Celtic Christianity (1): St. Patrick
The Effect of a Man - “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). Patrick, the apostle of Ireland (ca 390 – 461) was a contemporary of St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Jerome. He was a young man when the Visigoths sacked Rome (410) and when Bishop Leo I persuaded Attila the Hun not to attack Rome. Many aspects of Patrick's life are uncertain - his birthday, his death, the exact years of his life, the places of his early life, etc. What we know is that he was the son of a British Christian and was kidnaped from his home in Scotland at 16. He was made to be a slave in Ireland for six years and after escaping, dedicated his life to convert the land of his captivity. Patrick preached and converted much of Ireland. He baptized thousands of people and consecrated over 350 bishops. All that he accomplished he attributed to the gift of God. “I entreat [you] that nobody shall ever ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing that I achieved ... but accept and truly believe that it would have been the gift of God. And this is my confession before I die.”
The Transformation of a Man - “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Patrick turned from his hardness of heart and trusted God through the trials of being a shepherd-slave. “I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number...the Spirit was burning in me...” Patrick's gospel zeal is clear his own words in the Confessio, filled with over 200 quotations or allusions to Scripture.
The Character of a Man - “The righteous gives and does not spare” (Prov. 21:26b). Palladius was sent to Ireland in 431, but was terrified by the fierce opposition of a pagan chieftain and abandoned the mission with only few converts. Patrick, however, had been molded into a man of courage and strength through his servitude and destitution as a slave. During his ministry he had many gospel victories, but more than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives. He was a man of integrity, but he was also shrewd. “From time to time I gave rewards [bribes] to the kings, as well as making payments to their sons who travel with me...I do not regret this nor do I regard it as enough. I am paying out still and I shall pay out more. The Lord has the power to grant me that I may soon spend my own self, for your souls.”
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more
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