As part of our initiative for the Year of Faith, Veritasis proud to present Profiles in Faith, a series of essays on the life and work of Christian men and women who lived their lives as ‘faith in action’. We encourage you to read the accounts, and to reflect on them over the course of the month. Additional biographical sources are also suggested, should you wish to find out more.
Profile Profile Six: St Patrick
This piece is taken from Neal Carlin’s Favourite Celtic Saints: A Simple Book of Prayers (Veritas, 2010)
St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is said to have been born in AD 385 in Bannavem Taberniae, Western Britain. Conflicting dates are given for his death, c. AD 460/490. Patrick was captured as a boy by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. Slemish (where Patrick is said to have worked as a shepherd while a slave), Croagh Patrick and Slane all call us to come aside to listen, to fast and pray and get ready to climb the holy mountain and come closer to God in prayer.
As a slave at Slemish, Patrick heard the voice of the Spirit praying inside him. He says, ‘I did not know who it was at first’ but the Spirit of the Lord spoke and Patrick realised the truth of the scripture that speaks of the prayer being a work of God in us.
Again in a dream Patrick heard the voice of the Irish say, ‘Young man, come and walk once more among us.’ Again he obeyed and came to preach to a pagan people the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. He was betrayed by a clerical friend and ordered by his Church leadership to come home. Patrick in prayer, however, heard the Lord tell him to ‘pay no attention’ to those leaders, and, with a charismatic leadership, to continue on in his good work among the Irish. The word of God is quoted over one hundred times in Patrick’s own work, his Confessions. God’s Holy Spirit speaking to him led Patrick into freedom. As an obedient listener, Patrick can be a great inspiration for the Church in Ireland today. We need to hear the Lord and find a way to new freedom.
Lord, you are the exile ender.
You invite me to break free from my sin through repentance and confession. Thank you for your mercy, which brings me back into the unity and community from which sin exiled me.
‘Christ shield me this day
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in every eye that sees me and in every ear that hears me. Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ on the lips of everyone who speaks of me.’ (from St Patrick’s Breastplate)