“‘America! Surely these people are Americans!’ This was my thought as a panoramic vision of Western faces passed before my inward view.” And just after this vision, Yoganandaji cries joyfully to young Bimal (who has found his hiding place), “I have news for you: the Lord is calling me to America!” And so begins our Master’s sacred journey to America, in fulfilment of the holy pact between Jesus Christ and Babaji, to send to the West a missionary to reignite the flame on the high altar of inner communion. And in answer to his agonized prayer for divine permission for his journey and for divine assurance of protection against the so powerful downward pull of modern utilitarianism—for Yoganandaji is determined to pray even unto death until he hears the voice of God—at the moment he feels his brain will split if he cries out to God one more time, there comes a knock at the door and Babaji is there. “Our Heavenly Father has heard your prayer. He commands me to tell you: Follow the behests of your guru and go to America. Fear not; you will be protected.”
A millennium and a half earlier, another great mission had its inception. A sixteen-year-old Romanized Briton named Patricius, son of well-to-do Roman citizens of Celtic origin, was captured by raiding Irish pirates and sold into slavery to an Irish warlord named Miliucc. For this child of comfort and privilege now began six years as a shepherd, enslaved to a barbarous chieftain whose language he did not understand, living with his flock isolated from all human contact for months on end, all but naked, always cold, always hungry. Out of the darkness of despair—of loneliness, fear, and unrelieved suffering of body and heart—Patricius began to pray. Having no one on this earth to whom he could turn for comfort and succor, he somehow knew to turn within, in prayer, to the One who is always waiting for our call. Night and day he prayed, in all weathers, whether actively tending his flock or resting exhausted at day’s end.
And the answer came as he slept—a mysterious voice saying, “Your hungers are rewarded; you are going home.” Waking with a start, he heard the voice still: “Look, your ship is ready.” Unhesitatingly Patricius rose and set out. Two hundred miles he walked, through territory unknown to him, with never a doubt of God’s protection. No one stopped him; no one challenged him. When at last he came to the coast and saw a ship, he knew at once that this was the ship of his voices. When the captain rebuffed him, Patricius, undaunted, turned to God in prayer. And even before his prayer was finished, one of the sailors called out in welcome. Patricius was on his way.
Finally home in the familial nest, Patricius found himself too much in inner communion with God to rest comfortably. And soon there came the vision that turned this child of God irrevocably toward a life lived only in obedience to His will: He saw a letter with the heading “The Voice of the Irish” and, with the letter, heard the voice of a multitude, crying out, “We beg you to come and walk among us once more.” Day by day, the visions increased in intensity, until, finally, Christ himself spoke directly to Patricius: “He who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks within you.” Just as Babaji came to Yoganandaji to confirm the mission to America of Yogananda’s own vision, so for Patricius Jesus Christ himself came, to give final blessing, to give divine authority, to the holy mission that was to take the shepherd boy Patricius to Ireland as St. Patrick.
Never embittered, never corrupted by what he had gone through, Patrick lived what he taught: “Every day,” he wrote late in his life, “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved—whatever may come my way. But I am not afraid of any of these things, because of the promises of heaven; for I have put myself in the hands of God Almighty.”
Unafraid, at peace with himself and with the world, Patrick saw divine goodness behind the surface turmoil of human life. He saw all suffering, all the seeming evil of the world, everything in the created universe, as conspiring divinely to the ultimate good, the final freedom of mankind. He saw that the promise of his voices was not only for himself but for all souls: “Your hungers are rewarded. You are going home. Look, your ship is ready.” Everywhere he looked, Patrick saw the hand of God:
“I see His face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice—and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.”
Within his lifetime Patrick saw the Irish slave trade come to an end. All over Ireland little monastic communities sprang up—home to lovers of God living simply, harmoniously, faithfully copying out the sacred books of antiquity, acting as custodians of the light under threat by the spreading darkness of Kali Yuga.
So in our own time has our Master come to lift mankind out of “suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism,” to inspire us all to turn within in inner communion with the One Father-Mother-God. Our blessed Swami Kriyananda, in service to Yogananda’s vision, brought into being world brotherhood colonies—surely our age’s expression of the same divine intention that gave birth to Patrick’s monastic villages—places where those who love God can live together and support one another in life’s true purpose—to know God and to act as channels for His blessings to all mankind. At the end of his life, looking out over a transformed Ireland, St. Patrick could have well said, as Yoganandaji did in our time, “Lord, Thou hast given this monk a large family!”
In divine friendship,
For Ananda’s “Thank You, God” Tithing