Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More on Patrick of Ireland

I've also spent some time today going back through Greg Tobin's book The Wisdom of St. Patrick. While it is decidedly more Catholic, and acknowledges much of the mythology that surrounds Patrick, it is nonetheless an interesting and rewarding read, and contains in the appendices The Confession, the Letter, the Lorica, and the hymn of Secundinus.

"The Romans had not dared to conquer this wild island by might of arms, but Patrick, a Roman himself, sought his mission and succeeded where no general or statesman ever had: to win the souls of the Irish for Christ, his King."

"He vociferously proclaimed his own imperfection and unworthiness, acknowledged and defended himself against the hatred of accusers in his own country, boasted about the thousands of Irish whom he baptized and brought into the Church of Christ, excommunicated the violators of Christian innocents with ringing, righteous anger, claimed no special miraculous powers that others imputed to him in later times yet saw many visions, and sought the protection and guidance of his Divine Father in a 'mission impossible' about four hundred years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth."

"He must have been an especial reader of St. Paul's epistles, based on the frequency of quotations and similarity of language in Patrick's writing. ... He learned the Scriptures as a handbook for salvation."

"His language, various translators tell us, was imperfect, imprecise, at times almost incomprehensible. He was no rhetorician; he missed that class. So, he speaks from the heart, in a way few, if any, writers of the late classical age (e.g., St. Augustine) did. He could not do otherwise, for, as he tells us in no uncertain terms, he knows only how to speak the truth in blunt, even crude, everyday language."

"St. Patrick's spirituality is simple, direct, practical, as earthy as it is mystical, not so much Roman Catholic as baseline Christian, not so much Irish as truly universal (catholic with a small c)."

"Patrick's language is most often very plain, and at the same time very spiritual, rife with direct and paraphrased quotations from the New Testament. Patrick drew liberally from scriptural passages in his own writing to give voice and validity to his arguments."

"St. Patrick's commitment to Christ, to Church, to fellow Christians, to those who had not yet received the gospel message, was unbreakable. He was ready--and he proclaimed it in no uncertain terms--to lay down his life (though not to squander it trivially, for he knew of its potency) in the cause of truth, as he understood it."

"He is a quintessential Christian missionary whose message and personality seem to flower throughout the generations."

"The kings and druids were by their very nature hostile to Patrick's mission. At the same time, Patrick apparently encountered a willing and generous people who showed their gratitude to him with offers of gifts, which he, on principle, refused."

"He gave much and yet expected nothing in return but their faith."

"He chose to live in this distant and alien but not unfamiliar (to him) land as a demonstration of his commitment to Christ. His mission took him back to the site of his captivity and enslavement, and he vowed never to leave the Irish people again, as long as he lived. To the 'heathens' who were his former captors, he brought the ultimate and most precious gift: the love of God."

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