Monday, March 17, 2008

More than Good Luck

Today is the feast day of Saint Patrick. Its also Holy Week, the week preceding Christ's crucifixion. Holy Week trumps Saints Feast days, that's why most of your local parades and municipal celebrations were moved back this year, because of the early date of Easter. The typical revelry one indulges in on St. Patrick's day is not very consistent with the penitent meditation we should make on Christ's journey to the cross.

Still, I always like to say a little something about St. Patrick on this day. Before it was an excuse for Fratboys to get hammered on green beer, this day celebrated the "Apostle to Ireland". Behind the legendary tales about shamrocks and chasing the snakes out of Ireland there is a fascinating historical figure. Patrick was not actually Irish, he was a Roman-Brit who lived in Britain until he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and became a slave in Ireland. After six years he escaped and returned to Britain, but Patrick then returned to his captors as a missionary. Before Patrick's ministry there, Ireland was an entirely pagan nation. Patrick baptized thousands of new believers, and within a generation the island was nearly completely converted and the practice of slavery was outlawed.

A rich tradition of deep Christian spirituality has come from the Irish, a spirituality steeped in the Triune nature of God and the immanence of God in creation. Here is one of the more popular prayers attributed to Saint Patrick:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
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 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed that prayer attributed to St. Patrick