Sunday, June 12, 2022

Patrick and Providence

Patrick was born around 373 AD and raised along the coast of western Britannia. When he was a teenager, pirates from Ireland came ashore, grabbed him, took him back to Ireland, and sold him into slavery. 

Patrick and others got kidnapped because, shortly after 380, soldiers, civil servants, merchants, and money began to leave Britannia for Rome. Unknown to the Romans living in Britannia at the time, those assets were never to return. With their departure came the irreversible collapse of Roman society. Soon enough that social structure became weak enough to allow opportunistic raiders to steal inhabitants like Patrick for export. After 400, that structure had collapsed to the point that invaders started wholesale looting and then colonizing.

Two of those invaders were Germanic tribes called Angles and Saxons. Eventually the Roman province of Britannia came to be called England after the Angles. Some Romans resisted these invaders as long as they could. The most successful resister during the 400s was a man who in later legend became known as Arthur. Other Romans fled Britannia and settled in what now is called Brittany in northern France. 

One reason to recount this history is to clarify who it is we place our faith in. Right now many countries in the world are experiencing the kind of collapse endured by Roman Britain. Soon many more will follow. Faith in Jupiter, god of politics, would have us deny the possibility of collapse: big government will save us! Or perhaps we will place our faith in Vulcan, god of technology: big business will save us! But faith in Jesus Christ would enable us to discern signs of the rapidly emerging reality of collapse.

Recounting this history also helps us to clarify the object of our hope. In relation to Jupiter or Vulcan, our hope is that by working hard enough we will reverse the increasing decay of our society. Hope in Jesus means the joyful confidence that, each day, Jesus will grant us all the wisdom, strength, courage, and good cheer we need to respond as creatively as possible to the growing chaos around us. Note: hope in Christ does not mean we will be able to reverse the chaos. It means we will be able to be as creative as possible in a steadily worsening situation. 

By being kidnapped, Patrick made a trip to Ireland he otherwise never would have ventured. Years later, this made possible his return to Ireland as a vital witness to Jesus. As a result of his witness, numerous monasteries were started. The people in these monasteries ended up preserving Roman learning. Centuries later they served as the primary teachers of it to the people of western Europe who once again hungered for it. 

Perhaps we too are now being called to play a similar role: preservers of the very best of our culture until that time, in the near or distant future, when people again crave knowledge of all that was true, good, and beautiful in their past. 

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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