Monday, March 16, 2009

One Hundred Prayers in Ireland

Tomorrow on March 17th, the feast of St. Patrick, two million people will descend on New York City to watch the St. Patrick's Day parade. After finishing a tour of duty in Afghanistan the New York Army National Guard's legendary Fighting 69th unit, will lead the parade. On the eve of this extraordinary parade, I thought a few words from the great St. Patrick would be appropriate, When I had come by ill luck to Ireland-well, every day I used to look after sheep and I used to pray often during the day, the love of God and the fear of him increased more and more in me and my faith began to grow and my spirit to be stirred up, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and I used to rise at dawn for prayer, in snow and frost and rain because the Spirit was glowing in me.  No one doubts that the Spirit was glowing in St. Patrick and no one could possibly doubt the positive effects those one hundred prayers had. 
Another great Irish saint, St. Columba was also a remarkable human being. Adamnan concluded his biography of St. Columba with these words, He had the face of an angel. He was of excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in council. He never let a single hour pass without engaging in prayer or reading or writing or some other occupation. He endured the habit of fasting and vigils without intermission by day and night. The burden of a single one of his labors would have seemed beyond the powers of man. And in the midst of his toils he appeared loving to all, serene and holy and rejoicing in the joy of the Holy Spirit in his inmost heart. 
Columba built a monastery on the Scottish island of Iona,  In Iona, Columba built a great seat of learning, he taught theology, Sacred Scripture and the classics. He also wrote poems and hymns and illuminated the books he so loved. 
I'm very inspired by the lives of the saints, I think that's quite obvious.

There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Thomas Merton