Truth is the beginning of wisdom…


Posted by straight shooter on March 21, 2008 under Religion

We have the propensity as humans take what is good and turn it into a day of sin and self-indulgence!

Here we are again on March 17, a day set apart as Saint Patrick’s Day. What is it really? You hear, “It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, you need to wear green!” This is the common phrase of people getting ready in the morning all throughout America. Why?

Sadly, Saint Patrick’s Day has been turned into a ‘Helliday’, like some other holidays. In this case an occasion for people to gorge themselves in alcoholism … sin. Saint Patrick’s Day has definitely been railroaded beyond it’s original intent. As for Christians, we should be standing for the truth, not participating in sin.

So, what is the truth? Do you know? I wanted to find out, so let’s look at the life of Saint Patrick. Information about him is found in many different books and also in his own writings, Confessio and Epistola. Other resources are from the well-credited turn of the century church historian Philip Schaff (History of the Christian Church, Volume 4: Mediaeval Christianity 590-1073 AD), and the modern scholar on Saint Patrick, Thomas O’Loughlin (Saint Patrick: The Man and His Works).

If you bump into me on this particular day I will not be wearing green simply so that I can get as many people as possible to ask me why I am not wearing that color. Then, I will be able to share with them about Saint Patrick and how God used him.

Patrick was the son of a deacon in the church and the grandson of a priest in a small village presumably in the country region of present day England. Although being raised in the church, he was a very disobedient young man and was not a professing believer. He was captured during a raid in his youth that carried him away into Ireland as a slave. During his hard years of lonely slavery as a shepherd, the teachings of his childhood came to his mind and he converted to Christianity. He recalls in his confessions that he prayed over a hundred times in one day and often as much at night. He then received a heavenly vision of a ship and set out from his master’s house, walked several hundred miles, and boarded the ship that led him to his village.

After returning home, Patrick, received three more visions: one of a messenger carrying many letters with the same inscription “O holy boy, we beg you to come again and walk among us.” He then received another call, “He who gave His life for you, He who it is that speaks to you.” He then received another internal call including a vision of God the Spirit praying for him, which finally compelled him to return to Ireland.

Patrick returned to Ireland, presumably after receiving some kind of education, though it is uncertain if or where he was educated. However, Patrick was a knowledgeable and persuasive Christian. He returned to Ireland around 432-435 and finally passed away at either 465 or 493 (Both dates occur in Irish History), but the date of his death is agreed on as March 17th and he died in Ireland at the place his ministry began.

During the short period of time that Patrick ministered the Gospel in Ireland, the religious shift in the island was dramatic. He is known as “The Apostle to Ireland” for a very good reason. Patrick baptized thousands of people, was described as the most zealous and efficient evangelist, and performed many miracles across the countryside. He conquered the Druids of the island, and even battled the slave trade in one of his two surviving documents. He is the human instrument by which God converted the entire island of Ireland from Celtic druidism, barbarism, and idol worship to Christianity. For those of you that like numbers, in his short lifetime, he founded between 365-700 churches and consecrated 3000 priests. He changed the laws of the kingdom, healed the blind, and raised nine people from the dead. He was also “rumored” to expel all the snakes and frogs from the Island. That is what I would call an effective Christian.

With these accomplishments in mind, this is the man that is celebrated with public drunkenness, green beer, and commercialism in the form of green leprechaun hats, shamrock necklaces, shakes, clothing, lights, and other paraphernalia.

Here is a portion of a prayer said to be written by Patrick before he confronted the chief ruler of Ireland, which is now known at the Breastplate of Saint Patrick:

I bind myself today,
-To the power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to bear me,
The Word of God to speak for me,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to lie before me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me

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 breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,
Christ in the eye of every man that sees me
Christ in the ear of every man who hears me –

Salvation is the Lord’s,
Salvation is the Lord’s,
Salvation is Christ’s,
Let thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

What a miraculous life he lived, and the best people can do is put on something green and get drunk. Maybe in lieu of this a quiet reflection on why Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated is in order … by instead lifting up a prayer of thanks to God for such a man.