Thursday, March 17, 2016

Who was St. Patrick?

(Being a true son of the emerald isle -- well, mostly -- I repost this every St. Patrick's Day with some new things added each time to freshen it up.)

St. Patrick asks some excitable revelers whether they really
need quite that much green beer
St. Patrick was a real, historical person, though not all the stories we associate with him are necessarily true. He had quite an adventurous life, being enslaved as a lad by Irish raiders, then escaping years later and making his way back to his home in England.  But despite that experience he returned to the land where he'd been held captive to boldly and almost single-handedly persuade the Irish that the God of the christians was kinder than the bloodthirsty spirits they were worshipping -- kind enough to die for them, rather than insisting they die for him.

That idea really clicked with the Irish and they became christian in droves, no fighting or bloodshed needed. In the process, sort of as a by product, the scholarly monks of Ireland ended up rescuing most of the learning and literature amassed by Greece and Rome. Ever read Plato or Plutarch or studied Eucilid's geometry? Thank (to a great extent) the Irish monks.

For more information on that exploit of Patrick's and other reasons we Irish are are so great, I heartily recommend Thomas Cahill's How The Irish Saved Civilization. If you can locate one, get the audiobook version by that well-known irishman, Liam Neeson , who truly reads it with feeling. Or, while swilling down mugs of green beer, take a listen to this reading of Patrick's autobiography.

In the meantime, I present you with this ancient and powerful celtic-christian prayer known as The Breastplate, possibly composed by Patrick himself.

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on the cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

No comments: