Sunday, March 16, 2014

More Than Green Beer and Shamrocks

“Kiss me, I'm Irish!”

Today everyone is Irish. People all over America will dress in green, watch parades, drink green beer and eat cabbage to celebrate Irish heritage but there’s more to Saint Patrick than that. Did you know that the patron saint of Ireland is not Irish?

Patrick was born and raised in 5th Century England but was taken into slavery by Irish raiders at age 16. He cried out to God in despair, remembering scripture he'd learned in childhood: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." (Psalm 50:15)

After six years of captivity, he escaped to Normandy, where he studied 12 years for the ministry. Patrick felt a call to return to Ireland and teach the good news of Jesus Christ to the people who had kidnapped and enslaved him. He was the first person in 400 years to preach the gospel outside the Roman Empire.

Patrick did not hesitate to follow God’s call, though he lacked the backing of both the church and his family. He paid for his voyage by selling his inheritance.

Patrick faced strong opposition from the Druid priests, who practiced magic and served as advisers to the Irish chieftains. He wrote that he lived "in the midst of pagan barbarians, worshipers of idols, and of unclean things… Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere."

Patrick’s enjoyed a successful ministry in Ireland. He multiplied his impact by leading the chieftains to faith first. Patrick was then trusted by the chieftain's with the education of their children, instead of the druids, creating the first generation of Irish Christian ministers.

Patrick strongly felt God's presence. Visions had helped him escape captivity and brought him back as a missionary. It wasn't intellectual arguments that he brought to the Irish; it was the reality and power of the living God. He understood that the Druid priests worshiped the principalities and powers of which the Apostle Paul warned. He taught them to pray to a more powerful Power; the God who delivered him and continued to protect him.

Patrick’s was in his seventies when he died. In thirty years of ministry he converted Ireland. The slave trade and human sacrifice was eliminated, Christianity was established, and the monasteries that he left behind would preserve Western teaching during the Dark Ages.

For more information read:

How the Irish Saved Civilization : The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

Confession of St. Patrick

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