The Legacy of St. Patrick’s Day

For many people, St. Patrick’s Day is a time to wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, and have a night out with friends. But behind all the merrymaking is a story of a 4th century missionary whose life exemplified the kind of self-sacrificial love we strive to emulate here at Cross.

Before St. Patrick came to Ireland voluntarily as a preacher of the gospel, he came in shackles as a slave. This injustice could have embittered Patrick toward the Irish people, who had kidnapped him from his homeland in Britain. But after escaping on a boat and vowing never again to set foot in Ireland, God gave Patrick a supernatural compassion for his pagan captors who desperately needed Christ.

It’s easy to have compassion on a friend, or on those who suffer by no fault of their own. But Cross Catholic aims to do more than this, because when we come across people who do not share our values or faith and who have made choices that have worsened their situation, Christ’s radical love compels us to show mercy. We are called not only to serve those who are kind, hard-working, intelligent, and attractive, but also those who are rough around the edges, difficult to look at, and unlikely to thank us for our help.

A stained-glass depiction of St. Patrick, who converted Ireland to Christianity in the 5th century.

The question isn’t whether the needy deserve our compassion, but whether Christ deserves our obedience. When Cross Catholic provides houses for poor families living in the Filipino slums, the houses go to those who need them most, without discrimination. We give to everyone as if we were giving to Christ himself. In Ethiopia, our rehabilitation program for handicapped children has been a great opportunity for local Catholics to build bridges to people of other faiths and has resulted in a positive relationship with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. When Catholics reach out in love to their neighbors, it makes people eager to learn why we do what we do.