March 15, 2018
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St Patrick. One of the things that we should remember about him is that he is first and foremost a missionary bishop – he went out to preach the gospel to those who had not heard it.
We all know the story about his capture and slavery, but is it not truly remarkable that he went back to those places? He had come to love his captors so much that he wanted to share the gospel with them to make them free.
Patrick was a man of immense faith but also immense courage. Again we know the stories of him challenging the High King of Ireland over the lighting of the Easter fire and the like. His faith was something that empowered him.
In our own day we don’t have to go far to encounter those who have never heard the gospel message. They are all around us. We need something of Patrick’s courage, something of his faith, but above all something of his love so that we too can go out and proclaim the gospel in all its fullness.
May St. Patrick, one the greatest missionary saints the church here has produced pray for us to follow his example. P.D.
March 2, 2018
Perhaps it comes as something as a shock to realise that north Africa was once a thriving outpost of Christianity. Apart from the Coptic Christians in Egypt little now remains of those communities. But what does remain is vitally important. On Wednesday we celebrate once such legacy: the feast day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity. Unlike some of the early martyrs we know quite a bit about these two woman and their deaths.
They died in the year 202. The Emperor had just forbidden conversion to the ‘new’ religion of Christianity. Perpertua and Felicity were catechumens when the decree came but still proceeded to baptism. They did nothing to hide their new allegiance and died in the arena at Carthage.
These two martyrs tell us so much about our faith. They remind us of the centrality of Christ and of the absolute demands of his gospel, which are above even those of the state. But they also remind us of the catechumenate which slowly we’re rediscovering: the state of preparing for baptism. Up and down the country we now have catechumens who are preparing for baptism at Easter. Although they will not be called on to die for Christ like Perpetua and Felicity they can revive our belief and love of God by their own manifest enthusiasm and faith.
As we journey to Easter let us these two saints to pray for us and also for those who, like them, long for baptism and eucharist. P.D.