St. Patrick was born in Britain, under the rule of Rome in the fifth century (the 400’s for you math people.) Like so many young people throughout all of history, he was rather rebellious and he rejected the Christian faith of his family. (So hang in there, mom and dad, God isn’t finished yet.) In his early teens, Patrick had an unfortunate, unlucky experience, he was kidnapped. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates and was forced into slavery under a Celtic warlord. (Gotta love my ancestors!) After six years, Patrick finally escaped. He returned to Britain, but his cruel captivity, the nightmare of slavery, the horror of losing his freedom, trans- formed Patrick, and ultimately, the world. He decided to become a priest and, wonder of wonders, decided to go back to the very people who had chained him in order to bring them the freedom, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Patrick’s influence is now far and wide. Some writers suggest that because of the monasteries that Patrick founded, Western civilization remained alive. If that wasn’t enough, Patrick is the first person in all of recorded history to unequivocally condemn and renounce the practice of slavery. It would be fourteen hundred years later before the United States of America (and the Vatican) would catch up with him!!
Patrick took the unlucky, unfortunate, ill-fated occurrence of his slavery and transformed it with the grace of God into a gift of life and hope, a gift for the people of Ireland, a gift for the Church, a gift for the world, and this week a gift for all of us. It a gift that was given to my ancestors, making me a direct recipient of the gift of Patrick.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!