St Patrick

ireland st pat

As we reflect on St. Patrick, consider as well the pilgrimage Jennie Weeks and I will lead to Scotland, September 16-26, 2024. Our theme will continue with our pilgrimage in Ireland two years ago: “Celtic Christianity and life with God.” This time, we will follow many of the Scottish saints who brought light into the dark ages and “saved western civilization” following the fall of Rome, (AD 476). The grand finale in our itinerary will include St. Columba and our journey to the holy island of Iona which often is referred to as “the cradle of Christianity.”

Should you have questions and want further information, please contact: Jennie Weeks at: [email protected] or myself at: [email protected].

Perhaps we will learn in our contemporary setting something from the past, especially this period of history and how a remarkable witness spread the Gospel and changed the culture. Everyday townspeople learned from monastic settings fundamental life-skills which gave men and women, boys and girls, a strength of character when facing the harshness of their time.

Celebrating the lives of these saints often begins on March 17, with St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  He is the one who ushers in our awareness of Celtic Christianity and introduces some unique characteristics of the Christian faith. Sure, many of us are familiar of his teaching the Trinity by showing how a three-leaf shamrock is one, just as The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are one. It was a way to recognize God’s presence through natural elements like earth, wind, water, fire. Nature revealed God the Creator and the seen and unseen aspects of life were integrated and embodied by St. Patrick’s teaching.

As an example, the wild goose was a sign of the Holy Spirit. A dove often is considered the symbol for the Holy Spirit but St. Patrick and his followers recognized the goose as a natural bird for Ireland as it had the characteristics of the wilderness, awareness of God with the sound of honking, the rush of the Spirit by the wind of flight, and glory in the presence of our Lord.

Jesus was at the heart and soul of this Christian witness and the Celtic cross became an iconic symbol for recognizing “thin places” and the power found in the resurrection of Jesus who brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven.

As we approach Easter, I vividly remember climbing the Hill of Slane. Here, St. Patrick lit the Paschal flame on Easter Eve. The flame brought light into darkness and it was a sign of defiance to the Druid king. The king sent messengers demanding the flame be extinguished.

Yet, the Easter flame kept burning.  The King of Tara held a trial for St. Patrick only to find the king’s followers became converted by baptism.  St. Patrick had chanted The Lorica, a song of protection, and a hymn played in church worship today reminding us on March 17 of the witness made by St. Patrick on Easter Eve.

Robin Jennings

Robin Jennings

Robin T. Jennings is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, and an accomplished author, speaker and teacher who inspires his audiences with Biblical guidance and spiritual insights into everyday life. Whether he has the opportunity to speak to churches, businesses or organizations, Robin’s lifetime of work in spiritual transformation and renewal connects individuals with timely topics such as the importance of community, hope, identity and the search for meaning which are inevitably woven into his message.

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