I have recently been reading about Saint Patrick and have been reminded of how amazing he was. As a teenager he was kidnapped and held in slavery for years. He escaped while he was in his early twenties and made it home, but that was only the beginning of St. Patrick’s story. What happened next changed the world as we know it. St. Patrick actually returned to Ireland, where he had lived as a slave. He had become a cleric and felt called to return to Ireland to reach the people there for God and to share the Gospel.
As I reread St. Patrick’s story, I was reminded of so many of life’s lessons and wisdom. Today I want to share five of these with you.
When St. Patrick returned to his homeland, he had missed years of formal education while his peers had continued on in school. He began his studies again and constantly struggled with feeling that his writing and speaking skills were not good enough. While there was some truth in his self-criticism, his humility went further than simply feeling that others were better writers than he. St. Patrick easily admitted that God was the source of his wisdom and he relied on God to equip him for his mission. St. Patrick was a very humble man who left a powerful legacy.
Love Your Enemies
Sometimes it can be so hard to love your enemies. When people in our life hurt us, our first response is often to hurt them back. So it is hard to fathom the idea of putting our lives in danger in order to reach out to the very people who kidnapped and enslaved us. Yet that is exactly what St. Patrick did. His time as a slave was very difficult but he did not forget the great need that the people of Ireland had for the hope of the Gospel. There are very few examples of loving your enemies that are greater than St. Patrick’s model.
Listen to God
Many pray for an audible voice from God but most of us hear Him in different ways. St. Patrick had several times in his life where a voice did speak to him. The first time this happened was when he was told that he would soon be free and that a ship was available to take him home. After this, he escaped and found a ship at a port that was 200 miles away. While I do not expect to hear that audible voice, I do listen for God and I hear him in countless ways. Listening to God freed St. Patrick, caused him to train as a cleric, and led him back to Ireland. Listening to God changed millions of lives.
Keep Hope Alive
While Patrick was a slave he had moments of sorrow but he grew closer to God every day. He believed that God would lead him home. Even when things seemed hopeless, he help on to hope.
This piece of wisdom is closely related to the advice to love your enemies. You cannot love your enemies until you have forgiven them. St. Patrick could have spent his entire life plotting revenge on his captors, but he did just the opposite. He forgave his captives and then spent the rest of his life working to reach the culture of those who had enslaved him.
Eventually the culture of Ireland was transformed and history has looked very favorably upon the work done by St. Patrick. March 17, the date of St. Patrick’s death, is a day that the faithful remember his work. Of course, it is also a day for people to pretend to be Irish and drink green beer, but that is another story.