The Faithful Wellspring

Reintroducing the Faith to the St. Tarcissus Parish Community

St. Patrick of Ireland

“If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these people’s; even though some of them still look down on me.” ~St. Patrick of Ireland


St. Patrick is one of the most recognizable and well-know Catholic figures throughout the known world, especially within Christendom. His visage rivals those of St. Nicholas of Myra (a.k.a. Santa Claus) and/or St. Valentine, at least in terms of universal appeal. Unfortunately, however, the original tradition’s and veneration’s for this beloved Saint have become heavily diluted by contemporary culture(s)/societies, almost to the point of complete perversion. Instead of it being a time of reflection and spiritual meditation; it has become synonymous with alcohol, partying, etcetera. In an effort to remedy this extraordinary problem, allow us to delve into the history of this awe-inspiring individual. Please be aware, however, that as with numerous historically significant personages, especially of antiquity, concrete evidence(s) are scant and vague. Also, myths and legends, although wonderful to recall, have this nasty tendency to enmesh itself with retelling’s; thus making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. Nevertheless, I’ll do my utmost to do this man; the Faith; and the Gaelic (Irish) people’s the respect they (unequivocally) deserve.


St. Patrick is said to have been born and raised in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, Scotland in Roman-Britain during the 5th-century. According to a text entitled Confessio, which is generally accepted to be authentically penned by him; Patrick specifically writes that his father (Calpurnius) was a deacon in the Early Church whilst his grandfather (Potitus) was a Priest therein. At the age of sixteen; he along with many others were kidnapped by Irish pirates, transported to Ireland, and sold into slavery where he remained for six (6) years. He attributed this period of captivity to God’s displeasure with him, writing in Confessio that:

“We deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments. We would not listen to our priests, who advised us about how we could be saved.”

 
It was during this time that Patrick grew in his faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, having originally shunned the religion of his kin. As a shepherd for his slave-master, who was a Druid Chieftain named Milchu; he’d often find himself meditating upon God, praying to Him fervently, and (ultimately) converting to Christianity. Following his conversion, and after a particularly rigorous physical fasting ritual; he heard a disembodied voice state that: “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country.” This astonishing revelation was accompanied, shortly-thereafter, with the declaration: “Look – your ship is ready.”
Emboldened by these divine assurances and remaining steadfast in his faith; he fled from his master and sojourned to a port that was two-hundred (200) miles away. The journey was undoubtedly an exhausting trek—physically, psychologically, and spiritually; but, despite the trials and tribulations of such a journey, he persevered and arrived at his destination without a moment to spare as the ship was readying to set sail. Patrick, declaring his desire to board, was met with hostility from the boats captain who barred him from doing so, saying: “Don’t you dare try to come with us.” Disheartened by this reception, he turned around and began walking back to his lodgings; beseeching the Lord for guidance and aid all the whilst. However, before he even finished his prayer(s), he heard a voice shout-out to him: “Come quickly – those men are calling you!” Needless to mention that upon hearing this; he (gratefully) climbed aboard the ship and underwent a three-days’ voyage that saw him, as well as several other unnamed passengers, returned to Britain.

“The Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer; for we do know what it is we should pray, but the very Spirit pleads for us with unspeakable sighs, which cannot be expressed in words.” ~St. Patrick of Ireland


Upon returning to his native homeland, and reuniting with his parents; St. Patrick was still dedicated to his faith and wished to pursue a life within the sacred ministry. As such, he (yet again) left Britain—this time willingly, of course—and found himself planted onto French soil where he’d ardently, and piously, devote himself to his studies. It is there that he studied at various places, including such notable places as Marmoutier Abbey in Tours; the Abbey of Lérins; and, finally, he came to Auxerre where Patrick placed himself under the wing of St. Germain. The two ventured to Morini for missionary work there. Nevertheless, after some years around said territory; the Holy See commissioned St. Germain, whom is also known as St. Germanus, to proceed to Britain in order to combat the raging heresy of Pelagianism. Of course, St. Patrick followed, and the two defeated the teachings of Pelagius whilst also performing many miracles. But the “Green Isles never left St. Patrick’s mind, especially whilst in Britain, and he felt a very strong desire to return. In fact, he records in his Confessio that he heard voices cry out to him: “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.” And after many years of studying, missionary work, etcetera; St. Patrick became a Bishop, ordained by his elder St. Germain.


After his elevation, he was personally tasked with bringing the word of God to Ireland, which he did so with great vigor and piety. Of course, this was easier said than done as Druidic culture, customs, and religious practices were the law of the land and anyone who sought to alter this equilibrium was not very welcome. St. Patrick, for instance, was locked up in chains by Chieftain whilst spreading the “Good Word” in his territory. Another instance saw him facing an aggressive Chieftain named Dichu who raised his arms to smite against him, but was unable to do so due to his arms being like those of a statue; he was only released from said state upon pledging obedience to St. Patrick, which he did. It was through such works and deeds that St. Patrick converted in forty-years (40) all of the Irish peoples’, wandering tirelessly and unafraid through hostile territories. Nevertheless, on March 17th, 461 A.D.; St. Patrick passed away, and doing so in Saul, Ireland where he built his first church upon those lands. The legacy of this man speaks for itself; his reflection seen in all-Irish eyes and in the spirit of his peoples’, whether consciously or not. Thus, it is right we should celebrate such a man, not simply spiritually, but socially; personally; and through our everyday mannerisms. We (all) should take a lesson from St. Patrick and remain steadfast in our faith and unafraid to show it, especially in territories that are hostile towards our ideals; for that’s precisely the story of St. Patrick. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone. Remember the (true) meaning of today. Take care and God bless one-and-all!

Reflections

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