Friday, March 17, 2023

S. Patrick, Bishop († 461)

Blessed are the meek (the gentle): they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:4).

According to Pope Francis, “Meekness can be seen by how one reacts to a hostile situation. Anyone can appear meek when everything is peaceful, but how does one react if one is under attack, offended, threatened?”

Patrick, who is remembered in the Church's Calendar today, knew hostility. He was fifteen when he was captured from his family’s estate in northwest Britain and made a slave to an Irish chieftain. He was not an especially religious boy, but his six-year captivity became a training-ground for prayer. Even as he was tried by hunger, loneliness, and the raw Irish weather, he came to realise his deep dependence on God.

Inspired in a dream, he escaped at last and returned to his homeland. His family made him promise never to leave again. But then, in another dream, a letter came “from the Irish”: “We beseech you, holy youth, to come and walk once more among us.” Patrick admitted: “I was exceedingly touched in my heart and could read no more.”

He was ordained a priest and then consecrated a bishop, and sold his own inheritance to finance the mission. Returning to Ireland, Patrick devoted the rest of his life to serving those who had once enslaved him. He braved all sorts of dangers and hostility to teach, preach, and baptise. He ordained young men and saw many young women consecrate their lives to Christ. The “Apostle to the Irish”, Patrick is venerated worldwide.

All-loving Father, through the intercession of Saint Patrick, help me to serve even those who revile me.

(From the December 2021 edition of Magnificat. Subscriptions here.)


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