I absolutely love all the fun associated with St. Patrick's Day -- the more, the merrier, in my opinion.
But I would also like recall to the saint. Even without the myths and legends that surround him, Patrick, saint and patron of Ireland, is a fascinating historical figure. He was a man on a mission, determined, prayerful, and brave.
Born in Scotland of Roman nobility in the year 387, he was kidnapped and enslaved by the Irish at the age of sixteen. During his captivity, he was slave to the chieftain and Druid priest Milchu of Dalriada. He tended flocks, praying much of the time. After six years of slavery, he escaped and eventually made his way home to his family. He didn’t stay with his parents long, however. Religiously-motivated, he traveled to St. Martin’s (his relative) monastery in Tours, and ultimately embraced the priesthood under the guidance of St. Germain at Auxerre.
But, according to St. Patrick himself in his Confessions, the Lord prepared him to return to Ireland. He was to convert the Irish. While Druidism certainly did not disappear, many Irish natives did accept Christianity and were baptized by the saint.
What I had not realized was that he left a few writings, not just a prayer or two. Chief among them are his Confessio, which is a short autobiography, and a letter called Epistola ad Coroticum. There are also various prayers and sayings that are accepted as his genuine work, including the Breastplate of St. Patrick. I leave you with a selection from a version of this beautiful prayer.
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!
Image: from St. Patrick’s Confessio, Book of Armagh, Trinity College, Dublin
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.