Thursday, March 17, 2005

Putting the Saint Back in Saint Patrick's Day

It is unfortunate that St. Patrick's Day is widely known for nothing more than wearing green, pinching, leprechauns, and inebriation. I say that because the story of Maewyn Succat, who later took the name Patrick, is one of the more inspiring stories from Christian history.

Many of us have heard the legends about Patrick chasing the snakes from Ireland, but the events in his life and the decisions that Patrick made that enabled him to bring the Christian faith to an entire nation are better than legends.

One of the most impressive prayers recorded in history is "The Breastplate of Patrick," a prayer for daily strength, protection, and encouragement. I post part of it here as my small way of bringing some faith back into another wayward holiday . . .

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 way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

Christ to shield me today . . .

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.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

(Attributed to St. Patrick, 5th century A. D.)

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