Wednesday, March 16, 2011
St. Patrick, Evangelist to Ireland: 17 March 2011
St. Patrick is the most well known of the Irish saints, a true hero of the church. Sadly his day has become more known for revelry and green beer than truly celebrating what he did.
The exact time and place of his birth is unknown. Guesses range from Wales to Kilpatrick, Scotland. What is know is that his father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. They were according to various sources either Romans, or Romanised Celts.
At the age of 14, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates (common at the time) and taken to Ireland where he herded sheep as a slave. During his captivity his prayer life grew, and at about the age of 20, guided by a dream, he found a ship willing to carry him and made his escape. (I find it appropriate that we celebrate another man guided by dreams ((St. Joseph)) in two days.)
He studied to be a presbyter, and eventually was ordained as Bishop. Guided once again by dreams, these expressing the need of the Irish for his presence, he traveled back to Ireland to proclaim the Gospel. Patrick successfully preached the Gospel, aided by disciples he made in Ireland.
Of the legends attributed to him, he used the clover to preach the Gospel. When explaining the trinity he would pluck a clover and ask, is it one leaf or three (botanically speaking it is actually one leaf), and ask the Irish whether it was one or three. Easter at one point fell the same night as a Celtic festival, but Patrick beat them to the draw by lighting a bonfire first. Apparently the king’s men were unable to put it out. Several songs are attributed to Patrick, the most famous being his Lorica or the Deer Cry. It is said when one of the kings was out to capture Patrick, he and his disciples sang this song, and the king’s men only saw deer as they passed by them.
The true miracle behind Patrick’s life though is his great forgiveness. Anyone who can serve as a slave for some 6 years and return to the people who enslaved him to tell them about Jesus shows the true power of forgiveness. Would that we were all so eager to forgive those who sin against us, and to proclaim the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
Collect: : Heavenly Father; who gave Patrick the strength to persevere and power to forgive his enemies, give us the strength and ability to forgive those who wrong us, and willingness of heart to tell them of the great love of Yeshuah. This we ask in his name, who lives and governs with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)