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Exalted for the Word

Patrick's ministry begins.

Patrick (7)

So this alone I boast, and nothing more:
That I, a rustic man, who was before
a wretched sinner and a slave, have been
exalted to proclaim God’s Word to men.

 - Patrick, Confession

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. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

 - 1 Timothy 1.15, 16

At the time Patrick sailed for Ireland, by his own testimony he “barely knew the Lord”. But he knew the Lord was calling him to the ministry of the Word in Ireland, and he believed God would supply all that he needed to fulfill that calling. He said of the Lord that

He would reform and shape me and prepare
me so that I might serve His sheep and care
for all His flocks, as I am doing yet

He may have settled into one of the existing monastic enclaves in Ireland, such as the one at Emly where Ailbe was abbot. He wrote that he studied and served during this time of preparation, before being ordained first as a deacon and then as a priest. By then, his ministry was well under way and flourishing. Even though he was still quite young—probably in his early 30s—he was put forward to become a bishop, the first bishop of the Irish people.

And that’s when the jealousy began to rise among those in Britain who regarded themselves as his superiors:

I was attacked by certain ones among
my seniors. It was not that I was young
that they opposed me, but they made their case
against me—mind you, not before my face,
but in my absence—for a youthful sin.
And on that shameful day did I begin
to be so strongly tempted, that I might
have fallen, yes, both here and in the night
of all eternity; but God showed me
His mercy, me this humble exile. He
came mightily to bolster me and to
support me till this dreadful trial was through.

Patrick had confessed a youthful sin to a colleague—not a recent sin, but one committed even before he was taken captive. And now that sin was dragged up to block his elevation to the episcopacy. Patrick did not try to defend himself. Evidently, the sin was still real to him, even though the Lord had forgiven him of it. He seems to have decided that, if the ecclesiastical powers in Britain were going to hold this against him, then so be it.

Again, God came to Patrick in a dream, saying that He was displeased at Patrick’s being tried like this and promising that He would protect and keep him against any who sought to harm him:

And so, much more I felt His power had turned
my shame to vindication in the face
of God and men. Though I cannot erase
what I have done, I tell you boldly that
my conscience does no more reproach me at
this matter. As the Lord is witness, I
do not deceive in what I say, nor lie.

This dust-up with church leaders in Britain led Patrick, without fanfare or bitterness, to break from their oversight and continue his ministry among the Irish, subject only to the leadership of his colleagues in Ireland. He found in the Word of God the authorization and guidance he needed to continue his labors. God had saved him. God had rescued him. God had called, sent, and equipped him. And God, Patrick believed, would never fail nor forsake him.

May God grant each of us a similar resolve as we go forth to serve Him each day.

For Reflection
1. How does the Lord encourage you as you work each day to carry out His calling?

2. Whom will you encourage today to press on in the work God has given them to do?

Psalm 6.1-3, 8-10 (Lancashire: Lead On, O King Eternal)
O LORD, do not rebuke me, nor chasten me in wrath;
let graciousness and love be companions on my path.
O heal my troubled soul, LORD; my bones and flesh renew!
How long ‘til I’m made whole, LORD? I wait, O LORD, on You.

Let all who sin delight in depart from me with haste.
My prayers have entered right in before my Savior’s face.
My foes turn back in anguish; they are no longer there!
My enemies are vanquished, for God has heard my prayer!

Thank You for saving and calling me Lord; help me today to…

T. M. Moore

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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