Saturday, March 17, 2012
I was in my mid-thirties before I knew that we had some of St. Patrick's own writings, The Confession of St. Patrick and Letter to Soldiers of Croticus.
Patrick begins the former: "I am Patrick, a sinner, the most unschooled and least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many." His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest (this is way before celibacy was required.) They lived on the coast of Briton. When Patrick was about 16, Pirates kidnapped him and sold him into slavery in Ireland. He describes his time there:
"Every day I was forced to tend flocks of sheep in the pasture. The love of God and the awe of Him grew strong within me more and more, and my faith was strengthened also. And my soul was restless within me so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods or on the mountainside. I often awakened and prayer before daylight--through snow, through frost, through rain--and I felt no illness or discomfort, and I was never lazy but filled with energy and inspiration. Now I know this was because the Holy Spirit was glowing within me."
By his own account Patrick had not been a devout boy at home, but this time alone in the hills brought him to God. His slavery changed his heart.