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I did not proceed to Ireland of my own accord until I was almost giving up, but through this I was corrected by the Lord, and he prepared me so that today I should be what was once far from me, in order that I should have the care of-- or rather, I should be concerned for-- the salvation of others, when at that time, still, I was only concerned for myself.
Therefore, on that day when I was rebuked, as I have just mentioned, I saw in a vision of the night a document before my face, without honour, and meanwhile I heard a divine prophecy, saying to me: 'We have seen with displeasure the face of the chosen one divested of [his good] name.' And he did not say 'You have seen with displeasure', but 'We have seen with displeasure' (as if He included Himself) . He said then: 'He who touches you, touches the apple of my eye.'
For that reason, I give thanks to him who strengthened me in all things, so that I should not be hindered in my setting out and also in my work which I was taught by Christ my Lord; but more, from that state of affairs I felt, within me, no little courage, and vindicated my faith before God and man.
Hence, therefore, I say boldly that my conscience is clear now and hereafter. God is my witness that I have not lied in these words to you.
But rather, I am grieved for my very close friend, that because of him we deserved to hear such a prophecy. The one to whom I entrusted my soul! And I found out from a goodly number of brethren, before the case was made in my defence (in which I did not take part, nor was I in Britain, nor was it pleaded by me), that in my absence he would fight in my behalf. Besides, he told me himself: 'See, the rank of bishop goes to you'-- of which I was not worthy. But how did it come to him, shortly afterwards, to disgrace me publicly, in the presence of all, good and bad, because previously, gladly and of his own free will, he pardoned me, as did the Lord, who is greater than all?
I have said enough. But all the same, I ought not to conceal God's gift which he lavished on us in the land of my captivity, for then I sought him resolutely, and I found him there, and he preserved me from all evils (as I believe) through the in-dwelling of his Spirit, which works in me to this day. Again, boldly, but God knows, if this had been made known to me by man, I might, perhaps, have kept silent for the love of Christ.
Thus I give untiring thanks to God who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I may confidently over my soul as a living sacrifice for Christ my Lord; who am I, Lord? or, rather, what is my calling? that you appeared to me in so great a divine quality, so that today among the barbarians I might constantly exalt and magnify your name in whatever place I should be, and not only in good fortune, but even in affliction? So that whatever befalls me, be it good or bad, I should accept it equally, and give thanks always to God who revealed to me that I might trust in him, implicitly and forever, and who will encourage me so that, ignorant, and in the last days, I may dare to undertake so devout and so wonderful a work; so that I might imitate one of those whom, once, long ago, the Lord already pre-ordained to be heralds of his Gospel to witness to all peoples to the ends of the earth. So are we seeing, and so it is fulfilled; behold, we are witnesses because the Gospel has been preached as far as the places beyond which no man lives.
But it is tedious to describe in detail all my labours one by one. I will tell briefly how most holy God frequently delivered me, from slavery, and from the twelve trials with which my soul was threatened, from man traps as well, and from things I am not able to put into words. I would not cause offence to readers, but I have God as witness who knew all things even before they happened, that, though I was a poor ignorant waif, still he gave me abundant warnings through divine prophecy.
Whence came to me this wisdom which was not my own, I who neither knew the number of days nor had knowledge of God? Whence came the so great and so healthful gift of knowing or rather loving God, though I should lose homeland and family.
And many gifts were offered to me with weeping and tears, and I offended them [the donors], and also went against the wishes of a good number of my elders; but guided by God, I neither agreed with them nor deferred to them, not by my own grace but by God who is victorious in me and withstands them all, so that I might come to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure insults from unbelievers; that I might hear scandal of my travels, and endure man persecutions to the extent of prison; and so that I might give up my free birthright for the advantage of others, and if I should be worthy, I am ready [to give] even my life without. hesitation; and most willingly for His name. And I choose to devote it to him even unto death, if God grant it to me.
&nbps; I am greatly God's debtor, because he granted me so much grace, that through me many people would be reborn in God, and soon a after confirmed, and that clergy would be ordained everywhere for them, the masses lately come to belief, whom the Lord drew from the ends of the earth, just as he once promised through his prophets: 'To you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Our fathers have inherited naught hut lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.' And again: 'I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the uttermost ends of' the earth.'
And I wish to wait then for his promise which is never unfulfilled, just as it is promised in the Gospel: 'Many shall come from east and west and shall sit at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.' Just as we believe that believers will come from all the world.
So for that reason one should, in fact, fish well and diligently, just as the Lord foretells and teaches, saying, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,' and again through the prophets: 'Behold, I am sending forth many fishers and hunters, says the Lord,' et cetera. So it behoved us to spread our nets, that a vast multitude and throng might be caught for God, and so there might be clergy everywhere who baptized and exhorted a needy and desirous people. Just as the Lord says in the Gospel, admonishing and instructing: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of time.' And again he says: 'Go forth into the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned.' And again: 'This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached throughout the whole world as a witness to all nations; and then the end of the world shall come.' And likewise the Lord foretells through the prophet: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days (sayeth the Lord) that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy.' And in Hosea he says: 'Those who are not my people I will call my people, and those not beloved I will call my beloved, and in the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people, they will be called 'Sons of the living God'.
So, how is it that in Ireland, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they are lately become a people of the Lord, and are called children of God; the sons of. the Irish [Scotti] and the daughters of the chieftains are to be seen as monks and virgins of Christ.
TOMORROW: The third and final part of this MITERS THAT MATTER - Patrick's own words.
Just as Patrick faced many adversities during his crusade to convert the Irish, so also his beloved land has faced their share of hardships - from plague to famine they have been devastated, but yet this tiny isle remained loyal to Holy Mother Church for fifteen hundred years. However, of late there seem to be cracks in the emerald armor as abortion creeps steadily into Ireland. On top of this no one can discount the terrible conflicts and violence in Northern Ireland where the battle with the Brits continues as the lines are drawn in Belfast between Catholic and Protestant. Here in America we eat, work and play with members of other faiths and think nothing of it, but in Northern Ireland it is a culture that runs deep and both sides perceive the other is wrong. We carried the passage yesterday from Proverbs 17: 14 that says, "The start of strife is like the opening of a dam; therefore, check a quarrel before it begins." How many times have we all forgotten to plug the leaks, and let the anger swell over its banks and drown our hearts in hate and resentment because we were hurt by someone, most of the time someone close to us? It happens in marriage, it happens in parishes, it happens in the workplace and it happens in the home. It is all part of the agenda of the evil one - that pesky serpent who slithers into our minds and conjures up shadows of doubt, mistrust, jealousy, and you name it. Oh, that slippery snake is clever and we have to be ever more clever, taking the advice of Christ in Matthew 10: 16, "Be therefore wise as serpents, and guileless as doves." Now snakes are not known for their intelligence, but Jesus wasn't referring to the reptile per se, but rather to His greatest adversary for He knew the serpent was clever and would use every wile against God's children. But Jesus also knew that satan's "cleverness" could entice us to retaliate in kind and this is not His way; that is why he admonished us to be "guileless as doves" for the one weapon the demon cannot tolerate is love and kindness. No wonder Christ preached this so often, no wonder His Blessed Mother asks us to love and forgive. Satan hates forgiveness, he hates harmony. He had to hate good ol' St. Patrick and Patrick himself confirms this in the encounters the good saint had with satan. Yes, the devil truly exists, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. That is his ploy - to convince the world he doesn't exist. He's done a pretty good job of it and we have to be on our guard all the time. St. Patrick knew this and passed it on to generation after generation.
Today St. Patrick's Day is not affiliated with the accomplishments of this great Apostle of Ireland, as much as it is the secular side and an excuse for a drunken binge in the middle of Lent. Tis a sad day when the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade features only a handful of Knights of Columbus while scores of Masonic Shriners, stretching out for blocks, cavort along the parade route in procession with no clue as to why we truly celebrate this day. Tis a sad day when those who you wouldn't catch inside a church, make fools of themselves gulping down one green beer after another. Tis a sad day when abortionists and gays demand to march in a parade honoring a man who stood strongly against these vices in favor of the culture of life and God's Holy Laws. None of them have a clue who St. Patrick was and what he stood for and taught. If they did, they would realize the Most Holy Trinity is Three Persons in One God - a God Who has set down the laws of life and given us all a blueprint for following them in His Ten Commandments and in His Holy Church which the Son established when He gave the keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter in Matthew 16: 17-19 and which is guided today by the Third Member of the Holy Trinity - the Holy Spirit - the Sanctifier. We pray that more understand and accept this, including the Irish whom Patrick loved so much. So as we all celebrate this glorious day, remember to show restraint, temperance, and charity for all, and while you're at it, take a page from good ol' St. Pat and bring up the reason for celebratin' the shamrock - the Trinity. That's the best reason to celebrate and pass it on. If we can all do this in the midst of Lent, we'll be contributing to the mission that dedicated bishop began fifteen centuries ago that since has evolved into a bit o' legend, a bit o' lore, and a lot of faith!
Her hand, until now hidden beneath the folds of her dark blue mantle, comes suddenly to her mouth as she stifles a gasp. I realize that it is the moment of Judasí betrayal. Her Divine Son has been handed over to His enemies.
"Son!" The word is a prayer which takes flight like a fiery dart and I see the dart leave the room and know it goes directly, instantly to her Sonís Sacred Heart. Thus do they comfort and strengthen each other, these two hearts which have always beat as one. She, the Mother - she, the Handmaid of the Lord, must also fight off satanís attacks. Her faith, her hope, her love, her humility and obedience cannot fail. She, too, from all eternity,. Has been called you suffer along with her Divine Son. He, God made Man, will not fail. She, the creature immaculately conceived, must be so united to God as to remain steadfast as His Son suffers cruelties beyond description. This she understands. This she has known from the moment of the Annunciation. This, also, has been her earthly life.
And it is prayer - pure from the heart, which sustains her at each moment. The prayer is constant, rising always to the Father. It is a prayer of humility, of absolute obedience and utter faith in Godís holy will.
She joins her hands together and her eyes raise to Heaven and there is no sound from her lips. The tears flow unceasingly but her entire being is joined to God - to her Son.
I, too, fall to my knees and pray a wordless prayer asking forgiveness for every single thought, word, deed, omission of my life which has caused such pain to infinite love. It is also, again, a heart-felt prayer of thanksgiving for all that Jesus endured for me; for the loving sacrifice of His own tortured Mother who, throughout the great trial, never faltered in doing Godís Will.
I remain here, in prayer with our heavenly Mother, and the silence of the night deepens. O! Jesus forgive me! Where are you now? What are they doing to You, Who are my God? Our heavenly Mother sees and knows. It is her strength at this moment which sustains my own poor prayer.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 7: Our Lady's Meditation on THE MOTHER SUFFERS WITH THE SON
If your faith is very weak and you lack boldness in using it, your hesitancy is probably rooted in your fear of failure. That fear could prove fatal to the little faith you might have. Very few people would dare to pray over someone to be healed of blindness, or to pray for the suppression of crime in a particular city, or for the salvation of every prostitute in the nation, but theyíll pray for the relief of a headache. They are afraid of becoming discouraged by failing in the big requests, and thus of losing the little faith they have; they then fear they may become unable to obtain even small favors from God that would require less faith.
Yet the Lord does not expect us to attain to mature, fully formed faith all at once (thatís why Jesus prayed for Peterís growth in faith). What He does expect of us is a readiness and willingness to grow in faith. A cooperative attitude is a minimum requirement to "develop bold faith in the Lord." Without our cooperation, we could become spiritually apathetic, and that can be a real problem. The "donít-rock-the-boat" attitude, or general disinterest in faith-growth, is not merely a mental state of mind, but a disastrous prelude to spiritual deterioration, for "all that is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).
Next Installment: Vertical Growth: God's Operation
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