Saturday, March 17, 2012

Six Lessons from Saint Patrick

March 17 is the historical date of the death of Saint Patrick, patron Saint of Ireland. The life of this amazing Saint can give us a few lessons, even today.
Make the Best of Circumstance
Captured in his mid-teens (various scholars sate age sixteen or eighteen) Patrick was a slave in Ireland for over six years. During that time he learned to speak the language, and, presumably, became acquainted with the local people and customs. He might have languished for years bemoaning his fate, but he didn't. He didn't choose this path for his life, but he made the best of it.
Be True to Your Roots
Possibly this lesson is really "Do what you know" but since St. Patrick isn't around for us to interview, we have to choose on our own.
St. Patrick's father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest (don't ask me how that works, but it must have been different for priests back then). Essentially he was raised in a family of great faith and states in his letter Confessio that he prayed every day that he was held captive.
This deserves further study
Follow your Dreams
A Dream caused Patrick to run away from his master in Ireland and head for the coast, where the dream said a boat awaited him. He could have hesitated, thinking there was too much risk if he failed, too far to travel to the coast, too much effort involved. Instead he escaped and headed off to the coast. What amazes me is that this young man, in his early twenties, quite obviously an escaped slave, managed to find passage on a boat back to his home.
Another Dream caused Patrick to seek the priesthood and return to spread the gospel in Ireland. St. Patrick wanted to go to free the people who once held him captive. That is beyond my human understanding.
Be as Kind to Family as to Friends
By all accounts, St. Patrick performed many miracles of healing. He didn't limit this to strangers and possible converts, though. Annals record that St. Patrick also healed a number of cows that belonged to his aunt, his foster father and raised his sister from the dead (or healed her mortal head wound, depending on the record).
He healed many, many others as well, but it is obvious he didn't neglect his family. Another thought on that: he was close enough to family to be able to heal them. So even though he was in Ireland, some of his family must have gone with him.
This has nothing to do with the blog

Place Your Trust in God
Obviously St. Patrick trusted God in all things in his life. Through his faith he converted many Irish people and created over 300 churches.
According to legend, many of the Irish leaders came after St. Patrick to kill him. In one story, an Irish chieftain came toward him and was unable to lift his sword arm to strike a death blow to the Saint. As the chieftain's heart softened toward Patrick, the arm was healed.
Remember the Simple Things
St. Patrick is famous for his piety and simplicity. He used the humble shamrock and its three leaves as an example of the Holy Trinity. How easy it would be to overlook such a small clover!

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