I am Irish, and although St. Patrick is well known as the patron saint of Ireland (and Nigeria and engineers), that’s not why I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, not being Catholic, I’m not prone to celebrating saints at all, as if they’re good luck charms, or worse, excuses to get drunk.
I am less interested in my Irish heritage and more interested in a legacy of faith and courage. St. Patrick’s was one of those, being a missionary to pagan Ireland with not much religious experience to commend him, only a call.
In honor of his life, I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes of his.
“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” (from “The Breastplate of St. Patrick”).
“My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“[There] is no other God, nor will there ever be, nor was there ever, except God the Father. He is the one who was not begotten, the one without a beginning, the one from whom all beginnings come, the one who holds all things in being – this is our teaching. And his son, Jesus Christ, whom we testify has always been, since before the beginning of this age, with the father in a spiritual way. He was begotten in an indescribable way before every beginning. Everything we can see, and everything beyond our sight, was made through him. He became a human being; and, having overcome death, was welcomed to the heavens to the Father. The Father gave him all power over every being, both heavenly and earthly and beneath the earth. Let every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and whom we await to come back to us in the near future, is Lord and God. He is judge of the living and of the dead; he rewards every person according to their deeds. He has generously poured on us the Holy Spirit, the gift and promise of immortality, who makes believers and those who listen to be children of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is the one we acknowledge and adore – one God in a trinity of the sacred name” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“Even though there’s truth in my excuse, it gets me nowhere” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“The Spirit is a witness that what is of the countryside is also created by the Most High” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“Those who wish may laugh and insult. But I will not be silent, nor will I hide the signs and wonders which the Lord has shown me even many years before they came about. He knows all things even before the beginning of time” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“So I want to give thanks to God without ceasing. He frequently forgave my lack of wisdom and my negligence, and more than once did not become very angry with me, the one who was meant to be his helper. I was not quick to accept what he showed me, and so the Spirit prompted me. The Lord was merciful to me a thousand thousand times, because he saw in me that I was ready, but that I did not know what I should do about the state of my life. There were many who forbade this mission. They even told stories among themselves behind my back, and the said: ‘Why does he put himself in danger among hostile people who do not know God?’ It was not that they were malicious – they just did not understand, as I myself can testify, since I was just an unlearned country person. Indeed, I was not quick to recognise the grace that was in me; I know now what I should have done then” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
“Now I commend my soul to my most faithful God. For him I perform the work of an ambassador, despite my less than noble condition” (from St. Patrick’s Confession).
So, I’m not wearing anything green or eating and drinking anything unnaturally green today. I don’t expect to eat the traditional Irish corned beef, cabbage, and potato dinner, either. I’m not that focused on my Irish roots at all.
I’m thinking about what it’s like to be a young Christian with a calling to an unconventional life and ministry, and how doing things differently can bring out criticism like nothing else. But you know something? If St. Patrick can do it, so can I.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NLT).