Guest commentary by ALL's Michael Hichborn
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a day filled with drinking, parades, lots of green, corned beef and cabbage, and too many karaoke versions of “Oh Danny Boy.” Like a shamrock shake, these are all good things, and such a celebration at the halfway point of Lent is a welcome reprieve from the fasting we impose upon ourselves in anticipation of the Passion and Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord.
But lost in the revelries of the day that recalls so many legends about this great saint is the real life Patrick lived, which led to his salvation and won the love of an entire nation. So humble and giving was Patrick that he likely would be horrified to learn of the excesses celebrated in his name. And were he present for comment on the celebrations and the politicians leading them, I can imagine that what he would say would not be much different from the words he had for a Celtic prince named Coroticus.
There are only two documents in existence today that were written by Patrick: Confessio and his letter to Coroticus. Coroticus was a bloodthirsty warlord who preyed upon the weak. He sent his soldiers to slaughter Christian converts, take their possessions and sell the survivors into slavery. Patrick described the situation this way:
The day after the newly baptized, anointed with chrism, in white garments (had been slain) — the fragrance was still on their foreheads when they were butchered and slaughtered with the sword by the [soldiers] — I sent a letter with a holy presbyter whom I had taught from his childhood, clerics accompanying him, asking them to let us have some of the booty, and of the baptized they had made captives. They only jeered at them. Hence I do not know what to lament more: those who have been slain, or those whom they have taken captive, or those whom the devil has mightily ensnared. Together with him they will be slaves in Hell in an eternal punishment; for who commits sin is a slave and will be called a son of the devil.
The letter identifies three categories of people easily identified today as we continue to fight for full protection of preborn children. Patrick speaks of the innocent who were slaughtered in their white baptismal garments. These innocent people are no less than the same innocent we know are slaughtered by the thousands every day in this country, violently torn from their mothers’ wombs. Patrick also spoke of those taken captive and sold into slavery. Millions of women in this country have been sold into the slavery of sin, held captive by the lies of Planned Parenthood. And the third group Patrick refers to is “those whom the devil has mightily ensnared.” These poor souls are the abortion doctors, abortion lobbyists and pro-abortion politicians who make sure their multi-million dollar industry continues to receive government protection. The words Patrick had for Coroticus and his soldiers ring ever true:
Wherefore let every God-fearing man know that they are enemies of me and of Christ my God, for whom I am an ambassador. Parricide! Fratricide! Ravening wolves that "eat the people of the Lord as they eat bread!" As is said, "the wicked, O Lord, have destroyed Thy law," which but recently He had excellently and kindly planted in Ireland, and which had established itself by the grace of God.
These strong words can only emanate from a man deeply in love with Christ and His Holy Church. The courage it takes to send such a harsh condemnation to a man wielding great earthly power is so hard to find today, especially among many of the successors to the apostles. Patrick spoke with strength, authority and near-reckless abandonment to Divine Truth and justice. He poured himself out on the feet of a tyrant the way Mary Magdalene poured out the precious oils on the feet of Our Divine Lord. There was no careful calculation about the number of innocents to be saved. There was no strategy consultant or review of poll numbers. There was no concern for the preservation of his position or even his own life. He gave it all up in the name of Christ for all those in need of His mercy.
Patrick’s letter was addressed to Coroticus, but he was speaking to all of us. Carrying the analogy to today’s fight against abortion, pay close attention to Patrick’s words:
I make no false claim. I share in the work of those whom He called and predestinated to preach the Gospel amidst grave persecutions unto the end of the earth, even if the enemy shows his jealousy through the tyranny of Coroticus, a man who has no respect for God nor for His priests whom He chose, giving them the highest, divine and sublime power, that whom "they should bind upon earth should be bound also in Heaven."
Do our bishops think that pro-abortion politicians have any respect for them or for God? The following words from Patrick’s letter are no less applicable today than they were when he wrote them:
Wherefore, then, I plead with you earnestly, ye holy and humble of heart, it is not permissible to court the favor of such people, nor to take food or drink with them, nor even to accept their alms, until they make reparation to God in hardships, through penance, with shedding of tears, and set free the baptized servants of God and handmaids of Christ, for whom He died and was crucified.
"The Most High disapproves the gifts of the wicked … He that offers sacrifice of the goods of the poor, is as one that sacrifices the son in the presence of his father. The riches, it is written, which he has gathered unjustly, shall be vomited up from his belly; the angel of death drags him away, by the fury of dragons he shall be tormented, the viper's tongue shall kill him, unquenchable fire devours him." And so — "woe to those who fill themselves with what is not their own;" or, "What does it profit a man that he gains the whole world, and suffers the loss of his own soul?”
It would be too tedious to discuss and set forth everything in detail, to gather from the whole Law testimonies against such greed. Avarice is a deadly sin. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." "Thou shalt not kill." A murderer cannot be with Christ. "Whosoever hates his brother is accounted a murderer." Or, "he that loves not his brother abides in death." How much more guilty is he that has stained his hands with blood of the sons of God whom He has of late purchased in the utmost part of the earth through the call of our littleness!
Today’s politicians court the favor and contributions of organizations like Planned Parenthood. They receive their honors, speak at their banquets and defend their terrible arts. Patrick was clear; it is impermissible to participate with them in such a way. And yet, there are Catholics who do these very things for the murderers of children, and they continue to receive the sacraments uninhibited and undeterred.
Today, join with St. Patrick in the prayer of petition he offered 1,600 years ago. As he prayed for the release of captive women, held in bondage by the designs of Coroticus, we should pray for the women held in the chains of slavery to sin by the designs of Planned Parenthood and its cohorts. St. Patrick closed his letter with these words:
Where, then, will Coroticus with his criminals, rebels against Christ, where will they see themselves, they who distribute baptized women as prizes — for a miserable temporal kingdom, which will pass away in a moment? As a cloud or smoke that is dispersed by the wind, so shall the deceitful wicked perish at the presence of the Lord; but the just shall feast with great constancy with Christ, they shall judge nations, and rule over wicked kings forever and ever. Amen….
I ask earnestly that whoever is a willing servant of God be a carrier of this letter, so that on no account it be suppressed or hidden by anyone, but rather be read before all the people, and in the presence of Coroticus himself. May God inspire them sometime to recover their senses for God, repenting, however late, their heinous deeds — murderers of the brethren of the Lord! — and to set free the baptized women whom they took captive, in order that they may deserve to live to God, and be made whole, here and in eternity! Be peace to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In the 18th chapter of Luke, Our Blessed Lord told His disciples a parable about an old widow and an unjust judge. In speaking of faith and the answer to prayer, Jesus said, “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to answer them? I tell you, He will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Patrick knew this and truly lived as His missionary. But now, after nearly 40 years of abortion, it seems that faith is all but gone. With renewed vigor and inspiration from the man whose courage and faith transformed all of Ireland, may we follow his example and fight to defend the innocent as Patrick did.
Michael Hichborn is director of ALL's Canon 915 project. Learn more by visiting www.canon915.org.