On St Patrick’s Day it seems that everyone seeks out the presence of Irish ancestry in their family tree, no matter how small or distant. As they do, may they discover the great gift which is indeed offered to everyone through celebration of St Patrick.
Speaking of his earlier years (he lived in Britain, as far as we know), St Patrick confesses that “he knew not the true God.” However, after being captured as a youth and taken as a slave to Ireland, he used his six years in this condition as an opportunity to pray. Following the inspiration of a dream, St Patrick found his way back to Britain where he was ordained a priest; but then the Lord– despite Patrick’s reservations – sent him back to Ireland.
St Patrick need not have worried! Although it would be wrong to give the impression that he single-handedly converted the whole of Ireland, St Patrick’s powerful testimony to the Gospel, given by a life offered completely to the Lord’s service, certainly led very many people to belief in the Triune God. He is surely an inspiring example of the transforming power of God’s love and of joy in obedience to God’s will.
St Patrick has inspired generations of Irish people, millions of whom have left Ireland to settle the world over. They took with them the gift of the Faith, received not least through the witness of St Patrick. In turn they shared generously that Faith with countless others. For example, our brothers and sisters in Nigeria also rejoice in St Patrick as their Patron Saint, thanks in no small measure to the ministry of Irish missionaries.
On St Patrick’s Day let us above all remember his witness to the Christian Faith and his wholehearted service to God. May we follow his example and with him bring others to discover a most precious gift: the presence of the Lord in their lives.
A blessed St Patrick’s Day to you all!