Feast Day: March 17th
With Fr. Alford covering the more important saint this week (and year!), St. Joseph, the obvious story for me to tell is that of St. Patrick. Well, actually, let’s have him tell us the tale. This is his “Confessio”.
[12: His introduction]So I am first of all a simple country person, a refugee, and unlearned. I do not know how to provide for the future. But this I know for certain, that before I was brought low, I was like a stone lying deep in the mud. Then he who is powerful came and in his mercy pulled me out, and lifted me up and placed me on the very top of the wall. That is why I must shout aloud in return to the Lord for such great good deeds of his, here and now and forever, which the human mind cannot measure.
[16: Enslavement in Ireland] After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time.
[19: Making his escape] After three days we made it to land, and then for twenty eight days we travelled through a wilderness. Food ran out, and great hunger came over them. The captain turned to me and said: “What about this, Christian? You tell us that your God is great and all-powerful … I said to them with some confidence: “Turn in faith with all your hearts to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for him so that he may put food in your way – even enough to make you fully satisfied! He has an abundance everywhere.” With the help of God, this is actually what happened! A herd of pigs appeared in the way before our eyes! They killed many of them and there they remained for two nights, and were fully restored…
 A few years later I was again with my parents in Britain. They welcomed me as a son, and they pleaded with me that, after all the many tribulations I had undergone, I should never leave them again. It was while I was there that I saw, in a vision in the night … They called out as it were with one voice: “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.” This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for.
[51: after shepherding the Irish people for decades] I spend myself for you, so that you may have me for yours. I have travelled everywhere among you for your own sake, in many dangers, and even to the furthest parts where nobody lived beyond, and where nobody ever went to baptise and to ordain clerics or to bring people to fulfilment. It is only by God’s gift that I diligently and most willingly did all of this for your good.
[60: His concluding plea] The sun which we see rising for us each day at his command, that sun will never reign nor will its splendour continue forever; and all those who adore that sun will come to a bad, miserable penalty. We, however, believe in and adore the true sun, that is, Christ, who will never perish. Nor will they perish who do his will but they will abide forever just as Christ will abide forever. He lives with God the Father almighty and with the Holy Spirit before the ages began, and now, and for all the ages of ages. Amen …  I pray for those who believe in and have reverence for God. Some of them may happen to inspect or come upon this writing which Patrick, a sinner without learning, wrote in Ireland. May none of them ever say that whatever little I did or made known to please God was done through ignorance. Instead, you can judge and believe in all truth that it was a gift of God. This is my confession before I die.
– Fr. Dominic Rankin immensely enjoys corned beef and cabbage, but asks himself this week whether he enjoys prayer as much as the young Patrick? He has rarely suffered serious hunger, but wonders if he would have faith-enough to ask for food miraculously? He loves his family and would find it terribly hard to leave them behind for the Gospel. He has also baptized and preached, but has never been beaten because of it. What if I were to die this week, or this year? Would my “Confessio”, my autobiography, be about me, or about Christ? That might be a good question as I pray St. Patrick’s “Lorica” this week!