Message for St Patrick's Day from Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady

 In memory of our most revered Father in the Lord Jesus, Patrick, Apostle to the Irish People, I hope that these words of mine may somehow touch the hearts of all who hear or read or hear about them. The impending celebration of the principal Patron of Ireland moves me to ask myself, first of all, and to reflect to all who truly love Christ a simple, but what I consider, a deep question: Apart from the functional liturgical remembrance of Patrick on Saturday 17 March 2007; apart from the civil and political and military parades in Dublin and elsewhere; apart from frivolous ways of displaying, explaining and drowning the shamrock, what is the importance of Patrick for our struggle to follow Christ in this twenty-first century? Has he anything to offer by way of example or inspiration? What does his own spiritual presence mean to his beloved Irish people? For in my own heart I sincerely know that Patrick's spiritual presence is very much with us; especially here in Armagh and most especially with those who slowly and carefully read his Confession of Grace. Regretfully, this precious writing of Patrick is not widely known among Irish Christians. But for us on the western edge of Europe, it is arguably as important as one of the letters of the New Testament. Because, as in the case of Paul's Epistles, in his Confession of Grace, Patrick too is writing from his heart, to the communities to which he, by the grace of God, has communicated the Good News of Christ's Love. I am intrigued, as I've said, by Patrick's spiritual presence among us, in Christian names and place names for example. The question is: How may this presence be recognised and embraced and shared among all who truly love Christ, whatever their churchaffiliation? I am fairly certain that Patrick is now seeking ways to ensure that his influence will be recognised and welcomed by all Christians on the island of Ireland, certainly not for his own sake, but for the sake of that unity and one-mindedness in the Spirit, willed by the Lord Jesus. Let me venture to suggest a couple of encouraging possibilities: - Get a copy of Patrick's Confession of Grace for yourself and read it slowly; - See how these traits of Patrick nourish and inspire your own life as a disciple of Christ; compassionate love for all, no matter who; willingness to forgive, whoever caused him grief or pain; constant prayerfulness from the heart; attentiveness to the inner voice of the guiding Holy Spirit; courage in overcoming all obstacles to his work; devotion to reading the Bible in ways that guided him to the best course of action. - In many ways Patrick is an excellent guide to Easter. Just think of: his time on Slemish, faithfully tending the flocks; his fidelity to prayer, both night and day; his attention to the Spirit that spoke to him in the depths of his heart; his appreciation, above all, of the call to bring the Good News. That Good News could be briefly set out in this rough summary of Patrick's own words: "Through me, unlettered rustic though I be, the offer is made to you all, my dearest Irish people, of this priceless opportunity; to be made one with the God of my Lord and teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, God of compassion and love, who brings healing and holiness and joy and peace of mind to all. The God of my Lord and teacher is the only God, who loves all children and women and men without exception. Let nothing and no one ever separate you from Him, no matter how noble or patriotic or profitable the excuse! Because my dearest Irish people, His love, is everything." Patrick came so that we might know and love Jesus Christ and make real in our lives the love of Christ for others. That is the only vision which will create real peace, genuine wholesomeness and lasting prosperity for all on this island. There is no other way. The challenge for all of us is to be consistent and coherent, not just in honouring Patrick with our lips and our parades but with our hearts and lives - to honour what he really represents by earnestly trying to embody it in our own lives. Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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