Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 17 - "Before I Was Humbled, I Was Like a Stone"

There lived, about 16 centuries ago, a man who knew what it was to resist evil in all its insinuating forms. In his lifetime, this man escaped the tyranny of bitterness, faced down despair, conquered fear and captivity, and took the truth of the love of God into the enemy’s camp.

His name was Patricius, and he was a Roman Briton. His family was wealthy and he seemed to be destined to prosperity until, at the age of sixteen, he was captured in a raid on his villa and taken to Ireland, there to be kept as a slave to the age of twenty.

He had become a man of prayer in servitude, although he confessed to having no religious heritage beyond the most superficial. He wrote of hearing a voice speaking to him in this sixth year of captivity. “Your ship is ready,” and Patricius left his captors and began walking to find his way to port and home.

His education was sadly in arrears, but he set out to study and to acquaint himself with the Word of God. He never lost a sense of his own littleness in education and prestige, but he did become well-versed in Scripture and he overcame a reluctance to speak, fearful as he was that his speech was sub-standard having been so long away from his own people.

One day, he saw in a vision an acquaintance from Ireland holding out to him a quantity of letters. He took one, and it read, “Holy boy, we beg you to come and walk among us once more.” He had made himself ready, and he had resisted all temptation to hate the Irish, even in remembrance of the barbaric treatment he had received.

Patricius returned to Ireland as PATRICK, who founded dozens of monasteries, where the light of the Gospel continued to shine when the Dark Ages enveloped Europe. Patrick faced down the wicked godlessness of the Picts, who captured and sold Christian women and brutalized God’s people. Most scholars believe that the “snakes” from which Patrick delivered Ireland were actually these heartless tribal leaders, for whom he continued to pray, that they, too, might know the love and forgiveness of God. The slave trade and human sacrifice came to an end in Ireland, through the former slave boy’s resistance of evil.

In Cor Unum, we are “one-hearted” with this brave and generous man.

photo by Kerry

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