St. Patrick’s day is a day filled with green, shamrocks, beer, parades, and all in all a huge party day covered by a green blanket. It seems this beautiful feast day of this incredible saint has now turned into an excuse to have a green themed party. Are we truly celebrating the saint or are we just using his day as a cover-up for different intentions? It’s not to say that we cannot enjoy a nice pint of beer together, but it seems that it’s turned into something beyond just that and we completely miss the most important part and lesson of this day.
St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain in 387 into a military family. He was captured by the Irish in a raid when he was about 14 and taken into captivity as a slave, where he stayed there for 6 years. He was a young man of great ambition and fire, but very blocked when it came to learning about the faith. There was another young slave working with him who was a very devout Catholic and through his love and service towards St. Patrick, he slowly chipped away at those defense walls that were put up and St. Patrick grew to know and trust God. His true opportunity to finally escape came to him in a dream where he heard a voice telling him to go to the coast where a boat would take him back home. Sure enough, he managed to find a group of sailors by the coast who agreed to take him back to Britain.
After being reunited with his family, St. Patrick got prompted by another vision to return back to Ireland as a missionary. He went to study in the seminary and later became ordained as a priest and then a bishop. Ireland was very unwelcoming to many priests and bishops before him who went there as missionaries. St.Patrick came with an entirely different approach. His years as a slave allowed him to learn their language perfectly which made speaking to the Irish a lot easier. He also focused on bringing the faith to where these people were and in a way they would understand it. He used the shamrock, for example, to explain the Trinity, or incorporated the significance of the sun that the Irish believed, by placing the cross in the middle to show how God is at the core of all things created (which is how the Celtic cross came to be). St. Patrick didn’t just drill the faith into the hearts of the Irish by force, he went down to their level of understanding first and brought Christ there.
So as we sit down today, with our pint of Irish beer, take a moment to reflect on the example of St. Patrick and his approach of evangelization and how we can apply that into our own lives. Sometimes we need to meet people where they are at first, love them there and bring Christ to them that way, then slowly lift them up into new levels of understanding. God will always show us the way if we truly bring Him into everything we do. I leave you with one of his famous quotes of bringing Christ into everything aspect of our lives:
“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
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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