Your ‘paradise’ is either on the earth for the short time of your life or it is eternal in Heaven. It won’t be both

The Irish Nation has gone to a lot of trouble and expense to gather, store and display the relics of our ancestors. We have built heritage centres and museums to display relevant artefacts and to house the treasures of a past long gone, one that is even unknown to the present generation. All the evidence points to our Christian past, and to a people who chose Christ over druidism, the occult and paganism. It evidences a people who had a dramatic conversion of heart, where vast numbers of her youth went into monasteries to live the ‘white’ martyrdom for Christ in lives of purity and holiness. There they forgot their past in order to press forward to the goal of winning the prize for which God called them in Christ Jesus (Phil 3: 13-14).

Others chose to live in solitary cells or even on Skellig Rock as the only ‘desert’ to be found here. There they had rocks, wind, rain, birds and stars for company for the rest of their days, but they knew that their citizenship was in Heaven, so they wasted no time in securing a good place thereby allowing the Saviour to sanctify them, so that He could also transform their lowly bodies into copies of His Glorious Body when the time came (Phil 3:20-21).

With this glorious model how could it happen that our generation became enemies of the Cross of Christ (Phil 3: 18)? We have become a people whose gods are food, pleasure, money, success, power and much more, a people who have turned our glory as co-creators into shame (Phil 3:19). We have chosen the world that our ancestors abandoned and we will lose the Heavenly Glory that they received. What a tragedy! 

Where did this saga begin? Ireland became an Island of saints and scholars because of one teenage boy who turned to God when he found himself a slave on the hills of Antrim. All his human rights were taken from him violently, but instead of hating his captors he turned to God in his great need and filled his lonely night vigils with prayer. He had no help, just loneliness and an absence of love, yet he filled his time with seeking God and intercession for his pagan captors and the people of his exile who were overwhelmed by druidism, the occult and paganism, whereas Patrick was a Christian. In this way he became a man of God, a saint and a missionary to the very people who enslaved him and victimised him. What a triumph of grace in one person! Patrick was free in his soul whereas the Irish were slaves in their souls so he returned as their priest-missionary to relieve them of this slavery. Patrick’s accomplishment in Ireland was a great miracle, for God not only released him from his physical slavery but through him released the whole people from their spiritual slavery. 

A new generation must now ask: “What must we do to inherit eternal life?” We are like the rich young man in the gospel who had everything the world could offer and nothing that Heaven offers! (Lk. 18: 18-25) We have the awful choice that was given to him also: “you cannot serve God and money”. It is one or the other. Your ‘paradise’ is either on the earth for the short time of your life or it is eternal in Heaven. It won’t be both.

Your ‘paradise’ is either on the earth for the short time of your life or it is eternal in Heaven. It won’t be both.             

Each of us must follow St. Patrick’s example and turn back to God now that our heritage has been taken away from us. In the loneliness of being the only real believers left on this Island we must follow Patrick’s example of filling our lonely night vigils with prayer, intercession and reparation for our beloved people who have chosen the world again and are lost in their gadgets, their unbelief and worldliness, even the occult! God will hear us if we pray like him in love and forgiveness, with full trust in God’s power to transform our people again so that our emerald Isle will glow with faith, hope and love once again.

By Frances Hogan