Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th

Vintage Saint Patrick Illustration

Saint Patrick of Ireland is quite possibly the most renowned saint of modern times. It is rather sad though, that most of those who will be celebrating the feast day will do so in a secular way. They will drink green beer, tout their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons and eat corned beef and cabbage ( on a Friday during Lent, to boot!.) Some will even run around demanding to march in their, now gay, parades celebrating a ‘holy saint’ they do not understand…It is most ironic that it was the pagans that Saint Patrick devoted his life to converting and now, these pagans are intent on destroying everything associated with his holy feast day

Saint Patrick was actually born in Britain to a wealthy family towards the end of the fourth century. When he was 16 years old he was taken by a group of Irish pirates who were raiding his family’s homeland. He was shipped back to Ireland as a slave and sheepherder. He spent long hours alone in the field tending the sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans, they did not believe in the One True God. When Patrick witnessed the ancient Druid practices of worship, it left him with an emptiness in his heart, for even though he was not raised in a religious household, Patrick was given grace by God and knew these pagan rituals were not of the Lord.  During this time he was lonely and afraid  and grew to depend on his prayers to a God he didn’t really know as yet. The prayers were more a means of bringing comfort to his loneliness. But God is good…and it was during these times of prayer that the Lord opened Patrick’s eyes to his own sinfulness that stemmed from his unbelief. His humility allowed Patrick to be open to God’s grace, and he was filled with remorse at his own turning away from the Lord…it was a life changing moment for the young saint… It was during this difficult time in his life that he received many spiritual graces from God.. …A sort of preparation for his future mission.…He developed a deep spiritual faith and grew into a devout Christian. It was in these times of prayer that he began to dream of converting the pagan Irish to the Faith, but he did not yet have the means to do so. In his memoir Saint Patrick would write:

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.”

According to his writings, when he had been in Ireland about four years, he had a dream in which he heard the voice of God tell him it was time to return home. So he fled his captor and escaped by following the coast. He traveled for many miles but was finally able to meet some  British sailors who agreed to take him home where he was soon reunited with his family.

All the while he was home in Britain he could not get the pagan Irish out of his mind. In his memoir he wrote about a vision he had:

“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.'”

The intensity of this vision prompted him to study the Catholic faith with vigor. Soon he was ordained a priest by Saint Germanus who was Bishop of Auxerre, whom Patrick had studied under for years. After some time, Patrick was made bishop and knew that it was time to return to Ireland and convert the pagans to Christianity… in essence he was being sent by God to bring the Light of Christ to a nation that was covered in the darkness of pagan ritual and sacrifice…again it is ironic, how Saint Patrick had been captured by the Irish and forced to be a shepherd among them, and then later, God called him in his dreams to once again return to Ireland, yet this time as a shepherd of men...

Patrick arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. There are several legends about what happened next, with the most prominent claiming he met the chieftain of one of the druid tribes, who tried to kill him. Legend has it that the chieftain was unable to move his arm to strike out against Patrick. After an intervention from God, Patrick was able to convert the chieftain and preach the Gospel throughout Ireland. There, he converted many people -eventually thousands – and he began building churches across the country.

Since many of the Irish, had been indoctrinated with the Druid religion, he wanted to use a symbol that the people were already familiar with when explaining the un-explainable …the Holy Trinity of God…he used the shamrock to explain the One God in Three Persons doctrine, with great success in converting the masses.But it was not just the shamrock…Saint Patrick had a way about him that just drew people to the Faith…he had turned his life over to the Lord, and God was able to do with Saint Patrick’s will, what others had failed to do previously.

Patrick continued to preach all over Ireland  and converted the people 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 Irish church. He is believed to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick. His grave was marked in 1990 with a granite stone.

One final fascinating story about St. Patrick involves the lighting of a Paschal fire on the night where fires were outlawed in Ireland due to an upcoming pagan celebration. It was such an act of confident defiance to the present age and signified hope in the One to whom the light testified…the True Redeemer, Christ... Remember, Christian missions in Ireland had failed miserably prior to Patrick. His life and ministry were marked by challenge and hardship. He had been taken captive numerous times, and his life threatened . Yet there he was, lighting the Paschal fire to signify to everyone that Easter was the next day. He was there to testify to the pagan world that the light of the world would not be overcome by darkness.

There was an uproar over the fire. Lochru, the chief of the Druids led incantations to try to put the fire out, but in the end ( after some interesting tales which may or may not be true) it was the light of the Paschal bonfire which burned brightly, replacing the ancient fire of the Druid festival . This is what happened in Ireland; the light of Christ burned brightly in a man named Patrick, against all odds and darkness, and it was that Light which remained. The Light of Christ…the light of Truth. It  came to dispel the darkness that had been over all the lands… It is St. Patrick of Ireland whom we remember today as we praise God for his work through this holy saint…Saint Patrick. So go ahead, and raise a glass of green beer today…and make a toast or two…but just remember to honor this great saint with prayers as well, and invoke his intersession so that we too, may be bearers of the Light of Christ in a world that is growing more pagan in her Godless ways. Saint Patrick, of Ireland, pray for us. Amen.

st patrick catholic church on wordpress com st patrick bishop

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preaching of the apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

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One Response to Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th

  1. Marci says:

    Great Saint! Beautiful Prayer!!

    Like

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