This week's reflection is from our curate Revd Shirley Holder
Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day, so what can I tell you about ‘my’ patron saint? He was Irish through and through, like me? Wrong! He was from Britain, possibly Welsh or Cornish. He wrote St Patrick’s Breastplate? Wrong, that’s an 8th century hymn and St Patrick lived in the 5th! He drove snakes out of Ireland? Wrong! Yet, as the Irish would say: Ah sure, never mind, wasn’t he a ‘darlin’ man’!
And he was a ‘darlin’ man’, in God’s eyes. He learnt about Jesus from his deacon father in Britain, his faith growing deeply during his teens, when he spent 6 lonely years, a shepherd like David, but a slave on Irish hills. We learn from his ‘Confessio’ of his awareness of God’s presence, including in his dreams. One dream showed him a ship ready to take him to his homeland and he duly escaped. However, in another dream a few years later, he was delivered a letter ‘The Voice of the Irish’, calling him back. Like St Paul being called to Macedonia, Patrick crossed the water again, and spent his life travelling around Ireland telling the people about the sacrificial love of God. In ‘Confessio’, he describes his deep gratitude to God for calling him to help hundreds turn from ‘idols and unclean things’ to become ‘the people of God’, and he rejoiced in baptizing and confirming many.
Before returning to Ireland, St Patrick was troubled for some time because he felt insufficient to the task of representing Christ. Yet by focussing on God’s abundant blessings, he learne d to trust his Saviour in all things. It is not certain that he used the shamrock when teaching about the Trinity, but to do so would be very Christ-like, for Jesus knew how much we can learn about him from all that surrounds us.
As we continue our Lenten journey, let’s use as a prayer to draw closer to Jesus, the words from the beautiful hymn attributed to Patrick, but reflecting well his discipleship: ‘Christ be with me, Christ within me…. Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in heart of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger’.