Listen to this "St. Patrick's Day Conversation"
St. Patrick has some valuable lessons for America in 2011. To learn these lessons, we need to discard nearly everything we think about on St. Patrick's Day -- cardboard leprechauns, green beer, plastic shamrocks, and "the wearing of the green" -- and replace these trinkets with the weighty substance of Christian civilization and human beings doing all that God created them to do.
St Patrick was not even Irish. He was a Brit who was kidnapped by Irish terrorists. He escaped his captors, studied the Bible, and returned to serve his captors by bringing them Christian civilization and new life. He did not take vengeance on his slavemasters, nor did he attempt to "bomb them back to the stone age."
By using that phrase "bomb them back to the stone age," I've already tipped my hand to the cards I'm going to play. But you don't have to agree with every item on my agenda in order to benefit from this study of the life of Patrick.
Here are some resources for study. You'll see these works cited in the table below.
Previous Blog posts:
- Apostle to the Irish, Chuck Colson
- St. Patrick: Voice of Justice and Mercy, T.M. Moore
- A Man of the Book, T.M. Moore
- Service of the Scribes, Chuck Colson
- Witness to Greatness, T.M. Moore
- Quiet Flirtation, Catherine Claire
- A Culture of Plunder and Praise, T.M. Moore
- A People with a Past, T.M. Moore
- The St. Patrick's Four and Resistance to the War in Iraq
- Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, 1996).
- T. M. Moore, Celtic Flame: The Burden of Patrick (Xlibris, 2000).
- Mark Atherton, ed., Celts and Christians (University of Wales Press, 2002).
- Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography (Simon and Schuster, 2004).
- John Carey, King of Mysteries: Early Irish Religious Writings (Four Courts Press, 1998).
- Thomas E. Woods, Jr., How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005).
- The Confession of St. Patrick (translated from the Latin by Ludwig Bieler)
- and St. Patrick’s Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus.
- St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer
New Articles (added after the webcast)
- Tell Your Children about the Real St. Patrick - Stand to Reason
- St. Patrick - Stand to Reason
- Christians and the Culture - Prison Fellowship
- Doug's Blog: Journey To The End of the Earth, II; Commentary on Iona's Gospel Light -- The Global Advancement of Christ's Kingdom
In the table below, these works are quoted in the left-hand column, and comments made in the right-hand column when necessary.
|The Holiday Tradition
|I sometimes wonder what the patron saint whom we remember each March 17 would think about the activities by means of which people commemorate his name. What would he make of the revelries, green beer, parades, sales, and the ubiquitous images of shamrocks and leprechauns?
Actually, I have no doubt he would condemn the whole kit-and-caboodle as irreverent and shocking. He who referred to himself as "a sinner, a most uncultivated man, and the least of all the faithful" would object to the very idea of a commemoration. His desire was to be utterly forgotten, to die a martyr and have his unburied body torn apart by beasts and birds, "so that after my death I may leave a legacy to so many thousands of my people—my brothers and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord." 
|It's not that green beer and parades are "sinful," but that such revelry cannot replace a more solemn and educational celebration of the life of St. Patrick.
Commemorating and honoring the lives of admirable people is a good thing. Patrick would not disagree with this, as long as our commemoration was designed to encourage us to be more like Christ, rather than making Patrick another "American idol."
Patrick was a real person in history. Not a "super-saint." Not an icon.
|Patrick: A Man of The Book
|In addition to fervency in prayer, Patrick was a man of the Word of God: “He has found a holy treasury in the holy book” (18). We know from Patrick’s own works that his knowledge of Scripture was wide-ranging;
||The average adult in America today has a knowledge of the Bible which is less than the average 13-year old in 1776.
Don't make the mistake of writing off the Bible as a "religious" book. It is a blueprint for civilization, covering law, economics, marriage and family, education, and exercising dominion over every area of life.
|This devotion to spiritual disciplines developed in Patrick a humble, virtuous, and servant-like character, as Audite describes in numerous places. Patrick devotes himself to good deeds (1, 2, 6, 8, 10, 12); he is a laudable example for others (2, 6, 11, 12); he is humble (8), chaste (9), tireless (9), righteous and virtuous (17, 11), full of faith (3), and generous to a fault (21), a man who keeps the Law of God with all diligence (14). The great saint is seen to be a man of rigorous discipline and faithful obedience to walk before the Lord in the light and Spirit of God. Truly, this is a man worthy of putting before the throngs of new believers as an example for all.
||(references in parentheses are to stanzas in a biographical work described in article ).
Without these character traits, we are not equipped to build a prosperous civilization.
Piety and Virtue
Religion & Morality
|St. Patrick's Conversion of Culture
|The dramatic story is told in a book by James Cahill entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization. As the Roman Empire was crumbling, Cahill writes, its neighbors to the north—the Irish—were hearing the Gospel message from a young missionary named Patricius, whom we know today as Saint Patrick. The Irish of the fifth century were barbarians descended from Celtic tribes—tribes
that had invaded Western Europe 900 years earlier. The Irish were still illiterate warriors—pagans who practiced human sacrifice and slavery.
||One biographer says that Patrick lived from 378 A.D. to 493 A.D., and ministered in modern day northern Ireland from 433 onwards.
|The Irish of the fifth century were a pagan, violent, and barbaric people. Human sacrifice was commonplace. Patrick understood the danger and wrote: "I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved—whatever may come my way." 
||In America today, security is a higher priority than service. Having a government nanny is a higher priority than Christlike self-sacrifice.
|The first Celts had arrived as naked warriors, armed with swords and with their enemies’ heads dangling from their belts. But their descendants were missionary monks armed only with their faith in God—and with books, not heads, tied to their belts.
- Because of Patrick, a warrior people
- lay down the swords of battle, [unjust war]
flung away the knives of sacrifice, [false religion]
and cast away the chains of slavery. [economic predation]
- (Cahill, quoted in )
- These pagans parallel people here and abroad in 2008:
- • the Pentagon
• priests with false gospels
• economic plunderers
|Saint Patrick didn't chase the snakes out of Ireland, as many believe. Instead, the Lord used him to bring into Ireland a sturdy faith in the one true God—and to forever transform the Irish people.
||In the Bible, animals are often used to symbolize people. Jesus said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16 "Wolves" and "serpents" represent evil people. St. Patrick drove out the serpents, meaning the terrorists, not by driving out physical human beings, killing or imprisoning them, but by encouraging them to repent of their sins, driving out old lifestyles, and replacing them with new lives.
|But when Saint Patrick brought the Gospel to the Emerald Isle, he did much more than deliver the Irish from pagan superstition: He helped transform their entire culture. Christianity gave the Irish a love of learning.
||True religion is not just an inward experience. It is outward obedience that transforms culture and creates civilization. It is also a love of the Word.
|Literacy and Civilization
|Patrick evangelized, taught literacy, equipped men and women for ministry, and provided leadership for new churches throughout the Emerald Isle. 
||Wherever Christianity goes, literacy follows, because Christians are a "people of the book."
|Those Irish monks are a potent reminder of how important literacy is to our faith. We worship a God who expressed Himself principally through the written Word. Of all the world’s religions, Christianity alone insists on the primacy of language.
|The gospel that St. Patrick preached was firmly linked to larger issues of society and culture. He would not have condoned the separation of faith from life that seems to be so much a part of American Christianity in our day. He was bold to preach Christ and the demands of righteousness required of those who follow Him.
||We have denounced the myth of "separation of church and state" and the "separation of law and gospel" elsewhere. America's Founders did not intend government to be "separate" from God, but to be "under God." The word "Theocracy" is hated today, but it simply means God rules, or God is over society, and the nation is "under God."
The separation of faith and life means faith is excluded from life, just as it is now illegal for teachers to tell students in government-operated schools that the Declaration of Independence is actually true.
|St. Patrick's Foreign Policy
|He called [terrorist leaders] and [their] soldiers "savage wolves," a "criminal crew," and the "sons of demons." Yet he held out the hope that, through repentance and restoration, they might yet find forgiveness and renewal with God.
Patrick was a voice of justice in a land where injustice was rampant and human life was often held in very low regard. But his was a voice of mercy as well, as he called sinners, no matter how vile, to turn from their wickedness and find in Jesus the hope of forgiveness and new life.
|How long should we continue to be a voice of mercy? When does time run out for our hearers, after which we will kill them if they don't repent?
Patrick was willing to be a voice of mercy until he died, or was killed by those to whom he preached.
|Although lacking formal education (his enslavement had interrupted that, as he reminds us in his writings) he was deeply pious and solidly orthodox, but with just enough of the pragmatist in him to do whatever was necessary to be able to preach to the lost—like paying bribes to local chieftains for permission to evangelize their people. 
||This concept of bribery is most important. What does it profit a man if he saves his bribe and loses the souls of those he could reach? What does it profit a nation if they're safe from terrorists only because they've killed the terrorists or built impenetrable walls which also prevent the terrorists from hearing the Gospel and being liberated into Christian civilization?
Why was a once-Christian nation like America willing to spend over $1,000,000,000,000 to destroy Iraq's water, sewage, electricity, universities, hospitals and schools, instead of bribing the Iraqi people to become Christians?
|How would Patrick have dealt with "Islamo-fascism" in Iraq and elsewhere? Would he send the Marines, or the Centurions?
||Get acquainted with The Centurions Program.
|Even the physical design of the Celtic monastic communities facilitated such outreach. These monastic communities, which included not only monks and nuns, but priests, teachers, artists, craftsman, farmers, families, and children, would live within an outer wall. “The wall did not signify an enclosure to keep out the world,” writes Hunter, but instead, “that one was entering hallowed ground.” Once through the gate, one would see dwellings and cathedrals, Celtic crosses, a library, a refectory. But the choicest piece of land and the house set apart would always be a guest house. Here guests would stay as they were invited to experience community life.
||When modern Americans (especially Protestants) think about monasteries (if they do so at all), they think of unmarried men counting beads and singing Gregorian chants all day log. In fact, monasteries were places of invention, manufacturing, commerce and civilization. New technologies were invented in monasteries, and learning was perpetuated. See especially Woods' book,  How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.
America would do well to become as Biblically literate and as faithful as post-Patrick Ireland.
Following the model of Patrick (who was following the model of Christ) would profoundly alter our foreign policy.
Centurions Program - Prison Fellowship
How Thomas Jefferson Responded to Terrorists
next: Voluntary Associations