Now that the celebration week of Saint Patrick is over and his name has quickly been forgotten by those that see it as just another day, allow me to finish the third part of my research on the Saint…not the Day. For those of you that are just tuning in, check out my last two post to get caught up!
The year is 432 A.D. and St. Patrick and his small entourage just landed on the shores of Ireland. Upon arrival the team of strangers to the land were spotted and confronted by chief master, Dichu. Not only was Dichu’s Patrick’s first contact, he was his host, FIRST CONVERT, and he also gave Patrick his barn for a church! That should give you an idea of how powerful God was working through Patrick from the start!
Of course this was only the beginning. Patrick was extremely bold and passionate about his message of the GOSPEL and he took it directly to the top pagans and druids with a daring statement! It was the eve of Easter (March 24th according to the calendars of their time) when Laoghaire, High King of Ireland, was also celebrating an ancient druidic ritual and festival with the people from the land. It was a sacred lighting of a fire said to symbolize the “resurrection of the life-giving sun from the winter’s death”. So on that eve this WAS to be the first fire lit from the royal hill. St. Patrick and his team had other plans; they strategically posted up on the hill across from the royal hill and camped out until the darkness came. It was in this darkness when St. Patrick lit up a flame that challenged and defied all that the druids stood for! This defying flame was seen by the king and all the druids and enraged them. The account told by Muirchu (7th Century biographer)
“And St. Patrick was called to the king outside the place where the fire had been kindled. And the magicians said to their people, “let us not rise up at the approach of this fellow; for whosoever rises up at the approach of this fellow will afterwards believe in him and worship him.”
At last Patrick rose; and when he saw their many chariots and horses, he came to them, singing with voice and heart, very appropriately, the following verse of the Psalmist: “Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses; but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God.” They, however, did not rise at his approach. But only one, helped by the Lord, who willed not to obey the words of the magicians, rose up. This was Ercc, the son of Daig, whose relics are now venerated in the city called Slane. And Patrick blessed him; and he believed in the everlasting God.
And when they began to parley with one another, the second magician, named Lochru, was insolent in the Saint’s presence, and had the audacity, with swelling words to disparage the Catholic faith. As he uttered such things, St. Patrick regarded him with a stern glance, as Peter once looked on Simon; and powerfully, with a loud voice, he confidently addressed the Lord and said, “O Lord, Who canst do all things, and in Whose power all things hold together, and who hast sent me hither-as for this impious man who blasphemes Thy name, let him now be taken out of this and die speedily.” And when he had spoken thus, the magician was caught up into the air, and then let fall from above, and, his skull striking on a rock, he was dashed to pieces and killed before their faces; and the heathen folk were dismayed.”
St. Patrick knew that he had to bring this message of love and power to the top. I believe it was displayed in a very eye opening way with this encounter that was just described. After gaining this type of attention from the head of the land St. Patrick continued to spread the gospel through out the rest of the land. If the kings or leaders of a tribe were not converted on the spot, he would get access for him and his team to set up camp near the people of the village. It was here where they were able to organize a “community” center. The team would then engage with the village people through conversation, ministry, prayer, preaching, as well as the visual arts. The Irish people are very well known for their visual arts, this was one of the things that Patrick was able to pick up on in his time as a slave. The ministry team would spend weeks to months in a place until they felt led by the Lord to build a Church. St. Patrick would baptize and disciple the converts in this time and raise them up. Patrick and his team would go from tribe to tribe doing this same thing. They would often leave behind one of his disciples to pastor one of the newly established churches and the cycle would continue!
Mind you in this time, the successors of the bishops that sent St. Patrick on this mission to Ireland were not rejoicing in all the good news that was being shared. No, they were angered that he was spending priority time with the “barbarians”, “sinners”, and “pagans”! Of course this happened to Jesus as well.
The reason St. Patrick was so successful in his mission was because of his apostolic approach, it was more of a movement than an institution. His ministry was set up in a way to convert whole tribe’s not just individuals. Because of his “mission stations” the faith was more caught than taught. It is said that he baptized many thousands of people in his time as well as planting nearly 700 churches and ordaining close to 1,000 priests! With his strong mission movement St. Patrick was able to convert about 30-40 if not more, of the 150 tribes in Ireland! Patrick also preached against slavery and was able to see the end of the Irish slave trade in his time.
Remember these “barbarians” that no one wanted to approach? Do you have any one in you life that you look at as impossible to reach? May the life of St. Patrick inspire you and show you that nothing is impossible with the Living God. His ministry lasted 28 years, but because the model that he left, many were able to be saved years later.
Three folds of the cloth, yet only one napkin is there,
Three joints in the finger, but still only one finger fair;
Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear,
Frost, snow-flakes and ice, all in water their origin share,
Three Persons in God, to one God alone we make prayer.
Well with that being said, I will be going on my FIRST MISSIONS TRIP TOMORROW! My wife and I will be going to Mexicali with our church for a week! I am really excited and can’t wait to serve and minister the good news! Pray for us this week.
p.s. check out this IHOP St. Patrick’s celebration! http://www.ihop.org/Articles/1000047198/International_House_of/Resources/IHOP_KC_Video/Home_Page/Misc/St_Patricks_Day.aspx
Source: Sixteen Centuries With Ireland’s Patron Saint Patrick- Alice-Boyd Proudfoot