St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to wear green (or get a pinch!), celebrate the coming of spring and maybe hope for a little good luck in the form of a four-leaf clover. Traditions are fun, but like any holiday, it’s important to discover why we have it in the first place.
Who is St. Patrick?
Actually, first, what’s a saint? You might hear people say, “Oh, she’s a saint” if they’ve done something wonderfully kind. Or you may have heard of “official” saints, like St. Francis or St. Therese. Basically, a saint is a person who clearly followed Jesus or seemed Christ-like. And Patrick was a saint because he acted like Jesus.
We talk a lot about all kinds of people in the Bible who act like Jesus. What’s cool about Patrick is that he reminds us that all of us—not just people in the Bible—can follow Jesus in BIG ways.
Anyway, we don’t actually know exactly where or when Patrick was born. But when we he was young, he was kidnapped and forced to work as a slave, herding sheep and pigs in Ireland. He wondered why his life was so hard, so he prayed about it.
Ok, here’s where it gets crazy: Patrick escaped back to his family (yay!). But then he had a dream. In it, God told him that one day, he would have to go back to Ireland, this time as a priest.
Why We Celebrate
So guess what Patrick did? He obeyed. (That’s one reason we call him a saint.) He went to France and, for twelve years, he studied to become a priest. Then, he went back to the place where he spent the worst time of his life: Ireland. He spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Ireland, telling people there about Jesus. He died on March 17, which is now St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s a good day to wear green and to think about leprechauns. But it’s a REALLY good day to remember that a guy named Patrick acted like Jesus, and we can too.
Some questions to consider:
Why do you think Patrick obeyed God?
What’s one way you can act like Jesus today?
Can you think of a new fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day based on this story?
*If you have time, read about two missionaries from the Bible: Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14). How were they like Patrick? How were they different?