A New Springtime for the Church in Ireland: Who is Saint Patrick and Why Does it Matter?
moved, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night nearly as many, so that I use to stay even in the woods and on the mountain to this end. And before daybreak I use 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 six years of unjust captivity, during which this pilgrim had become a mystic, Patrick escaped with the help of some friendly traders. He pledged that he would never return to Ireland. However, the God whom Patrick had fallen in love with had other plans for his life. In the middle of the night the Lord gave Patrick a vision which he recorded for posterity.
Because he responded to the invitation contained in that vision, this wonderful man was used by the Living and true God to literally change the history of not only Ireland but the rest of the world:
"And there verily I saw in the night visions, a man whose name was Victorius 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 Folcut, 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"
Through much perseverance, Patrick finally returned to Ireland, now an ordained servant of the Church of that true God. His "Confession" tells of his experience of being used to transform that beautiful land into a seedbed of Christianity through his evangelization and missionary work. The Pilgrim Patrick is a model for our age and for the new evangelization that we so desperately need. We live in a new missionary age. Patrick´s progression of faith must become our own.
Patrick chose to reject "victim-hood" and self-centeredness. Instead, he embraced the way of the Cross, carrying on the redemptive mission of Jesus. He fell in love with the Lord by developing a profound and transforming interior life, a personal relationship with God. He did this through deep, constant and abiding prayer. In this way of life, the Christian way, he learned to discern the voice of the Lord in his daily life, developed the eyes of faith and responded with perseverance to the call to become a missionary. Each of us is invited to do the same.
On the day when the entire world pauses to remember Patrick´s life and his legacy, to rightly celebrate a full and meaningful life- and to honor to a beautiful country and people who have sent missionaries to the rest of the world to carry Patrick´s work forward through the ages, let us truly honor his memory by choosing to walk in His way.
Let us pray for the Church of Jesus Christ which Patrick helped to plant in Ireland. Let us ask the Lord to heal, restore and revive the Catholic Church in Ireland. Let us make Patrick´s wonderful prayer, which reflects his very real life, our own. Let us march into the Third Christian Millennium called, as was this wonderful saint and hero, to proclaim, demonstrate and live the Gospel:
"Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me King of my heart; Christ within me, Christ below me, Christ above me never to part. Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand, Christ all around me shield in strife; Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising light of my life. Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me King of my heart; Christ within me, Christ below me, Christ above me never to part."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: St Patricks Day, St Patrick, Irish, Ireland, Church in Ireland, Irish, erin go bragh, St Patrick, Deacon Keith Fournier
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