Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Celtic Roots Craic 72 – Lockdown, self-isolation and St. Patrick

St. Patrick – drawing

Well suddenly the world has become a very strange place indeed! New phrases have entered our vocabulary to stay – like ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘self isolation’. Where will it end – and more importantly, when?


At least after two months we’re beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel here in Ireland. From next Monday we can go to garden centres again and recycle all those bottles I’ve been collecting up for months! 

But can you imagine being in Ireland and not a single pub is open? Who could ever have predicted that? And not a single church is open – they’ve had to move to YouTube and Facebook. The saints of Ireland could never have imagined such a situation! 

Mind you it’s not all bad – the church I belong to now has around 3 1/2 thousand people listening in – instead of a couple of hundred! And we’re even more in contact with our community – because we’re delivering medicines and food to people who are isolated, and getting a great response from local councils, the police, etc. 

I was thinking about the old Irish saints – I’ve talked about Colombanus recently, for instance. Like most of them he knew all about ‘self-isolation’. He used to make a habit of going off into the woods in France and spending days on his own in prayer. Mebbe we should take a leaf out of his book?

Patrick, Brigid, Columcille – all of these guys were known for the hours they would spend in prayer and isolation. When Patrick was forced to work as a slave herding on Mount Slemish in Antrim he claimed that, ‘in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same’. 

He described himself in his Confession as being, ‘like a stone lying deep in the mud. Then He who is powerful came and lifted me up and placed me on the very top of the wall.’  And later he said, ‘Whatever comes about for me, good or bad, I ought to accept them equally and give thanks to God'.

Maybe we could learn from Patrick. I know these are very difficult times for all of us. We are suffering from the effects of this lockdown, from being restricted and unable to interact normally with those we care about. Patrick learned that giving thanks changed things – in particular it changed him – so that the difficult times didn’t bring him down, instead he was ‘lifted up’. 

You may not have the same confidence and trust as Patrick and the other saints, but I really recommend their way of looking at things – it certainly works for me!

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