Today is St. Patrick’s day and it’s too bad that today is, in the minds of most, merely a day to drink and wear green. Nobody remembers that Patrick was one of the great missionaries of the Church.
Patrick believed himself called to preach the gospel in Ireland which was filled with pagan Celts. He preached boldly against idolatry and proclaimed the world-embracing, world-transforming grace of God in Jesus.
Here’s a piece of one of his sermons denouncing the worship of the sun:
For that sun that we behold at God’s command, rises daily for us— but it shall never reign, nor shall its splendor continue, but all even that worship it, miserable beings, shall wretchedly come to punishment. But we who believe in and adore the true sun, Jesus Christ, who will never perish, neither shall he “who does His will”— but shall continue forever, — as Christ continues forever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty, and with the Holy Spirit, before the ages, and now, and through all the ages of ages.
He faced danger daily and had to endure great opposition (as his Lorica reminds us), but he was always confident in the eventual victory of the gospel:
For I am greatly a debtor to the God who has bestowed on me such grace that many people through me should be born again to God, and that everywhere clergy should be ordained for a people newly coming to the faith, whom the Lord took from the ends fo the earth, as He had promised of old by His prophets: “To Thee the Gentiles will come and say, As our father made false idols, and there is no profit in them.” And again: I have set Thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.” And there I am willing to await the promise of Him who never fails, as He promises in the Gospel: “They shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob;” as we believe that believers shall come from all the world. . . . Therefore it is very necessary to spread out our nets, so that a copious multitude and crowd may be taken for God. . . .
He spread his nets and God blessed his labors.
Patrick’s life serves as a model for us today who are facing an increasingly barbaric and pagan culture. It is not the time to “keep a low profile” — rather it is time boldly to believe the promises of God and stand forth courageously for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Patrick would say at the close of his life, “I confess to my Lord and I do not blush before Him, because I lie not, from the time that I knew Him in my youth, the love of God and His fear have increased in me; and until now, by the favor of the Lord, ‘I have kept the faith.’”
Amen. So wear some green if you like and have a beer along with it, but remember, the main thing St. Patrick’s day calls us to is keeping the faith.