St. Patrick's Day

This week we celebrate Saint Patrick’s day. As you may know, that was not his name. He was a “saint” because of his faith in the true God. And while, technically, not the “first” missionary to Ireland, he was the most famous and most successful. After being raised in a Christian home in England, he was kidnapped by rogue Irish raiders (a bit of redundancy there, “rogue Irish”) After years in captivity as a slave, he had a dream in which he was told to escape by way of a boat at a specific location. It is told that he walked out of the tribe of people who had enslaved him and found the boat where he had been told it would be. Eventually, he found his way back to England where he studied for the public ministry. He vowed to go back to Ireland to the pagans and tell them about the true God. As the story is told, he landed just as a bunch of pagans saw him arrive. The custom of the Irish, at the time (fortunately, not today) was to behead invaders and eat their brains. (I guess they realized they needed more…..) Patrick, it is told, leaned over before the pagan warriors were upon him, and picked up a 3-leaf shamrock (not a “clover”….different species) and said, “I have come to tell you about the true, triune God; three in one.” The timing was divinely right. They listened and Patrick would continue preaching in Ireland until his death; many years later. He established churches and even monasteries where future pastors and missionaries could be schooled. He sent hundreds of missionaries to Europe "because of the spiritual darkness that prevailed there" (his words).  Most of the missionaries were killed by the Roman Catholic Church because Patrick’s religion proclaimed, “salvation by grace, through faith in Christ, the Son of God alone” (it is in his diary, by the way). Patrick hated the influence of Rome and her “pope”, so even if the Roman Catholic Church today claims him as their own, Patrick NEVER claimed them as his own!

So, in spite of society “coloring” Saint Patrick’s Day as an excuse to get drunk, eat to excess (although it IS hard not to fill oneself with corned beef and cabbage…..Yummmm!), let us remember that it is, even today in Ireland, remembered as a time to celebrate when the true, triune God was brought to Ireland; a saving message that was (eventually) joyously embraced by the whole of Ireland…..(well, most of it, anyway…).

May all of us, Irish or not, celebrate with joy-filled hearts in this Lenten time; remembering that the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, purchased our salvation once for all time. Through faith, alone, in Him, we know beyond all doubt that we are forgiven and have everlasting life. Unlike the pre-Patrician Irish, we do not want to cut off the heads of those who differ from us. Let us simply proclaim the Truth of Law and Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit, as in Patrick’s time, to determine when and where they will be brought to the true faith. May His will be done. Happy St. Pat’s Day!!!  Erin Go Braugh!