This week we are all wearing green, looking through the snow for shamrocks, and at least wishing we had the "luck of the Irish." As Christians, this is a week to remember St. Patrick and be inspired by his witness. Below you can read in more detail about the life of St. Patrick. As a boy, Patrick was kidnapped from his family and forced to live in Ireland as a slave. God gave him wisdom in a dream to escape from slavery. Only a brief while later, after studying to become a priest, the young man received another dream which called him to leave his home and return to Ireland as a missionary. He responded to God's call to share the forgiveness and grace made possible on the cross with all the people of Ireland; even the very ones who had held him captive. Patrick spent the remainder of his life sharing the Lord's hope and forgiveness with the people of Ireland. He is credited for transforming the nation from a nation of heathens to a God fearing people. As I reflect on St. Patrick's brave life I hear Pastor Scott's words from Sunday saying, "Here I am come find me." Pastor Scott was speaking of the reluctant ones, the hurting ones, the ones who feel set aside or judged by the church, the ones who have just never heard, the ones who fear they are "so far gone" there is not enough grace. Like Patrick we know the truth. The forgiveness and embrace made possible on the cross is extended to everyone. This week, let's be brave like Patrick and step out in faith to respond to the nudges of the Holy Spirit. Who will you encounter this week who needs to hear of Jesus' love for them?
As you prepare to go out, first say this prayer called "St. Patrick's Breastplate"
May the strength of God guide me this day and may his power preserve me.
May the wisdom of God instruct me, the eye of God watch over me;
The ear of God hear me, the word of God give sweetness to my speech;
The hand of God defend me; and may I follow the way of God!
Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ be after me, and Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right hand, Christ as my left;
Christ in the fort, Christ in the chariot,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ is every eye that sees me.
Christ is every ear that hears me.
Want to know more?
Read on to learn more about the life and ministry of St. Patrick:
Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britain in charge of the colonies.
As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.
During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."
Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited with his family.
He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."
He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.
Patrick by now, had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.
He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.
Why a shamrock?
Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.