The Ash of St. Patrick


Legend has it that St. Patrick carried with him, everywhere he went, a walking stick made from the wood of an ash tree. Every time he stopped at a place, he would stick it in the ground until he was done teaching and preaching, then he would take the stick and be on his way.

One particular day, St. Patrick met some people who were very curious about Christianity. St. Patrick stopped, stuck his stick in the ground and spent some time teaching and preaching. The people were very curious and wanted to learn all about the faith. St. Patrick patiently answered all of their questions but his answers only spurred more questions. Hours became days and days became weeks. Patrick spent the whole time listening and explaining, never growing tired or irritable. When the people had finally become convinced and wished to convert to Christianity, St. Patrick baptized them. When he was finally ready to move on, he went to retrieve his stick. ┬áTo his great surprise, St. Patrick found that the walking stick had taken root and grown into a great ash tree. The place is called “Aspatria” to this very day: “The Ash of St. Patrick.”

There are many colorful legends about the life of St. Patrick. This beautiful story illustrates the importance of patience. A walking stick, a symbol of transience, is transformed into a tree: something fixed and permanent. This is the product of patience. Many times we are tempted to move on before the job is done. We let setbacks or lack of progress convince us that we’ve done all we can do and we pick up our sticks too soon. Disciples walking in the way of Jesus are called to carry out our work with faithfulness and persistence, not moving on until the good we have done finally takes root.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…