If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though they may despise me. – St. Patrick of Ireland
Patrick of Ireland
Patrick (ca. 389-461), was taken from Britain to Ireland by pirates at the age of sixteen. He lived there, tending cattle, for six years. Upon his return to his homeland, he felt called to labour among the people of Ireland as a preacher. From 432 to 461 he worked among the Celts of Ireland and, despite the efforts of the priests of the Druid religion, managed to make the island a strong centre of Celtic Christianity.
How was it that Patrick “felt called” to labour among the Irish? During his captivity, the young man would pray to the God Who made heaven and earth; this was his father’s God, with Whom Patrick also was personally and spiritually acquainted. He would pray for deliverance from his captors, longing for his childhood homeland and his family. Eventually, the young man escaped, attributing his freedom to the Lord. Realizing his life’s liberty was a gift from Heaven, he consecrated himself to his Deliverer’s will and service. Therefore, he returned to that same island but this time under a different Master.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ above me, Christ beneath me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in all of those that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger — A Prayer of St. Patrick of Ireland
The missionary was noted for his strength of devotion to God. He was a bold man, proclaiming the Triune God as the one and true and only God that man must worship. [The shamrock was first used by Patrick to illustrate the Trinity.] He went about, preaching the Lord Jesus Christ – that only He (Jesus) could forgive sins and rescue the soul from eternal damnation. All other thought and worship was, to him, heathen.
During his lifetime, Patrick traveled all of Ireland by foot. Everywhere he went, folks were brought out of Pagan idolatry into repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. He organized Christians into [communities] in the tribal areas. During the Dark Ages in Europe, Ireland became a centre of culture from which [the religiously devout] as missionaries were sent to work on the continent.
God, through Patrick, turned the Irish Heavenward. The man himself said,
If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.
He was not concerned with their opinion of him; he was concerned for their souls.
Patrick was very bold with the Gospel. In his own words,
That which I have set out in Latin is not my words but the words of God and of apostles and prophets, who of course have never lied. He who believes shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned. God has spoken.
Patrick understood that he himself was a sinner, unable to save himself. He openly declared what few people today are willing to admit – their own sinfulness. He said honestly, “I am Patrick, a sinner, most uncultivated and least of all the faithful…” Patrick was not sinless. He understood what God’s Word clearly declares. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God is holy. Therefore, He must judge sin. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst look on iniquity” (Habukkuk 1:13).
The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart, so that I should recall my sins. – St. Patrick of Ireland
Not only did Patrick preach against sin, but he also warned men of the judgment to come. He said clearly, “He who does not believe shall be damned.” John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on Him in not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already.” Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Patrick agreed with Jesus that there is Hell to pay for sins.
Christ died for our sins. “Who His own self bear our sin in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), “and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). He was our substitute. He satisfied the wrath of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him” (John 3:36).
He did it all. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The judgment for your sins has been paid. There is nothing left for you to pay, if you rely only upon that payment made by Jesus. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). You need His righteousness! You need the life of Jesus in exchange for yours. His is eternal life. Yours is damnable.
You Must Rely On His Work; Not Your Own! Like Patrick, admit to God that you are a sinner that deserves hell, and that you have no hope of saving yourself by good works. Express your dependence upon Him alone for your soul’s salvation. He will save you. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Put your faith in Jesus as your Saviour now!
You can best honor St. Patrick and his day by honoring and believing the God whom Patrick served. Call upon the name of Jesus Christ to save your soul! And, God bless you with the devotion of Patrick of Ireland.