Next Friday we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick joins Saint Brigid as one of the patron saints of Ireland. Major parades take place in cities such as New York, Savannah, and Atlanta celebrating the life of Saint Patrick, and his contributions 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. Saint Patrick 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 following “Prayer to Saint Patrick” expresses thanks for his great contributions to our faith.
O The O great Apostle of Ireland,
glorious Saint Patrick,
to whom under God so many are indebted
for the most precious of all treasures, the great gift of Faith,
receive our fervent thanks for the zeal and charity
which have been to thousands the source of blessings so invaluable.
Ask for all who dwell in this land and the land of thy labors,
the precious light of Faith,
and beg for us on whom its glorious rays have long since beamed,
the grace to regulate our lives by its sacred maxims.
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 Saint 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 reminded that Saint Patrick prayed for perseverance to be a faithful witness to the Gospel as he embraced the mission and ministry of Christ. We, likewise, are challenged to be faithful witnesses as we wait to celebrate the Easter Resurrection of Jesus.