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The Scriptorium

The Mission of Patrick

Patrick led by his life and God's Word.

Sechnall,“Audite Omnes Amantes” (3)

The Lord chose him so that he might teach the barbarian
nations, so that he might fish with nets of doctrine;
so that he might draw believers out of the world to grace,
and they might follow the Lord to a heavenly seat.

He sells the precious talents of the Gospel of Christ
and demands them back, with interest, from the pagans of Ireland.
As his payment for the toil of this laborious voyage
he will share with Christ the joy of the kingdom of heaven.

Translation: John Carey, King of Mysteries

Having outlined Patrick’s character, Sechnall now moves to a summary of his mission. The ultimate objective of Patrick’s mission in Ireland was to bring many to Christ, so that they might share in His glory (“a heavenly seat”). The focus of Patrick’s ministry was thus on Christ and His determination to call out a people for God from among the pagan peoples of the world. The means whereby Patrick accomplished this are all based in the Word of God, as Sechnall explained.

Patrick was sent to “teach the barbarian/nations…” Patrick led with the Word of God; he would “fish” for those the Lord was calling to Himself with “nets of doctrine.” This recalls Patrick’s own words, from his Confession, in which he understood himself to have been called to “fish well and diligently” with the Word of the Lord. Patrick did not try to “dumb down” the Word of God. He did not appeal to the pagans on the basis of reason or “natural law.” He put sound doctrine before the illiterate pagans of Ireland, evidently trusting that the Word of God could do its best work to the extent that it was most faithfully proclaimed. But note the use of “draw” by Sechnall to describe Patrick’s evangelizing efforts. He did not “snag” the lost or otherwise “pressure” them to believe. His approach was to “draw” those to Christ who were hearing him, a word suggesting patient and laborious effort. Patrick kept the grace of the Gospel in the foreground and undoubtedly held out the vision of Christ in glory to attract those who heard him to come to Christ on His “heavenly seat.” Patrick preached Christ not only as a gracious Savior, but as ruling Lord.

Patrick call to his hearers included a clear sense of what this would require of them. Patrick offered the Gospel freely, but he demanded much – “with interest” – of those who believed. Following Christ to His heavenly seat requires commitment, Patrick explained – being drawn out of a pagan lifestyle into the way of life embodied and taught by Patrick himself.

Patrick accepted no payment for his ministry from those he served. He is adamant about this matter in his Confession, and Sechnall alludes to it here as well. His only “payment” for the hard work he undertook in leading the Irish people to Christ was the joy he looked forward to with Christ in His Kingdom. While we do not know all the details of how Patrick’s ministry was funded, we know, from his own testimony, that he spent his own money, at least initially, to do the work to which God had called him.

Patrick was a man of the Word in his life and his ministry. God honored his holy example and faithful teaching to bring many of the Irish to faith and to begin a revival that lasted nearly four centuries.

Want to learn more about Patrick and the impact of his ministry? Order T. M.’s book, The Legacy of Patrick, from our online store.

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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