My students never heard of Croagh Patrick, nor even knew what a pilgrimage was- before today. I played videos from climbs of Croagh Patrick, along with information about the saint. They struggle in their vocabulary to know information not attached to an app, a game, or a device for social networking. Their level of information, in the information age, spells disaster. I am not worried about my job, but if I were, I wouldn’t be worried about this crowd…for they know little, and retain even less.
Is it their fault that they don’t know what a missionary is? I had to explain that a missionary is one on a mission with a message. If it fits anyone, it sure fits Patrick; his life story is a reflection of what it means to be a dedicated missionary. It also applies to those who climb the mountain, the reek, the place where Patrick sought refuge to pray and fast, a fantastic place with a spiritually-uplifting view of Clew Bay.
The students have few heroes that deserve the “hero” status, and fewer that come close to being honorable enough to stand in the shadow of a man like Patrick. Part of that is because, in their tech-induced disconbobulation, they worship stereotypes and misinformation. Unfortunately, they are not alone.
If a nation elects immoral men or women to lead it, that action reflects a spiritual malaise that only a great turning can cure. I reflect on Patrick’s Age in Ireland, the coming of Columba, and lesser saints and missionaries, who forsook all to venture into a society corrupted by spiritual wickedness. When the island needed them, they came, walking the lives of true heroes, men and women dedicated to moral principle.
Many of my students should never climb Croagh Patrick. Not because they cannot, but because they cannot see through the fog of immorality that covers the heights of US society…and, alas, many other societies..dare I name them? It is with that in mind that I ask for the prayers of those who dedicate their lives to the mission, for those who attempt to follow in the footsteps of Patrick, as he followed the footsteps of Christ…to pray as Patrick did on the reek…for the passion to be agents of change to bring that which is good, right, and just.
To all my brothers and sisters in Ireland and throughout the diaspora: May God grant you peace, rest, and renewal this St. Patrick’s Day…