As I write this, I realize that this Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and we are about mid-way in that strange (at least to Baptists), but spiritually important time, called Lent. So, just what do they have in common? First, we will do a quick overview of Patrick.
Patrick is recognized as a patron saint of Ireland although he was not born there. His given name was not Patrick, but Maewyn or Succat. Born in A.D. 385, he was a Roman Catholic who by his own admission, until age sixteen was covetous, licentious, materialistic and generally heathen. He sounds pretty 21st century to me!
At age sixteen, he was carried off by Irish marauders and sold as a slave. For six years, he toiled as a sheepherder. During this period of slavery and solitude, he felt an increasing awareness of God. He escaped slavery and studied for twelve years at a monastery in Gaul where he was instilled with the desire to convert pagans to Christianity.
Two things about the rest of his life are significant. First, he hoped to be the first bishop to Ireland. His superiors, however, felt he lacked the finesse and scholarship needed for the position. His persistence ultimately prevailed and he became the second bishop to Ireland for thirty years.
Second, his imposing presence and winning personality aided him in winning many converts to the Christian faith. At least a dozen times he was arrested became his evangelistic zeal aggravated the Celtic Druid priests.
Lent is specifically a 40-day period of spiritual renewal and preparation for Easter. The word itself means “spring” so it is not surprising that someone called it “spring break for the souls.” We are often encouraged to give up something during this period as a way of re-focusing our spiritual energies on the reality of Christ’s resurrection. One person frames it this way:
“It offers a time for naming and turning away from
· those patterns of life that come between us and God,
· those choices that distance us from the divine presence,
· those things that we put in the place of God in our lives.”
Both of these calendar markers remind and call us to live in and through the power of Christ’s resurrection, the ultimate Easter event. Are you ready … because ready or not, here it comes!