You need to forget everything you think you know about St. Patrick. Words like ‘green’ or ‘snakes’ or ‘beer’ fail miserably to capture the saint that quite literally changed the face of one piece of this planet we call earth.
Patrick wasn’t even Irish. On the contrary, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish raiders while in some unknown town of Roman Britain around the year 400. And no, he wasn’t very religious either. According to biographers (and by Patrick’s own admission), though his father was a Deacon and his grandfather ordained to the priesthood much later in life, there wasn’t much faith going on in his house growing up.
Patrick also wasn’t very learned. In his autobiography, called Confessions – one of the first in western history, by the way – Patrick begins by confessing some hard truths about himself:
I am Patrick. A sinner. Most unlearned. Least of all the faithful. Utterly despised by many.”st. Patrick
Why is this important to you and me today?
Because Patrick is the antidote to the excuse culture. When you say, “I can’t be a saint because I had a different start than others. I didn’t have the privileges or the money, or the connections. Patrick’s life calls out from another age, saying, “Well, that didn’t stop me.”
When you say, “I don’t know how to express it. I don’t know how to respond. I am not trained or educated enough to do what God is asking me to do.” Patrick’s life says, “Me too, but it’s not about me.”
When you say, “How could I even think about calling people to a holy life when I know that I fall every single day.” Patrick’s life says, “Then you understand them.”
And when you say, “But I am all alone with no one to help. What’s the point in saying anything?” Patrick’s voice booms across the centuries, “I cannot keep silent about the great benefits and great grace the Lord has bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity.”
Patrick was a slave who brought others freedom.
Patrick was unlearned and yet taught a whole people about the Trinity.
Patrick didn’t make excuses.
He saw a land that needed to be touched by God’s hand, and so he reached out his own.
Did Patrick know what he was doing? Hardly.
But he trusted God and left all of the details to Him.
And friend, slacker though you may be, so should you.
Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Speaker and the President of Evango, a Catholic Media Organization that seeks to build a culture of Catholic evangelization and missionary discipleship. Patrick travels internationally to speak at Catholic events, parenting conferences, and to lead retreats and parish renewal missions. His new groundbreaking Catholic Parenting program, “Me & My House” has been streamed on Shalom World Tv, and is available on Formed. Patrick draws on his rich educational experience as well as his work in Catholic catechesis and evangelization to inspire the faithful in all walks of life to know, to love, and to live their Catholic faith. Patrick lives in beautiful Barry’s Bay, Ontario with his loving wife, Kyla, and their nine children.
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