book report: St. Patrick by Jonathan Rogers (2010)
I am part of Booksneeze, Thomas Nelson Publishers, blogging book review crew. I picked this book for review, because this is the season to learn about St. Patrick.
Rogers opens the book with some of the amusing and fantastic anecdotes about Patrick. The problem for the biographer of Patrick is that he only left two documents, but his admirers have enlarged this humble man's accounts to something greater than Jesus Christ. Rogers tries to work from Patrick's two writings and fill in some of the gaps. How did Patrick get out of slavery? What happened to the patronage he inherited? Did he bribe Irish leaders for protection and influence? What was his shameful sin in his adolescence that almost kept him from becoming a bishop? Did Patrick walk around with a glowing halo over his head or was he subject to the passions and weaknesses of regular men? How did he respond to his adversaries?
Rogers does a great job setting the context of Patrick's era from the effects of Rome's withdrawal from England, the warring tribes in Ireland, the internal politics of the church, and Patrick's pioneering approach to world missions at the time. But all of this is lead up to Patrick's actual surviving documents. Not even 30 pages by his hand, but powerful in revealing his heart for the Irish, his adopted people, and the power of God through him.
These are some of my favorite quotes by Patrick.
I am greatly God's debtor, because he granted me so much grace, that through me many people would be reborn in God, and soon after confirmed, and that clergy would be ordained everywhere for them, the masses lately come to belief, whom the Lord dres from the ends of the earth, just as he once promised through his prophets... pp.115-116.
So Patrick was part of a massive revival among the Irish people. But how marvelous was this. Later he writes,
So, how is it that in Ireland, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they are lately become a people of the Lord, and are called children of God; the sons of the Irish and the daughters of the chieftains are to be seen as monks and virgins of Christ. p.117
But all of this came at a high cost, personally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. He writes,
And many gifts were offered to me with weeping and tears, and I offended them [the donors], and also went against the wishes of a good number of my elders; but guided by God, I neither agreed with them nor deferred to them, not by my own grace byt by God who is victorious in me and withstands them all, so that I might come to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure insults from unbelievers; that I might hear scandal of my travels, and endure many persecutions to the extent of prison; and so that I might give up my free birthright for the advantage of others, and if I should be worthy, I am ready [to give] even my life without hesitation; and most willingly for His name. And I choose to devote it to him even unto death, if God grant it to me. p.115
After serving in slavery himself, and miraculously escaping to freedom under the direction of God, he willingly abandoned all personal pleasure and ambition to seek what God would have for him. He was truly an amazing man, whole heartedly devoted to God. As a result, Ireland became a Christian nation, who helped save Western civilization. It truly is a happy St. Patrick's day, and I'm glad I'm Irish.