March 17, 2019 - Pastor Message05/20/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 9: ST. PATRICK “Shake off the dust, ascend to the throne, Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! For thus says the Lord: You were sold for nothing, and without money you shall be redeemed...How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Isaiah 52:2, 7).
Continuing this month’s theme, the communion of saints, we look this week at a saint near and dear to many hearts, especially this weekend St. Patrick. Patrick was born to a Christian family in Britain in the late 4th century AD. As a youth, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of hard labor as a shepherd, he managed to escape back to Britain, but Ireland was not done with him. In a vision, he heard the pagan people of Ireland crying out for salvation. Taking this as a sign from God, he entered studies for the priesthood, eventually being ordained a bishop and heading back to Ireland, this time not as a slave but as an apostle. He worked tirelessly for many years spreading the faith throughout that country, converting entire kingdoms to Christ, and establishing many churches and monasteries until his death in the late 5th century.
Everyone knows that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland hence the celebration of Irish culture on his feast day, March 17th. But did you know that he is also the patron saint of our diocese? The Diocese of Erie was established in 1853 when the thirteen counties of Northwest Pennsylvania were split from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to form their own diocese. At that time, most of the Catholic population of Erie was Irish. Bishop Josue Young established his cathedral therefore at the church of the oldest parish in the city, the predominantly Irish parish of St. Patrick. Because Patrick is our patron, his feast day is a celebration of special solemnity for us, but, because March 17th falls on a Sunday this year, the feast of St. Patrick is superseded by the 2nd Sunday of Lent. In order that we may still celebrate the feast of St. Patrick with the solemnity it deserves, Bishop Persico has therefore transferred it in our diocese to Monday, March 18th.
As our patron saint, we look to Patrick as a particular example of Christian discipleship and as our special advocate before God. May his missionary zeal enflame our hearts, and may his prayers win for us the grace to overcome whatever obstacles we face as we carry the “good news” of Jesus Christ to all people of our diocese and beyond: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. St. Patrick...Pray for us” (Adapted from St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer).
Fr. Marc Stockton