For many of us, St. Patrick's Day is all about festivities, Irish culture, and everything green. But for faithful Christians, March 17th is the feast of a truly remarkable saint -- one who continues to be an example and inspiration on living the faith. Amid the joyful celebration, it's worth taking the time to pause in quiet reflection on Saint Patrick's life, deeds, and relationship with God.
1. St. Patrick's prayer: Christ is in me.
A good way to start our reflections is with the "Morning Prayer", also known as "The Lorica", which is attributed to Saint Patrick. It is a beautiful, poetic set of verses with a powerful message. An excerpt goes:
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven...Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me...
With impactful words, the prayer affirms how Christ strengthens and protects us wholly. He is the energy in our veins, the solid ground we stand on, the air that gives us life.
Because of this, we must not be afraid to take on the challenges of Christian living. The prayer actually starts and ends with the phrase "I arise today". It's an affirmation that we must get up and get moving -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
2. Difficulties are an opportunity to be closer to God.
Before becoming saint, Patrick had an extremely tumultuous life. He was kidnapped and sold as a slave, he wandered a desolate place for months, he was on the brink of starvation, and his safety was threatened by pagans.
But instead of despairing and quitting, the young man came to rely on God. From his time as a slave, he would stay out late in the wilderness or the woods to pray constantly. He wrote, "Love of God… increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up."
3. Faith can bloom in youth.
Another amazing thing about Saint Patrick is that his faith bloomed beginning when he was a young man. Accounts say he was abducted and slaved as a mere teenager -- imagine someone so young in such a devastating situation! But his youth did not lead him astray. Instead, that's when his prayerfulness grew. This is a wonderful thing to reflect on, showing us that age truly does not matter in spirituality.
You might also share this reflection with your child. Start by telling the captivating story of the young Patrick, and emphasize the tender age of the would-be saint.
4. Faith may be met with ridicule, but we must persevere in kindness.
Throughout Patrick's ministry, and indeed even when he was a young man traveling with sailors, he encountered much ridicule and many threats from non-believers. He wrote that every day, he expected his own violent death, robbery, or calamity, and in fact, his chariot driver was killed by a spear that was intended for him.
Yet the brave preacher persisted with grace. His response to the mockery and threats was, "I have cast myself into the hands of the almighty God, for God rules everything."
5. Listen to your calling.
At one point in his young life, after being slaved and having to wander dangerous places, Patrick reached safety and was reunited with his family. In this happy meeting, his family tried to convince him to never leave again. But the would-be saint had dreams where he heard the Irish people seeking him, needing his ministry. These dreams were indicative of his true calling: to spread the love of God in Ireland.
Heeding this call, Patrick left the comfort and safety of his home. He studied, became a bishop, then traveled as a missionary back to pagan Ireland. Despite the grave dangers that constantly surrounded him, he stayed true to his calling, and the rest is legendary Christian history.
We hope to broaden our knowledge and deepen our faith with reflections like these on Saint Patrick's Day. We'd love to hear your insights, too. Leave a comment -- we'll greatly appreciate it!