During his first Mass at the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis reflected on three actions – walking (camino), building the Church, and professing faith.
Each of these actions – walking, building, professing – we can associate with St Patrick.
The life of our patron saint was a constant camino, being taken from his homeland, returning to Ireland to preach the good news, making his way throughout the island as a missionary. In his homily, Pope Francis said
“Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. We walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord.”
Building: to build the Church. We celebrate the feast of St Patrick because it was he who built the Church in this land. He, the first of the apostles on these shores, is the one to whom we owe our faith. Again in his homily Pope Francis speaks of building the Church.
“There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but the stones spoken of are living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. With every movement in our lives, let us build!”
The example of St Patrick reminds us that the faith which he gave us is not just a building block but a living stone, something alive and life giving.
Third, professing. On this point, Pope Francis said:
“We can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail.”
What we remember most of St Patrick is his professing faith – Christ with me, within me, behind me, above me. For Patrick, there was no “me” without Christ, no “me” that did not have a link with Christ.
On the Feast of Saint Patrick, we thank God for the faith we have received from generations past. We pray that the words and work of Pope Francis will help us to play our part in handing on this faith to future generations was we walk, build and profess the name of Jesus.