As you’ve probably guessed from the maiden part of the last name, I’m more Irish than anything else. We usually do something to celebrate the feast of the saint who brought Jesus to my ancestors and, by extension, to my husband and our Dutchy offspring. This year, however, it doesn’t feel like there’s much to celebrate: not much material for a celebration, anyway. We might have had the budgetary wiggle room to buy a nice ham and a six-pack of Guinness if it weren’t for that pesky Lenten almsgiving. I can’t even make champ with fresh chives, as our chive clumps, wherever they are, just received a fresh coating of snow. The most we could do was, last night, we watched Patrick: Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle with the kids.
I won’t lie: that video is pretty cheesy, and not in that Kerrygold Dubliner way. In it Patrick has this dramatic dream and tells his Christian parents that he’s going to become a priest so he can go back to Ireland and bring Jesus to the Irish–the very people who’d enslaved him and abused him.
Cheesy or not, after morning prayer this morning, I was meditating on Patrick’s bravery in going back to the people who abused him as a youth, just so he could bring them Jesus. After all, that’s the kind of love we’re called to live as Christians. It’s the kind of love Christ gives us, after all. Is that how I’m supposed to bring Jesus to people from my past–people who, frankly, I’ve cut out of my life because I don’t want to expose the aforementioned Dutchy offspring to the kind of abuse those past-people saw fit to give me (or don’t think is any big deal)? Am I being cowardly? Am I being hateful towards my enemy?
Look, I have these thoughts every other week or so. That’s an improvement. I used to have them every hour of every day. When these thoughts pop up, I have developed the habit of freezing in place and just praying, “God, whatever you want me to do, make it obvious, and make me courageous enough to do it.” So I called that habit into play this morning. Seconds later, the thought popped into my head:
Priests are celibate.
In the cheesy movie, Patrick said, “I’m going to become a priest, and THEN I’m going back to Ireland.”
So he became a celibate priest, first. So what?
Patrick didn’t have biological kids to leave behind to protect. He was going to Ireland for his kids–his spiritual kids. Celibacy freed him to serve the children God had chosen for him. Marriage empowers you to serve yours.
I am humbled that St. Patrick would intercede for me, for me to receive understanding and wisdom, even though I am countless generations removed from descendants of his first convertees, even though I didn’t even ask him specifically to pray for me. Like any good spiritual father, St. Patrick saw what his littlest child needed and went out to bring it to her.
God’s plans for us may not make sense at first glance, especially when glancing from the eyes of a culture that tells us, unless we’re having sex of some sort or another, there is something super duper wrong with us. However, thanks to the intercession of St. Patrick, I have a new appreciation for the gifts given to our faithful, holy priests. I don’t need beer to celebrate that.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh. Pádraig, go raibh maith agat.