A short time ago, in this very galaxy, Fr. Karl Langsdorf said Mass Monday morning inside McNally’s Traditional Irish Pub (an idea I think I will market – church in a bar) in St. Charles.
A simple, makeshift altar had been set up for him in the front of the place, where bands usually play. The windows behind him backlit the priest in the bright sun.
When traffic passed, you couldn’t help but notice the burgundy awning on the restaurant across North Avenue behind Langsdorf, it’s white-lettered words perfect for the occasion – seafood one side of the priest, wine on the other,
Irish born and raised, Langsford is one of the St. Patrick Fathers, a society of missionaries founded in 1932. He’s worked in Kenya and since the late 1990s has been at the Chicago office, helping promote the group’s efforts.
This was the second year that Langsdorf has said Irish mass at the pub, at the behest of McNally’s Manager Shay Clarke. This time, instead of a guitar player, there was a flautist and a bagpiper – which could also be a Jethro Tull tribute band.
Langsdorf’s sermon was short and sweet relief from the weekend revelry nonsense, with a focus on St. Patrick, Irish faith and culture.
He mentioned the book “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” by Thomas Cahill.
The Amazon blurb for the book reads, “Not only did (St. Patrick) bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become “the isle of saints and scholars” — and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians…. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization — copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost — they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task.”
Langsdorf also noted that the Irish give more per capita to causes like Concern and the St. Patrick Fathers than any nation. He credited Patrick, but a nation with its own history of famine being empathic to others in need is a nice lesson for the rest of the planet.
All this in about a half hour. Short and to the point, like it should be:
Sure, there’s all the silliness with the holiday – but the Irish should be pretty damn proud of all they have contributed to the world, Langsford noted, from shaping American music to feeding the hungry across the globe.
Speaking of, afterward, there was breakfast – your choice of American-Irish corned beef hash and eggs or a traditional fry with requisite meats.
I brought a buddy’s dad with, who is living right now in an assisted living community. We each got the different choices and shared some of what we ordered.
To keep my arteries clear, I had a Guinness.
And then we went to our respective homes.
Oh, sure. That night I went out in my goofy “Out to Get Lucky” $5 Kohl’s t-shirt for dinner – with a clover, not a shamrock on it. That was to be a clown getting the conversation started with the cute waitress.
She teased that she was going to send a waiter to the table. They were out of corned beef and cabbage. I had ribs and got the owner to buy me a shot of Jameson. It was a good way to end the day.
The morning, though, that’s the point of March 17. Have your fun, but don’t forget what the priest said.