Trust and pray the St. Patrick way | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
March 16, 2012 · Updated 2:49 PM
Although we are not a family who enjoys an Irish heritage, we eat traditionally Irish food on St. Patrick’s Day in honor of my dad, who was born in his grandmother’s farmhouse in Lincoln County, Okla., on March 17, 1928.
This year I got to thinking about the significance of legacies and decided it was about time I learned more about Saint Patrick. I’m not quite sure how he’d feel about shamrock cookies and green beer, but I’m certain St. Patrick would be filled with awe to know that centuries later we are amazed at all he accomplished when teamed with God.
According to Coilin Owens, Irish literature expert and Professor Emeritus of English at George Mason University, St. Patrick was born in the first half of the 5th century. Little is known about his childhood, but at the tender age of 16 he was kidnapped from his native land of the British Isles by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He worked as a shepherd and turned to Christianity for solace. After six years of servitude, he escaped to the Irish coast and made his way home to Britain.
Upon his return he decided to become a priest after dreaming that the Irish people were calling him back to share his Christian faith. After several years of study and preparation, Patrick traveled to Ireland as a missionary. He’s credited with creating a major religious shift because he converted so many nobles who set an example that many people followed.
While there was significant opposition to his work from pagan priests known as “druids,” he pressed on despite their outcries and death threats, laying the groundwork for monasteries and churches that were built across the Irish countryside. He is also credited with increasing literacy in Ireland by promoting the widespread study of legal texts and the Bible. Previous to his life’s work, history and religious education was reliant on the memory of storytellers and available only to the wealthy.
It is believed that Patrick died on March 17 after 30 years of ministry in Ireland. The Catholic church eventually sainted him and the first St. Patrick’s Day in America was celebrated in Boston in 1737. Amazing, isn’t it, how much was accomplished in 30 years by one man whose heart and soul were focused on God.
The elements of Patrick’s life ---- the hardships, separation, sacrifice, vision, enduring love for the Irish, sense of purpose — all are gifts from God he experienced. So can we. The evidence of his faith was St. Patrick’s choice to trust God with the outcome of all things, in all circumstances.
So here are two questions to contemplate as you bite into that Reuben sandwich: Do you trust God’s love? What has to happen in your life to be able to believe that experiences, however worrisome or sacrificing or painful, can be used to create good, in your life and in the lives of those around you?
If we trust and pray, so say the Irish, God will fill our hearts with a song, every step of the way.