Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In The Confession of Saint Patrick, one of two authentic writings of Patrick that we have, he tells us that once while he was sleeping he felt incapable of moving any of his limbs. He goes on to say, "While this was taking place I saw the sun rising in the sky and while I was crying out 'Elijah! Elijah!' with all my strength, the next thing that happened was that the radiance of that sun fell upon me and at once dispersed from me all paralysis, and I believe that I was succored by Christ my Lord...." (Patrick is writing in Latin where the word for Elijah is "Helias." The Greek word for the sun is "helios.")
Near the end of the Confession he says, "On that Day we shall rise in the radiance of the sun, that is in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer....For the sun which we see rises every day for our benefit at his behest, but it will never reign nor will its radiance endure....But we who believe in and adore the true sun, Christ...."
Before Christianity came to Ireland, the people worshipped everything in nature as Divine, especially the sun. Saint Patrick builds on this to bring them to Jesus, while at the same time making it clear that the sun is not God. For a long time I have thought that this recognition of the Divine in nature made the Irish fertile ground for Christianity. I suspect that something in my blood, as well as in my faith, inclines me to find God in all the glories of nature around me.