Today we celebrate the life of the 5th century holy man St. Patrick of Ireland. When Patrick was a teenager, he was a Roman living in Britain and went by the name Patricius. He was from a well-off family. It was around this time that he was abducted to primitive Ireland and forced to work as a shepherd slave. He was isolated with little food and clothing in cold weather. In the six years of his suffering, he devoted himself to God and prayer. He eventually escaped his captors guided by what he described as “a mysterious voice.”
Although his family begged him to stay with them, Patrick began having dreams and visions of the Irish people calling on him to return. It was a thought that was akin to being stabbed. Finally, he experienced the calling of God to go back to Ireland.
Patrick not only sacrificed a noble place in Roman society, but put himself at risk to return to his place of slavery. It was an incredible act of self-sacrifice and humility. Patrick would eventually not only change the Irish civilization, but all of history. He discipled, trained, and educated the masses. Ireland went from a chaotic and erratic culture to one that was more and more civilized. When the barbarians sacked Rome and its culture, they burned all of the ancient literature. All of it would have been lost had it not been for the Irish monks educated because of St. Patrick that copied all of those historic works. The story of St. Patrick’s legacy goes far beyond a community or a generation. He changed the world.
Here are the attributes needed in leaving a powerful legacy:
Learn how to be quiet and listen.
While isolation in captivity for six years was wrong and cruel, St. Patrick made the most of his time. He spent it in quiet reflection and devoted prayer. It gave him the chance to listen and gain clarity of thought. He got more in touch with the things that made him passionate. We are bombarded with constant noise and information. Take time regularly to remove distractions, be alone and quiet. In moments of silence, we experience revelations and breakthroughs.More personal growth and strengthening comes through times of pain than through contentment and pleasure.
Embrace trials as growth opportunity.
Patrick’s difficulties molded and shaped his life. It gave him a heart for suffering people. He identified with them in a way he never did before. There was also an unshaking God- given optimism and trust in the future. In my experience, more personal growth and strengthening comes through times of pain than through contentment and pleasure. Embrace the opportunity of difficult times and don’t be too quick to wish for those seasons to end.
Forgive your violators.
This is the most amazing part of Patrick’s story and where the world changed. It was an excruciating process for him. Not only did he forgive his captors, but went back to Ireland to serve them. I have to admit I don’t know if I could have gone that second step, but I wonder how my legacy would change if I had more of what motivated St. Patrick in me.
Have a vision for people.
Most people cast the Irish aside, but Patrick saw a people that needed him. He saw their potential and then led and served them until it was realized. It was a labor of nurturing love encompassing years of dedication. Do you have a vision for people? Do you see their future greatness? How can you help them reach it? Who needs what you have to offer and how can you serve them?
Check out iMOM’s fun St. Patrick’s Day riddles for the kids!
Huddle up with your kids tonight and ask, “Is there anyone you know that needs your help?”