The Once and Future Light

For thirty years he had fought here, seeking not silver but souls, conquering not lands but hearts, and winning for his King the conversion of an entire island.
by Matthew Brock, LC | Source:


A Legend of Hope

It was growing dark. Patrick struggled up the last stony steps to the top of the rise. Beneath him the land dropped toward the east, down into a dark valley, and then up to ridge upon rolling ridge of moor and bog and forest: Ireland.
For thirty years he had fought here, seeking not silver but souls, conquering not lands but hearts, and winning for his King the conversion of an entire island. Now, old and tired, he had only one question: Would the faith he had sown here last forever?

Patrick turned to prayer. The last glimmering rays of sunlight were disappearing in the sky behind him when he noticed that he was not alone. A man had come up beside him, silent and strong, and Patrick knew at once that it was the Lord. 

Patrick dropped to his knees and poured out his heart’s question to his Master. 

Christ turned and pointed down into the valley beneath. “Look, Patrick, the light of the faith you have spread in my name.”

Suddenly it seemed to Patrick that the whole dark valley was filled with a silent multitude, bearing torches and lanterns and candles. Yes, yes, that was the Ireland he was leaving, an Ireland where the light of the faith burned strong. But would it last?

Christ took Patrick by the hand, and together they had a vision of the centuries to come. Saints and scholars, priests and poets, the solid strength of the faithful poor. Fierce winds shrieked down the valley walls and battered the huddled flock. Wolves howled. The little lights flickered and fluttered, but never went out. 

Patrick turned. Ireland would stay true. 

Yet Christ was silent, and then pointed again.

To Patrick’s dismay, men began to drop their torches and candles. They spluttered on the ground for a moment, and then went out. 

Slowly, inexorably, a wave of blackness engulfed the valley, until only a few small candles were lit.

Patrick clutched at Christ’s cloak. “Why, Lord, why? When? Where? What can I do?”

Christ was silent, but once more pointed down into the valley.

And just as it seemed to Patrick all was lost, something incredible happened.

Slowly, so very slowly that for a moment Patrick wasn’t sure if his eyes were playing him tricks, the small dots of flame began to spread among the darkened masses, and light the candles of others. Small sparks, and few, to be sure, but the light was growing again. And the voice of Christ rang out over the dark valley and echoed off the cliffs on the other side: “Do not be afraid. I have conquered the darkness. I am the Light of the World, and I shall be with you always, to the end of time.”

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