“I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me.” – St. Patrick
Review and Comments
The Secret of the Shamrock is about a boy named Patrick and his amazing experience with time travel to the year 395. The story begins with a humorous incident (for the reader but not so much for Patrick) at his newly adopted sister’s baptism. He secretly brings his pet frog, Francis, to the baptism where Francis jumps into the baptismal font. Naturally, Patrick’s parents are not amused. They decide their children need to learn more about the church so they volunteer the family’s service to the cleaning ministry at their parish.
Patrick’s first job is cleaning the confessionals. While he is checking out a confessional from a different perspective, he suddenly hears rumbling and a strong wind opens the doors. He then finds himself in a field of sheep which is incredibly confusing and alarming. After a short while he meets a man he nicknames Shep. Shep explains that they are in Ireland, but that only adds to Patrick’s anxiety. It isn’t long before he begins to tell Patrick a little about his life and the severe struggles he faced. He was actually kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave and that’s where he has been for the last 6 years. Shep is now escaping from his captors, and Patrick decides to follow him across Ireland. The trip is very long, and Patrick often gets discouraged that he will never see his family again. It is during those times that Shep comforts him by reminding him often that “God is with us.” When they finally reach a ship on the coast it is time to separate, much to the distress of Patrick.
It isn’t long before Patrick hears a loud noise and things become a blur a second time. This time he sees a bishop and instinctively knows it is Shep, except now his name is Patricius. He agrees to walk with Patricius with the unwavering hope that he can make another jump in time and eventually find his family. While they journey, Patricius continues his incredible story about what transpired after he left on the boat and incorporates lessons about his faith. At the conclusion of one memorable lesson on the Trinity, the ground rumbles and Patrick is back in the confessional in his own parish church. He rushes to tell his family he is back, but no one has any idea what he is talking about.
All the valuable lessons Patrick learned are summarized when he later admits to his twin sister, Katie, that he had a lot of questions and doubts about God, but his time with Patricius and his pastor, Fr. Miguel, revealed the truth. At times, Patrick thinks his unbelievable experience may have been just a dream until he finds a shamrock in his pocket. He recognizes the truth, and he is transformed because of it.
This story is rich with information about Saint Patrick’s life and how this saint influences Patrick. The reader will enjoy the short story “The Real St. Patrick” at the end of the book while parents and teachers will find the discussion questions a very good resource. There are also several valuable mini lessons about The Good Shepherd and The Trinity within the context of the storyline. This book is perfect for either reading aloud or reading independently.
There are no concerns with this book.
General Teaching Resources
- Read some of the other Chime Traveler books in the series by Lisa M. Hendey: (click on the picture for affiliate link)
- Investigate Ireland’s geography:
Locate and color Ireland on a map of the world.
What is the size of Ireland?
What are the major biomes?
What are the major cities?
What bodies of water surround Ireland?
What are the major rivers and lakes in Ireland?
What are the geographical features?
- Interesting vocabulary that should be defined for better compression:
- Write a story about a particular saint you would like to meet if you could go back in time.
- What time would you choose?
- What saint would you like to meet? Why do you want to meet that special saint?
- What questions would you ask the saint? What would you like to learn from your saint?
- What qualities do you think you share with your saint?
- Each time Patrick travels in time there is a rumbling and the noise of the wind. This brings to mind the Pentecost story. The Apostles were transformed after the descent of the Holy Spirit. There is also a change for Patrick each time he hears the wind. When he returns home he has a very different attitude that is obvious to everyone.
- Acts 2:1- 2 – “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.”
- Patrick finds a copy of a book of saints in the confessional while he is cleaning.
Butler’s Lives of the Saints was “first written in the mid-eighteenth century and was revised in 1956 to include 2,565 saints.”
- There is a very good explanation of the Good Shepherd on page 91 that can be used in conjunction with John 10: 1-17.
- St. Patrick uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity. This is a mini lesson within the story of Patrick and Patricius.
- The following Catholic vocabulary is included in the story:
- absolution, altar server, bishops hat [mitre], catechism, confession , confessional, convert, font, genuflect, holy water, incense, Mass, penance, penance service, tabernacle (bowing to tabernacle), the Trinity
- Phrases used that some of us may have heard from our parents: Pray about it; Offer your worry to God (In other words, “Offer it up!”)
- “The Breastplate of St. Patrick” (grades K-4) – This beautiful prayer by the Saint can be printed and glued to “breastplate armor” cut from poster board and then decorated with paint and crepe paper. Older children can transcribe the prayer as a handwriting exercise. Learn one of the songs inspired by St. Patrick’s Breastplate and wear their armor while singing the song.”
[The following lines taken from the prayer.]
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
- Patrick’s family volunteers to clean the church. There are opportunities for children to participate in parish ministries:
- altar servers
- children’s choir
- Liturgy of the Word [gives preschool through approximately second grade children the opportunity to explore the Sunday readings through age-appropriate activities]
- vacation Bible school
- family events arranged through the parish
- St. Patrick’s (Apostle of Ireland) feast day is March 17. Read more about him here.
- The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy:
[People help Patrick and St. Patrick as they travel across Ireland.]
The helpers practice these corporal works of mercy:
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Shelter the homeless
Saint Patrick and Father Miguel practice the spiritual works of mercy:
- Counseling the doubtful
- Instructing the ignorant
- Admonishing the sinner
- Comforting the sorrowful
- Forgiving injuries
- Bearing wrongs patiently
- Praying for the living and the dead
- When Patrick and his friends are discussing confession, Patrick verbally attacks a boy who corrects his explanation of the sacrament.
“In his heart, Patrick knew that he was being mean to Gregory, but he couldn’t help himself. ……But Patrick wasn’t in the mood for another religion lesson…..He felt badly the minute the words came out of his mouth, but he ignored his guilt for the rest of recess.”
CCC 1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.
- Saint Patrick uses a shamrock to explain the Blessed Trinity.
CCC 234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. Is is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”. The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.
CCC 253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”. The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is i.e. by nature on God.” In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, the essence or nature.
Check back next week for a review of the second in the series!!