A Message of Forgiveness for St. Patrick’s Day

 In Author

I’ve always enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a time of lighthearted celebration with cheerful green attire, festive parties, and good luck wishes. An additional reason might be that it’s a no-obligation holiday like another favorite of mine, Halloween. Legends abound of lucky shamrocks and mischievous leprechauns guarding their pots of gold. In modern times, this date is observed through merriment and whimsy, but the true story of St. Patrick’s Day is one of faith and forgiveness.

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was born into a wealthy family in Britain, most likely in the 4th or 5th century. When St. Patrick was sixteen, Irish raiders kidnapped him and took him back to Ireland where he spent six years as a slave. During his time in captivity tending sheep, he became deeply devoted to Christianity and came to view his enslavement as a test of faith.

After several years, St. Patrick had a dream telling him to escape and head south where a ship would be waiting for him. The journey home was not easy. Although he was able to find a sailing vessel, he and the crew abandoned the ship three days later and wandered through France for twenty-eight days. He eventually made it back to Britain, but instead of seeking revenge on his captors, he responded to a dream in which he was called to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary. He doubted his ability to complete his mission, but decided to answer the call anyway. Once in Ireland, St. Patrick baptized and confirmed thousands, founded more than three hundred churches, and lived in constant danger of martyrdom. Tradition says he died on March 17th.

Last week, I heard the story of a man who decided to climb to the top of a mountain where magnificent views awaited. While climbing, he stubbed his toe on a jagged rock. His reaction to the pain and irritation provoked him to pick up the offending object and throw it in his backpack. As he continued his laborious ascent, one rock after another impeded his progress, and he angrily tossed each one into his increasingly-heavy pack. The weight became so great, he could barely move. At one point, a passing hiker asked him why he was carrying such a heavy burden. After hearing his explanation, the fellow hiker told the man he’d never be able to reach the top and experience the magnificent views if he continued to carry the rocks. The man finally agreed to let them go.

Now that I’ve learned the story behind St. Patrick’s Day, I hope March 17th helps me remember to be forgiving and put aside hurt feelings and grudges I’m holding on to. Wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day and a wonderful Easter!

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