The Scriptorium

Patrick's Mission Field and Ours

Patrick went to Ireland because God called him.

Patrick’s Confession (19)

And again He says: “Going therefore out into the whole world, preach the Gospel to all of creation: whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; they who do not believe will be condemned.”

And again: “The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all peoples; and then the end will come.”

And the Lord also foretells through the prophet, saying: “And in the last days,” says the Lord, “I will pour out My Spirit over all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams, and indeed in those days I will pour out My Spirit over my male servants and my female servants and they will prophesy.”

And in Hosea, He says: “A people that is not Mine I will call My people, and a people that has not obtained mercy I will call a people that has obtained mercy. And it will be in that place where it was said: ‘You are not My people’: there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

So this is why it come about in Ireland that people who had no acquaintance with God, but who, up to now, always had cults or idols and abominations, are recently – by this dispensation – made a people of the Lord and are known as children of God. Sons of the Scotti and daughters of chiefs are openly monks and virgins of Christ.

Translation Liam De Paor, St. Patrick’s World

In going to Ireland Patrick did not rely solely on the visions God sent him, in particular, that of the Irish man carrying letters pleading with him to return to Ireland and serve there. We do not know when or how Patrick’s knowledge of Scripture began to mature. However, since it seems he was at home in Britain for some time after returning from Ireland, I can imagine that he set himself the task of improving his relationship with the Lord. We recall how he was chastened during his time in slavery, and spent many long evenings in prayer and meditation, doubtless recalling as much as he could of the Word he had heard as a youth. It seems likely that, upon being delivered back to his home, that Patrick would have begun to read and study the Word of God rather more diligently. 

During these times he must often have come across passages such as those cited in this excerpt. He clearly understood that God was intending to do a work of salvation among the heathen, but it wasn’t until his vision that he began to consider his own role in helping to realize those commands and prophesies.

Patrick went to Ireland because God called him to take his unique place in a great work of evangelization and salvation that God was doing all over the world in his day. Patrick took his place in the divine “dispensation” among the “Scotti” people of Ireland (how the Irish were called in Patrick’s day) as that part of the world to which God had called him – his Personal Mission Field.

Patrick went to Ireland to get in on the Lord’s work and to fulfill his own responsibility within the mandates, prophesies, and promises of God concerning the salvation of the lost. Patrick understood the Scripture and what it taught about God’s great work. More important, he understood the Scripture and what it meant and implied for him.

Those same mandates and prophesies that moved and empowered Patrick remain before us today. Patrick understood the will of God, and he submitted to it gladly. We have the same commands and promises.

Would that we had the same heart as beat within the soul of Patrick.

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 Essex Junction, VT.
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