Skip to comments.Patrick: The Good, the Bad, and the Misinformed
Posted on 03/17/2006 7:29:51 AM PST by NYer
Today, some would call Patrick intolerant or bigoted. He was. He would have flunked a class on How to Win Friends and Influence People. Imagine how he would have reacted to diversity training. If he were ministering today, he might refer to Christians as the Good, the Druid gods as the Bad, and those who believed in the pagan gods as the Misinformed.
The Druids didnt like his message. They arrested him several times, but he was always freed to preach another day.
During his 30 years as a missionary to the Irish, Patrick spoke out against what he believed to be wrong. In a barbaric era, he spoke out against slavery, abuse of women, human sacrifice, and pagan worship.
No other Christian theologian spoke against slavery before Patrick. Once during Patricks mission work, a Welsh chieftain sent raiders to Ireland who attacked a group of newly baptized Christians. The attackers slaughtered the men and took the women captive, to sell them as slaves. Patrick didnt care who did wrong he condemned it, and wrote a fierce letter to the Coroticus, the chieftain:
Hence I do not know what to lament more: those who have been slain, or those whom they have taken captive, or those whom the devil has mightily ensnared.... They have filled their houses with the spoils of dead Christians; they live on plunder. They do not know, the wretches, that what they offer their friends and sons as food is deadly poison, just as Eve did not understand that it was death she gave to her husband. So are all that do evil: they work death as their eternal punishment. Where, then, will Coroticus with his criminals, rebels against Christ, where will they see themselves, they who distribute baptized women as prizes for a miserable temporal kingdom, which will pass away in a moment? As a cloud or smoke that is dispersed by the wind, so shall the deceitful wicked perish at the presence of the Lord; but the just shall feast with great constancy with Christ, they shall judge nations, and rule over wicked kings forever and ever. Amen.Shortly after Patrick died, slavery ended in Ireland. His condemnation wasnt as complete as that of Frederick Douglass, but it was a beginning. The rest of the world didnt catch up until 1,400 years later, in the 19th century.
Let Your Light Shine
The Celtic world of Ireland and its pagan religions were savage. Caesar wrote that the Gallic Celts practiced human sacrifice, and Pliny mentioned they engaged in cannibalism. Patricks experiences as an Irish slave were his best preparation to survive there in fact, he would thrive.
Patrick preached the Gospel boldly to anyone who would listen. When he first returned to Ireland, he took to heart Jesus admonition not to hide his light under a bushel. The Irish King Laoghaire had given orders that he would light the first fire of spring. The druids extinguished all other fires as one of their spring rituals.
So on March 25, 432 A.D., before the king could light his fire, on the Hill of Slane Patrick, in the spirit of Elijah, lit a bigger bonfire that was seen for miles. The king had been warned by his Druid prophets that if he didnt extinguish Patricks bonfire, it would burn forever.
The king was furious and ordered the lighters of the fire to come to him. The next day, chanting the words of the Breastplate of St. Patrick Christ within me," etc., Patrick and his fellow missionaries went to Tara to confront the king.
With stark simplicity, Patrick shared the Gospel with the angry King Laoghaire. The king was not converted, but gave Patrick permission to spread his message throughout the Emerald Isle.
Patrick boldly proclaimed the truth to anyone who listened. He spoke of Christs death and Resurrection. The simple man who believed himself uneducated not only proclaimed the truth of Christ, but also called incantations false and spells deceits. Nevertheless, he still saw Jesus Christ in the hearts of those who were misled and tried to minister to them.
In time, various chieftains of Ireland were converted and sent their sons to Patrick to be trained in the Christian faith. As a result, Patrick spread the seeds of Gods Word on fertile soil, and Ireland was changed forever. As Abraham Lincoln once said, The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.
The lesser-known part of St. Patricks breastplate concludes with the following:
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity,
the Creator of the Universe.
Patrick saved the western world. When the barbarians conquered Rome and Christianity fell away throughout Europe, it was the monks of Ireland that traveled back into Europe spreading Christianity and, therefore, salvaging western civilization.
Patrick was a great man, a true servant of God, and of his fellow man. It doesn't seem right that so many people "honor" his memory by dumping vast quantities of alcohol down their throats. I wish there were more people like him around today.
St. Patrick bump.
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