On this feast of our national Apostle, we can only pray for Ireland - she's in a bad place at the moment. I do not think Patrick would be impressed with the state of the country, or with the state of the Church - not quite the evangelical community he wanted it to be. Nor, I think, would he be too happy with the shenanigans that are carried out in his name on this day each year.
That said, he would be happy, I'm sure, with the small shoots of faith emerging from the rocky ground. Good young priests and seminarians emerging to help rebuild the Church here, dedicated young lay people joining older faithful, and often long suffering Catholics who feel like strangers in this land.
There is hope for the future, and we must nurture these young shoots, feed them with sound doctrine and encourage them to centre their lives on Christ. Many of them are attracted to the Tradition, that is good, but they must also foster a real evangelical spirit which may at times create tension with the Tradition. Interestingly now we need men and women like Patrick, not to go abroad to preach the Gospel, to do so here, to face what is really now a pagan culture, to relight the fire on the hill and defiantly stand by it. And let's be realistic, we cannot rule out persecution.
But we have Patrick as our advocate. We can look to him for an example and an intercessor.
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