There is not a whole lot of time for me to write this, but I felt obligated to write something about St. Patrick’s Day. For two reasons 1) for my namesake, Brigid was a follower of Patrick 2)a large part of my heritage is Irish and 3)the conversion of Ireland gave way to a ripple effect that saved Europe. I shall not go into deep detail with his biography as I am aware that there are surely various posts made today about that particular subject. Rather we shall take a short journey into an ancient Erin taking our sights the origin of the stone that is St. Patrick. While St. Patrick Feast Day is today, however, he has never been officially canonized by the Pope. Rather only the local churches in Ireland for the process of canonization has evolved over time. Patrick (or as he called himself Pātricius) name was Maewyn Succat born around 387 AD in the Roman Providence of Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton in Scotland to a Noble Family that held the office of decurio in Britain. For a significant period of his life (until he was sixteen to seventeen years of age) he was a nominal Catholic. One day while staying at the family home he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave to a Cheiftan Milchu in Dalriada. With his first few years falling into a deep depression and loneliness. The solitudinous exile led him to the rediscovery of his faith. God’s promise became for Patrick like that of glimmering star of hope that brought about salvation. As each day passed by his desire and love for God grew. Which he related in his confessio, that he would pray several times a day while out in the fields tending to the Master’s flock
“The love of God and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
Although this was shown to be a cruel fate at the time, it also proved to be a well-set preparation for his future apostolate. It was in his captivity that he would acquire excellent foreknowledge of the Celtic tongue and druidism (his master was the druidical high priest). So after six years of slavery, he was directed by an angel to a ship that would eventually bring him home. By the time he met his family most people had thought of him as dead, by the very fact he was brought into Hibernia (the Roman Name for Ireland). It was unheard of at that time to come back from the misty barbaric isles of the Hibernians. It was considered a miracle of monumental proportions to return to his family. His journey not ending with rejoining his family but uniting himself to his vocation of the priesthood where he would receive valuable training and guidance in the Catholic faith. According to tradition he met and came under the guidance of the bishop, St. Germain. Who upon being commissioned by the Holy See was sent into combat against the growing heresy of Pelagianism, and choosing Patrick as one of his principal missionary Companionems to Britain. Having many adventures, he was still plagued with God’s Call to Save the Soul of Erin. However, he was very reluctant to answer this call as it also meant encountering an openly hostile island that had very small success with any missionary that entered its borders. In fact, God asked Patrick a total of three times before his attitude toward the mission. The first request he wrote, “I did not go back to Ireland of my own accord. It is not in my own nature to show divine mercy toward the very ones who once enslaved me”. The second time “It was the furthest thing from me, but God made me fit, causing me to care about and labor for the salvation of others”.
However, it was the third call coming in the form of a dream truly transformed him. The dream had a man Victoricus coming across the sea from Ireland bearing letters labeled “The Voice Of The Irish”. In the letters he read words that became an echoing voice of the people in the Wood of Focluth, where he had been a slave, crying out to him saying, “Holy-Boy, we beg you, come walk among us again”. It was after that moment that he made his move toward the savage seas of Erin. Where he would meet his Destiny
I cannot say much to the secularization of the Holiday, even though I find it disrespectful and Objectifying. Although most people would agree that most of the secularization can get out of hand, those who note much of depravities that arise normally say it is the result people drinking too much. Despite this, I truly do love this holiday and some of the tradition that has come from it. The reason for this celebration to be even as highly celebrated as it is today was from a large amount of Irish Diaspora that has populated various parts of World (notably the states). It is also a holy of obligation in the Church of Ireland. The Irish are known for personality and people to be devout, loving, stubborn, friendly, and at times charismatic.
Wherever they went, they believed in taking home with them. This tended to include their faith, stories, and music. God love the Irish; they were made to be carriers of the faith for better or worse. However to make a long story short this day was so highly celebrated by the Irish because of their stronghold of the faith at times when they have been heavily persecuted. Which has resulted in the secular world being struck by the unyielding commitment to the Church even after ongoing suffering? That strategy has changed since they have gained their independence.It is no longer about segregating the Irish because of their faith but assimilating them into Western culture and thought. Rather they took the approach to invite the Irish back into high commands under the condition that they loosen their grip on their faith. Which for far too long had been under the control of legalistic clerics whose presence was likely caused by the increase impoverished and uneducated population in Ireland. That had come about from much of the abuse, and genocide within the last 700 years before Irish Independence. Acceptance has led to many leaving the Church with the promises of happiness being found elsewhere. However St. Patrick is to the Irish as Our Lady of Guadalupe is to the Mexicans. His significance is religious but also a patriotic symbol of Ireland’s national identity. Which for current generation in Ireland St. Patrick’s image has become both a strength and weakness in certain ways. As most modern people attribute St. Patrick as a reliquary symbol for Irish heritage instead of a model for love and holiness. Which consequentially has led to a transition from the faith being so clerical happy and legalistic that it could be mistaken for a rigid wooden plank. To the lukewarm generations of post-Vatican II. Whose poor catechesis and watered down faith has brought on an increase of secularization within Ireland.
Yet this situation ought to be not be looked upon with despair by staring into the faint glimmering light of that which was. We need to take heart in knowing that Ireland’s embrace of the many modern promises that derive from western thought such as materialism, nationalism, nihilism does not mean that it will fade into eternal darkness. Rather a spark of St. Patrick that his mission began so long ago shall not cease but ignite a flame that burns brighter and more brilliant with the coming generation who will express their discontent with the materialistic culture. There is no doubt that a New Evangelization is coming, and its strength grows intensely. The foundational Stone of St. Patrick burns with an invitation of love that sings to the heart and soul of the Emerald Isle that it might glow through Mist once more.
If there is one central point that I desire for you to take from, this is not let the pain or fear of rejection run your actions. God recieved rejection from Patrick, Patrick recieved rejection from the People, and you may do the same. What maters will not be the rejection but our ability to learn and adapt to see the goods of people and our own gifts that we can utilize with the help of God you come upon success.
“Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.”
P.S. To those that read the last post, this is not the Bonus Post that I promised, but I will attempt to have it up by Tomorrow 🙂 Happy St. Paddy’s Day and God Bless.