Thursday, 17 March 2011
Celebrating the life of one of those "overseas priests": St Patrick's Day
So today anyone with a phobia about green food colouring would do best to avoid all pubs and public places as we celebrate the feast of a great missionary priest, St Patrick (387-493), whose spiritual sons and daughters in turn served as missionaries in Australia and elsewhere, bringing with them his cult.
Life of St Patrick
St Patrick's story is a colourful one indeed. Captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16, he forced to work as a slave. Most of his time was spent in a lonely life as a shepherd. But he survived the experience by spending his time meditating on the truths of the faith.
After several years, he managed to escape and return home.
He then entered the Church and became a missionary bishop to the land in which he had been held captive.
The missionary impulse
Now of course he could have stayed home - because priests were of course certainly needed there. But how different a place the world would now be!
And of course, his spiritual sons and daughters could in turn have stayed home - stayed home in the so-called dark ages when in fact they undertook the "green martyrdom" of going on mission, and played such an important role in the evangelization and re-evangelization of the United Kingdom and Europe. Stayed home in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and left our ancestors to struggle on without the solace of the Church.
The pattern of evangelization
Those first missionary priests and nuns left an indelible impression on countries like Australia, and created ongoing connections between the two countries which we celebrate today.
Still, the reliance on overseas priests and religious was, as is always the pattern, gradually replaced by the homegrown vocations they fostered.
How sad it is that the enthusiasm for the false spirit of Vatican II and the neglect of a generation of our shepherds has once again made us effectively a mission country!
Even in the traditionalist world, many Australians were and are thrilled to have US, Canadian, Malaysian and other "overseas priests" from the FSSP serving their communities so that they can have access to the Traditional mass. And of course the number of Australians graduating from the FSSP seminary has slowly risen, allowing more communities to have the Mass.
Still, I do invite anyone who wishes to try and explain to me how the current use of overseas priests in many dioceses in Australia and elsewhere is different to St Patrick, the Irish and all that. Other than in terms of the skin colour of the missionaries of course...