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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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17 March - Saint Patrick's Hope

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-9; Psalm 116; Acts 13:46-49; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

One of the regrettable features of the modern version of the celebration of St Patrick's Day is a complete divorce from its true meaning and foundation. It seems to have gone the way of many of our most beautiful Christian feasts such as Christmas and Easter and been reduced to merely a cultural celebration, an excuse to party. Just as Christmas and Easter can seem to have been reduced to Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, St Patrick's Day for many is solely about a day off work, a street parade, and a party. St Patrick himself has been reduced to the figure we find in the legends about him mostly, banishing snakes and having magic contests with ancient druids.

Yet from the Confession of St Patrick we can get some sense of the real man and what motivated him. Here was a man who had been torn from his family and all that he loved by Irish pirates and sold into slavery to work as a sheep herder on a cold, desolate mountain. Having escaped from bondage, he had every logical reason to hate the Irish and to immerse himself in the life of a Roman citizen. Yet the Christ he encountered and found his strength in on that lonely mountain had utterly transformed his heart with love. And one of the greatest acts of love for a Christian is the sharing of the hope we have in Christ with others. This is the voice Patrick heard and never forgot as he returned to the land of his former captivity to preach the hope of Christ.

"I give thanks to my God tirelessly who kept me faithful in the day of trial, so that I offer sacrifice to him confidently, the living sacrifice of my life to Christ, my Lord, who preserved me in all my troubles. I can say therefore, who am I, Lord, and what is my calling that you should co-operate with me with such divine power?" Today's second reading speaks of our call as Christians to be a "light for the nations". Jeremiah in the first reading was helped to overcome his doubts and fears about his call and was assured that the Lord would give him the words, the strength and protection to fulfill the extraordinary mission with which he had been entrusted. And in the Gospel we hear Christ sending out the seventy two to preach and rejoicing on their return. All of these people overcame fear and gave their lives completely to preaching the hope and joy of God which they had in their hearts and which would not stay silent. All of them found true joy and peace in giving their lives to the mission.

Christ continues to call Christians to be missionaries for the faith. Christ still calls many men and women to the religious life to bear witness to him. Christ is still calling many men to be his priests. Beyond the fears and worries that can come with answering this call, there is the sure knowledge shown from the life of St Patrick and found in today's readings - if we follow the call of Christ, entrust our lives to him and cling to him as our hope and strength then we will find our true treasure and joy to the full, even in the midst of trial and difficulty.

David Barrins OP

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