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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

God's Judgment

Patrick knew it when he was under it.

Patrick (2)

Calpornius, my father, son of the late
Potitus, was a deacon. His estate
was near to Banna Venta Berniae,
where, as a priest, his father served to say
the liturgy and guard the flock of God.
When I was sixteen years of age, the rod
of judgment fell on me, as I deserved,
and I was carried off and made to serve
in Ireland, as were many others. We
had turned our backs on God impiously,
and scorned His Law, refusing to obey
our bishops who proclaimed to us the way
of God’s salvation and exhorted us
to put aside our sinful ways and trust
the Lord. Yet we refused to know our good
and loving Savior, as we clearly should…

 - Patrick Confession

I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

 - 1 Timothy 1.13-15

The Irish of Patrick’s day were a feared people. Or peoples, we should say. Ireland was divided into tribal regions of Celtic peoples who, centuries before, had migrated across southern Europe, fighting the Romans along the way, until they reached Britain and then crossed the Irish Sea to Ireland.

They had no schools or literature. The Celtic tribes of Ireland were made up of extended family units, organized around a central tribal ruler. The tribes were continuously at war with one another, mainly in the form of cattle rustling. The Irish were fierce combatants, as Julius Caesar recorded, and as the Romans knew so well that, having occupied Britain, they decided not to try to subdue the Irish. The cost, they reckoned, would not be worth the gain.

The Irish knew they were feared, so it was part of their normal lifestyle to raid the communities in the west of Britain, looking mainly for slaves to sell or put to work. On one such sortie, Patrick, at the age of 16, was seized, bound, and carried away to Ireland with many of his friends.

He seems immediately to have understood that this was an act of divine judgment, justly deserved.

Patrick grew up in a Christian home. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather was a priest. He would have been in church every Lord’s Day. His schooling, overseen by church officials, would have reinforced what was taught in church.

But Patrick wasn’t interested. He took neither teaching nor church seriously. He was a youth, and his thoughts were perpetually elsewhere. He didn’t mind being thought of as a Christian and to keep up certain appropriate appearances. But his heart wasn’t in it. He refused to heed the teaching of his pastors—and I can’t help but wonder whether here is where their jealousy and resentment toward him originated—and he spurned the Law of God and the Gospel of the Lord.

To discourage flight, Patrick was taken to the west of Ireland and sold to a farmer whose lands were near the Wood of Foclut. He would languish there for six years, keeping his master’s sheep and lamenting his prodigality.

Patrick would have agreed with Paul. He would have seen himself as a chief of sinners, justly deserving whatever judgment God imposed on him. The same is true for us. Before we knew the Lord—before, that is, He overwhelmed us, invaded us, and transformed us by His grace—we were His enemies (Rom. 5.10), content to follow our puny, pernicious ways apart from any perceived need of God.

But just as God came to each of us, so He came to Patrick. He did not abandon His child to perpetual slavery among the Irish. Rather, he used this affliction to shake Patrick to his soul and awaken the seed of the Gospel to full and abundant life.

Just as He has done with us. We have so much in common with Patrick! And I pray that, as we continue through this study, we’ll discover additional ways that, as God worked in and through Patrick, so He has—or can—work in and through us. We do not fear the judgment of the Lord (Rom. 8.1) because we know that God made Jesus to be sin for us, that we, in Him, might be made the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).

Patrick’s woeful beginnings became wonderful blessings for the Irish people. May his life and ministry do as much for us as well.

For Reflection
1. What is the grace of God? How does grace work in us?

2. How will you need grace today to serve the Lord in your Personal Mission Field?

Psalm 5.11, 12 (Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
Let those rejoice who seek You and shelter ‘neath Your wing.
Their tongues shall rise to speak to Your praise; Your grace they sing.
Your people You will bless, LORD, all those who to You yield.
Preserve them with Your best Word, and guard them like a shield.

Keep me focused on You today, O Lord, so that I…

Patrick’s Legacy

You can read more about the impact of Patrick’s ministry in our book, The Legacy of Patrick. Here you’ll learn how Patrick’s work has affected generations of Christians down to our own day. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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