Sechnall “Audite Omnes Amantes” (4)
A faithful minister of God, and a splendid messenger,
he gave to the good the example and form of an apostle,
preaching to the people of God with both words and deeds
so that he might with a good act inspire the one whom his words did not move.
He has glory with Christ and honour in the world,
being revered by all as an angel of God
whom God has sent, like Paul, as an apostle to the pagans,
that he might show men the way to God’s kingdom.
Humble in spirit and body out of fear of God,
upon whom the Lord rests because of his good works,
bearing in his righteous flesh the stigmata of Christ
and carrying his Cross, in which alone he glories.
Translation, John Carey, King of Mysteries
Sechnall intends to connect Patrick and his work with that of the apostles, specifically, Paul. This is as it should be. Only if our work traces the same trajectory, follows the same outline, and is confirmed by the same works and results as the apostles can we have assurance that ours is a true calling from the Lord.
He refers to Patrick as a “minister”, a “messenger”, and as having the “form of an apostle”. Like the apostles Patrick understood that his ministry must be both in Word and life (cf. Acts 6.5; 1 Pet. 5.1-3). Sechnall then more pointedly identifies Patrick and his mission with Paul, who was also sent to the pagans, and who, like Patrick, preached the Kingdom and bore the marks of Christ in his body (Gal. 6.17). We should not read that last idea as referring to the so-called “stigmata,” claims for which only began to appear in Church history in the late Middle Ages. The word, “stigma,” here in the accusative plural, refers only to identifying marks or traits which are normally looked upon with disdain. Patrick’s body was marked with the evidence of labors devoted to the Lord, including the physical suffering which sometimes results. As Paul suffered in his body, bearing the cross appointed to him by Christ, so Patrick suffered as well. Each suffered because of good works and an example powerful to support their preaching. The “marks” of his ministry were faithfulness in life and work, together with the fruit of harvest and suffering such labors normally entail.
Like Paul he was regarded as an “angel”, not literally, but as a messenger from heaven, blessed with a solemn and powerful charge (cf. Gal. 4.14). The same term is used in Revelation 2 and 3 to refer to the pastors of the seven churches in Asia Minor. It indicates a high and holy calling which must be faithfully pursued if the blessing of God is to come to His flocks.
Also like the apostles, Patrick both preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and lived the Kingdom life, so that his manner of being in the world would support and bear witness to the truth of what he preached. Many were convinced of the Gospel Patrick preached because of his humility, poverty, generosity, and integrity. Thus he brought the glory of Christ into the world and received honor from all who saw and knew him. The goal of Patrick’s ministry was to “show men the way to God’s kingdom.” He was not merely saving souls or dispensing blessings. He was calling, leading, and equipping people for life in an entirely new realm of existence.
The fear of God led Patrick to faithfulness and humility, and the blessing of the Lord rested on him as a result. In Patrick, Sechnall insists, the work, ministry, and lifestyle of the apostles – but more important, of the Kingdom of God – were established in Ireland. From these a legacy of revival would issue and spread to Britain and the European continent over the next two centuries.
T. M. Moore
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.