Posted by: fvbcdm | March 17, 2014

Feast of Saint Patrick (17 March 2014)

We must not allow this Saint Patrick Day to go by without reflecting upon the tremendous debt of gratitude that we owe to that man who lived so long ago, and to God who uses the most unpromising means to accomplish great ends. Patrick was born either in Great Britain or in that part of northwestern France called “Brittany.”  In those days, they didn’t make a distinction between the people who were called “Britannici.” Some were from Brittany; others from Great Britain. In any case, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates when he was a youngster and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he was used as a shepherd by some of the local pagan sheep-growers.

He eventually escaped and returned to his native land where he became a priest. He was then sent back to Ireland, this time as a missionary bishop. And there he began the remarkably successful evangelization of that land. So the reluctant teenage slave became a willing bishop and preacher of the gospel of Our Lord throughout the Emerald Isle. And then there began the even more remarkable saga of the Irish evangelization of other parts of the world. They went to the continent of Europe where they spread the faith brought to them by Patrick in a number of countries. The brutal persecution of Irish Catholics by the English Protestants in the days of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and their successors upon the throne of England gave the Irish a wonderfully stubborn tenacity in clinging to the faith of Patrick and the other famous Irish saints. And then there began the coming of the Irish to America when again, God used the tragedy of the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s as a means of scattering the Irish who were, in fact, missionaries, to the far corners of the earth.              

As happens so often, the celebration of the feast of Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland, has been trivialized and abused so that March 17 is now for many people simply an excuse to wear green, sport cardboard shamrocks, and get drunk.  But to the Catholic Church, it will always be a day on which those who know, love, and practice our holy faith will rejoice in the role of Saint Patrick in bringing that faith from Pentecost in Jerusalem in the year 33 to every day in every place in the world where the faith is seen as God’s greatest gift to us. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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