Saint Patrick the Man - Not the Legend
St. Paddy’s Day! (Yes we spelled it correctly)The international holiday where we celebrate all things Irish! Green beer, corn beef and cabbage, dancing in the streets, and pinching people who aren’t wearing green (or orange if you’re an Irish protestant) all represent what was actually once a religious holiday. It seems the holiday has lost its religion.
Originally the holiday was actually a celebration of St. Patrick the Apostle of Ireland. March 17th, was the day of his death.
Oddly enough Patrick was not Irish, he was English. In the mid-fifth century, as a teenager, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders from England and sold into slavery in Ireland. While a slave, the Christian teachings he had heard as a child took root in his heart and he gave his life to Christ. Eventually he escaped and returned to England. After becoming a priest he had a vision which changed the direction of his life. In the vision he saw a man, Victoricius, who brought him letters from Ireland, begging him to come over and help them. He interpreted the vision as a divine mandate from God and devoted the rest of his life to sharing the gospel with the Irish.
The opposition was fierce. The Druid priests were powerful, and demonic. But it is hard for darkness to put out light. Patrick stayed. The demons held no sway over him, the attempts to kill him failed, the intimidation only made him resolute! He had a mandate from God and he would not be stopped.
In his prayer, the “Breastplate of St Patrick” you can almost feel the opposition against him. His prayer or hymn is long and this is just portion
"I bind to myself to-day,—
The Power of God to guide me,
The Might of God to uphold me,
The Wisdom of God to teach me,
The Eye of God to watch over me,
The Ear of God to hear me,
The Word of God to give me speech.
The Hand of God to protect me,
The Way of God to go before me,
The Shield of God to shelter me,
The Host of God to defend me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the temptations of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against every man who meditates injury to me.
Whether far or near,
With few or with many.
Patrick was such a powerful figure that it is difficult or maybe impossible to separate the man from the legend. The impact of his ministry would be hard to overstate. He was the Apostle to Ireland, the founder of the Irish church, the one God used to bring thousands of Irish to salvation. Or, as Patrick described his own ministry:
“I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.”
Wrapping it up
There is lot to celebrate when it comes to someone like Patrick. His courage in the face of death threats and demons, and his determination to share the good news of the light of the world in a place of deep darkness are two. It would be a breath of fresh air to have a few Patricks in the US today.
But, perhaps the most amazing part of the story is that a slave who found freedom went back to the place of his slavery to rescue those still in slavery.
When was the last time you helped someone escape from the slavery of sin into the marvelous freedom of the light?
We always want to leave you with resources which will help you in your personal growth. Well this time we want to recommend a resource which will help you disciple others. God, Are You There? is a great tool for learning and teaching both inductive Bible study skills and the Gospel of John. Written with evangelism in mind, it is a self-contained study with the Gospel of John included in the back of the book. If you are looking for a study you can use to set the captives free from sin then check it out by clicking the button below.