Day 4: The Call of the Irish – shaping of Patrick’s character
One night, when Patrick was in his native country with his relatives, he saw a vision of “a man called Victor, who appeared to have come from Ireland with an unlimited number of letters”. Patrick took one of the letters and read the opening words, which were: “The voice of the Irish”. As he read the beginning of the letter he seemed to have heard at the same moment the voice of those who wrote to him. They shouted with one voice: “We ask you, boy, come and walk among us again”. Patrick says, “I was cut to the very heart and could read no more, and so I woke up”.
Robert Kane S.J., however, tells us that “many a weary yet uneventful year must pass” before St. Patrick can answer “The call of the Irish”. Though this is not recorded in St. Patrick’s “Confessions”, Robert Kane suggests: “Does it seem strange that while deep in his heart the longing lament of the sons and daughters of Erin kept ever murmuring nostalgic entreaties beseeching him to hasten back, St. Patrick should have lingered so many long years in quiet study and prayerful penance even though he knew that he was called to be God’s prophet to a chosen people, instead of boldly venturing in the name of Christ? Nay, Nay! It is not strange; work that is truly great is never done by random rush or careless effort. The highest type of greatness in human life is the outcome of great gifts in the hands of great character”. (from R. Kane, “The honour of Ireland”)
Patrick himself tells us: “Thank God, after many years the Lord answered their cry”.
Today we pray for Ireland, and for every country around the world where the Irish found their home. In many ways the hearts of the people of this land have been crying out to God, through various everyday struggles that this life on Earth sometimes brings. May each of these hearts know the healing comfort of God. And together we say: Come, o holy St. Patrick, and walk among us again, bring us the light of Christ to shine in each of our hearts.
A thought for the day (from St. Patrick’s Breastplate): “Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand; support of my life”.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, March 2012)
Photo by © Iva Beranek