The real Saint Patrick

10628324_10205180827775592_1577891057049454180_n

 

11070445_10205180842135951_4877071463788668620_n

Last March I had the unique privilege of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland. This “bucket list” trip was special and memorable for many reasons. I was able to spend time following the Saint Patrick trail and learn more about the man and missionary called Patrick. I discovered much information and inspiration at the new Saint Patrick Center, in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, at the only museum in the world dedicated to the history and story of Saint Patrick: saintpatrickcentre.com.

slider03-SPCentre1

During my travels I visited a number of historic sites including Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, where it is said Patrick baptized converts in a well in A.D. 450, and also Saul Church, Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick built the first Christian Church in Ireland in A.D. 432.

This post has become somewhat of an annual tradition for me as I write about the story behind the celebration . . . the man called Patrick.

Kidnapped into slavery at age 16 and taken from his home in England to the land of savages in Ireland, Patrick had visions from God that gave him strength and led to his escape. So inspired and moved by God, once home in England he felt compelled to return as a missionary to preach the gospel in a land that had never heard the message of Christ before. The story continues and his writings are full of profound insights, theology, prayers, and confessions that challenge and inspire me deeply. I have included a portion of a hymn written by, or least attributed to, Patrick from around 430 A.D.

st-patrick

It should be noted that Patrick was not recognized as a “saint” until decades later, did not drive snakes out since there were none in Ireland at the time, did not use the three-leaf clover to describe the Trinity, and was basically kicked out of the priesthood for failure to submit to authority. He was, however, a great contextual theologian and missionary who reached an entire people for the Kingdom of God!

We have much to learn and celebrate from the rich and diverse history of our faith.           The traditions of past and present, while different from our own, provide a wonderful opportunity for our faith to increase. This national “holiday” of sorts, Saint Patrick’s Day, has given me an opportunity to learn to appreciate what God has been doing through servants like Patrick through- out the centuries. Of course, we can also expand our food and spirits horizons at our local Irish pub!

While last year I was in Dublin for the festivities, I will be in NYC, which may even have more revelers than the famed Irish city itself.  As I join in the cultural festivities today and in the years to come, I will always be reminded of my time in Patrick’s land.

13083_10205180835015773_8026384501876141357_n

So, as you listen to U2, thee Cranberries or DropKick Murphies (depending on your style) and raise a pint of Guinness, thank God for examples like Patrick, and may we all follow the example of a life of obedience, sacrifice, servant-hood, faith, prayer, and mission.

 

Prayer of Saint Patrick

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

11048609_10205180891577187_3259677538958112585_n

Following the trail of Patrick

On March 17 I had the unique privilege of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland. This “bucket list” trip was special and memorable for many reasons. I was always able to spend time in Northern Ireland following the Saint Patrick trail and learn more about the the man and missionary called Patrick. Much information and inspiring was discovered at the brand new Saint Patrick Center, the only museum in the world dedicated to the history and story of Saint Patrick. http://www.saintpatrickcentre.com/

IMG_4496

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my travels I visited a number of historic sites included Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where it is said Patrick baptized converts in a well in AD 450. IMG_4372

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saul Church, the site where Saint Patrick built the first Christian Church in Ireland in 432 AD.

IMG_4512

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4507

also his burial site in Downpatrick.

IMG_4504

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a remarkable and memorable experience which I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to visit the island of the Irish.

My time and travels in Ireland provided me an opportunity and invitation to expand the horizons of the Christian faith as well as sounds, sights and spirits of this great culture. During my remaining few months living in Europe, I do hope to experience a few other new countries and cultures, as so much can be learned that help broaden and expand our minds, hearts and lives.

I leave you with these words from Patrick that serve well for us all as we enter into the Eastertide season celebrating Christ’s resurrection and presence with us!

 

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

 

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

 

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

 

Christ to comfort and restore me,

 

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

IMG_4493

IMG_4408

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day…opening our horizons

clover

Saint Patrick’s Day has become a huge cultural celebration that transcends religious beliefs and ethnic boundaries.  Hey, after all, everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day!

But it occurred to me that very few students knew the story behind the parade…the man called Patrick.  If you have never read or familiarized yourself with his life, I highly recommend it.  Once kidnapped in slavery at age 16 and brought from his home in England to the land of savages in Ireland, Patrick had visions from God that gave him strength and lead to his escape.

So inspired and moved by God once home, he felt compelled to return as a missionary to preach the gospel to a land that had never heard the message of Christ before.  The story continues and his writings are full of profound insights, theology, prayers, and confessions that challenge and inspire me deeply.   I have included at the end a hymn written by Patrick back around 430 AD.

Yet, very few Christians (especially Protestant) know his story.  Often we neglect to appreciate the deep and rich history of our faith and should admire courageous men like Patrick for their example, commitment to Christ,and ministry.

I for one was greatly misinformed about the rich history of our faith growing up, and personally was very prejudice against anything “Catholic” until I actual studied about the history of faith and theology while attending seminary.

While there are clearly some  injustices, heresies, and atrocities associated with Catholicism, the same is true in Protestant history.  While we acknowledge and repent of these, we should still be able to recognize and celebrate the many positives. There have been and are great missionaries (like Patrick) and great theologians in the past and present such as Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas Aquinas, Jerome, Justin Martyr, Francis of Assisi, Henry Nouwen, and Thomas a’ Kempis,whose book the Imitation of Christ is still regarded as one of the most influential Christian devotional books written).

My point is that only when I started to read and research and embrace the history of our faith, did I come to realize how God had clearly been working throughout the history of the church, well before the Reformation.

Patrick happens to be a great missionary, who God worked through to preach the gospel, perform  miracles, and reach an unreached people group for Jesus.
What the Catholic church has done to patronize him and how we celebrate his day, should not take away from the man himself and what God accomplished through his life of obedience, faith, and dependency upon the Holy Spirit.

I have come to learn much from the past and to embrace the practices of ancient Christianity (from the early church father to the mystics).  My faith has increased as a result.
Also, I am open to what the Spirit of God is doing here and now in our midst and am willing to give Him permission and freedom to work (even if it appears to be outside of my traditions or areas of comfort) God is much bigger than our rules, traditions, regulations, and even “sacredness” of the religion itself) That was the message of Jesus and unfortunately the pious religious leaders at the time did not embrace that message and killed Jesus for it.
Though they had good intentions, they missed what God was doing in their midst, and I for one, do not want to fall into that same category and judgment.”

We have much to learn and celebrate from the rich and diverse history of our faith. The traditions of past and present, while different from our own, provide a wonderful opportunity for our faith to increase.  Perhaps our small, tightly packaged box of beliefs and views can actually open up and expand to become a much larger, fuller, and deeper box.

This national “holiday” of sorts, Saint Patrick’s Day has given me an opportunity and invitation to expand the horizons of my students as we learn together to appreciate what God has been doing through his servants throughout the centuries. Of course, we can also expand our food and spirits horizons at your local Irish pub!

So, as you listen to U2 or The Cranberries (depending on your style) and drink some Guinness (depending on whether or not you are Baptist!), thank God for examples like Patrick, and may we all follow in his footsteps of a life of obedience, sacrifice, servant hood, piety, faith, prayer, and mission.

saint-patrick

(by the way, Patrick was not recognized as a “Saint” until decades later, did not drive out snakes since there were none in Ireland at the time, did not use the 3 leaf clover to describe the Trinity, and was basically kicked out of the priesthood for failure to submit to authority. He was however a great contextual theologian and missionary who reached an entire people for the Kingdom of God)

I bind unto myself today

The strong name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,

By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan River;

His death on cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;

His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power

Of the great love of the Cherubim;

The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour;

The service of the Seraphim,

Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,

The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea,

Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay,

His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, his shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,

The vice that gives temptation force,

The natural lusts that war within,

The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,

In every place and in all hours

Against their fierce hostility,

I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,

Against false words of heresy,

Against the knowledge that defiles,

Against the heart’s idolatry,

Against the wizard’s evil craft,

Against the death-wound and the burning

The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,

Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,

The strong name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of whom all nature hath creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

salvation is of Christ the Lord.