The community Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM, Fr. James presiding and preaching.
Tomorrow is also the date of the Memorial of St. Patrick. So much of his life has sunk into legend and many nations–England, Scotland, Italy and Ireland–claim to be the land of his birth that it can be difficult to recover hard facts about him. It is not unlikely that he was born in Ireland, captured by pirates and sold as a slave somewhere in Cornwall or England–at least, so believe Irish historians. We can glimpse him in his writings: his “Confessio”, a letter, several sayings and the blessing, his famous “breastplate”.
There were some Christian communities in Ireland before Patrick’s mission there but they were isolated and apart from the mainstream. Patrick came and confronted the religious culture there, challenging some of it by the Gospel, melding other aspects with the Gospel when they could be a worthy vehicle of the Gospel. Out of his ministry came an alternative way of spreading the Gospel. The more conventional approach was to convert the kings and leaders or people who would enforce mass baptisms. The “christianization” was often superficial with little or no subjective conviction. The Celtic approach was for an individual or small colony of monks to move into an area and establish neighborly relations with the local people. They trusted the natural curiosity of the established population to find out what they were about. They’d get to know a few individuals, share their beliefs and, one by one, firmly form that faithful few in the Gospel. When they received baptism, they even let them settle with the monks. They made few conversions but strong ones and trusted that in time, these families would grow in the faith and spread it as the norm for a good and blessed human life.