Visiting the archives today, March 17, 2014. While I’m busy putting the finishing touches on my newest book (manuscript deadline, March 31), I have to pause and pay homage to one of my heroes: St. Patrick. Hope to one day visit the emerald isle of Ireland. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to You!
Passion Defines Purpose
Today, I turn to St. Patrick, as does the world, to glean His insights on the subject.
For St. Patrick’s life personifies how passion defines purpose.
Patrick’s circumstances shaped his future.
Growing up Catholic, I revered the stories of the saints, and still do. We can learn so much from the choices and circumstances of their lives.
So many legends surround St. Patrick’s story, but all share the truth that he was taken from his home land of Scotland at the age of 14 “or so.”
Captured by a raiding party, he was taken to Ireland as a slave to tend and herd sheep.
Patrick was indeed a victim of “human trafficking,” as we would say in the 21st century.
Patrick’s heart turned to God.
We are told that during his captivity in Ireland (possibly six or seven years, as he was about 20 upon return to Scotland), Patrick gave himself to learning the Irish culture and language. We could ask, “What choice did he have?”
Catholic Online shares:
“During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote,
‘The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.'”
Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.
He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him ‘We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.’
He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.”
Patrick’s Passion Defined His Purpose
When I meditate on Patrick’s story, I realize I can’t answer the question, “What do I want to do with my life?” without first considering God’s plan and purpose for my life.
Patrick was a human being, just like us. Even though he was placed in unthinkable conditions, he surrendered to God and placed his life in his hands.
He could have chose otherwise, but he didn’t.
His circumstances increased his capacity for greatness. Increased his awareness of the depravity of man. Increased his passion to help bring God to the world.
I marvel at this simple prayer that Patrick himself prayed. Three astounding confessions that beckon to me today:
- God watches over us before we know Him.
- God watches over us before we even learn “sense.”
- God watches over us even before we distinguish between good and evil.
So, on this joyful St. Patrick’s Day, filled with celebratory parades, the wearing of green, the lifting of green ale and the eating of green eggs and ham, may we take just a moment to reflect on the spiritual lessons of this great man.
And, in doing so, reflect on that question, “What do we want to do with our lives?” in light of God’s plans and purposes for our lives.
How have our circumstances shaped our future?
How have we turned to God in those circumstances?
And, how have those circumstances help define our passion and purpose?
*Download “A Crack in the Mirror,” my personal story of meeting God. Take time today to write down your story.