Moving into March always reminds me of St. Patrick’s Day, which I’m quite a fan of. You could say it’s because I like old Celtic music. March 17th is my birthday, which I always assumed excludes me from having to wear green. But the greater weight here is my love for the man the day is named after, the historical St. Patrick himself.
There are plenty of myths and folklore surrounding Patrick. However, we do know that around 400 AD, he was taken prisoner from Great Britton by Irish raiders and enslaved. Eventually, Patrick returned to Britton after experiencing a Christian awakening and later sensed a call to return to Ireland to share Christ with his captors in the 420s. History tells us that God powerfully used Patrick to lead countless Celts to the love of Christ. The picture we have of Patrick is a man who was profoundly committed to Christ and the people of Ireland. He loved God, and he loved the people.
The fruit of Patrick’s labor has more far-reaching ramifications than most people realize. Church historians note that Patrick ordained the monks who continued to spread the love of Christ, preserve scripture, write, and create monasteries even in Europe. This dedication to Christ held back some of the darkest days following the destruction of the Roman Empire. The historian Herbert Kane observed:
“What is the debt the world owes to primitive Celtic Christianity? The answer is that it produced the greatest missionary effort the world has ever seen; that when Europe was overrun by the barbarian hordes, these wandering Irish saints pushed their settlements right into the heart of European heathendom . . . and not only made possible the Christianization of barbarian Europe, but educated and supplied the greatest teachers down to the time of Charlemagne.” [i]
A hope-filled blessing came to the Western world because of Patrick. But the world and Ireland are different today. Probably around 1% of the Irish people would consider themselves evangelical Christians, and those who side with Catholicism know little more than tradition, even if they practice their faith at all. The Irish people today don’t know the authentic Christ. It saddens me. How can people celebrate a day named after a Saint and know so little of him? It saddens me to think of the people who know so little about the authentic Jesus Christ and all he offers for eternal life and peace.
But yet, Patrick reminds me that there is still hope for Ireland and the globe. St. Patrick’s Day reminds us that one man can make a difference. Patrick’s dedication to Christ and the people changed Ireland and maybe even the world. Patrick trusted Christ and sacrificed to see others come to know the savior who saved him. So, yes, this minor holiday on the calendar reminds me that there is hope.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with a portion of one of Patrick’s most famous printed prayers. Enjoy and go and do!
“I bind unto myself the Name,
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.”
- Kane, Herbert J. A Concise History of the Christian World Mission. Grand Rapids: Baker Bok House. 1982. Pg 38.