Friday of the Second Week of Lent

March 17, 2017 / By: Dr. R. Mary Lemmons

St. Patrick: Courageous Love.

Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a/Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Before the Visigoths invaded the Roman Empire and before St. Benedict established his abbey at Monte Cassino and St. Augustine was ordained a priest and a bishop, St. Patrick was born. It was about 387. Then when St. Augustine was writing the Confessions, St. Patrick was being enslaved by warriors so fierce that they used the skull tops of their enemies as ceremonial drinking bowls. The Irish of that time also practiced human sacrifice, held oak trees to be sacred, and thought that the world was filled with vicious spirits.

After about six years, St. Patrick escaped, entered religious life, became a bishop, and returned to the Irish about a year after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and two years after the death of St. Augustine. As Ireland’s bishop, St. Patrick converted thousands, ended the practice of confessing one’s sins in public, denounced slavery, wrote his Confession, and established monasteries where ancient manuscripts in Greek and Latin were recopied by hand. St. Patrick’s ability to convert the fierce Irish was due not only to the tremendous courage of his faith and familiarity with the Irish language and culture, but also to God’s grace and his theology of nature. In How the Irish Saved Western Civilization, Thomas Cahill writes that Patrick enabled the Irish to see “the world as holy, as the Book of God [p. 133] . . . designed by its loving Creator to bless and succor humans” [p. 116]. 

May we---like St. Patrick---always see nature as a sign of God’s lovingly concern for us and never let the odds sway us from sharing God’s love with others. 

Dr. R. Mary Lemmons
Associate Professor of Philosophy.