Saint Patrick – Not Irish, Probably Didn’t Drink Green Beer
‘My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person.’
Dropped into the middle of Lent we find this holiday which has been turned into a day of out of control parties and excess. Almost a second Mardi Gras, if you were to judge by the parades and the drink specials. However, there are some really neat things to learn about from the story of this man.
There is some sturdy history about Patrick amidst all of the legends. He was born in England sometime in the late 300’s. When he was a teenager he was captured by Irish raiders and was enslaved in Ireland as a shepherd. During this time God revealed himself to Patrick, and Patrick became devoted to God. From his own writings:
“After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time.”
“It was there one night in my sleep that I heard a voice saying to me: “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country.” Again after a short while, I heard someone saying to me: “Look – your ship is ready.” It was not nearby, but a good two hundred miles away. I had never been to the place, nor did I know anyone there. So I ran away then, and left the man with whom I had been for six years. It was in the strength of God that I went – God who turned the direction of my life to good; I feared nothing while I was on the journey to that ship.”
Patrick escaped back to his parents and homeland, but not much later he was compelled to return to the country of his enslavement. Again, through a dream:
“I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for.”
He studied for the priesthood and returned to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his life evangelizing…spreading the good news of Christ to the Druids and pagan nature-worshipers of Ireland. His work and his writings reveal a man who is much like the Apostle Paul – a humble person in single-minded service to his God.
On this day of green cupcakes and leprechauns and fun, take a moment to think about the men and women who have risked their lives to spread the good news to forgotten corners of the world. Patrick lived a life of single-minded passion and devotion to God, and that is a fact worth celebrating.
“I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again in God and brought to full life.”
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