St Patrick’s Day Word on the Week 18th March 2023.
One of the highlights of Dublin’s year is the commemoration of St Patrick’s Day on 17th March. Like many today Patrick knew what it was to be a victim of war and to be cut off from his homeland. He spent his enforced exile as a shepherd in the hills of Antrim where he had an encounter with the living God that gave his life direction and purpose.
After six years Patrick escaped from his captivity and returned to his family in Bannavem. He answered the call to proclaim his faith and like St Paul before him became a priest of the Gospel (Romans 15 verses15 to 16).
The conversion of the Irish to Christ was headed by Palladius who appears to have had some success along the Eastern side of Ireland. By the time Patrick returned there was an established mission field. Patrick set about baptising converts into the Triune Name using the existing wells for that purpose.
While some of the Irish Kings welcomed Patrick others were less friendly. Matters came to a head with the lighting of the fire on the hill of Tara by the High King to proclaim the Spring feast. No fire was permitted to be lit while the ceremony proceeded. Patrick lit his own fire on a neighbouring hill challenging the authority of the King and druids.
The High King was told that if the hostile fire was not put out now, it would never die out in Ireland! The druids’ warning was well founded, the fire continued to burn and Christianity to spread throughout the country.
Yesterday’s Parade sported the banner ‘We are One’. This referred to the oneness of humankind. Certainly many nations were involved the largest bands coming from Canada USA, and Ireland.
Patrick would have enjoyed the music. At least he left us with his song to the One he loved.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, I bind unto myself the Name,
Christ behind me, Christ before me, The strong Name of the Trinity;
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, By invocation of the same.
Christ to comfort and restore me, The Three in One and One in Three.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Of whom all nature hath creation;
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
To which St Paul might say –
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2: verses 11 to 14).