May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May GOD hold you in the hollow of his hand.
from the Watts' kitchen on Downie Street
For many of us, honouring Saint Patrick occurs each and every day. We honour him in action, words, thought and heart. Patricius was born during the time that the Roman Empire ruled Europe. Kidnapped from his home in Roman Briton at the age of 16 by raiders, brought to Ireland and sold into slavery, Patrick finally escaped at age 22. Patrick came from a wealthy family who themselves owned slaves. Plus, the Irish at this time were known as the largest slave traders of the land, not to mention warring barbarians who took frequent rituals of human sacrifice. Druid paganism at its most extreme.
Interestingly, the title of this piece came to Patrick in a dream after he had returned home to Briton (was not spelled Britain until later). Six years of being a shepherd in captivity and no formal education, he began to study for the priesthood upon return to Briton. Ordained as a bishop at the age of 43, Patrick returned to Ireland to fulfill a calling he believed from Christ. His mission was to rid Ireland not of snakes as common myth would proclaim, but of the serpent symbolism of the Druids.
Consequently, Patrick procured protection from the Kings and began evangelizing to the Irish while setting up and establishing monasteries. As well, he ordained Priests. Whether or not he used the Shamrock to teach the uncivilized primitive Irish is a mystery. The Shamrock represents the Holy Trinity of three divine people in God, not what we commonly refer to today. Remarkably though, the Christian foundation he set up in the Irish Monasteries was the only literacy that survived the fall of the Roman Empire.
Saint Patrick showed ultimate courage, humility and forgiveness to return to the place which was the source of his pain. He was the first to speak out against slavery; his message was to include all. He held women in high regard and spoke of them as individuals, as Jesus had. During this time, women were merely servants of men and objectified in asceticism. Essentially, he defined Christianity as a celebration of God, creation and the natural world. This took a strong hold in Ireland due to the fact that the land had no Greco-Roman political baggage. It was still Catholicism, but not Roman Catholicism.
Christ will judge all other Nations;
Saint Patrick will sit in judgement of the Irish
By the time Saint Patrick died, slavery was to an end never to be revisited in Ireland. He is buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick of the County of Down. In the Annals of Ulster, his life began in 415 A.D. and ended March 17th 493 A.D. Saint Patrick revolutionized and created a road map for his successors to evangelize in distant lands.
I have always felt a familiarity with Saint Patrick. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the east coast of Canada as a school teacher, roll-top desk and all. My family's religion has Catholicism roots in Ireland, and upon learning of Saint Patrick, folk lore passed on to me makes sense.
I must leave you, the reader, with a most profound prayer, words taken from the breastplate of Saint Patrick:
"Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."
Concluding then, every day is Saint Patrick's Day to some, but to all, everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day.