The Cardinal Archbishop, Sean O'Malley of Boston, MA always has a story to tell. The Irish are great story tellers. And Cardinal Sean is one of the best. BTW, this story is part of his homily during Mass for his Apostolic Visitation for the Diocese of Dublin.
The O’Malleys hail from County Mayo, a part of Ireland that was hallowed by St. Patrick’s ministry there. They tell the story of a dramatic conversion of an Irish chieftain by the name of Ossian. A huge crowd assembled in a field to witness his baptism. St. Patrick arrived in his Bishop’s vestments with his miter and staff. St. Patrick stuck his staff in the ground and began to preach a long sermon on the Catholic faith. The people noted that Ossian, who was standing directly in front of St. Patrick, began to sweat profusely, he grew pale and fainted dead away. Some people rushed over to help and they discovered to everyone’s horror that St. Patrick had driven his staff through the man’s foot. When they were able to revive Ossian they said to him, ‘Why did you not say something?’ And the fierce warrior replied, ‘I thought that it was part of the ceremony.’
The warrior did not understand too much about liturgy and rituals, but he did understand that discipleship is often difficult. It means carrying the Cross. It is a costly grace and often we fall down on the job.