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The Scriptorium

True Shepherd

Patrick was a true shepherd of the Lord's flocks.

Sechnall, “Audite Omnes Amantes” (7)

A good and faithful shepherd of the Gospel’s flock
whom God has chosen to guard the people of God
and to nourish his folk with divine teachings –
for whom, following Christ’s example, he has offered up his life.

The Saviour has, for his merits, exalted him as pontiff,
that he may instruct the clerics in celestial warfare,
giving them heavenly food and clothing
filled full of divine and holy speeches.

The King’s messenger, inviting believers to the wedding,
himself adorned with a wedding garment,
he draws the heavenly wine in heavenly vessels,
and serves God’s people with drink from a spiritual goblet.

Translation: John Carey, King of Mysteries

As fearless as Patrick was toward the pagans of Ireland, he was tender, caring, and nurturing to the Lord’s sheep. Through Patrick’s many believed in Christ, and communities of believers came into being in many parts of Ireland. Patrick understood the need of sound teaching and spiritual nourishment for the Lord’s sheep, and that this must come both by formal instruction and by his own consistent example. He was able “to guard” (Latin, custodire) the flocks of God by offering his own life for their care – training pastors, and teaching, evangelizing, and leading God’s people in worship.

Patrick “offered up his life” in the service of those who responded to the Gospel. He was the “pontiff” of all Irish believers throughout the course of his life (a choice of words on Sechnall’s part intended to assert Irish Christian independence of Rome?). Sechnall confirms Patrick’s claim to have trained and ordained other pastors for the flocks of God. The mention of “heavenly food and clothing” suggests that Patrick worked hard to equip the pastors of God’s flock with spiritual vision, sound instruction, and blameless lives.

The “wine” referred in the last stanza above perhaps means all the salvation of God, following Psalm 116.12, 13. Patrick wanted the people in his charge to know as much as possible of the full and abundant life Jesus longed to give them. So he taught them and established them under sound shepherds and brought them to the Lord’s feast where, together, they hoisted the cup of salvation and drank increasingly of its intoxicating and transforming goodness.

Patrick was a “good and faithful shepherd” indeed, and his example established a pattern that lasted for several generations as the Celtic Revival unfolded in the sixth and seventh 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.


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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