A prayer for the Feast Day of St. Patrick…
God our Father,
you sent Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love to all men.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Most people associate St. Patrick’s day with green beer, four leaf clovers, and leprechauns. But, the original meaning of the day was to remember St. Patrick – the man, the saint, the Roman Catholic priest and bishop.
There are many legends about St. Patrick, that are likely more folklore than historic fact. But, the facts of Patrick’s life are fascinating.
Patrick was British – not Irish. Living in the northern part of England, as a teen, he was taken as a prisoner by Irish invaders and forced into slavery in Ireland. While in Ireland, he learned the language and the customs of his pagan captors.
Around the age of 20, he managed an escape. But, after several years, Patrick believed he had received a vision from God to enter the priesthood, and to return to Ireland to offer Christ to his former pagan captors. Patrick did return, and lived in Ireland for the remaining 60 years of his life, dying on this day, in the year 461 AD. During those years, Patrick preached to the Irish people about Jesus, in their own language, utilizing symbols and images from their own culture. Some believe that Patrick is responsible for a great missionary movement that led to the conversion of most of Northern Europe.
As I am preaching, teaching, and writing a lot about the theme of restoration during this season of Lent, I can’t think of a better example than Patrick, who was deeply wounded by being captured and taken from his home and family, and forced into slavery, but was eventually restored to become God’s missionary to the very people who wounded him. Just imagine your deepest wound becoming the very thing God uses to do something so beautiful. That’s the promise of restoration.
That’s the real meaning of St. Patrick’s Day!
I leave you with words of restoration from Patrick himself…
“I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favors in this world and forever, that the mind of man cannot measure.”
Have a blessed St. Patrick’s Day.