Racing with St. Patrick

Today we celebrate one of God’s great saints.

There will be a variety of St. Patrick Day celebrations, including road races. Many of the races will feature post-race celebrations, including green alcohol.

It has always been curious to me that a day dedicated to an evangelist and missionary should become the focus of such drinking and carousing. Not that I am against parties, since I can  enjoy post-race celebrations very much. But when people think of St. Patrick they seem to focus on the Patrick and not the Saint.

But that is even more curious, since St. Patrick was born in England, captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. After serving as a shepherd for six years, he escaped and made his way back to England. During this adventure, he had a conversion to Christianity and he felt the call to preach the faith to (surprise!) the Irish people. He studied for the priesthood in France but was not a very good student. His superiors did not want him to go, but still he went. He preached all over Ireland, making converts and founding monasteries. He became a great hero, not only for Ireland, but for the Christian faith.

In his confession he wrote, “If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation, and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many people would be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation, one people gathered by the Lord.”

St. Patrick reminds me of St. Paul.  St. Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). St. Patrick, like St. Paul, ran the good race. Maybe we should try to run like him.

Lord Jesus, teach me to run the race of life with you and your saints.

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