Saint Kieran and His Contrary

Seir Kieran, County Offaly, Ireland English: West gable of St. Ciaran's Church. Date 9 September 2010 Source Self-photographed Author Andreas F. Borchert Reference 2010/9037 (

March 5th is the traditional feast of Saint Kieran, an early Irish monk and bishop, one of the ‘Twelve Apostles’ of Ireland, disciples of Saint Finian, who, with the great Saint Patrick, established the Faith in the Emerald Isle of Erin. Sadly, that Faith is retreating like a low tide, and I will not belabor the reader with statistics, perhaps too grim to be recounted. For the saints do watch over us, and help God guide not only world events, but the course of all God’s people towards eternity. The Church may get smaller, but shine all the more brightly for it. To put this into Aristotelian terms, holiness is not quantitative, but qualitative. Christ began His mission with Twelve, and for all we know, it may end the same way. For as we have seen, twelve good men – and, of course, good women – can move the world.

On the more dubious end of the spectrum, this is also the day Josef Stalin met his Maker, after a cerebral hemorrhage, in 1953. The fate of such a tragic soul is hidden from us (unlike the canonized saints). I doubt Stalin knew of Kieran, but he did know of saints from his youth in Orthodoxy. Perhaps in those last moments he repented. We may certainly hope that the atheistic Communism he tried to instantiate, the cost of untold millions of lives, collapses for good across the world. May the cohesive and civilizing power of Christ’s good news of salvation renew each nation, in its own unique way. And the only way it can do so is by its leavening effect in each soul, turning towards the true and the good, as did Levi in today’s Gospel.

For Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance.