Becoming a parent has forced me to carefully consider the purpose of holidays. I want to teach my preschool-aged sons the real reasons we celebrate certain days, and I want them to know and exalt Christ through these celebrations.
As March brings St. Patrick's Day, I hope the following excerpt from the life of St. Patrick will contribute to a Christ-exalting opportunity that will spur our hearts--and our children's hearts--to make known the glories of the gospel among all the peoples. To share the true story of St. Patrick with your children consider the beautifully illustrated book, The Story of St. Patrick: More than Shamrocks and Leprechauns found here.
The following excerpt from the story of St. Patrick is from Christianity.com and was written by Dr. Diane Severance and Dan Graves.
Dates and details in Patrick's life are not known with certainty. He was most likely born between 372 and 390, possibly near present day Glasgow, Scotland. His parents, Calpurniun and Conchessa, were leaders of the Christian community in the still unidentified village of Bannavem Taburniae.
Patrick did not take the Christianity of his parents seriously and enjoyed having fun with his friends. One day, when he was 16, he was amusing himself near the sea when Irish pirates captured him. They sold Patrick as a slave to an Irish chieftain named Milchu. His job? To care for the chief's sheep.
Alone in the fields with the sheep, Patrick remembered the Christianity of his parents, and he accepted it as his own. He later wrote,
I was 16 years old and knew not the true God; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and although late I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children...The love of God increased more and more in me with faith and the fear of His name. The Spirit urged me to such a degree that I poured forth as many as a hundred prayers in one day. And even during the night, in the forests and on the mountains where I kept my flock, the rain, and snow, and suffering which I endured, excited me to seek after God...
Six years later, Patrick managed to escape and returned to his family. In a dream, he saw Irish children pleading with him to bring the Gospel to them. "O holy youth, come back to Erin, and walk once more amongst us." His heart longed to return to his former captors and share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. He trained for the ministry and returned to Ireland where, despite fierce opposition, he spread the story of Jesus among the pagan tribes in the Irish language he had learned while a slave.