The Story of St Patrick: More than Shamrocks and Leprechauns…by Susie

Even though I took on the Butler name when I married the love of my life, there’s not much Irish about me.  I’ve tried in years past to jump into the fun that many enjoy on March 17th by cooking up some Corned beef ( yum!) and I think this year we’ll expand our horizons and try some Irish Soda Bread and maybe attempt a Shamrock Shepherd’s pie!  Cooking up some fun food  is about all I have to offer my family when it comes to all things Irish!  My husband’s not much more help. His family has been in the US for generations and generations and are pretty far removed from their Irish roots.  However, I believe in celebrating and exploring and exposing our children to their heritage.  Lessons about citizenship and belonging and heritage are great stepping-stones into teaching about being adopted into God’s family, our spiritual legacy and our Citizenship in Heaven. {Click here to read more about that!}

I’ve done some poking around on Pinterest and other places to see what ideas are floating around out there to teach kids about St. Patrick’s day and it seems that the 3 leaf Shamrock has been a favorite to teach about the Trinity. I like this simple craft you can find here.  {HOWEVER, I found on teaching the Holy Trinity last year that used an apple to describe the Triune God  … I highly recommend it.  But I digress…}

What I did find was this AWESOME book by the Voice of the Martyrs!  Love, love, love!  The cover of the book describes it this way:

Buried beneath the St. Patrick’s Day
symbols of shamrocks and leprechauns
lies the story of a man determined to share
the message of salvation with the people
who made him a slave.
Why I love this book:

1) There is an introduction for parents describing in full the history and details, and the myths and mysteries,  behind this impressive man who has an entire day dedicated to him.  For some of us who find our lack of enthusiasm and knowledge in the area of history a bit of an embarrassment, this concise overview will go a long way in giving a good education 🙂

2) I found it at my local seminary library!  No purchase necessary!  Don’t forget to look beyond your public library to find great resources.  Many seminary and other university libraries offer cards to community members. What about your church?  Does it have a library?  If not, maybe you could start one? {Ok that’s another post for another time 😉 }

3) The illustrations are vivid and the story is full of suspense.  However, this is not a warm and fuzzy kind of story. This is a real life account of someone who was kidnapped, held captive and enslaved in a foreign land.  Yet, God worked in the midst of terrible circumstances and out of the ashes of a stolen life we find one of history’s greatest missionaries.  Again we see one of the Bible’s great themes: “What men meant for evil, God used for good.”

4) The book wraps up by introducing us to a modern-day story of someone who has suffered greatly for following Jesus.  Talking about persecution for one’s faith isn’t something that we talk much about in our family – but I believe it should be.   Stories like these are much needed reminders that in many ways,  so many around the world are not free.  Not free to worship.  Not free at all!  I need to be reminded to hold up these brothers and sisters in prayer, to fight for justice, and to do what I can to be part of rescuing others out of bondage and enslavement.  My children need to know it too.  Thankfully this book offers a gentle but real avenue to talk and discuss and pray with my children. 

In fact, The Voice of the Martyrs has a series of resources called Kids of Courage – where kids learn about real life heroes who withstood persecution.  The Story of St Valentine is just as excellent and I can’t wait to read the others, including St. Nicholas and Bible heroes Paul and Stephen! {Click here for a complete listing}

So my encouragement to you this St. Patrick’s Day is to explore beyond the shamrocks and leprechauns, and take some time learning about a great hero of the faith.  Remember your brothers and sisters in the faith around the world who suffer and are persecuted for their faith, and consider how we might
 “Learn to do good, seek Justice, correct oppression, bring  justice to the fatherless,
and plead the widows cause…”
Isaiah 1:17


May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
An Irish Blessing

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