Chapter 4 – Other Chapters 1,2,3,5
Now, it would be tedious to give a detailed account of all my labours or even a part of them. Let me tell you briefly how the merciful God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my life was at stake – not to mention numerous plots, which I cannot express in words; for I do not want to bore my readers. But God is my witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used to forewarn even me, poor wretch that I am, of many things by a divine message.
How came I by this wisdom, which was not in me, who neither knew the number of my days nor knew what God was? Whence was given to me afterwards the gift so great, so salutary – to know God and to love Him, although at the price of leaving my country and my parents?
And many gifts were offered to me in sorrow and tears, and I offended the donors, much against the wishes of some of my seniors; but, guided by God, in no way did I agree with them or acquiesce. It was not grace of my own, but God, who is strong in me and resists them all – as He had done when I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, hearing the reproach of my going abroad, and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others.
And I am prepared to give even my life, should I be worthy, without hesitation and most gladly for His name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord would grant it to me.
For I am very much God’s debtor, who gave me such grace that many people were reborn in God through me and afterwards confirmed, and that clerics were ordained for them everywhere, for a people just coming to the faith, whom the Lord took from the utmost parts of the earth, as He once had promised through His prophets: To you the gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth and shall say: `How false are the idols that our fathers got for themselves, and there is no profit in them’; and again: `I have set you as a light among the gentiles, that you may be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.’
And there I wish to wait for His promise who surely never deceives, as He promises in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob – as we believe the faithful will come from all the world.
For that reason, therefore, we ought to fish well and diligently, as the Lord exhorts in advance and teaches, saying: Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.(Mat 4.19) And again He says through the prophets: Behold, I send many fishers and hunters, says God,(Jeremiah 16:16) and so on. Hence it was most necessary to spread our nets so that a great multitude and throng might be caught for God, and that there be clerics everywhere to baptize and exhort a people in need and want, as the Lord in the Gospel states, exhorts and teaches, saying: Go therefore now, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.(Matthew 28:19-20) And again He says: Go ye therefore into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned.(Mark 16:15-16) And again: This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come the end.(Matthew 24:14) And so too the Lord announces through the prophet, and says: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.(Joel 2:28-29) And in Osee, He says: `I will call that which was not my people, my people; … and her that had not obtained mercy, one that hath obtained mercy. And it shall be in the place where it was said: “You are not my people,” there they shall be called the sons of the living God.'(Hosea 1:10,2:23)
Hence, how did it come to pass in Ireland that those who never had a knowledge of God, but until now always worshipped idols and things impure, have now been made a people of the Lord, and are called sons of God?
The sons and daughters of the kings of the Irish are seen to be monks and virgins of Christ. Among others, a blessed Irishwoman of noble birth, beautiful, full-grown, whom I had baptized, came to us after some days for a particular reason: she told us that she had received a message from a messenger of God, and he admonished her to be a virgin of Christ and draw near to God. Thanks be to God, on the sixth day after this she most laudably and eagerly chose what all virgins of Christ do. Not that their fathers agree with them: no – they often ever suffer persecution and undeserved reproaches from their parents; and yet their number is ever increasing. How many have been reborn there so as to be of our kind, I do not know – not to mention widows and those who practice continence.
But greatest is the suffering of those women who live in slavery. All the time they have to endure terror and threats. But the Lord gave His grace to many of His maidens; for, though they are forbidden to do so, they follow Him bravely.
Wherefore, then, even if I wished to leave them and go to Britain – and how I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit, who gives evidence against me if I do this, telling me that I shall be guilty; and I am afraid of losing the labour which I have begun – nay, not I, but Christ the Lord who bade me come here and stay with them for the rest of my life, if the Lord will, and will guard me from every evil way that I may not sin before Him.
This, I presume, I ought to do, but I do not trust myself as long as I am in this body of death, for strong is he who daily strives to turn me away from the faith and the purity of true religion to which I have devoted myself to the end of my I life to Christ my Lord. But the hostile flesh is ever dragging us unto death, that I is, towards the forbidden satisfaction of one’s desires; and I know that in part I did not lead a perfect life as did the other faithful; but I acknowledge it to my! Lord, and do not blush before Him, because I lie not: from the time I came to know Him in my youth, the love of God and the fear of Him have grown in me, and up to now, thanks to the grace of God, I have kept the faith.