March 17

Reflection

St. Patrick is known and admired all over the world as the young slave who became an unlikely hero, the shy boy transformed into a courageous missionary. Patrick came to an alien land that soon became his adopted home, and a foreign people became his friends. He was no brilliant scholar but a man of deep faith tried and tested in the fires of slavery and exile. At first he was a reluctant preacher, until filled with the strength of the Trinity, he overcame his fears and limitations to establish one of the strongest Churches in the Christian world.  Patrick was deeply familiar with the Word of God and pondered it day and night. He had a strong biblical faith centered on the Trinity and lived in intimate union with Christ who was always before, behind, above, within him. The faith of Patrick worked its way into every fiber of life. The Irish faith made a people of saints and mystics, of poets and scholars great saints. (Martin Coffey C.P)

While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and converted the warrior chiefs and princes.   His ability to speak the Celtic language enabled him to communicate with the people and spread the message of the gospel.  There is no doubt that through the faith he was able to bring to the Irish people, Patrick has had a lasting effect on the Catholic Church in the United States.

Prayer

With my whole heart I seek you, O God. I treasure your word in my heart.

Action

Read something about the nature of Celtic spirituality.  Celtic Spirituality: Just What Does It mean?

Suggested Reading

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
From everyone who shall wish me ill
Afar and anear, alone and in a multitude.
The Deer’s Cry

Christ be with me, Christ 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 in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
From St. Patrick’s Breastplate

The list of Irish saints is past counting; but in it all no other figure is so human, friendly, and lovable as St. Patrick – who was an Irishman only by adoption.
Stephen Gwynn

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen.
John O’Donohue

Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.
Pope John Paul II 

If you’re Irish, it doesn’t matter where you go – you’ll find family.
Victoria Smurfit

Note:

Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, though all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes. One suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul, or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Plagiarism, symbolized as “serpents.”  Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief as opposed to the Arian belief that was popular in Patrick’s time.

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