Remembering St. Patrick   Leave a comment

Happy St Patricks - 15Mar14

St. Patrick’s day is coming. For many Americans that means parades, parties, and green beer. Maybe corned beef and cabbage. But what about St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and namesake of this day? He’s often lost amid the revelry.

The historical St. Patrick was born in Britain in the fifth century. Kidnapped and taken to Ireland when he was about sixteen, he didn’t hate those who enslaved him. Instead, he escaped after six years and became a priest. He returned to Ireland to bring the word of Christ to those who had once harmed him.

Some say he chased the snakes out of Ireland. That seems unlikely. According to Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, there is no evidence among the vast collections of Irish fossils that snakes ever existed there. The land link between Britain and Ireland was broken two millennia before the retreating cold of the Ice Age allowed the return of snakes to northern Europe. Ireland’s isolation protected it, not the esteemed saint.

What is true is that by the seventh century he was revered as the “Apostle of Ireland.” He is generally credited as being the first bishop of Armagh.

Since the early seventeenth century, 17 March, the date of his death, has been celebrated as the feast day of St. Patrick, or St. Patrick’s Day. It is celebrated as a Christian feast day by Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and perhaps others of whom I’m unaware. Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. It is also a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, and Montserrat and is celebrated around the world.

Celebrations often involve public parades and festivals, parties, and the wearing of green clothing. My husband, who grew up in Ireland, remembers the religious aspects of the celebrations and was stunned at the lack of this when he came to the United States. Sadly, I only remember parties, green beer, and random people wearing green clothing for the day. Poor St. Patrick was forgotten in most of my memories.

This St. Patrick’s day, while you celebrate with your friends and drink you green beer, please remember to give a toast to the one who started it all: St. Patrick, Bishop of Armagh and Apostle of Ireland. He left us with a prayer whose power may be felt even by those who don’t believe.

St Patricks Breastplate excerpt-15Mar14

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I rise today
in the power’s strength, invoking the Trinity
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.

I rise today
in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
in the power of his rising and ascending,
in the power of his descending and judging.

I rise today
in the power of the love of cherubim,
in the obedience of angels
and service of archangels,
in hope of rising to receive the reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs,
in the predictions of the prophets,
in the preaching of apostles,
in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins,
in the deeds of the righteous.

I rise today
in heaven’s might,
in sun’s brightness,
in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory,
in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness,
in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability,
in rock’s fixity.

I rise today
with the power of God to pilot me,
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me,
God’s way before me,
God’s shield to defend me,
God’s host to deliver me,
from snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature’s failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near,
alone and in a crowd.

Around me I gather today all these powers
against every cruel and merciless force
to attack my body and soul,
against the charms of false prophets,
the black laws of paganism,
the false laws of heretics,
the deceptions of idolatry,
against spells cast by women, smiths, and druids,
and all unlawful knowledge that harms the body and soul.

May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me;
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me,
Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,
Christ in the eye of all who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.

I rise today
in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.

For to the Lord belongs
salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation
and to Christ belongs salvation.
May your salvation, Lord, be with us always.

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