By Kristan Doerfler
Every March 17, I am consistently entertained by the revelers of St. Patrick's Day. I still remember one St. Patrick's Day several years ago, walking out of my office and seeing a gentleman who did not appear to be Irish wearing a button that said "Kiss me, I'm Irish." I don't want to sound like I'm racially stereotyping... the Irish heritage just appeared to be quite a stretch (just trust me).
With the revelry of St. Patrick's Day past us, I wonder how many people are still pledging their Irish heritage.
With the recent observance of Ash Wednesday and the upcoming celebration of Easter, I pause and ask myself if my faith as a Christian is like those who find any connection to the Irish heritage on March 17 just to forget it on the 18th. On Ash Wednesday, I received the traditional cross of ashes on my forehead along with the message, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." I washed my face that night, removing the cross of ashes and the visible sign of repentance and desire to grow closer to God. Although the physical sign is gone from my forehead, I ask myself if the life I live shows that I aim to turn away from sin and grow in my faith. Do I live a life that models the words of St. Francis of Assisi "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words"? I pray for the grace to do so and know that it is only though that grace that I can grow closer to God.
Even with March Madness among us and opening day for baseball quickly approaching (go Astros!), we see examples of "fair-weather fans" (sometimes in the mirror!). It's easier to wear your team colors when they are winning. You have more fun when you share connections to Irish heritage (even if it is your second cousin's former spouse's college roommate's optometrist) on St. Patrick's Day.
What about the days when your sports team loses a crucial game, or when there is political turmoil in Ireland? What about the times that you find yourself, like Christ on the cross, asking "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Are you still loyal to your faith? I know I have to ask myself this question numerous times. And more than I'd like to admit, I find myself relating to Peter when he denied knowing Christ 3 times prior to his Passion. And yet, we must remember that Peter repented and Christ forgave him.
It may be the green shamrock pin you wore last week, the colors of your favorite March Madness basketball team, or any other outward sign of your allegiance or belonging to a team or heritage. Just keep running the good race to represent your team no matter what the circumstance. And if you slip, get back up. God is always ready with open arms.