Then, having received the benedictions, and all things having been accomplished according to custom (moreover with a special appropriateness to Patrick, this verse of the Psalmist was sung, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek “), the venerable traveller [St. Patrick] got on board, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, a ship prepared for him, and arrived in Britain; and dispensing with everything that could delay his journey [on foot], except what the requirements of ordinary life demand (for no one seeks the Lord by sloth), with all speed and with a favouring wind, he crossed our sea.
St. Patrick’s biographer, Muirchu, highlights two interesting things in this little excerpt. First, St. Patrick does not simply get on board a ship; he boards the ship “in the name of the Blessed Trinity.” Second, Patrick rids himself of all that is unnecessary for his journey “for no one seeks the Lord by sloth.”
It is now the day after St. Patrick’s day, but I find it interesting that Great Lent (for the Orthodox) began right after his feast day. In a sense, it colors the whole fast (green, of course): we celebrated St. Patrick, and now we begin the great, spiritual journey of Lent. In this light, I hope to take that journey this year with St. Patrick as an inspiration.
As I already observed, St. Patrick does not begin his own journey apart from the invocation of “the name of the Blessed Trinity.” As the Lorica makes clear, St. Patrick was known for his high value of such an invocation. “I arise today,” it begins, “Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity.” The Christianity of St. Patrick was thoroughly and explicitly bathed in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Traditional Christian prayers reflect this ethos as well. As an Orthodox Christian, each prayer typically includes at least three Gloria‘s, to use the Latin name. It seems that before and after everything we say, and before and after everything we do, we are invoking “the name of the Blessed Trinity,” saying, “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit….”
As for the second aspect of St. Patrick’s journey, he begins by ridding himself of all but life’s necessities “for,” Muirchu tells us, “no one seeks the Lord by sloth.” This, I think, is quite significant; the connection of these two things is not accidental. Having fewer luxuries affords us fewer distractions from more productive areas of life.
This is true for the spiritual life just as much as it is of everyday chores and projects. If we hope to make spiritual progress and bear spiritual fruit, we must remember that “no one seeks the Lord by sloth”—indeed, no one does anything by sloth; that’s what makes it a vice! It is a spiritual paralysis and a hindrance to beginning down the “narrow road that leads to life.”
Invoking the help of the all-powerful Trinity, “the Creator of creation” (to quote the Lorica again), we must in the words of the Cherubic hymn in the Orthodox divine liturgy, “cast off every earthly care that we may receive the King of all.” Such simplicity reflects that of the apostles, who left everything they had in an instant to follow Jesus Christ. Let us follow him as well, and taking the example of St. Patrick, let us make sloth the first thing that we leave behind.