St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. We celebrate the life of the saint as well as all things Irish on March 17th. St. Patrick holds a special place in my heart since I was born in Ireland. My ancestors also shared history with the saint. Because of the celebration on March 17th each year, many people know the name of St. Patrick. But who was he and what did he do?
According to the autobiographical Confessio of Patrick, when he was about 16, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland, looking after animals; he lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland. In later life, he served as a bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. Many believe he died around the year 461 and that he is buried in a town named Downpatrick. A large granite stone marks his grave.
Let’s look at the three things I learned from St. Patrick.
Lessons from the Saint
First, I learned about his missionary heart. Even though he was kidnapped and forced into slavery in Ireland, Patrick learned to love the Irish people. After his freedom, Patrick returned home to England, but he heard the Irish people calling to him in his dreams. Those dreams prompted him to become a priest and return to Ireland. St. Patrick turned the tragic events of life into a ministry of serving others.
Second, I learned of his beautiful way of explaining the Holy Trinity in simple terms. Patrick used the shamrock to explain this concept to the pagans in Ireland. He explained that the three leaves of the plant represented the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But even though the plant had three separate leaves, it remained a single plant. The shamrock later became the symbol for St. Patrick and for the Irish. To this day, many people still use this symbol to help others under the triune nature of God.
Finally, I learned how Patrick understood the importance of keeping Christ close to us at all times. His breastplate bore these words:
“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”St. Patrick’s Breastplate
These simple words speak a profound truth to us today as well. We must remain closely connected to Christ and see Him in everyone and everything around us.
St. Patrick’s Example
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. So complete was his faith in God, and of the importance of his mission, he feared nothing -not even death. So as you celebrate this coming Tuesday, please take a moment to remember the saint behind the celebration and all he taught us about faith.
Yvonne M Morgan, #Blogger, #Speaker, #Writer
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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