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My Name is Patrick. I am a Sinner.

March 7, 2022

The Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:

When our fourth child, a son, was born on St. Patrick’s Day, many people assumed that his name would be Patrick, and in fact, we received cards addressed to “Patrick” after Peter’s birth.  Even though we didn’t name him after St. Patrick, Patrick was a giant in the church, and is still an inspiration to us today. We think of him this month in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, not only for that reason, but also because there are parallels between next Sunday’s Scripture texts and St. Patrick’s life.[1]

Like the prophet Jeremiah, Patrick was taken to a foreign land against his will. Like Jeremiah, Patrick spent many years preaching to unbelievers.  And like Jeremiah, his life was threatened from time to time because of it.  But both Patrick and Jeremiah were undeterred by the threats and continued to preach God’s Word.  Neither was successful by the world’s standards, but both were highly successful in God’s eyes because they listened for God’s voice and obeyed it, despite their personal setbacks and hardships.

Patrick begins his Confessio with these words: “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers . . . He [God] protected me and consoled me as a father does for his son.  That is why I cannot be silent—nor would it be good to do so—about such great blessings, and such a gift that the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity.”  

Abducted by Irish pirates from his home in Britain when he was almost sixteen, Patrick was taken to Ireland where he was sold as a slave.  Ireland was a pagan druid land in the fifth century. As a teenager, Patrick had not embraced the faith of his father, a deacon, or his grandfather, a priest—but he spent much of the next six years in prayer whilst tending his master’s sheep.  David, another giant of the faith, was also a shepherd in his youth.  Patrick’s prayers during his captivity must have echoed David’s prayer: “Answer me when I call you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1).

Patrick’s prayers were answered.  During his captivity in Ireland, he had a vision or a dream that he believed came from God, telling him to make his way to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home.  He walked 200 miles to the coast and boarded a ship for home.  After he returned to his family he began his studies for the priesthood in Europe, and years later returned to the country of his captivity to evangelize that pagan country.  

Like Jeremiah, there were threats against Patrick’s life.  Jeremiah records that as soon as he “finished telling all the people everything the Lord had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die!’” (Jeremiah 26: 8).   After Patrick returned to Ireland his life was threatened. It happened during the druid springtime fire festival known as Beltrane.  The druid priests commanded that all fires in the land be extinguished under threat of death. The pagan priests would then light a fire from which other fires could be relit.  But on Easter Eve Patrick lit a huge bonfire that could be seen for miles.  The great bonfire symbolized the light that Christ brought to the world—in stark contrast to the darkness of the druid religion.  The king was furious, and called for Patrick’s capture and death. He was not killed, but instead, like Jeremiah, lived to preach and evangelize for many more years. 

Like Patrick, Jeremiah, Paul, and others, Jesus’ life was threatened many times before he was finally crucified on the cross.  One such time was when the “Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you’” (Luke 13: 31). And like Patrick, Jeremiah, Paul, and the others, Jesus was not deterred: “He [Jesus] replied, ‘Go tell that fox, I will keep driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow’” (Luke 13: 32).

Like Patrick, Paul also called himself the greatest of sinners and the least of believers, and he also traveled to foreign lands to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Paul warned the church at Philippi that they would encounter enemies of Christ: “As I have often told you before, and now tell you again, even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:18-21).

My name is Diane. I am a sinner, just like you.  We were lost, but now we are found.  We are weak, discouraged, distracted, distraught, depressed, and mired in self-pity  from time to time. We have walked in darkness, but Christ has lifted us up from the depths of darkness by his light—the Paschal candle. We may never be recognized as movers and shakers in the world’s eyes, but if we listen to God’s voice and obey him, we will be rewarded with the highest accolade that exists in the universe: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). 

As we journey to the cross in the coming weeks, may we also take the Paschal light to the dark corners of our communities to illumine the path that leads others to Christ. 

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

Prayer:  “I arise today through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, Splendor of fire . . .I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s hosts to save me. Afar and near . . . Alone or in a multitude. Christ shield me today . . I arise today Through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation.”          

 Excerpts from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, attributed to St. Patrick.

[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday in Lent are Jeremiah 26: 8-15; Psalm 4; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13: 31-35.

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