Entries tagged with “Lorica of St. Patrick”.


We are at the cross-quarter day here at this old house, that day that marks the half-way point between the winter equinox and the spring equinox. It is lightly snowing, a gift of water in “savings account” form as snow melt is a major source of summer water. Living in a semi-arid climate, I have learned not to complain about wet weather as it is what keeps my faucets flowing throughout the year.

I would like to finish our brief overview of the Prayer of St. Patrick or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” that we began two blogs ago. We are going to look at the most well-known section 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.

Some people use only this section of the prayer. In the hymnal version of the entire prayer, this section is set differently than the rest of the prayer. https://hymnary.org/text/i_bind_unto_myself_today#authority_media_flexscores shows a hymnal arrangement of the entire prayer. This section is set to a lovely melody easily learned and memorized if so desired.

When I use this section in my prayers, I continue on at the end to personalize it to my day: “Christ in every e-mail I send, Christ in every phone call I make, Christ in [naming specific tasks and activities planned for the day].”

The beauty of this entire prayer is that while St. Patrick was dealing with “witches, wizards, attempts to poison him” and other evils that may not seem relevant to us today, we all face a host of evils that comes to us through marketing lies, unrealistic TV shows, fake news, attempts through popular media to make it “all about me,” and other things that can draw our hearts and minds from God. I find it grounding to join St. Patrick across the centuries to pray against evil of any kind, making this ancient prayer appropriate to anything and anyone that tries to harm me in some way throughout my day: false guilt, shame, arrogance, entitlement, pride, anger, and any other host of “demons” that assail me day or night.

Here is another version of the prayer for you to meditate on:Image result for free photo music to st. patrick's breastplate

My hope is through this short series that you might gain a deeper familiarity with this great prayer and that you might find it useful in your daily meditation time. I encourage you to let it connect you with the Christian community throughout time and history as well as to personalize it to your daily needs.

 

 

 

We are deep into the season of Epiphany here in this old house. January snow is on the ground and the days are slowly getting longer. I want to continue our meditation on the Breastplate of St. Patrick begun in my previous blog post. In the introduction, we focused on the background of this prayer and the opening lines. This week, I want to focus on the following sections:

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.

After acknowledging that God, the Three-in-One, is the Creator of all, St. Patrick goes on to remind himself of the Incarnation of Jesus, God-with-us in the flesh here on earth. St. Patrick remembers Christ’s birth, baptism, death, burial, descent to the world of the dead in victory, resurrection, and ascension.

Next, he remembers angels and various forms of people who also seek to follow God faithfully followed by elements of the material world:

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

Since we are a part of all that God created (see Genesis 1), all aspects of the created world are “in this together,” so to speak (see Romans 8: 22-23). This section may remind you of St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun” where St. Francis speaks of the various elements of creation as brothers and sisters with us. (see one example at http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=183)

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

St. Patrick then goes on to proclaim his trust in God:

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
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

You may remember from our discussion last week that St. Patrick is putting on a form of spiritual armor. A breastplate or lorica is an ancient kind of armor that protects the main section of the body from neck to thigh. As St. Patrick is arising each day, he is intentionally putting on those pieces of spiritual armor in the same way we put on our underwear, socks, shirts, pants or skirt, and shoes. Image result for free photos ancient armor

The idea of “spiritual warfare” is not popular in many circles today. Many of us are anti-war, and so we should be as Christ-followers, so the idea of “doing battle” is not an image we are immediately drawn to. Yet, in reality, there is the Kingdom of God or the kingdom that is against God. There aren’t any other options. Those two realities automatically imply an opposition of one to another. As Christ-followers, we are called to navigate life on this earth and be Christ wherever we currently are, doing whatever each day calls us to do. Not everyone will welcome our world-view with open arms. We will be laughed at, dismissed out-of-hand, viewed as irrelevant or antiquated, or even persecuted. At times, those rejections can feel like “fiery darts” coming into our souls, a vulnerable feeling that leaves us at a loss to know how best to defend ourselves.

Image result for free photos spiritual armorAs with St. Patrick, we may want to consider intentionally “arming” ourselves to go into our days ready to be Christ to all we meet. The tension is that some people do go through life as if each day were a war and they are armed to the teeth to defend themselves against whomever and whatever may come their way. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about fighting corruption, injustice, racism and all the other “isms” of our world. We are seeking to love people while standing against the evils embedded in systems, governments, and institutions that keep people hungry and oppressed. As Ephesians 6:12 reminds us: For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Next week, we will continue with the next steps that St. Patrick takes in his prayer for daily protection.

 

 

Here at this old house, I have been reflecting nearly daily on the prayer of St. Patrick. It is sometimes called “The Breastplate of St. Patrick” or the “Lorica of St. Patrick.” A lorica is a piece of Roman armor that covered the body from neck to waist. Many of you know the famous “armor of God” passage from Ephesians 6: 10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our[struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

This breastplate attributed to St. Patrick in 377 AD is his response to the evil forces he was contending with as he brought the Gospel to Ireland. Image result for free picture of st. patrickIt has been set as a hymn and in popular songs. The version of it that I have been using goes as follows:

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.

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 the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The 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 shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

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.

The section that begins “Christ with me, Christ before me” is sometimes used on its own and in the hymnal versions, it has its own strophic setting.

Your initial sense of this may be that it reminds you of St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle to the Sun.” It may also seem outdated when it talks about “witches and smiths and wizards.” However, over the next few posts, I want to share with you how I use this in a modern context to put on my own form of “spiritual armor” for each day.

Today, let me close by point out that the opening and the ending are the same. We always begin and end our day with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Three distinct Persons yet one God. Next time, we will begin to unpack the other elements of this prayer for spiritual protection.