“It was a dream that changed the HISTORY of the man, and with him changed also the HISTORY of a whole people.” Alice-Boyd Proudfoot, Sixteen Centuries with Ireland’s Patron Saint
“And there verily I saw in the night visions a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter, which was entitled, ‘The Voice of the Irish’; and while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought that at that very moment I heard the voice of them who lied beside the wood of Foclath which is nigh unto the Western sea. And thus they cried, as with one mouth, ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’ And I was exceedingly broken in heart, and could read no further. And so I awoke.”
“And another night, weather within me or beside me, I cannot tell, God knoweth, in most admirable words which I heard and could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer he thus affirmed, ‘He Who laid down His life for thee, he it is Who speaketh in thee,’ And so I awoke, rejoicing.”
What a profound and direct dream! This was obviously a call from God. Patrick received this dream a little while after his return from Ireland, where he was once held captive as a youth. Now it was clear in this dream that God was calling him back to this same place to spread the Gospel! There is a quote by John W Gardner that says,
“HISTORY never looks like history when you are living through it.”
I couldn’t imagine Patrick, at the age of 16, being able to make any sense of his captivity to a strange land. I’m sure at the time he was questioning God as to why he was taken from his family and stuck with tending sheep by some taskmaster. I know that in my last post (The Saint, Not the Day Pt. 1) I stated that Patrick did find God and hear from God in this time, but when you’re stuck being a slave it doesn’t look you’re making HISTORY! After receiving the dream it is obvious that God had Patrick in that season for a reason. During Patrick’s captivity he was able understand the Irish Celtic people as well as pick up on their language and culture. Sounds like God knew what He was doing.
It is said that there was a 14 year span between the times Patrick received the dream to the time he landed on the shores of Ireland in 432 AD. In this time, St. Patrick was trained up in priesthood while studying the scriptures and eventually becoming a parish priest in England. Eventually the day drew near when St. Patrick knew that it was time to go. He was consecrated as bishop and was sent on a ship with a small ministry team to the shores of Ireland.
I’m going to save his ministry time in Ireland for my next post, but here are some things to look at. St. Patrick was HISTORY’S first missionary bishop, and his mission was looked upon as impossible! But what was Patrick’s advantage? He had God on his side, but he also understood the people! Think about it, doctors go to college for six or so years to get training, God put Patrick in the middle of the Irish culture for six years to study and to understand. There is no shortcut to understanding the people. Patrick graduated and eventually got hired into is “major” so to speak. Yes, he was blessed by seeing the fruit of his labors on earth, but waiting for him in heaven were the abundant, eternal riches of Heaven!
See you next time,
Source: Sixteen Centuries With Ireland’s Patron Saint Patrick- Alice-Boyd Proudfoot