Soul Food for Hungry Adult Communities, St. Patrick’s Day 2013
On this our St. Patrick’s Day, 2013, we pray very especially for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis. May the Lord bless him mightily, and give him strength and comfort as he undertakes this calling to serve the people of God as Successor of St. Peter.
And today, we celebrate another person, totally dedicated to following in the steps of the Master, and to bring the Gospel ‘to the farthest ends of the earth, beyond which nobody lives’. Our own Patrick, the one most responsible for bringing the Good News of Christ to this island. Later generations themselves undertook to bring that same Good News to other lands. ‘Every generation is a new continent to be won for Christ’, said Pope John Paul 11.
Rather than talk about the man, Patrick, let us hear him in his won words, from his ‘Confession’, a song of praise and thanks to God for what the Lord had done in him and through him.
‘I am Patrick a sinner, the most rustic and least of all the faithful’ is how he begins. Then about his being taken captive:
‘I was almost sixteen at the time and I did not know the true God…I was taken captive as an adolescent, almost a speechless boy, before I new what to see and what to avoid.’ Later he writes about his time in captivity, very probably at the foot of Slemish Mountain
in County Antrim:
‘When I had come to Ireland, I was tending herds every day and I used to pray many times during the day. More and more the love of God and reverence for him came to me. My faith increased and the spirit was stirred up so that in the course of a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night. This I did even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain. Before dawn I used to roused up to pray in snow or frost or rain. I never felt worse for it, nor was I in any way lazy because, as I know realise the Spirit was burning within me.’
At the age of 21 or 22, he escaped, probably to France. Some years later, he had a dream: ‘one night I saw a vision of a man called Victoricus, who appeared to have come from Ireland with an unlimited number of letters. He gave me one of them, and I read the opening words which were ‘The voice of the Irish’. As I read the beginning of the letter I seemed at the same moment to hear the voice of those who were by the wood …near the Western Sea. They shouted with one voice: ‘We ask you, holy boy, come and walk once more among us.’ I was cut to the heart and could read no more’.
Another night he had a dream and the only bit he could make out of it was this statement at the end: ‘He who gave his life for you, he it is who is speaking in you’ And he adds ‘At that I awoke with joy.’
That was the call that Patrick heard, to come back to Ireland with the Gospel of Christ, with the love of Christ for this people. That was the call that Patrick answered, probably now in his thirties.
Later in the letter he writes, about his teenage years spent in Ireland as a slave: ‘But I cannot hide the gift of God which he gave me in the land of my captivity. I sought him vigorously then, and there I found him.’
‘I came to the Irish heathens to preach the Good News, and to put up with insults from unbelievers…It is there that I wish to spend (my life) until I die….All this was for a people newly come to belief whom the lord took from the very ends of the earth’. And, in another place: ‘We are indeed witnesses that the Good News has been preached in distant parts, in places beyond which nobody lives.’
‘From the time in my early manhood when I came to know him, the love of God and reverence for him have grown in me… Although he chose me to be his helper I was slow to accept the prompting of the Spirit.
‘I was like a stone lying in the deep mud. Then he who is mighty came and in his mercy he not only pulled me out but lifted me up and placed me at the very top of the wall.’
Patrick concludes his Confession: ‘Let your conclusion and the general opinion be the real truth, that my success was the gift of God.’
‘Every generation is a new continent to be won for Christ!‘ Can we hear voice of the Risen Christ among us, today? Can we meet Christ Jesus in our lives and prayer, and be gradually and then totally ‘captivated’ by his love,- for us and for every person on our planet? Are we willing to have the Holy Spirit burning in our hearts, in our communities? Can we see our heavenly Father all around us and within us, the Creator of everything that so marvelously is? Can I radiate Christ in my community, and with others be drawn to him by his magnetism and attractiveness? That’s how to really celebrate our saint’s day,- to have again the heart of Christ in us for the world and for ourselves.
Patrick, pray for us to the Lord our God. And pray for Pope Francis that he will lead us all to the Master, in our generation.
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day. God bless.
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.
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Visit YOUTUBE for ‘I ARISE TODAY‘, the Breastplate of St. Patrick, sung by Rita Connolly. click here www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIECtoNQ4M
P.S. And on this day,, we remember two Irish Redemptorists who set out in 2010 to begin a new Mission in Northern Mozambique and soon into Malawi. Their names,- Fr. Brian Holmes (in his 60′s), John Bermingham (in his late 30′s). They are learning Chichewa, a local language spoken by 15 million people! They are two among so many! God bless them, in this new venture of the Irish Redemptorists.
Anyone for Chichewa???? Contact us! We can give you a continent to work in.
‘Every new generation is a new continent to be won for Christ.‘ (Pope John Paul 2)