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St. Patrick

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. His feast day is Friday next. Some thoughts on Patrick.

We have no way of knowing the inner life, the spiritual character of many of our Irish saints. This is not so with Patrick, however. In his 'Confession' we have an authentic, first-hand document, in which he reveals his interior life to us clearly and fully. He tells us of his vocation, of his faults and struggles, of the special graces he has received, of the words that God has spoken to him. He reveals his heart to us, his sensitiveness, his love for people to whom he ministered, his desire for martyrdom, his great love for God. Like all great apostles he was a communicative, open, ‘radiant’ personality; unembarrassed in testifying to the faith that was in him. He was so full of God that he could speak about himself without the danger of appearing full of himself.

Was he an ascetic or a mystic? According to the traditional portrait of the saint, he was an ascetic, a man of iron who lived a life of superhuman mortification. He fasted for long periods ( Loch Derg and Croagh Patrick). We are told he got up by night to pray. Yet for all this, the one certainly authentic document that has come down to us concerning his inner life gives us a different impression. The Confession is the self-portrait of a mystic rather than of a simple ascetic. He received many mystical graces. The essential mystical experience of a special presence of God in the soul, bringing deep joy and peace and a strong sense of detachment from all worldly pleasures.


Didn't like snakes much though, did he? :o)