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Friday, March 13, 2009

What would St. Patrick do?

It's Friday the 13th, the economy is doing a number on us, winter has worn out it's welcome,the world feels like it's in turmoil and April 15 is looming. Things just ain't looking so great.

Irish legend and lore credit St. Patrick for driving the snakes out of Ireland. But, just like many things Irish--a culture rich with oral myth--there were no snakes in Patrick's history. As a matter of fact--many tales associated with Patrick himself are just that--tales. Many folks---mostly Italians--claim Patrick as their own. Leave it to the Italians! Yet, Patrick has no roots in Italy. He was in fact born in Wales (Britian).
According to Patrick's own writings, his very first association with the Irish is when he was taken prisoner, at the age of 16, by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family estate. It was then that he was transported to Ireland and held in captivity, as a slave, for six years--until his escape. During the time of his lonely and fearful imprisonment and his subsequent living on the lam, Patrick found himself driven to spirituality through voices that he heard--which he believed to be those of God or sent to him by God. These voices came to him in dreams--first telling him to flee Ireland (which is when he escaped). Soon after, an angel came to him--telling him to return to Ireland to spread the word of God. Following the second revelation, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years.
After Patrick's ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. Perhaps this is what the Irish are referring to when they say he drove the snakes out. For anyone with Irish ancestors or relatives--they probably understand how religious conversion and snake driving became one in the same....
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. This resonated with the Irish---a stubborn lot--because he was not force feeding them a new way of life or a new way to worship. Because of his wisdom and understanding, he and his teachings were widely accepted and heralded. In fact, he is credited with building over 300 churches (with accompanying schools) across Ireland for people to worship and study for religious lives. Thus, spreading the Catholic faith throughout Ireland in an effective and efficient manner.

It's no wonder this man was chosen as Ireland's patron saint. Patrick changed an entire country, changed the course of it's history and forever impacted it's way of life. Yet, he had no technology, no finances, few helpers and no roads to travel on. Incredibly, this one man was able to accomplish so much with so little. His spirit and his beliefs--not his riches or his charm--bankrolled it all.
And, so I ask again.....what would SP do?

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