Irish Lights

[Originally posted on Facebook, 17 March.]

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

In the matins reading for the feast, Saint Patrick teaches us why we are subjected to trials. He does so from the fullness of the bitter suffering he has endured in his life (kidnapped from his British homeland, sold into slavery in Ireland). We suffer so that we may learn to trust in God alone, and so witness to the truth of faith:

"I give unceasing thanks to my God, Who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer Him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, Who kept me safe through all my trials. I can say now: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling, that You worked through me with such divine power? You did all this so that today among the Gentiles I might constantly rejoice and glorify Your name wherever I may be, both in prosperity and in adversity. You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God. God showed me how to have faith in Him forever, as one Who is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of His Gospel, bearing witness to all nations."

No prophet, no evangelist arises without suffering mightily.

That fire of faith lit by Saint Patrick bloomed in the world, in Christianitas as well as humanitas. William Butler Yeats, one of the great poets, was one of the most extravagant of these blooms, though he was no Catholic—for truth burns where it will.

Here's a very fine lyric to celebrate this feast:

"After Long Silence" by William Butler Yeats

Speech after long silence; it is right,
All other lovers being estranged or dead,
Unfriendly lamplight hid under its shade,
The curtains drawn upon unfriendly night,
That we descant and yet again descant
Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song:
Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young
We loved each other and were ignorant.

Love in the flesh almost always dies, but because of the faith, we know that nothing is ever really lost: every good has come from God. Saint Patrick, pray for us!