March 11, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare)

I.  More than Shamrocks and Leprechauns:  For many, St. Patrick (circa 386-461) is merely a symbol of ethnicity and thought of once a year on March 17, the day he died. However, Patrick is much more than the images of leprechauns, shamrocks or parades. As we cut through the legends his name evokes, we will find a person of ardent faith and prophetic vision.

Born of Roman parents in Banwen in Wales, he called himself both a Roman and a Briton. When he as 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland as a slave. During this time of captivity, Patrick clung to his Christian faith, had a conversion experience, and developed as a young man steeped in prayer. After six years, he escaped and headed back home, believing his sufferings and deliverance had been for a purpose.

Patrick entered the seminary in France for training as a missionary and was ordained a priest. At the young age of 43, he was ordained a bishop. Despite the scars of slavery, yet equipped with the zeal of a profound faith, Patrick felt the pull to return to Ireland. Aware of the very real dangers, he confronted those in power with the message of the Gospel.

One little-known fact is that Bishop Patrick was the first person recorded in history to speak out unequivocally against slavery, most likely because of his teenage enslavement. Not again until the 17th century do we have records of anyone speaking out against the evils of slavery. Patrick prayed, “Make peace with God.” Then he looked not only into his own heart but also into the hearts of others. What he saw, convinced him of the bright side of humanity, that even slave traders can turn into liberators; murderers can act as peacemakers; and barbarians can take their place among the nobility of heaven.

In his auto biography, “Confessions of Saint Patrick,” he reveals himself as a man painfully aware of his own inadequacies and his complete dependence on the grace of God. As a prophetic missionary bishop, he worked in conditions similar to those prevailing in many violent areas of our contemporary world. Though not alone in his work of evangelization, his stature as patron of Ireland is well deserved.

The following prayer is attributed to St. Patrick:  “May the strength of God guide me this day, and may his power preserve me.  May the wisdom of God instruct me; the eye of God watch over me; the ear of God hear me; the word of God give sweetness to my speech; the hand of God defend me; and may I follow the way of God.”

II.  Blooms of beauty will help enhance our worship space for Holy Thursday, Easter Vigil, and throughout the Easter season. These flowers may be donated “in memory of” a loved one that has gone before you or “in honor of” someone whom would like to pay respect to now. We will have a list published in our Easter Sunday bulletin. Thank you for your generosity.

III.  No unnecessary meetings during the most solemn week of the Church year—Holy Week. If you have scheduled a planning meeting of some kind or any meeting, please reschedule if possible. Prayer groups and Scripture studies are just fine and encouraged. Let us pray. . . .

IV.  The Most Powerful Man in History:  or should I say the most powerful and influential MEN in history—since Saint Peter. Yes, the Pope.  Pope Francis was in “Time” Magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world for 2016 and 2017. There have been 267 Popes spanning the centuries since Christ; some good, some not so good and some we now revere as Saints, most recently Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII.  Pope Paul VI (1963-78) is on his way as well.  CNN will air an original series that begins this Sunday evening, March 11, at 9:00PM (local time). “Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History” is a new series that goes inside the Vatican to reveal the true power held by popes throughout the ages. This is a position of power that has been held for over 2000 years. The six-part docu-series will explore how 12 apostles became 1.2 billion Catholics today, linking recent news events surrounding the Vatican with their unexpected origins. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the first episode is entitle “The Rise of the Pope.” There will be an episode each Sunday at 9:00PM concluding on April 15 (April 13 is an optional feast day for Pope St. Martin I, (died 656) who was the last pope to be martyred). Visit the CNN website: