Patrick’s Confession (15)
Enough of this. Nevertheless, I must not conceal the gift of God, which He so freely bestowed on me in the land where I was a captive. Because it was at that time that I strenuously sought Him and found Him. And He has saved me from all injustices – so I believe – because His Spirit is within me and works in me to the present day. Another bold statement; but God knows that if the voice that guided me were merely human, I should have kept silent for the love of Christ.
And so, tirelessly, I thank my God, who kept me faithful on the day I was tried, so that today I might offer to Him, the Lord Christ, the sacrifice of my living soul. He saved me in all dangers and perils, causing me to ask: “Who am I, Lord, or what am I called to, that in all Your Divinity You have shown Yourself to me, so that today I constantly lift up and magnify Your Name among the heathen, wherever I have been, not only in good times but in bad?”
So, whatever may come my way, good or bad, I equally tackle it, always giving thanks to God, Who granted me unlimited faith in Him, and Who helped me so that, ignorant as I am, I might in these final days dare to undertake this work, so holy and so wonderful. It is just as if I were a follower of those whom the Lord foretold, once, in former times, who were to be harbingers of His Gospel for a testimony to all races before the end of the world. And indeed, we have seen this done. See: we are witnesses: the Gospel has been preached to those places beyond which nobody lives.
Translation Liam De Paor, St. Patrick’s World
Those in Britain who regarded themselves as in authority over Patrick were trying to recall him on specious grounds, perhaps related to some charge of pecuniary self-interest. To pad their case they also floated before him a sin he had committed as a youth, which he confessed to a friend who had now made his transgression known. Those seeking to get him to come back to Britain to give an account of his ministry had let it be known they were aware of this long-ago transgression, as if they might threaten to “go public” with it if Patrick refused to submit to them.
He was unimpressed, even indignant, at the suggestion of malfeasance on his part, and deeply hurt by his friend’s breach of confidence. But he wasn’t coming home. He was too busy in what he regarded as a work “so holy and so wonderful” that he could not think of leaving it. He had devoted his life to the Lord, Who had shown him such grace. Now he was busy living out his gratitude to God in a tireless work of evangelizing the lost. He suggests that he has spread the Gospel throughout all of Ireland, and we have every reason to believe this was so. The “gift” he had received during his captivity in Ireland – forgiveness, salvation, and a calling to serve the Lord – he was now intent on offering to every person in that land.
But Patrick took no credit for his labors or successes. He recognized it was the Spirit of God at work in him Who was leading and enabling him, and bringing about the glorious results he had seen. Patrick saw himself as carried along by the Spirit of God and the Word of Christ in the work he was doing. How could he walk away from this in order to go to Britain to stand in judgment for what he knew to be a groundless charge?
Patrick set forth as evidence in support of his decision to remain in Ireland the call of God, the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the Word of the Lord, his own self-deprecation and self-denying ways, and the abundant fruit God was bringing forth through his efforts. Whatever “evidence” his superiors might be able to marshal against him would not, he was certain, tip the balances against him.
And that being the case, Patrick determined to continue his “thanksliving” ways in Ireland rather than to heed the instructions or decisions of any “merely human” voice that might try to guide him otherwise.