Among all the hoopla that is St. Patrick's day, I thought it would be a good idea to think a little about the man for whom this day has been named. It is sort of sad that the day set aside for celebrating the life of such a faithful man of God, has become what it has, but that is a argument for another time. I digress.
Patrick, or Patricus, was the son of a influential roman family in Britain. His grandfather was a priest, but Patrick never took his faith incredibly seriously. He was a Christian, but it was not the first word that you would use to describe him. He confesses this fact in his own confession. The confession of Saint Patrick is one of few documents we have in Patrick's own words that tell his story. I would definitely put it on my list of recommended reading list.
When Patrick was still a teenager, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders. The Irish had been raiding Britain, and Patrick was caught up in one of these raids. He forced into slavery upon his arrival in Ireland. He became a slave shepherd in Ireland. During those lonely nights in the fields of Ireland is when he began to take his own faith more seriously. Surrounded by the lonely beauty of the Irish evenings, he began to feel the presence of the God, who he had never taken very seriously. He began to meditate upon his faith and to live his evenings in the presence of his God. Without the benefit of scripture or the Christian community of his youth, he felt himself rely on his God more and more.
When he had escaped from Ireland, he began his studies to become a Priest. He tells us that he had a vision of the people of Ireland calling him back to the land of his captivity. He felt the call of God to bring Christ to the pagans that had been his captors. Along he had escaped, he willing reentered that place that had been his prison. His second trip to Ireland was so much different. He had surrendered his life and will to God, and now returned determined to serve God. The rest as they say is history.
As we eat our corned beef and all the other ridiculousness that is this day, we should think about this great man. God used the terror of his kidnapping to draw a son to Himself. Patrick felt his God in a way that he simply hadn't before. He submitted himself to God, and God used a simple slave shepherd to convert the people of Ireland to the one true faith. What an amazing story of God conquering adversity and making beauty out of the ugliness that is all too common in our world.