The Exemplary Life of St. Patrick

Nena Arias | March 20, 2023

“He will render to each one according to his works.”
(Romans 2:6-11)

Did you know that all of the intentions of every thought that we entertain, every word and action that we express and carry out is being recorded by God? One day when we are in his presence it will all be played back for us to see and receive the reward or sanction they require (Romans 2:6-11).

Every human being that is born upon the face of the earth has a mission to fulfill. For some the accomplishment will have world renown, but for others they will live in obscurity, nonetheless, if they accomplish their God-given mission, it will be just as important in the eyes of God.

The fact of calling someone “saint” is perhaps emphasizing the exemplary life they lived, but the Bible calls saints all those who have given themselves in spirit, mind, and body to the purposes of God (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 1:2; Eph. 1:1). So don’t get confused with that word to mean that anyone who is called a saint has something that you cannot achieve in Christ.

When we talk about being assigned a mission in life. The clear example that comes to mind is of how God even knows us before we are formed in our mother’s womb as in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. We read about his amazing mission and calling from his mother’s womb (Jer. 1:4-5). “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Some synonyms for “Consecrated” are, set apart, dedicated anointed, ordained, and blessed. In Psalm 139:13-16 we find this wonderful passage that also sheds light on the fact that we are wonderfully, beautifully, and precisely designed with a very specific purpose even before we are born, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

As we look at the life of this outstanding man, don’t think that he is or was much different than you in the specific design and mission that you have. If there is one thing to emphasize is how willing Patrick was to obey God in what he wanted him to do. All we have to say and live out is also what Jesus said to the Father, “Not my will but yours be done.”

Having said that, let’s look at the life of the man we know as St. Patrick.

I would venture to say that few people know why St. Patrick’s Day is commemorated annually in Ireland and other places in the world. Who was St. Patrick and why does he merit an annual commemoration? Most people have heard of the outstanding Apostle Paul of the New Testament in the Bible. I suppose you could say Patrick was to Ireland what Paul was to the gentile world of his time in that he evangelized it up until his death. Let’s review the life of Patrick:

• Patrick’s life went from slave to missionary
• Born in Britain in AD 387
• He was captured by pirates at 16 and taken to Ireland
• Sold to a chieftain that treated him very harsh and worked him really hard. Patrick became a shepherd
• He begged to be set free to go back home
• He was a slave for 6 years to his master
• One night while he was sleeping he heard a voice telling him to get up and leave his master. He was told that a ship was waiting for him to take him back to Britain.
• The port was about 200 hundred miles away, but Patrick obeyed right away and started running at once. A few days later he arrived at the port.
• After a lot of persuasion, Patrick was able to convince the captain to let him board the ship to go back home to his family where he lived happily for some time.
But one day he received another vision from God in an Irish accent that told him to come back to Ireland and “walk among us” it said.
• At that time Patrick was learning how to become a cleric for the ministry by a priest that was evangelizing the pagan community in Ireland but because of the heavy tribal persecution and threatening he couldn’t continue. So, the church said they needed to send a person who knew the culture and the Celtic language. Only then would they be accepted and able to communicate the gospel in the language of the people.
• The tribal people practiced druidism, a belief that worships the forces of nature as god.
• Patrick was the only person the church could send that knew the language, so he was sent to Ireland to do the missionary work.
• So, in the year 433 AD, Patrick and his companions landed in Ireland.
• On his way to town, he was stopped by tribal chieftain and his followers who had blocked the road.
• Patrick told the chieftain that he was a missionary that had come to teach them about Jesus. Of course, the chieftain became angry telling Patrick how dare you speak against our god?
• When the chieftain tried to swing his sword to hurt Patrick, his arm became stiff, and he couldn’t even move it. Immediately the chieftain realized that he was fighting with a holy man whose God was more powerful than his.
• The chieftain was convicted and told Patrick that he would never ever try to stop him again. He even gave Patrick a barn, that was later converted into a church and monastery retreat center.
• Patrick wanted to meet all the other chieftains in the region and asked the first chieftain if he could help him. This worked out fine because there was going to be a grand feast and all the other tribal chieftains would be there and Patrick could have the opportunity to meet all of them there.
• Patrick met another chieftain who stayed at his house, and he was so impressed that he got baptized by Patrick. He even allowed his son to join Patrick in his mission.
• The ministry of Patrick was blessed by God with many signs and wonders that the tribes could not deny and this allowed for the chieftains hearts to open up to the message of the gospel that Patrick was teaching.
• An incident at the festival, it was a tradition that all the attendees had to remain in darkness until a fire was lit at the royal mansion by their monarch. This was supposed to mark the beginning of the celebrations. Until the fire was lit, the whole town had to remain in darkness.
• It was also the eve of Easter Sunday and Patrick, and his followers were praying at the hill, so as usual Patrick lit the pascal lights and this was seen by the chieftains.
• The chieftains were so incensed that they prayed to their god of war to put out the fire.
• As the chieftains prayed dark clouds start to appear above the hill and a strong wind began to blow. Patrick’s students told him that the chieftains were trying to put out the fire. Patrick told them to not be afraid and remain calm because the fire of God could not be put out by the forces of demons.
• Patrick prayed, and the clouds began to disappear, and the wind subsided.
• Patrick and his follows then marched to the monarch’s mansion. The monarch was so impressed with what the God of Patrick did that he became convinced about Patrick’s mission.
• But one question did puzzle the chieftains because Patrick spoke about God being the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And how all three made up on God named the Holy Trinity, just like the three-leaf shamrock which we know as a clover had three leaves but was one clover.
• The chieftains could not deny the wisdom and holiness of Patrick and his God and they gave him permission to go to all the villages and towns to preach his gospel.
• This was a great triumph for the gospel through Patrick and it began to thrive among the people and stronghold of paganism in Ireland was destroyed.
• Patrick was greatly used of God to bring the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to all of Ireland.
• He died of old age in AD 461, he was 74 years old.

As you can see, the way people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and elsewhere with much food, beer drinking, Irish culture programs, parades, comedy, music, dance and wearing green clothing has nothing to do with the real history and the life of this godly man that God used to accomplish the evangelization of Ireland with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just like all other holy occasions like Christmas where Santa Claus is more famous than Jesus, and Easter with egg hunts and bunny rabbits instead of celebrating the glorious death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—they have all only been commercialized to distract from their true meaning that is so vital for all of humanity.

We know the world refuses to acknowledge God and his savior, and they will always create distractions, so people won’t focus on him, but it is quite another thing for believers in the God of the Bible and of his Christ to also participate in these distractions. We must not lose sight of God’s truth manifested throughout history.