reflections on patrick: in loving memory

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That is why I cannot be silent – nor would it be good to do so – about such great blessings and such a gift that the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity. This is how we can repay such blessings, when our lives change and we come to know God, to praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven. (3)

Again and again I briefly put before you the words of my confession. I testify in truth and in great joy of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any other reason for returning to that nation from which I had earlier escaped, except the gospel and God’s promises. (61)

I pray for those who believe in and have reverence for God. Some of them may happen to inspect or come upon this writing which Patrick, a sinner without learning, wrote in Ireland. May none of them ever say that whatever little I did or made known to please God was done through ignorance. Instead, you can judge and believe in all truth that it was a gift of God. This is my confession before I die. (62)

~ St. Patrick’s Confession

As a child I grew up knowing to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or else I would get a pinch. Later the celebrations around me seemed to get more extravagant as McDonald’s began to have mint aero flurries or green milkshakes. The day was associated with leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, and shamrocks. Who really knew what it was about? Later it became associated with everything Irish – Guinness, Riverdance, really bad Irish accents. Somewhere in there was a flicker of curiosity about this Saint that the day was named after. It wasn’t until moving to Dublin though that I began to reflect on the enormity of his contribution to this nation. How could I not wonder? Apart from Christmas and Easter, I am not aware of a national, statutory holiday in Ireland that is in remembrance of one person. Over 1500 years later and we still take a day off in his memory. Half of the world seems to flood into Dublin on Paddy’s Day. They will hardly see anything of Patrick though. You probably won’t even see him in the parade unless someone sneaks him in.

March 17 is the day he is celebrated because it is the anniversary of his death. Remembrance dates are important here. Close family members remember and do symbolic acts on the days of their loved ones deaths. It is an important part of the grieving process. Some will even go to mediums to speak with their passed relatives on that day.

Patrick? He gets a parade, celebrations, and the worst day for vomit on the streets. He isn’t someone to be worshiped but he is someone to be remembered. This country was never the same because he came here. It was completely and radically transformed!

Patrick’s living and dying wish was for God to be seen for who he is by all the people of this world, starting with this island. His last words were for our benefit. Through them we know his story and his motivation. Powerful words.

Thinking of these things challenges me to pursue God like Patrick did – to allow God to live through me like Patrick did. Today I honour his memory by remembering God’s goodness to me. No doubt, doing this will likely affect everyone I meet if I do it with the same sense of awe that Patrick did.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

To read his prayer (St. Patrick’s Breastplate), continue.

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St. Patrick’s Breastplate – it is attributed to him

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 cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd 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.

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