While we often hear a lot about the popular culture that surrounds St. Patrick’s Day, many of us are quite ignorant when it comes to the man himself. To put it simply, we do not call him “Saint” for nothing; the man’s faith was truly impressive:
“For by decent I was a freeman, born of a decurion father; yet I have sold this nobility of mine … I am a slave in Christ to this faraway people for the indescribable glory.”
So, if he were still alive today, what do I think he might spend his time doing?
1. Bring the Catholic Faith to his “Ireland”
St. Patrick is celebrated for taking Catholicism to Ireland. All the superstitious buzz about the shamrock (which has been seriously distorted) originates in the fact that St. Patrick chose it as an accessible symbol of the Christian church. The three leaves were meant to represent the Holy Trinity.
To put it simply, the man lived for evangelization. His whole life was dedicated to it. Today, like any other day, we can assume that he would do the same to whichever modern day “Ireland” needs to hear Christ’s message.
2. Sing the … Welsh Anthem?
St. Patrick, Green, Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day. Pretty obvious, right? Actually, the man was not even Irish! He was born in Wales around the end of the 4th century. When he was 16, Irish raiders attacked his family estates and captured him. He later escaped and travelled to Gaul for religious training. Afterwards, he was sent back to Ireland as a missionary.
3. Forgive His Enemies
As mentioned above, the Irish didn’t exactly get off on the right foot with Patrick when they attacked his family, raided his estate and kidnapped him from his family. After such treatment, however, St. Patrick responded with love and generosity, devoting all of his energies to the conversion and evangelization of the very people who had done him such harm in his youth.
4. Have a nice pint o’ Guinness, but just one.
Sainthood is something to be celebrated. Who knows, maybe Saint Patrick would drink a nice Guinness to celebrate what God had done in his life. Still, his day falls during Lent, which is not exactly the best time to be hosting drinking fests (not that there really is any good time to drink immoderately). My bet is that after a nice pint with a few friends, he’d spend the rest of the day doing God’s work.
5. Punch Some Leprechauns and Break Pots of Gold
I wouldn’t be too surprised if St. Patrick might carry forth a “Cleanse the temple” operation on his feast day. Few things have less to do with Saint Patrick than Leprechauns and Pots of Gold. The famous image/idea of him ridding Ireland of its snakes accurately represents his seriousness and successful efforts in driving out pagan practices and superstitions from the Emerald Isle.
6. Remember St. Odhran
It’s thought that during St. Patrick’s mission there was but one martyr: St. Odhran. Today, St. Patrick would probably take a moment to remember, give thanks, and pray for this dear friend who risked his own life for that of Patricks. St. Odrhan was Patrick’s charioteer. Upon hearing of a plot by a local chieftain, Berraidh to assassinate Patrick, and without explaining why, odhran persuaded Patrick to take the reins of the chariot as they approached Berraidh’s encampment. Swallowing the bait, Berraidh attacked, but it was Odhran who was killed. (Source)
7. Promote the hashtag and work to #EndSlaveryNow (or something like that).
Few know that St. Patrick once wrote a letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus against slavery. He denounced, for example, those who “divide out defenseless baptized women like prizes.” Modern slavery is an enduring problem. A 2014 report from the organization Walk Free estimated that almost 36 million people worldwide suffer some form of slavery, with 61,000 people held in slave conditions in the United States (Source). Like any sincere Christian, I think we can safely assume that Patrick would continue to fight for their cause today.
Here is the first part of the Letter:
I am Patrick, yes a sinner and indeed untaught; yet I am established here in Ireland where I profess myself bishop. I am certain in my heart that “all that I am,” I have received from God. So I live among barbarous tribes, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He himself testifies that this is so. I never would have wanted these harsh words to spill from my mouth; I am not in the habit of speaking so sharply. Yet now I am driven by the zeal of God, Christ’s truth has aroused me. I speak out too for love of my neighbors who are my only sons; for them I gave up my home country, my parents and even pushing my own life to the brink of death. If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me. I Cor. 15:10 Phil. 2:30
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