Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St Patrick's Day

Saint Colum-cille Foretells What Saint Patrick Will Do for the Men and Women of Ireland on the Day of Judgment

[from The Legend of St Columba by Padraic Collum, pp 57-62]

Before they went to visit certain of the saints of Ireland, Colum-cille (Saint Columba) and Bauheen, his cousin, betook themselves to Armagh, that place that was consecrated by Saint Patrick and in which the bell that he blessed was still rung. It was on a Sunday, and they walked near the church that Saint Patrick had founded and the grave­yard where his close companions were laid. Suddenly the ground gaped, the headstones fell, the cairns crumbled. The book he was reading Bauheen dropped into a grave that burst open; he scrambled down to get it and was struck on the head with the broken arm of a stone cross. He tried to pull himself out by gripping a branch, but the tree fell down on him.

"Why doesn't he do something to give his companions quiet and peace in their graves?" Bauheen said when he got the earth out of his mouth.

"Whom do you speak of?" Colum-cille asked, drawing his companion out of the way of a yew-tree that heaved itself at them.

"Patrick," said Bauheen, rubbing the sore place on his elbow. "Are we not in his stead? And why doesn't he do something to give his com­panions quiet and peace in their graves?"

"If you knew what Saint Patrick will do for the people of Ireland on the Day of Doom . . ."

"There," said Bauheen, as the branch of a lifted thorn-bush poked itself into Colum-cille's eyes, "I knew you'd get it, too."

"Nevertheless, you must not belittle Patrick, the protector of the people of Ireland," said Colum-cille, and he made two long jumps and got out of the graveyard, Bauheen with three jumps coming behind him.

"If you knew as I know what effort he will make on the Day of the Last Judgment for the people of Ireland, you would not murmur against Saint Patrick," Colum-cille said when they were out of the graveyard.

"Tell me, then," said Bauheen, "what effort he will make for the people of Ireland on that Last Day?"

"Some part of it I can tell you, but not all," said Colum-cille. "Harken, Bauheen, to what I shall deliver to you, and never after­wards let a word pass your lips in belittlement of Patrick."

Away from the place of gaping graves and crumbling cairns and breaking crosses they seated themselves, and under the shade of a well-rooted ash-tree Colum-cille told his companion this prophetic story.

"The men and women of Ireland will assemble themselves at Clonmacnoise . . ." Colum-cille began.

"At Clonmacnoise?" said Bauheen in great surprise.

"At Clonmacnoise," said Colum-cille decidedly. "They will do that in honor of the greatest saint living in Ireland at the present time— Saint Ciaran. There the folk of Ireland will assemble themselves on the Day of Doom. And to Clonmacnoise, Patrick will go. Seeing him the people will know him for their leader. He will strike the bell that he broke upon the demons when he banished them from the mountain. At the sound of that bell the men and women of Ireland will crowd towards their leader, and lucky will they feel on that day, they who were truly followers of Patrick, who kept his feast-day with alms­giving and his good-will belittled never."

"Amenl" said Bauheen.

Colum-cille went on. "With Patrick we shall march, all of us. We shall journey to where Saint Martin has his station. With him we shall join and thence go to where the most holy Peter and the most holy Paul have their place. Guided by these two primal saints we shall make our way to Mount Olivet.

"Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Martin will go to where Our Lord is enthroned. But with us, the men and women of Ireland, Patrick will stay. He will be seated on a chair of gold above the throng. Summoning Saint Ailbe to him, he will send him with seven bishops to the feet of our Lord on Mount Sion."

"Tell on," urged Bauheen.

"He will send Ailbe to inquire what will Our Lord has towards the men and women in his charge. And when he has bade him welcome to Ailbe, Our Lord will say, 'Where is the lightning-flash of the Western World? He is long in appearing before us.'

" 'What is Thy word for him, O Lord?' " Ailbe will ask.

" 'Many sinners are with him,' Our Lord will say. 'My word to him is this: leave behind ere coming before us all those who have wrought evil in their lives.'

" 'How shall I say that to Patrick, O Lord,' Ailbe will say. 'Thou knowest he whom Thou hast named the Lightning-flash of the Western World is a wrathful and quick-tempered man.'

" 'Nevertheless, thou shall take My word back to him", the Lord will say.

"With trepidation Ailbe will salute Patrick and say, 'I have had converse with Our Lord, and He bade me to tell thee to leave behind ere thou goest before Him all who have wrought evil in their lives.'

" 'It appears I have not been given even the beginning of a welcome to Mount Sion." Patrick will say, 'And you, Ailbe, have failed me in this.'

"Then he will speak to Ciaran, Cainneach, and myself, and declare that all the people of Ireland, sinners as well as sinless, must be with him when he goes before Our Lord. He would have none parted from him until he had spoken on their behalf.

"He will send Munda to Mount Sion then, Munda who was his companion when he came to make Ireland Christian. It will be Munda's duty to remind Our Lord that a promise was made to Patrick on his coming to our land—a promise that he would be the advocate for all our people on the Day of Judgment.

" 'You who come from Patrick are not negligent in reminding Us of the promise made to him,' Our Lord will say. And he shall tell Munda that his word to Patrick is that he will have to put out of his following all who wrought evil in their lives."

"And then . . .?"

"Then," said Colum-cille, "I shall find myself beside the golden chair on which Patrick is seated, and I shall hear myself being directed to go unto Our Lord on Mount Sion, but what I am being told to say or do, I shall not be able to recollect, for the sound of all the waves of the world will be in my ears. I shall find myself standing at the feet of Our Lord, and when He speaks to me I shall be able to speak of one thing only, namely, of Patrick's great love for all the people of Ireland, sinners at well as sinless, the love that brought him to keep a long and wasting fast upon the mountain that is named Cruachan, to the end that no one born in Ireland after the coming of the Faith should lose utterly the friendship of Our Lord. And this being said there will be such a silence that I will believe that sound has utterly departed from the world. And then I shall hear Our Lord make answer, and he will say: 'We will consult with the Nine Hierarchies of Heaven about what We shall do about this Patrick and his following.' And he shall say to me in a kindly voice, 'Go back to him, and bid him come to Us with the whole of the host that is his people. Ah, but tell him, too, that he will have to do this. . . .' "

Thereupon Colum-cille paused, and Bauheen, in great anxiety, asked him: "What will Patrick have to do for the people of Ireland upon that Day?"

Colum-cille opened his mouth to speak. But at that moment the bell of Armagh that is called the Bernan, sounded.

"That stroke is to remind us," said Colum-cille, "that it is fitter for us to be inside Saint Patrick's church, praying as Saint Patrick taught us to pray, than to be foretelling what he will do for us on the Day of Judgment."

"But what will he do for us on the Day of Judgment?" Bauheen asked as they went over the ground that was hollow and lumpy but no longer heaving.

"God decreed that the bell should be struck at this moment to forbid my telling what more the Lightning-flash of the Western World will do for the people of Ireland on the Judgment Day," Colum-cille said, and saying this, he and Bauheen went into the church and listened to the hymn that was being sung in praise of Saint Patrick.


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