St. Patrick’s Day – Féile Naomh Pádraig 2023
Ennis Cathedral, 9.30 Mass (Thanks to students, staff and brothers of Rice College and the retired local soldiers for involvement)
Féile gliondarach, áthasach, shona atá i gceist agus muid ag ceiliúradh Naomh Pádraig, Pádraig mór na hÉireann chuile bhliain ar an lá seo. I bhfad is i gcéin – lá mór atá i gceist, Éireannaigh fíor-bhródúil as ucht an oidhreacht ársa bheannaithe atá againn.
How can we get to view the real St. Patrick. How can we distinguish the man of faith from the figure of legend, cult and mystery?
With a view to making an effort to do this I made my annual pilgrimage to read afresh St. Patrick’s two pieces of writing that still exist, his letter to Coroticus and his Confessions.
Both are very short works and readable in a few hours.
Both texts are of a very specific genre or type and are of course of the time, but the manage to capture and convey the sense of the man:
- the spirit of the individual that Patrick was,
- his love of Ireland, the countryside, the people of Ireland,
- his persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity, slavery, hardship, betrayal by people close to him,
- his dedication to prayer, penance,
- love of the scriptures,
- love of Jesus Christ and the blessed Trinity.
- Longing for unity with God.
Overall there is a great sense of him being on fire with energy and enthusiasm and persistence in proclaiming, sharing and living the faith.
I love the passage in the Confessions that runs:
After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time.
Many have compared his energy with that of St. Paul one of our great patrons here in the Cathedral, along with St. Peter.
What a great role model he is for us to look up to in spiritual terms.
During these synodal pathway times of walking the pilgrim path together, focusing on communion, participation and mission we pray for a renewed and revived sense of all that and particularly of mission in sharing and in living our faith that is such a treasure to us all.
I’ll finish with the words of Malcolm Guite, a Sonnet for St. Patrick and it runs:
Six years a slave, and then you slipped the yoke,
Till Christ recalled you, through your captors cries!
Patrick, you had the courage to turn back,
With open love to your old enemies,
Serving them now in Christ, not in their chains,
Bringing the freedom He gave you to share.
You heard the voice of Ireland, in your veins
Her passion and compassion burned like fire.
Now you rejoice amidst the three-in-one,
Refreshed in love and blessing all you knew,
Look back on us and bless us, Ireland’s son,
And plant the staff of prayer in all we do:
A gospel seed that flowers in belief,
A greening glory, coming into leaf.
Dóchas linn, Naomh Pádraig, aspal mór na hÉireann!
Beannachtaí na féile Pádraig díbh ar fad ar an lá mór seo agus gura seacht fearr a bheas muid bliain ón lá inniu!