Next Saturday we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Major parades take place in New York, and Savannah, and Atlanta celebrating the life and contributions of Saint Patrick to the Catholic faith and to Irish culture. It is a special day for many of our priests who were born in Ireland and who faithfully serve the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Saint Patrick was a priest and later became a bishop in the fifth century. As a youth, he lived in Britain, was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he lived as a servant. After about six years, he escaped and went back to Britain. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary and taught the people about the Christian God, and prepared many of them for baptism and entrance into the Catholic Church. He often made use of a shamrock, a three-leaf clover, to teach about the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He worked tirelessly in his ministry and won a very special place in the hearts of the Irish people.
The Association for Catechetical Ministry, reflecting on the life of Saint Patrick stated, he “moved about Ireland continually, disregarding his own safety in a land that was treacherous to travelers.” It went on to state, he “also strongly favored monasteries and small groups of consecrated women (convents came later) which afterward became a hallmark of Irish Catholicism.”
The following prayer to Saint Patrick provided by “Catholic Online” reflects a desire for his intercession in spreading the gospel message:
DEAR ST. PATRICK:
IN YOUR HUMILITY YOU CALLED YOURSELF A SINNER,
BUT YOU BECAME A MOST SUCCESSFUL MISSIONARY AND
PROMPTED COUNTLESS PAGANS TO FOLLOW THE SAVIOR.
MANY OF THEIR DESCENDANTS, IN TURN, SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS
IN NUMEROUS FOREIGN LANDS.
THROUGH YOUR POWERFUL INTERCESSION WITH GOD,
OBTAIN THE MISSIONARIES WE NEED TO CONTINUE THE WORK YOU BEGAN.
As we reflect on this prayer, we are reminded that the bishops of Ireland stated that Saint Patrick was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his homeland. They quoted from “The Confession of St. Patrick” in which Saint Patrick said, “May it never befall me to be separated by my God from His people whom He has won in this remote land. I pray God that He gives me perseverance and that He will deign that I should be a faithful witness for His sake right up to the time of my passing.”
As we take these words to heart, we are challenged to reaffirm our commitment to embracing a call to sacrifice and discipleship in the spirit of Saint Patrick as we continue on our Lenten journey of faith.