A St Patrick's Day Intermission
Thank you for this delightful piece on Saint Patrick. We always enjoy celebrating his feast day with mass, special Irish foods, and music.
Wonderful post, and a fine counterweight to the darker commentaries on our aimless era. I find in this vision of St Patrick a kind of kinship with the Cappadocians (in particular St Gregory of Nyssa in their goodness, and hostility to slavery/other indefensible things taken absolutely for granted in their time), but also a wonderful sense of adventure in the spirit of goodness, something out of a Chesterton or George MacDonald novel, where Christian love is at the center, and for that reason entirely unconcerned or threatened by the magic of the glen or marshes of local legend.
I recently chatted with Malcolm Guite about the relative success of British Isles in its ability to reconcile the pagan, the magic, the legendary, etc. of local places into the hierarchy of the Christian story (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiEZt_e6V08&t=5170s). This was successful relative to our failure in North America to do so with our brand of Christianity and the gods and stories of native peoples. This is something I feel like you, Mr. Kingsnorth, might have some insight into and I'd be glad to ever hear your thoughts on it sometime. There is a roadblock in North America - the leader in universalizing popular culture - joining the redemptive, fundamentally good story of Christianity with the stories and legends of the land. And this failure has maybe caused a kind of rupture in the layers of meaning in our culture here, and of course that means we're exporting that rupture abroad.
Just some thoughts sparked by your fascinating post.
Go raibh maith agat (Thank you). This is a very bright and refreshing piece. While there is great darkness in many places, it is the illuminations such as this that refresh hope and faith. As I have found, it is the "wet, leafy, wild and strange" Christianity that makes us aware of what and where we are.
Slán agus beannacht
The hymn at the end was beautiful and fascinating. The long passage referencing heaven, sun, moon, fire, lightning, etc, was interesting not only for its poeticism, but because it ventures into the natural world with a kind of energy we might associate with pure paganism, though it remains clearly within the embrace of ancient Christian spirituality. I can’t recall ever seeing this before in a hymn.
Your piece also got me wondering about Ireland itself. What is so unique about it, or its people, that makes it what it is? There are other beautiful lands and peoples that haven’t produced this “kind” of Christian spirituality. I ask because it makes me wonder if this is a transplantable thing that can be cultivated elsewhere, or whether it’s more a case of some places have it and some places don’t, and it’s a mystery why.
Beautiful, thank you. And although my spirituality isn't officially Christian, the teachings of Christ (not necessarily those of the church) ring true. I read St Patrick’s Breastplate aloud and it is powerful, indeed. I have also felt the wild nature of Ireland...and a different flavor of it lives on here in Scandinavia, to which Christianity came even later.
This was particularly uplifting and I thank you for this. I agree about Ireland's Christianity. I remember a holy well my father took me to behind the church his grandfather had paid to have built in County Limerick. The relationship of that well to that Church was palpable and that mysterious continuance of nature consecrated that informs Irish Catholicism makes it closer to Eastern Orthodox manifestation, I believe. Perhaps the Irish will one day form a bridge between the two . . . or will that happen on the island of Syros?
Thank you Paul.
I discovered Thomas Cahill’s book "How The Irish Saved Civilisation" some years ago, and have since taken delight in sharing it with friends, particularly those whose previous understanding of the Irish was limited to the jokes we shared. With a name like McNeill, and the tragedy that is reflected in so much Irish history, it's great to think we (or more correctly Patrick and my ancestors) 'saved civilisation', at least to some extent.
Mind you, we are overdue for another St Patrick, or St Benedict, (thank you Rod Dreher) or what ever expression of the Christian faith God chooses to raise up in our time.
I do appreciate your writing and reflections.
Thank you for sharing this. Beauty in words and in pictures.
Wonderful.. Uplifting, and for me living in Kerry , it rings absolutely true. We share the same perception of this islands wonderful spiritual life in the roots of this country's soul. Which is why it is so dissonant and uncomfortable when one perceives the facile, self hating, and embarrassing enthusiasm of Ireland's political and cultural elites for actively 'forgetting' the depth of Christianity's roots in this land.
Many non-Irish Catholics pray the Lorica (Breastplate) of St. Patrick everyday. It does feel ancient. There seems to be a revival of ancient prayers and devotions, as well as interest in the Desert Fathers, the first Christian hermits. It’s because the Machine is powerless against them.
This is beautiful! Thank you!
This is a wonderful history of St. Patrick. May the West fight back against the darkness of this era with the same spirit as that blessed saint from many centuries ago accomplished
Patrick’s own words translated from the Latin he wrote in, preserved over the centuries, a brief autobiography https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/pat-confession.asp Patrick is a blend of the evangelical and sacramental, even the pentecostal strands of Christianity, he describes an event which sounds like he was praying in tongues
Glory to God!
Very beautiful. Thank you so much.
Thank you, as others have said.
I humbly offer my own shield prayer, written in the days I was first setting out on my career as a deliberate disruptor of what we call here the Machine: https://1drv.ms/w/s!Ak-ZGUK4cysygcRfEiJ6nawOc93j9A
At that time I was strongly influenced by my old friend Ray Simpson, founder of the Community of Aidan and Hilda on Lindisfarne. His later book Church of the Isles https://www.amazon.co.uk/CHURCH-ISLES-Ray-Simpson/dp/1844171078 is an early (2003) attempt to discern the shape of a post-Protestant Christianity drawing on exactly the roots you identify.
There was at the time - and I guess still - a lot of the sentimental green leprechaun-mist about the so-called Celtic Christianity movement. Ray is insistent that within it is a recovery of an ancient wellspring, itself drawing deeply on the Desert Fathers and their choice of exile from the settlement of Constantine after the Battle of Milvian Bridge.