Statue of St. Patrick in Aughagower, County Mayo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You don’t have to be Catholic to admire and appreciate the life of St. Patrick – the Patron Saint of Ireland. He was born more than 1,600 years ago but his memory still lives on. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his holiday is often a day of much fanfare and celebration for people of Irish background. Saint Patrick himself was known to enjoy a drink or two. However the celebratory aspect of the day should not overshadow the remarkable life and good works of the man.
As a teenager of wealth and privilege he was kidnapped and taken from his adopted home of Scotland (his parents were originally from Rome) bought to Ireland and sold into slavery. At the age of 20 he escaped his bondage and found his way back home only to volunteer to return again to Ireland in his 30s as an ordained priest on a missionary quest. He spent the remainder of his life spreading his beliefs throughout the country and converting people from all walks of life. It’s worth noting that his journey was not an easy one and he was often imprisoned and beaten because of the courage of his convictions and success of his work.
There is much to learn from the life of Saint Patrick including the following:
- No matter what happens to you don’t forsake hope or allow yourself to be fully defined by your adverse circumstances;
- A life of privilege is meaningless unless you can anchor it to something more profound and “bigger” than yourself;
- Committing yourself to a cause you believe in is not for the feint of heart and requires courage and persistence;
- You can accomplish great things in life if you truly believe in what you are doing and your values align with your work;
- Confront your fears head on and grow because of (not in spite of) your bad experiences;
- Speak out when you see and injustice and help others whenever you can (even if there is a price to pay for this behavior);
- A life of significance is the result of diligent daily effort.
To my knowledge Saint Patrick was never officially canonized by the Vatican but he is still on the list of saints. Sometimes a life’s work stands on its own. If and when you raise a glass in toast this weekend, I encourage to consider toasting Saint Patrick. He was a special man who accomplished great things despite many difficulties and hardships. He put the welfare of others ahead of his own and literally was the spark that transformed the religious faith of a nation.