Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick

The patron saint of Ireland was British by birth. Kidnapped as a youth by Irish pirates and enslaved in Ireland, he was forced to tend sheep and swine. After six years he escaped and returned to his native land. But God moved him to forgive those who had enslaved him and he sought ordination in order to return to them and bring them the faith that can heal all wounds. He prayed and worked for those who had “persecuted” him. As we read the following excerpt from St. Patrick’s “Confessions,” let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I knew not the true God; and I went into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of persons. … Now after I came to Ireland, tending flocks was my daily occupation; and constantly I used to pray in the day time. Love of God and the fear of him increased more and more, and faith grew, and the spirit was moved, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night nearly as many, so that I used to stay even in the woods and on the mountain to this end. And before daybreak I used to be roused to prayer, in snow, in frost, in rain. And I felt no hurt nor was there any sluggishness in me—as I now see, because the spirit was then fervent within me. …

[After my escape] I saw in the night visions, a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter, which was entitled “The Voice of the Irish”; and while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought that at that very moment I heard the voice of those who lived beside the Wood of Foclut, which is nigh unto the Western Sea. And thus they cried, as with one mouth: “We beseech thee, O holy youth, to come and walk once more among us.” And I was exceedingly broken in heart, and would read no further. And so I awoke. Thanks be to God, that after very many years the Lord granted to them according to their cry.

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