Image of St. Patrick as a slave in Ireland. Down Cathedral.
St. Patrick wrote his main work, The Letters, around the year 460. His words remain a source of strength and courage for many people today, especially priests.
He reminds us that it is never too late to give ourselves fully to the Lord-
“The Lord revealed to me the nature of my unbelief, so that even though it was late, I should recall my transgressions and turn with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who fixed his eyes on the desperate situation I was in and showed pity towards my young age and foolishness and kept guard over me even before I knew Him and before I could learn wisdom or distinguish between good and evil, and has protected me and consoled me as a father would his son.”
He encourages us to be brave in speaking in public about Christ and salvation-
“I have thought of writing about this for a long time but hesitated until now because I was afraid to enter the arena of speaking in public. I have not learned as well as others, those deeply immersed in both law and Scripture, whose education since childhood was never interrupted but made more perfect. But I would not keep silent for fear of retribution. And if people think I am pushing myself forward too much because of my lack of knowledge and hesitant speech, nevertheless it is written: ‘Even tongues that stammer shall quickly learn how to speak words of peace’. How much more should we strive to share this wisdom with others, those of us who are like a letter sent from Christ for the salvation of the world., not necessarily eloquent but one engraved powerfully into your hearts, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God.”
Clearly, St. Patrick had a strong life of prayer-
“After I came to Ireland, every day I had to tend cattle and many times I prayed throughout the day. The love of God surrounded me more and more and my faith and reverence towards God was strengthened. I used to rise before dan to say dawn through the snow, the ice and the rain and I thought no evil, nor was there any laziness in me – as I now see – because the spirit was fervent within me.”
He knew that it was a great challenge to follow Christ the Lord-
“I do not trust myself for there is a strong force which strives every day to subvert me from the faith and from the purity of true religion which I have committed myself to with my life with Christ my Lord; but the hostile flesh is often dragging me down towards death, towards the forbidden pleasures of what self desires.”
St. Patrick recognised his human weakness but still had deep trust and respect for God-
“And I know that in some ways I have not lived a perfect life as other believers, but I trust in my Lord and am not embarrassed in his presence because I am truthful. Since the time I came to know him when I was young, the love and respect for God has grown in me and from then until now I have kept the faith.”
Clearly, St. Patrick faced ups and downs in his faith journey, but his determination and deep life of prayer remain a model for us all.