WILLIAM DECLAN SWAN, THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD IN THE WRITINGS OF SAINT PATRICK: REWORKING A FAITH RECEIVED
This dissertation is a theological study of the writings of Saint Patrick of Ireland, composed in the fifth century, that are the oldest surviving pieces of Christian literature in the Irish Church. It is a response to Ad Gentes 22 at the Second Vatican Council where every local Church was invited to return to its own history and time when the Christian faith first incarnated itself in local culture. For Irish Christians, this task leads back to St. Patrick and the faith in the Triune God he brought to a previously pagan land. The study represents an attentive listening to Patrick in his own words and his experience of God that he narrates and shares with his audience.
The thesis is Trinitarian in content and form. Having introduced the reader to Patrick’s story, the sources and the ressourcement method employed to reinterpret Patrick’s teaching, emergent themes are then grouped together under Trinitarian headings: first Patrick’s experience of God as Father, his experience of Jesus Christ and his experience of the Holy Spirit. The final chapter of the thesis represents a meditatio on the previous chapters and explores new interpretations that have emerged from a lectio of Patrick’s writings. These interpretations are also grouped under Trinitarian headings and show how Patrick’s transformative experience of God is accessible to all modern Christians. In this sense, Patrick’s writings are invaluable sources of ressourcement that serve the ongoing need for an aggiornamento for how the Christian faith can be understood and lived. The study seeks a spiritual and theological communion with Patrick at a vital moment in the history of Irish Christianity: a communion that seeks to nourish and rejuvenate Christian faith in the twenty-first century.
WILLIAM DECLAN SWAN is a priest of the Diocese of Ferns (Ireland) ordained at St. Peter’s College Seminary, Wexford, in 1998. In 2005 he completed a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and in 2012 received a Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the same institution. He is currently a curate at St. Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
(C) PUG 2012