Thursday, 17 March 2011

St Patrick




Slemish where Patrick as a slave had to tend the sheep of his master.

The patron saint of Ireland is St. Patrick (373-465 AD), and long before man gave him the title of saint, God had already made him one. "Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints" (1Corinthians 1:2). Though the Church of Rome claims St. Patrick as its own, he is more appropriately owned by the "General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in Heaven" (Hebrews 12:23), where "Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the Body" (Ephesians 5:23).

“Patrick was descended of a family which, for two generations at least, had publicly professed the Gospel. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, and his grandfather, Potitus, a presbyter in the Christian Church. He was well born, as the phrase is, seeing his father held the rank of 'decurio,' that is, was a member of the council of magistracy in a Roman provincial town. These facts we have under Patrick's own hand. In his autobiography... written but a little while before his death, and known as 'Patrick's Confession,' he says, 'I, Patrick, a sinner, had for my father, Calpurnius, a deacon, and for my grandfather, Potitus, a presbyter.' We should like to know what sort of woman his mother was, seeing mothers not infrequently live over again in their sons. Patrick nowhere mentions his mother, save under the general term of 'parents.' But judging from the robust and unselfish qualities of the son, we are inclined to infer that tradition speaks truth when it describes 'Conchessa,' the mother of the future apostle, as a woman of talent, who began early to instruct her son in divine things, and to instill into his heart the fear of that God whom his father and grandfather had served” --from St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland ---New Window, A Ten Chapter Excerpt (Chapters 9-18) from "History of the Scottish Nation" by James A. Wylie ---New Window.

Historians believe that St. Patrick's missionary career in Ireland took place in the 5th Century, though they are uncertain of the date of his birth. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered [by God]" (Matthew 10:30). Born in Britain (373 AD), Patrick was kidnapped into slavery at the age of sixteen to serve as a herdsman in Ireland for six years, where he turned in faith to the LORD Jesus Christ. "When He [God] slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). During the second half of the 4th Century, when Roman power was in decline in Italy and Britain, Irish raiding expeditions were common along the west coast of Britain, and unconverted Patrick was seized by such raiders. "I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:15). In a dream, he heard that the ship in which he was to make his escape was ready, so he fled his master and found his way back to Britain. "I being in the way, the LORD led me" (Genesis 24:27).

A passage from Patrick's spiritual biography, "Confessio" [Latin, Confession], tells of a dream that came to Patrick after he had escaped from Ireland and returned to Britain. One Victoricus appeared to Patrick, delivering him a letter entitled, "The Voice of the Hibernians". Hibernia is the Latin name for the island of Ireland. As Patrick read the letter, he seemed to hear a company of Irish beseeching him to return to Ireland. "9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the LORD had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them" (Acts 16:9-10). Though Patrick doubted his fitness and educational preparation for such a task, he entered his missionary task to the Irish people (405 AD) with the zeal of an Apostle Paul. "19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more... 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1Corinthians 9:19, 22). He met with great success in Ulster and Tara, though he faced the continual threat of martyrdom. Remember, he preached the Gospel where pagan idols were worshipped and Druid human sacrifice was still practiced. "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God" (1Thessalonians 1:9). His success with the Irish was matched by his trouble with his ecclesiastical superiors in Britain; but through it all, he humbly promoted the "Gospel of the Grace of God" (Acts 20:24).

by Tom Stewart

1 comment:

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