a good example, and supportive of these folks.

    In 2012, I was not bothered by Cardinal Dolan’s attendance at the Al Smith dinner, but now I see the picture of him laughing in between Romney and Obama and it makes me uneasy.

  36. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here is a wonderful article about Skellig Michael and the now expensive, out-of-print book about it.

    Controversy on Skellig Michael by, Patrick Foy.

    I celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with the purchase of some Guinness and a donation to the restoration fund for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

  37. Charles E Flynn says:

    How wonderful of the University of California Press to make this freely available:

    The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael

    Be sure to at least take a look at the color photographs.

  38. Lin says:

    GOD bless you, Monsignor Pope! The parade and the dinner no longer represent Catholic values. Time to move on. We should NEVER compromise with evil! Pray for our priests! Pray for our country!

  39. Matthew says:

    How very sad for New York.
    Fr. Pope is a good priest.

    I grew up in Ireland, we didn’t have a parade, we went to Mass as I was told (by my gran so it is probably true) that it is a holy day of obligation in Ireland.

    In the early 2000’s it became a big tourist draw so they started the parades in Ireland.

  40. vincent apisa says:

    I’ll find some way to wear purple on St Patrick’s Day next, and I do hope such an idea becomes widespread. Even if it does not, I shall still wear purple, not as a badge of protest, but as an outward sign of a sincere desire of repentance. For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion, Have Mercy on Us and on the Whole World.

  41. Pingback: St Patrick’s Parade: Two Takes | Mundabor's Blog

  42. Mike says:

    Interestingly enough, Msgr. Pope is speaking tomorrow in a Northern VA parish:

    ICC is a wonderful orgranization, sponsoring FREE and orthodox lectures and such in the Virginia Dioese of Arlington. I’m going to try to make this one.

  43. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Benedetta, that’s a great idea, to get a pro-life group and banner in the gay pride parade! An how about an abstinence-only banner, and a contingent from the Goretti Group. Make as big a fuss as necessary! If we want to engage and change the culture, we first have to get its attention. Turn their silly arguments on them and see how they like it. Suddenly, other people will see the issues more clearly, too.

    Mostly Msgr. Pope’s exhortation to prayer and fasting, and not just during Lent, is just what will be necessary. Then we will be fortified to get out in the public square and stand up for our Faith.

  44. Juergensen says:

    “Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. The same Bible that tells us, that teaches us about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So, I would say, ‘Bravo.'”

  45. The key word here is “boycott.” I would not only boycott the parade, but perhaps all of New York City should be boycotted on the day of the parade to protest the incursion of vulgarity into what should be a completely asexual event. The problem is that the heterosexuals are just as bad as the homosexuals in parading immorality in public. Anyway, if enough Catholics and others of moral character boycotted New York City on the day of the parade, no one would dare do anything to offend us.

  46. benedetta says:

    Sure, boycott is not a bad idea, however, what would that say to the Catholic students who march in the parade every year? Would that be sending the message to those little ones that we have abandoned them to pagan debauchery? Would that affirm what the culture tells them, that the Church is not trustworthy?

  47. Imrahil says:

    The problem is that the heterosexuals are just as bad as the homosexuals in parading immorality in public.

    As they are hardly parading murder, blasphemy, or the like, and I don’t think they they are parading abortion either, that does not seem to be true.

    Drunkenness even if it does belong to the rare kind which is mortally sinful, fornication, etc. – these are less bad than homosexuality acted upon, and thus, not “just as bad”.

  48. moconnor says:

    I also have to disagree with some points of the letter. As a division officer of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (who no longer run the NY parade, sadly), I would never advocate giving up the celebration of the principal patron of Ireland and the Irish. Our Order has strict rules regarding the propriety of the celebrations and how the Irish people are portrayed, but while we assist at Mass that day, we also celebrate our heritage and the contributions of the Irish in the building of American institutions. My ancestors proved, btw, that we should not fear immigrants, but rather embrace them as fellow Catholics and our neighbor (in the sense the Christ spoke of). My parish is St Patrick’s so we are quite allowed to set aside the purple and feast that day.

  49. SaintJude6 says:

    Before deciding to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Guinness, please remember that they were one of the companies threatening to pull their sponsorship from the parade due to the exclusion of gay groups.

  50. Singing Mum says:

    Good reminder about Guiness. It’s a favorite of mine, but I’ll be drinking something else.

  51. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Perhaps “just as bad in [willingness to be/ease of] parading immorality in public”? How distinct is the willingness from the gravity of the immoral behavior?

    Tangentially, are you familiar with analogous problems in the celebration of ‘carnival’? By way of comparison, I have read of various Dutch localities making a big deal of having openly ‘same-sex’ Prince Carnivals, etc.

  52. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    As the Wikipedia reminds us, “Benson created posters that included phrases such as ‘Guinness for Strength’ […] and most famously, ‘Guinness is Good For You’.” Will the current Big Brotherly refilling of those contents be undone anytime, soon?

  53. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Would the week-long celebration in Monserrat be a remnant of the Feast of St. Patrick’s (as patron) having an Octave?

    Would many or most of the slaves of thr Irish settlers have been fellow members of the Church?

  54. Charles E Flynn says:

    If you start to look into the politics of breweries, I suspect you will be left with very few choices. Here is one that is unlikely to to fall under suspicion:

    Spencer Trappist Ale

    A four-pack costs $17.99, and that is in a state that neighbors the brewery.

    11.2 fluid ounces (33 cl.) per bottle, 6.5% alcohol by volume. The monks also sell glasses for the Ale, made by Libby (politics unknown to me).

  55. Imrahil says:

    Dear Venerator Sti Lot,

    thanks for your answer, and good point in bringing up the Carnival, which in a way is just what I was subconsciously thinking of. Though, no, I was unaware of analagous problems (homosexual-wise) w.r.t. the Carnival.

    Otherwise, let’s say that if I hear the phrase “just as”, I immediately ask at least myself the question whether it really is “just as”. I guess I have heard the phrases “just as” and “nothing but” too often in theological context.

    I am aware that the fervent Catholics have, in the past, heavily combated against the idea of Carnival (Bl. John Henry was seriously outraged that the Roman Church should be associated with it), and that was when traditionally the Fourty Hours would be held in reparition for the sins committed during the time. And maybe, in a Catholic world, that was what they were supposed to do. I still can’t get that feeling into my personal mind, but that is unimportant: It takes all sorts to make a Church.

    For times have changed, and we now are defending, and rather outspokenly defending, the Carnival as our Catholic patrimony. It has been noted that there is Carnival only in Catholic areas; it has been noted that the Roman Carnival has disappeared practically at just the same instant when the temporal rule of the Papacy also ceased (as Reinhard Raffalt mentioned), and it has been noted that there have also been Popes (that is, at least one) who formally recommended that Catholics should celebrate a good Carnival to strengthen themselves up for the Fast.

    There was once a Pope, Leo XII, who was (the story is again from Reinhard Raffalt) a bit stringent in his fight for morality, perhaps a bit too stringent. Among other things, he made a law that Roman taverns could only serve drinks to those who ate a meal, and to secure that he had them put up grilles (“canceletti”, however that precisely worked). Well, the Romans didn’t like that. The next Pope, Pius VIII, ruled for a short time, but among the things he did do was waiving the said rule. After he was dead, the Romans composed the poem: “When our highest Pope Pius / went to judgment to God in the highest / then asked he was: ‘What hast though got done?’ / Said Pius: ‘Well, nothing I’ve got done.'” / But the angels, who knew, they would say: / ‘Those grilles, at least, he put away.'”

    For it is no sin to have a celebration and go drinking. And if, as in Carnival certainly happens, they do go into excess, they do sin, perhaps even sin mortally (Carnival certainly was a high-time for fornication, even perhaps for adultery, that can’t be denied – though I’d deny it is inherent in the thing), then at least they sin like men, and don’t go to what is really bad which is the spiritual sins. As a remedy against both that and against having the sins of excess all the time in the year, something like a Carnival season doesn’t seem to bad.

    One of the traditional songs on the Rhine is “I am so glad that I am not a Protestant, for they are those who nothing but work can’t”, etc. And “And thereof we are part, that is gorgeous, yeah! Viva Colonia! We love life, we love love, we love lust and we love wurst / we believe in our God on high, and not calmed is yet our thirst.” (Well, I added the wurst, but I guess they do love it and I needed it for the rhyme. – No, I’m not arguing the “lust” part away.)

    And I do think that excess is not our problem today. In fact, what remains (at least most of what remains) of joyous feasting in our culture is 100% Christian heritage (if we assume bachelor-parties to be a rather disguised form of the Polterabend, at any rate). The non-Christian parts of our culture are almost without exception dry, funless, spoilsporting elements, with the one exception of the 6th commandment. And perhaps not even that – no traditional Catholic preacher could be as hard on natural fornication (i. e. on fornication without contraception) than the tone of modern morality is.

    [Note that I have nowhere spoke, here, of the fact that St. Patrick happens to be in Lent. I personally don’t think a longer, more than a day celebration, an octave or what ever, would be fitting for Lent. As for the rest, my instinct says “as long as the law is not broken”, though it seems to be clear that Lent has to retain at least a little penitential element.]

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