“Beyond being recognized as the patron saint of Ireland, little else is popularly known about Saint Patrick, ” writes John O’Donahue in his forward to this recent translation. And yet, Patrick left behind a unique document in his Confessions written in the 5th Century.
“His story revolves around an initial irony which qualifies his centrality in the Irish tradition. It was Irish pirates who kidnapped him from his British home and sold him into slavery in Ireland. They could never have suspected the spiritual tradition that would be born out of thier brutal action.
Patrick understands his slavery as the door into divine friendship. In his awful experience of alienation and exile, he discovers God as his anam-cara: Anam is the Irish word for soul and cara is the word for friend. The Anam-cara is the Friend of the soul… The depth and shelter of this Anam-cara belonging enabled Patrick to endure the most awful conditions. Prayer, Patrick discovered, is conversation with his Anam-cara.”
“After I came to Ireland,
it was then that I was made to shepherd the flocks
day after day, so, as I did so, I would pray all the time, right through the day.
More and more the love of God and fear of Him grew strong within me.
And my faith grew, so the Spirit became more and more active,
so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers,
and at night only slightly less.
Although I might be staying in a forest or out on a mountainside,
it would be the same;
even before dawn broke, I would be aroused to pray.
In snow, in frost, in rain,
I would hardly notice any discomfort,
and I was never slack but always full of energy.
It is clear to me now, that the was due to the fervour
of the Spirit in me.”
This prayer is attributed to him or at least inspired by him:
I arise today
in a mighty strength
calling upon the Trinity,
believing in the Three Persons
saying they are One
thanking my creator.
For a musical rendition, see Steve Bell’s version.