Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So who was St Patrick?

We have much to learn from those who have gone before us in the faith and so I thought I'd give you a brief overview of St Patrick. 

Saint Patrick (387-461) is the most famous Irishman of all time and yet he wasn’t born in Ireland but at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton in Scotland. He was the son of a deacon and worked on his father’s farm as a young boy, but at the age of sixteen, he was captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped six years later when it is said God appeared to him in a vision and showed him how to escape. Patrick embraced the monastic way of life and became a priest, but God called him back to Ireland and he later became Bishop of Ireland. Many stories have been told of Patrick’s travels across Ireland, preaching and converting people as he went.  Irish people all around the world will be celebrating his achievements tomorrow, March 17th, which is said to be the anniversary of his death. This extract from St Patrick’s Declaration gives a wonderful insight into his life: 
After coming to Ireland I was put to work tending cattle, sheep and hogs, and many times during that day I would pray. More and more the love of God and the fear of God came to me, so that my faith was strengthened and my spirit moved. In a single day I would pray as often as a hundred times, and nearly as often at night, when I was staying in the woods and the mountains, I would rouse myself before daylight to pray, whether in snow, frost, or rain; it made no difference, and I felt no bad effects. Because the Spirit in me was fervent, I knew no sluggishness. St Patrick

(Quoted from p.26 Celtic Treasure - Liz Babbs)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why are Americans interested in St Patrick?

I'm fascinated by the lengths Americans will go to in order to celebrate St Patrick's Day, so I thought I'd ask American author Cindy Thompson why she was is interested in St Patrick.

"Oh, my goodness! St. Patrick’s Day is huge in America. But for Americans the saint means green stuff: green beer, green carnations, shamrocks, cupcakes with green icing…and it’s also a time for celebrating Irish America, which is a good thing. However, my experience has been that Americans know little about the saint himself. The stories we hear is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland, that he brought Christianity to Ireland, and that he explained the Triune God by using the three-leafed shamrock as an example. None of these things, by the way, is supported by historical evidence. There is so much more to St. Patrick than that!
Most people know that there were no snakes in Irelandthere still aren’t. It’s generally accepted that the reference to snakes was symbolic, either as evil or as the old religion. However, none of St. Patrick’s writings refer to snakes. He did spread Christianity throughout Ireland, however what most people don’t know is that there were Christians in Ireland before St. Patrick came to convert it. What a lot of Americans don’t realize is that St. Patrick was not Irish. He was kidnapped and brought to the island as a slave, and was born somewhere in Wales or Scotland or northern England."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top 10 things you might not know about St Patrick!

We're heading towards St Patrick's Day, so I thought I'd ask fellow author Cindy Thompson who is American and knows a lot about St Patrick to give our St Patrick's top 10.

Top Ten Things You might not know About St. Patrick

1.  He wasn't Irish. He was a British Roman, possibly born in Wales.
2.  He did not drive the snakes from Ireland (not literally).
3.  He first came to Ireland as a slave.
4.  He returned to Ireland years after escaping because of a dream.
5.  He was not the first Christian in Ireland.
6.  He was not the first bishop sent to Ireland.
7.  His traditional burial place is in Downpatrick with St. Brigid and St. Columba.
8.  There are two original writings that survive: Confession and Letter to Coroticus.
9.  St. Patrick's Breastplate, attributed to him, was written in a later time period.
10. There is no proof that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, but no proof that he didn't.

Many thanks to Cindy Thompson who wrote 'Celtic Wisdom' (Lion Hudson 2009).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Celtic Treasure in Concert!

Time is marching on. In just 2 days until the premiere of Celtic Treasure as a meditative concert. I can't wait. But I'm also nervous. Will folk think I've included enough detail, the right visuals, music etc? You can't overload a concert presentation with too many words. In fact, the art is to include the minimum of words - just enough to set the context for each theme and then weave the right prayers and poems across the music. The words and instrumental music need to work seamlessly together like a sacred dance. The concert as a whole needs space to breathe, opportunities to reflect, as well as times to join in the sense of celebration that so characterises Celtic Christianity. 

As part of that celebration I've been learning how to play the Bodrum drum to accompany one of the concert jigs. I only managed to borrow one the other day days and so I'm not particularly skilled at it yet, in fact, I'm still learning how to keep hold of the beater so that it doesn't fly out of my hand! But then, Celtic spirituality is all about joining in, you don't need any qualifications, you just need to let go and enjoy being fully alive! 

Simeon Wood will be playing music from his composition 'Across the Blue Sea' which was inspired by St Columba and his missionary travels to Iona and beyond, and he'll be playing a whole range of instruments (plus his bass flute, which American Airlines have just returned)! We hope that folk will catch our passion for Jesus, too, and see how our Celtic journey has both enriched and deepened our faith.