That is why I cannot be silent – nor would it be good to do so – about such great blessings and such a gift that the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity. This is how we can repay such blessings, when our lives change and we come to know God, to praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven. (3)
Again and again I briefly put before you the words of my confession. I testify in truth and in great joy of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any other reason for returning to that nation from which I had earlier escaped, except the gospel and God’s promises. (61)
I pray for those who believe in and have reverence for God. Some of them may happen to inspect or come upon this writing which Patrick, a sinner without learning, wrote in Ireland. May none of them ever say that whatever little I did or made known to please God was done through ignorance. Instead, you can judge and believe in all truth that it was a gift of God. This is my confession before I die. (62)
As a child I grew up knowing to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or else I would get a pinch. Later the celebrations around me seemed to get more extravagant as McDonald’s began to have mint aero flurries or green milkshakes. The day was associated with leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, and shamrocks. Who really knew what it was about? Later it became associated with everything Irish – Guinness, Riverdance, really bad Irish accents. Somewhere in there was a flicker of curiosity about this Saint that the day was named after. It wasn’t until moving to Dublin though that I began to reflect on the enormity of his contribution to this nation. How could I not wonder? Apart from Christmas and Easter, I am not aware of a national, statutory holiday in Ireland that is in remembrance of one person. Over 1500 years later and we still take a day off in his memory. Half of the world seems to flood into Dublin on Paddy’s Day. They will hardly see anything of Patrick though. You probably won’t even see him in the parade unless someone sneaks him in.
March 17 is the day he is celebrated because it is the anniversary of his death. Remembrance dates are important here. Close family members remember and do symbolic acts on the days of their loved ones deaths. It is an important part of the grieving process. Some will even go to mediums to speak with their passed relatives on that day.
Patrick? He gets a parade, celebrations, and the worst day for vomit on the streets. He isn’t someone to be worshiped but he is someone to be remembered. This country was never the same because he came here. It was completely and radically transformed!
Patrick’s living and dying wish was for God to be seen for who he is by all the people of this world, starting with this island. His last words were for our benefit. Through them we know his story and his motivation. Powerful words.
Thinking of these things challenges me to pursue God like Patrick did – to allow God to live through me like Patrick did. Today I honour his memory by remembering God’s goodness to me. No doubt, doing this will likely affect everyone I meet if I do it with the same sense of awe that Patrick did.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
To read his prayer (St. Patrick’s Breastplate), continue.