Our new Patron of Victims of Slave Trafficking
For the feast of St Patrick of Ireland
" Unfortunately, the great Christian mystics have been generally presented as models of perfection or monuments of orthodoxy - sometimes, too, as inhumanly joyless and ascetical . Yet they were, above all else, men and women of feeling, always vulnerable, at times perhaps even insecure and uncertain of the way ahead. For all that, they shine with a special divine likeness and a special human radiance ...
This little book is at once a study of a fifth -century text and a portrait of the writer of this text, who names himself as Patricius, the son of one Calpornius, a Christian Deacon ( whose father was a Priest ) and a Roman decurio or alderman ...
The "Confession" is a letter in defense of his life-work, and it was preceded by a shorter letter written to the followers of a local British leader named Coroticus, who had taken prisoner many of Patrick's converts and proposed to sell them into slavery, as Patrick himself had been kidnapped and sold as a boy of sixteen ...
There are two sources of light in the world of Patrick... Holy Scripture and his own dreams.
Here I want to look at the dreams.
The "Confession is a short document ...yet it contains seven distinct dream narratives ... They are various and striking, and so vividly told that they, more than the recital of events , give liveliness and freshness to the narrative. "
Aristocracy of Soul : Patrick of Ireland
By Noel Dermot O' Donoghue 1987
"Here comes (Joseph) this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits ; then we shall say that a wild beast devoured him, and we shall see what becomes of his dreams."
Genesis 37: 19
Oh I wish I had an icon of St Patrick to show you but I've never had a commission to paint him ; almost twice I had one, but the people never actually decided. So I'm showing you two things ; my favorite book on St Patrick and an icon I painted (wrote) for my dear Irish Priest friend Fr Patrick 0' Brien. It is Our Lady of the Sign.
What is the "sign" ?
It comes from this passage in Isaiah 7: 10 - 15
"Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz,' Ask a sign from the Lord your God : let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. ' But Ahaz said, ' I will not put the Lord to the test. ' And He said, ' Hear then O House of David ! Is it too little for you to weary men , that you weary God also ? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold a young maiden shall conceive and bear a son , and you shall call his name Emmanuel ... ' "
Some "Irish food " for thought on this feast :
1) Emmanuel the Sign , is God with us ... now. No matter how terrorized we are by the signs of today's or tomorrow 's news - be it ferocious weather or political mayhem, or personal depression and darkness, Emmanuel is with us.
2) Dreams are sometimes very important . Joseph of the "Many Colored Garment " tells us this with his life , in the book of Genesis. So does the life of the husband of the Blessed Mother, St Joseph ...
And St Patrick as well, and his seven dreams, but also, his experience as a young boy being kidnapped, St Bakhita too survived this terror; both became Christ figures of Forgiveness. (remember too Joseph forgiving his brothers in Egypt)
3) There are 20 million people enslaved today and human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar a year industry.
St Patrick intercede for us to live (as you did) in God's dream for us , and please, we beg you, ask Our Lord and Our Lady of The Sign, to free all those men
, women, and children enslaved (in any way) this very month and day of your feast.
17 March 2017
Fr Bill McNichols