There were times, indescribable times, when the glory of God fell upon the island of Ireland. These were times when God truly did rend the heavens and come down. This tiny, green, windswept land has a rich heritage of authentic divine visitations.
During the days of Patrick, the entire island was drenched with the glory of the Son. Fierce pagan warriors became wild for the one true God who had captivated their souls. Patrick and his disciples successfully evangelised the entire land, not because of wise and persuasive words but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
What kind of man was this Patrick that God would so powerfully use him to awaken an entire nation? We read of so many myths and fables about him. Yet, the truth of his life and character shines much brighter than these dubious stories.
Patrick was taken as a slave during his teenage years and brought to Ireland where he experienced untold suffering and brutal treatment. After escaping from his captivity and returning home, he heard the voice of the Irish calling him to come back and walk among them. And so, Patrick was willing to leave his family and his country, to die to self, and to return to the place of his captivity and suffering. He had the burden and the call of God in his heart to bring the gospel to the Irish people. For this, he was willing to forsake all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed it so well when he said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Patrick’s disciples had that same selfless zeal and willingness to say, “Here I am, send me”. They too went forth from the shores of this island which they loved and brought the Good News with great joy to distant places.
In his book entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill writes,
“Monks began to set off in every direction, bent on glorious and heroic exile for the sake of Christ. They were warrior monks, of course, and certainly not afraid of whatever monsters they might meet...Some set out in boats without oars, putting their destination completely in the hands of God.”
This is Ireland’s glorious heritage… and could it also be our divine destiny?
Written by Ellen Sullivan