reflections on patrick: a love that grows in fields of fear

My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers … I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. (1)

After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time. (16)

It was there that the Lord opened up my awareness of my lack of faith. Even though it came about late, I recognised my failings. So I turned with all my heart to the Lord my God, and he looked down on my lowliness and had mercy on my youthful ignorance. He guarded me before I knew him, and before I came to wisdom and could distinguish between good and evil. He protected me and consoled me as a father does for his son. (2)

~ St. Patrick’s Confession, written by Patrick himself

Kings and Druids ruled the forests, mountains and plains of this island. Their very spiritual daily life was rooted in the goddess of fear and the goddess of intoxication. Sold into Ireland as a foreign slave, Patrick was malnourished and under clothed while forcefully introduced to this new culture. Yet, it was in this environment that a young man, who didn’t even know the true God, began to call out to him. God met him as he prayed. He filled Patrick with a growing love when the gods around cultivated fear. So it was that Patrick came to know Ireland and God in the 5th century, before escaping for home.

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