The story of Saint Patrick is a family favorite. He was a young man of privilege who suddenly found himself captured and enslaved. He endured hunger and cold, the loss of freedom, and maltreatment. After many years, he made his escape and found his family again. Did he hate the Irish? These people sent raiders to his homeland, took him and enslaved him. Maybe...who knows what he felt; we only know what he did. He forgave.
Regardless of his treatment, his feelings, his loss of years of the life he intended to live, he forgave the Irish people. He even came to love them. He went back to the island, risking his freedom again, and preached the gospel of Christ. They heard and believed, so much so that the Irish people were responsible for saving the literature and culture of Romanized Europe through the waves of barbarian invasion that came on the heels of the fall of the Roman Empire. If you know of Aristotle and Homer, you can thank someone wearing green today.
Saint Patrick's example helps my husband and I teach lessons about forgiveness and endurance. We can talk about how easy it would have been for Patrick to succumb to a racial hatred of the Irish and how that could have changed the entire world as we know it. If the Irish monks had not worked to rewrite and protect our precious history behind stone monastery walls we might suffer in a world without democracy, without Western Civilization, without American culture even.
This saint tells us how love can change the world or how diminished the world can be by succumbing to hate. It's a good lesson as the anti-Catholic fervor builds in our country. Forgive and endure, my children. It's likely only the beginning as these things go.