Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Padraig

Firstly, let us just point out that Saint Patrick originally came from Scotland. Yes, the patron saint of Ireland was born in 385 A.D. on the banks of the River Clyde. Like so many saints who have been popularized, St. Patrick is much more of an interesting and colorful character than shamrocks and "the wearing of the green" can encapsulate. Although he may be one of the most popular Catholic saints, the real Saint Patrick remains hidden beneath the corned beef and cabbage.

Of course, that's not to say that these customs are superfluous and detached from the man himself. But perhaps it might enrich the feast to hear the Saint himself speak while we celebrate. Reading his own autobiography, The Confession (or The Declaration) is one way to do so. John Skinner did a nice translation of The Confession as well as the Letter to Coroticus, which some scholars think was one of the causes of Patrick's imprisonment. Actually, he's a bit hostile to the Scots in this document, calling them "bloody men who have steeped themselves in the blood of innocent Christians." However, with the exception of this unfriendly line (although it was probably accurate at the time), Patrick reveals himself as a man of extraordinary humility and fervor. Here's a brief snippet of St. Patrick's Confession that we feel illustrates his fervor for Christ and love for the Irish people:

"Therefore may it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most 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.

And if at any time I managed anything of good for the sake of my God whom I love, I beg of him that he grant it to me to shed my blood for his name with proselytes and captives, even should I be left unburied, or even were my wretched body to be torn limb from limb by dogs or savage beasts, or were it to be devoured by the birds of the air, I think, most surely, were this to have happened to me, I had saved both my soul and my body. For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.

For the sun we see rises each day for us at His command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendour last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ’s will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Spirit before the beginning of time and now and for ever and ever. Amen."

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